House of Representatives
23 March 2023
Ministers Of State Amendment Bill 2022
This Ministers of State Amendment Bill 2022 seeks to implement the first recommendation of the Report of the Inquiry into the Appointment of the Former Prime Minister to Administer Multiple Departments by Virginia Bell AC. That first recommendation requires the publication in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette of appointments to administer departments, directions to a minister of state to hold an office, the swearing in of an executive councillor or the revocation of any of these appointments. This is only the first of six recommendations from the Bell report, and it's worth recalling the conduct of the former Prime Minister that led to this point.
Ms Bell's report found that the member for Cook had been appointed to administer six of the 14 departments of state. None of these appointments were disclosed to the parliament or the public, and, in several cases, the minister who was responsible for the portfolio wasn't even told. Ms Bell described the member for Cook's explanations of these appointments as 'not easy to understand', which puts it charitably. She noted that the appointments were not necessary, as an acting minister could have been appointed in a matter of minutes.Read more
LEGISLATION TO HELP CHARITIES AND SMALL BUSINESSES
This week, the Albanese Government has introduced the Treasury Laws Amendment (Refining and Improving Our Tax System) Bill 2023 (the Bill) into Parliament.
The Bill transfers administration of four unique Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) categories to the Australian Taxation Office, and repeals provisions relating to maintenance of departmental registers.
The ATO currently administers 48 of the 52 categories under which an organisation may be eligible for endorsement as a deductible gift recipient. Four deductible gift recipient categories – Environmental Organisations, Harm Prevention Charities, Cultural Organisations, and Overseas Aid Organisations – are currently administered by Ministers through departmental registers.Read more
How Uncompetitive Markets Reduce Wages
The Australian, 23 March 2023
Folk music is replete with songs about struggling employees in company towns. In Sixteen Tons, Johnny Cash sings ‘You load 16 tons, what do you get? / Another day older and deeper in debt / St. Peter, don't you call me 'cause I can't go / I owe my soul to the company store’.
Company towns were the extreme example of monopsony power. While monopolies hurt consumers, monopsonies hurt suppliers.
Today, company towns are rare, but monopsony power is growing. New research from economist Jonathan Hambur uses rich de-identified tax data. To measure concentration in labour markets across the country, it splits Australia into 290 working zones and 190 industries. For example, it might look at the concentration of employers for grocery workers in Wagga Wagga.Read more
Treasury Laws Amendment (Refining and Improving our Tax System) Bill 2023 - House of Representatives, 22 March 2023
Second Reading Speech
House of Representatives
22 March 2023
Treasury Laws Amendment (Refining and Improving our Tax System) Bill 2023
The Treasury Laws Amendment (Refining and Improving our Tax System) Bill 2023 contains a number of measures to remove unnecessary administrative and compliance burdens associated with our tax system.
Schedule 1 to the bill amends the International Tax Agreements Act 1953 to give the force of law to the new tax treaty signed by Australia and Iceland on 12 October 2022.
The number of Icelandic people in Australia is not large. The 2021 census counted 405 Icelandic-born people and 1,328 people of Icelandic ancestry. However, Iceland's GDP per capita is one of the highest in the world and this tax treaty will make Australia a more attractive investment destination for Icelandic capital. It will also reduce the tax barriers to Australian businesses trading with Iceland.Read more
JOY DRIVE WITH EMMA & WARREN
THURSDAY, 16 MARCH 2023
SUBJECTS: Topics for the 2026 Census
WARREN ANDREW (CO-HOST): The Australian Bureau of Statistics has opened the first phase of public consultations on topics for the 2026 Census of Population and Housing. What sort of topics could be added to the census and how do we go about submitting them? Dr. Andrew Leigh is the Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury. Andrew, welcome back to the programme.
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES AND TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: Thanks, Warren. Good to be with you both.
WARREN ANDREW: Now, how do you go about selecting topics for inclusion in the census?
LEIGH: Well, it's important that the Bureau of Statistics go through a really open consultation process. What we saw last time round was that cut short by political intervention from the former government. And we really want the Australian Bureau of Statistics to be able to do a deep dive, talk to people in the community, work out what should be added and also what needs to be taken off the Census. Obviously, you can't just keep on adding questions forever. And so in the past, the Census has had questions taken off it about what sort of material your walls are made out of or whether you've got an indoor toilet. And that makes room for some of the important questions that can be added. Last time, veteran status and long-term health condition were added.Read more
Digital Competition And Economic Dynamism
Monash University Business School, Melbourne
Friday, 17 March 2023
I acknowledge the people of the Kulin Nations, the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we gather today.
