TUESDAY, 31 MARCH 2015
SUBJECT/S: Tax discussion paper; Harper Competition Review; Martin Ferguson; Liberal sexism
PATRICIA KARVELAS: I'm joined now from Canberra by the Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh and from Melbourne by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Kelly O'Dwyer. Welcome to you both.
KELLY O'DWYER, PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE TREASURER: Hi Patricia.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: G'day Patricia, g'day Kelly.
KARVELAS: To the Treasurer's taxation discussion paper first: there's no prospect of an agreement on GST changes, but possible bipartisan support – I'm hearing noises, Kelly O'Dwyer – on removing tax breaks for superannuation contributions. Am I understanding the noises and the hand-signals right?
O'DWYER: It's only been a day since the paper has been released, so I think it's too early to rule anything out Patricia. I think that one of the key things we want to do with this tax white paper is make sure we have a proper discussion around whether our tax system is currently fit for purpose. We know that in terms of the revenue that is raised at the moment, around 70 per cent in Australia is raised from personal and company income taxes. That compares to just over 30 per cent of our OECD competitors on average. So there's a lot of work for us to do. We know that when it comes to company tax, we've got 800,000 companies in Australia and yet 12 companies pay a third of all those company taxes. There's around 125 taxes that are paid at a state, territory and federal level but of those, just 10 taxes raise 90 per cent of the revenue.
KARVELAS: It seems one area where you could get immediate support from Labor – and you always talk about this lack of bipartisanship – would be the tax breaks at the higher end for super. So why not do it?
O'DWYER: What we're looking at is making it simpler. The long and the short of it is making it simpler, making it fairer and making sure that what we put in place is going to stand the test of time to make us internationally competitive. Because we are in a globally-competitive marketplace right now and we need to be competitive on personal income tax rates and company tax rates. On superannuation...
KARVELAS: Let me just give Andrew Leigh a turn. Or actually, what were you just about to say on superannuation? That you need to reform it?
O'DWYER: On superannuation, we're very interested in seeing what people have to say about the system. We know that there's been some views already put forward. But it can't just be a matter of simply raising taxes, which is what we often hear from those in politics who are very keen to raise taxes. We need to look at how we can also lower taxes - personal income tax rates, company tax rates. Because that is what is going to make us competitive.
KARVELAS: Andrew Leigh, what do you think? I know that Labor supports superannuation reform, but when are you going to consider the GST? You keep saying you're playing the rule-out game on the GST, but so many significant business figures are saying this needs to be looked at. Why isn't Labor prepared to do it?
LEIGH: Patricia, the tax debate is a broad one as Kelly has outlined. We need to make sure that we're looking at where we sit relative to the rest of the world. Our consumption tax is lower than the OECD average, which you've raised; our income taxes on the average worker, low-wage worker and high-wage worker all sit below the OECD average. It's our company tax that sits a little above the OECD average. Chris Bowen has talked in the past about an aspiration to bring that company rate down because ultimately the company tax falls predominantly on workers, and we're able to boost total economic growth if we can get that down. But we also need to make sure we've got equity there. Public finance economists talk about equity, efficiency and simplicity as being the cornerstones of tax reform. When we look at superannuation taxes, we've got the top five per cent of earners getting five times their proportionate share of the superannuation tax concessions. As a nation we're spending $31 billion a year on these tax concessions so we need to make sure that is money that's really as well spent as it can be.
LESS ISN’T MORE ON MULTINATIONAL TAX
Joe Hockey’s only idea for tackling multinational profit shifting is to cut taxes for big multinationals and then cross his fingers they’ll pay them.
The Government’s tax discussion paper clearly states that base erosion and profit shifting pose an increasing risk to Australia’s corporate tax base.
It acknowledges that loopholes and complex offshore structures are letting some big multinationals avoid paying their fair share in Australia.
Despite pointing out the significance of the problem, Joe Hockey’s discussion paper is completely silent on serious ideas to fix it.
This is exactly the kind of backwards priorities we’ve come to expect from a government that handed $1.1 billion back to big multinationals while taking $6,000 a year from some of Australia’s most vulnerable families in its first Budget.
