Five things that matter, The Australian, 28 October
A few months before the 2013 federal election, the Australian economist Stephen Koukoulas issued the incoming Liberal Government what he called ‘a very simple and professional challenge’. Fed up with all their rhetoric about fixing the budget and turbo-charging the economy, Koukoulas challenged the Liberals to improve Australia’s economic performance on five key indicators.
The indicators he picked were the ones any good economist looks to when taking the temperature of an economy: GDP growth, unemployment, inflation, wages and interest rates.
As Treasurer 2.0 Scott Morrison starts work on the upcoming Mid-year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, it would be worth him returning to those key indicators. If he does, he’ll find problems on all five fronts. The mid-year budget update is Scott Morrison’s chance to show his government has any kind of plan to get the dials on Australia’s economic dashboard moving the right way again.
THURSDAY, 22 OCTOBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s positive plans for the sharing economy; Joe Hockey’s valedictory.
FRAN KELLY: Later today Labor leader Bill Shorten and his Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh will announce Labor's new sharing economy policy. Labor asked for, and received, more than 500 policy submissions from interested parties including Uber, GoCatch and Airbnb. Andrew Leigh joins us now. Andrew, welcome back to RN Breakfast.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Thanks Fran.
KELLY: Labor's policy lays out six economic principles for the sharing economy. But it doesn't really offer solutions yet, which is the hard part of this – how to regulate the sharing economy, isn't it?
LEIGH: Well Fran this is about a national conversation on the sharing economy. We know we've now got one in 200 Australian homes listed on Airbnb, and within a year of setting up in Sydney one-tenth of Sydneysiders had used Uber. So it is important that smart governments move ahead of this and create the environment for innovation to flourish, but also an environment in which we make sure that sharing economy firms are paying their fair share of tax, they're supporting good wages and working conditions, they're providing access for people with disabilities, they're looking after public safety and they’re playing by the rules.
ABC NEWS BREAKFAST
THURSDAY, 22 OCTOBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s positive plan for the sharing economy; Marriage equality.
VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Labor is today unveiling its policy on the sharing economy and Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh joins us now from Parliament House. Andrew Leigh, good morning. Thanks for making time for us.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Pleasure, Virginia.
TRIOLI: Let's stay with that example of Uber, the ride-sharing service, Airbnb and the like. What sort of regulation should be in place?
LEIGH: Well Labor's view is that we need regulations that maintain good standards but also encourage new firms to emerge. We'd like the next Uber or Airbnb to be an Australian firm. So we want to create an environment where sharing economy companies like Pawshake – the petsitter – and Parkhound – that solves parking problems – can emerge. To do that, we need to make sure that the sharing economy abides by a basic set of principles. Bill Shorten and I will be running through those principles later today but they include making sure that firms pay appropriate wages and conditions; that Australian safety standards are upheld; that sharing economy firms pay their fair share of tax; and that people with disabilities have more opportunities rather than fewer as a result of the sharing economy.
LABOR’S NATIONAL SHARING ECONOMY PRINCIPLES
Joint Media Release with Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten
Labor has today announced our plan to embrace the sharing economy and see all Australians share its benefits.
New services like Airbnb, AirTasker, Camplify and GoGet are changing the way Australians buy and sell things. They are also changing how we think about work and the line between private property and public goods.
There is huge economic and community potential in this emerging peer-to-peer market.
Australia must embrace it, while ensuring we have the right rules in place to protect workers, consumers and the public good.
Labor’s plan is based on six principles.
SKY AM AGENDA
MONDAY, 19 OCTOBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: Polls; Multinational tax; China Australia Free Trade Agreement; Tax transparency; Australian Building and Construction Commission.
KIERAN GILBERT: This is AM Agenda, with me now is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh. Good to see you. I know you don't like talking about polls that much; you never have. But this one is pretty clear in terms of every category: in terms of the leadership attributes, the primary vote, the two-party vote, the preferred Prime Minister. It's all showing that people are quite pleased to have Mr Turnbull in the top job.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Yes, Kieran. I don't like talking about polls mainly because it takes us away from the deeper conversations about issues and ideas that I know you care about as well. I think what this shows is that Malcolm Turnbull has been campaigning as a Labor member on the streets: he's been talking about the issues of cities; and about start-ups, which Labor has been on about for years. The problem is that when he gets to the Parliament, he still votes like a Liberal. He still votes for tax secrecy rather than tax transparency; he doesn't seem to have any proposals on multinational tax that raise any money and we're yet to see anything constructive to tackle inequality in the tax system.Read more
ABC NEWS RADIO
MONDAY, 19 OCTOBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: Multinational tax; Superannuation; Malcolm Turnbull’s Cayman Island portfolio; Polls.
