Are Belconnen delays a sign of more pain on the way? - Media Release


The Abbott Government has let another week go by without word on the future of the Department of Immigration in Belconnen.

Instead of announcing a decision on this drawn-out procurement process, this week Public Service Minister Eric Abetz floated the idea of slashing the Australian Public Service even further.

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Hockey may as well promise everyone a pony - Radio National Drive





SUBJECT/S: Share market turmoil; Income tax; Industry assistance to BlueScope Steel; Australian involvement in Syria.

PATRICIA KARVELAS: Markets have been on a rollercoaster today, recovering slightly after heavy falls yesterday and in early trading. The Australian share market's benchmark ASX 200 has jumped 2.7 per cent, defying further steep falls in China and across Asia. Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh joins me now. Hi, welcome back.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: G'day Patricia, good to be with you.

KARVELAS: Have share markets bottomed out? What do you think?

LEIGH: Share markets are notoriously tough to forecast, Patricia. But certainly we've seen some huge falls over the last few days. We've seen this 8 per cent fall from the Shanghai Composite, the Nikkei in Japan is down 4 per cent, European stocks are down about 4 per cent. The Australian stock market yesterday fell back down to where it was in 2013. So these are pretty troubling developments and certainly speak to some of the concerns in the global economy. The first of those is the Chinese stock market and the devaluation there, and the second is the end of very low interest rates in the United States, which investors know is coming.

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More hot air from Hockey on tax cuts - AM Agenda





SUBJECT/S: Taxation reform; China free-trade agreement; NDIS; Canning by-election

KIERAN GILBERT: This is AM Agenda. Thanks for your company this Monday. With me now is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh, and in Melbourne we've got the Assistant Social Services Minister, Mitch Fifield. Thanks for your time gentlemen. Mitch Fifield, first to you: more calls for tax cuts from the Treasurer but how are they going to be paid for? He's got the idea but not necessarily the solution here.

MITCH FIFIELD, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES: Kieran, as you know we are for lower and simpler and fairer taxation in Australia. We've demonstrated that with the abolition of the carbon tax and the mining tax. We will have more to say in the future about personal income tax through the taxation white paper process. But we're not hearing any talk from the other side about how to reduce Australia's levels of taxation. Labor still want to bring back the carbon tax, they want to call it a different name, they want to call it an ETS. So I think the people of Australia really have two competing visions when it comes to taxation.

GILBERT: But I guess the question is, Senator Fifield, how do you fund this when it would run into the billions to bring the Australian marginal tax rate down to, say, a nation's like New Zealand for example.

FIFIELD: Kieran, I'm not here today to announce a Coalition taxation policy. We have the tax white paper process which is there for a reason. It's meant to gain views from the Australian community and Australian business as to how they think our taxation system can be more competitive. There are a number of stages to that tax white paper process and we will have more to say about personal income tax as part of the process.

GILBERT: Well it's a starting point I guess. Andrew Leigh, the point is that compared to other nations our marginal tax rates are not competitive, are they?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Well Kieran, if you look at what they call the tax wedge across the OECD, Australia is below average for income taxes. Our total tax take puts us in the bottom handful of countries in the advanced world. 

We should always be trying to craft a better income tax system but if the average Australian had a dollar for every time they were promised tax cuts from Joe Hockey, they'd be as rich as he is.

The simple fact is, Joe Hockey is all hot air and no action when it comes to tax reform. Labor has announced our multinational tax plan and our superannuation plan. These are tax reforms that make a difference to the budget bottom line but are also fair and sustainable. 

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Tax disclosure wind-back is a 'reform' nobody asked for - The Guardian

Joe Hockey's tax disclosure wind-back is a 'reform' nobody asked for, The Guardian, 21 August

This week’s Parliamentary sittings began with the tabling of a Senate report into how some big companies are dodging their tax bills. The report found that billions of dollars are draining offshore through holes in the tax system. It called for better tax transparency to hold companies accountable for shirking their fair share.

Asked on ABC radio what the government was doing about the problem, Treasurer Joe Hockey pointed out that a law requiring the tax office to disclose the tax paid by large firms was about to come into effect. What he didn’t say was that he was about to gut that law.

The Parliamentary week has ended with the Abbott Government introducing a bill to help some of Australia’s biggest companies keep their tax dealings secret. This means we’ll never know just how much dodging they may be getting away with. Far from backing better transparency, the Abbott Government is actually working to shield huge firms from any public scrutiny.

The Coalition’s bill is designed to eviscerate transparency laws Labor put in place in 2013. Labor’s laws require the Australian Tax Office to publish information about the income and tax paid by companies earning more than $100 million.

