WEDNESDAY, 6 MARCH 2019
SUBJECT: The Morrison Government asking the Tax Office to enforce an unlegislated tax amnesty to benefit dodgy bosses.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Last year, the Liberals introduced a bill into Parliament that would give a 12 month amnesty to employers who hadn't paid their employees superannuation. Let's be clear what this means. If you're a boss who failed to pay your required superannuation obligations to your workers, you wouldn't face any penalties. Those penalties are significant. They can be up to 200 per cent of the amount unpaid, reflecting the fact that when an employee doesn't get superannuation then they miss out not only on the money but also on the earnings – the compounding returns.
Labor didn’t back that bill. We said we didn't believe that employers who had failed to live up to their obligations to their workers should get off with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. We said that it wasn't appropriate to be letting dodgy bosses off scot free at the same time as the government came down like a ton of bricks on any welfare recipient who did the wrong thing. Yet the Liberals went ahead and asked the Tax Office to enforce the amnesty. It turns out from reports today that hundreds of applications rolled in and the Tax Office continued to process them. Now, recognising that the bill won't pass parliament - it's been languishing in the Senate since June last year - the Tax Office is going to use its discretion to waive penalties against these employers.Read more
WEDNESDAY, 6 MARCH 2019
SUBJECT: The Morrison Government asking the Tax Office to enforce a tax amnesty on dodgy bosses that had not passed Parliament.
LEON BYNER: There’s $6 billion – yes, billion with a ‘b’ - outstanding of unpaid super. Now the Tax Office has admitted that it will waive penalties for hundreds of businesses that have admitted failure to pay super in the wake of what was an amnesty. Now the amnesty didn't get through the Parliament. It’s a year later that the policies being dumped and the Coalition have done a press release recently saying the 12 month amnesty will run from today. But it's not actually happening. So let's talk to the Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh. Andrew, thanks for joining us today.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Pleasure, Leon.
BYNER: When this went through up into the Senate, didn’t you guys reject this?
LEIGH: Absolutely. We have said from the moment that the government announced this legislation, Leon, that we didn’t think it was necessary. There are penalties in place for not paying superannuation, as there should be. Just as an employer who chooses not to pay wages to their workers suffers penalties, so too there are penalties for not paying superannuation. And this bill said that employers wouldn't cop those penalties, which could be up to 200 per cent of the unpaid amount, going back 25 years. Of course, when they told the Tax Office to start enforcing the unlegislated bill, people came forward. But the government should never have been getting the Tax Office to do something that the parliament hadn't agreed to.Read more
ABC NT DRIVE
MONDAY, 4 MARCH 2019
SUBJECT: Labor’s Tradie Pay Guarantee.
LIZ TREVASKIS: Are you a tradie or perhaps you live with one or play sport with a tradesman. You probably know - I'm going to say you've definitely heard them complain that so-and-so was late paying them for a job that they've done and maybe that's why they can't buy the next round. But in the worst cases, you or your tradie friend may not have been paid at all because the company went bust. It's a serious problem in the construction sector and the Small Business Ombudsman says insolvencies are becoming more frequent, having a greater impact on family budgets. Federal Labor thinks it has the answer - a tradie guarantee, making companies who win Federal Government construction contracts put aside the money they owe their subcontractors in a trust. Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh drafted the policy. I spoke to him earlier and asked him to explain the plan for cascading statutory trusts.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: It's a complicated legal construct which delivers a very simple outcome. It means if you do to work on time, you get paid on time. It doesn’t how far down the food chain you are – whether you’re a contractor or a subcontractor or sub subcontractor - if you do the work on time, you'll get paid on time. We know, as you said, that this is a massive problem in the construction sector. We have people not only having struggling to pay the bills, but also then the cascading effect on their health, there’ll be stress on their relationships - sometimes marriages will breakdown as a result of this. Around half of the construction invoices don't get paid on time. We want to start with big federal contracts, and then work with states and territories to roll out the system of cascading trusts for state and territory projects and then onto private projects ultimately.Read more
3AW WITH NEIL MITCHELL
MONDAY, 4 MARCH 2019
SUBJECTS: Labor’s fairness fund; Banking Royal Commission; Labor’s support for domestic violence survivors; Labor’s plans to tackle tax havens and multinational tax avoidance; dividend imputation.
NEIL MITCHELL: On the line, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh. Good morning.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning, Neil. Great to be with you.
MITCHELL: Thanks for talking. We don't want Rupert Murdoch, what about a tax on him?
LEIGH: Neil, this is coming on the back of the Hayne Royal Commission which as you know has exposed some extraordinary behaviour. You've got the fees for no service scandal, you've got people losing their homes, you've got dead people being charged for financial advice-
MITCHELL: So how much of this fund will go to those victims?
LEIGH: Well, we've ensured that we're going to boost financial counsellors. We're going to put money into these flexible support packages for victims of family violence, but we've also announced-Read more
TUESDAY, 26 FEBRUARY 2019
SUBJECTS: Franking credits, Labor’s Tradie Pay Guarantee.
