2CC DRIVE WITH LEON DELANEY
MONDAY, 20 NOVEMBER 2023
SUBJECTS: Merger reforms; Government’s cost-of-living measures; independence of Reserve Bank; Stage 3 tax cuts; multinational taxation.
LEON DELANEY: The Federal Government is considering some major changes to the rules around mergers and acquisitions. To tell us why, Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities, Employment, this, that and everything else, as well as our local Member for Fenner, Andrew Leigh. Good afternoon.
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES, COMPETITION AND TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: Good afternoon, Leon. Great to be with you.
DELANEY: Mergers and acquisitions. It sounds like something that, you know, the fellow on Wall Street, Gordon Gekko, might be excited about, but why is this important to ordinary everyday Australians?
LEIGH: Ultimately, Leon, mergers goes to cost‑of‑living. If you get big firms getting together, and they end up driving up prices, then that's bad for consumers. It can also be a risk to productivity if you've got mergers that aren't good for growth.
Obviously most mergers will pass the test, but over recent years, we've seen quite a few other jurisdictions – the US, UK, Canada and European Union – all review or amend their mergers rules. And an environment in which we've seen increasing market concentration and increasing mark‑ups, Jim Chalmers and I are concerned that we need to review our merger laws to make sure they're getting a good deal for Australian consumers, and the economy at large.Read more
Saturday, 18 November 2023
SUBJECTS: Cost-of-living; Labour force figures; Energy efficiency measures for ACT public housing.
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES, TREASURY AND EMPLOYMENT ANDREW LEIGH: Thank you for coming along to Ainslie Village today. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities, Treasury and Employment. I should say at the outset that we're holding this press conference in the afternoon rather than the morning, because I was running an ultramarathon this morning, part of the Stromlo Running Festival, which is a terrific running participation event here in the ACT, with hundreds of people participating in this great community festival.Read more
FROM ÉROS TO AGÁPE: 75 YEARS OF RELATIONSHIPS AUSTRALIA
75th Anniversary of Relationships Australia Dinner
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Tuesday, 14 November 2023
Thank you Nick [Tebbey] for the generous introduction. I acknowledge the Ngunnawal people and all First Nations people present tonight. I recognise former senator and High Commissioner George Brandis, and my parliamentary colleague Amanda Rishworth. I'm your appetizer. Amanda is main course. So her comments will be much deeper and more substantive than mine.
My thanks to Nick Tebbey and Lyn Littlefield for inviting me to speak today. It is exciting to be speaking at the 75th anniversary of Relationships Australia. I loved looking through the 75th anniversary brochure, which outlines how Relationships Australia emerged from the Melbourne Marriage Guidance Council, and notes that the council ‘was the first attempt at making a scientific approach to one of the world’s greatest problems – the problem of marital relationships’.
For those of us who are married, ‘the problem of marital relationships’ is a beautiful phrase that encapsulates the joy and the challenge of marriage. As an economist, I think of a good relationship as less like mining, and more like manufacturing. The idea of mining is that you simply find ‘the one’ and live happily ever after. But as The Whitlams put it, ‘She was one in a million. So there's five more just in New South Wales.’ Regarding relationships as manufacturing reminds us that relationships require ongoing work, as the two of you evolve together.
My parents, Barbara and Michael, who were married in 1967, talk about themselves as being two quite different people today than they were when they when they first got married 56 years ago. They’ve told me about the joy and the challenges of developing their relationship, as the two of them have grown.
One of the most poignant stories of marriage is that of Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court. Her husband, John Jay O'Connor, was also a prominent jurist, and suffered from Alzheimer's disease, which played a part in Sandra Day O’Connor’s decision to retire from the Supreme Court. In his later years, John Jay O’Connor lived in an Alzheimer’s care facility in Phoenix. It came to a point where John Jay O'Connor entirely forgot who Sandra Day O'Connor was. He decided that instead, there was a woman in the home who he was had fallen in love with. In his final days, he would want only to hold the hands of the hand of his new love. Rather than disavowing him, Sandra Day O'Connor would sit there with him, holding his other hand. That for me reflects some of the majesty and the beauty that a lifelong relationship can encompass.
What I love about Relationships Australia is that you have evolved from your origins as marriage guidance counsellors to encapsulate a broader view of relationships. Just as Australia has become more diverse in our acceptance of same sex marriage and in understanding of the diversity of families. As a nation, we now recognise that marriage is just one way of forming connections. There are many Australians who maintain happy relationships outside of marriage.
Second Reading Speech
House of Representatives, 14 November 2023
Short-sighted employers would like to have highly-paid customers and low-paid workers. Wise employers recognise that their employees and their customers are ultimately the same pool of people and that paying workers well sustains strong demand within the economy.
