Labor leads the way on remittances - Media Release

TONY BURKE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR CITIZENSHIP AND MULTICULTURAL AUSTRALIA 

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER

LABOR LEADS THE WAY ON REMITTANCES 

Labor welcomes research released this week showing that unclear remittance structures are costing Australians $3.1 billion a year.

We have begun holding a series of community forums across Australia on this important issue. Already, we‘re hearing from the multicultural community that the current system just isn‘t working for them.

Labor wants to ensure that Australians who send money overseas get a competitive deal. But the number of remittance providers is shrinking and pricing can be confusing.

In our community, there are plenty of people working long hours to send money back to relatives in Manila, Moresby or Mumbai. According to the World Bank, remittances to developing countries are worth half a trillion dollars annually – twice the value of foreign aid.

But according to a previous study, a person who tries to send $1000 from Australia to a developing country will see $77 eaten up by transaction fees and exchange rate spreads. A full-time worker who wanted to send half her salary home would be toiling away for more than a week every year just to pay financial middlemen.

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Darwin 'Reconnected' forum a success - Media Release

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER and SHADOW MINISTER FOR CHARITIES AND NOT-FOR-PROFITS

LUKE GOSLING OAM MP, MEMBER FOR SOLOMON

DARWIN RECONNECTED FORUM A SUCCESS

Today, we held a successful ‘Reconnected’ roundtable with Darwin charities and not-for-profits, exchanging ideas to boost social capital and community engagement.

Over the course of the last generation, we’ve seen some worrying trends. Australians are less likely to join community organisations or play organised sports. We’ve seen troubling drop offs in volunteering rates and donation rates in recent years.

These are the trends Labor is trying to reverse as we hear from charities and organisations about what they’re doing to foster community spirit and build social capital at a local level.

Today‘s was the sixth Reconnected Roundtable, following on from successful forums in Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne.

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Labor’s laws making the money, not the Turnbull Government - Media Release

LABOR’S LAWS MAKING THE MONEY, NOT THE TURNBULL GOVERNMENT

The claims

“We have introduced a number of laws that crackdown on these companies that ensure they actually pay the right amount of tax. As you said, $4 billion in the last financial year alone, we have been able to claw back in terms of the assessments raised. Around $3 billion of that came from just seven multinational companies alone.”

-       Kelly O’Dwyer, August 23 2017

“Around about $2.9 billion coming from just seven companies alone and there’s more to come.”           

-       Kelly O’Dwyer, August 22 2017

The facts

Labor legislation is being applied in all seven cases cited by Minister O'Dwyer.

Specifically the cases involve Labor’s Taxation Laws Amendment (Countering Tax Avoidance and Multinational Profit Shifting) Bill 2013 and the Tax Laws Amendment (Cross-Border Transfer Pricing) Bill (No. 1) 2012.

The Coalition voted against these bills in both houses.

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Joy in bringing people together - Transcript, 360 on Mix 104.9 Darwin

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

360 ON MIX 104.9 DARWIN

TUESDAY, 22 AUGUST 2017

SUBJECTS: Reconnecting communities, marriage equality survey.

KATIE WOOLF: Joining me on the line right now is Dr Andrew Leigh, who is of course the Shadow Assistant Treasurer federally. Good morning.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning, Katie. It’s great to be with you.

WOOLF: Great to have you on the show. Now I know you’re going to be holding a roundtable with Luke Gosling on social capital and building communities, basically brainstorming what we can do to get people involved in their local community and the benefits of doing this. You’ve been holding these all around Australia, haven’t you?

LEIGH: That’s right. This is the sixth one of these forums we’ve held. Their purpose is to bring charities together to discuss the shared challenge of social connectedness. We know that over the course of the last generation, we’ve seen some worrying trends in Australia. We’re less likely to join community organisations, less likely to play organised sports, half as likely to go to church and half as likely to join a union. We’ve seen drop offs in volunteering rates and donation rates in recent years. The challenge to that partly lies in government action. I’m the Shadow Minister for Charities and Not for Profits, so I’m very interested in that as well. But I’m also keen to bring together charities as well to have the conversation about what’s working in their organisations.

WOOLF: It is always good to have locals want to volunteer and want to be part of different events. I organise a fun run that happens every year on Father’s Day and I’m always surprised by the number of people that do actually want to help, just out of the goodness of their heart.

