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Malcolm turnbull faces ongoing negative reaction from his radical state income tax plan




MALCOLM Turnbull’s ministers slammed state premiers for rejecting his tax plan, as Labor and Nick Xenophon compared it to a hangover and the antics of Marty McFly.

Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley has scolded state premiers for rejecting the plan as Labor laughs it off as a humiliating defeat.

Malcolm Turnbull conceded the plan he hailed days earlier as one of the greatest reforms in generations would be withdrawn, after it was rejected by leaders at the Council of Australian Governments meeting yesterday.

He proposed reducing the federal governments income tax collection and allowing the states and territories to collect the remainder to fund services like hospitals and schools a power the states gave up in the 1940s.

Ms Ley said she was disappointed in the premiers for not stepping up, insisting the federation was out of date.

She denied the quick defeat of the proposal was an embarrassment.

Theyre quick to ask the Commonwealth to do their dirty work, she told reporters in Melbourne today.

We should never make an apology for having big ideas and the courage to make a difference. She took aim at Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, insisting it was time he put his money where his mouth was.

Theres a long list of requests hes had for the commonwealth about things he wants to be funded. The closer a health dollar fell to the patient, the more effective that money would be, Ms Ley said.

But the existing arrangement between federal and state governments left a lot of money spent on bureaucracy and less on the frontline in hospitals.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the prime minister would have expected sensible dialogue, but some states just wanted to pass the buck to the Commonwealth.

I think that, in time, the states will see some of these opportunities more positively and I hope that there will be a dialogue that will lead to an assumption by the states of greater responsibility for their actions, she told reporters in Washington.

Labor frontbencher Jason Clare said Mr Turnbull announced his policy on a football field on Wednesday and was forced to withdraw by Friday.

Ive had hangovers that have lasted longer than that, he told the Seven Network.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon said it was a thought bubble that was always going to burst.

I thought Marty McFly was the policy adviser, Senator Xenophon told the Seven Network, referring to a character from the Back to the Future films.

Fridays meeting ended with state and territory leaders accepting an extra $2.9 billion for their hospitals to 2020. Ms Ley said the money would achieve real reform, with measures to avoid hospital admissions agreed by chief ministers.

She hit back at critics who said the money was inadequate to deal with the $57 billion the coalition cut from hospitals over the next decade in its first budget, insisting that money promised by Labor was never funded.

Scammers face 10 million fines under labor proposal to strengthen watchdog


SCAMMERS would face fines of up to $10 million under a Labor proposal to give the consumer watchdog bigger teeth.

Labors election pledge, announced by Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh in Melbourne on Wednesday, addresses long-held gripes by the watchdog and consumer advocates that the current penalty regime is too lenient.

Currently, companies can be fined a maximum of $1.1 million for breaches of Australian Consumer Law. The proposal would bring consumer law penalties in line with competition law penalties.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has previously called for the change.

Most recently, the ACCC appealed the $1.7 million penalty handed to Nurofen maker Reckitt Benckiser over its Specific Pain claims, arguing the fine was small relative to the profits made on the products.

The ACCC had been calling for fines of $6 million. The largest penalty ever handed down under the ACL was Coles $10 million fine for mistreatment of suppliers.

By comparison, Colgate-Palmolive was recently fined $18 million and Woolworths $9 million for their role in a scam to force consumers to pay more for laundry detergent.

Labors proposal also includes adopting the European Unions penalty system for anti-competitive conduct, which is based on 30 per cent of the annual sales of the relevant product or service, multiplied by the number of years the infringement took place.

That would be limited to the greater of 10 per cent of the companys annual turnover or $10 million.

In a statement, Labor said that despite the clear case for action, in three years the Abbott-Turnbull governments effort to protect consumers amounted to an ASCII emoticon depicting a person shrugging.

Its frankly puzzling, Dr Leigh told news.com.au.

We ought to have penalties for consumer rip-offs that are as substantial as they are for anti-competitive conduct. And we ought to have penalties for anti-competitive conduct that dont allow firms to profit from collusion.

Right now because weve got a dollar limit on the fine, it can be possible to make a motza from colluding and then just treat it as a cost of doing business.

Labor proposes to use some of the revenue from increased penalties to double the ACCCs litigation budget from its current level of $24.5 million to $49 million.

It would also expand the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 to task the ACCC with conducting market studies, so the watchdog can explore public interest issues such as pricing discrepancies and increased market concentration.br

Mr Leigh said the ACCC had been heavily constrained. Right now they get around 10,000 complaints every year and theyre able to take up about 60, he said. This is about making sure the ACCC has the resources it needs.