Speeches

Speech - Constituency Statement (Pharmaceutical Industry)

September 18, 2018

HON. WAYNE SWAN MP
FEDERAL MEMBER FOR LILLEY

CONSTITUENCY STATEMENT (PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY)
FEDERATION CHAMBER, CANBERRA
TUESDAY, 18 SEPTEMBER 2018

***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***

Deputy Speaker, I rise in support of a pharmaceutical success story in my electorate of Lilley.

 

Sanofi Consumer Healthcare, based in Virginia, employs more than 300 locals at a manufacturing facility that makes 360 million soft gels and 1.8 billion tablets for the global market every year.

 

Sanofi has tapped into the lucrative Chinese market, where the trusted “Australian Made” labelling on its products has helped drive sales in that region towards $1 billion.

 

By making the decision to set up manufacturing plants in Australia, Sanofi has chosen to pay a level of wages consistent with our status as an advanced economy.

 

Although the company could choose to relocate to the developing world, where wage costs are lower, there are 300 workers in my electorate who benefit from Sanofi’s decision to set up in Virginia on Brisbane’s Northside.

 

Inevitably, some aspects of Sanofi’s supply chain are not Australian made – the raw ingredients for many of its supplements simply cannot be grown on a sufficient scale in the Australian climate and must be sourced from overseas.

 

Nevertheless, this should be no reason to deny Sanofi’s deep connection to Australia, or to question the Australian made endorsement its products receive – particularly when the same endorsement is given to other goods assembled, manufactured or elaborately transformed in Australia, by Australians, from local or imported ingredients.

 

I commend Sanofi for their ongoing service to the electorate of Lilley and for their commitment to the Australian made ethos. Long may it continue.

 

I also refer to the ongoing and blatant tax avoidance by many of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.

 

An Oxfam report released today has found that four of the biggest pharmaceutical companies operating in Australia have avoided four times as much tax as they’ve paid.

 

Tax avoidance by Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Merck, and Abbott amounts to $215 million in Australia – the equivalent of 5 million medical prescriptions each year.

 

Nor is the tax dodging behaviour of these big four confined to Australia. Oxfam estimates that their tax avoidance costs advanced economies nearly $4.8 billion in lost tax revenue and robs developing countries of an additional $146 million every year.

 

Typically these big four pharmaceutical companies avoid paying tax in advanced economies by booking an overwhelming proportion of their profits in tax havens.

 

The phenomenon of booking high profits in tax haven countries and low or negative profits in countries with decent tax havens has been well documented by Gabriel Zucman, my colleague from the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation.

 

By now, we know well the consequences of multinational profit shifting – higher inequality, entrenched corporate power, a massive redistribution of the tax base away from countries like Australia, and the undercutting of our world-class health and education systems.

 

Tax avoidance on such a grand scale impoverishes us all.

 

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: DANIEL DE VOSS 0403 775 158

Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra

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