ATO outages: enough is enough - Media Release

ANDREW LEIGH MP, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER

ED HUSIC MP, SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE DIGITAL ECONOMY

ATO OUTAGES: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

Australia has woken up to news of yet another ATO outage.

While Labor is the leading light on tax reform, the Government can’t keep the lights on at the Tax Office.

Enough is enough. Labor has urged the Turnbull Government to come clean on what is happening, but Malcolm Turnbull remains silent.

The Turnbull Government needs to explain to individuals and tax agents exactly what impact this will have on their ability to lodge tax returns for the rest of this tax season.

We have also repeatedly called for an investigation into these outages, something else the Government has ignored.

It's not good enough to blame the public servants, who have been left struggling after the Turnbull Government slashed more than 3000 jobs.

Malcolm Turnbull needs to tell Australians how many outages there have been and for how long. Taxpayers deserve to know what the Turnbull Government is doing - if anything - to fix this problem.

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Stop the infighting and join the real battle - Media Release

STOP THE INFIGHTING AND JOIN THE REAL BATTLE

Regulators have got phoenix operators in their sights, but they need better laws to help them protect hardworking Australians and crack down on dodgy directors.

The Australian Financial Review reports that the Australian Tax Office and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission are targeting advisors who seek out struggling companies and direct them to strip their assets and rip off the taxpayer.

Their job would be much easier if a number of simple measures proposed by Labor were agreed to by Malcolm Turnbull.

Labor is calling for the introduction a director identification number, so those flouting the laws can be stopped in their tracks. It’s an idea which has the backing of a range of legal and industry groups, as well as Liberal MP Nicole Flint.

We also want to increase penalties associated with phoenix activity, to make it less tempting for people to rip off legitimate businesses and workers.

Labor has urged the Turnbull Government to adopt its sensible measures to tackle this dodgy behaviour, which costs billions of dollars a year. It’s time Malcolm Turnbull stopped fighting Tony Abbott and turned his attention to the real battle.

TUESDAY, 25 JULY 2017

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The great Australian egalitarian project - Transcript, RN Drive

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TELEVISION INTERVIEW

RN DRIVE 

FRIDAY, 21 JULY 2017

SUBJECTS: Inequality, tax reform, Buffett Rule, offshore processing.

PATRICIA KARVELAS: Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and joins us tonight. Welcome.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: G’day, Patricia. Great to be with you.

KARVELAS: Bill Shorten said in his speech today that inequality is on the march and is the biggest threat to our health as an economy and our cohesion as society. But Australia is really on a golden run – a world record 26 years of economic growth. Where’s the evidence that society is starting to fracture?

LEIGH: One place to look, Patricia, is housing where increasingly we’re seeing a market dominated by investors and first home buyers being shut out. Another place to look is the wage system, where we’ve seen stagnant wage growth, wages growing three times as fast at the top as at the bottom. Average workers in some cases going backwards after inflation. We look too at the prison population, which as a share of population is as high as it’s been since Federation. So, there’s a range of indicators that on that basic issue of egalitarianism – the thing that’s always been critical to Australia’s identity – there’s something askew. That’s what Bill put his finger on today.

KARVELAS: OK. You say that Labor wants and Bill Shorten says that Labor wants the whole picture – revenue and expenditure including tax subsidies and reforms that in the past we might have dismissed as too political difficult to be on the table. So what’s your starting point here? What are those taxes in the too hard basket that you’ll have another look at?

LEIGH: Well, we took the last election a set of policies around curtailing the capital gains tax discount and grandfathering negative gearing. We take the view that these tax benefits go disproportionately to those at the top of the distribution and they’re not fair, because they’re not accessible to everybody in Australia. 

KARVELAS: Ok, but they’re already stated policies. He’s said that you’re going to look at other taxes in the too hard basket – what are those?

LEIGH: Well, indeed, we’ve also looked at the tax deductions that are being claimed for accountants’ fees. Again, this is something which affects less than one in 100 taxpayers, but we’ve said that Labor would place a $3000 cap on how much you could deduct for managing your tax affairs. In the area of multinational taxation, we’ve got packages on the table worth around $5 billion, which the government won’t touch because it’s not willing to take on tax avoidance from the big end of town.

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Liberal says phoenix reform ‘makes a lot of sense to me’ - Media Release

LIBERAL SAYS PHOENIX REFORM ‘MAKES A LOT OF SENSE TO ME’

“Something so simple. It makes a lot of sense to me.”

~ Liberal MP Nicole Flint, responding to an expert’s call for a Director Identification Number.

As experts have noted, a Director Identification Number will help detect, deter and disrupt illegal phoenix activity by dodgy directors. Labor announced this measure in May, as part of our package to crack down on phoenixing.

