Joint media release with
The Hon Julie Collins MP
Minister for Small Business
LABOR’S MAKING OUR CONTRACT LAW FAIRER
Small businesses and the hard-working Australians they employ will soon have greater protections as the Albanese Labor Government delivers on its election commitment to outlaw unfair contract terms.
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 been strong enough to stop the use of unfair terms, which remain prevalent in standard form contracts.
The Bill being introduced to Parliament today, will strengthen protections for consumers and small businesses by making unfair contract terms illegal. This will stop the use of unfair terms, such as those are where one party has the right to unilaterally vary the contract or terminate without cause and demand damages.
The amendments introduce civil penalty provisions prohibiting the use of, and reliance on, unfair terms in standard form contracts. This will enable a regulator to seek a civil penalty from a court.
Additionally, a larger number of small business contracts will now be afforded protection. This will occur by increasing the small business eligibility threshold for the protections from less than 20 employees to less than 100 employees, and introducing an annual turnover threshold of less than $10 million as an alternative threshold for determining eligibility.Read more
Cost of Living
Matter of Public Importance
House of Representatives
27 September 2022
It is a true pleasure to rise on this matter of public importance. If you need any evidence of the ‘agility’ of those opposite, consider what happened at noon today. At noon today, the education minister was at this dispatch box announcing the government's Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Cheaper Child Care) Bill. That bill would cut childcare costs for more than a million families. We've seen childcare costs go up 41 per cent in the last eight years. For a family on $80,000 with a child in care three days a week, the government support would be $14,000 a year as a result of the bill announced today. And what was the shadow treasurer doing at the very same time? He was tabling a matter of public importance claiming that the government didn't have a plan for cost of living. As you might say—or as he said himself—'Fantastic. Great move. Well done Angus.'
We on this side of the House are always happy to have a debate on cost of living. Under the coalition, we saw wages stagnate as a ‘deliberate design feature’ of their economic architecture. Under us, the very first decision of the Albanese cabinet was to urge a Fair Work decision giving a 5.2 per cent pay rise to minimum wage workers. We've also backed in a pay rise for aged-care workers and made clear the government would pay our fair share. Under them, we had scare campaigns about electric vehicles and claims that electric vehicles would end the weekend. Under us, we're cutting the tax rate on electric vehicles. You'd think that side of parliament would like a tax cut for electric vehicles—but no. They're voting against it, despite the fact that for every 10 kilometres you drive an electric vehicle you save a dollar, compared with driving a petrol vehicle. Under them, we had a renewables strike. Under us, we've just seen the climate change minister sign a key agreement with John Kerry which will unlock up to $2.9 billion of new renewables investment.
Under the Coalition, we saw the economy stagnate. We saw the start-up rate go down. We saw the rate of people starting new jobs go down. We saw market concentration go up. We saw mark-ups go up. Under us, we're taking those issues of economic dynamism and competition seriously. I'm going to be introducing a bill in this place tomorrow that, if passed, will raise the penalties on firms that engage in anticompetitive conduct and ban unfair contract terms—the sorts of contract terms that currently let large businesses get away with clauses such as unilateral termination or unilateral price increases. We on this side of the House stand on the side of small businesses and consumers.Read more
Among Australian economists, few public servants are as revered as Roland Wilson, who ran the Treasury, the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Department of Labour, serving both sides of politics.
Yet Wilson wasn’t just a great public servant, he was also one of Canberra’s first electric vehicle owners. As Tim the Yowie Man reported on these pages, Wilson built his own three-wheeled electric vehicle using parts collected from junk shops and rubbish tips. During the 1940s, he drove it from his home in Forrest to his office in the Parliamentary Triangle. The car had a top speed of 20 km/h and a range of up to 64 km. Its twelve batteries charged overnight at Wilson’s home.
