LABOR RECOGNISES OUTGOING CHARITIES COMMISSION HEAD SUSAN PASCOE
Labor acknowledges the service of the head of the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission, Susan Pascoe, who has not been reappointed by the Turnbull Government.
The charities commission was created by the Gillard Government in 2011, following numerous independent inquiries that called for such a body. Ms Pascoe was announced as its inaugural commissioner the following year.
In 2007, Ms Pascoe was appointed Member of the Order of Australia for service to education through a range of executive roles. She has won a number of significant awards, including the Outstanding Contribution in Public Administration Award last year. Ms Pascoe has been praised by the public service and charities alike. As advisory board chair Tony Stuart put it, under her leadership, the charities commission has ‘not only survived – but thrived’.
From 2011 to March 2016, the Coalition was committed to abolishing the charities commission. Despite the fact that the commission was established to reduce the reporting burden on charities, the Coalition used their first ‘red tape repeal day’ to attempt to abolish it. The Coalition even introduced legislation to parliament in an attempt to scrap the charities commission.
Surveys consistently show that four out of five charities support the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission. The body provides transparency for taxpayers, efficiency for charities and accountability for donors. Yet it took a concerted campaign, including a letter from more than 40 major charities, before the Coalition finally withdrew their legislation to scrap the charities commission. That uncertainty placed considerable stress on the organisation, which experienced up to 25 percent annual staff turnover during the time that it was slated for abolition.Read more
Vale Jayson Hinder
1 June, 2017
At the end of April, Canberra lost one of its great community activists, and briefly a parliamentarian in the ACT Legislative Assembly, Jayson Hinder. Jayson was a true son of Canberra. His family were the second to live in the Woden Valley, the first being Doug Anthony and his family. He had a tough childhood. When his father died in the 1970s, the family lost their home. But, as he grew up, he came to be a man who gave a great deal back to the community.
At his funeral service, many of his mates recalled his willingness to help out with fixing things. He was always there offering a hand and he loved his machines. He loved his cars and he loved his bikes. He loved fixing his own and he loved fixing the cars and bikes of friends. One friend of Jayson's described him as 'Toad of Toad Hall' for his love of feeling the wind in his hair. When he was profiled by Fairfax in 2015, Jayson owned a Ducati Monster, two BMWs, a 1973 Honda and a Renault Alpine.Read more
Matter of Public Importance
Wednesday 31 May, 2017
Last week we saw an orgy of self-congratulation as the Liberal Party of Australia recognised the 75th anniversary of Robert Menzies's 'The forgotten people' speech. But, sadly, those opposite appear to have forgotten to read the speech, because in that speech the founder of their party says: 'The rich can look after themselves.' Those that Sir Robert Menzies was concerned about were 'salary-earners, shopkeepers, skilled artisans, professional men and women, farmers and so on.' They have forgotten the forgotten people speech.
I do not have time today to refer to issues such as the fact that the party that once talked about homeownership is now the party of housing investors or that the party of schools and universities is now the party that brings down a budget cutting them. Let us just look at how Robert Menzies's forgotten people are being treated under the tax plans of those opposite. A member of parliament, who, according to the tax office's most recent statistics, earns an average of $215,000, will receive a $700 tax cut, but a flower-grower on $32,540 will receive a $162 tax rise. A cardiologist on $408,000 receives a $4,571 tax cut, but a fitness centre manager on $50,500 receives a $252 tax rise. A gastroenterologist on $380,000 receives a $4,000 tax cut, but a kindergarten teacher on $47,000 gets a $230 tax rise. A surgeon on $330,000 receives a $3,000 tax cut, but a nurse on $44,000 gets a $220 tax rise. While a magistrate on $250,000 receives a $1,400 tax cut, a hospital pharmacist on $68,000 gets a $344 tax rise.Read more
Treasury Laws Amendment (Accelerated Depreciation For Small Business Entities) Bill 2017
Wednesday 31 May, 2017
In 1936, John Maynard Keynes published The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, and one of the key insights of that book was to draw a distinction between the short run and the long run. In the short run, Keynes pointed out that it was important to have policies that would get the economy out of a temporary slump, such as that the world was in the mid-1930s. It could either be monetary policy or fiscal policy, but where it was fiscal policy he urged that it might be important to put in place temporary measures that encouraged businesses to invest over the short term to get the economy out of a hole. Keynes distinguished this from measures that might be put in place to boost long-run aggregate demand. Those measures would seek to be stable and predictable; they would not have sudden death thresholds.
