labor senator Deb O’Neill asked treasury officials about 144 pages of PwC emails, including one where Peter Collins said there was “little chance of an anti-hybrid rule” because the board of taxation had “little real idea”.
Several emails, which he read to Hansard, referred to the fact that Treasury consultations “must be secret” or “confidential” – although one noted that global partners “may have a copy from other sources” .
The secretary of the Treasury, Steven Kennedysaid:
By any community standard you can tell they are clearly disturbing. They are relevant to our considerations. After appearing before several Senate committees, I can say that the Senate has done a very good job of exposing these issues. [Emails tabled on] 2n.d Mayo is an important piece of information, which allows us to take a step forward. They are important in our consideration of the matter [to the Australian federal police].”
Kennedy confirmed that the Treasury did not have the emails until the Senate economy committee disclosed them.
We are now going through the timeline given by the revenue deputy secretary Diane Brown.
There were no questions from Labor MPs to ministers, the media said
What questions did MPs ask ministers at the Labor caucus meeting about general business?
Nothing! Everyone was very happy apparently, no questions, notes or questions.
Not sure their constituents feel the same way…
Albanese gave the caucus his electoral seat list
The prime minister, Anthony Albaneseused his Labor caucus meeting to give a vote of thanks to Mark McGowanthe premier of WA who yesterday announced his retirement.
Albanese said he had made 12 visits to WA so far, and WA MPs were a “huge strength for us”.
Albanese said he believed that at the next election Labor would “also target Canning and Moore” – the WA seats currently held by Andrew Hastie and Ian Goodenough.
Albanese said Labor was also likely to target undecided seats in Queensland, Sturt in South Australia, Banks in NSW, and seats in northern Tasmania, and Victorian seats such as Menzies.
The About the House account has your program ready for you:
Why is the media so fond of ‘party room sources’?
Meetings in the party room have broken up – we’ll bring you updates soon.
If you are not a regular follower of Politics Live, or have forgotten, there is a briefing after each meeting in the party room, given by a nominated MP, who reads from the minutes. They provide a brief rundown of the legislation being discussed, what the leaders said and what the themes were, and then provide brief details about the questions asked by the backbenchers. That part is all anonymously “asked by an MP” and it’s up to the journalists who.
All of this is considered background, which means you can’t attribute it to the MP giving the brief, but this is why you always see “party room sources”, and why we all have the same detail.
No, I don’t know how it started and I was surprised to see how it worked when I arrived in the press gallery, but I think some of these things need to be demystified.
The budget is not inflationary, Kennedy maintained
Liberal senator Dean Smith predicted that he would push Steven Kennedy to explain how the government budget is not inflationary.
He wants to talk about “vulnerabilities”. This is a statement, not a question, and it’s all part of the Coalition’s plan to paint the government responsible for the cost of living crisis.
Kennedy says that he does not believe that the budget as a whole is inflationary or increasing inflationary pressure and says that the key difference here, is the time – it is spread throughout the year.
In terms of the overall contribution to – is it what drives overall demand and leads us to revise our inflationary numbers … the answer is no.
Treasury explains what it knows about PwC
Diane Brownthe deputy secretary of the revenue of the Treasury, noted that the department has already given an answer to a question in the notice about what it knows when the PwC.
In September 2018 Treasury was asked to provide information to the Australian Taxation Office about a possible breach of confidentiality in relation to the Multinational Anti-Avoidance Law. In late 2020, the [Tax Practitioner Board] made inquiries to Treasury regarding information related to TPB investigations. There will be further TPB discussions in 2021 and 2022 and the Treasury will announce the outcome of the TPB investigation into Mr Collins in December 2022.
Brown said the ATO was “seeking information on PwC and their involvement” in the tax avoidance consultancy “for the purposes of an inquiry into the conduct of Mr. [John] Collins.”
We are not told a wider context.
