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Labor ready to lead on climate action - Transcript, 2SM with Marcus Paul

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 15 DECEMBER 2020

SUBJECTS: JobKeeper as BonusKeeper; Cycling crash; China; Climate change.

MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Dr Andrew Leigh is with us now on the program. Let's talk about the potential audit of the JobKeeper scheme. Andrew has been fighting hard on this, he's asked the Auditor General to look for companies using it to pay executive bonuses. We've gone through and named and shamed a number of big business corporations. They've done okay, if you like, in the last six to 12 months - so much so they've been able to turn over a profit and they've also paid their executive bonuses and they've ensured that their CEOs are very well rewarded. But the kicker of course is that they've done it, in my opinion, with the help of, in some cases, up to $70 or $80 million worth of Australian taxpayer dollars through the JobKeeper scheme. Or as Andrew has dubbed it, BonusKeeper. Morning, mate. How are you?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus. Great to be with you.

PAUL: Alright, where are you on this JobKeeper scheme? Will the Auditor-General look for companies using it to pay executive bonuses?

LEIGH: I certainly hope he will. The Auditor-General said that he was going to do a broad audit into JobKeeper. I wrote to him saying you need to look specifically at the issue of executive bonuses. Firms like Qube, the logistics company which got $14 million of JobKeeper and paid a $1.3 million bonus to its CEO - despite its earnings barely moving. So one of the other questions I've asked the Auditor-General look into is how many companies had a better 2020 than 2019, and yet received JobKeeper. There seem to be a few, like the company that owns Just Jeans and Smiggle, that have had a really strong 2020 in a profit sense but yet received taxpayer subsidies which they've used to pay out to shareholders and CEOs.

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Coalition's economic priorities out of touch - Transcript, ABC Brisbane Drive

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
ABC BRISBANE DRIVE

THURSDAY, 10 DECEMBER 2020

SUBJECT: Hundreds of companies paying no tax in Australia; the Coalition failing to crack down on multinational tax avoidance; companies using JobKeeper to pay out executive bonuses.

STEVE AUSTIN, HOST: Andrew Leigh is the federal Labor MP for the electorate of Fenner in Canberra. He's the Deputy Chair of the Standing Committee on Economics. Dr Andrew Leigh, thanks for coming back on.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Always a pleasure, Steve. Great to chat with you.

AUSTIN: Alright. How significant is it overall that a third of Australian companies paid no tax at all?

LEIGH: It's pretty significant, Steve. This is a time in which we need every cent we can get, with a million people out of work and government debt going towards a trillion dollars. Not only do we have a third of companies not paying tax, but as you said, there’s 80 companies that haven't paid tax for the last six years. Among the companies that didn't pay any tax this year are some of the giants of the resources sector - Woodside Petroleum, Chevron, BHP [Aluminium], as well as firms like IBM, CITIC and BNP Paribas. So these are significant entities, and in some cases there might be good reasons why they haven't paid tax. But we also know that there's a big fight going on between the well-paid accountants at large firms who are looking to try and find every tax loophole available and the under resourced Australian Tax Office, which has had its budget cut and has been put in a position where it's increasingly finding it difficult to go after the big end of town.

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Government needs to act on tax avoidance - Transcript, ABC News Radio

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
ABC NEWS RADIO

THURSDAY, 10 DECEMBER 2020

SUBJECTS: Hundreds of companies paying no tax in Australia; the Coalition failing to crack down on multinational tax avoidance.

GLEN BARTHOLOMEW, HOST: The Australian Taxation Office’s latest corporate tax transparency data shows about a third of companies didn't pay any tax. More than 2300 corporate entities are included in the report looking at the 2018-19 financial year, which finds hundreds of companies reduced their tax bills to zero during that period. So why is that okay? Andrew Leigh is a former professor of economics who is now the Deputy Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics. Good morning.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: G’day, Glen. Great to be with you.

BARTHOLOMEW: Explain to people how it can be that about a third of companies did not pay any tax.

