PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
WEDNESDAY, 14 FEBRUARY 2018
SUBJECT/S: Valentine’s Day in Canberra; Turnbull Government’s love for millionaires and multinationals.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning, everyone. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and the Federal Member for Fenner. And as a Canberra representative, can I just wish all of you happy Valentine’s Day and acknowledge that there really is no more romantic city in Australia than Canberra. When the kangaroos are jumping, the kookaburras are singing, the restaurants are open and you’ve got weather like today, you reflect to yourself what a gorgeous, romantic city this is.
But on a less lovely note, we’ve had reports today that a fifth of Australia’s biggest companies paid zero tax for at least three years. Now I admit multinational tax dodging might not be the most romantic topic in the world, but it’s pretty important. This report suggests that some big Australian companies haven’t paid tax for up to a decade. And yet the Turnbull Government’s top priority is a $65 billion company tax cut.
The Turnbull Government needs to break up with multinational tax dodgers and fall in love with ordinary Australians. They need to stand on the side of ordinary Australians who don’t want to see their income taxes go up, rather than protecting large multinational corporations and millionaires, the only people getting a tax cut under the Turnbull Government.
Labor’s got a comprehensive plan to tackle multinational tax avoidance, to crack down on tax havens. We’d add more than $4 billion to the budget bottom line through closing debt deduction loopholes. We’d put in place country by country reporting. We would require companies bidding for government work to disclose their country of tax domicile and we’d work with superannuation companies to develop appropriate guidelines for tax haven investment.
Only Labor will take seriously the issue of multination tax avoidance. Only the Coalition will continue to campaign on the side of multinational tax dodgers. Today, of all days, we need the Turnbull Government to show a little bit more love for regular income taxpayers and a bit less for multinational tax dodgers.
Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Would you support a cut in the personal tax rate margins, as the Government are flagging in the future?
LEIGH: Well, what the Government’s flagged in the future isn’t a cut – it’s an increase. The Government has said it wants to increase the Medicare levy and that will mean an income tax increase of 0.5 per cent. Labor has said that for people between $21,000 and $87,000 - that is around 7 million Australians - we will not support that tax increase. So, under the Liberals’ current plans, middle income Australians will see their taxes go up and under Labor they will not see that tax increase. That is the clear difference on personal income taxes around Australia today. As always with Scott Morrison – don’t watch his lips, look at the bills he introduces into Parliament.
JOURNALIST: One of your arguments about the business tax cuts is that the budget can’t afford it. Would you aim for tax cuts in the future under a Labor Government?
LEIGH: Well, it’s certainly not our priority. Our priority is making sure that ordinary working Australians pay less tax. In an environment in which we see analysis from the Parliamentary Budget Office suggesting that the heavy lifting will be done by the middle quintile of Australian taxpayers, it is absolutely the wrong thing to do, to be cutting taxes on billionaires and multinationals and increasing taxes on everyday Australians. They say that this will be in the long run a benefit to households, but their own analysis released on budget night 2016 showed that a company tax cut for the biggest firms funded by raising personal household income taxes would boost household income by 0.1 per cent in the 2030s. That is one more month of household income growth. And did I mention that’s in the 2030s? That is the government’s own estimate of the impact of their big business company tax cut. The economics of it just don’t stack up. Australia is currently in about the middle of the G20 pack when it comes to company tax rates. It is completely incorrect to suggest that Australia needs to engage in the race to the bottom of company taxes at the expense of middle income Australians.
Any other questions? Thank you everyone.