MARIUS BENSON: Andrew Leigh, good morning.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning, Marius.
BENSON: You are backing these measures by the Government to crack down on multinational tax avoidance although you say yourself that you're a bit underwhelmed by them?
LEIGH: Well that's what the Budget says Marius. The Budget estimate of the amount of revenue that this package will raise is basically zero. There's a set of asterisks there in the Budget Papers where revenue estimates should be, so the Government isn't particularly confident about this adding to the Budget bottom line. But to the extent that they're committed to closing loopholes, we're committed to support that in the spirit of bipartisanship. We hope that in return, they'll take a look at Labor’s $7 billion package which has been costed, which does raise revenue and which closes a different set of loopholes than the Government's package focuses on.Read more
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
MONDAY, 19 OCTOBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: Multinational tax; Tax transparency; Polls; Somali asylum-seeker case.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Today, the Government is going to be bringing into the Parliament its multinational tax Bill. This is a widely expected event; the multinational tax Bill was announced in the Budget. Unfortunately, according to the Government's own estimates, it doesn't raise any revenue. Where there should be significant revenue estimates, there's just a series of asterisks on p.14 of the Budget papers.
Labor will be supporting the Government's multinational tax Bill because we think any efforts to crack down on multinational tax avoidance are worthwhile. But we'd also urge the Government to look again at Labor's package, which raises $7.2 billion over the next decade; has been costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office; is inspired by work done at the OECD; and which tackles a different loophole from the one the Government is focusing on. I'm also very disappointed that last week the Government snuck through the Senate measures to reduce tax transparency. The last thing we need at the moment, when we're having a conversation about how to get multinationals to pay more tax, is to be putting up the secrecy shutters. But that's exactly what the Government did last Thursday. Happy to take questions.Read more
LABOR’S PLAN FOR STEM IN CANBERRA SCHOOLS
Joint Release with Amanda Rishworth
Shadow Assistant Minister for Education and Higher Education Amanda Rishworth and Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh have today visited Harrison School to discuss Labor's positive plan for science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM).
They met with students working in Harrison School’s robotics lab and joined with science students to talk about building better career paths to the jobs of the future.
STEM disciplines will be central to the jobs of the changing economy and Canberra kids with these skills will be well positioned to succeed in the future.
That is why a Shorten Labor Government will do more to support local teachers to ensure that they can deliver STEM to students in a way that engages and inspires them. This includes funding 25,000 primary and secondary teachers over five years to undertake professional development in STEM disciplines, including coding.
Labor will also provide 25,000 teaching scholarships over five years to new and recent STEM graduates to encourage them to continue their study and become STEM teachers.
TURNBULL STANDS FOR TAX SECRECY
Malcolm Turnbull is today responsible for ensuring Australia’s biggest private companies can keep secret how much tax they pay.
His Government has rammed a bill through the Senate that will gut this country’s tax transparency laws and keep Australians in the dark about the tax affairs of huge firms.
Today Malcolm Turnbull has been forced to defend his own investments in the notorious tax haven of the Cayman Islands. His Government has chosen this very same day to put a new cloak of secrecy over the tax affairs of companies earning more than $100 million a year.
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
THURSDAY, 15 OCTOBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: Malcolm Turnbull’s Cayman Island portfolio
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning everyone. We've been debating in the Parliament a number of important issues that go to multinational taxation. Labor has been calling for all companies with income over $100 million to have their tax affairs disclosed. That's their total income, taxable income and tax paid. The Coalition is trying to take half of those companies out of the transparency net and keep their tax affairs secret. Labor has been putting on the table a serious package that will crack down on multinational tax avoidance and add more than $7 billion to the budget bottom line. The Coalition isn't willing to close these debt deduction loopholes.
In that context, I think many Australians will find it unusual that the Prime Minister is investing in vulture funds in the Cayman Islands. The Cayman Islands have been on the radar of the OECD and tax authorities around the world as a notorious tax haven. Australia's tax commissioner has referred to it as a tax haven and Malcolm Turnbull's decision to invest in a number of Cayman Islands-based funds does call into question how serious he is able to be about cracking down on multinational tax avoidance – which is a serious issue for the Australian budget – and tax fairness. Happy to take questions.