Market Power And Markups: Malign Markers For The Australian Macroeconomy
The Sydney Institute, Sydney
Wednesday, 7 December 2022
I acknowledge the Gadigal people, traditional custodians of the land on which we gather today, and pay my respects to their Elders past and present.
I’d also like to acknowledge the Sydney Institute and its long-standing commitment to encouraging big conversations about big issues.
In 2012, I spoke here about why inequality matters, and what we should do about it (Leigh 2012).
Returning a decade later, I’m even more convinced that market power is a critical part of Australia’s economic story.Read more
10th Anniversary Of The ACNC
Canberra Via Video Link
Friday, 2 December 2022
Today is an auspicious day. Not only are we celebrating the 50th anniversary of the election of the Whitlam Government, but we also mark the tenth anniversary of Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. The ACNC was born of a vision that charities needed a one stop shop. That just as businesses had ASIC, so too, there should be a single regulator for the charities and not-for-profit sector.
I particularly want to thank Deborah Jenkins for your work stepping in as interim commissioner, Anna Longley, who has also served in the role, and to acknowledge Sue Woodward, who will soon take up the reins running the Charities Commission.
What does a ten-year anniversary mean? Well, as it happens, my youngest son is ten years old, so I have a bit of a sense as to what he does now that he couldn't do a decade ago. He's become more thoughtful, he's become wiser, he's become funnier. He is, in short, making a much greater contribution to the world than he did a decade ago.Read more
Fifty Years On, Whitlam's Government Is Still Worth Celebrating
Canberra, National Press Club
Friday, 2 December 2022
When Prime Minister William McMahon set the date for the 1972 election as December 2, Whitlam noted that it was the anniversary of the 1805 Battle of Austerlitz, when Napoleon defeated the Russian and Austrian armies. It was, he said, ‘a date on which a crushing defeat was administered to a coalition - another ramshackle, reactionary coalition’.
Whitlam was a reformer, but he valued tradition, and knew his history. Visiting Australia in 1974, Gore Vidal was struck to meet a Prime Minister who took issue with the historical accuracy of Vidal’s novel about the Roman Emperor, Julian.
It was, Vidal later noted, ‘an unusual experiment for Australia to choose as its Prime Minister its most intelligent man’. As Julia Gillard noted in her 2011 Whitlam oration, Whitlam – like his near namesake Whitman – could well have said ‘I am large, I contain multitudes.’
Scott Prasser and David Clune’s edited book ‘The Whitlam Era’ also contains multitudes – bringing together more than a dozen respected commentators to provide a critical analysis of the Whitlam Government, half a century today from its election.Read more
Health Inequalities In The Covid Pandemic: Evidence From Australia
Wednesday, 23 November 2022
I acknowledge the Ngunnawal people, Traditional Custodians of the land on which we gather today, pay my respects to their Elders past and present, and commit myself to the full implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
It is my pleasure to be invited to talk at the Australian Population Association's 2022 Conference, and an honour to be giving the W.D. Borrie Lecture.
Appropriations Bill 2022
House of Representatives
22 November 2022
I am pleased to rise to speak on the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023, a bill which reflects on the contributions of the Albanese government in taking action on climate change; beginning to make some of the much-needed investments into housing; and recognising the importance of fixing up parts of our education system that are not working as well as they can. This is a budget which deals with some of the rorts and mismanagement that have been locked in under nine lost years of coalition government. It is a budget which makes an investment in Australians' future.
I want to talk about much of that, but I want to anchor it in the aspirations, interests and commitments of some young Canberrans. I want to do so through an interesting initiative, the Raise Our Voice Australia initiative. Raise Our Voice is a volunteer-run organisation that seeks to amplify diverse young, female, trans and non-binary voices to actively lead conversations in politics and in domestic and foreign policy. They've asked me to amplify the voices of young people from Fenner by reading their words in this parliament. So I'm going to begin my speech today with speeches from four young Australians, beginning with Amelie Toogood, nine years old. Amelie says as follows:Read more
Warren Hogan Memorial Lecture: Economic Dynamism: A Global Perspective
University Of Sydney, School Of Economics
Wednesday, 2 November 2022
I acknowledge the Gadigal people, Traditional Custodians of the land on which we gather today, and pay my respects to their Elders past and present.
Thank you to the Sydney University School of Economics for hosting today.
I have fond memories of my first-year economics class in Merewether in 1991.
In the seat next to me was my friend Justin Wolfers – now a professor at the University of Michigan, and co-author of a major first-year textbook.
Last month, I gave a talk to Justin’s Economics 101 class at the University of Michigan, reflecting on the power of economics in public policy.
It's a lesson our first-year Sydney University lecturer embodied.
In 1991, he was just another dashing macroeconomics lecturer, but Yanis Varoufakis would go on to enter the Hellenic Parliament, and serve as one of the most significant finance ministers in Greek history, attempting to help navigate his country’s economy through the 2015 debt crisis.
He had quite the influence on his students – my parliamentary colleague Chris Bowen, who delivered the 2019 Lecture, is another student of this era (Bowen 2019).
At that time, the School of Economics was a mere 69-year-old whippersnapper.
It’s hard to believe it celebrated 100 years in July.
