POLITICAL PARENTING CAN BE MORTIFYING – BUT THE IMPERFECTIONS CAN BE GLORIOUS
The Guardian, 16 January 2016
At first glance, it seemed the last photo you’d put on the front of your Christmas card. Gweneth and I were smiling at the cameras, along with our eldest two boys. What we didn’t realise was that our toddler had left the group, and was sitting a metre away, with the world’s biggest scowl on his face.
But when we sent out the card, friends loved it. People didn’t want to see airbrushed politics; they preferred to know that our kids were just as grumpy as everyone else’s. Then someone put it online, and within a week, it had found its way into the global media, including a cameo appearance on the US Today Show.
Combining politics with parenting can be hazardous. A few months afterwards, I was live on my local ABC radio station when the interviewer asked “is that your child howling in the background?” I was torn as to whether to stick to my theme of castigating the Coalition’s economic mismanagement, or explaining that when you have three young boys, silence is as rare as a sleep-in.
Mixing kids with life can have mortifying results, yet the imperfections can be glorious. If you go to the website of Robert Kelly, the Korea expert whose BBC interview was interrupted when his children gatecrashed his home office, you’ll see his bio page starts with “Firstly, yes, I am ‘BBC Dad‘ – the guy who got interrupted on BBC news by his kids in March 2017. Here and here are our family statements on that event.” Kelly is one of the foremost experts on the inter-Korean tinderbox, but most of the world knows him for his irrepressible kids.Read more
STUART ROBERT GETS IT WRONG
In a media release today, Mr Robert states that Labor voted against the Coalition’s Multinational Anti-Avoidance Law.
In fact, Labor supported that bill through both the House and the Senate.Read more
SHINE A LIGHT ON OUR QUIET ACHIEVERS
The Chronicle, 8 January 2018
WHEN working with people with disabilities, Pam Beckhouse kept faith that her students had the capacity to learn.
“Be positive. Never stop. Keep trying,” she counsels.
“One day, something will happen and you’ll realise they were taking it in all that time.”Read more
LEAGUE AND THE LADDER OF LIFE
The Daily Telegraph, 4 January 2019
Many of us like to think as rugby league as the great working class game. But despite its egalitarian beginnings, the early decades of league showed the kind of fixed hierarchy that would have made a baron blush. Souths won every premiership from 1925 to 1929. St George won every premiership from 1956 to 1966.
From the 1970s, things began to change. It became simpler for players to move across teams. New clubs were encouraged to enter the competition. In 1990, a salary cap was instituted, limiting the ability of the richest teams to snap up all the best players. It’s now been two decades since any team won back-to-back league premierships.
The story of rugby league illustrates that it is possible to move from a static, predictable environment into one that is more fluid, mobile, and surprising. But it didn’t happen by accident. Social mobility on the league ladder came about because we changed the rules. We didn’t let the free market rip.
It turns out that this commitment to mobility isn’t just restricted to the playing field. Most people, regardless of ideology, find the idea of a feudal society distasteful. Across the political spectrum, whether you’re talking to progressives or conservatives, almost everyone believes in a society where a child’s outcomes aren’t predestined from birth.Read more
TYRES AND TAX HAVENS
The Herald Sun, 29 December 2018
At its worst, Melbourne’s Stawell tyre dump held nine million tyres. The tyre recycling firm that owned the site was refusing to clean it up. Authorities were worried about the fire risk. Eventually, the Environment Protection Authority stepped in. Over two months, they took away 380 truckloads of tyres, at a cost to the taxpayer of $4.5 million.
But when they looked at where to send the bill, the Authority discovered something fishy. Ownership of the dump had been shifted from the Used Tyre Recycling Corporation to a firm called Internet Marketing Solutions Corp. It was based in Panama. That’s right - one of Melbourne’s ugliest eyesores was technically owned by an internet company based in a beautiful nation on the other side of the world.Read more
COALITION WAVES THE WHITE FLAG ON MULTINATIONAL TAX DODGING
Nearly three years after promising a register designed to crack down on multinational tax avoidance, the Coalition has put the reform into the ‘too hard for us’ basket.Read more
HOW THE FAT DUCK SLIMMED ITS TAX BILL
The Age, 19 December 2018
In the 1600s, Louis XIV’s finance minister famously described the art of taxation as being to get the maximum amount of feathers from the goose, with the least amount of hissing. At London’s Fat Duck restaurant, they’ve taken a different approach. By using tax havens, Heston Blumenthal’s restaurants appear to have goosed the tax authorities. By flying the profits to the tax haven of Nevis, which charges no company tax on the profits of foreign companies, the famous restaurant chain seems to have feathered its own nest at the expense of the rest of us.
