Labor’s new Cost of Living Caucus Committee has kicked off locally, with Opposition Leader and Member for Maribyrnong Bill Shorten visiting Braybrook and Maidstone Neighbourhood House to speak with residents and staff.
Mr Shorten said that as part of the Committee’s process, residents, community organisations and charities would be invited to attend forums and provide submissions on the growing cost of living.
“Braybrook residents are some of the worst affected by increases to the cost of living, and under the Abbott Government’s Budget it will be even harder for them to make ends meet,” Mr Shorten said.
“By introducing a GP tax, increasing prices for petrol and medicines and making cuts to pensions and family assistance, this Government is just creating a heavier burden for local families.”
Mr Shorten said the Committee has been established as part of Labor’s policy development program and would inform future policy outcomes.
“I know that many people in our community are genuinely fearful about what the future may hold. I say to them, Labor is listening and we want to hear from them about how they are being impacted.”
“This is an opportunity for Maribyrnong residents to help build Labor’s policy for our future.”
Mr Shorten invited members of the local community to make a submission, via www.alp.org.au/costofliving
There are two particularly extraordinary things happening in Parliament this week that give Australians a telling insight into the Abbott Government.
In the House of Representatives, the Abbott Government is trying to explain why it’s reopened loopholes to allow multinational companies to avoid paying tax.
In the Senate, the very same Government is trying to ram through legislation that will make every Australian pay a GP tax whenever they visit the doctor, or extra tax whenever they fill up their car.
It seems as though under Tony Abbott, taxes are only certain in life if you’re not a multinational company, with the ability to offshore profits.
There’s no doubt that sensible discussion of revenue needs to look at the integrity of Australia’s company tax base.
Companies are minimising costs through technological progress, innovation, outsourcing and automation – maximising their performance through sophisticated software and computer modelling.
And because successful businesses are always looking for a competitive edge, some multinational corporations are leading the way in tax avoidance too.
As we’ve seen in the pages of the Herald over the past few days, these efforts can substantially erode a nation’s company tax base. Further, it distorts the market, unfairly disadvantaging local businesses.
This is why, in Government, Labor announced reforms to close these loopholes and crack down on profit-shifting.
We introduced business tax integrity measures that would have clawed back more than $5.3 billion from these companies.
Time and time again, the Abbott Government has moved to water down these provisions.
After delivering the most unfair Budget in living memory, one that has targeted: pensioners, families, students, carers, veterans and the sick – the Government belatedly claimed it would legislate to close multinational tax loopholes.
But as Australians have learnt the hard way with the Abbott Government, the words mean nothing.
And when it comes to cracking down on companies avoiding tax, the Government’s actions don’t speak loudly at all.
That’s because every time Joe Hockey and the Coalition had the chance to work with Labor to close tax loopholes in the past few years, they voted against it.
They voted against Labor’s Countering Tax Avoidance and Multinational Profit Shifting Bill 2013, which plugged loopholes in Australia’s transfer pricing rules and anti-avoidance provisions.
They attempted to block Labor’s Cross-Border Transfer Pricing Bill 2012, which cracked down on companies overvaluing assets in international transactions.
Now they’re in government, they’ve walked away from Labor measures which would have delivered $1.1 billion to the budget bottom line.
Worse still, for all the huffing and puffing at the G20 from Joe Hockey about the need to crack down on tax avoidance, he’s signed Australia up to a timetable that puts us behind over 40 countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy.
This means Australia won’t sign up to the automatic exchange of financial information across borders until 40 other nations are already doing it, leaving Australia lagging behind.
Australia cannot sit at the G20 table and make the case for co-operative international action on this important question if our national Government is winding back legislation and re-opening loopholes for profit-shifting.
This protection racket for corporate tax avoidance comes at a cost to our budget bottom line – and it comes at a cost to Australian business.
While technological developments will mean that the physical location of some businesses matters less and less with each passing year, the principle of paying tax on incomes earned in a jurisdiction must remain.
This is true for the local newsagent, the local tradie and the local pharmacist.
Bricks and mortar businesses earning an income in our cities and regional towns, and paying their taxes. And our computer games developers, iPhone app developers and software designers that are working domestically and marketing globally.
Small business people taking risks for their family and our economy – creating jobs, driving growth and giving back to our community.