Earlier this year, I became one of the first Canberra politicians to switch to an electric vehicle, swapping my Honda Jazz for a Tesla 3. I’ve never been much of a car nut, but the Tesla is a joy to drive. It’s got enough range to get to Sydney, enough space to hold a family of five, and more than enough zip when you put your foot down. There’s also something fun about a car with automatic door locks, headlights and windscreen wipers. Where Roland Wilson had to sacrifice performance for environmentalism, today’s drivers can have both.
Yet while Teslas are fun, they’re not cheap. And that goes for other electric vehicles too. As Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen has pointed out, consumers in the United Kingdom can choose from 26 low-emission vehicles under A$60,000. In Australia, that number is only eight. That’s a key reason why electric vehicles comprise 15 per cent of UK car sales, compared with just 2 per cent of Australian new car sales. While Teslas currently account for around 60 per cent of new Australian electric vehicles, they may soon be outsold by cheaper alternatives.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, PARLIAMENT OF AUSTRALIA, CANBERRA
FRIDAY, 23 SEPTEMBER 2022
Only one serving British monarch has ever visited Australia. Only one British monarch has ever had her head appear on Australia’s decimal currency. 87 percent of Australians have only ever known one monarch in our lifetimes.
If the first Elizabethan Age represented the English renaissance, the second Elizabethan Age is marked by its extraordinary longevity. As the Prime Minister pointed out this morning, it spanned 16 Australian Prime Ministers, starting with Menzies; 16 Governors General, starting with McKell, and included 16 visits to Australia, the first lasting two months.
Queen Elizabeth did not live here, but during her 70-year reign, she met more Australians and travelled to more parts of Australia than most Australians. She made a broadcast over the Royal Flying Doctors’ network from Broken Hill, opened the Opera House and this Parliament House, consoled Australians who had suffered loss, and sent thousands of congratulatory messages to centenarians and couples celebrating their diamond anniversaries.Read more
The Daily Telegraph 23 September 2022
Sarah ‘Fanny' Durack learned to swim at Sydney's Coogee Baths. When she was a teenager, her main rival was Wilhelmina ‘Mina' Wylie, the daughter of the man who ran Wylie's Baths, also in Coogee.
When the organisers of the 1912 Stockholm Olympics announced that women's swimming would be on the program, they had to pay their own way to Sweden.
In the first-ever women's Olympic swimming event, the 100m freestyle, Durack won gold and Wylie took silver. If Australia had sent two more women swimmers, they could surely have won the 4x100m relay.
Sport isn't perfect but it does offer lessons for narrowing the gender pay gap. Last year, Australia sent a majority-female squad to the Tokyo Olympics. That stands in contrast to those who run Australian firms.
Only six per cent of Australia's largest 300 companies have a female chief executive. Fewer big companies are run by women than by men named John.
ABC CANBERRA, ADAM SHIRLEY
TUESDAY, 13 SEPTEMBER 2022
SUBJECTS: Changes to Australia’s currency as a result of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, changes to Parliament’s schedule, federal ICAC
ADAM SHIRLEY: Well, school holidays is not far off and I know if your parent care, guardian, uncle, aunt, always, well, how do I juggle the kids whilst still needing to work? That is going to be an issue now for MP staffers and Parliament Houseworkers because there will be now a sitting week, as you heard Prime Minister Anthony Albanese speak about yesterday during school holidays to make up for the time lost for this week, where the observance of the death of Queens mean that Parliament is not doing its regular business as was scheduled. Andrew Leigh's, Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and treasury, soon and to talk with us in a moment about dollars and cents and whose face goes on some of our coins and notes from this point forward. But, Assistant Minister Leigh, thank you so much for your time on Mornings today.
ANDREW LEIGH: Pleasure, Adam. Great to be with you.
ADAM SHIRLEY: Let's talk about the juggle first. Many MPs staffers, permanent House workers have kids or other commitments in school holidays. I wonder, from your own perspective, how will you do the family juggle during that rescheduled sitting week?
