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
Second Reading Speech - Treasury Laws Amendment (More Competition, Better Prices) - House of Representatives, 28 September 2022
Second Reading Speech
House of Representatives
28 September 2022
Treasury Laws Amendment (More Competition, Better Prices)
This bill will deliver on the government's election commitment to help ease the cost of living by increasing penalties for breaches of competition and consumer laws and to provide greater protections for small businesses from unfair contract terms.
Schedule 1 to the bill will increase the maximum penalty for anti-competitive behaviour under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010(CCA) as well as breaches of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL)to ensure the price of misconduct is high enough to deter unfair activity and to ensure consumers retain a robust level of protection.
In 2018, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found that the average and maximum competition penalties in Australia are substantially lower than those in comparable international jurisdictions. As a result, there is a risk that a breach of the existing competition law could be seen as an acceptable cost of doing business by some large firms.
The amendments will increase the severity of Australia's penalty regime to be more comparable with international jurisdictions. As a result of this bill, we expect that, in some cases, courts will impose higher penalties for wrongdoing. We want courts to be able to ask themselves, 'Will this penalty deter lawbreaking by this company and others like it?
By strengthening penalties, Australia will be promoting competition and better corporate behaviour. Greater competition means better prices and more choice for Australian households. No business that complies with the law will face any additional compliance burden as a result of this increase in penalties.
Cost of Living
Matter of Public Importance
House of Representatives
27 September 2022
It is a true pleasure to rise on this matter of public importance. If you need any evidence of the ‘agility’ of those opposite, consider what happened at noon today. At noon today, the education minister was at this dispatch box announcing the government's Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Cheaper Child Care) Bill. That bill would cut childcare costs for more than a million families. We've seen childcare costs go up 41 per cent in the last eight years. For a family on $80,000 with a child in care three days a week, the government support would be $14,000 a year as a result of the bill announced today. And what was the shadow treasurer doing at the very same time? He was tabling a matter of public importance claiming that the government didn't have a plan for cost of living. As you might say—or as he said himself—'Fantastic. Great move. Well done Angus.'
We on this side of the House are always happy to have a debate on cost of living. Under the coalition, we saw wages stagnate as a ‘deliberate design feature’ of their economic architecture. Under us, the very first decision of the Albanese cabinet was to urge a Fair Work decision giving a 5.2 per cent pay rise to minimum wage workers. We've also backed in a pay rise for aged-care workers and made clear the government would pay our fair share. Under them, we had scare campaigns about electric vehicles and claims that electric vehicles would end the weekend. Under us, we're cutting the tax rate on electric vehicles. You'd think that side of parliament would like a tax cut for electric vehicles—but no. They're voting against it, despite the fact that for every 10 kilometres you drive an electric vehicle you save a dollar, compared with driving a petrol vehicle. Under them, we had a renewables strike. Under us, we've just seen the climate change minister sign a key agreement with John Kerry which will unlock up to $2.9 billion of new renewables investment.
Under the Coalition, we saw the economy stagnate. We saw the start-up rate go down. We saw the rate of people starting new jobs go down. We saw market concentration go up. We saw mark-ups go up. Under us, we're taking those issues of economic dynamism and competition seriously. I'm going to be introducing a bill in this place tomorrow that, if passed, will raise the penalties on firms that engage in anticompetitive conduct and ban unfair contract terms—the sorts of contract terms that currently let large businesses get away with clauses such as unilateral termination or unilateral price increases. We on this side of the House stand on the side of small businesses and consumers.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
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
SKY NEWS NEWSDAY WITH TOM CONNELL
TUESDAY, 13 SEPTEMBER 2022
SUBJECTS: The passing of Queen Elizabeth II, and its impacts on Australia’s currency
TOM CONNELL, HOST: Well Australians can expect to see their King on coins within the next year as the transfer begins to introduce new money with a new monarch. The Royal Australian Mint will receive an approved effigy from Buckingham Palace which will be adapted for printing, the process will follow tradition. The one notable change is King Charles will face the other way compared to the Queen. Joining me live as Assistant Minister of Treasury Andrew Leigh, thanks very much for your time. So it's a different way that they face some sort of ancient tradition is it?
DR ANDREW LEIGH, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES AND TREASURY: It is, every time the monarch changes, then the direction that the way in which they face changes. It is an extraordinary change for Australia, Tom and ever since we started decimal currency in 1966, the Queen has always been on the coins. Some 15 billion Australian coins have been minted with the Queen's face on them. So it'll be a huge change for Australians for the first time to have the king on decimal coins.
CONNELL: Yeah, just one of those things, I suppose you say used to that. The $5 note, of course has the queen on it. You've said there's no decision yet whether it will have the king back on it. Well, what does that hinge on? What are you weighing up?
LEIGH: Oh, that'll be a decision of government. And we'll make it in the appropriate time. But the effigy on the coins needs to change. We've got millions of coins being produced every year. And so we need to move and make a decision on that. And it will be quite a moment for coin collectors. So I mentioned that with some collectors, they'll be very keen to get their hands on some of those last coins with Queen Elizabeth’s face.
CONNELL: They’ll be the really valuable ones, won’t they? There’s a recent one in a little commemorative packet. So don't open them if you've got one of them, keep them mint. That would be your official advice?
LEIGH: Look, I would never want to give speculative advice. But certainly the small number of coins which have Queen Elizabeth's face on them, and the year 2023, I imagine will be quite sought after.Read more
Changes to Australia's currency resulting from Queen Elizabeth II's passing - Transcript, Royal Mint of Australia, Press Conference
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN MINT, CANBERRA
TUESDAY, 13 SEPTEMBER 2022
SUBJECTS: Changes to Australia’s currency as a result of the passing of Queen Elizabeth the II
DR ANDREW LEIGH, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES, AND TREASURY: Good morning. Thank you very much for joining us here today. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury. We are meeting on the traditional lands of the Ngunnawal People so let me acknowledge their elders. [Ngunnawal language greeting omitted]
I'm here with Leigh Gordon, the CEO of the Royal Australian Mint to talk about the process that Australia will go through in changing Australian coins. Since 1953, the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II has appeared on Australian coins. Australia has never known decimal currency that didn't have the face of Queen Elizabeth II. Since 1966, when decimal currency was introduced, over 15 billion coins have been produced bearing the face of Queen Elizabeth the Second. Queen Elizabeth the Second first appeared on Australian coins when those coins were pence and shillings. It will be a remarkable moment when Australia moves from having not a queen on the coins, but a king.
The Royal Australian Mint is well prepared for this eventuality, and will engage with its British counterpart to obtain an appropriate effigy. That effigy will then be confirmed with Buckingham Palace and tested before being put into production sometime in 2023. Australians should expect to see a king on Australian coins. The process of changing the effigy is unusual in moving to a new monarch but the Mint isn't unfamiliar with the process of changing the Queen's effigy.Read more