LEIGH: In some cases it’s because they're doing significant investments. But in other cases, it looks as though there may be questions about their adherence to the laws. There's 80 companies that paid no tax six years in a row, and that's got to raise an eyebrow or two. We know that globally there's around 40 per cent of multinational profits that are shifted to tax havens like the Cayman Islands, and that's a number that's been rising in recent years. Around $600 billion of profits are being funnelled off to low tax or no tax jurisdictions. And it gets easier, Glen, when firms are engaged in weightless production - where it's not immediately obvious where the value is being produced - and firms have been using some sharp accounting tricks in order to exploit some of those loopholes. Unfortunately, while other countries have stepped up to try and close those loopholes, Australia’s been a bit of a laggard when it comes to acting on multinational tax avoidance.

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Australians want job security - Transcript, 2SM with Marcus Paul

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING

TUESDAY, 8 DECEMBER 2020

SUBJECTS: BonusKeeper; Industrial Relations proposals; Sports rorts.

MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Imagine, if you will for just a moment, getting $70 million in taxpayer subsidies for JobKeeper and then using that money to perhaps dole out executive bonuses and dividends. Well, that's what Solomon Lew's Premier Investments have apparently done, and there are increasing calls for Premier to repay around $70 million in government subsidies. Let's speak to Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury about this. Morning, Andrew.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus. Great to be with @MPinthemorning.

PAUL: Thank you. You and I have discussed this before at length. It’s JobKeeper, but you effectively have renamed it BonusKeeper, it that right?

LEIGH: Absolutely, Marcus, just for a small number of firms. Of course, most businesses did exactly the right thing when the pandemic hit. They used that money to support workers. But a small number of firms - and I'm sad to say that Premier Investment seems to be one of them - have used the money to pay out significant dividends, a large portion of which goes to their billionaire owner, and to pay executive bonuses. And I said: if you're doing so well that you can take taxpayer subsidies and pay it out to millionaires and billionaires, maybe you should give it back to the taxpayer first. Maybe we can support some of those people in nursing homes who are suffering right now, and we can support some of those people who are going to lose their jobs between now and Christmas. There are people out there really hurting, and I don't think it's the people with billion dollar wealth or million dollar salaries.

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Volunteering is in a slump, it's time for some caremongering - Op Ed, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age

VOLUNTEERING IS IN A SLUMP - IT'S TIME FOR SOME CAREMONGERING

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, 4 December 2020

When masks became mandatory in Melbourne, Sewing for Charity Australia got to work. Across Australia, it mobilised over 3000 volunteers to sew colourful masks and send them to Victoria. ‘In a time of pandemic we have to come together’, said founder Cass Gell. ‘I have my kids threading elastics.’

As sporting events were cancelled, former Socceroo Craig Foster encouraged teams to replace playing for points with playing for lives. ‘Play for Lives’ mobilised athletes to pack food hampers, transport essential medications and deliver Meals on Wheels.

The initiative was especially timely because coronavirus had caused two-thirds of volunteers to cut back on their efforts. Some charities had to reshape how they delivered services, while in other cases older volunteers simply had to self-isolate.

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Giving Tuesday a day to celebrate philanthropy - Transcript, 2SM with Marcus Paul

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING

TUESDAY, 1 DECEMBER 2020

SUBJECTS: China; Giving Tuesday; Charities.

MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Shadow Assistant Minister for Charities and Treasury Andrew Leigh joins us on the program each and every Tuesday. Good morning, Andrew.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus. How are you?

PAUL: Good, thank you, mate. Can we deal with this issue first? No doubt you were shocked by this image that was posted on Chinese state sponsored Twitter accounts over the last 24 hours. What did you make of it?

LEIGH: Utterly appalled. I felt the Prime Minister put it very well when he spoke before. Just shocking to all Australians.

PAUL: What are we going to do about it, Andrew? We've really - we’re lying down in the bed that we've made with China, if you like. We've been so reliant on them for so long. We bet on red every time and now things are coming up not so rosy.

LEIGH: The Prime Minister's rightly demanded an apology from China, and I'd hoped that that would be forthcoming very swiftly. That’s a false image which is repugnant, and disgusting to all Australians.

