PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
MONDAY, 1 JUNE 2015
SUBJECT/S: Abbott Government’s $100 billion Budget hole; Intergenerational Report advertising spend; Marriage equality
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER ANDREW LEIGH: Good morning. I’m Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer. We now learn that despite the Government putting up a deeply unfair budget, they're now spending more and more hard-earned taxpayer dollars on trying to promote it. Originally the fee that was going to promote the Intergenerational Report was $11 million. It's now been revealed through more detail in the Budget papers that the Budget ad campaigns will cost $36 million. At the same time, we’ve seen from the Parliamentary Budget Office that the cumulative deficit over the next decade will amount to $100 billion. This is because the Government keeps putting up measures which are just so deeply unfair and so at odds with the Australian values. They’re refusing sensible savings measures such as Labor's multinational tax package and our high end superannuation package, which together add more than $20 billion to the budget bottom line over the coming decade.
SKY AM AGENDA
MONDAY, 1 JUNE 2015
SUBJECT/S: Marriage equality; Citizenship law changes; Budget
KIERAN GILBERT: This is AM Agenda. With me now is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Alan Tudge. To you first Alan Tudge on the same-sex marriage issue: do you feel that there is a group within your party or a momentum within your party towards marriage equality?
PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE PRIME MINISTER ALAN TUDGE: I think some people have shifted but I don't know where the numbers sit. I think if a vote was taken, it would be very close. But at the moment, we're absolutely focused on getting the Budget measures through the Parliament. That's our unashamed focus at the moment. The Budget was just handed down only seven sitting days ago, it's got some important measures which we want to introduce into the parliament– particularly the small business tax cuts and the instant asset write-off for small businesses which will turbo -boost that sector of the economy.
GILBERT: Are you cynical about the Opposition Leader's timing?
TUDGE: I am a bit cynical, because I think that Bill Shorten is under pressure as a leader and he doesn't want to discuss our small business package. He doesn't want to discuss jobs and he doesn't want to discuss national security measures. I think that he's a leader who is under pressure and wants to talk about anything else other than those issues. Hence he's putting forward this same-sex bill.
ANOTHER WEEK WITH NO NEWS ON BELCONNEN’S FUTURE
Yet another week has passed and the Abbott Government is still keeping silent on the future of the Department of Immigration in Belconnen.
The uncertainty created by Peter Dutton and Mathias Cormann has already hit businesses and the local community. Now, it seems it is also harming the department itself.
Reports earlier this week indicate Immigration has lost 15 of its senior executives this year – almost one experienced manager a week.
Inequality: still a fair way to go, The Australian, 29 May
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.
This is the misguided approach we’ve seen recommended by some commentators recently in response to a new OECD report on inequality. The report shows that the gap between the rich and the rest has been relatively stable in Australia in the period 2006 to 2012, even as it has continued to rise in other countries like America.
Importantly though, the report also shows that Australia remains a very unequal place. On the OECD’s figures, the richest tenth of Australians now own 45 per cent of this country’s wealth. The top twentieth have nearly ten times the wealth of the typical household. There are 50 people living amongst us who together have more wealth than the poorest 2 million Australians.
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures tell a similar story. Since the mid-1970s, earnings have grown three times as fast for the top tenth than the bottom tenth. If cleaners and checkout workers had enjoyed the same percentage wage gains as surgeons and financial dealers, they would be $16,000 a year better off.
Inequality may not have risen in the six years between 2006 and 2012, but it remains a pressing problem that should concern anyone who is interested in maintaining Australia’s strong traditions of opportunity and fairness.
LAUNCH OF THE FINANCIAL SERVICES COUNCIL NATIVE TITLE STANDARD
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
Thank you to Aunty Matilda House for that very fitting welcome to country, and thanks to Sally Loane and the Financial Services Council for inviting me to share in today’s launch. I acknowledge the Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion, and also my counterpart and occasional sparring partner, Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. All political sparring gets put aside when we come together to mark worthwhile initiatives like the one the Financial Services Council is launching today, and particularly when we do so during National Reconciliation Week.
A little while ago I was reading some research done by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, on the experience of Indigenous communities managing their native title rights once these have been recognised in Australian law.
