When someone told me a few weeks ago James Hardie didn’t pay one dollar of company tax in Australia last year, I got pretty annoyed.
When I found out that James Hardie made annual Australian profits of more than $200 million, and its CEO pockets $12 million every year, I was gobsmacked.
But when I saw it reported that James Hardie is minimising the tax it pays in Australia through a complex set of tax havens in countries such as Bermuda, which give them an average effective tax rate of zero, I was livid.
How is this acceptable legally or morally? How is this fair? Why do Australians who go to work every day stump up their fair share of tax while multinationals can find loopholes to minimise theirs?
While James Hardie is an extreme example, there’s no doubt there are a number of large companies that dodge paying their fair share of tax.
Why should Australians work hard and pay tax if big multinationals get to play by different rules?
Why should local businesses face paying more tax than big multinationals because Australian businesses can’t afford high-priced lawyers or an office in the Bahamas?
Australians are rightly becoming increasingly concerned that some large companies are shirking their obligations by putting in place complex schemes to dodge paying their fair share of tax.
We need a level playing field so the heavy lifting isn’t done by Australian businesses and families.
Consider this: in 2012-13 companies moved more than $300 billion between their Australian arms and overseas parent or subsidiary companies.
The bottom line is our tax system should not get softer the higher it goes and how much tax you pay shouldn’t be decided by how good a lawyer you have.
This week, I announced Labor’s plan to help shut down loopholes that allow big multinationals to send their profits into overseas tax havens to avoid paying tax in Australia.
Our plan is designed to ensure a fairer deal by ensuring the competitiveness of Australian businesses is not undermined by an unfair tax system.
The plan includes measures that will stop big multinationals from double-dipping on tax exemptions and deductions across different countries.
We also want to strengthen the powers of the Australian Taxation Office so there’s a more effective cop on the beat.
Labor is passionately pro-business, but multinational companies have to make their fair contribution, just like the rest of us.
Our plan will shift the tax burden away from Australian families and small business because for every dollar missed from these multinationals means another dollar families and small business have to pay.
Our plan will mean multinational companies will end paying about $2 billion extra tax in Australia more than twice as much as the Liberals’ GP Tax is due to raise.
If Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott want to legislate these ideas I’m keen to make that happen. But already the Liberals are looking for every excuse in the book not to tackle this problem.
It’s time for Mr Abbott and Mr Hockey to start doing some lifting instead of leaning.
This opinion piece was published in the Daily Telegraph on Thursday, 5 March 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT – 02 6277 4053
Federal Labor has today welcomed the Prime Minister finally backing down on his decision to cut the pay of Australian Defence Force personnel.
Labor holds Australia’s Defence Force personnel and their families in the highest regard, and we have consistently called for the Government to back down its ADF pay-cut from the instant it was announced.
Today’s decision, however, has only been taken to shore up the Prime Minister’s leadership. Indeed as recently as December last year the Prime Minister said he was “determined to stick with the 1.5 per cent pay arrangements.” (Press Conference – 1 December 2014)
This is a fight that our ADF personnel should not have needed to have. Our ADF should not have to fight its own government for decent pay and conditions.
Make no mistake, the Prime Minister’s disgraceful decision to cut the pay of ADF personnel should never have been made in the first place. It showed disrespect towards our servicemen and women and their families and didn’t properly recognise the unique nature of military service. Our armed forces and their loved ones have enough to worry about without the additional pressure of a Government which committed to cutting their pay.
Labor, the RSL, Defence Force Welfare Organisation, and other Ex-Service Organisations have all pressured the Prime Minister over his unfair ADF pay deal.
Labor will continue to stand up for the pay and conditions of Australia’s Defence Force personnel and will continue to call on the Government to ensure that the level of pay offered does not result in a real pay cut for our servicemen and women.
WEDNESDAY, 4 MARCH 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053
Labor supports the Government’s announcement that Australia is preparing to take part in the international Building Partner Capacity mission to combat Daesh in Iraq with partners including the United States, Germany, and Spain.
From the beginning, Labor’s consideration of Australian involvement in Iraq has been guided by four clear principles.
Those four principles are:
- Australian operations should be confined to Iraq.
- Australia’s involvement should continue only until the Iraqi government is in a position to take full responsibility for the security of their people and their nation.
- If the Iraqi Government and its forces engage in unacceptable conduct or adopt unacceptable policies – Australia should withdraw our support; and
- We do not support the deployment of Australian ground combat units to directly engage in fighting Daesh.