They don’t have the luxury of avoiding tax through complicated international loans or structures.
This is just as true for many larger businesses, which operate exclusively in Australia.
These companies employ thousands of Australians – and they pay the tax they should pay in Australia.
It is not right that Australian businesses, big and small, shoulder an unfair share of the taxation burden while highly profitable companies who benefit from our skilled workforce, our stable investment environment and our growing economy make only a minimal contribution.
It’s not right that the government will look to hit families and workers with new GP and petrol taxes, and cut pensions, before it looks to make multinational companies pay their fair share of tax.
The government has the opportunity to actually do something meaningful here and ensure that companies pay their fair share of tax before hiking up taxes on everyone else.
This piece was published by the Sydney Morning Herald on September 30, 2014.
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT – 02 6277 4053
Labor welcomes today’s announcement of Mr Andrew Colvin as Australian Federal Police Commissioner.
Mr Colvin will replace Tony Negus, who served a five year term as AFP Commissioner from September 2009.
Labor thanks Mr Negus for his distinguished record as AFP Commissioner. He has given a lifetime of service to the Australian community. His advice to the former Labor Government was greatly valued.
Mr Colvin has previously served as Deputy Commissioner for National Security.
He has been instrumental over recent weeks as acting AFP Commissioner, overseeing some of the largest counter-terrorism operations in Australian history, as the Public Terror Threat Level was raised to High.
Mr Colvin is a counter-terrorism expert, who founded the AFP counter-terrorism portfolio and has overseen domestic and international AFP terrorism investigations.
Labor congratulates Mr Colvin on his new position and looks forward to working with him.
WEDNESDAY, 1 OCTOBER 2014
MEDIA CONTACT: KATE HANNS 0423 974 363
ANNIE WILLIAMS 0428 040 522
Thousands of local residents have signed Labor’s petition to save Medicare, Opposition Leader and Member for Maribyrnong Bill Shorten said today.
“Local residents are standing up and saying ‘no’ to the Abbott Government’s $7 GP Tax and ‘no’ to the $5 price hike on prescriptions,” Mr Shorten said.
“The people of Maribyrnong know that Medicare belongs to them – and to every Australian – and they will not let Tony Abbott destroy it.”
Mr Shorten encouraged local residents who were still to sign the petition to do so by visiting www.savemedicare.org.au
“Our community will be hit hard by the Abbott Government’s GP tax, and harder still by the cuts to our hospital system. My Labor team and I will keep fighting the Abbott Government’s attacks and I urge local residents to keep fighting too.”
Bill Shorten and Michelle Rowland have written an open-letter to the Islamic community following concerning reports about Australia’s Islamic community being assaulted, vilified, and being wrongly stigmatised for the crimes of ISIL.
In such difficult times, Labor will continue to speak out against ill-informed and dangerous views and stand up for tolerance and multiculturalism. Read their letter here:
To whom it may concern,
We have been very distressed by recent reports about the Australian Islamic community being wrongly blamed for the crimes of ISIL, including assaults and other forms of vilification.
Labor stands shoulder to shoulder with Australia’s Islamic community and, now more than ever, we are committed to tolerance, social cohesion, mutual respect and multiculturalism.
Labor will continue to work with you to stop misinformation, bigotry and prejudice directed at the Australian Islamic community.
Regrettably, some in our community, including a very few elected representatives, have made comments which have the potential to damage community harmony and inflame tensions. Labor strongly opposes these ill-informed and dangerous views and we will continue to speak out against them.
We know that the twisted ideology of ISIL bears no relation to a faith of peace, love and tolerance which is followed by millions around the world – and we will continue to make this point.
ISIL has no right to use the name of Islam.
We will work with you to help stop ISIL spreading division, radicalising disaffected and vulnerable young people. We will not allow them to nurture intolerance and create a world where people fear the unknown and resent differences.
The Islamic story in Australia has a rich history and grows stronger each year. Australia’s Muslim community continues to do our nation a great service by fostering enduring cultural and religious harmony, and making a substantial contribution to our national prosperity.
This reflects modern Australian multiculturalism: a story of cultural enrichment, social cohesion and economic growth and it is a story that the Labor Party is committed to and will always defend.