Congratulations to Garry Barrett for your leadership of the school, as well as your pioneering microeconometric research, especially on inequality.Read more
KATIE WOOLF: Joining me on the line right now to tell us about a bit of a town hall meeting that happened a little earlier this morning is Andrew Leigh, the Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and also Treasury. Good morning to you Minister.
DR ANDREW LEIGH: Good morning, Katie. Great to be with you.
WOOLF: Yeah, good to have you on the show. Tell us a little bit more about this meeting that took place earlier this morning.
LEIGH: Luke Gosling and I got together with NT charities this morning to talk about some of the big challenges facing the sector. Over the last generation, we've seen a drop in the share of Australians joining community organisations, donating money, participating in sporting activities, or volunteering their time. So what we wanted to do is to get together some of those remarkable NT charities to talk about how we turn this around. We had people there from religious organisations, animal welfare organisations, disability support organisations, and it was really valuable sharing the ideas and getting a sense of what we can do to build a more reconnected Australia.
Cost of Living
Matter of Public Importance
House of Representatives
9 November 2022
It is certainly true that in Australia we have a strong egalitarian ethos. Ours is a country where many people would prefer to sit in the front seat of a taxi, where we prefer to use the word 'mate' rather than 'sir', where we don't have private areas on the beaches and where most people don't stand up when the Prime Minister enters the room. Yet, over recent generations, we've seen a steady rise in inequality. As Thomas Piketty outlined in his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, we've seen, across the advanced world, an increase in the share of the top one per cent of income earners. We've seen an increase in the share of the top 0.1 per cent of income earners, tripling since the early 1980s. We have seen CEO pay increase far faster than an average worker's pay. Work by Tomas Kennedy and Peter Siminski asks the pertinent question: for Australians born in successive generations, what's the chance that they earned more than their parents? For Australians born in the 1950s, 84 per cent earned more than their parents. For Australians born in the 1980s just 68 per cent earned more than their parents.
We've seen a fanning out of real wages since 1975. Since 1975, wages at the 10th percentile have grown in real terms by 33 per cent. Wages at the median have grown by 55 per cent. But wages at the 90th percentile have grown by 81 per cent. That is, earnings are growing nearly three times as fast for the highest paid as for the lowest paid. Work done by Treasury, which I highlighted in my recent Gruen lecture, shows that market concentration has risen. The biggest firms have a larger slice of the pie than they did in decades past. Mark-ups have increased -- the gap between what firms charge and their costs has grown. Under the former governments we saw the JobKeeper scheme funnel some $20 billion of taxpayer money to firms with rising revenues, some of which used that taxpayer money to pay executive bonuses.Read more
SENATE COURTYARD, PARLIAMENT HOUSE
THURSDAY, 3 NOVEMBER 2022
TOPICS: Multinational tax, ATO corporate tax transparency report, $5 note, energy prices, renewables, industrial relations laws
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES AND TREASURY DR ANDREW LEIGH: Thanks very much for coming along. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury. Well, today we had the release of the Australian Tax Office’s Corporate Transparency Report. This is a report that is brought into the public domain as a result of laws passed under the Gillard Government, to the cries and objections from the Liberals at the time. It shows for 2,468 corporations, their tax that they've paid, their total income and their taxable income. It's really important that all firms pay their fair share of tax. And the Corporate Transparency Report is a Labor initiative that is delivering to Australians more information about tax paid. This is for the year 2020-2021. So it's not yesterday's information, but it is critical to corporate tax transparency.
Labor is strongly committed to making sure that all firms pay their fair share of tax. The recent budget, we funded the ATO's Tax Avoidance Task Force to the tune of $1.1 billion over the next four years to ensure that multinational firms don't get a leg up on their local competitors simply because they're exploiting unfair tax loopholes. We announced we'd be closing down a number of tax loopholes that have been exploited by multinationals. Multinationals will no longer be able to deduct as much debt as a result of our changes to the thin capitalisation regime. We've made changes to the ability of multinationals to use royalty payments inappropriately to minimise their tax bill. And we're expanding transparency for large corporations in Australia. For significant global entities - you can think of these as firms with revenue over a billion dollars - we're requiring country by country reporting detailed tax information, ensuring those firms are paying their fair share. For public companies, listed and unlisted, we'll require the number of their subsidiaries and the countries in which they're located. Again, a measure to ensure that we're not seeing taxes that should be paid in Australia, leaking away to low or no tax jurisdictions. Any firm that's tendering for a government tender worth more than $200,000 will have to disclose its country of tax domicile.
The Albanese government is strongly committed to a level playing field on tax, ensuring that firms are competing based on serving their customers well, being innovative and providing a good workplaces for their employees. The last thing we want is an economy in which firms are competing based on who's got the best tax loophole. That doesn't provide a stronger economy. That's not the foundation for the productivity growth that we know is vital. Very happy to take questions on the report or other economic issues.
Address to the Australian Government Solicitor Civil Regulation Conference
Wednesday, 2 November 2022
I acknowledge the Gadigal people, the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we meet, and pay my respects to their Elders past and present.
Congratulations to the Australian Government Solicitor (AGS) for getting this conference back up and running after some challenging years for events.
The best part of being Assistant Minister is that I get the opportunity to meet some amazingly dedicated people and this group is no exception.
With everyone here today, I want to acknowledge the mountain of work you do acting on behalf of the regulators.Read more