Based on the information provided to us by the Government and our security forces, Labor believes the Building Partner Capacity mission is consistent within those principles. But Labor expects the Government to clearly articulate an exit strategy. We note the Government has said this is not an open ended mission.
Australia and the international community have a responsibility to protect the people of Iraq from atrocities perpetrated by groups like Daesh.
We are reassured that our support is being given at the request of the Iraqi Government.
The decision to send Australian men and women into harm’s way should never be taken lightly, and Labor never will.
Any mission, in a region torn by violence, carries a deadly risk.
Our thoughts today are with our troops already in Iraq and the Middle East and their families – Australians admire the bravery that such actions demands and Labor congratulates our ADF personnel on the job they’re doing. We’re also thinking of the families who have loved ones serving as part of this mission.
The Opposition expects to be fully briefed prior to any decision by the Government to deploy Australian forces.
Labor calls on the Prime Minister to make a detailed statement to the Parliament about Australia’s involvement to allow all elected representatives the opportunity to reflect on this very serious matter.
TUESDAY, 3 MARCH 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053
DAN DORAN (PLIBERSEK) 0427 464 350
ADAM SIMS (CONROY) 0408 258 457
Labor will shut down loopholes which allow big multinational companies to send profits overseas, ensuring they pay their fair share of tax, just like everyone else has to.
Labor’s plan will bring at least $1.9 billion back to Australia in tax from big multinationals over the next four years, according to the Parliamentary Budget Office.
This package includes:
- Changes to the arrangements for how multinational companies claim tax deductions
- Greater compliance work by the ATO to track down and tackle corporate tax avoidance
- Cracking down on multinational companies using hybrid structures to reduce tax
- Improved transparency and data matching
It is not fair that Australians work hard and pay tax while big multinationals get to play by different rules.
It is not fair that Australian businesses are paying more tax in Australia than big multinationals.
Labor’s approach includes stronger rules to stop big multinationals from double-dipping on tax exemptions and deductions. It also puts new limits on the amount of debt that companies can claim tax deductions against.
Labor will also boost resources for the Australian Taxation Office to ensure it has enough staff to track down and tackle corporate tax avoidance by multinational companies.
Our tax system shouldn’t get softer the higher it goes. How much tax you pay shouldn’t be decided by how good a lawyer you have.
Labor’s approach has been developed in consultation with multinational tax practitioners, academics, industry and costed by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office.
This approach also draws on the OECD’s global action plans for countering base erosion and profit shifting.
For instance, last year one of the largest companies in the world paid $80 million in Australian tax, on local revenue of just over $6 billion. The local retailer Harvey Norman paid more tax – $89 million – on a quarter of the revenue.
In the last Budget the Liberals handed back more than $1 billion to big multinationals, but cut the pension.
They re-opened the door for big multinationals to avoid paying tax in Australia but put a tax on seeing the doctor.
Under the Liberals big multinationals pay less, while young Australians pay more for a university degree.
That’s not fair, and it shows just how arrogant and out of touch the Liberals are with the cost of living pressures on Australians.
This will not be easy – it is a complex and difficult task. But we need to act decisively to make sure big multinationals start paying their fair share of tax now.
To assist with the implementation and refinement of these measures, Labor will form a Multinational Tax Expert Panel. Labor will use the Expert Panel to ensure that these changes work as intended.
The Shadow Assistant Treasurer will continue to consult on this approach to ensure big multinationals pay their fair share of tax in Australia now, and in the future.
In addition, Labor will continue to consider multinational tax issues such as increased penalties and powers for dealing with tax avoidance and country-by-country reporting.
We will also pursue transparency measures such as those outlined in the Private Member’s Bill currently before the House of Representatives, Tax Laws Amendment (Tax Transparency) Bill 2014.
Labor will work with our international partners in bilateral tax treaties to consider ways to avoid “double no-tax” scenarios.
MONDAY, 02 MARCH 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053
The fiscal impact of these measures over three years (assuming a 1 July 2015 start date) is a revenue gain of $1.9 billion.
|3rd Party Data Matching – early start||-||60||20||10||90|
|Increased ATO Compliance||-||-32||9||90||67|
|Bifurcation and Hybrid Mismatch||-||-||50||50||100|
|Worldwide Gearing Ratio||-||600||500||550||1,650|
IMPROVED SAFEGUARDS AND OVERSIGHT RECOMMENDED BY PARLIAMENTARY JOINT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY
Labor welcomes the release of the report of Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security’s Inquiry into the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2014.
