Minister for Employment Eric Abetz has just made a very significant announcement: he is introducing legislation to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission to stamp out lawlessness and improve productivity on building sites.
It was an honour – and quite an experience – to be sworn in yesterday as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications.
When the House of Representatives Infrastructure and Communications Committee released a report last week on IT pricing in Australia, Committee Chair Labor MP Nick Champion was quoted as saying, “The committee found that big IT companies and copyright holders charge Australians, on average, an extra 50 per cent, a practice consumers call the ‘Australia Tax’.” He went on to announce a range of recommendations.
I serve on this committee – but I have a somewhat different perspective from the Labor majority. I want to explain why, highlighting three points. First, I want to explain the political background to the inquiry – and to the Committee’s decision making. Second, I want to point out that the Committee’s fact-finding process was rather less thorough than Mr Champion’s statement might imply. Third, I have some real concerns with some of the Committee’s recommendations.
Last week the Labor Party was indignant that the Coalition had called on the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) not to advance any funds prior to the forthcoming election.
Is there a more depressing demonstration of economic and budgetary incompetence than Julia Gillard’s speech yesterday attempting to justify why her government is going to produce a bigger than expected deficit yet again.
The background to the story is all too familiar.
One of the curiosities of the Australian economy is that, while we have a vigorous share market with many companies big and small listed on it, we have only a fairly thin corporate bond market, particularly at the retail level. By contrast, in markets like the US, lots of companies issue bonds to retail investors.
On Friday 5 April, Treasurer Wayne Swan and Superannuation Minister Bill Shorten made an announcement which supposedly provided certainty about Labor’s planned tax increases for superannuation. In fact it did no such thing.
For several months there have been rumours surfacing in the media that additional tax was to be levied on superannuation. The stories evidently emanated from government, ‘road testing’ various ideas to see which would cause the least political grief.