Matter of Public Importance Debate - House of Representatives - Cost of living, 9 November 2022

Cost of Living
Matter of Public Importance
House of Representatives
9 November 2022

It is certainly true that in Australia we have a strong egalitarian ethos. Ours is a country where many people would prefer to sit in the front seat of a taxi, where we prefer to use the word 'mate' rather than 'sir', where we don't have private areas on the beaches and where most people don't stand up when the Prime Minister enters the room. Yet, over recent generations, we've seen a steady rise in inequality. As Thomas Piketty outlined in his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, we've seen, across the advanced world, an increase in the share of the top one per cent of income earners. We've seen an increase in the share of the top 0.1 per cent of income earners, tripling since the early 1980s. We have seen CEO pay increase far faster than an average worker's pay. Work by Tomas Kennedy and Peter Siminski asks the pertinent question: for Australians born in successive generations, what's the chance that they earned more than their parents? For Australians born in the 1950s, 84 per cent earned more than their parents. For Australians born in the 1980s just 68 per cent earned more than their parents.

We've seen a fanning out of real wages since 1975. Since 1975, wages at the 10th percentile have grown in real terms by 33 per cent. Wages at the median have grown by 55 per cent. But wages at the 90th percentile have grown by 81 per cent. That is, earnings are growing nearly three times as fast for the highest paid as for the lowest paid. Work done by Treasury, which I highlighted in my recent Gruen lecture, shows that market concentration has risen. The biggest firms have a larger slice of the pie than they did in decades past. Mark-ups have increased -- the gap between what firms charge and their costs has grown. Under the former governments we saw the JobKeeper scheme funnel some $20 billion of taxpayer money to firms with rising revenues, some of which used that taxpayer money to pay executive bonuses.

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Beneficial Ownership Register Consultation



Beneficial ownership register - consultation

The Albanese Government has opened consultation on the design features for the first phase of a publicly available beneficial ownership register. We announced we would implement the register as part of our commitment to ensuring multinationals pay their fair share of tax.

A beneficial owner is a person who ultimately owns or controls an entity, legal vehicle, or asset. Beneficial owners are not always the legal owners of the relevant entity, vehicle, or asset.

A public beneficial ownership register is intended to increase transparency of beneficial ownership in Australia and discourage the use of complex structures that avoid legal requirements and obscure tax liabilities. It seeks to support stronger regulatory and law enforcement responses to tax and financial crime, assist foreign investment applications, and facilitate the enforcement of sanctions.

In this consultation on the first phase of the reform, the Government would welcome views on a proposal to require specified unlisted entities regulated under the Corporations Act 2001 (Corporations Act) to maintain beneficial ownership registers. It also seeks comments on proposed amendments to the substantial holding notice and tracing notice regimes in the Corporations Act.

In future phases, the Government intends to consult on approaches to disclosure of beneficial ownership held through other legal vehicles, such as trusts, and the centralisation of information in a single public registry.

Implementation of a beneficial ownership register would broadly align Australia with international approaches to transparency of beneficial ownership information. Currently, Australia is not ranked highly against international benchmarks for the collection and disclosure of beneficial ownership information, including those set out by the Financial Action Task Force.

Ensuring everyone pays their fair share of tax in Australia will help to fund vital services, repair the Budget, and level the playing field for Australian businesses.

We welcome contributions from the community. Submissions close on 16 December 2022.

To access the discussion papers or lodge a submission, visit the Treasury website.

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Parliament House Press Conference, Thursday 3 November 2022


TOPICS: Multinational tax, ATO corporate tax transparency report, $5 note, energy prices, renewables, industrial relations laws

ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES AND TREASURY DR ANDREW LEIGH: Thanks very much for coming along. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury. Well, today we had the release of the Australian Tax Office’s Corporate Transparency Report. This is a report that is brought into the public domain as a result of laws passed under the Gillard Government, to the cries and objections from the Liberals at the time. It shows for 2,468 corporations, their tax that they've paid, their total income and their taxable income. It's really important that all firms pay their fair share of tax. And the Corporate Transparency Report is a Labor initiative that is delivering to Australians more information about tax paid. This is for the year 2020-2021. So it's not yesterday's information, but it is critical to corporate tax transparency.