Labor has taken a bipartisan approach to ensuring Australia’s national security and fighting terrorism. While it is critical security agencies have the powers they need, we must strike the right balance between enhancing our security and protecting the rights and liberties of Australians.
Labor wrote to the Prime Minister earlier this month outlining a number of concerns with the initial legislation. Labor members of the Committee have worked hard to achieve significant improvements to the Bill, including a substantial strengthening of privacy protections, safeguards and oversight of the regime.
We have ensured for the first time ever the Parliament’s Intelligence Committee will have operational oversight over security agencies, a first step towards the reforms recommended by John Faulkner.
The Committee also recommends oversight of any access to telecommunications data by the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security and the Ombudsman.
Labor believes that freedom of the press is fundamental to our democracy. No agreement was reached on the issue of access to journalists’ telecommunications data and specifically protecting journalists’ sources.
Labor believes in principle that access to journalists’ telecommunications data for the purposes of identifying sources should require authorisation via a warrant. This will be further considered in a separate inquiry to report to the Parliament no later than May this year. Labor members of the Intelligence Committee are ready to commence this review immediately.
The Committee has made 37 recommendations including:
- Listing the dataset in the Bill itself, so we know what data is being retained.
- Limiting access to telecommunications data to only those enforcement agencies specifically listed in the Bill.
- Oversight of the operational use of this legislation by Parliament’s Intelligence Committee, the first time the Committee has been given this power.
- Authorising ASIC and the ACCC to access telecommunications data to assist in the investigation and prosecution of white collar crime.
- Requiring telecommunications companies to provide customers access to their own telecommunications data upon request.
- Requiring stored data to be encrypted to protect the security and the integrity of personal information.
- Prohibiting access to telecommunications data for the purposes of civil proceedings, for example preventing its use in copyright enforcement.
- Requiring a mandatory data breach notification scheme, to ensure telecommunications companies notify consumers if the security of their telecommunications data is breached.
- Increasing the resources of the Ombudsman to strengthen oversight of the mandatory data retention scheme.
- A mandatory review of the data retention scheme by no later than four years from the commencement of the Bill.
Labor looks forward to the Government’s response to the Committee’s report. Labor will make our final position known when the Government provides its amended legislation to ensure all the recommendations of the PJCIS have been fully accepted.
The letter the Opposition Leader sent to the Prime Minister outlining Labor’s concerns earlier this month is attached.
FRIDAY, 27 FEBRUARY 2015
NATIONAL SECURITY STATEMENT
MONDAY, 23 FEBRUARY 2015
***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***
Labor believes keeping our country secure and our people safe is above politics, it is a solemn responsibility of our Parliament.
That is why Labor has consistently taken a bipartisan approach to these matters.
We believe this is a partnership in the interests of the nation.
Historically Labor has always demonstrated our preparedness to do what is right and necessary both in government and opposition.
We believe that when it comes to fighting terrorism, we are in this together.
The report into the tragic events at Martin Place remind us that our national security system must be constantly evolving – as well as constantly vigilant – so that we are prepared for the changing threats to our security presented by terrorism.
And we must acknowledge where flaws have occurred – sometimes with tragic consequences, lessons must be learned.
The current contest between Australia and terror is unlike any we have witnessed in our history.
Lone wolf, low grade attacks, combined with the sophisticated use of social media and asymmetrical violence, require new thinking.
And the source of these new threats is Daesh and other like groups in Syria and Northern Iraq.
The rise of Daesh in the Middle East and the methods it uses to spread its malevolent message across the globe, demand new efforts and new urgency.
Daesh are totalitarian zealots beyond redemption.
Its followers worship no god but death – they believe violence is an end in itself.
In the Middle East, the brave, skilled professionals of our Australian Defence Forces are making a vital and important contribution to protecting vulnerable people, threatened by Daesh
This is not a nation versus nation conflict – it is transnational threat – spawning fanatics who believe in violence for the sake of violence.
We cannot drain the swamp of terrorism by military means alone.
We must take a broader international approach – developing a political, economic and social solution to counter Daesh.
This means supporting the internal mobilisation of the Iraqi people, promoting a civil society as well as damaging Daesh’s ability to access funds and resources.
Once again, we thank our courageous men and women in uniform, we offer them Australia’s united support and we stand by their families at home.
We are proud of them – just as we are grateful for the skill and strength of our domestic security and policing agencies.
These are the people who keep us and the people we love safe here at home.
The same brand of hatred and extremism that we are fighting in the Middle East, threatens us here in Australia.