LEIGH: That’s fabulous, Katie. In our own neighbourhood, my wife and I organise a street party once a year and I’m sure as you find with the fun run there’s a great joy in bringing people together. A life spent with others is just a better life. But sometimes work gets too busy or we get too addicted to spending time on Facebook and our smart phones and we forget about the importance of building human connectedness. We’re healthier when we’re connected with others, we’re happier when we’re connected with others. So this is about trying to reconnect Australia through these volunteering and charitable groups, many of whom are doing fabulous work right now.

WOOLF: What do you think is the best way for us to really do this?

LEIGH: One of the challenges is trying to make sure that we use new technologies to connect us, rather than disconnect us. Sites such as MeetUp.com allow us to use online engagement of foster offline engagement. We also need to think differently about community spaces. What’s funny about libraries these days is there are fewer books in them and more meetings taking place. So repurposing libraries for a digital age is a real challenge. You’ve seen some fascinating trends around Australia with the growth of rural choirs and the interesting phenomenon of atheist churches popping up on Sundays for the one in three Australians who don’t believe in God but who recognise there’s that need to have a social connectedness that churches have traditionally provided.

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Time for action, not talk, on tax transparency - Media Release

TIME FOR ACTION, NOT TALK, ON TAX TRANSPARENCY

The Senate Economics Reference Committee is today hosting a public hearing into corporate tax avoidance and will hear from Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Google.

But what they really need to hear is the Turnbull Government’s support for Labor’s plans crack down on multinational tax dodgers, including:

  • Tightening debt-deduction loopholes used by multinational companies, improving the Budget by $4.6 billion over the decade.
  • Removing tax advantages and inconsistencies between Multiple Entry Consolidated Groups (consisting of Australian-resident entities that share a common ultimate foreign owner) and Australian-owned ordinary consolidated groups.
  • Delivering more tax transparency by restoring Labor’s $100 million threshold for public reporting of tax data for private companies. This threshold was raised to $200 million by the Liberals and Greens, exempting two-thirds of private firms from tax transparency.
  • Appointing a community sector representative to the Board of Taxation to ensure community sector voices are heard in tax design and review processes.
  • Introducing public reporting of country-by-country reports. High-level tax information about where and how much tax was paid by large corporations (over $1 billion in global revenue) should be released.
  • Providing protection for whistleblowers who report on entities evading tax to the Australian Taxation Office. Where whistleblowers’ information results in more tax being paid, allow them to collect a share of the tax penalty (a reward of up to $250,000).
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The Nationals Party ought to be called the Dual Nationals Party - Transcript, Sky News Agenda

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TV INTERVIEW

SKY NEWS AM AGENDA

MONDAY, 21 AUGUST 2017

SUBJECTS: Newspoll; Marriage Equality; Citizenship, Amazon and competition laws.

KIERAN GILBERT: With me now on AM Agenda the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh. The polling shows that most people, nearly 50 per cent of people surveyed in the Newspoll support the postal plebiscite, did Labor get it wrong?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Kieran, I think we just need to get on and legalise same-sex marriage. We need to move from being the last advanced English-speaking country that doesn't have same-sex marriage to actually legislating and allowing couples to tie the knot. I had a constituent write to me recently who said that she hoped that both her grandparents could be there at the wedding. But her grandmother has now passed away and her grandfather is unwell. She's worried that every month that we delay, it decreases the chances that she'll have a grandparent there on the big day.

GILBERT: It does look like the numbers are promising though for those that want change. According to this survey, 70 per cent of people say they are going to vote and of those that will vote about 70 per cent said they will vote yes.

LEIGH: We had a marriage equality forum with Tiernan Brady at the Australian National University recently. He was saying the popular opinion in favour of same-sex marriage in Australia is as strong or stronger than in many other countries that already have same-sex marriage. That's why it just makes sense just to do this through Parliament. We didn't have a plebiscite for the last 20 changes to the Marriage Act and we didn't have one for the Sex or Race Discrimination Acts. Same-sex couples shouldn't have to ask the permission of the rest of Australia to marry the person they love.

GILBERT: Now that this is where they're heading, are you encouraged by those numbers in terms of the majority saying they will embrace the vote but also vote yes?

LEIGH: I've always thought that the popular support was there and the support is indeed there in the Parliament as well. All that is holding it up is the opponents of marriage equality. Of course that's why they've designed this plebiscite process. It's a process designed of opponents of marriage equality in order to keep it at bay for as long as possible.

GILBERT: Is it important that those that vote that are voting and advocating a yes vote that they reassure people about religious freedoms? 