Labor is strongly committed to making sure that all firms pay their fair share of tax. The recent budget, we funded the ATO's Tax Avoidance Task Force to the tune of $1.1 billion over the next four years to ensure that multinational firms don't get a leg up on their local competitors simply because they're exploiting unfair tax loopholes. We announced we'd be closing down a number of tax loopholes that have been exploited by multinationals. Multinationals will no longer be able to deduct as much debt as a result of our changes to the thin capitalisation regime. We've made changes to the ability of multinationals to use royalty payments inappropriately to minimise their tax bill. And we're expanding transparency for large corporations in Australia. For significant global entities - you can think of these as firms with revenue over a billion dollars - we're requiring country by country reporting detailed tax information, ensuring those firms are paying their fair share. For public companies, listed and unlisted, we'll require the number of their subsidiaries and the countries in which they're located. Again, a measure to ensure that we're not seeing taxes that should be paid in Australia, leaking away to low or no tax jurisdictions. Any firm that's tendering for a government tender worth more than $200,000 will have to disclose its country of tax domicile.

The Albanese government is strongly committed to a level playing field on tax, ensuring that firms are competing based on serving their customers well, being innovative and providing a good workplaces for their employees. The last thing we want is an economy in which firms are competing based on who's got the best tax loophole. That doesn't provide a stronger economy. That's not the foundation for the productivity growth that we know is vital. Very happy to take questions on the report or other economic issues.


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Economy needs its zip back - Op Ed - The Herald Sun

The Herald Sun, Wednesday 2 November 2022

A generation ago, rules in some states governed when bakers could bake their bread. Many families had to do their grocery shopping in a mad rush on Saturday morning before stores closed for the weekend. Energy markets were run by inefficient monopolies, and the electricity grid was much less joined up across states than it is now.

The result was less competition and higher prices.

That’s why thirty years ago this month, then Prime Minister Paul Keating asked Fred Hilmer to lead a reform process that became National Competition Policy.

As Keating put it, ‘We brought a new word to the Labor lexicon – competition… we were tired of paying twice as much as we should be paying for cars, for telephones, for clothing, for electricity. By cutting tariffs and by lifting domestic competition, we created a low price structure, thereby allowing people’s wages to go further.’

To think of a part of Australia where bakers could not bake at particular times is to imagine somewhere that feels deeply foreign. It’s like Doctor Who, but with baking regulations instead of aliens.

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Address to the Australian Government Solicitor Civil Regulation Conference - Speech

Address to the Australian Government Solicitor Civil Regulation Conference

Wednesday, 2 November 2022

I acknowledge the Gadigal people, the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we meet, and pay my respects to their Elders past and present.

Congratulations to the Australian Government Solicitor (AGS) for getting this conference back up and running after some challenging years for events.

The best part of being Assistant Minister is that I get the opportunity to meet some amazingly dedicated people and this group is no exception.

With everyone here today, I want to acknowledge the mountain of work you do acting on behalf of the regulators.

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Afternoon Agenda - Transcript, Sky News


TOPICS: Cost of living, Budget, energy prices, industrial relations laws, competition, banning unfair contract terms

KIERAN GILBERT (HOST): Let's bring in Andrew Leigh, he is the Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury. A huge day for many families, those with mortgages, likely a few hundred dollars a month for many.

DR ANDREW LEIGH, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES AND TREASURY: It's a big challenge, Kieran. And we know that the independent Reserve Bank is making its decisions to try and curb inflation, because if inflation gets out of control, that's an even worse hit to the economy and to people's living standards. But the government is aware of the cost of living pressures facing families, which is why in last week's budget, Jim Chalmers focused on the supply side measures. Cheaper childcare, expanding the housing supply, cheaper medicines, fee free TAFE places.

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Crime and Punishment: Can we have less of both? - Speech - Australian Institute of Criminology Conference

I begin by acknowledging the Ngunnawal people, the Traditional Custodians of the land we are meeting on. I acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the region, and I pay my respects to their Elders, past and present.

I would like to especially thank Aunty Jude Barlow for her warm Welcome to Country.