The measures that Prime Minister Abbott has proposed deserve full and careful consideration – and Labor will engage constructively with them.
We recognise that what is required is not propaganda – but facts.
Not hysteria, but sensible discussion of practical changes.
Given Australia’s character, history and love of freedom – there should always be a strong presumption in favour of the liberty of individual citizens.
Labor believes this presumption should only be reduced, rebutted or offset to the extent that current arrangements are proved to be inadequate.
Any proposed changes must be shown to be effective for the nation as a whole.
And any alternative solution must deliver a superior good in terms of safety of the community.
In the past year, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security has done outstanding work: considering draft legislation, canvassing the views of experts and the community, and proposing important amendments to improve the final laws.
Good people, from both sides of the Parliament, have worked together to strike the right balance between enhancing our security and protecting the rights and liberties we respect and have fought so hard to defend.
Better protecting the freedom of the press is just one example of the improvements that have been made through careful and reasonable discussion and compromise.
And Labor believes that our Parliament and its committee process remains the best way of examining new measures in detail.
We will work cooperatively with the government, as always, through this process.
I welcome the greater emphasis on the coordination of information at the government level.
And I believe there is still more we can do to craft a more innovative and effective counterterrorism response: eliminating bureaucratic impediments so that information that should be shared among agencies is available to the right people at the right time.
Labor believes in a seamless, integrated national security system.
A system that guarantees the best tactical response for any situation is available, and employed, without qualification or delay.
The pathology of Monis reveals no single failure, but rather a chain of missed opportunities and overlooked warning signs:
Monis was a man with:
A history of family violence and sexual assault – a willingness to harm those closest to him. And a man willing to hurt his own family, should always be regarded as a serious risk in all circumstances.
A history of political extremism, adapting and absorbing the propaganda of violent movements. Sending, for instance, hateful letters to the families of Australian service people who had lost their lives in Afghanistan.
And he had a history of fraud and deception at every turn.
He was known to authorities, but he was underestimated.
And as his crimes caught up with him, as his lies unravelled, as the walls of justice closed in – he went to Martin Place.
For those trapped inside the Lindt Café, for the families and loved ones of Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson – Monis’ last act of violence came at a devastating cost.
We can never allow this to happen again.
It is our responsibility to look closely at everything we can do to defeat terrorism.
Forging better agency understanding and cooperation is part of this.
And it will help to address what the Martin Place siege report has called an ‘ad-hoc’ approach where susceptible individuals can be overlooked.
So too is a new priority on harmonising our international and domestic efforts, particularly in regards to maintaining security and deepening understanding in our region.
And we must also increase our focus on the time-honoured preventative strategy of countering violent extremism through community engagement.
We know that the tiny minority of Australians drawn to violent extremism, do not represent the Islamic faith, nor Australia’s great, generous and diverse Muslim community.
As the former Director General of ASIO, David Irvine said last year:
“the strongest defence against violent extremism lies within the Australian Muslim community itself.”
This is wise counsel – it reflects the good work and goodwill of our Australian Muslim community who have been working with our police and security agencies to counter violent extremism.
Labor rejects the notion of irreconcilable differences between Islam and Christianity.
History shows, time and time again, the ability of people of goodwill, regardless of faith, to band together to defeat evil.
Yazidis, Copts, Assyrians, Alawites, Druze have all suffered at the hands of Daesh.
Women of all faiths have been driven into the degradation of sexual slavery.
But the overwhelming majority of the thousands and thousands of victims of Daesh’s violence have been Muslims.
Sunni Arabs, Sunni Kurds and in particular Shiite communities around the world have borne the brunt of their attacks.
Defeating Daesh is unquestionably the common interest of all people of every faith – and we must make it our shared mission.
The Martin Place siege report makes it clear that we cannot wait for “at-risk individuals [to] develop into high level threats”.
We must aim for a deeper level of prevention, pulling out the roots of extremism and stopping its growth.
As the report suggests, communities, families and friends are the ones most likely to:
“recognise the changes in someone that may be radicalising and most likely to be able to reach out and divert them from this path”
We must reach out, we must reinforce our community policing and throw open the doors to positive, meaningful and rewarding opportunities for our young people.
Let me say this, however, in no uncertain terms.
There is no justification, there is no excuse, for consciously and deliberately choosing to inflict harm on the innocent.
Those who seek to cross the very clear boundary of right and wrong should feel the full force of the law.
And people who would threaten our national security, should never be able to take advantage of our social security.