LEON BYNER: Let's bring in the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh. Andrew, thanks for coming on. What do you say to what Gottliebsen had to say?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Australia is unusual in the world - in fact, unique in the world - in having a system of refundable franking credits. It's not the way franking credits worked when Paul Keating introduced it in 1987. It was changed in 2001. So there’s a group of taxpayers - 8 per cent of taxpayers - who don't pay the Tax Office, they get paid by the Tax Office. And at a time when we want to invest in solving the crisis in aged care, to put more money into schools and invest in reducing those hospital waiting lists and extend early childhood the three year olds, we have to look at tax concessions like this one. You have to ask yourself: if this is such a great tax arrangement, why are we the only country in the world doing it this way? More than half the benefits go to people with more than two and a half million dollars in their superannuation account. I don't deny that they worked hard and saved hard, but the question is whether they should be getting a cheque from the government at a time when the government says it can't afford to put in place enough home care packages for our older Australians.Read more
TUESDAY, 26 FEBRUARY 2019
SUBJECTS: Labor’s plans to protect our tradies; Snowy 2.0; AAT appointments.
CATHY O'TOOLE, MEMBER FOR HERBERT: It's great to be here today at the Oonoonba State School with the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh, the Dawson candidate for Labor, Belinda Hassan and our candidate for Queensland Senator, Nita Green. We're here today to look at the school and the result of what's happened at the floods.
But what I would like to say to the people of Townsville, on top of these dreadful floods, we have had an incredibly horrible tragedy happen overnight with the loss of two little children - a three year old and five year old from one family. I am sure I can say on behalf of this whole community, our hearts go out to that family. And I would ask our community in the spirit of resilience and cooperation that we have seen throughout the floods, that we think about this family, and we do what we can do in our own communities to be as supportive as is humanly possible for this family at such a dreadfully difficult time.
But from that moving to our purpose of being here today, the announcement that Bill is going to make just folds in beautifully into the fact that our city is literally being rebuilt. That's what's happening now. The contractors and workers who are here are doing a magnificent job - as they are all over the city, and we just need to ensure that we protect them into the future. And I'll just hand over to Bill.Read more
2GB MONEY NEWS
MONDAY, 25 FEBRUARY 2019
SUBJECTS: Labor’s plans to make mergers fairer; Banking Royal Commission and Labor’s Banking Fairness Fund.
ROSS GREENWOOD: I want to take you to the Labor Party and its policies. As you know and as we saw today, Labor remains well ahead in the polls and so you've got to watch the policies to understand what's taking place in a prospective Labor Government after the May federal election. Now a few of them are important. One of them quite clearly is in regards to banking. And this is about though the government saying or rather Labor saying that if elected it would actually hit the banks to pay some $640 million to create a fund to allow more Australians access to compensation if the wrong thing is done to them by their banks. Now this would include more broadly - not just the big four banks, but it would include the likes of Macquarie, the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, the Bank of Queensland would be in there as well, contributing to this fund. Now that tops up what is already available through the Australian Financial Complaints Authority, which has been increased in terms of its payouts in the last little while. Second thing is also, as a part of this, Labor will fund more financial counsellors that will help people and small businesses to take on the banks. So at the moment there is a a number of them out there, say there's 500 or so, they’re saying they'd like to see a thousand out there. But on top of that also a few other bits and pieces, say for example when big companies merge, is competition taken out of the marketplace or not? We’ll again hear Labor as saying they want the ACCC to go back and review mergers and after they've happened see whether the desired consequences have actually occurred. Now to help us out here, let's bring in Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and the Shadow Minister for Competition and Productivity is on the line right now. Andrew, as always, many thanks for your time.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: A pleasure, Ross. A lot to get through there.
GREENWOOD: There is a lot to go through. Let's start with your portfolio specifically and that's this area of the ACCC and mergers. Now clearly there are some mergers that take place you look back in hindsight and say it was actually just a concentration of power - they got more power, they were able to basically clean up their competition. Is that the desired you know sort of effect of what you're trying to achieve here?Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 20 FEBRUARY 2019
Last Tuesday, on a perfect Canberra morning, it was my pleasure to join the Indigenous Marathon Foundation's Closing the Gap Fun Run and Walk. It was 7 am on a crisp day and there we were at the shore of Lake Burley Griffin at the aptly named Reconciliation Place.
The Indigenous Marathon Project, run by the Indigenous Marathon Foundation, was established by Rob de Castella and has, to date, sent dozens of young Indigenous Australians through its training program. The capstone is the New York marathon, but Indigenous Marathon Project participants then go back to their communities to set up Deadly Fun Runs. It is both a leadership program and a community engagement program. I commend Rob de Castella, one of my great heroes, for his initiative in setting it up.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 18 FEBRUARY 2019
Canberra's 59 service stations charge petrol prices that are on average 7.4 per cent above the national average. Like many Canberrans, I've grown sick and tired of the excuses given for these high prices.
I commend the Barr government for its announcement that it will put in place a select committee inquiry, commission a detailed analysis by the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission and immediately act to reduce misleading petrol signage at petrol stations, where petrol stations attempt to lure people in with headline prices that customers can't receive.
As Andrew Barr has pointed out:
Canberra families are paying hundreds of dollars more than the equivalent New South Wales family each and every year.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 18 FEBRUARY 2019
This is a great day for small business, because Labor's access to justice amendment has passed the Senate and looks as though it may now pass the House. This is a great opportunity for the 45th Parliament to come together and address the market power imbalance between large business and small business.
A bit of history. In 2017 the Senate passed Labor's private senator's bill to provide access to justice for small business. There was no crossbench opposition. It was a bill that united Centre Alliance, the Greens and Senators Bernardi, Leyonhjelm and Hinch. Even Senator Gichuhi supported the bill prior to her joining the Liberal Party. Yet, when it came to this place, the Liberals refused to debate it.Read more