Companies have innovated, now it's government's turn, Sydney Morning Herald, 9 February
It can be hard to spot trends while they’re happening. But looking back on 2015, it’s pretty clear this was the year the sharing economy really took off in Australia.
Services like Uber and Airbnb went from emerging services to major market players, while new Australian companies like Airtasker and ParkHound grew from start-ups into fully-fledged firms.
As these services have expanded, there has also been an effort by some state governments to work out new rules and regulations that address issues like safety in the sharing economy without smothering its growth. The ACT became the first Australian jurisdiction to legalise ride-sharing services such as Uber in October, followed by New South Wales in December. The Tasmanian Government has promised to introduce a similar bill in the first half of 2016. Many local governments have also begun working out new rules for sharing things like homes and carparks.
It’s been heartening to see some of the states and territories embracing the challenge of the sharing economy. But now we need the Federal Parliament to also step up.
Malcolm Turnbull’s Government had the opportunity today to let tax authorities see inside the bank accounts of big companies sooner. Surprise, surprise – they blocked it.
The Common Reporting Standard is a hugely important weapon in the global fight against tax dodging, and one that has been several years in the making through the OECD.
For the first time ever, tax authorities will automatically exchange information about the contents of company and individual bank accounts held overseas.
When the Government introduced its bill to give effect to this measure in Australia, it set the deadline for disclosure of company accounts way off in the distance in 2019.Read more
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
MONDAY, 8 FEBRUARY 2016
SUBJECT/S: GST, negative gearing, income inequality, land tax, capital gains tax.
MARIUS BENSON: In the past 15 minutes, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has called on the Prime Minister to categorically rule out any increase in the Goods and Services Tax. For more on that, I’m joined by Andrew Leigh, the assistant Shadow Treasurer. Andrew Leigh, good morning.
ANDREW LEIGH: Good morning, Marius.
BENSON: We are, I suppose, waiting for the categorical, 100 per cent statement by the Prime Minister. But he has pretty much said: no GST. That's what he said yesterday on Insiders.
LEIGH: Well, at the same time we had Arthur Sinodinos out arguing that there ought to be an increase to the GST, Marius, so it is pretty unclear where the Government stands. All we know is that when they say they're in favour of agility, they've taken every possible position on the GST. Australians who don't want to see a rise in the GST have only one choice at the next election which is to vote Labor, because we have been absolutely clear that we wouldn't support a tax which would fail to add to growth but would worsen inequality.
BENSON: The Government has said it would make its position clear long before the election, so that won't be an issue if the Government now goes ahead as, universally expected, without a Goods and Services Tax increase. If that is the case, you would obviously welcome that decision.
LEIGH: Well clearly, but we'd also welcome a Government which engages in proper processes on tax reform. You well know, as a long-time watcher of politics, Marius, that process matters as well as outcomes. When they came to office, the Government announced a Tax White Paper in the first two years, and business and community groups put hundreds of thousands of dollars into preparing more than 800 submissions to that inquiry. That's now been junked in favour of a Prime Minister who seems to be spending more time listening to nervous backbenchers than going out there speaking to worried Australian families. It ought to be Australian families that are being heard in this process, and we ought to be allowing all that expertise in the community to flow into a tax reform process rather than simply floating thought bubbles so the backbenchers can shoot them down.Read more
SKY AM AGENDA
MONDAY, 8 FEBRUARY 2016
TOPICS: GST; superannuation tax concessions; negative gearing.
KIERAN GILBERT: With me now is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh. You've heard a bit of the debate thus far: the Prime Minister not yet convinced on the GST. Is this what a healthy, mature debate on public policy looks like?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: I think we're learning, Kieran, what being innovative and agile involves. It involves taking every position on tax reform and then not listening to Australian families, as Labor has been, but just listening to your backbenchers. This Prime Minister has lost more ministers than he's had positive clear tax proposals. I think increasingly Australians are wondering: what does this bloke stand for? He says he's serious about climate change but he's got Tony Abbott's climate policies; he says he wants to do marriage equality but he's kicking it off to a $160 million plebiscite; and he says he wants economic leaderships but on the core issue of tax reform can't articulate a clear plan for –
GILBERT: But isn't he saying – I put it you again – isn't this a mature way to go about a discussion on tax issues? You look at all the evidence, you don't rule things out before you've even begun, and then you get on with it – unlike Labor which did not allow the Henry Tax review to even look at the GST.
LEIGH: Well Kieran, a mature approach would have been to follow through the Tax White Paper which the Government announced in 2013. It took in 800 submissions; had a $600,000 advertising campaign; millions of dollars were spent by communities and business groups putting in submissions. Now it’s been completely junked in favour of the thought bubbles that are being floated. Two completely different thought bubbles yesterday: one from the Prime Minister saying maybe not, one from Arthur Sinodinos saying maybe. It's absolutely clear that if you don't want a GST the only way to make sure it doesn’t happen is to vote Labor at the next election.Read more
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