We are keen to engage with you and your organisation, to listen to you about how we can further these goals together. Please contact Ms Rowland’s office on 02 6277 4833 orMichelle.Rowland.MP@aph.gov.au if you would like to make such arrangements. We look forward to hearing from you.
Finally, on the upcoming occasion of Eid Ul Adha, we wish you, your family and your community a heartfelt Eid Mubarak.
Leader of the Opposition
Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multiculturalism
It gives me great pleasure to send the Australian Jewish community my best regards for the New Year and wish you well over the Fast.
Rosh Hashanah is a time to pause and take stock of the year that has passed.
In the past year Jewish Australians joined with Australians from all walks of life to campaign against bigotry and intolerance, and affirm Australia’s commitment to social cohesion and mutual respect. Your voices were heard in the Parliament, and resonated powerfully at the highest levels of government.
The strong role played by Jewish Australians in this campaign is a continuation of your long and proud history of community leadership. The Australian Jewish community has made its mark in so many aspects of public life, from business, the arts and philanthropy through to the legal profession and politics. You have made a significant contribution to Australia, and I thank you for your generosity, dedication and leadership.
On behalf of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, thank you once again for your contribution, which has enriched us all.
Shanah Tovah Umetuka
TUESDAY, 25 SEPTEMBER 2014
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053
Opposition Leader and Member for Maribyrnong Bill Shorten today announced that Labor will sharpen its focus on achieving sustainable and liveable cities, a necessity exemplified by the Maribyrnong electorate, he said.
Mr Shorten announced the appointment of Anthony Albanese as Shadow Minister for Cities, as well as a new National Urban Policy Dialogue to contribute to the urban debate in Australia.
“It’s time that federal governments took a more proactive approach to urban policy,” he said.
“As the Member for Maribyrnong, I have seen how much we need an integrated approach to deliver efficient, sustainable and liveable communities.”
“We need long term planning for public transport and roads, for connections to education, employment and housing. We need to promote jobs growth, ensure sustainability of planning and support for social cohesion.”
“The experiences of this community are the experiences of communities across Australia. I intend to bring the lessons learnt locally to the table.”
Mr Shorten said that the Abbott Government had been content to leave the challenges of Australia’s urban future in the hands of state governments.
“This government has simply failed to tackle the big issues when it comes to cities,” he said.
“Since taking office, Mr Abbott has abolished the Major Cities Unit, slashed billions of dollars’ for urban public transport and failed to convene a single meeting of the Urban Policy Forum.”
The resounding theme of the United Nations Climate Summit in New York is the need for urgent, global action on climate change.
This reflects the overwhelming mood of the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who participated in hundreds of the People’s Climate March on the weekend.
Earlier today President Obama told the United Nations General Assembly that “we can only succeed in combating climate change if we are joined in this effort by every nation, developed and developing alike. Nobody gets a pass.”
It is time for Tony Abbott to wake up and listen to the rest of the world: climate change is happening and genuine action needs to happen.
As world leaders make ambitious and firm commitments to shift to clean energy, reduce deforestation, cut down carbon pollution and support adaptation initiatives in developing countries, Australia remains eerily quiet in these discussions.
The Abbott Government’s determination for Australia to be left behind on climate change action must end – it’s taking us backwards.
As country after country commits to take action, Australia is growing increasingly isolated in its inaction.
Whilst nearly every developed country is taking action to deal with climate change, Tony Abbott is reversing Australia’s action.
This has included undermining the Renewable Energy Target and cutting billions of dollars from climate change action programs.
Some of the pledges made by the major economies include a nationwide emissions trading scheme in China and South Korea, while countries representing half the world’s population support a carbon pricing mechanism.
These important discussions are laying the groundwork for an ambitious global agreement at the next meeting in Paris in 2015 where countries will set their emissions reduction targets beyond 2020.
Labor hopes the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop reports back to Prime Minister Tony Abbott that his sceptic views are not shared by any of the 120 world leaders at the Summit.
This stand-off between Tony Abbott and the rest of the world has gone on too long to the detriment of Australia.
He must join the scientific consensus that climate change is real and the global consensus that serious action is needed now.
He can start by placing climate change action on the agenda at upcoming G20 Leaders’ meeting in Brisbane and avoid being embarrassed by the world’s largest economies.