LEIGH: Religious freedoms are important and certainly religious organisations can do things that secular organisations can't. If you're a secular organisation and you told a woman that she couldn't be promoted simply because of her gender, you'd be in breach of the law. But certain religious organisations are able to do that in some circumstances. We have to constrain these exceptions very carefully - discrimination is inherently ugly and we want to minimise it.

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The Amazon Age - OpEd, Sydney Morning Herald

New rules needed to ensure a fair go in the Amazon age of competition

Sydney Morning Herald, 19 August 2017

Last year, for the first time in history, we reached the point where the handful of largest global firms were technology companies. Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon have together been dubbed ‘the Frightful Five’. But when top venture capital investors were asked last month to name the leader, the consensus was Amazon.

Founded in 1994, Amazon now accounts for more than half of all new online spending in the United States. Over the past decade, Amazon’s share price has risen 14-fold. Its market capitalisation now nudges half a trillion US dollars. By 2020, investors believe that Amazon’s sales will be three times as large as they are today. That would be the biggest growth story in corporate history.

With Amazon set to launch operations in Australia next year, local retailers understandably have the heebie jeebies. Dubbed ‘the country killer’ by Morgan Stanley, the firm is likely to aim to hook Australians by encouraging the growth of Prime, which provides members with free shipping in exchange for a US$99 annual fee, and now covers some 80 million US households. Expect to see Echo devices in your friends’ living rooms, Dash buttons in their cupboards, and perhaps even drones dropping packages on their doorsteps.

But the question that has many retailers ducking for cover is exactly what effect Amazon will have on competition in Australia.

Despite the apocalyptic warnings, there are reasons for consumers to be excited. More than half of Australia’s industries are concentrated, meaning the four largest firms control at least a third of the market. This means we should be welcoming new entrants with open arms. Indeed, several of the markets Amazon is eyeing off are particularly concentrated. In each of grocery retailing, department stores and postal services, the four biggest competitors control more than 90 per cent of the market. Having a bit more consumer choice would be a welcome change.

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Celebrating centenarians - OpEd, The RiotACT

Celebrating centenarians

The RiotACT, 15 August 2017

In the early-1970s, there were only a few hundred Australian centenarians. Today, we’re lucky to have 700 men and 2800 women aged 100 or over. On current life expectancy, one in forty babies born today will become a centenarian.

One of the privileges of being a local member of parliament is the chance to congratulate centenarians. Recently, I popped in to wish Giralang resident Sheilah Barrie a happy 100th birthday.

Chatting with Ms Barrie was a reminder of how our city has changed and evolved. She moved here in 1925, when her father took a job as driver for Sir John Butters, head of the Federal Capital Commission. The predecessor to today’s National Capital Authority, the Commission oversaw the completion of Old Parliament House, Albert Hall and the Lodge. Reflecting the affectations of the era, his driver wore leather gloves and boots even on the hottest summer days.

Born before the end of World War I, Ms Barrie recalls the deprivation of the Depression, when oranges became a luxury. She lived through World War II, and the Korean War – where her brother was killed north of the 38th parallel. The family still hopes that one day his remains – which now lie in North Korea – might be brought home to Australia.

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Scott Morrison continues to mislead - Media Release

SCOTT MORRISON CONTINUES TO MISLEAD

References in the media this morning to modelling being released today by the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) are incorrect. The analysis reported in the media this morning was not conducted by the PBO.

~ PARLIAMENTARY BUDGET OFFICE, 11.20am.

… This is based on the work that the Parliamentary Budget Office did after the last election.

~ SCOTT MORRISON, 2GB, 12.30pm.

Even when he’s been called out by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office, Scott Morrison continues his war with the facts.

Mr Morrison should focus on getting his own policies right and not making false claims about Labor’s tax policies.

MONDAY, 14 AUGUST 2017

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Tax transparency (via Labor. Again.) - Media Release

TAX TRANSPARENCY – VIA LABOR. AGAIN.

Labor will continue leading the policy debate on tax transparency today with a move to force hundreds of Australia’s biggest private companies to be open about their tax affairs.

Our private senators’ bill will, if passed, require private companies with more than $100 million in turnover to release their tax information to the public annually – effectively putting a spotlight on the taxpaying behaviour of big firms to ensure they pay their fair share.

This stands alongside other transparency measures proposed by Labor, including disclosure of tax haven activity in government tenders, public reporting of country-by-country reports and protection for whistleblowers who uncover tax dodging by multinationals.

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8/1 Torrens Street, Braddon ACT 2612 | 02 6247 4396 | Andrew.Leigh.MP@aph.gov.au