NATIONAL PRESS CLUB ADDRESS
TUESDAY, 29 AUGUST 2023
SUBJECTS: Australian Centre for Evaluation, multinational tax transparency, competition in the airline industry, supermarket prices, matters to be included in the Competition Review, Intergenerational Report, evaluation and public service capability building, industry policy, local manufacturing.
ANDREW TILLET (MODERATOR): Thank you Dr Leigh, unfortunately we’ve gone a little bit over time for this speech so we might have to get straight to the Choose Your Own Adventure part of the proceedings and go to questions from our colleagues. First up is Paul Karp.
PAUL KARP: Thanks very much for your speech Dr Leigh, Paul Karp from the Guardian. Could I ask on a different topic about country by country multinational tax transparency? Has Australia been warned that other countries might actually share less information if we enact these rules in their current form, and is the government preparing to water down the reforms so that we collect information in the same format as the EU?
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT, CHARITIES, COMPETITION AND TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: Thanks very much for your question, Paul. Our multinational tax agenda isn't just closing loopholes, it's about boosting transparency. The House recently passed one transparency measure, which will require all public firms to report on the country of tax domicile of their subsidiaries. So if a company is doing business in a tax haven, then their investors will know about it. Another part of it as you rightly point out is country-by-country reporting. We're going to make sure we get that right, so that the information that is currently reported to the Australian Tax Office by its counterparts in other countries isn't diminished. The European Union moves to country-by-country reporting on the first of July next year. And our view is that aligning the Australian timetable with European Union makes sense. We're keen to ensure that the maximum amount of information is out there, while guaranteeing that the ATO still gets the data it needs in order to do its job.Read more
EVALUATING POLICY IMPACT: WORKING OUT WHAT WORKS*
National Press Club, Canberra
Tuesday, 29 August 2023
Social workers in schools always boost student outcomes. Drug offenders shouldn’t be treated differently. Malaria bed nets are more likely to be used if people pay for them. Seeing inside a jail will deter juvenile delinquents from becoming criminals.
All four statements sound perfectly sensible, don’t they? Unfortunately, randomised trials suggest that all four are perfectly wrong. Let me explain.
In Britain, pilots of social workers in schools showed that everyone liked the idea. Teachers, social workers and students all liked it. Then researchers at Cardiff and Oxford Universities ran a two-year randomised trial across 300 schools to test the impact. The results, reported this year, showed no significant positive impact (Westlake et al 2023). As a result, the planned national rollout has now been scrapped (Molloy 2023).Read more
MONDAY, 28 AUGUST 2023
SUBJECTS: Pat Farmer's Run for the Voice; Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT, CHARITIES, COMPETITION AND TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: Welcome, everyone. Thank you so much for being here at the aptly named reconciliation place. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Federal Member for Fenner and it's a real privilege to be here this morning.
We've got the remarkable Rob de Castella former World Marathon record holder and founder of the Indigenous Marathon Foundation.
ROB DE CASTELLA AO: Good morning everyone and thanks Andrew. Pat, you are amazing. Isn’t this man amazing? (Applause) You’re two thirds of the way through the journey. The conviction and the drive and the effort to highlight the significance of this referendum that acknowledges First Nations people and gives them a seat at the table is absolutely amazing.
ABC MELBOURNE WITH RAFAEL EPSTEIN
WEDNESDAY, 23 AUGUST 2023
TOPICS DISCUSSED: Competition review, Noncompete agreements, Productivity growth.
RAFAEL EPSTEIN (HOST): 22 minutes after 4 o'clock on ABC Radio Melbourne. Andrew Leigh is the Assistant Minister for Competition, also Charities and Treasury. Good afternoon.
ANDREW LEIGH: Good afternoon, Raf, great to be with you.
EPSTEIN: Should I fear this competition review will lead to something as significant as the sale of the Commonwealth Bank and Qantas?
LEIGH: We’re not aiming to break up firms or divest them, Raf. We’re just aiming to get more competition into the market, to make sure that new entrants are coming in not just for the ambition of being bought by the monopolists, but by the ambition of actually taking them on. Whether it's banking or baby food or beer, the Australian economy is a pretty concentrated one and it's become more concentrated over recent decades.