International commitments so far by G20 members:
- India: will double amount of energy from wind and solar by 2020
- China: to cut carbon intensity by 40-45% by 2020 on 2005 levels
- United Kingdom: is on track to cut emissions by 80% by 2050
- France: moving away from fossil fuel reliance
- Indonesia: to cut emissions by 26 per cent by 2020 and says that will rise to 40 per cent with international help
- South Korea: next year will become the first Asian nation with a national emissions trading scheme
- Mexico: By 2018, more than one-third of electricity-generating capacity will be based on renewables.
- Turkey: raising by 30% renewable energy share in total production and lowering energy density by 20%
- European Union: cut emissions by 80 to 95% by 2050
Other initiatives at the UN Global Summit include:
- $US200 billion fund to finance low-carbon and climate resilient pathways
- Initiatives to support renewable energy development in Africa and small nations as their demand for electricity grows
WEDNESDAY, 24 SEPTEMBER 2014
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053
JO MEEHAN (BUTLER) 0408 803 428
I am pleased to announce I have appointed Anthony Albanese Shadow Minister for Cities to sharpen Labor’s focus on the importance of urban Australia to the national economy.
Labor will also create a new National Urban Policy Dialogue to contribute to the urban debate in Australia.
Cities are home to four out of five Australians and produce about 80 per cent of national GDP.
It is critical that governments focus on urban efficiency to drive the productivity gains that will create jobs and economic prosperity in the future.
It is equally important to deliver policies that will improve sustainability and liveability in cities, particularly with regard to reduced travel time for commuters.
Tony Abbott has no strategy for the nation’s cities.
Since taking office, Mr Abbott has abolished the Major Cities Unit, slashed billions of dollars’ slated for urban public transport and failed to convene a single meeting of the Urban Policy Forum.
His policy disinterest will lengthen commuting times and risk economic stagnation.
Mr Albanese, already Labor’s Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, drove a positive and successful urban strategy under the previous Labor Government.
He is perfectly placed to drive the policy process that will see Labor offers voters real answers to the challenges facing our cities.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2014
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053
Labor will support legislation implementing the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) to create economic growth and jobs for Australians.
KAFTA will give Australian exporters increased access to Korea and help maintain Australia’s competitiveness with the United States, the European Union and others in the Korean market.
It will be especially beneficial for Australia’s agricultural industries. It will also support the food processing, manufacturing, transport and services industries.
Agricultural sectors which stand to benefit include beef, sugar, dairy, wheat, wine and horticulture – these sectors employ more than 200,000 workers.
Labor believes the Abbott Government could – and should – have negotiated a better agreement with the Republic of Korea.
However, the Opposition has carefully analysed the agreement and concluded that, on balance, it is in Australia’s national interest.
Economic modelling shows KAFTA will:
- boost Australia’s exports to Korea by $3.5 billion by 2030;
- boost Australia’s beef exports to Korea by 59 per cent by 2030;
- boost Australia’s GDP by $650 million by 2030, and;
- create an additional 1,745 jobs by 2015.
Accordingly, Labor will vote for Customs Amendment Bills introduced by the Government to implement the tariff cuts and related matters agreed to under KAFTA.
We remain opposed to the inclusion of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions in trade agreements and urge the Government to reconsider the need for these provisions. In government, Labor would seek to negotiate with Korea for the ISDS provisions to be removed.
Labor’s also believes the Government should require employers to show that there are skills shortages if they wish to utilise KAFTA’s provisions on movement of people.
The Government has informed the Parliament that these provisions will not result in a significant increase in the use of section 457 visas – and Labor will hold the Government to this undertaking.
Labor has concerns about KAFTA’s provisions on intellectual property. The Opposition will determine its position on any changes to the Copyright Act when the details are made public.
By supporting the Bills which implement KAFTA, Labor will help ensure Australian industry gets early access to reduced tariffs on goods exported to Korea, and new market access for services.
This demonstrates Labor’s long-standing commitment to an open global trading system and the expansion of Australia’s international trading opportunities – policies which create jobs and economic growth for the future.
TUESDAY, 23 SEPTEMBER 2014
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA OFFICE 02 6277 4053
SACHA FENTON (WONG) 0467 784 528