SATURDAY, 28 MARCH 2015
SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey’s new Bank Tax
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good afternoon and welcome to Hackett where I've just been holding my annual Welcoming the Babies event – an event to celebrate community and the joys and challenges of new parenthood.
We've heard today that after going to the election saying there would be no new taxes, the Government is breaking that promise yet again. The Government, so far, has broken its 'no new taxes' promise when it has come to the high income earner levy, fuel tax, the GP tax, the NBN tax and now the Bank Tax.
This is the fifth time they've broken their promise on no new taxes. Joe Hockey really needs to start thinking about maintaining a touch of honesty, and to start worrying more about the Budget numbers than about his own numbers in the party room. He should spend a little bit more time focusing on the job needs of the unemployed – with unemployment rising – rather than worrying about his own LinkedIn profile and what he'll do for his next job.
Happy to take questions.
Sharing works but we must define the rules, Herald Sun, Thursday 26 March
The founders of the accommodation app AirBNB got their start selling “Obama-Os” novelty cereal at the 2008 Democratic presidential conventions.
Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia used the money raised to build a beta version of the app, which won them a spot at the famous Y Combinator start-up accelerator at Stanford University and $20,000 in seed funding.
Today, AirBNB is valued at roughly $US10 billion. More than 30 million guests have already stayed in an AirBNB-listed property in one of 34,000 cities across 190 countries.
We’re getting used to hearing stories like that: the little digital company that took the world by storm. The clever idea that turned an industry on its head and made millions. Beyond AirBNB, the past few years have seen ride-sharing apps like Uber, freelancing services like AirTasker, goods-sharing sites like Spinlister and the pet-minding service Pawshake.
TUESDAY, 24 MARCH 2015
SUBJECT/S: budget; Abbott Government’s broken surplus promise
EMMA ALBERICI: Joining me now from Canberra are the Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh. Gentlemen, welcome.
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER ANDREW LEIGH: Good to be here.
ASSISTANT TREASURER JOSH FRYDENBERG: Hi, Emma.
ALBERICI: Josh Frydenberg, when did the budget crisis end?
FRYDENBERG: Look, we were left a fiscal nightmare by our opponents and we've spent the last 18 months trying to repair it. There's still a long way to go. The key point here is that we were bequeathed spending growth at 3.7 per cent by Labor, and we've reduced that to 1 per cent. We are starting to see green shoots across the economy. Housing starts are up significantly, job advertisements are the highest they've been in 28 months. We're also seeing a good result following the lower Australian dollar – it's a boost for our export industries. Interest rate cuts as well as lower fuel prices are putting more money in the hands of families. So there are some very good signs across the economy but we are still very much focused on fiscal consolidation.
SKY PM AGENDA
TUESDAY, 24 MARCH 2015
SUBJECT/S: Rise of the sharing economy; Budget; Abbott Government’s cuts to pensions
DAVID SPEERS: You'll be aware of things like Uber – instead of catching a taxi and AirBNB – instead of staying in a hotel. This is a huge growth area at the moment. Services like AirBNB where you can go on a website and find a place to stay in thousands of cities around the world and do it relatively cheaply, it has had incredible growth. It has gone from a company worth about $20,000 to now being worth about $10 billion and it's available in 34,000 cities, 190 countries, 25 million guests have used it. Here in Australia, AirBNB has generated $114 million in economic activity in one year alone in Sydney. But it is completely unregulated at the moment, and is it being taxed enough? A lot of taxi drivers will complain that Uber drivers aren't paying a thing for a taxi licence, and they're cutting their grass essentially. Today the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh, gave a speech about all this at the National Press Club. He's launched a Discussion Paper and he joins me now. Thank you for your time.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good to be with you, David.
SPEERS: This is a fascinating area, because it's a growing part of the economy here and around the world. But potentially it's not really regulated at all at the moment.
LEIGH: That's certainly the challenge, David. And I thought you did a really nice job in your intro there in talking about the sheer growth of this sector.
SPEERS: Well, I pinched a lot of your numbers.
