THE LIBERALS’ WAR ON CHARITIES
SPEECH – MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
THURSDAY, 8 FEBRUARY 2018
On Monday, Senator Louise Pratt, Labor colleagues and I met with dozens of charities concerned about the latest salvo in the Liberals’ war on charities. They included the Australian Council for International Development, CHOICE, Red Cross, Oxfam, CARE Australia, the Consumer Action Law Centre, Financial Counselling Australia, ACOSS, World Vision, RESULTS Australia and Pew Charitable Trusts. There is bipartisan support for banning foreign political donations. Indeed, it's been a year since the Leader of the Opposition introduced a private member's bill that would do just that. But banning donations to political parties should not entail cutting down free speech.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
WEDNESDAY, 7 FEBRUARY 2018
Dr LEIGH (Fenner) (17:13): I move:
That all words after 'That' be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:
'whilst not declining to give the bill a second reading, the House:
(1) is of the opinion that with Government debt soaring ever higher, it’s time the Turnbull Government abandoned its plan to give big business a multi-billion tax cut;
(2) notes that the Government is debating legislative fixes that are a result of its slapdash approach to policy making; and
(3) calls on the Government to commit to a post-implementation review of this measure'.
Labor will support the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enterprise Tax Plan Base Rate Entities) Bill 2017, but we will not do so without calling the attention of this House to the Treasurer's litany of mistakes.
Just over 21 years ago, English Premier League side Southampton fielded a substitute player, Ali Dia, who had just arrived at the injury-depleted side with virtually unknown footballing credentials. In a match Southampton lost 2-0, Dia himself was substituted after a shocking performance and released from his contract within two weeks.
As it turned out, he'd bluffed his way into the job by getting a university friend to impersonate Ballon d'Or winner George Weah in a phone call to manager Graeme Souness to extol the player's skills. Souness's misplaced faith was mocked for decades to come. The player whom Dia replaced, Matt Le Tissier, spoke of the new substitute's performance in the following terms: 'He ran around the pitch like Bambi on ice. It was very, very embarrassing to watch.' Souness defended the decision on the basis that his playing stocks were depleted, but nonetheless confessed that the experience was 'a kick in the bollocks'.Read more
TREASURER PATCHES UP HIS OWN PATCH-UP
Another day, another muck up by Scott Morrison.
Since its announcement, Labor has supported cutting taxes for businesses with a turnover below $2 million.
However, as early as September 2016, tax experts have warned that the actual legislation itself was unclear about whether or not bucket companies earning so-called passive income would be eligible for this tax cut.
The Turnbull Government initially denied that there was a problem, then after more than a year, they admitted that their legislation was faulty, and introduced a bill to fix it.
We were assured that this would be the end of it. But today, we will see the Turnbull Government patching up their patch-up. They have to amend their own amending bill, admitting - yet again – that they can't get the basics right.Read more
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
WEDNESDAY, 7 FEBRUARY 2018
SUBJECTS: Productivity Commission’s draft report on Competition in the Australian Financial System; Turnbull Government’s latest fumble on tax policy: PC endorses more transparency for the Council of Financial Regulators; Barnaby Joyce; share market volatility.
CHRIS BOWEN, SHADOW TREASURER: Well good morning everybody, thanks for coming.
This morning, yet another damning indictment of Scott Morrison’s management of negative gearing in the housing market.
Today we see the release of the Productivity Commission’s draft report into banking competition. Now of course competition in banking and financial services is vital and we said that the Productivity Commission should be commissioned to undertake this review. But what has the Productivity Commission found?
Let us remember that Scott Morrison has for months been saying the answer to Australia’s housing affordability problems is to leave all the heavy lifting to the regulators, to leave all the heavy lifting to APRA, who would engage in macro-prudential regulation and that would fix everything. He told us there was no need to fix negative gearing. He told us that as recently as yesterday.
The Productivity Commission report has found that because Scott Morrison has left the heavy lifting to the regulators, to APRA, that in fact banks have increased their profit margins and that has been subsidised by the tax payer due to negative gearing.
The Productivity Commission has said that this has led to a windfall for the banks. Their words, ‘a windfall; for the banks. And half of that windfall has been subsidised by the Australian tax payer through negative gearing. Now we’ve said all along that negative gearing must be fixed. Evidence mounts day after day for months now, that negative gearing has to be fixed. It appears that Scott Morrison is the only person who doesn’t want to fix negative gearing. Cabinet, of course rolled him when he dared even suggest it be considered.Read more
Festival shows off our fun side
The Chronicle, 6 February 2018
What do Nordic folk dancing, African food and writer Poh Lin Yeow have in common? They’ll all be featuring at the Canberra Multicultural Festival, kicking off on 16 February.