Heston Blumenthal, who also operates the Dinner restaurant at Melbourne’s Southbank, isn’t the only one apparently using tax havens. By one estimate, four out of every ten dollars of multinational profits are now routed through tax havens. Dubbed ‘Treasure Islands’ by one expert, places like Panama and Bermuda have become infamous for their willingness to house companies and their unwillingness to share information about them.Read more
ABC MELBOURNE DRIVE
MONDAY, 17 DECEMBER 2018
SUBJECTS: The Coalition’s debt-doubling debacle, Labor’s plans to close multinational tax loopholes and make big business pay their fair share, Labor National Conference.
PRUE BENTLEY: Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and is with us now. Andrew Leigh, good afternoon.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good afternoon, Prue. Great to be with you.
BENTLEY: First, before we get to the National Conference, the Government released their mid-year budget update this morning and they’re crowing about - particularly about a projected surplus for next year of $4.1 billion. This is what Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said to Ali Moore this morning.
JOSH FRYDENBERG, TREASURER: Well, the results today are the product of more than five years of hard work - disciplined design making, including more targeted and restrained spending, as well as putting in place tax cuts for small business people and for households and for families. So today’s, the first job we need to do is to deliver a surplus and the seance job we need to do is pay back Labor’s debt and we’ve still got that to do.
BENTLEY: That was Treasurer Josh Frydenberg this morning. Andrew Leigh, a return to surplus, that’s good news for the Government. That’s good news for the Australian public, isn’t it?
LEIGH: It's certainly good news, but I think what you heard there it wasn't merely crowing - it was what George Orwell called blackwhite. This is a government that came to office in 2013 promising a surplus in their first year and in every year after that. And they’re on track, on their own numbers, to deliver six deficits and finally promising a surplus after having doubled net debt. As you know, Labor took on debt during the global financial crisis to save the economy in the teeth of the worst global recession that we'd seen since the greatest since the Great Depression. We managed to save 200,000 jobs. But what's the Coalition's excuse for having doubled net debt since 2013? They just don't have one.Read more
SKY NEWS AGENDA
MONDAY, 17 DECEMBER 2018
SUBJECTS; Labor Conference, MYEFO, IPSOS poll, negative gearing, asylum seeker policy, Newstart allowance review.
LAURA JAYES: Andrew Leigh is at the Labor Conference and he joins us live here this morning. Andrew Leigh, thank you for your time. We’re yet to see these figures officially but as we know the good news is selectively leaked out ahead of the budget update today. What do you make of the figures? Halving the deficit this year and a bigger return the surplus next year, good news and who do you credit?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Laura, what you just heard from the Treasurer and the Finance Minister was a rewriting of history that would have made George Orwell proud. This is a Government which came to office in 2013 promising that there would be surpluses in their first year and every year after that. They haven’t delivered a single surplus and they’ve doubled net debt. Gross debt has now crashed through about the half a trillion dollar barrier. They castigated Wayne Swan because he promised a surplus which then didn't materialise after the economy was whacked with the biggest downturn since the Great Depression. And now they're saying they’re delivering a surplus - well, they're not. They’re promising a surplus yet again, as they did before the election. Australians will reasonably ask why is it that the Coalition will stand up for every multinational tax loophole but not support fair funding of schools? Because when you hear them talk about a higher taxing agenda-Read more
MORE COMPETITION, LESS CHICAGO
Australian Financial Review, 17 December 2018
If you want to know whether firms are worried about competition, don’t just listen to what they say. Listen to what they don’t say. Trawling through thousands of annual reports of American firms, a recent study found that the use of the word ‘competition’ in those reports has declined by three quarters since the start of the century.
Another approach is to look at their books. In the 1980s, large listed firms charged prices that were 10-20 percent above their costs. Today, that’s risen to 60 percent. The problem is just as bad in Australia as in other advanced countries. A study by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission earlier this year concluded that the residential mortgage market looked more like ‘synchronised swimming’ than competition, with customers forced to keep switching lenders if they wanted to get the best deal.
Australia’s competition problem has deep roots. Under the Fraser Government, the test for companies to merge was weakened, in the misguided belief that we needed to let firms grow large in Australia if they were to compete overseas. The merger test was finally tightened up again under the Keating Government. But as former ACCC chair Allan Fels has pointed out, the lax test had by then allowed mergers between Coles and Myer, News Ltd and Herald & Weekly Times and Ansett Airlines and East West Airlines.Read more