Bringing the high flyers down to earth - Op Ed, The Canberra Times

BRINGING THE HIGH FLYERS DOWN TO EARTH

The Canberra Time, 23 February 2019

When Clive Palmer was recently revealed to have registered his Cessna Citation X in the Cayman Islands, sources close to the billionaire said that it was for three reasons: ‘for tax benefits and cheaper operational and maintenance costs’.

The idea that Palmer can save money by getting his jet serviced in a small island 15,000 kilometres away is, frankly, ludicrous. Indeed, his $4 million plane may never even have touched down there. But the Caymans charges no taxes, and is notoriously uncooperative with other governments - which is helpful when your creditors are chasing you for hundreds of millions of dollars.

Those who choose to use tax havens are mixing it with a group of characters that make the bar-room scene in Star Wars look like a church picnic. As recent leaks have revealed, tax havens are used by drug dealers and extortionists, kidnappers and kleptocrats. Many have just a virtual presence - one building in the Caymans is home to 18,000 companies. Others visit occasionally, just to ensure that the lawyers are keeping their affairs secret and untaxed.  According to one estimate, four out of every five dollars in tax havens are there in breach of other countries’ tax laws.

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Closing the Gap - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 20 FEBRUARY 2019

Last Tuesday, on a perfect Canberra morning, it was my pleasure to join the Indigenous Marathon Foundation's Closing the Gap Fun Run and Walk. It was 7 am on a crisp day and there we were at the shore of Lake Burley Griffin at the aptly named Reconciliation Place.

The Indigenous Marathon Project, run by the Indigenous Marathon Foundation, was established by Rob de Castella and has, to date, sent dozens of young Indigenous Australians through its training program. The capstone is the New York marathon, but Indigenous Marathon Project participants then go back to their communities to set up Deadly Fun Runs. It is both a leadership program and a community engagement program. I commend Rob de Castella, one of my great heroes, for his initiative in setting it up.

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Sick and tired of fuel price excuses - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 18 FEBRUARY 2019

Canberra's 59 service stations charge petrol prices that are on average 7.4 per cent above the national average. Like many Canberrans, I've grown sick and tired of the excuses given for these high prices.

I commend the Barr government for its announcement that it will put in place a select committee inquiry, commission a detailed analysis by the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission and immediately act to reduce misleading petrol signage at petrol stations, where petrol stations attempt to lure people in with headline prices that customers can't receive.

As Andrew Barr has pointed out:

Canberra families are paying hundreds of dollars more than the equivalent New South Wales family each and every year.

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Great day for small business - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 18 FEBRUARY 2019

  This is a great day for small business, because Labor's access to justice amendment has passed the Senate and looks as though it may now pass the House. This is a great opportunity for the 45th Parliament to come together and address the market power imbalance between large business and small business.

A bit of history. In 2017 the Senate passed Labor's private senator's bill to provide access to justice for small business. There was no crossbench opposition. It was a bill that united Centre Alliance, the Greens and Senators Bernardi, Leyonhjelm and Hinch. Even Senator Gichuhi supported the bill prior to her joining the Liberal Party. Yet, when it came to this place, the Liberals refused to debate it.

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A win for small business after Liberal backflip - Media Release

CHRIS BOWEN MP
SHADOW TREASURER
SHADOW MINISTER FOR SMALL BUSINESS
MEMBER FOR MCMAHON

ANDREW LEIGH
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION AND PRODUCTIVITY
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CHARITIES AND NOT-FOR-PROFITS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE IN SERVICES
MEMBER FOR FENNER

MADELEINE KING MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSUMER AFFAIRS
SHADOW MINISTER ASSISTING FOR RESOURCES
SHADOW MINISTER ASSISTING FOR SMALL BUSINESS
MEMBER FOR BRAND

A WIN FOR SMALL BUSINESS AFTER LIBERAL BACK FLIP

After three years of fighting against it, the Liberals have finally backed in Labor’s Small Business Access to Justice policy, which helps small business to bring cases of anti-competitive behaviour to court.

Scott Morrison was forced into a humiliating back down on the issue today, less than a week after Mathias Cormann conceded that the Government didn’t have the numbers to block the amendment in the Senate.

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The importance of whistleblowers - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 18 FEBRUARY 2019

Whistleblowers play an important role in enforcing our corporate laws. When investigative journalist Bastian Obermayer received millions of leaked files from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, he set in place events which would shake the foundations of many tax structures around the word. The release of the so-called ‘Panama Papers’ showed that shell countries were perpetrating tax fraud and dodging global sanctions. It led to the resignation of the Icelandic prime minister and other prominent officials. Within Australia, the Australian tax office began investigations into 800 people identified in what became known as the Panama Papers.

