PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
THURSDAY, 15 OCTOBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: Malcolm Turnbull’s Cayman Island portfolio
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning everyone. We've been debating in the Parliament a number of important issues that go to multinational taxation. Labor has been calling for all companies with income over $100 million to have their tax affairs disclosed. That's their total income, taxable income and tax paid. The Coalition is trying to take half of those companies out of the transparency net and keep their tax affairs secret. Labor has been putting on the table a serious package that will crack down on multinational tax avoidance and add more than $7 billion to the budget bottom line. The Coalition isn't willing to close these debt deduction loopholes.
In that context, I think many Australians will find it unusual that the Prime Minister is investing in vulture funds in the Cayman Islands. The Cayman Islands have been on the radar of the OECD and tax authorities around the world as a notorious tax haven. Australia's tax commissioner has referred to it as a tax haven and Malcolm Turnbull's decision to invest in a number of Cayman Islands-based funds does call into question how serious he is able to be about cracking down on multinational tax avoidance – which is a serious issue for the Australian budget – and tax fairness. Happy to take questions.
THURSDAY, 15 OCTOBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: Malcolm Turnbull’s Cayman Island portfolio
FRANK KELLY: Andrew Leigh is Labor's Shadow Assistant Treasurer and he joins me now. Good morning, Andrew.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: ‘Morning Fran, good to be with you.
KELLY: Yes or no: are you accusing the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, of inappropriate conduct when it comes to his tax affairs?
LEIGH: Fran, this certainly is something that most Australians wouldn't look to do. If most Australians found themselves in possession of a little bit of extra money, they would probably use it to pay down the mortgage or –
KELLY: Hang on a second; let's go back. Yes or no: are you accusing the Prime Minister of inappropriate conduct when it comes to his tax affairs?
LEIGH: It's certainly unusual conduct, Fran.
WHICH REVENUE WAS THAT AGAIN?
It seems Treasurer 2.0 Scott Morrison has yet to familiarise himself with the Government’s own budget papers.
In Question Time today, Mr Morrison trumpeted his multinational tax bill saying: “It will raise real revenue.”
This is how much revenue the Government has actually booked for its tax measure:
SENATORS SLAM ‘ABSURD’ AND ‘ILLOGICAL’ TAX TRANSPARENCY ROLLBACK
Joint media release with Senator Sam Dastyari
Senators have tonight condemned the Abbott-Turnbull Government for its attempts to gut Australia’s tax transparency laws.
Labor and crossbench Senators have tabled a forceful dissenting report on the Government bill which seeks to help Australia’s richest companies keep their tax affairs secret.
I’m restructuring my office and looking to hire a full-time policy and communications adviser, based in Canberra.
The job involves contributing to the economic policy work in my office. For example, the past year has seen my office contribute to policymaking on taxation, innovation, inequality and competition. With each of these issues, our aim is to engage with the academic literature, policy experts, interest groups and the wider community.
The office is friendly and collegial. We’re looking for someone who is able to assist with immediate tasks (eg. answering phones, transcribing media interviews) while also working with my other policy staff on ideas-generation (eg. drafting memos, speeches).Read more
Malcolm Turnbull’s plans to jack up the GST have been exposed today, with the new Prime Minister confirming he plans to increase the GST just like Tony Abbott wanted to.
In an interview on 3AW, the Prime Minister announced his Government is looking at options to make Australian families pay more every single time they go to the shops.
MITCHELL: So everything is on the table? Superannuation, negative gearing, capital gains tax, everything, GST, everything is on the table.
TURNBULL: Everything is on the table, that’s right.
[NEIL MITCHELL - 3AW - 6 OCTOBER 2015]
Of course Mr Turnbull and the Liberals want to increase taxes that hurt low and middle income earners the most. That’s because he is out of touch with the increasing cost of living pressures being faced by millions of Australian families.
TAX PLAN IS ON THE TABLE, YOUR MOVE TURNBULL
With the release of the OECD’s comprehensive plan to tackle multinational profit shifting around the globe, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison must now get serious about ensuring big companies pay their fair share.
The OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Action Plan has been more than two years in the making. It lays out a comprehensive 15-point agenda to close the loopholes that have opened up in the tax net due to changing technology and an increasingly global business environment.
Labor has supported the OECD’s work from the start because we are committed to tax fairness. We have long argued that domestic action must go hand-in-hand with participation in the global effort to get our tax laws right for the future. In March, we announced a plan to close multinational tax loopholes that the independent Parliamentary Budget Office has estimated will raise $7.2 billion over the decade.
Substantive soundbites, The Chronicle, 6 October
What do fish ears, damaged brains and dark matter have in common? These were three of the topics presented at the Australian National University’s ‘Three Minute Thesis’ competition.
Not since Monty Python’s ‘Summarise Proust in Fifteen Seconds’ competition, have contestants had to boil so much material down to so little time. As the host pointed out on the night, an 80,000 word thesis would take nine hours to read out.
And yet they performed magnificently. Along with my fellow judges – Genevieve Jacobs, Susan Bannigan, Subho Banerjee and Adam Bandt – I was constantly struck by the presenters’ ability to provide context, insight and a dose of wit.
SKY AM AGENDA
MONDAY, 5 OCTOBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations; Start-ups; Prime Minister’s Economic summit.
KIERAN GILBERT: Welcome to AM Agenda. With me this morning is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh. Andrew, thanks for your time. I want to explore the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations; they've hit a stumbling block. My advice from Atlanta this morning is that the trade talks are about 50/50 chance of getting across the line according to advisers on the ground. What's your take on this issue about intellectual property and the pharmaceutical industry in the States? They want a 12-year freeze on their intellectual property, can you explain to our viewers what we're talking about here?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Yes, Kieran. The conversation has gotten down to a class of drug called biologics which are a new class of medicine – large molecules rather than small and synthesised from living matter. They've got great potential and there's a large range of biologics in areas like cancer, asthma and diabetes. They enjoy patent protection for 20 to 25 years but in most countries they also get data exclusivity which means someone trying to copy a biologic can't use the data which went through clinical trials for a period. That period is five years in Australia at the moment but 12 years in the United States. And the Americans would like us to go to their duration. That obviously raises the costs for our health system if we're going to be using more and more biosimilars that push up the cost to the Australian taxpayer.
SKY LUNCTIME AGENDA
THURSDAY, 1 OCTOBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: Shelved plans for fee deregulation; China-Australia Free Trade Agreement; Reform summit; Superannuation
LAURA JAYES: Dr Andrew Leigh, welcome to the program. Before we get to the Government's reform summit today, can I just ask you about this breaking news this morning where the new Minister for Education, Simon Birmingham, has decided to shelve reform plans on university deregulation. He's not dumping them altogether but at least putting this off to 2017. You'd welcome that kind of stability going forward for universities, wouldn't you?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Laura, I welcome these reforms going on the shelf, but I'd welcome them more going in the bin. What we've got now is the situation where the Government is still committed to the reforms but it just doesn't think it can get them through the Senate. That's a mistake because at a time when technology is racing ahead, we've got to have more and more opportunities for all kids to go to university, whatever backgrounds they come from. A policy that cuts the student contribution from government by one-fifth is the wrong policy to encourage more kids to attend, and to stay at, university.
JAYES: Can I ask you though, there have been some sections of the crossbench – David Leyonhjelm for one – who wanted to go even further than the Government planned to go on this. There are varying degrees of support for these reforms; I know Labor doesn't support them, you've made that abundantly clear. But are you saying from here on in there will be no negotiation on any kind of fee deregulation and university reform is not necessary? Will you go back to the negotiating table with the Government?
LEIGH: Laura, we made an important announcement on higher education a couple of weeks ago. Kim Carr, Amanda Rishworth and Bill Shorten laid out how Labor will focus not just on improving the per-student contribution, but also on reducing the drop-out rate. One in four kids don't finish university and that number is even higher for disadvantaged groups such as kids from low income backgrounds or Indigenous students. Labor's plan is to try and improve the opportunities for university attendance because we know that this is fundamental to dealing with a technology-rich environment. If technology advances and education stagnates, then inequality will get even worse than it is now.