Supporters of a Director Identification Number now include:

  • Australian Institute of Company Directors
  • Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman
  • Productivity Commission
  • Tax Justice Network
  • Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Master Builders Australia
  • Australian Council of Trade Unions
  • Australian Restructuring Insolvency and Turnaround Association
  • Phoenix Project, comprising experts from Melbourne University Law School and Monash University Business School
  • Nicole Flint MP

Alas, one body has failed to support a Director Identification Number:

  • The Turnbull Government (with the honourable exception of Nicole Flint MP).

TUESDAY, 18 JULY 2017

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'Shades of Bottom of the Harbour' - Media Release

‘SHADES OF BOTTOM OF THE HARBOUR’

CPA Australia is the latest organisation to speak out on the need for reform in our director registration system.

CPA Australia’s head of policy Paul Drum today told a parliamentary committee that other countries have had robust systems for detecting dodgy directors in place for decades, while Australia has been “so lackadaisical”.

“I think that certainly needs to be toughened up.  To me, it was shades of ‘Bottom of the Harbour’,” Mr Drum said.

Mr Drum also referenced the push for 100 point ID check for prospective company directors, something Labor proposed as part of a Director Identification Number.

Supporters of a Director Identification Number now include:

  • Australian Institute of Company Directors
  • Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman
  • Productivity Commission
  • Tax Justice Network
  • Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Master Builders Australia
  • Australian Council of Trade Unions
  • Australian Restructuring Insolvency and Turnaround Association
  • Phoenix Project, comprising experts from Melbourne University Law School and Monash University Business School
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It’s important that Australia always maintains our values - Transcript, Sky News Agenda

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TELEVISION INTERVIEW

SKY NEWS AGENDA

MONDAY, 17 JULY 2017

Subjects: Counter terror laws and encryption, Donald Trump, Clean Energy Target, Israel and Palestine, poker machine reform.

TOM CONNELL: Joining me now for more on this is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh. Thanks for your time today.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Pleasure, Tom. Great to be with you.

CONNELL: Your thoughts on this, first of all – for people who have read a lot on the Lindt Café siege, in particular that review of it, it seems to make sense, this ability to have the military, the best people sometimes with the best equipment, the best training in these situations.

LEIGH: Tom, we certainly welcome the review of the Defence Act and the prospect of improving the way in which the ADF work with local law enforcement personnel is important. We need to see the detail, but Labor is in principle supportive of improvements in those relationships.

CONNELL: Labor said a similar thing on this encryption element last week. The Government wants to be able to, you know, Facebook, Apple, it might be WhatsApp, whatever, that they want to be able to access information where there might be a suspicion of terror activity. So far tech companies are resisting this – this is a problem for both sides of politics, isn’t it?

LEIGH: Tom, that’s one where I think the detail is far less clear. We’ll be waiting to see precisely what the Government’s proposing. Tech companies have voluntarily handed over hundreds of thousands of pieces of information to law enforcement authorities over the years and making sure that that cooperation continues is very important.

CONNELL: This is about changing who has this key though, right? At the moment, it’s not just an option – they say this is our privacy level, we respect that so there’s no way to decrypt it. Changing that would be a change of mindset for tech companies.

LEIGH: And people have certainly raised concerns about the potential for backdoors to be used by nefarious agents, indeed some of the recent problems seem to have occurred through those backdoors being leaked to the bad guys. I think it’s important that the Government gets the detail right on this and also that it doesn’t go bull-at-a-gate into battle with companies which are already providing some reasonable level of voluntary compliance.

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Fewer Ads, More Action - Media Release

FEWER ADS, MORE ACTION

At the end of the financial year, Australians are being barraged with ads on TV and radio, in print and online touting the Turnbull Government’s supposed success in cracking down on multinational tax dodging.

What these advertisements don’t say is that the Turnbull Government is currently refusing to back sensible Labor proposals that would close multinational tax loopholes and add billions of dollars to the government’s bottom line.

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Trouble Brewing - Op Ed, Daily Telegraph

Trouble Brewing

The Daily Telegraph, 30 June 2017

Thirty years ago, Phil Sexton was a young brewer who found himself increasingly disheartened by Australia’s beer industry. To Phil, conventional beer brewing was blokey, sexist and parochial. He felt the industry treated brewing like a bland exercise in engineering rather than a craft to be mastered.

Fed up with the status quo, Phil and his friends pooled their resources and started their own brewery. The going was tough. The big players used their market muscle to shut them out of virtually every local pub. But Phil and his friends persisted. They started their own pub, sold their own beers and created what is now a household name for craft beer drinkers in Australia: Matilda Bay.