Indeed, the very notion that whistleblowers may be protected and even rewarded provides an incentive for firms to do the right thing. A recent economic study by Eli Amir, Adi Lazar and Shai Levi looked at Israel's tax whistleblowing scheme and found that it significantly increased the amount of tax paid, particularly in industries that were especially prone to tax evasion.

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Morrison just can't get the big economic calls right - Transcript, ABC News Breakfast

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TELEVISION INTERVIEW

ABC NEWS BREAKFAST

MONDAY, 18 FEBRUARY 2019

SUBJECTS: Medivac bill; IPSOS poll; Labor’s plans to help small business.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: To talk about this and other issues, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer Dr Andrew Leigh joins us now from Canberra. Good morning to you.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning, Michael.

ROWLAND: Looking at this IPSOS poll first, has the Labor Party pulled the wrong reign here on asylum seekers?

LEIGH: Michael, I haven't commented on opinion polls in my nearly nine years in politics. And in my six years as an academic before that I wrote papers arguing that polls get too much attention. I’d be the last person to think that that ought to be our guiding star. Labor is focused on the big issues, on the stagnant wages, stagnant living standards and the fact that debt is going up while we're seeing living standards flatlining. They are the big issues for us.

ROWLAND: So the narrowest gap in six months, a four point drop in the Labor Party's primary vote does not concern you at all

LEIGH: We'd like to see the issues that matters to the Australian people implemented. Australians want the findings of the Hayne Royal Commission put into legislation. We would like to see parliament sit, not 10 days over 8 months, but sitting as the time that it takes in order to get the Hayne recommendations done. As you mentioned before, we will be grilling the government on this $500 million given to a company with headquarters in a shack on Kangaroo Island. It certainly smells a bit fishy to me.

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Labor will continue to fight for small business - Transcript, Doorstop

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

DOORSTOP

PARLIAMENT HOUSE

MONDAY, 18 FEBRUARY 2019

SUBJECTS: Labor’s plans to help small business, upholding competition laws, petrol prices, Medivac bill.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer. Three years ago, Labor announced our Access to Justice for small business policy. It’s a policy that makes sure small business can take on the big end of town in competition litigation. Australia doesn't have enough private litigation upholding our competition laws. One of the reasons for that is that small business are scared about the prospect of being bankrupted by the other side’s legal costs. Labor's Access to Justice for small business policy has been welcomed by COSBOA, who say access to justice is a huge issue. It's been welcomed by the Small Business Ombudsman, herself a former Liberal chief minister, who has said that it's important to level the playing field between small business and big business. It’s also been welcomed by a range of Nationals - Barnaby Joyce, Keith Pitt, Andrew Broad and Llew O’Brien have said that they support Labor's access to justice for small business policy.

And yet Scott Morrison and the Liberals have been fighting against access to justice for small business for years now. They voted against it in the Senate as recently as Thursday night, they voted against our bill, when we brought it to the other place. And they have fought hard against small business, just as the Liberals fought hard against the banking royal commission. Let's not forget, Scott Morrison is the guy who voted against the Banking Royal Commission 26 times and only backed it after the big banks said they wanted a royal commission. Labor’s always been the party of small business. We've got a policy of data sharing for independent mechanics that ensures that they have the data they need to fix cars and stay in business. We've supported a mandatory code for auto dealers, levelling the imbalance that exists between the multinational manufacturers and the franchise operators that sell new cars. At the next election, small and big business will face the time same tax rates regardless of who wins. But under Labor, small business - and big business for that matter - will have access to the Australian Investment Guarantee, allowing more rapid depreciation of new purchases.

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Labor will fix fundraising for Australian not-for-profits - Media Release

ANDREW LEIGH MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION AND PRODUCTIVITY
SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE IN SERVICES
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CHARITIES AND NOT-FOR-PROFITS
MEMBER FOR FENNER
 
CATRYNA BILYK
CHAIR OF THE SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON CHARITY FUNDRAISING IN THE 21ST CENTURY
SENATOR FOR TASMANIA
 
LABOR WILL FIX FUNDRAISING FOR AUSTRALIAN NOT FOR PROFITS

After six years of government hostility, Australian charities finally have something to look forward to.

The Senate Select Committee’s Report into Charitable Fundraising in the 21st Century, tabled yesterday, urges parliament to fix Australia’s fundraising laws within the next two years.

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