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Parliament House Doorstop Interview, Saturday 29 October 2022


SUBJECTS: Labor’s plans to make childcare, medicines and housing more affordable, Budget, cost of living, Labor’s plans to address power prices

ANDREW LEIGH, Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury: Good morning everyone, my name is Andrew Leigh, the Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury.

Labor knows that Australian families are doing it tough right now. This week we had the inflation figure come down at 7.3 percent for the year. Australians are feeling inflation in their regular balancing the household books. Labor knows inflation is a huge challenge and that was why tackling inflation was a central theme of the Budget that Jim Chalmers brought down this week. If you’re a family planning to have kids then our cheaper childcare reforms are taking the pressure of childcare costs for 1.26 million families, 96 percent of families with children in care. If you’re thinking about buying a home, then our Housing Australia Future Fund is aimed at producing some 40,000 social and affordable homes, putting downward pressure on house prices. If you’re looking at buying a car, we’re reducing the taxes on electric vehicles. If you’re looking at getting an education, then hundreds of thousands of fee-free TAFE places will take the pressure off. And if you’re sick, then our reforms to reduce the cost of medicines, are again, helping Australians with cost of living pressures. Labor recognises that cost of living is a huge issue for many Australian households.

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Second Reading Speech - Aboriginal Land Grant (Jervis Bay Territory) Amendment (Strengthening Land and Governance Provisions) Bill 2022 - House of Representatives, 26 October 2022

Second Reading Speech
House of Representatives
26 October 2022
Aboriginal Land Grant (Jervis Bay Territory) Amendment (Strengthening Land and Governance Provisions) Bill 2022

The Wreck Bay Aboriginal community in the Jervis Bay Territory has an unusual status. It is part of my electorate of Fenner, but residents do not vote in state or territory elections. This means the Commonwealth has a particular responsibility to residents of Wreck Bay.

The Jervis Bay Territory is a special place. In a dozen visits, I have appreciated the chance to learn from and work with members of the community.

I thank my colleague Linda Burney, the Minister for Indigenous Australians, for allowing me to introduce this bill today on behalf of the Australian government.

The Australian government has worked with the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council and the broader Wreck Bay community over a number of years to co-design the Aboriginal Land Grant (Jervis Bay Territory) Amendment (Strengthening Land and Governance Provisions) Bill 2022, with the most recent consultations on the detail of the bill in August this year. This bill will:

  • strengthen the council's governance structures;
  • enhance the control the council has over its own affairs; and
  • help to enable homeownership style leases on Aboriginal land in the Jervis Bay Territory.

The Wreck Bay community is located in the Jervis Bay Territory, on the southern New South Wales coast, 126 kilometres east of Canberra. The Jervis Bay Territory was formally established in 1915, on the land of the Bherwerre Peninsula, through the enactment of the Jervis Bay Territory Acceptance Act 1915. First Nations people had been living in the area since long before that time, and never agreed to the surrender of these lands. Middens on the Bherwerre Peninsula provide evidence of thousands of generations of First Nations occupation of this area.

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Summing Up Speech - Treasury Laws Amendment (More Competition, Better Prices) - House of Representatives, 26 October 2022

Summing Up Speech
House of Representatives

26 October 2022
Treasury Laws Amendment (More Competition, Better Prices) Bill 2022

My thanks to the members who have contributed to this debate. I acknowledge the work of both Small Business Minister Julie Collins and Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones on this bill. This bill delivers on an election commitment to protect Australian households and small businesses by banning unfair contract terms and increasing penalties for anticompetitive behaviour.

The Australian Labor Party has a long history of economic reform that builds a fairer and more resilient economy. Competition is an essential part of that for three key reasons. First, competition is about fairness. Without government action, monopolists can wield their power to rig the game in their favour rather than compete on even terms. Second, competition deals with cost-of-living pressures and makes our supply chains more resilient. Competition means businesses offer Australians the best prices they can. A diverse and dynamic economy, a resilient economy, helps to absorb, adapt and solve the challenges of an uncertain world. Third, competition is about jobs and skills. Competition helps to ensure that the most innovative, creative and savvy businesses are the ones that thrive. Those are the businesses that are best placed to offer jobs that are stable, secure and well paid. Competition also gives workers more options, empowering employees to negotiate pay and conditions that reflect their true value.

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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.