These are indeed challenging times, but all of us should take heart from the fact that the very qualities which have made modern Australia the confident, optimistic and welcoming country we love – remain our best defence against extremism.
Hope will always be stronger than fear.
Inclusion will always trump intolerance.
Understanding will always defeat prejudice.
Terrorists get what they want when we fracture, when we divide, when we surrender our way of life.
Today our message to those who would seek to do us harm is simple.
Australia is – and always will be – stronger, more generous and braver than you.
Terrorists may seek to spread division, discord and suspicion –we will always choose unity and optimism.
Terrorists may trade in fear and hatred – we will always choose courage and compassion.
Terrorists care nothing for the future – we choose a safer, stronger and happier Australia in the years ahead.
Let that choice be our Parliament’s shared goal, our common cause and our first duty.
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053
On behalf of the Federal Labor Party, we would like to send our best wishes to all Australians celebrating Lunar New Year, as we welcome the Year of the Goat.
The Year of the Goat is traditionally associated with hope, peace, and tranquillity – and we hope you and your loved ones enjoy these qualities in abundance.
Lunar New Year is a significant celebration for Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean Australians, and also a time for us all to rejoice in the rich success of the multicultural society we have built together.
Labor has always acknowledged the outstanding contribution the multicultural community has made to Australia.
For more than 150 years, Australia has played host to celebrations of the Lunar New Year. Now, more than ever, we embrace it as a milestone in our national calendar.
All Australians enjoy the Lunar New Year, we are all enriched by the sights, smells and sounds of your culture’s festivities.
I wish you well for a new start in a new year, with all the excitement and opportunity it brings.
Our country is a bigger, better, brighter, smarter and happier place for your presence.
May the Year of the Goat bring you peace, prosperity and good health.
WEDNESDAY, 18 FEBRUARY 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053
It is with great sadness that we pay tribute to the remarkable life of Faith Bandler.
Faith Bandler will be remembered for her lifelong dedication and courage in championing the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
A remarkable woman of South Sea Islander heritage, Faith began her life in the small rural town of Tumbulgum, NSW.
Following her service in the Australian Women’s Land Army during World War II, Faith led a campaign for equal pay for Indigenous workers.
She went on to become a respected writer and fearless civil rights activist.
Faith was instrumental in the establishment of the Aboriginal Australian Fellowship in 1956 and subsequently became the General-Secretary of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
A passionate advocate for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Faith was a driving force in the 1967 referendum.
Her legacy lives on in our journey toward the constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Faith was awarded an Order of Australia and was named a National Living Treasure in honour of her lifelong commitment to Indigenous equality.
The Federal Australian Labor Party offers Faith Bandler’s loved ones our deepest condolences on her passing.
SATURDAY, 14 FEBRUARY 2015
MEDIA CONTACTS: LEADER’S OFFICE 02 6277 4053
MADONNA OLIVER 0416 199 808 (NEUMANN)
Today marks the 7th anniversary of the National Apology to Indigenous Australians, in particular the Stolen Generations.
On this day seven years ago, Australians stood together to acknowledge the terrible injustices caused by past government practices.
In one voice, our nation said sorry for the pain and suffering experienced by so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Seven years later, Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians still draw inspiration from the Apology.
None who were there that day will ever forget the moment.
We will never forget the powerful uplifting sense of national healing – of a nation shining a light on the dark shadow in its history.
Today we pause to reflect on the enduring significance of the National Apology.
We pay tribute to Kevin Rudd for his vision and leadership in bringing our nation together in this way.
And we thank those brave people who shared their story in the spirit of reconciliation.
The Apology was never just about righting the wrongs of the past – it was a declaration of intent.
The Apology was the sign and signal of our nation’s determination to Close the Gap and deliver longer, better and happier lives for the first Australians.
That mission endures, and we rededicate ourselves to it – today and every day.
FRIDAY, 13 FEBRUARY 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADERS OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053
MADONNA OLIVER 0416 199 808
Labor expresses our grave concern that Malaysian Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim has lost his final appeal against a conviction on the charge of sodomy.
It is understood Mr Ibrahim was sentenced to five years jail, which Labor believes is particularly harsh.
Malaysia is a good friend of Australia. On that basis we respectfully request that consideration be given to the human rights implications of cases like Mr Ibrahim’s.
TUESDAY, 10 FEBRUARY 2015
MEDIA CONTACTS: LEADER’S OFFICE 02 6277 4053
DAN DORAN 0427 464 350 (PLIBERSEK)