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I will never say no to more representation for the ACT - Transcript, ABC Canberra Breakfast

E&EO TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

ABC CANBERRA BREAKFAST

WEDNESDAY, 28 JUNE 2017

Subjects: Census results and a third MP for Canberra.

ADAM SHIRLEY: The territory briefly had three seats in the House of Reps, between 1996 and 1998. They were the seats of Fraser, Canberra and Namadgi in the day. A current serving MP in the House of Reps for the Canberra region is Andrew Leigh, the Labor Member for Fenner and he’s with us on Breakfast to discuss this further. Andrew Leigh, a very good morning to you.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning to you, Adam. 

SHIRLEY: So, as far as the work it takes to represent Canberra’s growing population, just how hard is it to represent such a large number of constituents, given the area that you represent and the number of people in it?

LEIGH: Well, Adam, it certainly means that you have a fuller inbox. Your phones are ringing off the hook and people are coming in the door more often than they would be in smaller electorates. I speak a lot with my parliamentary colleagues about the work we all do representing electorates. There are challenges across the board - people in far North Queensland are representing huge electorates, but the sheer population in the Canberra electorates does place strains on. We don’t get any extra staffing resources for that, so I’d very much welcome a third seat for the ACT, because I think that would mean that Canberrans who wanted to raise something with their lower house MP just had readier access.

SHIRLEY: So, as far as you see it, is it simply a matter of opportunity to see your local representative, to raise a problem that you might have?

LEIGH: Well, I’m going first to that issue, because it would occur regardless of who was in there. Gai and I work as hard as we can in order to see people, raising issues in the house, but we’d love to have a third colleague there as well. Then of course, for Canberrans, if that person was somebody who was supporting Medicare, fair funding of schools, egalitarianism, I think that would be a great outcome for Canberra as well.

SHIRLEY: To some of those policy issues that you debate as a Labor member, is this as much about securing another Labor seat in what is traditionally a Labor voting town?

LEIGH: Well, Adam, I’m a Labor representative - of course I would say that having more people on the Labor side of Parliament means we’re more likely to get positive reforms put in place. We’ve seen Labor, for example in the cases of the public service, preside over a government in which public service numbers grew in line with population. Under the Coalition, we’ve seen savage cuts to the public service. We’ve seen a Labor Government make a commitment to climate change and to marriage equality, issues that are very important to many Canberrans. So to the extent that a third representative was making those powerful arguments, I think that would be welcomed by the vast majority of Canberrans. 

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The Turnbull Government needs to get serious on household debt - Transcript, Sky News Agenda

E&EO TRANSCRIPT

TELEVISION INTERVIEW

SKY NEWS AGENDA

MONDAY, 26 JUNE 2017

Subjects: Record household debt, curtailing hate speech, fair school funding.

KIERAN GILBERT: With me now is Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh. The debt Bomb puts Nation in Danger", the front page of The Australian today and it refers to Australia and Canada as nations where personal debt is a risk. What do you make of that when there has been talk of a risk to the economy, there has been a property bubble that people have referred to this BIS report released suggested it is personal debt more broadly. What are your thoughts on those findings, is it a worry?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: They are two sides of the same coin. The rapid run up in house prices has meant Australians are more indebted than ever before. That has big implications for the economy. When you've got a lot of debt you don't feel like spending. Philip Lowe, the Reserve Bank Governor has highlighted this as one of the factors that might be dragging back the economy at the moment. The thing is, Kieran, we have these tax settings right now that encourage people to take on too much debt. The negative gearing and capital gains tax discount together act to encourage Australians to take on debt because they can deduct investment losses against wage income. You can't do that in Britain, you can't do that in the United States and that's why Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen have announced that we would restrict negative gearing to new built homes. It's important for financial stability as well as for housing affordability because if we allow this debt run up to continue then we are putting strains - 

GILBERT: So what is the risk then that Philip Lowe and those referred to these elevated levels of personal debt recently but what's the risk; that rates go up, property prices go down or both at the same time?

LEIGH: Both of those. Certainly a house price correction would pose significant risk to the Australian economy. The more debt you've got the more fragile your circumstances are to a shock. I think it's vital that the Federal Government starts taking this seriously. Those who have called for a reform of negative gearing include economists across the political spectrum. Organisations like the Grattan Institute, the Government's own Financial Systems Inquiry, the Reserve Bank has called for this, prominent Liberals: Mike Baird, Jeff Kennett, Joe Hockey in his outgoing speech to Parliament. It's not a radical idea, it's important in terms of making sure that we don't see the home ownership rate to continue to decline - it's now the lowest it has been in 60 years. 

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