ANDREW LEIGH MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION
MEMBER FOR FRASER
ED HUSIC MP
SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY
TO THE SHADOW TREASURER
MEMBER FOR CHIFLEY
ENTREPRENEURS TO KEEP AN EYE ON ESS CHANGES
Labor will task our recently announced Treasurer’s Entrepreneurial Council with an ongoing responsibility to recommend improvements to the employee share scheme changes introduced in Parliament today.
Employee share schemes are a vital support for start-ups seeking to attract the best talent in their early days.
That is why in March 2014, Bill Shorten called on the Government to consider changes to the scheme to encourage entrepreneurs to do what they do best.
A true tax package would tackle profit shifting on all fronts, Australian Financial Review, Wednesday 27 May
Imagine, for a moment, that Bill Shorten had fronted up to announce Labor's multinational tax package back in March, and told the assembled media it would add a grand total of $30 million to the budget bottom line. Imagine he'd said that he hoped this figure would turn into billions, but he didn't have enough confidence in the estimates to count on more than $30 million.
If Labor had presented a package of this kind, we would have been laughed off Capital Hill, and rightly so.
RADIO NATIONAL DRIVE
TUESDAY, 26 MAY 2015
SUBJECT/S: Marriage equality; GST on sanitary items; Budget fairness
PATRICIA KARVELAS: In the studio with me I have Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh, representing the Labor party - hello Andrew.
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER ANDREW LEIGH: G'day Patricia.
KARVELAS: And also Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos, welcome Senator.
SENATOR ARTHUR SINODINOS: Representing the Liberal Party.
KARVELAS: Representing the Liberal Party! Well, let's hear about that. Let's go to an issue which is just breaking. It is going wild on social media and no-doubt, I think, leading news bulletins as well: Bill Shorten wants to bring on the marriage equality debate. He is tabling his own bill in the lower house next week, bringing it on. Arthur Sinodinos, I'll start with you: does this mean that next week the Liberal party room will finally discuss this issue?
TUESDAY, 26 MAY 2015
SUBJECT/S: NATSEM modelling on Budget unfairness; Marriage equality
MARIUS BENSON: Andrew Leigh, the Prime Minister has called on Labor to release the research on which you are basing your claims that the Budget is going to damage low income families in particular. Are you prepared to release that research?
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER ANDREW LEIGH: Marius, the model that we're using for this is the same model that the Government has used when it has asked NATSEM to do work for the Treasury and the Department of Social Services. It's the same model, indeed, that the Liberal Party had NATSEM use when NATSEM did work for the Liberal Party a couple of years ago, leading the PM to call them Australia's top modeller. So I'm really not sure what the puzzle is out of this. Labor has had to do this research because the Family Impact Statement that had been in the Budget going right back to Peter Costello's time was taken out of the last couple of budgets.
With taxes, we build society
Speech to the Deloitte Tax Symposium
Eight score years ago, about 45 kilometres south-west of where we meet today, people gathered for a conversation about tax. Many of the features of that conversation would be familiar to us here today. Fairness was a key theme, passions were running hot and the debate was political at its core. Not everything was the same though, at the end of my remarks we’ll conduct a civil question session, and have a chat over pastries and coffee. The earlier conversation ended quite differently, with gunfire, bayonets and the death of at least 27 people.
I’m talking of course of the Eureka Rebellion of 1854, the ground zero of Australian tax debate. The source of the anger that led to the Eureka Rebellion was the taxation of miners through a licence, levied regardless of the profitability of a claim. The licence fees were collected by an often corrupt and brutal police force, representing a government that in the view of the miners was failing to provide the infrastructure to support a booming population.
So while I’m sure that Deloitte probably had the boutique spas, fine restaurants and local wines more at the top of mind when they chose Daylesford for this conference, it is apt that we’re meeting here in the heart of the Victorian goldfields for the Deloitte tax symposium.
We’re often tempted into lazy nostalgia for an era of easy reform in Australia that never was—a wonk arcadia where tax policy is made with bipartisan support and electoral glee. It’s good to remind ourselves that tax has always been controversial and that while the dispassionate practitioners in this room might wish it were different, tax is political.
I’d like to speak briefly today about where I think tax reform is up to currently in Australia, my views on ways forward and finally an update on the opposition’s tax policy process. I’m going to keep my remarks relatively free of political commentary, but tax is inherently political. I trust you’ll understand if at times I sound a little less like the economics professor I once was, and a little more like Labor’s Shadow Assistant Treasurer.