Today brought the sad news that up to 45 staff at The Treasury will lose their jobs through forced redundancies. This is completely counter to the Coalition's promises before the election that no public servants would be sacked as a result of its budget cuts. Here's my statement on this troubling development:
TREASURY SACKINGS ARE ANOTHER BROKEN PROMISE FROM TONY ABBOTT
Tony Abbott’s promise that no public servant would be forced out of a job because of his savage budget cuts has been shown up as entirely untrue.
Yesterday 36 staff at The Treasury were told they had been deemed ‘excess’ and would face involuntary redundancy. The sackings have continued this morning with up to 45 Treasury staff expected to be cut in this round of redundancies.
Offshore profit shifting by big multinational firms is a big concern of mine, not least because it creates an unbalanced playing field for small Australian businesses. Here's my latest opinion piece in the Daily Telegraph explaining why:
SHIFTY BUSINESS OF DODGING THE TAX MAN, Daily Telegraph, 12 August 2014
Glen is a chippy running his own small company. He employs a couple of apprentices, mostly building homes and units in the western suburbs. Business has been good this year; so good that the Australian Tax Office should be sending him an end-of-year bill worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Except it won’t, because Glen has a cunning plan to reduce his tax bill to zero. He’s established a company, GlenCarp, with its registered office in Jersey (a tax haven) and a head office in Switzerland. His Australian carpentry business is a branch operation of the Swiss parent, using the now dormant legal shell of an Australian body corporate in an attempt to hide the reality of its Australian carpentry business. By taking large, unnecessarily expensive loans from associates overseas, GlenCarp avoided paying any tax this year.
This morning I talked with Sky's Kieran Gilbert about the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Iraq and the importance of distinguishing between extremism and any single religious or community group. Here's the video and transcript:
SKY AM AGENDA
MONDAY, 11 AUGUST 2014
SUBJECT/S: Iraq; religious extremism; privacy implications of new surveillance powers.
KIERAN GILBERT: This is AM Agenda. Thanks for your company. With me this morning is Labor frontbencher Andrew Leigh and Liberal frontbencher Paul Fletcher. Paul, first to you: in terms of Australian support for the US led operation in Iraq, the Prime Minister says Australian support is likely and possible by the end of the week.
PAUL FLETCHER, PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Yes Kieran, good morning. As the Prime Minister has said, indeed as President Barack Obama has said, this is a humanitarian disaster in Northern Iraq with thousands of people trapped on a mountainside surrounded by the extraordinarily barbaric ISIS forces. The Prime Minister has said that the government is looking at whether we can assist in humanitarian aid particularly dropping food, water and so on. We have a couple of C130s based in the United Arab Emirates and one of the questions is whether those might be made available. The Prime Minister has said there will be a decision on that within days and as the Prime Minister has also said, there would be not many Australians who would disagree that if there's the chance to go assist in this humanitarian disaster that we would want to do that.
GILBERT: Andrew Leigh, what's Labor's position on this at this point, and the Obama air strikes? Of course, you were very much opposed to that Iraq operation of more than a decade ago. But this is very different with the Islamic state threatening religious minorities and the entire population of Northern Iraq.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Kieran, Labor did oppose the war on Iraq and we've seen ISIS formed in 2006, largely in response to that. Our position is to certainly support the actions the government is taking and indeed it is worth noting that this is one of the powerful areas in which Australia's humanitarian program can save lives. We were disappointed, for example, to see that Australian aid to Iraq was running at about $8 million last year but was cut to $0 in the May budget. I think Australia is the kind of country that can afford to help in these sorts of situations but also to continue to save lives around the globe.
On Sunday morning I joined Weekend Sunrise to talk about how economics can help make sense of run times in the Sydney City to Surf and much else besides - find out how by watching the clip:
This morning I joined Marius Benson on ABC NewsRadio to talk about the worrying spike in unemployment in the latest ABS jobs figures. Here's the transcript:
FRIDAY, 8 AUGUST 2014
SUBJECT/S: Unemployment figures; Abbott Government’s unfair budget.