The treasury asked for a copy of the confidentiality agreements signed by Collins. But Brown explained that while the Treasury assisted the ATO in its investigations, the ATO was subject to secrecy provisions and could not explain what it was investigating.
Brown noted whether the treasurer was notified at the time.
I don’t believe the treasurer was told.
The current economy is not like the GFC or Covid dips, says the Treasury
Back to Steven Kennedy for a moment – another key difference between today’s economy and what happened with the GFC and Covid?
The tax system takes more money out of the economy because unemployment is very low and people are working more. So while tax revenues collapsed during the GFC and Covid, they have risen here.
Shoebridge questioned whether the defense had tried to ‘test the integrity’ of the PwC relationship
The Greens senator David Shoebridge asked what work has been done, since the PwC scandal broke, to “test the integrity” of the relationship between Defense and the consulting firm.
The associate secretary of the Department of Defense, Matt Yannopoulostold the Senate foreign affairs, defense and trade committee hearing:
We are aware of all active contracts with PwC and have obtained assurances from them, most recently also yesterday with the secretary from the CEO, and myself from the lead partner of the defense, that in the last 10 year of work done by PriceWaterhouseCoopers for defense none of the people named have done any work for defense.
Shoebridge wants to be clear about which individuals. Yannopoulos explained that the commitment includes 54 individuals whose names have not been released to the public.
Are welfare increases inflationary?
Treasury estimates moved to Liberal senator Dean Smith, who asked Steven Kennedy about who is likely to spend more – people on low incomes, or high incomes.
(He knows the answer is lower incomes. Smith has been tasked with getting evidence that the most modest increases in welfare payments are encouraging as part of the Coalition’s budget attacks)
Kennedy went through the differences between the payments made during the global financial crisis and what is happening now.
He said the support given during the GFC was simultaneous (in the same quarter) and went to the majority of the population.
The difference in the cost-of-living package today, according to Kennedy, is that the package is spread throughout the year and it is a smaller amount in terms of spending compared to the GFC or Covid package.
It’s about “size and design,” Kennedy said.
So not that much money, spread over the year = not inflationary.
Defense officials recently revealed that Defense currently has 54 current contracts with PwC with a total contact value of about $223m.
To be specific: $223,299,943.56.
Albanese cited cost-of-living measures when asked about the cost of the taxpayers’ voice
It was a radio day in Adelaide for the prime minister – he also spoke to FiveAAA, a station he has a long-standing relationship with.
He was asked about a message from a listener about why taxpayer money is going to the voice, given the cost of living crisis:
Q: Good morning. Question for PM, my mortgage has increased to two thirds of my income again, the energy price of my house has increased by 25%. My daughter had to bid against 40 people to get rent. However, you continue to argue for the allocation of public money to the voice, which numbers 5,000 on my list of priorities at the moment. What do you say to people like Martin? Because there are more of them out there than the yes camp knows.
What I told Martin is that we concentrate on the things that affect him. We have only provided a budget that will provide relief in energy prices. We are trying to get legislation through the Senate that has an impact on housing, through our Housing Australia Future Fund, but we have other legislation as part of the budget as well – renting to people in the private sector. We have increased funding for community housing.
We have in the budget, following our policy of cheaper medicine that came on January 1, more measures that will reduce the cost of medicines on September 30 … cheaper child care comes on July 1. Done We have everything that affects many Australians. But at the same time, yes, we’re going to give Australians a chance to vote on something that doesn’t directly affect the majority of Australians. But it can only make a positive difference for some of the poorest Australians…
And this, I think, is something that is well within the Australian ethos of fair-going. And I understand that many people do this very hard. And that’s why we introduced the budget measures. And so we will continue to work every day on the full range of issues. So in health, to give people access to bulk-billing, the last time I was in Adelaide I was in a medical center in the northern suburbs of Adelaide, in the electorate of Spence around Elizabeth, talking about of our tripling of the bulk billing incentive. That, in that medical center, will make a big difference for the people, talking to the doctors and the people on the ground there.