TURNBULL AS BEREFT OF IDEAS AS TONY
The Turnbull Government has today shown that the policy vacuum of Tony Abbott’s leadership continues unabated.
Instead of seizing the day to progress important issues like marriage equality or violence against women, Malcolm Turnbull’s MPs wasted more than four hours of the Parliament’s time droning on about the Omnibus Repeal Day Bill 2015.
Speaker after speaker lined up to sing the praises of a Bill which replaces the term ‘reference base’ with ‘index reference period’ in 31 acts, and boldly updates ‘Chairman of Committees’ with the more PC ‘Chair of Committees’ in the Public Works Committee Act 1969.
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
WEDNESDAY, 16 SEPTEMBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: Joe Hockey’s uncosted multinational tax plan; tax transparency; effects test.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Thanks everyone for coming along today. Multinational tax avoidance has been a big issue in the Australian public eye this year. We know that many Australian firms and individuals do the right thing and pay their taxes. So they are justifiably outraged when they see reports about big multinationals not paying their fair share of tax. Today we saw Joe Hockey, after two years of bluff and bluster, announce a multinational package into the Parliament. It was a package so vague that his own Treasury can't cost it. Here's what the budget measure looked like in the budget: it's just a series of asterisks. No revenue estimates are attached to Mr Hockey's multinational tax package.
HOCKEY'S EMPTY TAX PLAN
Joe Hockey’s handling of multinational tax shows sadly why he’s likely to be dumped as Treasurer.
After over two years of bluster, Mr Hockey’s best effort is a policy so vague that the Treasury couldn’t even cost it.
His budget papers have a series of asterisks where there should be revenue estimates.
666 ABC CANBERRA
TUESDAY, 15 SEPTEMBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: Liberal leadership.
PHILIP CLARK: Andrew Leigh is the Labor Member for Fraser, he joins me this morning. Andrew, good morning.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning, Philp.
CLARK: Big day yesterday! Politics is exciting I know but did this take you by surprise?
LEIGH: It was pretty extraordinary, yes. As Malcolm Turnbull once put it during another leadership change of this kind, one of the most shocking events any of us have ever witnessed in politics.
CLARK: Yes, well. It's something of a mixed blessing for Labor. There's a lot of talk around Mr Turnbull's popularity and the plain fact is in poll terms, he is much more popular than Mr Abbott. That translates into electoral difficulty for Labor, doesn't it?
LEIGH: Philip, what ultimately matters is what is good for Australia. And if we can have a more sensible conversation about the future then I think that's terrific. Bill Shorten has been talking a lot about the need for jobs that transition beyond the investment phase of the mining boom. Investments in science, technology, engineering and maths are dealing with innovation, and we also need to make sure that we have policies to tackle the growing challenge of inequality. We're up for a policy-focused conversation, the question is whether Malcolm Turnbull is willing or able to move beyond the bad policies that have brought the Liberal Party to this point.
SKY TO THE POINT
MONDAY, 14 SEPTEMBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: Deloitte tax reform report.
LAURA JAYES: Talking about a broader-based GST and the cost it would have to the economy, Chris Richardson, the economist at Deloitte Access Economics, says that it is far more efficient to look at the GST because you can compensate those lower to middle income earners. Andrew Leigh, do you agree with that assessment?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Well Laura, Chris has been a really important contributor to the Australian tax debate over the decades. I think it's an interesting report, there is much to agree with in broad terms. I like the point that the report makes that anyone that argues for a tax cut without saying where the revenue will come from shouldn't be taken seriously. But on the point of the GST, I did think that the report was mistaken in saying that the GST was a more efficient tax than income tax. Indeed, the report reprints a chart from the Treasury's tax white paper which shows the GST and the income tax as having the same efficiency cost on the economy. About 20 cents cost for one every dollar raised. And then, the efficiency cost goes up if you have to compensate households through increasing Government payments. That's something that the report doesn't take enough account of. If you look at where the highest marginal tax rates are in Australia, they're not the ones being paid by multi-millionaires. They're the ones being paid by welfare recipients. Raise them and that’s got to have a big efficiency cost.Read more
FAIRFAX BREAKING POLITICS
MONDAY, 14 SEPTEMBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: Deloitte tax reform report
CHRIS HAMMER: Andrew Leigh, Deloitte Access says Australia has its tax mix wrong. Just as a basic principle, would you agree with that or do you think the status quo is pretty much right?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Chris, I always welcome the chance to talk about tax and I've enjoyed many conversations with the lead author, Chris Richardson, over the years. I do think this Deloitte report though misstates the efficiency benefits of the GST and undersells the efficiency costs of raising the GST.
