TURNBULL DISCOVERS ‘FAIRNESS’, TWO YEARS TOO LATE
Malcolm Turnbull’s hypocrisy was writ large today when he talked about making changes to the tax system that are ‘fair’.
Australians know what Mr Turnbull’s definition of ‘fair’ is: he ‘unreservedly and wholeheartedly’ backed every measure in the Liberals’ 2014 Budget.
Supporting a GP tax on the vulnerable, making students pay $100,000 for their degrees and taking over $6,000 from the pockets of families: was this ‘fair’ Mr Turnbull?
MALCOLM TURNBULL: I support unreservedly and wholeheartedly every element in the Budget. Every single one.
ALAN JONES: So you’re totally supportive of the Medicare co-payment?
MALCOLM TURNBULL: I support every element, of course, including the Medicare co-payment. Do you want to go through the whole list?
ALAN JONES: You’re totally supportive of the increase in the fuel excise?
MALCOLM TURNBULL: I support the re-prioritised funding of official development assistance. I support introducing co-payments for general practitioner pathology and diagnostic imaging services in the Medicare Benefits Schedule. I support the reforms to higher education. I support the changes to family payment reform. Do you want me to read through the whole Budget?
2GB – 5 June 2014
CLOSING THE INCOME GAP
2015 Economic and Social Outlook Conference
University of Melbourne
If you returned from work one day and found your home flooded by a gushing faucet, the first thing you’d do is turn off the tap. But once you’d stopped the water rising, could you then go about your evening as though nothing else was amiss? Only if you’re willing to overlook the rather pressing problem of everything you own being underwater.
That’s the approach some would have us take in response to the news that there has been a pause in the growing gap between the rich and the rest in Australia over the past few years. When the OECD released a report earlier this year showing that some measures of inequality had been stable in Australia between 2006 and 2012 – some newspaper columnists and political commentators welcomed this as a sign people like you and me should stop worrying about how much better Australia’s billionaires are doing than our battlers.
But to extend the analogy a little further: turning off the tap is not the same as draining out water. The fact that inequality has stopped rising for the moment does not mean that we’ve suddenly achieved an egalitarian idyll. Across the advanced world, Australia sits in the top third for our level of inequality.
Malcolm's medium is Australia's XXXL, Business Spectator, 28 October
Calling a firm earning $100 million a year a “medium-sized company” is like describing Andre the Giant a featherweight. It’s so wrong as to be laughable.
Yet that is exactly how Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has described the companies his government chose to shield from Australia’s tax transparency laws.
In the last sitting fortnight the Turnbull Government rammed a bill through the Senate that gutted transparency rules put in place by Labor in 2013. Our laws required the Australian Tax Office to publish information about the income, taxable income and tax paid by companies earning more than $100 million. The first report was supposed to be published by the end of the year.
Fall 2015 Distinguished Public Policy Lecture
Institute for Policy Research
In 2006, chess world champion Vladimir Kramnik was beaten by chess computer program Deep Fritz. In 2011, quiz show champions Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings were beaten on Jeopardy! by IBM’s Watson computer. Modernist composers are experimenting with singing software that can mimic a human voice box, but without its physical limitations. Earlier this year, Google announced that their driverless cars had completed over 1 million road miles in Nevada, Florida, California and Michigan. Among the newlyweds who stand at the altar this year, more than one in three couples were brought together by a computer algorithm.
Breakthroughs in processing power, data availability and machine learning have affected all our lives. Within the past decade, fields such as image search, voice recognition, language translation and robotics have seen huge breakthroughs. While a digital assistant might have seemed fanciful a decade ago, the advances in Apple’s Siri technology suggest that it may not be far off. Surgeons who now use computer-guidance to tell them where to cut may soon be stepping back so that a robot can do the job. Within a decade or two, Douglas Adams fans who admired the Babel Fish may be able to pop a simultaneous translation device in their ear.
For well-educated professionals earning six-figure salaries, the world of artificial intelligence seems exciting, optimistic and – well – cool. And yet I want to argue today that no serious economist should be thinking about the aggregate benefits of technology without considering its distributional implications. Since the path breaking work of Wolfgang Stolper and Paul Samuelson in 1941, trade theorists have known that cutting tariffs raises aggregate living standards, but can make some workers worse off. So too we need to intertwine our understanding of technology with recognising its impact on inequality.
But putting yourself in the shoes of others isn’t easy. So I want to scare you a little, by drawing on an idea that’s increasingly coming out of science fiction and into the newspapers. Perhaps then, when you realise that the monster might in fact be living under your bed, we can talk about what to do about it.