I pay my respects to their Elders, extend that respect to other First Nations people present today, and commit myself, as a part of the Albanese Government, to the implementation in full of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
I would also like to acknowledge Monash University and thank the Business School for putting together such a great event. I’m especially chuffed that you’ve invited Joshua Gans to join us. Joshua is one of Australia’s great competition thinkers, but now works out of the University of Toronto. He and I have co-authored nine journal articles and a book, but we’ve never before spoken at the same conference. So thanks to the organisers for allowing Joshua and me to tick that one off our academic bucket lists.
I also recognise the work of Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb and Productivity Commission Chair Michael Brennan.Read more
Making It Fairer For All
The Daily Telegraph, 17 March 2023
My first music purchases were records. Mostly, I bought 45 RPM singles. But when I could afford them, I splurged on 33 RPM albums. The money from my newspaper delivery job didn’t go far, which meant that I listened to the same songs again and again. Pick a Midnight Oil song from the 1980s, and it’s a fair bet that I know every word.
A generation later, my three sons listen to music through Spotify. They have access to virtually everything ever recorded, and jump happily through artists and genres. My boys literally have access to a million times as much music as I did.
Something else has changed. When I was buying vinyl, there were plenty of indie record labels. Today, Spotify dominates the streaming market. As a result, musicians and songwriters are feeling the squeeze. Cellist Zoë Keating estimates that Spotify pays her just one-third of a cent per play. For most artists, streaming doesn’t pay the bills.Read more
ABS TO COMMENCE ANNUAL TIME USE SURVEY IN 2024
The Australian Bureau of Statistics will conduct the Time Use Survey on an on-going basis from 2024.
The Time Use Survey is a detailed data collection that records the activities Australians take part in each day, including the amount of time people spend on unpaid work such as caring for children and older people, and doing housework.
Decades ago, Australia was a global pioneer in time use surveys, conducting surveys in 1992, 1997 and 2006 before a sixteen-year hiatus. The most recent survey took place in 2020-21 during the exceptional environment of the COVID pandemic.Read more
Matter of Public Importance
House of Representatives, 9 March 2023
In Australia, the last six Liberal leaders have lost their jobs, one way or another, because of climate policy. We saw the Howard government thrown out in 2007 in part because of inaction on climate. We saw the Morrison government turfed out in 2022 because of inaction on climate. We saw the double defenestration of Malcolm Turnbull because they just couldn't cop his approach to climate change. As Malcolm Turnbull has put it, the Australian Liberal Party ‘is not capable of dealing with climate change.'
It doesn't have to be this way. If you look around the world, everywhere except Australia and the United States, conservatives are taking action on climate change. The UK conservatives have committed to a fully decarbonised power sector by 2035 and a zero-emissions vehicle mandate, have established the UK Green Investment Bank and have put policies in place that, if Coalition members opposite were sitting in the House of Commons, they would have all voted against.Read more
ABC RURAL COUNTRY HOUR WITH WARWICK LONG
THURSDAY, 9 MARCH 2023
SUBJECTS: Right to repair agricultural machinery.
WARWICK LONG (HOST): Let's keep talking government right now, but very much an on farm issue. The Federal Government is asking the Australian farming industry for ideas on how best to give farmers the right to repair the equipment they buy. So in January, the American Farm Bureau signed an MoU with major farm machinery dealers to allow US farmers access to machinery repair codes, diagnostics and manuals after they were initially locked out by companies protecting intellectual property rights. The same issue is facing Australian farmers and they want a similar solution. Andrew Leigh is the Assistant Minister for Competition and he says he wants to hear from industry about some of these solutions and work out a deal for Australian farmers. I spoke to him earlier today.
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES AND TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: Certainly we’re interested in the potential for expanding the right to repair. For many years, I've been campaigning for data sharing, for mechanics to be able to fix modern cars. Modern cars are computers on wheels, and unless independent mechanics have access to that data, they were looking at going to the wall. And the very same issue arises with agricultural machinery. The movements in the United States suggest a way in which this might be possible to achieve and certainly it would improve agricultural productivity, because you're talking about farmers being able to fix their machines quicker and at harvest time, you've got dollars going out the door if you're not harvesting quickly.Read more