HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 2 AUGUST 2022
In 1952 Marvin Minsky invented the 'useless machine'. It was a little machine with a box with one switch on it, in the off position. If you turned it on then a little hand came out of the machine to turn it back off again. That was its only purpose. As Arthur C Clarke put it:
There is something unspeakably sinister about a machine that does nothing—absolutely nothing—except switch itself off.
And that's what Australians are saying about the last nine years. As the Economist has noted of the British conservative government, the Liberals were, when they were in government, the political equivalent of a useless machine: they know what they're against, they know what they want to turn off, but they have no idea what they are for.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 1 AUGUST 2022
In 2016, Canberra man Nebojsa Pavkovic died on his 61st birthday.
He was at the end of a five-week hunger strike inside a body which he knew was no longer working. Mr Pavkovic had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for a decade and had come to the decision, speaking with his family, that he wanted to end his life. He was, however, unable to do so through voluntary assisted dying and had to do so through the much more traumatic and painful approach of a five-week hunger strike. As daughter Katarina Knowles said, 'He was really, truly bedridden, and it was just the worst.'
I spoke to Katarina a year ago, when I was moving a private member's motion in this place to repeal the Andrews ban - to finally allow the ACT and the Northern Territory to have the same rights as the states to legislate over voluntary assisted dying.Read more
LABOR DELIVERING ON PROMISE TO BAN UNFAIR CONTRACT TERMS
JOINT MEDIA RELEASE WITH
THE HON JULIE COLLINS MP
MINISTER FOR HOUSING, MINISTER FOR HOMELESSNESS
MINISTER FOR SMALL BUSINESS
The Government is delivering its election commitment to make unfair contract terms illegal, protecting small businesses and the hard-working Australians they employ.
Small businesses and consumers often lack the resources and bargaining power to effectively review and negotiate terms in standard form contracts. Existing laws haven’t stopped the use of unfair terms, which remain prevalent in standard form contracts.
The Government will introduce legislation in the upcoming sitting period to strengthen unfair contract terms protections for small businesses and consumers.Read more
TAKING ACTION TO STOP TAX TREATY SHOPPING
The Australian, 25 July 2022
At first blush, treaty shopping might sound like a fun excursion to the gift store with your primary schooler. Yet far from being a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon, treaty shopping is a worrisome lurk that undermines the tax system.
On July 20, the tax office released an alert about a high-risk activity that has been observed and will be subject to increased scrutiny: companies restructuring their tax affairs to take advantage of reduced withholding tax rates under a tax treaty in relation to royalty or dividend payments from Australia. As the it noted, such a restructure might involve creating a new entity in a favourable treaty jurisdiction, interposed between the foreign parent and the Australian operation in order to access the reduced tax rates under the tax treaty.Read more
Looking for a Media Adviser
I’m inviting applications for a Canberra-based media adviser.
I have a pretty broad range of ways I engage on policy issues, from op-eds and interviews to social media, tele townhalls, podcasts, and public events.
My media adviser helps draft and coordinate those ideas. This involves drafting media releases, speeches and op-eds, liaising with journalists, crafting content for social media and working with the wider Labor team. The hours tend to exceed 40 hours a week and can be unpredictable, which is why there's an overtime allowance.Read more
LEON BYNER, HOST: The Australian Government has welcomed the settlement reached between the ATO and Rio Tinto, which will pay approximately - listen to this - $1 billion, in one of the largest tax settlements in our tax history in this country. Now this represents, as I understand it, quite a drawn out - and we're talking here drawn out in years - hard work by the Tax Office. It's a significant win for everybody, because the community will ultimately benefit in terms of lower taxes. But that's a lot of money. $1 billion. Let's talk to a bloke who is, I think, one of the most qualified economics experts in the Australian Parliament. Highly revered, both by universities and economics experts. I'm talking about the federal Assistant Minister for Treasury, Dr Andrew Leigh. Andrew, thank you for coming on today.
ANDREW LEIGH, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES AND TREASURY: Pleasure, Leon. Great to be with you.
$1 billion ATO settlement shows the importance of ensuring multinationals pay their fair share - Media Release
The Australian Government welcomes the settlement reached between the Australian Tax Office and Rio Tinto, which will pay approximately $1 billion in one of the largest tax settlements in Australia’s tax history.
This announcement represents years of hard work by the Tax Office. It is a significant win for everyday Australians, who will ultimately benefit in terms of lower taxes, better services and/or less government debt.
It is also a significant win for Australia’s commitment to tax fairness, and the Albanese Government’s pledge to levelling the playing field for Australian businesses. Labor took to the election substantial commitments to close tax loopholes exploited by multinational companies, cutting off their ability to shift profits to low or no tax jurisdictions.
The Government will continue working alongside the Tax Office to create a system that is fair, transparent, and consistent in holding even the biggest companies to account.
“Our tax system relies on everyone paying their fair share, no more and no less”, said Stephen Jones, Assistant Treasurer.
“This result is a win for confidence in our system and I applaud the ATO’s efforts.
“More importantly, it is a win for taxpayers big and small as the Government continues to manage the current budget situation.”
“This is a big win for the Australian Tax Office, and for Australians. It means more money in the public purse, and more big multinationals agreeing to work with us to make the system fairer”, said Andrew Leigh, Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury
“Expecting local firms to compete against tax‑dodging multinationals is like asking them to fight with one hand tied behind their backs. It’s just not fair. Closing multinational tax loopholes will create a better environment for productive firms to flourish, and add to the public confidence in our tax system.
“The Labor Government will move to implement the specific profit‑shifting measures we took to the election. We are also working closely with likeminded countries to implement the OECD/G20 Two Pillar Agreement as swiftly as possible.”
PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Rio Tinto has settled running disputes with the Australian Tax Office, agreeing to pay another lump sum. Almost a billion dollars has been paid, money the ATO claims the mining giant owed. Settlements include a dispute over whether the company should have deducted interest payments from money borrowed from itself to pay its UK arm and an argument over alleged transfer pricing through its controversial Singapore hub. Rio Tinto has paid 78 per cent of the total load. The ATO says it's a good outcome for the Australian tax system. And joining us live now is the Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury, Andrew Leigh. Good morning, Andrew. Good to see you. That’s quite the amount to cough up.
ANDREW LEIGH, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES AND TREASURY: It certainly is. And it's a testament to the corporate tax inquiry headed by Labor Senators in 2015, which first flagged the issue of marketing hubs. I think it was pretty odd that you have resources companies digging up resources in Australia, selling them to a second country, and yet the payments are being routed through a third country. Four years ago, BHP reached a half billion dollar settlement. And this billion dollar settlement from Rio doesn't just cover past tax payments, but also says that going forward taxes on Australian commodities be paid in Australia, which is the way it should be.
THOMAS ORITI, HOST: First this half hour, the multinational mining giant Rio Tinto has settled a decade long tax dispute with the Australian Tax Office. It’s handed over almost a billion dollars in unpaid taxes after an investigation of its Singapore marketing hub. The settlement’s one of the largest in Australian tax history, with the mining giant following in the path of other multinationals forced to pay up. Let's get more on this now. We're joined by the Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury Andrew Leigh. Andrew, good morning to you.
ANDREW LEIGH, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES AND TREASURY: Morning, Tom. Great to be with you.