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It's official: government's top tax priority is gutting transparency - Media Release


The Abbott Government has today shown that its top priority on tax is helping big companies keep secret how much they really pay. 

In the very same week a major Senate report has called for better tax transparency, the Abbott Government has introduced legislation to gut Australia’s existing tax transparency laws.

This morning, Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will table a bill that will roll back Labor’s transparency rules, introduced in 2013.

These laws require the Australian Tax Office to publish information about the income and tax paid by companies earning over $100 million a year.

Joe Hockey was spruiking these very rules on ABC Radio just three days ago when arguing against the need for better transparency.

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Abbott's cuts lead CSIRO to sell the farm, literally - Media Release


Australia’s premier research agency has been forced to turn property developer to make up for the Abbott Government’s deep funding cuts.

Today, the CSIRO announced it is seeking approval to re-develop a major tract of land in Canberra that has previously been used for agricultural research.

The agency has asked the National Capital Authority to re-zone the Ginninderra Field Station Site on the Barton Highway as 'Urban Area' in the next amendment to the National Capital Plan, due out next year. This would allow CSIRO to sell or build on the site for commercial development.

CSIRO would not need to sell off its assets if the Abbott Government hadn’t slashed $115 million from its funding in the 2014 Budget.

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Looking for policy consistency? Don't look to the Liberals - RN Drive





SUBJECT/S: Marriage equality; Dyson Heydon; EPBC Act.

PATRICIA KARVELAS: We're joined in our Parliament House studio by Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Dr Andrew Leigh – hi Andrew.


KARVELAS: And the New South Wales Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos. Hi Arthur.


KARVELAS: Let's start with you, Arthur Sinodinos: why do frontbenchers need the riot act read to them? What's going wrong?

SINODINOS: Because last week we had a process of discussion in the party room on same-sex marriage which came to a disposition, which later became a decision, about a process for allowing the people to have a vote on this in the next Parliament. So then what happened afterwards is that various frontbenchers were out there, before there'd been a Cabinet discussion, giving their view about the form in which this consultation of the people should occur. What the Prime Minister was indicating, I think, in the party room today was that this is not the appropriate way to go about it and with the Canning by-election coming our way very soon, we need to make sure we are speaking with one voice and restoring Cabinet government so we can get on with focusing on the things that matter most to the people of Australia.

KARVELAS: But I've got to ask, Arthur Sinodinos, is there a position? You don't really have one yet – there’s only a sort of half position.

SINODINOS: The undertaking the Prime Minister gave to the party room was to come back with a process after consulting the Cabinet, and bring it to the party room in the next little while. I think that means, probably, when we're next sitting again.

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Abbott Government blocking tax transparency and marriage equality - Breaking Politics





SUBJECT/S: Marriage equality; Tax transparency; Environmental Protection Act.

CHRIS HAMMER: Andrew Leigh, given that it appears that it's unlikely there will be a vote in Parliament on same-sex marriage and there's now a debate about plebiscites verses referendums before, during or after the election, where do you think we should head?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Chris, I think people are making this more complicated than it needs to be. When the Marriage Act was changed in 2004 to prevent same-sex marriage, none of the conservatives – Tony Abbott included – said that that should go to the people. The talk now of a plebiscite or referendum is just a delaying tactic, a blocking tactic which is, as today's polls show, against the wishes of two-thirds of Australians.

HAMMER: It's not a scuttling tactic?

LEIGH: It's probably that as well. But this is not a reform which ought to be threatening to Australians. This will strengthen traditional marriages, not weaken them. It will put us in the position of following the rest of the advanced countries in the English speaking world – countries like New Zealand, Britain, Ireland and the United States where the forecast plagues of locusts have not materialised since same-sex marriage has been allowed. 

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Joe and Josh press the panic button as tax inaction laid bare - Joint Media Release


 Joint media release with Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen

The Abbott Government is a shambles on multinational tax, as ministers desperately try to hide their inaction on making multinationals pay their fair share.

Later today the Senate’s corporate tax inquiry will table a report which lays bare the worrying scale of tax avoidance by big multinationals. 

Joe Hockey and Josh Frydenberg have been out spinning hard in response, but they can’t even get their own policies straight.

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Working Together - The Chronicle

Teamwork the key to success, The Chronicle, 4 August 2015

In 1990, as the Voyager 1 spacecraft was leaving our solar system, astronomer Carl Sagan persuaded NASA to turn the camera around and take one last photo of earth. In the image, our planet appears as a pinpoint in the midst of space.

The photo – known as ‘Pale Blue Dot’ – hangs on the wall of my Parliament House office, as a reminder to keep things in perspective. But the fact of the photo is also an awesome reminder of what humans can achieve together.

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.