2GB MONEY NEWS
THURSDAY, 29 SEPTEMBER 2022
LUKE GRANT (HOST): So back to our October budget and the balance between spending and saving. Of course, it's crucial. One man who's been a big part of the budget process unsurprisingly is the Assistant Minister for Competition Charities and Treasurer Andrew Leigh. Minister, welcome back to the show.
DR ANDREW LEIGH, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES AND TREASURY: Good to be with you.
GRANT: Nice to talk to you. Firstly, before we get to the budget, the government has just introduced legislation to crackdown on anti competitive behaviour and unfair contract terms. I note that the Small Business Ombudsman, Bruce Billson, has been effusive in his praise of the legislation. Can you take us through what's changing and how that's going to help small businesses operate, Minister?
LEIGH: Well, competition is a bedrock of a fair economy and we need competition to get better prices and more choice for Australian households. The government has been worried that too many big firms are starting to treat competition fines as just a cost of doing business, rather than a real deterrent to bad behaviour. So we're raising the maximum penalty from $10 million up to $50 million to make sure that big businesses do the right thing. And the other thing we're doing for small businesses is making unfair contract terms illegal. These are terms that are lopsided. So, for example, a big business might have a contract with a small supplier that says they can change the prices any time they like or they can get out of the contract anytime they like, although their smaller counterpart can't quit if they want to. So those unfair contract terms will now be illegal. There will be fines for putting those into contracts.Read more
ABC AFTERNOON BRIEFING
THURSDAY, 29 SEPTEMBER 2022
GREG JENNETT (HOST): Well, we know full well that Australia's got an inflation problem at present, running at just under 7% and expected to sit at around that level for a little while. But we also now have a glimpse at more accurate data that tells us when that peak just might reach or be passed. Now, Competition and Charities Minister Andrew Leigh is responsible for the Bureau of Statistics, amongst other things, and he's with us now. Welcome back, Minister. This is a bit of a revolution, moving to monthly measurement. Why is more frequent measurement of inflation any more accurate or useful to governments, policy makers?
DR ANDREW LEIGH, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES AND TREASURY: Greg, it doesn't really matter at a time when inflation is low, as it's been for much of the past decade, but it really does matter at a time like the present, when we're trying to ensure that we get inflation under control. With the government is focusing on supply side reforms and the Reserve Bank focusing on demand side reforms, we really need that frequent updating. Australia has been an outlier in having only quarterly inflation figures. So full credit to David Gruen and his team at the ABS for bringing out these experimental monthly estimates.
JENNETT: So it's timely for the reasons you just outlined. We were going to get there anyway I think it's just that it's landed in a sweet spot. In what sense is it experimental? And how can we be certain that it is, in fact as accurate as the quarterly reporting?
LEIGH: Well, unlike other figures that the Bureau of Statistics brings out, the inflation number isn't revised, and that's because it's often locked into contracts, it has an immediate flow through to government payments and to business. And so all of those indexation measures will still continue to be based on the quarterly numbers for the time being. The Bureau needs to make sure that it's got those monthly figures right. But, Greg, it does show some interesting patterns across sectors. Over the last year, you've seen the price of new dwelling construction up 21%, fresh fruit and vegetables up 19%. Anyone who's been to the supermarket lately will know that one. And then you've got areas like communications, where prices are only up less than 2% over the last year. So some real divergence right across the economy.Read more
SPEECH TO THE OECD FORUM ON TAX ADMINISTRATION
THURSDAY 29 SEPTEMBER 2022
Good morning, my name is Andrew Leigh and as Assistant Minister responsible for multinational tax, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak to you at this important forum.
I will begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which I am making my remarks from in Canberra, the Ngunnawal people, as well as where you are meeting today on the lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. I pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging.
It’s a pleasure to be a part of this event supporting the Forum on Tax Administration’s work. The work of tax administrators is a crucial element of ensuring a well-functioning economy and a fair society.
As an Economics Professor, a lot of my work was in public finance, particularly at the intersection of taxation and inequality. I learned a great deal from my co-author Tony Atkinson, who worked across a large number of countries, drawing insights on big questions from looking at different nations. That’s one of the great strengths of the OECD: sharing ideas across countries in the interests of improving policies everywhere. If Tony Atkinson was still alive, I reckon he’d love to be joining your conference today, as he did with many other OECD events.Read more
Joint media release with
The Hon Stephen Jones MP
Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services
The Albanese Government is introducing legislation to protect Australian households and ease the cost of living by increasing penalties for breaches of competition and consumer law.
Competition plays a vital role in driving down prices and changes to the law are necessary to ensure a level playing field and stop big companies from using their size to dominate markets.