ANDREW LEIGH: In parliamentary sitting weeks always put a bit more pressure on Gweneth and I think she'll be doing more than her fair share in this set of parliamentary sittings. The only excuse I've been able to offer her is ‘well, this only happens once every seven decades or so’. Hopefully it's not going to become a regular occurrence. I think it's good you're asking the question, because we ask a lot of our families and gives me a chance to publicly say thanks to Gweneth for the extraordinary work she does in helping raise our kids, particularly when parliamentary sittings are on.
ADAM SHIRLEY: So, amongst others, Green Senator, Larissa Waters, have said this is not family friendly when the Prime Minister pledged that this Parliament would be more family friendly, have any of you with kids in the Government said, hold on a second, Albo. Is there any other week we can use?
ANDREW LEIGH: Well, the challenge is that we're committed to a significant legislative agenda, including the National Integrity Commission, and so we do need to make up those sittings days and in doing so, now has been judged to be the most appropriate time. There's never a good time to put in additional sitting days, but people recognise these are extraordinary circumstances.Read more
PATRICIA KARVELAS: One of the more tangible changes Australians will notice from the ascension of King Charles to the throne will be on our currency. According to the 1965 Currency Act, the face of the reigning monarch must be on all our coins, and pieces bearing the image of the new King will come into circulation from next year. But the face of Queen Elizabeth is also on the $5 note and replacing those will be a longer process. Responsibility for the Mint lies with the Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury Andrew Leigh, and Andrew Leigh is our guest this morning. Andrew Leigh, welcome.
ANDREW LEIGH: Good morning, Patricia. Great to be you.
PATRICIA KARVELAS: How extensive will the changes to our currency have to be with the ascension of King Charles.
ANDREW LEIGH: Well, there will be a new effigy, so the back of every coin in Australia will change, and it’s a pretty historic change. The Queen has been on the back of Australian coins since 1966, when decimal currency began. Over that period, there’s been more than 15 billion Australian coins printed, all of which have had Her Majesty’s portrait on the back. So there’ll be a new effigy produced – King Charles III – and that will be appearing on Australian coins at some stage next year.
PATRICIA KARVELAS: Okay, so coins with a portrait of King Charles will come into circulation, as you say, from next year. Will coins with the face of his mother then stay in circulation? What’s the process for how that works?
ANDREW LEIGH: They will. People who are worried about whether they can use their coins should know that coins remain legal tender and will remain legal tender all the way in the future, but you’ll start to see this change as the effigy is produced. The protocol, Patricia, is that the Royal Mint in Britain supplies an effigy to the Australian Mint. That’s then confirmed with Buckingham Palace and the coins appropriately go into circulation.
One factor that your listeners might find interesting is that there’s a protocol of switching the direction that the effigy faces.Read more
SKY NEWS NEWSDAY WITH TOM CONNELL
TUESDAY, 13 SEPTEMBER 2022
SUBJECTS: The passing of Queen Elizabeth II, and its impacts on Australia’s currency
TOM CONNELL, HOST: Well Australians can expect to see their King on coins within the next year as the transfer begins to introduce new money with a new monarch. The Royal Australian Mint will receive an approved effigy from Buckingham Palace which will be adapted for printing, the process will follow tradition. The one notable change is King Charles will face the other way compared to the Queen. Joining me live as Assistant Minister of Treasury Andrew Leigh, thanks very much for your time. So it's a different way that they face some sort of ancient tradition is it?
DR ANDREW LEIGH, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES AND TREASURY: It is, every time the monarch changes, then the direction that the way in which they face changes. It is an extraordinary change for Australia, Tom and ever since we started decimal currency in 1966, the Queen has always been on the coins. Some 15 billion Australian coins have been minted with the Queen's face on them. So it'll be a huge change for Australians for the first time to have the king on decimal coins.
CONNELL: Yeah, just one of those things, I suppose you say used to that. The $5 note, of course has the queen on it. You've said there's no decision yet whether it will have the king back on it. Well, what does that hinge on? What are you weighing up?
