THURSDAY, 25 FEBRUARY 2016
SUBJECT/S: Lowest wage growth on record under the Coalition Government’s economic management; Tax reform
MARIUS BENSON: Andrew Leigh, good morning.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning, Marius. How are you?
BENSON: I'm well. Do you share that view – I guess it's not a view, it is an Australian Bureau of Statistics fact – that we are getting poorer?
LEIGH: It’s a real concern, Marius. I think the reason this has come about is people have been focussing on the headline GDP number for many years. But GDP doesn't account for population growth. We are one of the fastest-growing countries in the OECD in terms of population. When you take that into account, you can look at something like Net National Disposable Income per person and that has actually fallen 3.5 per cent since the Coalition came to office. That is one of the best measures of living standards that we have.
MORE TRANSPARENCY, SOONER FOR BIG FIRMS THANKS TO LABOR
The Senate has today passed Labor amendments that will give the Australian Tax Office access to information about big companies’ financial affairs sooner, and improve public transparency.
The Common Reporting Standard is an important global agreement for cracking down on multinational tax avoidance. It allows tax authorities to automatically exchange information about the contents of company and individual bank accounts.
Until now, multinational companies and wealthy individuals have often been able to avoid paying tax in one country simply by sending their money offshore to another jurisdiction so that tax authorities cannot see it.
Team Leigh is looking for a Media Adviser
The person who handles my media is moving on, so I’m inviting applications for a Canberra-based media adviser who can assist me with publicly communicating on issues of economic policy.
I have a pretty broad range of ways through which I engage on policy issues - from books to speeches to interviews to op-eds to tweets.
Along with my other four staff, my media adviser helps draft, coordinate, and project those ideas. This involves drafting media releases, speeches and op-eds, chatting with journalists, and working in with the rest of the Labor team. The hours tend to exceed 40 hours a week, and can be unpredictable - for which there's an overtime allowance.Read more
TURNBULL KEEPS DIGGING ON SCARE CAMPAIGN
Joint Media Release with Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen
“When you’re in a tax hole, stop digging” – Malcolm Turnbull, Question Time, 23 February 2016.
Mr Turnbull might want to take his own advice. His Government is split wide open on tax and its ‘scare campaign’ against Labor’s policy.
Malcolm Turnbull’s not so scary campaign that Labor’s policy will “crash housing prices” has been torpedoed by the Assistant Treasurer.
The Assistant Treasurer said on Channel 7’s Sunrise this morning:
“The Labor Party has a very irresponsible campaign, they have got a policy that will increase the cost of housing for all Australians, for those people who own a home and for those people who would like to get into the housing market through their negative gearing policy.”
HINT FOR SCOTT MORRISON: REAL TAX PLANS COME WITH REVENUE
It is little wonder Scott Morrison can’t balance the Budget when he keeps announcing tax ‘crackdowns’ that raise no revenue.
The Treasurer’s announcement that the Foreign Investment Review Board will now consider tax issues as part of its national interest assessment process is another attempt to look tough on multinational tax.
But just like his much trumpeted multinational tax bill – which had asterisk where there should have been revenue figures – the Treasurer will not say whether this move will return a single extra dollar to the Australian community.
LABOR APPLAUDS MORRISON’S STRONG ANTI-UNICORN TRAFFICKING STANCE
After five and half months in the job, Treasurer Scott Morrison has finally made a clear and emphatic policy commitment: there will be no sale of unicorns on his watch.
While some may find the Treasurer’s hard line on mythical creatures unusual, it is entirely consistent with this Liberal Government’s fantasy approach to budgeting.
After all, these are the people who promised they could deliver surplus budgets every year without cutting spending or raising new taxes.
WEDNESDAY, 17 FEBRUARY 2016
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s positive plans for the sharing economy; negative gearing; GST; retirement of WA Labor MPs; population growth.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Thanks very much to Sam and the COMMUNE team for having us here, and to Ruby from SheSays for giving us some insights into the important work that they are doing to make sure that the innovative start-up economy includes as many women as possible. Labor believes that the sharing economy offers great potential for tackling some of our big challenges, including creating more jobs and dealing with issues like congestion and housing affordability. That is why we engaged in extensive consultations last year, talking to Australians about the principles that should guide the sharing economy. Labor's principles include the notion that sharing economy firms should play by the rules, and should pay their fair share of tax. Labor understands that the sharing economy offers great potential for creating new jobs, but that we have got to be careful too that the new technologies do not leave people behind. It is only Labor that will ensure that an innovative economy protects workers as well as making sure capital owners do well.