That’s why Labor is moving to increase penalties for corporations engaging in anti‑competitive behaviour from $10 million to $50 million, ensuring the price for misconduct is high enough to deter unfair activity.
The current turnover‑based penalty will also be increased from 10 per cent of annual turnover to 30 per cent of turnover for the period the breach took place, and penalties for individuals will increase from $500,000 to $2.5 million. This ensures those who perpetuated the wrongdoing, either individually or on behalf of the company, are held accountable.
The Government is conscious of the close ties between the consumer law and the consumer protection provisions of the financial services law. Treasury will soon consult publicly on the desirability of increasing maximum penalties for these provisions, to ensure the law continues to provide robust and effective protection of consumer interests across all sectors of the economy.
The amendments will facilitate the imposition of penalties that are more comparable with those in other countries.Read more
Joint media release with
The Hon Julie Collins MP
Minister for Small Business
LABOR’S MAKING OUR CONTRACT LAW FAIRER
Small businesses and the hard-working Australians they employ will soon have greater protections as the Albanese Labor Government delivers on its election commitment to outlaw unfair contract terms.
Small businesses and consumers often lack the resources and bargaining power to effectively review and negotiate terms in standard form contracts. Existing laws haven’t been strong enough to stop the use of unfair terms, which remain prevalent in standard form contracts.
The Bill being introduced to Parliament today, will strengthen protections for consumers and small businesses by making unfair contract terms illegal. This will stop the use of unfair terms, such as those are where one party has the right to unilaterally vary the contract or terminate without cause and demand damages.
The amendments introduce civil penalty provisions prohibiting the use of, and reliance on, unfair terms in standard form contracts. This will enable a regulator to seek a civil penalty from a court.
Additionally, a larger number of small business contracts will now be afforded protection. This will occur by increasing the small business eligibility threshold for the protections from less than 20 employees to less than 100 employees, and introducing an annual turnover threshold of less than $10 million as an alternative threshold for determining eligibility.Read more
Among Australian economists, few public servants are as revered as Roland Wilson, who ran the Treasury, the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Department of Labour, serving both sides of politics.
Yet Wilson wasn’t just a great public servant, he was also one of Canberra’s first electric vehicle owners. As Tim the Yowie Man reported on these pages, Wilson built his own three-wheeled electric vehicle using parts collected from junk shops and rubbish tips. During the 1940s, he drove it from his home in Forrest to his office in the Parliamentary Triangle. The car had a top speed of 20 km/h and a range of up to 64 km. Its twelve batteries charged overnight at Wilson’s home.
Earlier this year, I became one of the first Canberra politicians to switch to an electric vehicle, swapping my Honda Jazz for a Tesla 3. I’ve never been much of a car nut, but the Tesla is a joy to drive. It’s got enough range to get to Sydney, enough space to hold a family of five, and more than enough zip when you put your foot down. There’s also something fun about a car with automatic door locks, headlights and windscreen wipers. Where Roland Wilson had to sacrifice performance for environmentalism, today’s drivers can have both.
Yet while Teslas are fun, they’re not cheap. And that goes for other electric vehicles too. As Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen has pointed out, consumers in the United Kingdom can choose from 26 low-emission vehicles under A$60,000. In Australia, that number is only eight. That’s a key reason why electric vehicles comprise 15 per cent of UK car sales, compared with just 2 per cent of Australian new car sales. While Teslas currently account for around 60 per cent of new Australian electric vehicles, they may soon be outsold by cheaper alternatives.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, PARLIAMENT OF AUSTRALIA, CANBERRA
FRIDAY, 23 SEPTEMBER 2022
Only one serving British monarch has ever visited Australia. Only one British monarch has ever had her head appear on Australia’s decimal currency. 87 percent of Australians have only ever known one monarch in our lifetimes.
If the first Elizabethan Age represented the English renaissance, the second Elizabethan Age is marked by its extraordinary longevity. As the Prime Minister pointed out this morning, it spanned 16 Australian Prime Ministers, starting with Menzies; 16 Governors General, starting with McKell, and included 16 visits to Australia, the first lasting two months.
Queen Elizabeth did not live here, but during her 70-year reign, she met more Australians and travelled to more parts of Australia than most Australians. She made a broadcast over the Royal Flying Doctors’ network from Broken Hill, opened the Opera House and this Parliament House, consoled Australians who had suffered loss, and sent thousands of congratulatory messages to centenarians and couples celebrating their diamond anniversaries.Read more
The Daily Telegraph 23 September 2022
Sarah ‘Fanny' Durack learned to swim at Sydney's Coogee Baths. When she was a teenager, her main rival was Wilhelmina ‘Mina' Wylie, the daughter of the man who ran Wylie's Baths, also in Coogee.
