Writing


Australian hotels deserve a better deal - Op Ed, Smart Company

AUSTRALIAN HOTELS DESERVE A BETTER DEAL, WRITES LABOR’S ED HUSIC AND ANDREW LEIGH

Smart Company, 1 April 2019

Australia has some amazing little hotels. There are beachfront places where guests track sand into the lobby. We’ve got cosy bed and breakfasts off the beaten track. From Magnetic Island to Manly, there are a plethora of places where you can feel at home while enjoying a night away. 

Over recent years, we’ve increasingly come to book those places through online travel platforms. They trade under a host of names — Expedia, Kayak, Hotels.com, Wotif, Priceline, Booking.com, Trivago and more — but they’re really just two large firms, which together control 84% of the market. Both are multinationals, headquartered in places that seem chosen more for their tax advantages than their proximity to the accommodation sector.

The online booking duopoly has used its market power exactly the way an economics textbook would suggest. The commission hotels are charged isn’t just a few per cent, as with a credit card, but can be up to 30%. That’s right: just for linking up customers with accommodation providers, they’re charging up to 30% of the bill. That leaves only 70% for the people who change the sheets, wash the towels, vacuum the carpets and run the reception. 

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Libs suffer truth deficit - Op Ed, News Corp

LIBS SUFFER TRUTH DEFICIT

The Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun and Courier Mail, 29 March 2019

Con artist George Parker was 20 years old when he first sold the Brooklyn Bridge. The trick was to start by asking a passing tourist for help on the tollbooth of the newly opened bridge. When the tourist got interested in the economics, Parker professed not to be much interested in the big picture, and suggested that the passer-by might want to purchase the whole structure. Parker reputedly sold the Brooklyn Bridge many times over, at prices ranging from $50 to $50,000.

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Ending tax refunds for franking credits - Op Ed, Launceston Examiner

ROSS HART

FEDERAL MEMBER FOR BASS

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

FEDERAL MEMBER FOR FENNER

ENDING TAX REFUNDS FOR FRANKING CREDITS

Launceston Examiner, 21 March 2019

Tax loopholes occur when we write our tax laws in a way that inadvertently allows revenue to slip away. Those who use loopholes aren’t breaking the law, but the effect is that we don’t raise the revenue we need to fund vital services. 

That’s what’s happened with refundable franking credits.

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Upturning the Monopoly Board - Op Ed, Crikey

UPTURNING THE MONOPOLY BOARD

Crikey, 20 March 2019

As a parent, I hate the board game Monopoly. It never takes long before one lucky player has bought up a slab of real estate, and the rest are mortgaging their properties just to survive. No matter how happy the kids are when they start the game, it invariably seems to end up in tears.

As it turns out, that’s how most economists feel about real monopolies. From the British East India Company to Standard Oil, monopolies produce too little, and charge too much. Like the strongest kid in the schoolyard, they sometimes throw their weight around - threatening to bankrupt or buy off competitors. Monopolies can become fat and lazy, living off their dominant market position rather than looking for ways to produce better and cheaper products.

In recent decades, Australia’s monopoly problem has come into stark relief. To see the size of it, Australian National University researcher Adam Triggs and I analysed hundreds of Australian industries. Across half the economy, we found that the biggest four players controlled more than one-third of the market.

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Cracking the remittances confusopoly - Op Ed, DevPolicy Blog

CRACKING THE CONFUSOPOLY

DevPolicy Blog, 15 March 2019

Okeny Secondo is a disability support worker in his early-30s who lives in Redbank Plains, a suburb of Ipswich. Born in Sudan, he fled to Uganda as a child, then migrated to Australia. Mr Secondo and his wife, who works as a meat industry processor, send almost one-third of their income back to help friends and families in Africa.

‘I know what it’s like to live with uncertainty in a war-torn country’, he says. ‘I’m very happy to be able to support my family and friends to make them more secure. Sometimes we get urgent requests for emergencies and it’s great to be able to get money to them immediately.’

Mr Secondo is among thousands who send remittances to help people in developing nations. With international migration projected to account for a growing share of the population in the future, remittances will only grow in importance. When a grandparent falls ill, or a child needs to pay school fees, families in developing countries often turn to generous relatives in countries like Australia to send over some cash.

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What if Cash Refunds for Franking Credits Didn’t Exist? - Op Ed, AFR

WHAT IF CASH REFUNDS FOR FRANKING CREDITS DIDN’T EXIST?

Australian Financial Review, 11 March 2019

Suppose that Australia - like every other country in the world - did not provide cash refunds of franking credits to anyone except pensioners.  

Now imagine that a government decided to implement such a policy. 

How would it fund it? For starters, the cost would be significant - nearly $6 billion a year. That’s over $200 for every man, woman and child in Australia. So it might raise income taxes on middle-income earners or increase the GST. Or it could rip money out of the health or education system.

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Subbies will get best deal under Labor Government - Op Ed, Courier Mail

SUBBIES WILL GET BEST DEAL WITH LABOR GOVERNMENT

Courier Mail, 6 March 2019

Queensland One Homes collapsed in 2017, owing more than $5 million. Fencers, roofers, electricians and painters were left out of pocket. The liquidator’s report detailed debts of $380,000 to the federal government, $90,000 to the Queensland government, and millions of dollar of debts to Gold Coast small businesses.

Allegations of “phoenixing” have also been referred to the corporate regulator, ASIC. Phoenixing is defined by the Australian Taxation Office as when a new company is created to continue the business of a company that has been deliberately liquidated to avoid paying its debts. The practice is not illegal.

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Labor promises fairer fees for money transfers - Op Ed, Australian Muslim Times

LABOR PROMISES FAIRER FEES FOR MONEY TRANSFERS

Australian Muslim Times, 4 March 2019

Every year Australians send billions of dollars overseas to family and friends. This might be taxi drivers working an extra shift to help out somebody who’s fallen on hard times back home. It could be someone who’s working a bit extra in a pharmacy in order to help put a nephew through school. 

Right now the pricing of remittances is bamboozling. It’s too confusing and it means you get an incredible spread of prices. Australians pay more for remittances than do people in the United States or in Korea.

Just to give you some sense of the size of what the fees look like, an Australian who wants to send $1000 overseas will pay according to the World Bank $77 in exchange rate mark ups and flat fees. 

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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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Labor takes the wheel for mechanics in Corio and Corangamite - Media Release

THE HON RICHARD MARLES MP

MEMBER FOR CORIO

 

ANDREW LEIGH MP

SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER

SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION AND PRODUCTIVITY

MEMBER FOR FENNER

 

LIBBY COKER

LABOR CANDIDATE FOR CORANGAMITE

 

LABOR TAKES THE WHEEL FOR MECHANICS IN CORIO AND CORANGAMITE

Labor is driving a better deal for car owners and independent mechanics with a plan to give them access to the technical information they need to get cars fixed.

No matter what you kind of vehicle you own, everyone should be able to choose where they get their car serviced. But independent repairers are struggling to get fair access to the standard service information they need.

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | Andrew.Leigh.MP@aph.gov.au | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.