Press Conference Canberra Thursday, 9 November 2023


E&OE Transcript


SUBJECTS: ATO Corporate Tax Transparency Report; Multinational tax measures; Banning of unfair contract terms; Optus outage; High Court decision.

Today we have the announcement of corporate tax transparency data covering 2713 large Australian businesses. This is an important announcement, which reflects the Albanese Government's strong commitment to greater transparency in multinational tax. When multinationals pay less, Australians pay more. It's vital that Australians know how much tax our largest firms are paying. These laws were put in place by the Gillard Government despite opposition from the Coalition. The Coalition believe that this information could be kept secret. Labor believes this information should be in the public domain. Labor is committed to closing multinational tax loopholes and opening transparency. That commitment continues under the Albanese Government. We've moved to ensure that tenderers with large government contracts have to disclose their country of tax domicile. Public companies need to disclose where their subsidiaries are located. We're also moving towards putting in place a country-by-country reporting system that will be world-leading in its transparency.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant. The more information we have, the better we can be sure that large corporates are paying their fair share of tax. I want to acknowledge the hard work of the Australian Taxation Office Tax Avoidance Task Force and the work that they've done in engaging with large multinationals to make sure they pay their fair share. In recent times, we've seen agreements being struck with Rio and BHP that have seen the shutting down of offshore market hubs. Not only settling back taxes, but also ensuring that the Singapore marketing hub was no longer used in order to minimise taxes paid by those large corporates.

Labor currently has laws in front of the parliament that would close another loophole around the misuse of debt deductions. This involves companies setting up a subsidiary in a low tax jurisdiction, having that subsidiary make a loan to the Australian company. The interest on that loan is then deducted, allowing them to reduce their tax paid. Now, that's not an arrangement that's available to typical Australian small business looking to export into the region. And that means if we don't close it down then Aussie small businesses are competing with one hand tied behind their backs. The reforms we are putting in place around debt deductions aren't just about increasing revenue. They're also about fairness and ensuring fair competition. Firms should be competing based on who can offer the best products, the best service, the best offering to the Australian people and not exploiting the latest tax loophole.

One other announcement we have got today. With Minister Julie Collins, we welcome the fact that from today, laws outlawing unfair contract terms come into effect. Right now, firms can include unfair contract terms in their contracts. They're not enforceable, but it's not illegal to put those dodgy terms in. That means that small businesses are often faced with a contract on a ‘like it or lump it’ basis. That includes unfair contract terms that a small business may not be willing to litigate against the large firm. And so they comply with an unfair contract term. Those unfair contract terms might include a unilateral ability to change prices, or allow the larger firm to cancel the contract on a whim. That will no longer be possible under laws that take effect from today. This is about protecting consumers and small businesses and providing small businesses a level playing field with which to engage in a modern economy.

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Holding Large Corporates To Account On Tax - Media Release

The Hon Stephen Jones MP

Assistant Treasurer And Minister For Financial Services
The Hon Andrew Leigh MP

Assistant Minister For Competition, Charities And Treasury

Assistant Minister For Employment
Joint Media Release

Holding Large Corporates To Account On Tax

The Albanese Government is committed to holding large corporates to account by enhancing transparency to ensure that they are paying the right amount of tax.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has today published its annual Corporate Tax Transparency report, disclosing the tax performance of 2,713 corporates entities, revealing they paid $83.8 billion in income tax in 2021-22.

Australians expect all taxpayers, from large multinationals to individuals, to pay the right amount of tax. The ATO’s report provides insights about the corporate tax system and the tax performance of multinationals and large public and private businesses. The report provides transparency about the tax paid by large companies and keeps them accountable to the community and stakeholders.

The Albanese Government boosted funding for the ATO’s Tax Avoidance Taskforce in the October 2022-23 Budget by around $200 million a year over 4 years from 1 July 2022 and extended it by a further year from 1 July 2025.

This investment has bolstered ATO crack downs on tax dodging by multinational enterprises, large Australian public and private groups, and wealthy individuals operating in Australia.

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6PR Mornings with Gary Adshead Wednesday 8 November 2023 - Transcript


SUBJECTS: Interest rates; Cost of living measures; Unemployment; Trade with China; Encouraging volunteering.

GARY ADSHEAD (HOST): Dr Andrew Leigh is the Federal Assistant Minister for the Treasury, and he joins me on the line. Thanks very much for your time, Andrew. 

ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES, COMPETITION AND TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: My pleasure, Gary. Great to be with you and your listeners. 

ADSHEAD: I mean obviously the RBA's decision yesterday on Melbourne Cup Day of all days is not helping you or your Government's argument around trying to keep a lid on cost-of-living expenses for people, is it?

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Iceland Tax Treaty brings new trade opportunities - Media Release


Australia’s first tax treaty with Iceland is now in force, bringing new opportunities to trade, invest and connect with its thriving economy.

Iceland has one of the highest Gross Domestic Product per capita ratios in the world.

The tax treaty which comes into effect today facilitates easier access to the Icelandic market at a lower cost through reduced tax rates, lower compliance costs and reduced instances of double taxation.

This treaty will also support the Government’s plan to make multinationals pay their fair share of tax through added integrity measures and mechanisms.

This will facilitate greater cooperation and information sharing to detect and combat tax evasion.

Tax treaties also help reduce tax uncertainty and administrative burden for individuals looking to study, live and work overseas, thereby facilitating labour mobility.

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ABC Canberra Breakfast with Adam Shirley Thursday 8 November 2023 - Transcript


SUBJECTS: Effect of smartphones on mental health; Impact of latest interest rate rises; Measures to curb inflation; Mortgage switch fees; Superannuation increase.