When the organisers of the 1912 Stockholm Olympics announced that women's swimming would be on the program, they had to pay their own way to Sweden.
In the first-ever women's Olympic swimming event, the 100m freestyle, Durack won gold and Wylie took silver. If Australia had sent two more women swimmers, they could surely have won the 4x100m relay.
Sport isn't perfect but it does offer lessons for narrowing the gender pay gap. Last year, Australia sent a majority-female squad to the Tokyo Olympics. That stands in contrast to those who run Australian firms.
Only six per cent of Australia's largest 300 companies have a female chief executive. Fewer big companies are run by women than by men named John.
ABC CANBERRA, ADAM SHIRLEY
TUESDAY, 13 SEPTEMBER 2022
SUBJECTS: Changes to Australia’s currency as a result of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, changes to Parliament’s schedule, federal ICAC
ADAM SHIRLEY: Well, school holidays is not far off and I know if your parent care, guardian, uncle, aunt, always, well, how do I juggle the kids whilst still needing to work? That is going to be an issue now for MP staffers and Parliament Houseworkers because there will be now a sitting week, as you heard Prime Minister Anthony Albanese speak about yesterday during school holidays to make up for the time lost for this week, where the observance of the death of Queens mean that Parliament is not doing its regular business as was scheduled. Andrew Leigh's, Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and treasury, soon and to talk with us in a moment about dollars and cents and whose face goes on some of our coins and notes from this point forward. But, Assistant Minister Leigh, thank you so much for your time on Mornings today.
ANDREW LEIGH: Pleasure, Adam. Great to be with you.
ADAM SHIRLEY: Let's talk about the juggle first. Many MPs staffers, permanent House workers have kids or other commitments in school holidays. I wonder, from your own perspective, how will you do the family juggle during that rescheduled sitting week?
ANDREW LEIGH: In parliamentary sitting weeks always put a bit more pressure on Gweneth and I think she'll be doing more than her fair share in this set of parliamentary sittings. The only excuse I've been able to offer her is ‘well, this only happens once every seven decades or so’. Hopefully it's not going to become a regular occurrence. I think it's good you're asking the question, because we ask a lot of our families and gives me a chance to publicly say thanks to Gweneth for the extraordinary work she does in helping raise our kids, particularly when parliamentary sittings are on.
ADAM SHIRLEY: So, amongst others, Green Senator, Larissa Waters, have said this is not family friendly when the Prime Minister pledged that this Parliament would be more family friendly, have any of you with kids in the Government said, hold on a second, Albo. Is there any other week we can use?
ANDREW LEIGH: Well, the challenge is that we're committed to a significant legislative agenda, including the National Integrity Commission, and so we do need to make up those sittings days and in doing so, now has been judged to be the most appropriate time. There's never a good time to put in additional sitting days, but people recognise these are extraordinary circumstances.Read more
PATRICIA KARVELAS: One of the more tangible changes Australians will notice from the ascension of King Charles to the throne will be on our currency. According to the 1965 Currency Act, the face of the reigning monarch must be on all our coins, and pieces bearing the image of the new King will come into circulation from next year. But the face of Queen Elizabeth is also on the $5 note and replacing those will be a longer process. Responsibility for the Mint lies with the Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury Andrew Leigh, and Andrew Leigh is our guest this morning. Andrew Leigh, welcome.
ANDREW LEIGH: Good morning, Patricia. Great to be you.
PATRICIA KARVELAS: How extensive will the changes to our currency have to be with the ascension of King Charles.
ANDREW LEIGH: Well, there will be a new effigy, so the back of every coin in Australia will change, and it’s a pretty historic change. The Queen has been on the back of Australian coins since 1966, when decimal currency began. Over that period, there’s been more than 15 billion Australian coins printed, all of which have had Her Majesty’s portrait on the back. So there’ll be a new effigy produced – King Charles III – and that will be appearing on Australian coins at some stage next year.
PATRICIA KARVELAS: Okay, so coins with a portrait of King Charles will come into circulation, as you say, from next year. Will coins with the face of his mother then stay in circulation? What’s the process for how that works?
ANDREW LEIGH: They will. People who are worried about whether they can use their coins should know that coins remain legal tender and will remain legal tender all the way in the future, but you’ll start to see this change as the effigy is produced. The protocol, Patricia, is that the Royal Mint in Britain supplies an effigy to the Australian Mint. That’s then confirmed with Buckingham Palace and the coins appropriately go into circulation.
One factor that your listeners might find interesting is that there’s a protocol of switching the direction that the effigy faces.Read more