Just before handing over to Tanya, I want to make a couple of comments about Scott Morrison's address to the National Press Club today. We know that the Abbott-Turnbull Government has lost more ministers that it has had positive tax ideas; 14 more to be exact. All signs are pointing to Scott Morrison's address to the Press Club being just another Joe Hockey-style lecture on Australians living beyond their means. Here are a few facts that Scott Morrison probably won't share with the Australian people when he is at the Press Club: 80 per cent of his return to surplus by 2021 is based on bracket creep. He is unlikely to say that half of the benefits of negative gearing go to the top tenth, or that two-thirds of the benefits of the capital gains tax go to the top tenth. I'd be pretty surprised if Scott Morrison acknowledges that inequality in Australia is at a 75-year high, and that growth has been downgraded successively since the Abbott-Turnbull Government came to office. Australia needs the economic leadership that Malcolm Turnbull promised when he toppled Tony Abbott, but so far we've seen precious little of it. I'll hand over now to Tanya.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks everyone, and thanks particularly to Sam for having us here today. When I speak to the young people who are here today, they are doing jobs I couldn't have imagined ten years ago. The one thing we know for certain is that in ten years’ time or twenty years’ time, our young people will be doing jobs we can’t imagine today. That is why it is so very important that we get a few of our basics right. Of course we have to get the principles around the sharing economy right, as Andrew has said. We need to get investment in school education right, because we know that the kids who are going to pre-school now, and the kids who are starting in primary school, for them coding will be as important as literacy and numeracy. We also need to get right our National Broadband Network. We’ve got a Prime Minister who has had one job as Communications Minister, and that was getting the NBN right. Instead we have got a second-rate NBN that is slower and more expensive than what Labor proposed. We are very focussed on making sure our kids are prepared for the jobs of the future through our school education system, and that the biggest piece of infrastructure that we will build as a nation in coming years is not the second-rate slower and more expensive NBN that Malcolm Turnbull has promised.Read more
ABC 774 MELBOURNE
MONDAY, 15 FEBRUARY 2016
SUBJECT/S: Housing affordability; Labor’s plans to improve fairness in the tax system.
RAFAEL EPSTEIN: It's a simple question: is negative gearing the tax break we need to change? Dr Andrew Leigh joins us to talk about this, he's the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and the Shadow Minister for Competition as well in Bill Shorten's Shadow Cabinet. Good afternoon.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good afternoon Raf, how are you?
EPSTEIN: I'm good. Andrew, have you got a negatively geared property yourself?
LEIGH: I don't, no. Just the one home, I'm afraid.
EPSTEIN: Because there's a ton of federal politicians who do, including I think, one of the Nationals Senators who owns about 42 properties. I just wonder if it gets in the way of politicians considering this properly?
LEIGH: Lucky for some, yes. It's worth thinking about the fact, Raf, that some of these politicians wouldn't be negatively gearing because they would be living in a Canberra residence and a residence in their electorate. But put all that to one side, the reason we're doing this is because it has become harder than ever for young Australians to break into the property market. The share of young Australians owning their own home is down 25 per cent from where it was in the early 1980s, when it used to cost you three times the average incomes to buy a home, rather than six times average income as it does today. The typical Melbourne home now costs more than $700,000 and so many people are saying: well, even if I've got my own place, what about my kids? How are my kids ever going to break into a property market like this? So by encouraging investors to move into new housing if they want to continue negatively gearing, and by grandfathering the existing arrangements, we get a boost in housing supply but without making anyone worse off who has made a decision under the existing rules.
We Should All Give A Toss That There Aren't More Indigenous Faces on Our Coins - Huffington Post, 11 February 2016
Depending on which historian you believe, the British monarchy may trace its roots back as far as the 9th century. It's an extraordinary legacy. It also means that when the monarchy first got started, Indigenous Australians had already forged at least a 38,000-year bond with the Australian continent.
The eighth anniversary of the apology to the Stolen Generations puts a national spotlight on the ongoing disadvantage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. It is right that we do this, just as this week has seen the government bring down the eighth Closing the Gap Report. In 2016, persistent racial gaps in health, employment and education are a national disgrace.
We should apologise for the wrongs that were committed, and recommit to closing the gaps that exist. But we should also be proud of our Indigenous people. How cool is it, I tell my kids, that we share this continent with a people who have the longest continuing link to the land in the world? Indigenous Australians have been here for at least 40,000 years, and perhaps as long as 125,000 years.
To celebrate the traditional owners, I believe it's time that we replaced the monarch's face on our coins with faces of some of our most significant Indigenous people. When we toss a coin and call ‘heads’, I believe it should be an Indigenous Australian face we're hoping to see.Read more
IS THE GOVERNMENT OUTSOURCING TAX COLLECTION TO SNITCHES?
In their latest attempt to look busy on multinational tax, reports today suggest the Government is considering a plan to have employees snitch on their bosses in return for a cut of the returns.
This comes from a government that has cut 4,700 jobs from the Australian Tax Office, including around 1,000 jobs specifically from its Audit area.
It is finally realising two years too late that sacking the staff who monitor tax compliance is no way to ensure everyone pays their fair share of tax.