CRACKING DOWN ON MULTINATIONAL TAX DODGING
The Australian, 14 December 2021
Appearing before a US Senate Committee in 2013, Apple CEO Tim Cook flatly denied that his company was engaged in tax shenanigans. “We don’t depend on tax gimmicks,” he told the committee. “We don’t stash money on some Caribbean island.”
Months later, the Committee handed down its findings. It concluded that Apple had managed to create subsidiaries that were – for tax purposes – stateless. Like Tom Hanks in The Terminal, they were in a legal limbo. But rather than sleeping on hard plastic seats, Apple’s stateless subsidiaries didn’t have to file tax returns. As US Senator Carl Levin noted “Apple successfully sought the holy grail of tax avoidance. It has created offshore entities holding tens of billions of dollars while claiming to be tax resident nowhere.”
For multinationals and billionaires, avoiding tax has become a sport. In October 2021, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reported on the Pandora Papers, a trove of leaked documents that revealed more than 100 billionaires who had been using secret offshore accounts. Like the Panama Papers, Paradise Papers and LuxLeaks, they showed that the use of tax havens is the province of the ultra-wealthy. One study which matched data from high-profile leaks to tax statistics estimated that half the money in tax havens was held by the top 1/10,000th of the population.Read more
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
SATURDAY, 11 DECEMBER 2021
SUBJECTS: MYEFO preview; Scott Morrison’s slogans on migration; Labor’s plans to increase job opportunities and university places; border closures; inflation.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Thanks everyone for coming along today. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. While good governments take the blame on their own shoulders and pass the credit on to others, Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg are just the opposite. The moment the Australian economy is struggling, they're nowhere to be seen. They're racing for a headline the moment there's any chance of an uptick. At the start of this year, Australia had the slowest vaccine rollout in the advanced world. And in the September quarter, partly as a result of that, we reported the worst quarterly growth performance in the advanced world. The third worst number on record for Australia. And that number was bad partly as a result of the government’s failures on vaccines and quarantine. Now inevitably after such an appalling growth figure, the Australian economy will rebound. Eventually, it has to come back and the credit for that will go to the Australian people, not to the Morrison Government. The Morrison Government is a bit like a guy who digs a really deep hole, and then wants people to pat him on the back as he starts to make his way out of it. The fact is that the Australian economy is struggling. Right now we've got real wages going backwards. We've got housing affordability at historic lows, and we have many Australians feeling that their pay packet just isn't keeping up with the cost of living.Read more
ANTHONY ALBANESE MP
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
National Anti-Corruption Commission
An Albanese Labor Government will establish a powerful, transparent and independent National Anti-Corruption Commission.
The ever-growing list of scandals surrounding the Morrison Government shows why Australia needs a powerful and independent anti-corruption commission and why Mr Morrison and his colleagues will do everything they can to stop one from being established.
The Liberals deny there is a problem, make endless excuses, and have put forward a draft bill for a commission designed to be so weak, so secretive and so lacking in independence that instead of exposing corruption, it would cover it up.Read more
2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 7 DECEMBER 2021
SUBJECTS: Gladys Berejiklian; Labor’s Powering Australia plan; Labor’s plan for education and training; Fish and chips prices; George Christensen and Alex Jones.
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Andrew Leigh, good morning.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus.
PAUL: Look, I'm just gauging some of the response this morning - both online, on air, messages to my program - but I'm looking elsewhere as well, and I think Scott Morrison is going to find himself in trouble over this. Because even you know on the Herald sites, the Telegraph and others – the Tele is quite telling if, I can say, the News Corp rag - because even online people are having a crack at Scott Morrison as well.
LEIGH: Well there’s the fundamental principle of separation of powers, which says that parliamentarians shouldn't be involved in what the police and what the judiciary do. So Scott Morrison's attacks on ICAC, I think speak volumes about his willingness to interfere in that process. Parliamentarians should be letting that process run its course. As you said, Gladys Berejiklian has been called as a witness to ICAC, and based on that she chose to step down as New South Wales Premier. I think it's interesting that Scott Morrison makes the decision now that somebody who's stepped down because they're appearing before ICAC as a witness is somebody he's very keen to get as a candidate running for him in the next election.Read more
RICHEST 10PC THREE TO FIVE TIMES MORE LIKELY TO ATTEND UNIVERSITY
The Australian Financial Review, 6 December 2021
Few investments have so large an economic payoff as attending university. According to the OECD, Australians with a bachelor’s degree earn 26 per cent more than workers who have only finished high school (the average wage premium for a diploma is 9 per cent).
Yet the benefits of university are not evenly spread across the population. In the United States, one study found that children whose parents are in the top 1 per cent of the income distribution are 77 times more likely to attend an Ivy League college than those whose parents are in the poorest fifth of the population.
Curious to see how this plays out in Australia, I crunched the numbers for a study that recently appeared in the Australian Economic Review.Read more
ABC NEWS RADIO
THURSDAY, 2 DECEMBER 2021
SUBJECT: The Morrison Government continuing to attack Australia’s charities.
GLEN BARTHOLOMEW, HOST: Andrew Leigh, a Labor MP, has been very vocal in speaking out against this bill and he joins us now. Good afternoon.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good afternoon, Glen. Great to be with you.
