MONDAY, 8 JUNE 2015
SUBJECT/S: Housing affordability; Family Tax Benefit cuts
MARIUS BENSON: Andrew Leigh, is it worth Labor considering an end to negative gearing? Or is that just in that never, ever to-be-touched basket politically?
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER ANDREW LEIGH: Marius, negative gearing is an issue that was actively considered by the Henry tax review in 2009 and they recommended change. It’s an issue which the government's tax discussion paper, a few months ago, also suggested might usefully be looked at. You'd expect a responsible opposition to be looking carefully into this, particularly given where the budget is. But Chris Bowen has laid out clear parameters. We certainly wouldn't do anything that would disadvantage existing owners, and we'd have a careful mind to making sure that there's new housing supply coming into the market.
Innovate, build and you have a working future, Herald Sun, 8 June
One recent Monday morning, I stood in a circle with a dozen others inside a converted warehouse whose windows looked out over Sydney’s Queen Victoria Building. One by one, the current crop of start-up founders in BlueChilli’s incubator program gave a 30-second ‘elevator pitch’ about their big idea.
Richard Owens pitched his service to connect wine buyers directly with producers. Paul McStay, a former Scottish national football representative, has created an app to help soccer coaches identify and manage talent. Fan Valnoresse, a former cabbie, has founded Find A Driver to help boost the amount of time taxis are on the road and increase the number of cabs available when people need a ride.
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
FRIDAY, 5 JUNE 2015
SUBJECT/S: Abbott Government gutting tax transparency; Economic outlook; Climate inaction; Monis letter
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER ANDREW LEIGH: Good morning everyone and thanks for coming out on another gorgeous Canberra winter's day. In 2013 the Labor government helped change the laws to make sure that the tax office would publish information of the total income and tax paid by Australia's largest firms. What counts in this place is not what you say about tax transparency but what you actually do. Joe Hockey has had his fair share of big talk – in fact he's even said that firms that didn't say their fair share were thieves. But in 2013 he voted against Labor's tax transparency laws and now he's trying to wind them back still further. Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey don't want you to know how much tax big companies are paying. They want to stand on the side of keeping tax a secret rather than on the side of openness and transparency. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: My reading of the exemptions though is that it's only exempting some companies from having to disclose their total incomes, aren't they? That's what the draft changes involve?
LEIGH: It's a rollback. These are laws that ought to apply to every big firm.
ABBOTT GOVERNMENT GUTTING TAX TRANSPARENCY
The Abbott Government has shown its true colours on tax transparency after months of talking tough about tackling corporate tax avoidance.
Late yesterday afternoon the Government quietly published draft legislation to amend Labor’s 2013 tax transparency laws.
These laws require the Australian Tax Office to publish information about the income and tax paid by companies earning over $100 million. They are designed to ensure an open and informed public debate about how much tax our biggest companies really pay.
The Abbott Government now wants to roll these laws back to exempt several hundred privately-held companies from the disclosure requirements.
CORMANN COMES CLEAN ON TAX COSTING
The Abbott Government has absolutely no idea what the fiscal impact of its main multinational tax measure will be because no costings were prepared ahead of its inclusion in the Budget.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann admitted in Senate Estimates that the Government could not give revenue estimates for the proposed Multinational Anti-Avoidance Law because this is completely uncosted:
REGULATORY BURDEN PILES UP FOR CHARITIES THANKS TO ABBOTT’S UNCERTAINTY
If the Abbott Government is serious about cutting unnecessary regulation, it must commit to keeping the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission open permanently.
In Senate Estimates this morning, Charities Commissioner Susan Pascoe said the uncertainty about the commission’s future is creating confusion for Australian businesses and consumers. It is also holding up progress on streamlining charity laws.
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
MONDAY, 1 JUNE 2015
SUBJECT/S: Abbott Government’s $100 billion Budget hole; Intergenerational Report advertising spend; Marriage equality
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER ANDREW LEIGH: Good morning. I’m Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer. We now learn that despite the Government putting up a deeply unfair budget, they're now spending more and more hard-earned taxpayer dollars on trying to promote it. Originally the fee that was going to promote the Intergenerational Report was $11 million. It's now been revealed through more detail in the Budget papers that the Budget ad campaigns will cost $36 million. At the same time, we’ve seen from the Parliamentary Budget Office that the cumulative deficit over the next decade will amount to $100 billion. This is because the Government keeps putting up measures which are just so deeply unfair and so at odds with the Australian values. They’re refusing sensible savings measures such as Labor's multinational tax package and our high end superannuation package, which together add more than $20 billion to the budget bottom line over the coming decade.
SKY AM AGENDA
MONDAY, 1 JUNE 2015
SUBJECT/S: Marriage equality; Citizenship law changes; Budget
KIERAN GILBERT: This is AM Agenda. With me now is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Alan Tudge. To you first Alan Tudge on the same-sex marriage issue: do you feel that there is a group within your party or a momentum within your party towards marriage equality?
PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE PRIME MINISTER ALAN TUDGE: I think some people have shifted but I don't know where the numbers sit. I think if a vote was taken, it would be very close. But at the moment, we're absolutely focused on getting the Budget measures through the Parliament. That's our unashamed focus at the moment. The Budget was just handed down only seven sitting days ago, it's got some important measures which we want to introduce into the parliament– particularly the small business tax cuts and the instant asset write-off for small businesses which will turbo -boost that sector of the economy.
GILBERT: Are you cynical about the Opposition Leader's timing?
TUDGE: I am a bit cynical, because I think that Bill Shorten is under pressure as a leader and he doesn't want to discuss our small business package. He doesn't want to discuss jobs and he doesn't want to discuss national security measures. I think that he's a leader who is under pressure and wants to talk about anything else other than those issues. Hence he's putting forward this same-sex bill.
ANOTHER WEEK WITH NO NEWS ON BELCONNEN’S FUTURE
Yet another week has passed and the Abbott Government is still keeping silent on the future of the Department of Immigration in Belconnen.
The uncertainty created by Peter Dutton and Mathias Cormann has already hit businesses and the local community. Now, it seems it is also harming the department itself.
Reports earlier this week indicate Immigration has lost 15 of its senior executives this year – almost one experienced manager a week.
Inequality: still a fair way to go, The Australian, 29 May
If you returned from work one day and found your home flooded by a gushing faucet, the first thing you’d do is turn off the tap. But once you’d stopped the water rising, could you then go about your evening as though nothing else was amiss? Only if you’re willing to overlook the rather pressing problem of everything you own being underwater.
This is the misguided approach we’ve seen recommended by some commentators recently in response to a new OECD report on inequality. The report shows that the gap between the rich and the rest has been relatively stable in Australia in the period 2006 to 2012, even as it has continued to rise in other countries like America.
Importantly though, the report also shows that Australia remains a very unequal place. On the OECD’s figures, the richest tenth of Australians now own 45 per cent of this country’s wealth. The top twentieth have nearly ten times the wealth of the typical household. There are 50 people living amongst us who together have more wealth than the poorest 2 million Australians.
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures tell a similar story. Since the mid-1970s, earnings have grown three times as fast for the top tenth than the bottom tenth. If cleaners and checkout workers had enjoyed the same percentage wage gains as surgeons and financial dealers, they would be $16,000 a year better off.
Inequality may not have risen in the six years between 2006 and 2012, but it remains a pressing problem that should concern anyone who is interested in maintaining Australia’s strong traditions of opportunity and fairness.