PM Malcolm Turnbull has ordered the consumer watchdog to review retail electricity prices.
THE Turnbull government is expected to announce interim measures in the May federal budget to take on the illegal cash economy, clawing back up to $15 billion in lost tax revenue.
Board of Tax chairman Michael Andrew, who is heading the government’s Black Economy Taskforce, has provided recommendations for cracking down on cash-only payments.
He told Fairfax he was shocked at the scale of the problem, noting that a number of hidden black economy participants were deliberate tax dodgers, or students or temporary work visa holders paid in cash to hide income.
His recommendations include education programs, encouraging co-operation between local, state and federal government agencies to avoid duplicate regulations, and streamlining modern awards and regulations.
Mr Andrew referred to the case of celebrity chef George Calombaris, whose restaurant empire underpaid staff by $2.6 million over six years, as an example of modern awards being too complex.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates the cash economy accounts for about 1.5 per cent of Australia’s gross domestic product, or $24 billion.
The Black Economy Taskforce will hand down its final report in October.
Workers employed by MasterChef host George Calombaris have received an apology and $2.6m in back pay.
The news comes after Treasurer Scott Morrison said he has not given up pursuing the remainder of the government’s 10-year business tax plan and will present the next phase to the Senate when the government believes it will pass.
The parliament on Friday agreed to a tax rate of 27.5 per cent for businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million, to be phased in over the next three years, or “stage one of the plan”, as Mr Morrison described it.
“We haven’t moved away from this at all,” he told ABC’s Insiders. “We remain absolutely committed to this plan because this plan is what is going to attract investment.”
He does not necessarily believe in waiting until after the next election, given the Senate crossbench has already shifted from supporting a rate reduction for businesses with a turnover of up to only $10 million.
The overall package would deliver a tax rate of 25 per cent for all businesses in 10 years time when most now pay a rate of 30 per cent.
Treasury modelling suggests the economy would gain a one per cent lift to growth if the whole plan is passed.
Treasurer Scott Morrison does not believe businesses will restructure to enjoy a lower company tax rate.