TAX PIRATES AND TAX FAIRNESS
DEVPOLICY CENTRE, CRAWFORD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY
AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY
12 APRIL 2019
I acknowledge the Ngunnawal people, on whose lands we’re meeting today, and pay my respects to their elders past and present.
It is common for forms of serial fiction such as comic books, or film or television franchises, to have a new start of that universe – often called a ‘reboot’.
On occasion, when discarding the previous continuity or plotlines, the rebooting producers will change the tone of the text, perhaps favouring a gritty, realistic tone.Read more
AUSTRALIA DESERVES A BETTER, FAIRER BUDGET
INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTANTS BUDGET BREAKFAST
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, 3 APRIL 2019
Thank you for inviting me along to what is now my sixth of these post-budget breakfasts. I acknowledge the traditional owners, the Ngunnawal people, on whose lands we meet today and pay my respects to their elders past and present. I thank host Leigh Sales and my counterpart Zed Seselja, the Institute of Public Accountants and Canberra Business Chamber. I started speaking at these breakfasts in 2014. Since that time, we've had three prime ministers, three treasurers. My opposing number today is the sixth person against whom I’ve squared off.
At the outset, I want to say something about where the overall economy is going, because we can get too focused on the fiscal situation and not think enough about the global and national economic context.
If you take global bond yields as a reasonable economic forecasting tool, you'd be pretty worried. They're negative in Germany, they're massively down in the US, the UK and Canada. The OECD last month downgraded its growth forecasts. In the US, fiscal stimulus is now fading. Just to listen to today's news, you've got the collapse of the Brexit talks again and suggestions that the US might pull out of NATO. China raises a range of challenges, including debt and political stability.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
THE COALITION’S WAR ON CHARITIES
48TH NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY, ADELAIDE
Over the last five years, the Liberals have been waging a war on charities. They have attempted to shut down the charities commission, the body supported by four out of five charities. When they couldn't get that legislation through parliament, they decided to appoint as its head Gary Johns. Now Gary Johns is somebody who's attacked the Indigenous charity Recognise, he’s criticised BeyondBlue, he’s described Indigenous women as “cash cows”. Putting Gary Johns in charge of the charities commission is like putting Ned Kelly in charge of bank security. It’s like putting Bronwyn Bishop in charge of transport for politicians.
Meanwhile, Labor’s been working with the charitable sector. We see a vibrant role for charities in supporting better public policy. We don’t just believe that environmental charities should be planting trees, we believe they should be talking about deforestation. We don’t just believe that social justice charities should be serving a soup kitchen, we believe they can play a role in talking about poverty.Read more
A STRONG ECONOMY FOR ALL AUSTRALIANS
48TH NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY, ADELAIDE
Thank you, President Swan.
Inequality in Australia is now at a 75-year high. If you were alive when inequality was this bad and you don’t have life membership, I’d encourage you to see Wayne Swan afterwards.
It is a pleasure to speak in favour of this important chapter alongside my friends Chris and Jim, because this chapter goes to the heart of what a Shorten Labor Government would deliver for the economy.
If you’re a billionaire, then the Liberals have been a great government. They’ve never seen a tax loophole they won’t defend. If he’s re-elected at the election, Scott Morrison will be back fighting once more for tax cuts for the biggest companies in Australia. Because, as he said less than six months ago, ‘we don't flip flop on these things’.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 6 DECEMBER 2018
Lionel Murphy put it best when he said, 'Mr Neal is entitled to be an agitator,' in support of the notion that our civil society is richer when we encourage people to dissent, to complain, to speak out, on issues where they have a different view.
In our schools we frequently have student representative councils and debating competitions. Here in the parliament we have the Parliament and Civics Education Rebate program, PACER, which even today is bringing to this building school students to engage in the process of parliament. It is bringing students to our national capital so they can better understand our civil society. When I was at school, I protested in Martin Place against education changes being made by Terry Metherell, an experience from which I learned a great deal, not just about education but about the process of making a difference, as students do when they join peaceful protests against laws with which they disagree.
So it was surprising to hear the Prime Minister say, 'We do not support our schools being turned into parliaments,' when in fact that is what a government program does in many schools, to allow students to learn about civics.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 3 DECEMBER 2018
Shane Madden was one of Canberra's finest lawyers. He was part of the senior leadership team when the ACT Department of Public Prosecutions was formed under Ken Crispin in 1991. ACT Bar Association President Steve Whybrow said:
Shane was a fine trial advocate whose dark emerald robes and pinstripe pants were a defining sartorial feature.Read more
CRAWFORD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY
AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, 13 NOVEMBER 2018
In 1958, psychologist David Weikart took up the job of being director of special education in Ypsilanti, Michigan. At that time, schools were segregated, and all the African-American students in the town attended one primary school - the Perry School. Weikart noticed that the school was run down. Instead of a playground, it had a field filled with thistles. Many of the African-American students ended up repeating grades, entering special education or leaving school early.
Yet when Weikart gave a presentation to school principals about these problems, users responded defensively. One sat with arms tightly folded; others stood by the window smoking; a few left the room. When he pressed them to act, they said there was nothing they could do. Black students were just born that way. So Weikart came up with an alternative solution: 'Because I couldn't change the schools . . . well, obviously you do it before school.'Read more
BAHASA, BUSINESS EXCHANGES AND MATCH-FIT LEADERSHIP: DEEPENING THE AUSTRALIA-INDONESIA RELATIONSHIP
KEYNOTE ADDRESS, AUSTRALIA-INDONESIA BUSINESS COUNCIL
SURFERS PARADISE, 13 NOVEMBER 2018
Selamat pagi. It’s good to be with you today.
When I was anak kecil, I lived in Indonesia for three years. My father Michael was at Syiah Kuala University in Banda Aceh, funded by the Australian Government to work on a special training program designed to improve social science research capacity throughout Indonesian Universities and Islamic Institutes. My mother Barbara was mostly looking after my brother and me, but was beginning the research into the Indonesian education system that would become her PhD thesis, and her studies of traditional Acehnese textiles that would become her book Tangan-Tangan Trampil / The Hands of Time.
It was a pretty extraordinary experience for a child to have. I attended the local Acehnese school, where lessons were conducted in Indonesian. We spent most of the day singing nation-building songs (with a burgeoning local independence movement, the Suharto Government was keen to remind people in Aceh that they were Indonesian first and Acehnese second). Then we played in the muddy playground. As my mother recalls it, the sole white kid in the class was the only one whose white shirt had turned brown by the end of the day.Read more
LIONEL MURPHY LECTURE
AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, 31 OCTOBER 2018
Australia has a competition problem: there is not enough of it. Our industries are concentrated. Our markets show signs of weak competition.
The way Australia’s experts think about competition is partly to blame. Although it has been less influential in Australia than in the United States, the Chicago School’s views on competition have shaped our laws, policies and enforcement practices. The Chicago School views market concentration as a virtue more than a vice. Barriers to entry are surmountable, market power tends to be temporary, most mergers are good, vertical restraints and predatory pricing are either benign or efficient.
These views run counter to those of Lionel Murphy. Murphy saw market concentration as a problem. He saw strong competition laws as necessary to protect the competitive process, protect consumers and support the creation of new businesses. He found the Chicago School’s arguments unconvincing. The growing body of research and experience shows Murphy’s concerns were well-founded. The Chicago School’s faith in the ability of markets to self-correct and deliver competitive outcomes was misplaced.
There is a strong progressive case for repositioning how we think about competition. Focusing more on the competitive process, the structure of markets and the incentives those structures create for firms will play an important role in reducing inequality.Read more