The Liberals' Soft Touch on Multinational Tax Dodging

THE LIBERALS' SOFT TOUCH ON MULTINATIONAL TAX DODGING

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE

WEDNESDAY, 11 AUGUST 2021

Before question time, I spoke about the absurdity of the situation of Jan, who had received a notice requiring that she repay some $1,000 of the pension because she had received JobKeeper in her capacity as a part-time schoolteacher in Victoria. While the government is going hard after Jan, putting her on a $15-a-fortnight repayment plan, it has nothing to say to Gerry Harvey, to Solomon Lew, to Brett Blundy, to the other Australian billionaires who've gotten JobKeeper as a result of having significant shareholdings in firms that enjoyed a profitable year and paid a dividend. That's the double standard that we have in this government, a standard that says that Jan, who is on the pension, should have to pay $1,000 back through a repayment plan but that the billionaires who've benefited from JobKeeper aren't asked by this government to repay a cent. When we on this side of the House call on the government to at least exert a bit of moral courage and at least ask these firms to live up to their corporate social responsibility statements, we get told by the Prime Minister that we're playing ‘the politics of envy’. That's how out of touch this Prime Minister is—that he is willing to go after Jan but not to go after Australian billionaires.

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The Government always picks on pensioners and gives back rubs to billionaires

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

2SM MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING

TUESDAY, 10 AUGUST 2021

 

SUBJECTS: The Government pursuing pensioners but not billionaires for JobKeeper repayments; the Government’s vaccine failures; Scott Morrison leads the most anti-university government in Australia’s history; the Government’s lack of action on climate change

 

MARCUS PAUL, HOST: All right, Andrew Leigh, Federal Member for Fenner. Good morning to you, Andrew.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus. Great to be with you.

PAUL: All right, look, I know there's a couple of other things you want to talk about, but I don't want to say I told you so, but it's almost reminiscent of RoboDebt. You have been working extremely hard. We don't call you #JobKeeper warrior for nothing. You've tried to call back tens of millions of dollars from big business that have done well out of the pandemic. We don't criticise them for putting their hand out at first, but once they've paid handsome dividends and made a profit and all the rest of it they should give our money back, us taxpayers. Most of the money is borrowed anyway, but they haven't, and they're not being forced to by the Federal Government, by the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, in particular.

But when it comes to average income earners, people who've done the right thing, that obviously did receive JobKeeper, some of them a little bit too much, after they've done the right thing and put their tax returns in, they now have a debt and they're being chased for it - $32 million worth.

Andrew, why are we chasing mums and dads and small-income, average-income earners and not big business?

LEIGH: Extraordinary double standard isn't it, Marcus? You'd think that the Government would, as its first port of call, look at those multinationals who've received JobKeeper and gotten rising earnings. Instead, they always seem to look to the little guy. The Government that developed RoboDebt, the illegal scheme that cost them a massive court settlement; the Government that wanted to put in place automatic assessments for people on the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Yet again, every time they look to raise money for the budget it's raising it from the most vulnerable rather than from the most affluent.

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The Government only ever recovers payments from pensioners, and never billionaires

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
ABC NEWSRADIO
TUESDAY, 10 AUGUST 2021


SUBJECT: The Government’s JobKeeper failings.

GLEN BARTHOLOMEW, HOST: Well, now to reports the Federal Government has sent thousands of people Centrelink debt letters claiming they were overpaid due to JobKeeper. According to a report in The Guardian, the Government sent more than 11,000 people Centrelink debt letters worth around are claiming rather that they were overpaid $32 million. All the while resisting frequent calls to reclaim money from the businesses who received the wage subsidy, but then went on to make a profit. Meanwhile, in Parliament yesterday, the Opposition suddenly dropped support for an amendment to the Government's new business payments which would have required companies to reveal how much money they received from the JobKeeper wage subsidy. Labor MP Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. He's led the charge on this. He says sending debt letters to Centrelink recipients smacks of a double standard.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: I'm disappointed, Glenn, but I'm not surprised. This is the Government that invented Robodebt, and which has gone soft on big firms getting JobKeeper despite rising earnings. How many of those firms have been asked by Scott Morrison to repay? Absolutely zero. But now we've got more than 11,000 people who've received JobKeeper who are getting debt collection letters from Centrelink. From the Government that wanted to put disability support recipients on to the automatic assessments, it's sadly no surprise.

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The Government gave taxpayer dollars to billionaires, but only pursues repayments from pensioners

THE GOVERNMENT GAVE TAXPAYER DOLLARS TO BILLIONAIRES, BUT ONLY PURSUES REPAYMENTS FROM PENSIONERS

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

TUESDAY, 10 AUGUST 2021

Jan is a schoolteacher who works part-time, and her school received JobKeeper. As a result, according to Centrelink, she was overpaid $1,049.85 on her age pension. This is the letter that Centrelink sent to her, demanding the repayment of that amount.

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Australians need lockdown support and transparency on JobKeeper

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TELEVISION INTERVIEW
THE PROJECT
MONDAY, 9 AUGUST 2021
 
SUBJECTS: The Government’s JobKeeper failures.
 