LEIGH: Just to give you a couple more: one in 10 Sydneysiders has taken a ride-sharing ride, despite Uber having launched there less than a year ago. One in 300 Australian homes are currently listed on AirBNB. So we see the possibilities of this being good for consumers. But Labor is also concerned to make sure that workers are looked after and that we have the appropriate public safety protections that really allow this industry to flourish.
TRIPLE J HACK
TUESDAY, 24 MARCH 2015
SUBJECT/S: rise of the sharing economy
TOM TILLEY: Labor MP Andrew Leigh stood up at the National Press Club today and said Labor supports the sharing economy. Let's find out if he really means it: Andrew Leigh, thanks for joining us.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: It's a pleasure, Tom.
TILLEY: What are your favourite sharing economy apps that you use regularly?
LEIGH: Overseas I've used AirBNB and Uber and found them both to be good services. I also use hotels and taxis – it's quite a mix. So I guess you could say I'm a combined user of traditional services and a bit of sharing economy as well.
TILLEY: Ok, well these markets seem like they're going to exist with or without government intervention. We heard about the battle for Uber but there's plenty of people still catching Ubers even though governments in the states are trying to crack down on them. Do governments really have a choice whether you support these markets or not? Isn't it more of a question of going with the tide?
LEIGH: Tom, I think you're certainly right that these applications are having a huge impact on traditional markets. You look at the market capitalisation of Uber at $40 billion, it's now bigger than Hertz or Marriot Hotels. One-tenth of Sydneysiders have used a ride-sharing service and it's less than a year since Uber launched. One in 300 Australian homes are now on AirBNB. But that doesn't mean that government doesn't have an obligation to make sure that we encourage innovation while also protecting public safety.
LABOR RISES TO THE CHALLENGE OF THE SHARING ECONOMY
Labor today launched a new Discussion Paper on the rise of the sharing economy to help release the in this innovative new sector.
Australia has a housing affordability crisis, yet there are nine million spare bedrooms across the nation.
Some of our major cities are in gridlock, yet the majority of cars carry only one person. Many people own a power drill, yet use it less than an hour a year.
Sharing economy services can help us make more efficient use of the world’s existing stock of bedrooms, cars, tools and more.
SKY AM AGENDA
MONDAY, 23 MARCH 2015
SUBJECT/S: Emissions reductions targets; Budget; Moss Review; Pyne the ‘fixer’
KIERAN GILBERT: This is AM Agenda, thanks very much for your company. With me now, the Assistant Defence Minister Stuart Robert and the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh. Good morning gentlemen. First on the carbon emissions target, is the nation on track to meet the 5 per cent reduction by 2020 despite all the warnings of the Labor Party and other critics that direct action would not be enough?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Well Kieran, from all the data I've seen, emissions have been increasing not decreasing under this Government, you look at the official emissions data and they fell under the period of the carbon price, reductions around the order of around 1 per cent a year clearly on target, since then emissions have been tracking back upwards. If the Government's getting any future reduction emissions it's probably through their goading the car industry to leave and overseeing the death of manufacturing in Australian rather than because they actually have good policies. We're still yet to find a credible economist who thinks that paying polluters is a better way of reducing emissions than a market based approach.
MONDAY, 23 MARCH 2015
SUBJECT/S: Government’s lack of budget strategy; Lee Kuan Yew; Homelessness funding; Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Today the Parliament will be honouring Malcolm Fraser, a prime minister whose record on multiculturalism and on issues like apartheid is certainly to be admired. He was somebody who helped thousands of Vietnamese refugees settle in Australia and when other countries were fragile on questions of race, he took a very clear stance on the moral issue of apartheid. We'll also be now just a few days away from the next budget coming down. Extraordinarily, Australia is still talking about the unfairness of the last budget. We've got Tony Abbott, who when debt was one-seventh of national income, thought it was appropriate to drive debt trucks around, now thinks it's ok when debt is heading to half of national income. To my mind, that would require a debt aircraft carrier rather than a debt truck. This is a government which has lost the confidence of the Australian people because rather than being focused on the long-term future of 24 million Australians, it is obsessed by the short-term political prospects of 20 Cabinet ministers. Happy to take questions.