HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 18 FEBRUARY 2019
This is a great day for small business, because Labor's access to justice amendment has passed the Senate and looks as though it may now pass the House. This is a great opportunity for the 45th Parliament to come together and address the market power imbalance between large business and small business.
A bit of history. In 2017 the Senate passed Labor's private senator's bill to provide access to justice for small business. There was no crossbench opposition. It was a bill that united Centre Alliance, the Greens and Senators Bernardi, Leyonhjelm and Hinch. Even Senator Gichuhi supported the bill prior to her joining the Liberal Party. Yet, when it came to this place, the Liberals refused to debate it.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 18 FEBRUARY 2019
Whistleblowers play an important role in enforcing our corporate laws. When investigative journalist Bastian Obermayer received millions of leaked files from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, he set in place events which would shake the foundations of many tax structures around the word. The release of the so-called ‘Panama Papers’ showed that shell countries were perpetrating tax fraud and dodging global sanctions. It led to the resignation of the Icelandic prime minister and other prominent officials. Within Australia, the Australian tax office began investigations into 800 people identified in what became known as the Panama Papers.
Indeed, the very notion that whistleblowers may be protected and even rewarded provides an incentive for firms to do the right thing. A recent economic study by Eli Amir, Adi Lazar and Shai Levi looked at Israel's tax whistleblowing scheme and found that it significantly increased the amount of tax paid, particularly in industries that were especially prone to tax evasion.Read more
ABC NEWS BREAKFAST
MONDAY, 18 FEBRUARY 2019
SUBJECTS: Medivac bill; IPSOS poll; Labor’s plans to help small business.
MICHAEL ROWLAND: To talk about this and other issues, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer Dr Andrew Leigh joins us now from Canberra. Good morning to you.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning, Michael.
ROWLAND: Looking at this IPSOS poll first, has the Labor Party pulled the wrong reign here on asylum seekers?
LEIGH: Michael, I haven't commented on opinion polls in my nearly nine years in politics. And in my six years as an academic before that I wrote papers arguing that polls get too much attention. I’d be the last person to think that that ought to be our guiding star. Labor is focused on the big issues, on the stagnant wages, stagnant living standards and the fact that debt is going up while we're seeing living standards flatlining. They are the big issues for us.
ROWLAND: So the narrowest gap in six months, a four point drop in the Labor Party's primary vote does not concern you at all
LEIGH: We'd like to see the issues that matters to the Australian people implemented. Australians want the findings of the Hayne Royal Commission put into legislation. We would like to see parliament sit, not 10 days over 8 months, but sitting as the time that it takes in order to get the Hayne recommendations done. As you mentioned before, we will be grilling the government on this $500 million given to a company with headquarters in a shack on Kangaroo Island. It certainly smells a bit fishy to me.Read more
MONDAY, 18 FEBRUARY 2019
SUBJECTS: Labor’s plans to help small business, upholding competition laws, petrol prices, Medivac bill.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer. Three years ago, Labor announced our Access to Justice for small business policy. It’s a policy that makes sure small business can take on the big end of town in competition litigation. Australia doesn't have enough private litigation upholding our competition laws. One of the reasons for that is that small business are scared about the prospect of being bankrupted by the other side’s legal costs. Labor's Access to Justice for small business policy has been welcomed by COSBOA, who say access to justice is a huge issue. It's been welcomed by the Small Business Ombudsman, herself a former Liberal chief minister, who has said that it's important to level the playing field between small business and big business. It’s also been welcomed by a range of Nationals - Barnaby Joyce, Keith Pitt, Andrew Broad and Llew O’Brien have said that they support Labor's access to justice for small business policy.
And yet Scott Morrison and the Liberals have been fighting against access to justice for small business for years now. They voted against it in the Senate as recently as Thursday night, they voted against our bill, when we brought it to the other place. And they have fought hard against small business, just as the Liberals fought hard against the banking royal commission. Let's not forget, Scott Morrison is the guy who voted against the Banking Royal Commission 26 times and only backed it after the big banks said they wanted a royal commission. Labor’s always been the party of small business. We've got a policy of data sharing for independent mechanics that ensures that they have the data they need to fix cars and stay in business. We've supported a mandatory code for auto dealers, levelling the imbalance that exists between the multinational manufacturers and the franchise operators that sell new cars. At the next election, small and big business will face the time same tax rates regardless of who wins. But under Labor, small business - and big business for that matter - will have access to the Australian Investment Guarantee, allowing more rapid depreciation of new purchases.Read more
MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 12 FEBRUARY 2019
Last December I was contacted by the parents of a young man in my electorate who was given a $40,000 loan by one of the big four banks. At the time, he was sleeping in his car. He had precarious employment. According to his parents, ‘his understanding of finance and law was minimal’. He now finds himself hounded by a debt agency for that $40,000.Read more
ABC NEWS WEEKEND BREAKFAST
SATURDAY, 9 FEBRUARY 2019
SUBJECTS: Banking Royal Commission, closing unsustainable tax loopholes, Tim Wilson’s abuse of parliament, Kerryn Phelps’ amendments.