What the review about is in the short‑term, making sure we've got competition that puts downward pressure on prices and helps with the cost‑of‑living challenge, and in the long‑term making sure we have the sort of dynamic productive economy that creates well‑paying jobs and lays the foundations for productivity growth.Read more
NEWS RADIO DRIVE WITH GLEN BARTHOLOMEW
WEDNESDAY, 23 AUGUST 2023
GLEN BARTHOLOMEW (HOST): Australia has one of the most concentrated economies in the world and a lack of competition is seeing many of us pay more for goods and services. As the cost‑of‑living continues to rise the Federal Government today moved to explore tougher laws to stop monopolies and protect consumers from big companies with too much market power. The Assistant Minister for Competition and Treasury Andrew Leigh announced the review today, alongside Treasurer Jim Chalmers, and he joins us now. Andrew Leigh, good afternoon.
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT, CHARITIES, COMPETITION AND TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: Good afternoon, Glen, great to be with you.
BARTHOLOMEW: You've told this program in the past that you think there's just not enough competition in our economy. Is it failing consumers? Are we losing out as a result?
LEIGH: It's not just hurting consumers; it's also hurting suppliers. So you think about our farmers who are squeezed between concentrated suppliers of their fertiliser, and concentrated producers who are buying their products. You think about workers who have too few choices about where to work, particularly in regional markets, which can often mean they don't earn a fair wage. And of course to think about consumers who are hurt in areas from banking to baby food to beer, where there's often just a couple of big players. Market concentration has gotten worse over the last couple of decades. We've seen a rise in mark‑ups, we've seen a fall in the new business formation rate and in the rate of workers shifting to a better job. So all of that's the context in which we've set up this competition review aimed to take a broad approach to find practical reforms across the economy that will boost competition.
SUBJECTS: Intergenerational Report, superannuation, Competition Review, productivity, company profits, inflation, tax reform, Qatar Airways, referendum on the Voice, China.
JIM CHALMERS, TREASURER: I'm really pleased to be here with Andrew Leigh, the Assistant Minister in the Treasury portfolio, to make an announcement today about competition policy. But before I hand you over to Andy, I wanted to say a few things about the IGR tomorrow, and really the connection between what we're talking about today, the context of superannuation and competition policy, and what that means for the type of economy that we want to build into the future.
The Intergenerational Report will be an important opportunity for Australians to understand where the country is headed, and how we position ourselves to make our people the major beneficiaries of change, rather than victims of that change. The IGR is all about how we maximise our advantages in a world of churn and change. And one of the big advantages that we have is our superannuation system. And I think quite a stunning fact that you'll see in the Intergenerational Report is that we expect the number of people of retirement age to double, at the same time as Commonwealth spending on the pension defines as a share of GDP. A lot of countries have got ageing populations, not many have been able to provide the kinds of retirement incomes which takes such pressure off pensions. Spending on the Age Pension and Service Pension will go down from about 2.3 per cent of the economy last year, to around 2 per cent at the end of the IGR period. That's an absolutely stunning outcome when you consider the ageing of our population. So the number of people of retirement age doubling over that period, at the same time as the amount of people on the pension down by 15 percentage points and spending on the pension declining because more people have access to a dignified retirement. This is the intergenerational genius of superannuation at work - providing decent retirement incomes for people at the same time as we take the pressure off the pension. This is obviously one of the things that we can be incredibly proud of in the Intergenerational Report that I release tomorrow in Canberra at the National Press Club.
Joint media release with
The Hon Jim Chalmers
A MORE DYNAMIC AND COMPETITIVE ECONOMY
The Albanese Government is undertaking a review of competition policy settings to help build a more dynamic and productive economy.
Greater competition is critical for lifting dynamism, productivity and wages growth, putting downward pressure on prices and delivering more choice for Australians dealing with cost-of-living pressures.
Australia’s productivity growth has slowed over the past decade, and reduced competition has contributed to this – with evidence of increased market concentration, a rise in markups and a reduction in dynamism across many parts of the economy.
We need to ensure our competition policy settings are fit for purpose in the face of the big shifts underway in our economy, so we can make the most of digitalisation, the growth in services, the net zero transformation, while supporting our nation’s most vulnerable.Read more
6PR PERTH MONEY NEWS WITH KARALEE KATSAMBANIS
THURSDAY, 10 AUGUST 2023
SUBJECTS: Multinational tax reform, price gouging and petrol prices, and the Royal Australian Mint winning international coin prizes,
KARALEE KATSAMBANIS: I am actually delighted to be speaking to Dr Andrew Leigh, the Assistant Minister for Competition and Charities and Treasury this evening.