ADAM SHIRLEY (HOST): And on phones and having a smartphone, ubiquitous, in your pocket right now, no doubt. Andrew Leigh, Member for Fenner and Federal Assistant Minister for Treasury, stated this at the start of the month: “Our family rule is no smartphone until you turn 15, which means our boys will basically be the last in their social groups to get one. We hope they’ll thank us in a decade or two.”

Dr Andrew Leigh, Member for Fenner, good morning to you.

ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES, COMPETITION AND TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: Good morning, Adam. I am acutely aware of the irony of talking about the value of not getting kids a smartphone on a day when so many Australians want to get access via their smartphones. But there you have it.

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ABC News Breakfast with Michael Rowland 8 November 2023 - Transcript


SUBJECTSOptus network; Interest rates; Cost of living measures; Stage 3 tax cuts.

MICHAEL ROWLAND (HOST): Okay, we're going to turn to our next story now. The impact of latest interest rate rise, the 13th since the rate hike cycle began last year. And bring in the Assistant Minister for Treasury, Andrew Leigh. Minister, thank you so much for joining us.


ROWLAND: We’ll on to rate rises in a moment. But what, if anything, does the government know about what's going on with Optus this morning?

LEIGH: Nothing at this stage that I've heard, Michael. Certainly it's up to Optus to quickly rectify this with its customers. It's clearly causing chaos across not only Melbourne's train network, but also for many people who rely on their mobile phones, it's just a reminder of how reliant we are on this instant connectivity. And like so many other Australians, I'm hoping the systems are back up quickly.

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140 Years of Community Building - Speech

‘Salvation Army: 140 Years of Social Mission in Australia’

Grand Hyatt, Melbourne
8 November 2023

The Origin of the Salvos in Australia

I acknowledge the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, and recognise all First Nations people present today.

The Salvation Army has been marching alongside Australians for over 140 years.

The Salvos have been with us through some of our toughest times and greatest milestones.

You were among the first to reach Darwin on Boxing Day 1974 after Cyclone Tracy hit. In 1977 you were supporting people affected by the Granville train disaster. In 2019 and 2020, the Salvos were dispersing funds and supporting thousands affected by the Black Summer bushfires.

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Appointment of Independent Reviewer, Food and Grocery Code - Media Release


Appointment – Independent Reviewer, Food And Grocery Code

The Albanese Government has reappointed Mr Christopher (Chris) Leptos AO as the part-time Independent Reviewer of the Food and Grocery Code (the Code) for a three-year period.

The Code was introduced in 2015 to lift the standard of commercial conduct between the major supermarkets, wholesalers, and their suppliers. On 3 October 2020, further amendments were introduced to improve the operation of the Code, which included enhancing dispute resolution processes available to suppliers by requiring signatories to appoint Code Arbiters with the authority to resolve supplier complaints and issue binding compensation orders of up to $5 million. Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, and Metcash are signatories to the Code and are bound by it.

A government appointed Independent Reviewer role was also established to review complaints to ensure that suppliers are afforded due process throughout the dispute resolution process.

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Ten Lessons for Economic Policymakers - Speech

Ten Lessons for Economic Policymakers

Economic Society of Australia Annual Dinner 2023
Commonwealth Club, Canberra

Wednesday, 1 November 2023

Introduction: The Power of Ideas

[Acknowledgements omitted]

John Maynard Keynes once wrote ‘The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else.’

In academia and parliament, I've certainly found that to be true. Economics is surprisingly powerful as a tool for public policy. Those of you who are established in your careers will know well the power that economics has had in terms of shaping Australia's trajectory.

Last month, we lost Max Corden, one of Australia's great economists, and somebody who, after fleeing the Nazis in 1939, became one of the great Australian pioneers of openness. Max's work on tariff reform was used by the Tariff Board, the predecessor to what is now the Productivity Commission, to make the case for Gough Whitlam’s 1973 tariff cut, in which all tariffs were cut overnight by 25%.

Max's story was one of coming to Australia, being welcomed here and becoming a great advocate for openness. He knew my grandfather, Keith Leigh, who died two years before I was born, and would tell me about how the two of them spoke of world events at Melbourne University in the 1950s and 1960s. That intellectual curiosity and global outlook reflects the very best of Australian academia and the economics profession.

You may have heard Thomas Carlyle’s put-down of economists as being ‘the dismal science’. Perhaps you know that the reason that Carlyle described our discipline as the dismal science was that we had what was in his mind the ‘dismal’ view that all human beings – whatever their skin colour – should be regarded as equal.

In that light, I proudly wear the badge of the ‘dismal science’. It is a reminder that economics has its origins in the notion of human equality; the principle that one person's wellbeing is as valuable to society as another's.

Max Corden was also a remarkably generous soul in terms of the time he spent with others. He always seemed to have time to ask junior researchers about their work. When I visited Melbourne University in 2006, I loved the chance to engage with Max, to chat with somebody who had worked on the world stage on issues of trade liberalisation.

My speech tonight proposes ten lessons for economics policymakers. When I refer to economic policymakers, I’m drawing a broad net. I'm including people who have made a contribution in consulting, those who have worked in the public service, those who are working in journalism, and those who contribute to the public debate. I'm thinking of the policy conversation writ large, not simply some narrow slice of it.

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Random Trials of Policy are just what Doctor Ordered - Opinion Piece


The Daily Telegraph, 3 November 2023

One of the Australian Government's announcements this year has been the creation of the Australian Centre for Evaluation. The Centre will conduct rigorous evaluations, including randomised trials, to figure out whether policies are effective.

But why do we need randomised trials? To answer this, it helps to turn to medicine, a field that has been transformed by randomised trials.

A major reason why medicine saves more lives today than it did in the late-19th century is that theories are put to the test using trials.

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.