LEIGH: Oh, that'll be a decision of government. And we'll make it in the appropriate time. But the effigy on the coins needs to change. We've got millions of coins being produced every year. And so we need to move and make a decision on that. And it will be quite a moment for coin collectors. So I mentioned that with some collectors, they'll be very keen to get their hands on some of those last coins with Queen Elizabeth’s face.
CONNELL: They’ll be the really valuable ones, won’t they? There’s a recent one in a little commemorative packet. So don't open them if you've got one of them, keep them mint. That would be your official advice?
LEIGH: Look, I would never want to give speculative advice. But certainly the small number of coins which have Queen Elizabeth's face on them, and the year 2023, I imagine will be quite sought after.Read more
THURSDAY, 8 SEPTEMBER 2022
Subjects: New funding for the ABS to measure barriers to employment participation, use of data in policy making, Stage 3 tax cuts
ADAM SHIRLEY: Today, new funding is being announced to increase the collection of data on disadvantage. And there are many kinds of disadvantage, some of which you might be experiencing right now. The Australian Bureau of Stats will receive an extra $4 million to measure barriers and incentives to labour force participation, which then goes to or wages that you can rely on, that you can earn to then do things like buy a home. It's hoped this extra data will provide info on barriers for women, people with a disability, older people, First Nations people, for just a few. Andrew Leigh, Dr Andrew Leigh is the Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and treasury and he's keen on this. Dr Leigh, good morning to you. Thank you for your time.
ANDREW LEIGH: Good morning, Adam. Always great to be with you.
ADAM SHIRLEY: And I know that you've made a career out of collecting analysing data, but in the real world sense, in the examples I just provided, why is this data really important?Read more
THE HON AMANDA RISHWORTH MP
MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES
MEMBER FOR KINGSTON
THE HON ANDREW LEIGH MP
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES AND TREASURY
MEMBER FOR FENNER
FUNDING THE AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF STATISTICS TO BETTER COLLECT DATA ON DISADVANTAGE
THURSDAY 8 SEPTEMBER 2022
The Australian Bureau of Statistics will receive an additional $4 million to better measure barriers and incentives to labour force participation.
Following the successful Jobs and Skills Summit in Canberra last week, Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury Andrew Leigh and Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth will today announce new funding to increase the frequency of data collection to annually, up from every two years currently, with a partial data release to occur quarterly.
The move will ensure Government, business and policy makers can be better armed with information on what is preventing disadvantaged cohorts from entering the workforce. For Government in particular it will assist in targeting future policy responses.
Current survey data does not allow for robust estimates on barriers and incentives for participation specific to key sub-populations. To supplement survey data and provide improved insights on the unique barriers and incentives relevant to these sub-populations, the ABS will work with key departments across government to identify and leverage existing administrative datasets.
The combination of survey and administrative data aims to provide information on barriers for women, unpaid carers, people with a disability, older people, First Nations people, culturally and linguistically diverse people and those living in remote areas
This further survey collection and release is estimated to cost up to an additional $4 million over the forward estimates.
Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said with record low unemployment it was crucial the barriers to employment were dismantled so everyone who wanted to work could obtain meaningful employment.
“We know there are many disadvantaged Australians who want to work but because of perceived bias or barriers, can’t get into the workforce,” Minister Rishworth said.
“This extra data collection and release will give us a clearer picture of what is happening and help formulate solutions to help those who need it most.”
Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury Andrew Leigh said while data had been collected over time, releasing more frequent data sets would help generate the best policy outcomes.
“Data is currently released every two years but will now be published every quarter alongside an annual release. This will include updated information in November,” Dr Leigh said.
“This is vital information to help employers tap into the full diversity of talent in Australia and support some of the most marginalised communities in the country to be part of the labour force.”
The Albanese Labor Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit has delivered a number of initiatives designed to build a bigger, better trained and more productive workforce, boost real wages and living standards, and create opportunities for more Australians.
Today’s announcement is another example of what happens when industry, government, unions and stakeholders work together to address the challenges facing our nation.Read more