MARIUS BENSON: Andrew Leigh, on the unemployment figures: the Employment Minister Eric Abetz expressed disappointment but said you can't blame the government for this rise in unemployment because the Budget is still substantially blocked in the Senate. He blames, obviously, Labor for that.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: These figures are extraordinarily bad for Australia. A 12-year high for unemployment and a nine-year low for the share of Australians in work. That's something that ought to deeply concern the government. The fact is Australia now has worse employment outcomes than in the Global Financial Crisis. The reason that we did well in the Global Financial Crisis was the swift actions of the Labor Government: taking on modest levels of debt in order to save hundreds of thousands of jobs. Part of the reason we're doing badly now is that we have a government which is trash-talking the economy, driving down business and consumer confidence, and firing people. I mean, in my own electorate in the ACT, we're seeing the firing of public servants which is adding to these unemployment numbers.
BENSON: When you look at the numbers closely, the principal reason for the increase in the total is that the participation rate is up. So it's simply more people looking for work.
LEIGH: The economy isn't adding jobs as people are moving in to seek work. That ought to be a deep concern for the government. And governments ought to be concerned about their short-run and long-run policies. In the short run, in an environment where you've got the transition out of the mining boom, then you ought to have a government which is looking to create demand. This federal Budget has been doing anything but. It's taking away from those who have the highest propensity to spend - those who are at the bottom on the income spectrum - and it's cutting back on a range of government programs. And then in the long run, governments have to be investing in the productive capacity of the economy - in skills and infrastructure. And this again is a Budget that takes away from education, takes away from the National Broadband Network, takes away from urban rail. So it will hit the short- and the long-run jobs growth in the economy.
Today the Herald Sun features an extract from my book 'The Economics of Just About Everything', exploring the link between money and team performance in the AFL. Read on...
Who's the Moneyball star of the AFL? Herald Sun, 7 August 2014
Moneyball tells the true story of how Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) put together a great baseball team on a shoestring budget. The movie has two messages: first, money helps win games. Second, some sports teams spend their money more wisely than others.
But how does Moneyball apply to the AFL? Money allows teams to buy better players (up to the salary cap), to hire better coaches and to buy experts like physiotherapists, masseurs and even statisticians. But do some AFL teams spend their cash more wisely than others?
Last night Peter van Onselen and I hashed out some ways the Abbott Government could make its rotten budget fairer. Here's the video and transcript:
Last night I joined the panel on ABC's The Drum to talk about how economics can help us make better sense of the world around us (and my new book 'The Economics of Just About Everything). Here's the interview:
Despite the Abbott Government's promise before the election that there would be no forced redundancies in the Australian Public Service, there are reports today that The Treasury has launched a 'spill and fill' process that will lead to up to 40 forced sackings. Here's my comments in response:
DON'T SACK TREASURY MUMS
The Abbott Government has broken yet another of its pre-election promises, with news that staff at The Treasury are being forced to take part in a ‘spill and fill’ process that will result in up to 40 forced redundancies.
Before the last election, Tony Abbott promised that any jobs lost in the Australian Public Service would go through ‘natural attrition’, and stated:
“I really want to stress that we are not talking about forced redundancies, we are talking about not replacing everyone who leaves, that’s all.”
This morning I spoke with Mark Parton on 2CC's Breakfast program about the government's moves to force up to 40 Treasury workers to accept involuntary redundancies. Here's the transcript:
THURSDAY, 31 JULY 2014
SUBJECT/S: Forced redundancies at The Treasury
MARK PARTON: The Canberra Times is reporting this morning that The Treasury is forcing nearly all of its staff – including newly-recruited graduates and women on maternity leave – to reapply for their jobs. They've gone with this so-called 'spill and fill' to dismiss about 40 staff, with the central agency conceding that its voluntary redundancy process has run out of steam. We always thought that would be the case!
Andrew Leigh is the Federal Member for Fraser and he's on the line right now, morning Andrew.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning Mark.
PARTON: There was always talk about this being done naturally, but the plans of this government – and indeed, it must be said, the plans of you blokes when you were in power – there was always going to be a point where the voluntary stuff just didn't cut it.
LEIGH: Mark, we were always clear before the election that there wouldn't be forced redundancies, as were the Liberal Party. It was their pledge beforehand, and when we said there was going to be more than 12,000 jobs cut and that we'd see forced redundancies, they called us liars. But frankly this is another broken promise from Mr Abbott, who is now making all the Treasury staff re-apply for their jobs. Including women on maternity leave, new graduates who have just been hired - it's a pretty shocking way to treat some of Australia's best economic minds.