Today, the House is facing a measure which, frankly, would be better crafted to get the economy out of a temporary slump than to feed long-term demand. In its policy on accelerated depreciation, the government has chopped and changed over the years. In office, Labor put in place a higher level of instant write-off, increasing the threshold from $1,000 to $6,500—a stable and sustainable level which we felt would do a great deal to encourage investments by firms. Accelerated depreciation has good economic insights behind it. By acceleration depreciation schedules firms have a greater incentive to purchase fixed assets for their businesses. Under the expenditure tax laws in place in Australia, the GST allows you to write off inputs in the same year as you pay the tax, further up the chain. But, in the case of company tax or personal tax, the items are depreciated over succeeding years. Accelerated depreciation tips the hand of a business owner towards putting in place investment that they might not otherwise have done. It is, in the view of many economists, a more efficient way of incentivising investment than changing the corporate rate.Read more
ASIC Supervisory Cost Recovery Levy Bill 2017
Tuesday 30 May, 2017
I rise to speak on the ASIC Supervisory Cost Recovery Levy Bill 2017 and related bills. Labor is supportive of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission industry funding model on the principle that ASIC's regulatory costs should be borne by those entities it regulates. Under this model, in the 2017-18 financial year ASIC's regulatory costs will be recovered from the corporate sector and the financial services sector instead of being borne by the taxpayer. These costs are anticipated to be $240 million in 2017-18. The opposition notes that the cost recovery levy is similar to the arrangements currently in place for funding the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.
The principle that regulation is paid for by the entities that have created the need for it rather than by the Australian public is uncontroversial. Reflecting ASIC's function as the corporate regulator, the levy will apply to all companies and in 2017-18 is expected to raise $81 million, with costs ranging from $5 a year for small proprietary companies to $662,000 for listed public companies with a market capitalisation above $20 billion. Reflecting ASIC's function as the financial services regulator, additional levies will apply to entities in the financial services sector, and these levies are expected to raise $159 million from the financial services sector in 2017-18. We note that some existing ASIC fees, the government has foreshadowed, will be reduced in lieu of the cost recovery levy.Read more
ADDRESS TO 2017 PROPERTY LEADERS SUMMIT
TUESDAY, 30 MAY 2017
I've spoken at least half a dozen times to various Property Council events and very much value the conversation. Labor’s policies on housing affordability have been shaped through ongoing conversations and engagement with the sector. You may not agree with everything that we have to say, but I trust you won’t ever fault our degree of engagement with the business community. We understand the importance of the work that you do and the importance of continuing to have those conversations, when we agree and when we disagree.
We’re meeting at a challenging time for the housing sector. We’ve now got the home ownership rate lower than it’s been in 60 years. We’ve got housing debt to household income at a historic high, more than 180 per cent. At a time when the growth rate of living standards has halved, we’ve seen some of the most rapid house price appreciation in Australian history. That’s left a degree of fragility in the system. According to Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe, the share of households with debt more than three times their income was 12 per cent in 2002. Now it’s 20 per cent.Read more
‘YOU CAN ALMOST REGISTER YOUR DOG AS A COMPANY DIRECTOR’
Australian Tax Office Commissioner Chris Jordan this morning has confirmed the need for action on dodgy phoenix operators, who deliberately burn companies in an attempt to avoid their obligations to employees, taxpayers and honest businesses.