CARRIE BICKMORE, HOST: Labor MP Andrew Leigh has been naming and shaming companies that profited off JobKeeper and he joins us now. Andrew, you've been pushing for transparency and accountability for big businesses receiving JobKeeper or other government support. Why did Labor back down?
 
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Carrie, we need to make sure we prioritize support for people in lockdown right now. There's no way Labor was going to hold up money going out the door for people who are suffering under the weight of lockdown.

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The Morrison Government is the most anti-university government in Australia's history

THE MORRISON GOVERNMENT IS THE MOST ANTI-UNIVERSITY GOVERNMENT IN AUSTRALIA’S HISTORY

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

MONDAY, 9 AUGUST 2021

The convention on these things is to thank the member for Longman for bringing on the debate and to say how pleased I am that he has done it, but I'd be a hypocrite if I did that. The fact is that this is the most anti-university government in Australian history. It is bizarre that the member would bring on a motion praising the government's university policies. He should hang his head in shame for the way in which this government has treated universities. Universities are vital to Australia's future. Attending university boosts earnings by around 50 per cent compared to finishing high school, translating to some $600,000 of additional earnings for the median woman and $800,000 for the median man.

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Australians have waited too long for Government pandemic support

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

ABC RADIO MELBOURNE MORNINGS WITH VIRGINIA TRIOLI

MONDAY, 9 AUGUST 2021

 

SUBJECTS: The Government’s JobKeeper failings

 

VIRGINIA TRIOLI, HOST: A quick update to a story that we covered off a few weeks ago now, and that was the payment of JobKeeper to a number of high-profile and less well-known companies that still enjoyed rising profits during that time, and so therefore, basically, were just able to put JobKeeper in the bank. It didn't just involve high-profile companies like Harvey Norman and Best & Less but many others as well. Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities has been really banging the drum on this, but it seems that his own party might be letting him down in this regard. Andrew Leigh, good morning to you.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Virginia. How are you?

TRIOLI: I'm well, thank you. Because an amendment's been introduced by the independent Senator Rex Patrick which would require all companies then to disclose, there'll be a transparency amendment so we'd know what they received, if they then went on to enjoy rising profits, but looks like looks like your party is backing down from supporting that amendment. Is that right?

LEIGH: Virginia, we're very strongly supportive of getting quick money out the door to businesses who are suffering lockdown, and also of providing more transparency around the JobKeeper scheme. A responsible party of government can't play games. The question is whether or not you would hold up this important measure that provides support to those in lockdown in order to make a political point around transparency. We're not willing to do that.

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The Government is playing games with JobKeeper transparency

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

ABC RADIO CANBERRA MORNINGS WITH ADAM SHIRLEY

MONDAY, 9 AUGUST 2021

 

SUBJECTS: The Government’s failings on JobKeeper

 

SHIRLEY, HOST: Andrew Leigh, Deputy Chair of the Standing Committee on Economics and Federal Member for Fenner, good morning to you and thank you very much for your time on ABC Radio Canberra.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Pleasure, Adam. Always great to be with you.

SHIRLEY: So this is a key question, depending on what happens in the Senate today: how disappointed in your Senate Labor colleagues would you be if they let big businesses be quiet about the JobKeeper money they've received and kept?

LEIGH: Adam, for a party of government this is an issue that comes up frequently. We want transparency, and we want to make sure this support goes straight out the door to help the businesses that need it. Unfortunately, it looks as though the Government isn't going to come to the party on transparency. The question for us is whether we then hold up this bill which provides support to New South Wales businesses. Our judgement is that it's important to provide that support, although it's late and inadequate, not only for those businesses that are in lockdown, but of course for Canberra, because Canberra is hurting too. If you talk to people in the tourism sector, newsagents, hospitality, this is a real hit on our economy as well. We need to make sure this support is provided.

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Vaccine incentives work, and Mr Morrison knows it

VACCINE INCENTIVES WORK, AND MR MORRISON KNOWS IT

The Canberra Times, 9 August 2021

 

Just 16 per cent of Australians are vaccinated against COVID-19 - the second-lowest rate in the OECD group of advanced countries. According to the Grattan Institute's modelling, Australia needs to vaccinate 80 per cent of the population (or 90 percent of adults, if children are unvaccinated) before life can return to normal. The Morrison government's modelling sets a slightly lower target, with Phase C of its plan (which lifts all restrictions on outbound travel) taking effect when 80 per cent of adults are vaccinated.

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Cash incentives work: that's why governments use them

ANDREW LEIGH
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES

FEDERAL MEMBER FOR FENNER

CASH INCENTIVES WORK: THAT’S WHY GOVERNMENTS USE THEM

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

FRIDAY, 6 AUGUST 2021

16 per cent of Australians are vaccinated, the second-lowest rate in the advanced world. The Grattan Institute estimates that we need to reach 80 per cent vaccination of the entire population, which is 90 per cent of adults, if we are to avoid overwhelming the hospital system. The government has a lower target; its phase C triggers when 80 per cent of adults are vaccinated. Until now, the problem has been supply—going back to that fateful decision the Morrison government made in July 2020 not to pay Pfizer a billion dollars for enough vaccine to vaccinate every Australian adult. But the government tells us that by 1 December there will be no problems with supply and that the challenge will then switch to getting the available vaccines into arms.

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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.