Five things that matter, The Australian, 28 October
A few months before the 2013 federal election, the Australian economist Stephen Koukoulas issued the incoming Liberal Government what he called ‘a very simple and professional challenge’. Fed up with all their rhetoric about fixing the budget and turbo-charging the economy, Koukoulas challenged the Liberals to improve Australia’s economic performance on five key indicators.
The indicators he picked were the ones any good economist looks to when taking the temperature of an economy: GDP growth, unemployment, inflation, wages and interest rates.
As Treasurer 2.0 Scott Morrison starts work on the upcoming Mid-year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, it would be worth him returning to those key indicators. If he does, he’ll find problems on all five fronts. The mid-year budget update is Scott Morrison’s chance to show his government has any kind of plan to get the dials on Australia’s economic dashboard moving the right way again.
THURSDAY, 22 OCTOBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s positive plans for the sharing economy; Joe Hockey’s valedictory.
FRAN KELLY: Later today Labor leader Bill Shorten and his Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh will announce Labor's new sharing economy policy. Labor asked for, and received, more than 500 policy submissions from interested parties including Uber, GoCatch and Airbnb. Andrew Leigh joins us now. Andrew, welcome back to RN Breakfast.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Thanks Fran.
KELLY: Labor's policy lays out six economic principles for the sharing economy. But it doesn't really offer solutions yet, which is the hard part of this – how to regulate the sharing economy, isn't it?
LEIGH: Well Fran this is about a national conversation on the sharing economy. We know we've now got one in 200 Australian homes listed on Airbnb, and within a year of setting up in Sydney one-tenth of Sydneysiders had used Uber. So it is important that smart governments move ahead of this and create the environment for innovation to flourish, but also an environment in which we make sure that sharing economy firms are paying their fair share of tax, they're supporting good wages and working conditions, they're providing access for people with disabilities, they're looking after public safety and they’re playing by the rules.
ABC NEWS BREAKFAST
THURSDAY, 22 OCTOBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s positive plan for the sharing economy; Marriage equality.
VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Labor is today unveiling its policy on the sharing economy and Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh joins us now from Parliament House. Andrew Leigh, good morning. Thanks for making time for us.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Pleasure, Virginia.
TRIOLI: Let's stay with that example of Uber, the ride-sharing service, Airbnb and the like. What sort of regulation should be in place?
LEIGH: Well Labor's view is that we need regulations that maintain good standards but also encourage new firms to emerge. We'd like the next Uber or Airbnb to be an Australian firm. So we want to create an environment where sharing economy companies like Pawshake – the petsitter – and Parkhound – that solves parking problems – can emerge. To do that, we need to make sure that the sharing economy abides by a basic set of principles. Bill Shorten and I will be running through those principles later today but they include making sure that firms pay appropriate wages and conditions; that Australian safety standards are upheld; that sharing economy firms pay their fair share of tax; and that people with disabilities have more opportunities rather than fewer as a result of the sharing economy.
LABOR’S NATIONAL SHARING ECONOMY PRINCIPLES
Joint Media Release with Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten
Labor has today announced our plan to embrace the sharing economy and see all Australians share its benefits.
New services like Airbnb, AirTasker, Camplify and GoGet are changing the way Australians buy and sell things. They are also changing how we think about work and the line between private property and public goods.
There is huge economic and community potential in this emerging peer-to-peer market.
Australia must embrace it, while ensuring we have the right rules in place to protect workers, consumers and the public good.
Labor’s plan is based on six principles.
LABOR’S PLAN FOR STEM IN CANBERRA SCHOOLS
Joint Release with Amanda Rishworth
Shadow Assistant Minister for Education and Higher Education Amanda Rishworth and Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh have today visited Harrison School to discuss Labor's positive plan for science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM).
They met with students working in Harrison School’s robotics lab and joined with science students to talk about building better career paths to the jobs of the future.
STEM disciplines will be central to the jobs of the changing economy and Canberra kids with these skills will be well positioned to succeed in the future.
That is why a Shorten Labor Government will do more to support local teachers to ensure that they can deliver STEM to students in a way that engages and inspires them. This includes funding 25,000 primary and secondary teachers over five years to undertake professional development in STEM disciplines, including coding.
Labor will also provide 25,000 teaching scholarships over five years to new and recent STEM graduates to encourage them to continue their study and become STEM teachers.
TURNBULL STANDS FOR TAX SECRECY
Malcolm Turnbull is today responsible for ensuring Australia’s biggest private companies can keep secret how much tax they pay.
His Government has rammed a bill through the Senate that will gut this country’s tax transparency laws and keep Australians in the dark about the tax affairs of huge firms.
Today Malcolm Turnbull has been forced to defend his own investments in the notorious tax haven of the Cayman Islands. His Government has chosen this very same day to put a new cloak of secrecy over the tax affairs of companies earning more than $100 million a year.