The Tax Commissioner told a Senate Estimates Committee:
“This is not a new issue. Phoenixing is a big problem, especially when you have these people that are unassociated with the principals. You can’t keep track.”
When speaking on how easy it is to become a company director in Australia, Mr Jordan told one Senator:
“I could appoint you as a company director without you even knowing and me then controlling the company”
The Tax Commissioner also noted that in other countries, proper identification checks are required for anyone wanting to become a director.
Illegal phoenix activity costs our economy billions of dollars annually. That’s why Labor last week announced measures to crack down on dodgy directors:
- Requiring all company directors to obtain a unique Director Identification Number with a 100-point identification check.
- Increasing penalties associated with phoenix activity
- Introducing an objective test for transactions depriving employees of their entitlements
- Clarifying the availability of compensation orders against accessories
- Consulting on targeted integrity measures based on the recommendations of the Melbourne Law School / Monash Business School Phoenix Research Team recommendations.
ABC NEWS BREAKFAST
TUESDAY, 30 MAY 2017
Subjects: Bad banking behaviour, Labor’s plans to crack down on phoenix activity, Treasury forecasts.
MICHAEL ROWLAND: Let’s go to Canberra now and higher penalties as well as a register of company directors are being proposed by Labor to crack down on so-called phoenix insolvencies
VIRGINIA TRIOLI: The federal opposition says it will ensure workers, the tax office and creditors don’t lose out. Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and joins us now from Parliament House. Andrew Leigh, good morning.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning, Virginia.
TRIOLI: We will get to your proposals in a moment, but I’m interested in a story that popped up overnight - the government appearing to be doubling down on banking executives, giving the banking regulator new powers to deregister executives who engage in so-called scandalous behaviour, including drug taking apparently, that have failed to meet what they call community standards. Do you think it is a good idea?
LEIGH: Virginia, we'll scrutinise the detail when we see it. At the moment, it’s just a media drop to a tabloid newspaper. But it comes from a government that has been doing its level best to protect the banks over the recent years. They’ve been offering the big banks a company tax cut that will be worth $7 billion to them and they’ve been shielding them from a Royal Commission, despite the plethora of scandals that Australians have seen occurring at big banks over recent years. Bill Shorten is committed to a Banking Royal Commission. Malcolm Turnbull wants to give the bank executives a slap on the wrist.
TRIOLI: Well, I don’t think this is a slap on the wrist. Do you think it’s a good idea?
LEIGH: We’ll wait and see the detail, as I said.
TRIOLI: The detail, as I describe it, does that prima facie look like a good idea?
LEIGH: We’ll scrutinise the legislation, as you’d expect a sensible opposition to do. But it’s no substitute for a Royal Commission, which is a chance for the victims to tell their stories, to look systematically at some of the issues within the banking sector - the major issue of vertical integration for example - and to scrutinise how we can make sure that our banking system remains strong.Read more
Malcolm Turnbull is captive to the far right of his party on climate policy - Transcript, Sky AM Agenda
SKY AM AGENDA
MONDAY, 29 MAY 2017
Subject/s: Paris Climate Accord; Climate Policy; Healthcare Funding.
