Read moreWe need to improve productivity, but not by cutting penalty rates, The Guardian, 6 February
Ever since Thomas Mortimer worried that the advent of the sawmill ‘would exclude the labour of thousands of useful workmen’, progressives have had an uneasy relationship with productivity. Everyone is pleased to see technology and process improvements that make jobs safer, cleaner and less stressful. But many worry that such improvements will also shrink the number of jobs going around and make life much worse for workers who end up displaced by machines.
At its best, this anxiety manifests in close attention to who the winners and losers are in today’s changing workforce. At worst, it results in a rose-tinted yearning for the kind of back-breaking jobs few workers ever enjoyed at the time.
NOW TURNBULL WANTS HIGHER STATE TAXES TOO
For a PM who says he wants lower taxes, Malcolm Turnbull sure loves talking about raising them.
Fresh from a week in which his Treasurer confirmed he’s ready and willing to make the hard sell for a higher GST, Malcolm Turnbull is now talking up higher state taxes as well.
Speaking on Adelaide radio, the Prime Minister called on state governments to increase state charges like payroll tax and land tax to cover the $80 billion his party has cut from schools and hospitals funding.
KELLY O’DWYER: TAX CRUSADER??
It was Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer’s turn to try on the Liberals’ mask of concern about multinational tax today. Unfortunately, it was about as convincing as a pair of Groucho Glasses.
Even the best Question Time pantomime won’t make Australians believe the Liberals really care about ensuring big multinationals pay their fair share of tax.
That’s because their record speaks for itself.
SKY PM AGENDA
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
WEDNESDAY, 3 FEBRUARY 2016
SUBJECT/S: GST, tobacco excise
DAVID SPEERS: With me now is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh. Thank you for joining us.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Pleasure, David.
SPEERS: On this spending point that Paul Keating has made today: “we need to trim our spending and not accommodate more of it by ever more taxation”. Labor is promising more taxation, more spending.
LEIGH: There is no magic level of government spending. If you look across the advanced world, Australia sits towards the bottom of the pack. The size of government is similar to Mexico, Korea and the United States; well away from countries in Europe with 40 or 50 per cent of the economy being government.
MORRISON’S VAUDEVILLE ACT ON MULTINATIONAL TAX FOOLS NO-ONE
Perhaps to make up for Malcolm Turnbull’s suggestion yesterday that fairly taxing multinationals is “controversial”, the Treasurer came packing his best faux-outrage to Question Time today.
Unfortunately however, he forgot his cheat sheet detailing the Coalition’s woeful record on tackling tax avoidance. As always, he attempted to bluff and bluster his way through while mangling the facts in the process.
On Fraser becoming Fenner, City News, 3 February
FOR the past five years, I’ve been fortunate enough to represent an electorate named after the great parliamentarian Jim Fraser. But after former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser passed away last year, the Australian Electoral Commission has decided to rename the ACT seat of (Jim) Fraser, with a view to creating a new seat of (Malcolm) Fraser in Victoria.
As of this week Fraser will become Fenner; for the remarkable Australian scientist and public health advocate Frank Fenner. Here’s five fascinating things you might not know about this electorate’s new namesake.Read more
Good govt requires more than mere memories, Canberra Times, 2 February
A little over a century ago, GK Chesterton wrote that ‘Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.’
Well told, history is always more exciting than the present. In her latest Quarterly Essay, ‘Political Amnesia’, Laura Tingle demonstrates how a fine wordsmith can skip the dull bits, and compress the achievements of decades into a handful of pages. We’re treated to the best insights of the post-war economic policymakers known as the ‘Seven Dwarfs’. We hear about the creation of capital gains and fringe benefits taxes, over the objections of the naysayers. I challenge you to read Tingle’s description of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating’s achievements, and not want to carve their faces onto the side of Mt Ainslie.Read more
MAKING MULTINATIONALS PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE IS CONTROVERSIAL? ONLY FOR MALCOLM
The more we see of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the more he reveals about his true values.
In Question Time today, Mr Turnbull flippantly described making big multinationals pay their fair share of tax as: “highly controversial”.
You read that right: the Prime Minister who is ready and willing to force a higher GST on every Australian household thinks asking some of the world’s largest companies to pay their fair share of Australian tax is a controversial move.
"A NEW PRODUCTIVITY PUSH"
SPEECH TO THE AUSTRALIAN ECONOMIC FORUM
28 JANUARY 2016
Princeton economist Paul Krugman once put it neatly: ‘Productivity isn’t everything, but in the long run it is almost everything.’
As an economist, I love hearing real-world examples of how firms are raising productivity. A couple of years ago, I visited a manufacturing firm that makes mining machines. So baroque had the production line become that when they revamped the layout, the firm found that it was able to get the same work done on a line just one-thirteenth the length. The result was a one-third improvement in productivity for the company.
Visiting Fortescue’s operation in the Pilbara, I heard about its company-wide competition called ‘Have a Crack’, with the prize being $50,000 for the best productivity-boosting suggestion. The winning idea increased the efficiency of the machines that load iron ore onto bulk carriers, saving the company tens of millions of dollars each year. Not a bad return on investment.
This kind of innovation is what companies like the ones represented here today do so well. Coming up with the creative improvements which let workers do more with fewer resources. Honing in on the little productivity gains which make a big difference to profits and growth. As you well know, this is work that never ends. Companies like yours are always looking for fresh ways to stay ahead of the curve as technology and the global economy evolves.
Smart governments need to do the same.Read more
THURSDAY, 21 JANUARY 2016
SUBJECT/S: Malcolm Turnbull’s plan for a 15 per cent GST; ICAC; Australian economic outlook.
MARIUS BENSON: Let's go to local politics now. The federal Opposition has made an early start on the campaign trail for this election year with Labor leader Bill Shorten selling his message from Tasmania and North Queensland in recent days. At the heart of that message are economic issues with the headline concern, in the Labor view, the government’s plan to push the 10 per cent GST up to 15 per cent. For that Labor view on the economy and the election year ahead, I'm joined by the Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh. Andrew Leigh, good morning.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning, Marius.
BENSON: Can I begin with the story that's broken this morning, reported in The Australian, that the Independent Commission Against Corruption in NSW has found no allegations to be pursued against Arthur Sinodinos, who nearly two years ago stood down because of the ICAC hearings. What's your view on that?
LEIGH: I haven't followed all the twists and turns of the ICAC inquiry but certainly from the outside it looks like Arthur Sinodinos – who I think of as a pretty smart bloke – did some pretty dumb things, particularly not being aware that a company he was chairing was making donations to the Liberal Party at a time when he was responsible for Liberal Party donations. But this will obviously be pleasing for Senator Sinodinos and his family. I guess what it highlights though is that Arthur Sinodinos was the first of the three Assistant Treasurers this Government has had since coming to office, along with its two Treasurers. That lack of continuity is one of the reasons why the economic strategy of the Government is so much in disarray.