League and the ladder of life - Op Ed, The Daily Telegraph

LEAGUE AND THE LADDER OF LIFE

The Daily Telegraph, 4 January 2019

Many of us like to think as rugby league as the great working class game. But despite its egalitarian beginnings, the early decades of league showed the kind of fixed hierarchy that would have made a baron blush. Souths won every premiership from 1925 to 1929. St George won every premiership from 1956 to 1966.

From the 1970s, things began to change. It became simpler for players to move across teams. New clubs were encouraged to enter the competition. In 1990, a salary cap was instituted, limiting the ability of the richest teams to snap up all the best players. It’s now been two decades since any team won back-to-back league premierships.

The story of rugby league illustrates that it is possible to move from a static, predictable environment into one that is more fluid, mobile, and surprising. But it didn’t happen by accident. Social mobility on the league ladder came about because we changed the rules. We didn’t let the free market rip.

It turns out that this commitment to mobility isn’t just restricted to the playing field. Most people, regardless of ideology, find the idea of a feudal society distasteful. Across the political spectrum, whether you’re talking to progressives or conservatives, almost everyone believes in a society where a child’s outcomes aren’t predestined from birth.

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Tyres and Tax Havens - Op Ed, The Herald Sun

TYRES AND TAX HAVENS

The Herald Sun, 29 December 2018

At its worst, Melbourne’s Stawell tyre dump held nine million tyres. The tyre recycling firm that owned the site was refusing to clean it up. Authorities were worried about the fire risk. Eventually, the Environment Protection Authority stepped in. Over two months, they took away 380 truckloads of tyres, at a cost to the taxpayer of $4.5 million.

But when they looked at where to send the bill, the Authority discovered something fishy. Ownership of the dump had been shifted from the Used Tyre Recycling Corporation to a firm called Internet Marketing Solutions Corp. It was based in Panama. That’s right - one of Melbourne’s ugliest eyesores was technically owned by an internet company based in a beautiful nation on the other side of the world.

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Coalition waves the white flag on multinational tax dodging - Media Release

COALITION WAVES THE WHITE FLAG ON MULTINATIONAL TAX DODGING

Nearly three years after promising a register designed to crack down on multinational tax avoidance, the Coalition has put the reform into the ‘too hard for us’ basket.

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How the Fat Duck slimmed its tax bill - Op Ed, The Age

HOW THE FAT DUCK SLIMMED ITS TAX BILL 

The Age, 19 December 2018

In the 1600s, Louis XIV’s finance minister famously described the art of taxation as being to get the maximum amount of feathers from the goose, with the least amount of hissing. At London’s Fat Duck restaurant, they’ve taken a different approach. By using tax havens, Heston Blumenthal’s restaurants appear to have goosed the tax authorities. By flying the profits to the tax haven of Nevis, which charges no company tax on the profits of foreign companies, the famous restaurant chain seems to have feathered its own nest at the expense of the rest of us.

Heston Blumenthal, who also operates the Dinner restaurant at Melbourne’s Southbank, isn’t the only one apparently using tax havens. By one estimate, four out of every ten dollars of multinational profits are now routed through tax havens. Dubbed ‘Treasure Islands’ by one expert, places like Panama and Bermuda have become infamous for their willingness to house companies and their unwillingness to share information about them.

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What's the Coalition's excuse for doubling net debt since 2013? - Transcript, ABC Melbourne Drive

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

ABC MELBOURNE DRIVE

MONDAY,  17 DECEMBER 2018

SUBJECTS: The Coalition’s debt-doubling debacle, Labor’s plans to close multinational tax loopholes and make big business pay their fair share, Labor National Conference.

PRUE BENTLEY: Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and is with us now. Andrew Leigh, good afternoon.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good afternoon, Prue. Great to be with you.

BENTLEY: First, before we get to the National Conference, the Government released their mid-year budget update this morning and they’re crowing about - particularly about a projected surplus for next year of $4.1 billion. This is what Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said to Ali Moore this morning.

JOSH FRYDENBERG, TREASURER: Well, the results today are the product of more than five years of hard work - disciplined design making, including more targeted and restrained spending, as well as putting in place tax cuts for small business people and for households and for families. So today’s, the first job we need to do is to deliver a surplus and the seance job we need to do is pay back Labor’s debt and we’ve still got that to do.

BENTLEY: That was Treasurer Josh Frydenberg this morning. Andrew Leigh, a return to surplus, that’s good news for the Government. That’s good news for the Australian public, isn’t it?