KIERAN GILBERT: With me now is Labor frontbencher, Andrew Leigh. There has been a lot of speculation around Donald Trump, he's apparently told people close to him that the US will indeed pull out of the Paris Climate Accord as expected. The Government are pushing ahead with its targets on a broad policy sense you'd welcome although you'd disagree with the mechanism by which they want to get there?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Well, Kieran the Government has no plans beyond 2020 and it's rejecting an Emissions Intensity Scheme which every expert supports. State Governments, the Business Council of Australia, the National Farmers Federation support an Emissions Intensity Scheme. It’s supported by the Australian Energy Markets Commission, by Prime Minister Turnbull's former energy adviser, the CSIRO, the Chief Scientist and of course Labor. So by putting their head in the sand on an Emissions Intensity Scheme the Turnbull Government are overseeing not only rising electricity sector emissions but also fast rising energy prices. We're paying more for electricity and having higher climate emissions as a result of Malcolm Turnbull still being captive to the far right of his party.Read more
WEDNESDAY, 24 MAY 2017
Subjects: Labor’s plans to tackle phoenixing activity, ATO arrests, charities and transparency
JEREMY CORDEAUX: Phoenixing – it’s a lovely word, isn’t it? Phoenixing, phoenixing, phoenixing. Phoenixing companies. I was talking about it at the beginning of the program – it’s about stripping the assets of a company, going bankrupt, scamming all the creditors – including the ATO – then starting up the company again, down the road maybe or maybe in the same place, I don’t know, and doing it all over again. It’s just too easy and too attractive and it shouldn’t, somebody should’ve done something about this a long time ago.
Somebody who feels very strongly about it is Dr Andrew Leigh. He’s the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and he’s got a whole pile of other things he’s responsible for. I personally think he should be the leader of the opposition, but that’s just me. How are you, Dr?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Very well, though I have to disagree of course Jeremy – I think Bill is doing a fantastic job as our leader.
CORDEAUX: Well, you would say that. I just think you can run rings around just about everybody in parliament, frankly, but anyway.
LEIGH: Very kind of you.
CORDEAUX: That’s just me. Now, this phoenixing thing – how come this has been allowed for so long?
LEIGH: Well, beats me. I mean, phoenix operators are ripping off taxpayers, ripping off workers and most of all they’re ripping off decent small business owners. There was a bloke called Daniel O’Connell, a plumber in regional Victoria who lost $200,000 to a phoenix operator called Global Contracting, who left him and another 300 creditors out of pocket when they took the money and moved it to a different company.
There’s a team of experts at Melbourne University and Monash who have been working on phoenix policy for the last three years and have come up with a bunch of sensible recommendations, including the straightforward idea that we should have a director identification number, so directors can’t pretend to be a different person when they get shut down and then want to go back into business.
CORDEAUX: No, I couldn’t agree more. It’s such a simple way of handing it. If you’re the director of a company - and it’s very easy to set up a company and it’s very easy to become a director – it should be that there is some sort of accountability or tracking mechanism.
LEIGH: And the strange thing, Jeremy, is that it’s easier at the moment to become a director than to open a bank account. We’ve had praise for our proposal today coming not only from the ACTU, but also from former ACT Liberal leader Kate Carnell. We’ve had the Australian Institute of Company Directors saying that they support a director identification number.
CORDEAUX: What do the Liberals say?
LEIGH: Well, they say they’re looking into it, but they’ve been dragging their heels on this one and meanwhile honest businesses are getting ripped off. Phoenix operators are able to run rampant in the economy, particularly in areas like construction and labour hire and they’re giving good directors a bad name and they’re ripping off honest workers.
CORDEAUX: The areas that sort of get feedback on are car, people in the car business, the car industry, the cleaning contractors, the building industry is almost infamous for this type of thing.
LEIGH: That’s right. We all know the myth of a phoenix, a bird that’s magically reborn from its ashes. But there’s nothing magical about these phoenix operators. They’re the lowest of the low because they they’re taking advantage of people’s trust and then leaving others out of pocket to pick up the pieces. Trying to take the assets, strip them out of one company and put them in the next one. We might not be able to eliminate all phoenixing, but straightforward measures such as raising the penalties, getting the standard of proof right and getting the director identification number will make a big difference.
CORDEAUX: Yes, that should just whiz though, for god’s sake. Everybody should be favour of that unless you’re a crook.
LEIGH: I certainly hope it will. We’re encouraging the government to take this up and frankly the thing about politics Jeremy is that we don’t mind who takes the credit, so long as the change gets done. So long as we can get this important change in place and protect people like Daniel O’Connell.Read more