Labor is strongly committed to ending the flatlining of wages that we saw under those nine long coalition years, a period in which productivity growth was appalling, in which wage growth was sluggish and in which household income growth languished. Under the period of the coalition government, Australians had a government for whom keeping wages low was a 'deliberate design feature' of their 'economic architecture'. These were the words of the former finance minister.
When we came to office, we set about changing that. Over our first year in office, our government saw more jobs created in the Australian economy than were created in any first year of a new government. In fact, more were created in our first year than were created in the first term of any former government. We have unemployment sitting below four per cent—full employment by anyone's definition. Since the monthly unemployment series began in 1978, there have been only 19 months in which unemployment has been below four per cent. Sixteen of those 19 months have been under this government. Of the half-a-million jobs created since we came to office, some 85 per cent have been full time. The gender pay gap has fallen to its lowest level ever. The number of days lost to industrial action has fallen sharply.
We understand that there are many employers in Australia who are keen to ensure that we don't have a race to the bottom in standards. Australia's comparative advantage in the world will not be that we have the lowest-paid workers in the world. If companies want to find the place where labour is the very cheapest, they're going to find other countries than Australia. What Australia's economy will do well is to ensure that we have workers who are well-trained and are able to use new technologies, such as generative artificial intelligence, in an environment in which firms are competing based on the best product and service that they're offering, not based on a race to the bottom.Read more
REVIEW OF GOING INFINITE: THE RISE AND FALL OF A NEW TYCOON
In 2021, Forbes magazine put cryptocurrency mogul Sam Bankman-Fried on its cover. He had just debuted on their rich list. Forbes estimated his net worth at US$22.5 billion, ranking him the 32nd richest person in the world. He was 29 years old.
Enter Michael Lewis. The Moneyball author first met Bankman-Fried when an investor friend asked him to do some due diligence on the entrepreneur. Intrigued, Lewis ended up writing a book about him. During the year that Lewis followed Bankman-Fried, his subject went from the world’s richest person under 30 to an arrest that led to seven criminal convictions for wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering.
The son of two Stanford professors, Bankman-Fried loved mathematics and puzzles. After graduating from MIT, he worked at Jane Street, a high-frequency trading firm that encouraged its traders to hone their thinking by betting with one another. The point was to see how fast you could juggle probabilities and how adept you were with uncertainty.
At Jane Street, Bankman-Fried’s most ambitious numbercrunching exercise involved the 2016 US Presidential election, for which he designed a model that accessed local voting data more quickly than the television networks, and computed the probability that Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump would win. In a narrow sense, it worked spectacularly well, informing Jane Street traders that Trump would win before anyone else caught on. Throughout the campaign, Trump’s success had been inversely correlated with the strength of the sharemarket, so Jane Street bet several billion dollars against the S&P 500.Read more
ABC AFTERNOON BRIEFING WITH GREG JENNETT
THURSDAY, 9 NOVEMBER 2023
SUBJECTS: ATO Corporate Tax Transparency Report; Multinational tax reform; Stage 3 tax cuts; Optus outage.
GREG JENNETT: Now, new data out today gives us a better idea which companies are paying corporate tax in this country and how much of it, for that matter. In total, the biggest firms liable to pay company tax are paying more of it, but that doesn't mean they all pay it. Assistant Minister for Competition and Treasury Andrew Leigh joins us in the studio. Welcome back, Andrew.
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES, COMPETITION AND TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: Thanks Greg.
JENNETT: I think in foreshadowing this corporate tax transparency report today, you observed ‘when multinationals pay less, Australians pay more’. How so? Which taxes have Australians borne more of because of an underpayment by multinationals?Read more
2GB MONEYNEWS WITH SCOTT HAYWOOD
THURSDAY, 9 NOVEMBER 2023
SUBJECTS: Taxation; Inflation; Triathlons.
SCOTT HAYWOOD: Andrew Leigh is the Assistant Minister for Competition Charities and Treasury and has been driving the charge to make the tax system more fair. And he joins us for a chat on this Thursday night to discuss these issues. Andrew, great to chat to you again here on Money News.
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES, COMPETITION AND TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: Thanks, Scott. Great to be back with you and the MoneyNews team.
HAYWOOD: Andrew, there's quite a lot to digest in the numbers today. Firstly, does this transparency about the state of corporation tax help to hold companies to account?
LEIGH: Certainly does, Scott. Providing a bit of sunlight is never a bad thing. These corporate tax reporting rules came in place as a result of a decision by the Gillard Government, opposed by the Coalition, to require large firms to have published the amount of tax that they pay. I think it's appropriate that those firms report back to Australians as to the contribution they've made, given that they're beneficiaries of the infrastructure - legal and physical - that we have in this country. We're also working to tighten the rules around multinational tax avoidance, providing more resources to the tax avoidance task force, tightening up rules around debt deductions. And then next year we'll be moving to implement the 15 per cent floor under corporate tax worldwide, which will again make it harder for multinationals to avoid paying their fair share.Read more
THURSDAY, 9 NOVEMBER 2023
SUBJECTS: ATO Corporate Tax Transparency Report; Multinational tax measures; Banning of unfair contract terms; Optus outage; High Court decision.