BARTHOLOMEW: To be clear, remind us why you and the Labor Party had opposed the government's original political campaigners bill and what would it mean for charities and single issue groups?
LEIGH: If Labor done nothing yesterday, then we would now have voter ID requirements at elections and the threshold for disclosing as a political campaigner would have been brought right down to $100,000-
BARTHOLOMEW: Explain to people just what this political campaigners bill involves?
LEIGH: Sure. So third party entities are required to register as political campaigners if they have electoral expenditure above a certain threshold. That's currently half a million dollars. The government wanted to bring it down to $100,000, and Labor took the view that it was better to have it brought down to $250,000 rather than just have the government’s changes go through unamended. We've been fighting strongly for charities over the last eight years, fighting against a war on charities on all fronts. We had a good win last week, defeating the government’s attempt to make it easier to deregister charities for events like simply trespassing or blocking a footpath. On this one, we would have liked to seen the government defeated with its attempt to put more paperwork burden onto charities. But when we couldn't defeat it, we took the approach of trying to at least reduce its worst aspects on charities.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 1 DECEMBER 2021
Ensuring the integrity of our election systems is a bipartisan objective. We know that there have been attempts to hack into election systems. The Economist magazine discusses the way in which this particularly affects the United States, in the context in which voting machines are used. Even when those voting machines are air-gapped—that is, not connected to the internet—there is a risk of malicious actors loading malware onto them and then managing to bypass logic and accuracy tests. There is also a risk of attacks which target voter lists, attempting to change voter lists and, therefore, undermine confidence in democracy. We've seen attempts to influence elections electronically in other ways, as well. A Russian news agency with close ties to the Putin government launched a so-called ‘news’ website called USA Really, which published a stream of articles favourable to former President Trump. Those attempts worked alongside attempts to influence the last three US elections by foreign actors using social media platforms.
The bill before the House, the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Assurance of Senate Counting) Bill 2021, provides some measures that will ensure that Australia's first-rate electoral system is protected. It provides for the Electoral Commissioner to arrange for an independent body accredited by the Australian Signals Directorate to conduct a security risk assessment of the Australian Electoral Commission's computer system and provide a report to the AEC, which the AEC will then publish on its on its website. This is critical for Australia, given that our electoral system has long been regarded as best in the world.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 1 DECEMBER 2021
This week, Barbados declared itself a republic, putting in place as president Sandra Mason. It's 55 years since Barbados became independent from Britain, and this republic is the culmination of a two-decade process. Barbados, of course, will still compete in the Commonwealth Games. It will still be a country with British traditions. But it it'll stand proudly on its own two feet as a republic, and with Rihanna as its national hero.
A bit over two decades ago, Australia also considered becoming a republic, with 45 per cent of Australians and 63 per cent of Canberrans voting yes. When that vote was defeated, Australians were assured that there would be another vote coming along sometime soon. But, in two decades, one hasn't come along, and it's likely to be a full generation between republican votes. In that time, we've seen the revelation of the palace letters, making it very clear that Buckingham Palace was consulted and forewarned about Governor-General Sir John Kerr's likely decision to dismiss the Whitlam government, provided advice about how the Governor-General's reserve powers might be exercised and that Sir John Kerr even war-gamed possible scenarios with the palace and Prince Charles in which he himself might be dismissed as Governor-General.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 30 NOVEMBER 2021
This year many are celebrating Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights. Yet something very dark is happening in the anti-vaccination and anti-lockdown protests. Extremists are exposing vaccine-hesitant audiences to anti-Semitic propaganda on a wide scale. Jewish news outlet Plus61J reported that over 100,000 users now follow Australian anti-vaccination pages that promote anti-Semitic bigotry. In Melbourne, recent anti-vax protests were attended by several prominent neo-Nazis and addressed by a speaker who once decried the influence of Australian Jews in media and business. The organising page of the Adelaide anti-vaccination rally claimed, 'Satanic Jews run the health industry.'
The member for Hughes has reposted from a neo-Nazi page that described Hitler as a ‘hero’. The member for Dawson was advertised as a speaker at an anti-lockdown protest alongside an activist who termed Israel 'an occultist testing hub'. Yet they won't acknowledge the many anti-Semites in their midst.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 29 NOVEMBER 2021
It is rare that we have an opportunity in this place to cast a conscience vote. It occurs about once every term of parliament, the most recent being the marriage equality vote. In an era in which Australians are increasingly becoming disconnected from politicians, in which the levels of trust in government are waning, I chose to use this conscience vote as an opportunity to engage in a deliberative democracy exercise in the electorate of Fenner.
I acknowledge the member for McMahon, who alerted me to the fact that this bill, the Mitochondrial Donation Law Reform (Maeve's Law) Bill 2021, was to come before the House, and, as a result of that conversation, I collaborated with the University of Canberra's Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance and the Institute for Democratic Engagement and Accountability at Ohio State University to put in place a series of town hall meetings, one online and one face to face, with randomly selected constituents in Fenner to flesh out the issues around mitochondrial donation and to inform my decision.Read more