JOHANNA NICHOLSON: To discuss this and more we're joined now by Andrew Leigh, who's the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and federal Member for Fenner. Thanks so much for your time this morning. Let's start with the banking royal commission. Labor has indicated that it will accept all of the recommendations at least in principle and look at implementing those recommendations from the Royal Commission. If Labor goes ahead and bans bank payments to brokers, won't that save the banks a lot of money? And are you concerned about that?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Johanna, this is an important report. It was hard hitting, but not as hard hitting as some had anticipated - after all, bank shares rose on the announcement of the Hayne Royal Commission report. So Labor believes it’s appropriate to implement it in full, including the recommendations around mortgage brokers. They can play an important role in the industry, but they need to be acting for the customer and the point that a royal commissioner made was that too often they seem to be acting for the lender rather than for the borrower. But it's so true to form that the Coalition, even with this royal commission report, is unable to say that they'll go ahead and implement it. Already they're looking at how they can back in the special interests rather than the interest of all Australians.Read more
ANU CLIMATE UPDATE
AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, 8 FEBRUARY 2019
It’s not easy keeping up with the bad news about climate change.
Last summer – the summer of 2017-2018 – was Australia’s second-hottest since record-keeping began. And after that summer was over, the records continued to fall. April 8th 2018 was the hottest April day ever recorded in Australia. That record lasted for exactly a day, until it was broken on April 9th. In August, 100% of NSW was declared to be in drought. September 2018 was the driest Australian September on record. In ten of the state’s local government areas, day one of the summer fire season was declared in winter, for the first time ever. December 2018 was our hottest recorded December.Read more
ABC CANBERRA MORNINGS
THURSDAY, 7 FEBRUARY 2019
SUBJECTS: Closing unsustainable tax loopholes, Tim Wilson’s conflicts of interest.
ADAM SHIRLEY: Andrew Leigh is the Member for Fenner and Shadow Assistant Treasurer. He's with us on Mornings. Dr Leigh, really appreciate your time. Many people, especially self-funded retirees, have planned to support themselves in part with franking credits. Is it unfair that Labor removes future funds that these people have budgeted for?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning, Adam. Great to be with you and your listeners. I think it's unfair that the Tax Office is currently writing checks to a group of people who are overwhelmingly in the top part of the wealth distribution. Most Australians think of the Tax Office as someone you pay - you make a contribution to the Tax Office so government can deliver public services. But for a small group of Australians - 8 per cent of Australians - the Tax Office is an organisation that sends you cheques. Refundable dividend imputation is not something any other country in the world does. It's not something we do with any other tax concession. Half of the benefits are going to people with more than two and a half million dollars superannuation accounts. And if we don't close this loophole, we won't be able to extend early childhood to 3 year olds, we won’t be able to give $14 billion more to public schools, we won’t be able to reduce those emergency and elective surgery waiting lists.Read more
ABC CANBERRA DRIVE
TUESDAY, 5 FEBRUARY 2019
SUBJECTS: The Banking Royal Commission.
ANNA VIDOT: On the line now, Labor's Andrew Leigh - Of course, Dr Andrew Leigh, MP here in the ACT - for the other side of things and also an economist. So with that hat on as well. Dr Andrew Leigh, welcome to ABC Radio Canberra.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Thanks, Anna. Great to be with you too.
VIDOT: You too. What does parliament need to do most urgently to try to bring the recommendations of the Royal Commission to life and start this, this process towards rebuilding trust in Australia's financial institutions?
LEIGH: I think the first thing would be to sit for as many days as necessary to deal with the Royal Commission's recommendations. What's extraordinary is the government has the Parliament sitting for only 10 days the first half of this year. And given the seismic nature of this royal commission's findings, I think it's absolutely incumbent upon the government to ensure that Parliament sits for as long as it needs to to implement the recommendations.Read more
THURSDAY, 31 JANUARY 2019
SUBJECT: Labor's plans to empower consumer and small business advocacy groups.
LEON BYNER: It just so happens that the Federal Opposition - who according to the polls are going to win government, you can never be sure, but that's what the polls say – have said that when we get into office, we’re going to make these laws much tougher. And so much so that what they are saying is that if a business is dealing with - a big business caught putting unfair terms into contracts with suppliers, they could face fines of up to $10 million. And this plan, Labor says, will help smaller businesses break into concentrated markets. Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer. Andrew, is this going to be properly enforced? Because so often we have laws which are there but we don’t use them.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Absolutely, Leon. We’ve said that we’ll increase the budget of the litigation department of the competition watchdog, so it’s able to go after more anti-competitive and anti-consumer conduct. Competition is terrific for consumers, but it’s got to work well and as you said, there have been too many instances recently where that hasn’t happened. We’ve had Nurofen selling different kinds of pain medications which only differ in the colour of the box. We had Dulux sell us cooling paint that doesn’t cool, Uncle Toby’s sold us protein oats that didn’t have any protein in them. The list of companies which have been reprimanded by the ACCC for anti-consumer conduct reads like a who’s who of the top end of town. So we need to get that balance right. That’s why we’re saying a Shorten Labor Government would ban unfair contract terms. We’d also create a supercomplaints power, so that consumer organisations and bodies like CHOICE could bring forward systematically concerns over consumers being ripped off.Read more