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES, COMPETITION AND TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: Today we have the announcement of corporate tax transparency data covering 2713 large Australian businesses. This is an important announcement, which reflects the Albanese Government's strong commitment to greater transparency in multinational tax. When multinationals pay less, Australians pay more. It's vital that Australians know how much tax our largest firms are paying. These laws were put in place by the Gillard Government despite opposition from the Coalition. The Coalition believe that this information could be kept secret. Labor believes this information should be in the public domain. Labor is committed to closing multinational tax loopholes and opening transparency. That commitment continues under the Albanese Government. We've moved to ensure that tenderers with large government contracts have to disclose their country of tax domicile. Public companies need to disclose where their subsidiaries are located. We're also moving towards putting in place a country-by-country reporting system that will be world-leading in its transparency.
Sunlight is the best disinfectant. The more information we have, the better we can be sure that large corporates are paying their fair share of tax. I want to acknowledge the hard work of the Australian Taxation Office Tax Avoidance Task Force and the work that they've done in engaging with large multinationals to make sure they pay their fair share. In recent times, we've seen agreements being struck with Rio and BHP that have seen the shutting down of offshore market hubs. Not only settling back taxes, but also ensuring that the Singapore marketing hub was no longer used in order to minimise taxes paid by those large corporates.
Labor currently has laws in front of the parliament that would close another loophole around the misuse of debt deductions. This involves companies setting up a subsidiary in a low tax jurisdiction, having that subsidiary make a loan to the Australian company. The interest on that loan is then deducted, allowing them to reduce their tax paid. Now, that's not an arrangement that's available to typical Australian small business looking to export into the region. And that means if we don't close it down then Aussie small businesses are competing with one hand tied behind their backs. The reforms we are putting in place around debt deductions aren't just about increasing revenue. They're also about fairness and ensuring fair competition. Firms should be competing based on who can offer the best products, the best service, the best offering to the Australian people and not exploiting the latest tax loophole.
One other announcement we have got today. With Minister Julie Collins, we welcome the fact that from today, laws outlawing unfair contract terms come into effect. Right now, firms can include unfair contract terms in their contracts. They're not enforceable, but it's not illegal to put those dodgy terms in. That means that small businesses are often faced with a contract on a ‘like it or lump it’ basis. That includes unfair contract terms that a small business may not be willing to litigate against the large firm. And so they comply with an unfair contract term. Those unfair contract terms might include a unilateral ability to change prices, or allow the larger firm to cancel the contract on a whim. That will no longer be possible under laws that take effect from today. This is about protecting consumers and small businesses and providing small businesses a level playing field with which to engage in a modern economy.
The Hon Stephen Jones MP
Assistant Treasurer And Minister For Financial Services
The Hon Andrew Leigh MP
Assistant Minister For Competition, Charities And Treasury
Assistant Minister For Employment
Joint Media Release
Holding Large Corporates To Account On Tax
The Albanese Government is committed to holding large corporates to account by enhancing transparency to ensure that they are paying the right amount of tax.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has today published its annual Corporate Tax Transparency report, disclosing the tax performance of 2,713 corporates entities, revealing they paid $83.8 billion in income tax in 2021-22.
Australians expect all taxpayers, from large multinationals to individuals, to pay the right amount of tax. The ATO’s report provides insights about the corporate tax system and the tax performance of multinationals and large public and private businesses. The report provides transparency about the tax paid by large companies and keeps them accountable to the community and stakeholders.
The Albanese Government boosted funding for the ATO’s Tax Avoidance Taskforce in the October 2022-23 Budget by around $200 million a year over 4 years from 1 July 2022 and extended it by a further year from 1 July 2025.
This investment has bolstered ATO crack downs on tax dodging by multinational enterprises, large Australian public and private groups, and wealthy individuals operating in Australia.Read more
6PR MORNINGS WITH GARY ADSHEAD
WEDNESDAY 8 NOVEMBER 2023
SUBJECTS: Interest rates; Cost of living measures; Unemployment; Trade with China; Encouraging volunteering.
GARY ADSHEAD (HOST): Dr Andrew Leigh is the Federal Assistant Minister for the Treasury, and he joins me on the line. Thanks very much for your time, Andrew.
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES, COMPETITION AND TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: My pleasure, Gary. Great to be with you and your listeners.
ADSHEAD: I mean obviously the RBA's decision yesterday on Melbourne Cup Day of all days is not helping you or your Government's argument around trying to keep a lid on cost-of-living expenses for people, is it?Read more