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Let's change the way we think about giving to charity - Op Ed, The Canberra Times

LET'S CHANGE THE WAY WE THINK ABOUT GIVING TO CHARITY

The Canberra Times, December 1 2020

Just as coronavirus hit, Dawn was diagnosed with stage four cancer.

The preschool teacher mentioned it to the parents of one of the children in her class. Not long afterwards, the family said they wanted to give her a gift of $10,000. They had been saving it for a holiday, but figured Dawn could better use the money in her battle with cancer.

When coronavirus hit at the start of 2020, countless Australians reached out to help those around them. Three young women who had lost their jobs went out to their first dinner in months to celebrate a birthday. A couple at the next table heard their story, and quietly paid the bill before slipping out. The women were reduced to tears at the generosity of complete strangers.

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Can we make work work? - Op Ed, Inside Story

CAN WE MAKE WORK WORK?

Inside Story, 27 November 2020

Liberty Ashes is a private waste collection company operating in New York City. Over a six-year period, one of the company’s garbage trucks severed the fingers of three employees. Two pinkies and one ring finger were lost because the truck lacked a safety latch.

Garbage collection is one of the most dangerous jobs in America. Each year, around one in 2000 workers in the industry lose their lives. Standard economic theory tells us that a risk of this magnitude should be accompanied by substantially higher pay. But the median hourly wage for American garbage collectors is only US$17.40, which hardly seems sufficient to make up for a death rate comparable to serving in a war zone, not to mention the daily risk of other injuries.

In You’re Paid What You’re Worth: And Other Myths of the Modern Economy, sociologist Jake Rosenfeld outlines many of the injustices that underpin the American economy. In Oklahoma City, Walmart workers took up a canned goods collection to support people who couldn’t afford food. The beneficiaries? Fellow Walmart employees who weren’t able to make ends meet on the company’s meagre salaries. Across the United States, home-care workers subsisted on an average hourly wage of $10 an hour. Many couldn’t find full-time work, so they worked multiple shifts at different aged care homes. This precarious arrangement not only made life tough for workers, it also helped to spread Covid-19 among aged Americans when the pandemic struck.

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Superannuation system envy of the world - Transcript, 2SM with Marcus Paul

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING

TUESDAY, 24 NOVEMBER 2020

SUBJECT: Charities struggling for volunteers; Coronavirus vaccinations; Superannuation.

MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Charities and Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. And he's a regular now on the program, each and every Tuesday. Andrew, good morning to you mate.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus. Top of the morning to you.

PAUL: Great to have your company. Have you been well?

LEIGH: I have, indeed. I ran my first ultramarathon on the weekend - did a 50km trail run and pulled up alright. So life is good.

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Government must be held to account over Robodebt - Transcript, 2SM with Marcus Paul

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 17 NOVEMBER 2020

SUBJECTS: Robodebt; Ministerial accountability; Labor’s positive policies.

MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Back in 1984, Bob Hawke stood down Mick Young from cabinet for failing to declare a stuffed Paddington Bear at customs. We know in New South Wales in more modern history, we had a premier rolled over a bottle of plonk. But we're wondering whether Scott Morrison will stand aside Alan Tudge or even Stuart Robert following the $1.2 billion Robodebt settlement. We know there was a class action. We know that unfortunately, a number of people took their lives and it was just a big, big mess. That's why you do not allow computers to take over social services – I don’t give a stuff what anybody says and how much money it saves, you cannot allow computer systems to generate bills. Because the chances are quite often there'll be errors in there, and that's exactly what happened with Robodebt. And now, as a result of this, taxpayers – you, me and everybody else who goes to work each and every day - are going to have to foot this bill to repay the money and to compensate victims of Robodebt $1.2 billion. Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury is Andrew Leigh. Good morning, Andrew. 

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus. Great to be with you.

PAUL: Yeah, you too, as always. You’re becoming a regular and I enjoy our chats, I really do.

LEIGH: Likewise.

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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.