WEDNESDAY, 13 FEBRUARY 2019
SUBJECTS: Banking Royal Commission; Closing unsustainable tax loopholes; Tim Wilson, Stuart Robert and Ian Goodenough; Asylum seeker medical evacuation bill.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning everyone. The Liberal Party of Australia has turned into a party of the banks, by the banks and for the banks. This is a Liberal Party who is operating in the traditions of Garfield Barwick and the bottom of the harbour schemes. It is the Liberal Party that fought against Labor's 2012 Future of Financial Advice reforms and then in 2014 tried to remove the duty of financial advisers to act in their best interests of the client, tried to restore conflicted remuneration, tried to remove the requirement for advisers to have people opt in at least every two years. The Liberal Party of Australia opposed the Royal Commission into the banks, voting against it 26 times. And now they have said that they won't implement the recommendations in full as the Labor Party will do. The Liberal Party of Australia isn't willing to schedule the extra sittings that we need right now in order to tackle the findings of the banking Royal Commission.
It's no surprise that it's the very same Liberal Party whose members are embroiled in fundraising scandals, sometimes involving their own personal finances. We've got Ian Goodenough, Tim Wilson and Stuart Robert now facing serious questions about their own behaviour. To look particularly at Stuart Robert, we have seen in Mr Robert's case, a donation going via the Fadden Forum worth over $100,000, from a firm that just months later went into liquidation apparently owing creditors and the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of dollars. We've called on Stuart Robert to return that donation because we see no reason why the Queensland Liberal National Party should be benefiting from a political donation while taxpayers are left out of pocket.
In Tim Wilson's case, we've seen the abuse of a parliamentary committee in a way that has colluded with a firm in which Mr Wilson has a direct financial interest. We've seen hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money being spent on this Liberal Party enquiry. An enquiry which is working with a third party firm in ways in which it looks as though they could even potentially have shared confidential elector data. Tim Wilson's position as the chair of the House Economics Committee is utterly untenable and he must step down.
Only Labor will make sure we get tough on the banks. Only Labor will make sure we get tough on multinational profit shifting. Labor since 2015 has been leading the debate on multinational tax avoidance. We believe we have to crack down on tax havens, the scourge of the global tax system. We've seen too much dodgy dealing with tax havens. The revelation recently that Clive Palmer's plan was registered in the Cayman Islands, the revelation that the Bahamas are an increasingly large share of Australia's agricultural land owners, the revelations that the Coalition yet again won't get tough on tax havens. Labor's multinational tax plan will crack down on debt deduction loopholes adding billions of dollars to the budget bottom line. We'll make sure that people can no longer fly to tax havens to check on their tax dodging investments and claim a tax break for doing that. We'll ensure that major firms that have investment in tax havens disclose that to investors as a material tax risk. We'll say to anyone who wants to put in for a Government tender that they need to disclose their country of tax domicile. We'll work with superannuation firms to outline guidelines for investments in tax havens because only Labor can be trusted to get tough with the big end of town. And it's the Liberals long, deep links with the financial industry will ensure that they never back the little guy and always look after their mates in the top end of town. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: You guys had a majority last night, who is to say that you can't push through an extra couple of sitting weeks?
LEIGH: We've certainly been arguing that Parliament ought to sit longer. It's extraordinary this part-time Parliament would sit for just ten days over the course of the next eight months. Now, the Liberal love talking about work-shy workers but they're the worst of the lot. Imagine if a worker turned up to their boss and said they're only going to work ten days for the next eight months and they'd like to be paid. The Liberals would be the first saying that they ought to be sacked. But when it comes to them they think it's alright not to do their job, particularly after the most excoriating report into the banks that we have seen in this country's history. It's just not good enough, Labor believes Parliament needs to sit to begin implementing the Hayne recommendations.
JOURNALIST: Do you think the Medevac Bill will cause you political pain coming up for the next election?
LEIGH: I think it was the right thing to do. I think there is no contradiction between making sure that sick asylum seekers get the medical attention they need and ensuring that our borders are secure. Labor's refugee resettlement agreement in 2013 was responsible for most of the drop in asylum seeker boat arrivals. Nothing in the bill that was passed last night ought to change the incentives for people to come to Australia because nothing in the bill that was passed through the House last night affects anyone who would come to Australia. It only affects those who are presently on Manus and Nauru who are in need of medical treatment.
JOURNALIST: The Liberal Party are saying that if doctors can now allow people to come off Manus to Australia, that will attract people to come from Indonesia to Australia go back to Manus and use that as a gateway back into Australia.
LEIGH: That’s simply not right. The bill that was passed last night applies to the current cohort on Manus and Nauru and to not a single other person beyond that. The Liberal Party of Australia will now say anything, do anything in order to maintain their desperate hold on power. They've given up governing, they've turned into an attack squad focused only on two things: how do you scare the Australian people and how do you blame Labor? Scare and blame, that's all the Liberal Party is about at the moment. It is very sad to see the party of Robert Menzies descending into such grubby lows.
No other questions? Thanks everyone.