Look overseas to see the virtues of more competition - Op Ed - The Australian

The Australian, Tuesday 29 November 2022

Earlier this month, the competition watchdog released its inquiry into digital services.

The report highlighted the massive market dominance of digital platforms, such as Google, which has a 94 per cent share of the search market. It recommended major reforms, such as a requirement that user interfaces are designed in the best interests of consumers, and a broadbased ban on unfair trading practices.

Since at least the days of Adam Smith, economists have spruiked the virtues of competition. Industries with plenty of competitors tend to deliver lower prices and more choice than sectors dominated by a single monopoly.

Yet over recent decades, the Australian economy has exhibited some worrying trends. The business start-up rate and job switching have declined, while market concentration and mark-ups have risen.

In considering what to do, there’s plenty we can learn from other countries.

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Supporting tourism and accommodation providers to set their own prices - Media Release


Supporting tourism and accommodation providers to set their own prices

The Albanese Government is delivering on its commitment to support tourism and accommodation providers to set their own prices when guests contact them to book directly.

Minister for Trade and Tourism, Don Farrell, and Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury, Andrew Leigh, today announced that the Government will commence consultation to understand if online booking platforms are restricting the ability of tourism and accommodation providers to set their own prices, and to identify if any action is required to address this.

If online travel agents use price parity clauses or similar restrictions, this could overwhelmingly impact smaller accommodation providers, particularly smaller individual operators who rely on online travel agents to market their products. 

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Mornings with Adam Shirley - Transcript, ABC Canberra



ADAM SHIRLEY (HOST): There's been quite a bit of change since the Labor Federal government took the reins in late May. And it's true to say, in the case of the regulator of all charities in Australia, a new boss is in place. Susan Woodward has been announced as full time commissioner to the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission for five years. Andrew Leigh is the Minister responsible. Dr Leigh, thank you very much for your time today.


SHIRLEY: How clear a break are you trying to make from the way the charities regulator was run in the last nine years?

LEIGH: Well, it's a big break from the former head of the charities commission, a bloke called Gary Johns, who had made his name largely as a charities critic before being appointed by the Liberals to head the charities commission. His appointment was snuck through in the hours following the same sex marriage vote, largely in order to cover some of the statements he had made, including describing Indigenous women as ‘cash cows’. This appointment is quite different. He said when we came to office, we would do an open call for nominations and then have an independent panel that would select the head of the charities commission. That independent panel was the head of Treasury, the head of Finance and the first head of the charities commission, Susan Pascoe. They came forward with the recommendation. I was pleased to accept that recommendation. And that's Sue Woodward, somebody with enormous connections, respect and knowledge of the charity sector.

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Susan Woodward to head Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission - Media Release


Susan Woodward to head Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission

Today I announce the appointment of Ms Susan Woodward AM as the full-time Commissioner to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) for a five-year period commencing on 12 December 2022.

The Albanese Government believes in the value that charities bring to our economy and society, and respects their role in our democracy. The charity and non-profit sector comprises around one-tenth of employment, and a significant amount of GDP.

The ACNC is the independent national regulator of charities, and works to support a strong, independent and innovative not-for-profit sector. It is vital for Australia that the ACNC be headed by an experienced leader, who commands broad respect across the Australian community sector.

Ms Woodward has extensive experience in the charities and not-for-profits sector. Since 2015, she has been the Chief Adviser, Not-for-profit Law at Justice Connect. She has previously served in senior roles in the Australian Government and the ACNC and is a recognised legal and regulatory expert. She was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in 2021 for her significant service to the not-for-profit sector, to fundraising and to the law.

Ms Woodward’s appointment continues the Albanese Government’s strong record of identifying capable women for senior public sector roles.

The Albanese Government thanks Deborah Jenkins for her contribution as acting ACNC Commissioner for the past few months.

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Charities consultations conclude in Darwin - Media Release

Joint media release with
The Hon Luke Gosling OAM MP
Member for Solomon


The nation’s largest charity consultation reached Darwin yesterday, as the Albanese Government meets with charities across the country to discuss how to rebuild their role in communities.

Over the past generation, Australia’s community bonds have frayed as people have become less likely to join, volunteer and participate in community activities.

And for nearly a decade, the previous government downplayed and discouraged the expertise of charities and non‑profit organisations, and our communities have paid the price.

Yesterday’s Darwin Community Building Forum highlighted that Northern Territory charities are vital for vulnerable Australians and rebuilding community connections.

They deliver critical legal support, health support, and support conservation, land care, and closing the gap.

The forum also highlighted that Northern Territory charities are resilient and innovative, having found new ways to engage supporters and volunteers.

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Tax treaty network expansion - Media Release


Tax treaty network expansion

The Albanese Government will expand Australia’s tax treaty network to support its commitment to boost international trade and investment, provide improved certainty to taxpayers and guard against tax evasion and avoidance practices.

New negotiations are planned with Bulgaria, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. These countries add to the current program which includes Portugal, Slovenia, Greece and Luxembourg. The current program also includes Iceland who signed a tax treaty with Australia on 12 October 2022.

