MONDAY, 11 MAY 2015
SUBJECT/S: Joe Hockey’s tax ineptitude
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Thanks everyone for coming along this afternoon. We've just seen a most extraordinary press conference from the Treasurer of Australia, who the day before the Budget has announced his latest thought-bubble on multinational taxation. With the Budget coming down tomorrow, Joe Hockey cannot tell the Australian people how much his latest multinational thought-bubble will cost. He's delivered a garbled and incoherent press conference, in which he's been unable to say what these important changes will do for the Budget bottom line. You can bet that if Joe Hockey was announcing measures that hurt poor people, he'd know how much they'd added to the Budget bottom line down to the last cent. But yet again we're seeing a Treasurer utterly adrift from his portfolio, turning out because he wants to be seen, rather than because he's got something to say.
On the so called 'Google tax', we had Joe Hockey first saying he was going to legislate a Google tax, then was going to inquire into a Google tax, and then wasn't going to legislate a Google tax after all. So it's hard to know how seriously Australians should take this latest uncosted thought-bubble. By contrast Labor has a clear plan. It is guided by evidence from the OECD, costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office, it is consistent with our international tax obligations and it adds $7.2 billion to the budget bottom line. If Joe Hockey wants to include our carefully targeted and precisely costed measures in tomorrow night's Budget, he'll have Labor's full support. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Are you willing to consider this measure if it means that there could be some action on multinationals who avoid paying tax?
LEIGH: We'll look at it when we see the detail. But let's face it: Joe Hockey himself doesn't seem to be in command of the detail. He doesn't really seem to know what it is that he's announcing. Labor has always taken a constructive and bipartisan approach on issues of multinational taxation. But what we really need is a measure from the Government that's carefully costed. This hiding behind a veil of secrecy is frankly bizarre. We can come up with a number for the total income tax paid by all Australians without revealing what individual taxpayers pay. So it should be possible to do the same thing in the area of multinational tax.
JOURNALIST: How difficult would it be to cost this policy in terms of working out how much tax these companies should be paying?
LEIGH: I don't know what this policy is and frankly Joe Hockey doesn't seem to know either. If the policy isn't costed, Australians shouldn't take it seriously. And let's be honest, most Australians don't take Joe Hockey seriously these days.
JOURNALIST: Is Labor willing to support applying the GST to online downloads?
LEIGH: We've certainly said that, in principle, we're happy to look at the details of the so-called 'Netflix tax’. We'll look forward to seeing the draft legislation when it is in the public domain.
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