One man who would have been proud of our colourful festival was King O’Malley, a member of the first Australian parliament who was a great champion for Canberra.Read more
THE WAR ON CHARITIES CONTINUES
Representatives worried about the Turnbull Government’s war on charities gathered at Parliament House today to voice their concerns.
Along with my Labor colleagues, I met with dozens of representatives from organisations including:
- Australian Council for International Development
- Red Cross
- Fred Hollows Foundation
- Oxfam Australia
- CARE Australia
- Consumer Action Law Centre
- Financial Counselling Australia
- Australian Council of Social Service
- World Vision Australia
- RESULTS Australia
- Pew Charitable Trusts
Two-thirds of Australian charities recently told Pro Bono that they are finding it harder to be heard by the federal government than five years ago.Read more
Paying decent wages not just a fair go, it’s good for business too
The Daily Telegraph, 26 January 2018
In 1914, Henry Ford shocked America when he announced that he would double the pay of his workers, to $5 a day. He didn’t do this out of a sense of social justice or concern for his workers – remember that Ford Motors was known for its aggressive anti-union tactics. He did it because he understood the economic case for decent wages.
At a time when other car makers were trying to cut costs, Ford increased his wage bill by $10 million – more than half the firm’s annual profits. One competitor predicted that the workers wouldn’t know what to do with the extra cash – that they would be ‘demoralised by this sudden affluence’.
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
THURSDAY, 21 DECEMBER 2017
SUBJECTS: US tax cuts, Malcolm Turnbull’s cuts to universities, Scott Morrison’s delayed action on petrol prices.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Thanks very much for coming along today. My name’s Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer. Under the Abbott and Turnbull Governments, Australia has seen high inequality. We’ve seen home ownership fall to its lowest level in 60 years. We’ve seen wages stagnate. And yet the Liberals’ answer to Australia’s economic challenges has been a budget-busting corporate tax cut for big multinationals, paid for by raising taxes on middle Australia.
When they were first asked to show some evidence in favour of this, they produced research which showed that if you looked at the impact of a corporate tax cut for the big end of town, it increased household income by just 0.1 per cent in the 2030s if it was paid for by raising taxes on middle Australia. 0.1 per cent in the 2030s is hardly a pot of gold waiting the Australian middle class. It’s hardly a reason to be blowing out debt still further. It’s hardly a reason to be raising taxes on seven million low and middle income Australians, as Malcolm Turnbull plans to do.
Now the Liberals would have you believe that Australia’s company tax rate somehow ranks us the highest in the world. But the lie was given to that by analysis done by the United States Congressional Budget Office earlier this year. That analysis looked at the statutory corporate tax rate across the G20. It found that Australia had the 10th highest corporate tax rate in the world’s 20 largest economics – precisely at the middle of the pack. After the passing of Donald Trump’s tax cut, we’d move to ninth – still the middle of the pack. This analysis doesn’t take into account the deductions that are available and the effective rates that are available to companies. When the US Congressional Budget Office compared countries’ corporate tax rates on the average rate or the effective tax rate, which is the tax rate taken into account by businesses making investment decisions, they found that we ranked below average in the G20. And that will continue to be the case regardless of what the United States does.
Effectively, the argument that’s being made by the Liberals is that Donald Trump is doing it and we should follow Donald Trump wherever he leads. It’s absolutely clear from independent economic analysis what the Trump tax cut entails. We know from research done by the University of Chicago that the majority of eminent US economists believe that the Trump tax cut will add significantly to the deficit. It will be paid for in the medium term by the middle class and we know that, according to eminent US economists, that it won’t tangibly add to growth. So there are certainly similarities with the plan being spruiked here in Australia, with the snake oil plan being spruiked by Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison, a plan too which in Australia would increase the deficit, would be paid for by the middle class and would not tangibly add to growth.Read more
Feminism is Another Word for Equality
BroadAgenda, 18 December 2017
With sexual harassment scandals roiling Hollywood and Washington, we need more feminists, not fewer. With the gender pay gap about where it was two decades ago, it’s time for men to do our part for greater equity. With Australia’s corporate boards still three-quarters male and our federal parliament still two-thirds male, men need to join women in talking about how fair representation brings better results.Read more
Halting the havens
The Canberra Times, 14 December 2017
We often say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. But for some multinational firms, their tax affairs often do.
In May 2013, Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook was being grilled by US Senators about the nature and structure of his company’s tax affairs.
Those Senators were scrutinising a complex corporate structure, and how Apple had come to amass over $100 billion of largely untaxed profits offshore. Mr Cook’s retort to the subcommittee was ‘We don’t depend on tax gimmicks… We don’t stash money on some Caribbean island’.
As the New York Times reported after the release of the Paradise Papers: ‘True enough. The island Apple would soon rely on was in the English Channel’.
Jersey, to be precise.
Like millions of Australians, my life is better as a result of using Apple products. But I want the company to succeed based on product innovation, not tax innovation.Read more