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360 with Katie Woolf - Transcript, Darwin Mix 104.9



KATIE WOOLF: Joining me on the line right now to tell us about a bit of a town hall meeting that happened a little earlier this morning is Andrew Leigh, the Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and also Treasury. Good morning to you Minister.

DR ANDREW LEIGH: Good morning, Katie. Great to be with you.

WOOLF: Yeah, good to have you on the show. Tell us a little bit more about this meeting that took place earlier this morning.

LEIGH: Luke Gosling and I got together with NT charities this morning to talk about some of the big challenges facing the sector. Over the last generation, we've seen a drop in the share of Australians joining community organisations, donating money, participating in sporting activities, or volunteering their time. So what we wanted to do is to get together some of those remarkable NT charities to talk about how we turn this around. We had people there from religious organisations, animal welfare organisations, disability support organisations, and it was really valuable sharing the ideas and getting a sense of what we can do to build a more reconnected Australia.

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ACCC report into digital platform services - Media Release

Joint media release with

The Hon Jim Chalmers MP

The Hon Stephen Jones MP
Assistant Treasurer
Minister for Financial Services

The Albanese Government welcomes the release of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) latest report into digital platform services.

The inquiry has identified significant consumer and competition issues across a range of digital platform services including search engines, social media, online private messaging, app stores, online retail marketplaces and digital advertising.

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Beneficial Ownership Register Consultation



Beneficial ownership register - consultation

The Albanese Government has opened consultation on the design features for the first phase of a publicly available beneficial ownership register. We announced we would implement the register as part of our commitment to ensuring multinationals pay their fair share of tax.

A beneficial owner is a person who ultimately owns or controls an entity, legal vehicle, or asset. Beneficial owners are not always the legal owners of the relevant entity, vehicle, or asset.

A public beneficial ownership register is intended to increase transparency of beneficial ownership in Australia and discourage the use of complex structures that avoid legal requirements and obscure tax liabilities. It seeks to support stronger regulatory and law enforcement responses to tax and financial crime, assist foreign investment applications, and facilitate the enforcement of sanctions.

In this consultation on the first phase of the reform, the Government would welcome views on a proposal to require specified unlisted entities regulated under the Corporations Act 2001 (Corporations Act) to maintain beneficial ownership registers. It also seeks comments on proposed amendments to the substantial holding notice and tracing notice regimes in the Corporations Act.

In future phases, the Government intends to consult on approaches to disclosure of beneficial ownership held through other legal vehicles, such as trusts, and the centralisation of information in a single public registry.

Implementation of a beneficial ownership register would broadly align Australia with international approaches to transparency of beneficial ownership information. Currently, Australia is not ranked highly against international benchmarks for the collection and disclosure of beneficial ownership information, including those set out by the Financial Action Task Force.

Ensuring everyone pays their fair share of tax in Australia will help to fund vital services, repair the Budget, and level the playing field for Australian businesses.

We welcome contributions from the community. Submissions close on 16 December 2022.

To access the discussion papers or lodge a submission, visit the Treasury website.

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Parliament House Press Conference, Thursday 3 November 2022


TOPICS: Multinational tax, ATO corporate tax transparency report, $5 note, energy prices, renewables, industrial relations laws

ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES AND TREASURY DR ANDREW LEIGH: Thanks very much for coming along. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury. Well, today we had the release of the Australian Tax Office’s Corporate Transparency Report. This is a report that is brought into the public domain as a result of laws passed under the Gillard Government, to the cries and objections from the Liberals at the time. It shows for 2,468 corporations, their tax that they've paid, their total income and their taxable income. It's really important that all firms pay their fair share of tax. And the Corporate Transparency Report is a Labor initiative that is delivering to Australians more information about tax paid. This is for the year 2020-2021. So it's not yesterday's information, but it is critical to corporate tax transparency.

Labor is strongly committed to making sure that all firms pay their fair share of tax. The recent budget, we funded the ATO's Tax Avoidance Task Force to the tune of $1.1 billion over the next four years to ensure that multinational firms don't get a leg up on their local competitors simply because they're exploiting unfair tax loopholes. We announced we'd be closing down a number of tax loopholes that have been exploited by multinationals. Multinationals will no longer be able to deduct as much debt as a result of our changes to the thin capitalisation regime. We've made changes to the ability of multinationals to use royalty payments inappropriately to minimise their tax bill. And we're expanding transparency for large corporations in Australia. For significant global entities - you can think of these as firms with revenue over a billion dollars - we're requiring country by country reporting detailed tax information, ensuring those firms are paying their fair share. For public companies, listed and unlisted, we'll require the number of their subsidiaries and the countries in which they're located. Again, a measure to ensure that we're not seeing taxes that should be paid in Australia, leaking away to low or no tax jurisdictions. Any firm that's tendering for a government tender worth more than $200,000 will have to disclose its country of tax domicile.

The Albanese government is strongly committed to a level playing field on tax, ensuring that firms are competing based on serving their customers well, being innovative and providing a good workplaces for their employees. The last thing we want is an economy in which firms are competing based on who's got the best tax loophole. That doesn't provide a stronger economy. That's not the foundation for the productivity growth that we know is vital. Very happy to take questions on the report or other economic issues.


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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.