HAMMER: That is pretty much at the core of the report, as I understand it. There are lots of other things in it but the basic argument is that the GST is an efficient tax and that it can be increased or broadened without being regressive because it's possible to compensate people. There's more than enough money to compensate low income earners. Is that correct?
LEIGH: Let's step through a couple of those things, Chris. First of all, the report suggests that the GST is highly efficient, but it quotes the Government's tax white paper which says that the efficiency cost of raising $1 through the GST is about 20 cents, which makes it about as efficient as income taxes. That therefore suggests that a trade-off which raised the GST and cut income taxes would have no efficiency benefits for Australia. It also, I think, undersells the extent to which the household assistance to compensate for a GST rise would, itself, have an efficiency cost. The highest effective marginal tax rates in Australia aren't those paid by multimillionaires; they're the effective marginal tax rates for welfare recipients. An assistance package that accompanied a GST rise would have to raise effective marginal tax rates at the point at which they're highest. So the household compensation would have an efficiency cost.
Sharing is good but everyone needs a fair go, Herald Sun, 14 September
In March this year, I gave a speech about the rise of the sharing economy – new app-based services that are changing the way Australians buy and sell things. In this speech, I calculated that AirBNB, which had only operated here for two years, already listed one in 300 Australian homes for temporary rental.
It's a measure of how rapidly the sector is changing that in just the six months since I gave that speech, the share of Australian homes listed on AirBNB has risen to almost one in 200.
People right across the Australian community are now buying and selling things through the sharing economy. Whether it’s university students and stay-at-home mums finding jobs on Airtasker, retirees booking holidays with Camplify or families ditching the second car in favour of GoGet, these services are rapidly becoming part of our daily lives.
With so many of us using sharing economy services, it’s easy to forget that some of these still sit in a complicated grey area when it comes to rules and regulations. Our laws haven’t changed anywhere near as fast as these services have been growing.
FRIDAY, 11 SEPTEMBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: Unemployment figures; Abbott Government’s failure to plan for growth; Ministerial re-shuffle.
MARIUS BENSON: Andrew Leigh, good morning.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning Marius.
BENSON: Just in broad terms, is it good news with the jobs figures?
LEIGH: I don't think we should spend a lot of time analysing movements in the unemployment rate that are well within its margin of error. But my concern more broadly is that the unemployment rate is still around the highest that it has been in 13 years and well above that of countries with which we compare ourselves, such as the UK and the United States. When the Abbott Government came to office the unemployment rate in Australia was a couple of points below where it was in the US and UK, and now it's about a point above those two countries. So our labour market is performing worse than theirs in absolute and relative terms.
BENSON: But if you look at the graphs of unemployment, the graph was heading down under Labor and continued to head down after the 2013 election. Now it's heading up, it's looking quite optimistic.
LEIGH: As I said, the unemployment rate – like opinion polls – is measured with a bit of error and yesterday's movement is well within that. But we do have figures which are the worst they've been in broad terms in 13 years. Youth unemployment is again sitting at around 14 per cent – that's one of the worst figures we've had in more than a decade. We know, Marius, that if we want to bring down the unemployment rate then we need growth probably above 3 per cent. Instead we've got growth of around 2 per cent and every quarter since the Abbott Government's first budget came down, the annual growth figures have been revised downwards. We did have growth around that 3 per cent level, now it's down around 2 per cent. If it gets worse and worse then it's going to be harder and harder to generate the jobs we need.
THE ABBOTT GOVERNMENT’S “EXPORT AGREEMENT WITH CHINA”
The Abbott Government’s claim today that it had concluded an “Export Agreement with China” raises troubling issues about whether it has followed proper procedures.
As the Abbott Government undoubtedly knows, Export Agreements are contracts, arrangements or understandings that relate exclusively to the export of goods from Australia or the supply of services outside of Australia.
Export Agreements are listed as such on the ACCC website.
HOW CAN ERIC ABETZ FIX UNEMPLOYMENT WHEN HE DOESN’T EVEN UNDERSTAND IT?
Joint media release with Shadow Minister for Employment Brendan O'Connor
The man in charge of keeping Australians working has today revealed he lacks even the most basic understanding of the unemployment rate.
In his press conference defending an unemployment figure which stubbornly continues to have a six in front of it, Employment Minister Eric Abetz said:
“a 6, a 5, a 4, a 3, a 2 or a 1 in front of the unemployment figure is unacceptable.”
Eric Abetz - Press Conference - 10 September 2015