Good evening, Dr Leigh.
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT, CHARITIES, COMPETITION AND TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: Good evening, Karalee. Great to be back with you.
KATSAMBANIS: It’s lovely to have you back on the show. Now, one thing I love is you’re always very available to our audience. You like to keep us up to date with what is happening in the Canberra sphere of some of the causes that you are, you know, in charge of and a lot of the legislation. You wear lots of different hats in Canberra.
One of the important things that we’ve followed on this show – and I know from all your extremely hard work during the election campaign before you came to power – is the multinational tax update. It’s something that’s pretty dear to your heart as well. You’ve really seen it through. What we can tell the listeners is the legislation has passed the House with support from both the Coalition and the Greens. However, what does it actually now mean? Can you explain that for our listeners and give a little bit of a background as well just in case some of them aren’t aware of it?Read more
2CC 1206 AM AFTERNOON DRIVE WITH LEON DELANEY
THURSDAY, 10 AUGUST 2023
SUBJECTS: ACT Waterways, Volunteer Groups, Ending Loneliness Together.
LEON DELANEY: The Federal Government has announced a $3.2 million investment into improving Canberra's waterways, and Lord knows, our waterways need improvement. Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury and Assistant Minister for Employment, and of course, most importantly our local Member for Fenner, Dr Andrew Leigh, good afternoon.
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT, CHARITIES, COMPETITION AND TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: Good afternoon, Leon, great to be with you and your listeners.
DELANEY: Well, thanks for joining us. Your name is on this media release along with your colleagues, Alicia Payne, David Smith, and of course the Minister for the Environment, Tanya Plibersek. But what exactly does this $3.2 million funding mean for the waterways here in Canberra?Read more
Treasury Laws Amendment (Making Multinationals Pay Their Fair Share—Integrity And Transparency) Bill 2023
Second Reading, Summing up speech
Wednesday 9th August 2023
Dr Leigh (Fenner—Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury, Assistant Minister for Employment):
First, I want to thank those members who've contributed to this debate. The Australian government went to the 2022 election with commitments to tighten tax integrity and to play a meaningful part in driving international tax reforms. We made that commitment more than one year ago, and the timelines we set were to allow for meaningful consultation with affected stakeholders. That consultation has indeed taken place.
Through the exposure draft, Treasury has conducted 10 meetings with interested stakeholders, ranging from peak groups to individual firms. Since the bill was introduced, Treasury has carried out seven more consultation meetings, again, with a range of peak groups and investors. The exposure draft received 54 written submissions, and those submissions that asked to be made public have been published on the Treasury website.
More than a year on from the election, I stand here to speak in favour of a government that seeks to implement its election commitment. The measures we brought to parliament have benefited from the guidance and input of industry and civil society, but we bring these amendments to the parliament with a clear eye to the main game. For too long, multinational profit shifting has left a hole in our corporate tax revenue. For too long, artificial debt deduction mechanisms have been used and misused to allow revenue to drain away to low- or no-tax jurisdictions. When that happens, households and businesses pay more, and that's why this bill the government brings to the House is a pro-business measure.
As the member for Chisholm so articulately put it, this is about creating a level playing field across all Australian businesses. If you are a local small business just trying to make payroll, you're not thinking about how you're going to restructure your arrangements to set up a high-interest loan coming out of the Caymans so you can reduce your tax bill. If you're a regular mum-and-dad business just trying to get by, what you ask is to be placed on a level playing field with other firms. Multinational tax is complicated, but the very principles at stake in this bill are simple: do we want multinationals to pay their fair share, or do we want to allow the status quo to continue?
We have given industry over a year to prepare for these changes. The consultations have helped ensure our integrity measures are properly targeted to tighten loopholes that can be used to allow the strategic erosion of our tax base. We don't want to affect legitimate commercial arrangements. Our commitment is to shift the norms, not maintain the status quo, and that reflects the consensus embodied in the OECD/G20 process. That inclusive framework on base erosion and profit shifting has seen over 140 countries and jurisdictions collaborate on the implementation of measures to tackle tax avoidance to improve the coherence of international tax rules and to ensure a more transparent tax environment. It brings an end to the notion that we should just allow a race to the bottom in corporate taxation, with a global 15 per cent minimum floor on corporate taxation.