LEIGH: It's certainly good news, but I think what you heard there it wasn't merely crowing - it was what George Orwell called blackwhite. This is a government that came to office in 2013 promising a surplus in their first year and in every year after that. And they’re  on track, on their own numbers, to deliver six deficits and finally promising a surplus after having doubled net debt. As you know, Labor took on debt during the global financial crisis to save the economy in the teeth of the worst global recession that we'd seen since the greatest since the Great Depression. We managed to save 200,000 jobs. But what's the Coalition's excuse for having doubled net debt since 2013? They just don't have one. 

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The Coalition's war on charities - Speech, Adelaide

THE COALITION’S WAR ON CHARITIES

48TH NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY, ADELAIDE

Over the last five years, the Liberals have been waging a war on charities. They have attempted to shut down the charities commission, the body supported by four out of five charities. When they couldn't get that legislation through parliament, they decided to appoint as its head Gary Johns. Now Gary Johns is somebody who's attacked the Indigenous charity Recognise, he’s criticised BeyondBlue, he’s described Indigenous women as “cash cows”. Putting Gary Johns in charge of the charities commission is like putting Ned Kelly in charge of bank security. It’s like putting Bronwyn Bishop in charge of transport for politicians.

Meanwhile, Labor’s been working with the charitable sector. We see a vibrant role for charities in supporting better public policy. We don’t just believe that environmental charities should be planting trees, we believe they should be talking about deforestation. We don’t just believe that social justice charities should be serving a soup kitchen, we believe they can play a role in talking about poverty. 

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Labor gets the big economic calls right (again) - Media Release

LABOR GETS THE BIG ECONOMIC CALLS RIGHT (AGAIN)

The budget bottom line is almost $1 billion better off thanks to Labor.

Yesterday we learnt that last month’s $529 million settlement between BHP and the Australian Tax Office would not have been possible without two bills introduced by Labor in 2012 and 2013.

Today, we discover that it was Labor again responsible for saving taxpayers $425 million through our opposition to a reckless intangible asset depreciation measure put forward by the Coalition.

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Ambitious for the Australian Economy - Transcript, Sky AM Agenda

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TELEVISION INTERVIEW

SKY NEWS AGENDA

MONDAY, 17 DECEMBER 2018

SUBJECTS; Labor Conference, MYEFO, IPSOS poll, negative gearing, asylum seeker policy, Newstart allowance review.

LAURA JAYES: Andrew Leigh is at the Labor Conference and he joins us live here this morning. Andrew Leigh, thank you for your time. We’re yet to see these figures officially but as we know the good news is selectively leaked out ahead of the budget update today. What do you make of the figures? Halving the deficit this year and a bigger return the surplus next year, good news and who do you credit?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Laura, what you just heard from the Treasurer and the Finance Minister was a rewriting of history that would have made George Orwell proud. This is a Government which came to office in 2013 promising that there would be surpluses in their first year and every year after that. They haven’t delivered a single surplus and they’ve doubled net debt. Gross debt has now crashed through about the half a trillion dollar barrier. They castigated Wayne Swan because he promised a surplus which then didn't materialise after the economy was whacked with the biggest downturn since the Great Depression. And now they're saying they’re delivering a surplus - well, they're not. They’re promising a surplus yet again, as they did before the election. Australians will reasonably ask why is it that the Coalition will stand up for every multinational tax loophole but not support fair funding of schools? Because when you hear them talk about a higher taxing agenda-

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More competition, less Chicago - Op Ed, Australian Financial Review

MORE COMPETITION, LESS CHICAGO

Australian Financial Review, 17 December 2018

If you want to know whether firms are worried about competition, don’t just listen to what they say. Listen to what they don’t say. Trawling through thousands of annual reports of American firms, a recent study found that the use of the word ‘competition’ in those reports has declined by three quarters since the start of the century.

Another approach is to look at their books. In the 1980s, large listed firms charged prices that were 10-20 percent above their costs. Today, that’s risen to 60 percent. The problem is just as bad in Australia as in other advanced countries. A study by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission earlier this year concluded that the residential mortgage market looked more like ‘synchronised swimming’ than competition, with customers forced to keep switching lenders if they wanted to get the best deal.

Australia’s competition problem has deep roots. Under the Fraser Government, the test for companies to merge was weakened, in the misguided belief that we needed to let firms grow large in Australia if they were to compete overseas. The merger test was finally tightened up again under the Keating Government. But as former ACCC chair Allan Fels has pointed out, the lax test had by then allowed mergers between Coles and Myer, News Ltd and Herald & Weekly Times and Ansett Airlines and East West Airlines.

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Another year, another win from Labor’s tax laws - Media Release

ANOTHER YEAR, ANOTHER WIN FROM LABOR’S TAX LAWS

The budget is half a billion dollars better off thanks to laws put in place by the former Labor Government.

As reported today, last month’s $529 million settlement between BHP and the Australian Tax Office would not have been possible without two bills introduced by Labor in 2012 and 2013.
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