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Talking Budget Fairness with Leon Delaney

I spoke on 2SM today with Leon Delaney about the fact that the Abbott Government may be strong at standing up to the weak, but it’s weak at standing up to the strong.

ANDREW LEIGH
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION
MEMBER FOR FRASER

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW
2SM WITH LEON DELANEY

THURSDAY, 24 APRIL, 2014

SUBJECT/S: Budget cuts; Means testing; Expenditure on Joint Strike fighter; Superannuation; Pensions.

LEON DELANEY, PRESENTER: I said at the beginning of the show today, I’ve never seen a scare campaign like it. It’s most unusual, in fact unique, because it is a scare campaign being conducted by the Government against itself, basically. We’re being told to be fearful of what might be in the Budget in a couple of Tuesdays away from now. So that’s very, very strange, very unusual. We almost don’t need the Opposition to tell us to worry about it because the Government is telling us to worry about it. Nevertheless I thought we should find out what the Opposition thinks. On the line now, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh. Good morning

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning.

DELANEY: How are you today?

LEIGH: I’m very well, how are you?

DELANEY: Very well thanks. There’s almost nothing for you to do because Joe Hockey’s doing all the scaring for you isn’t he?

LEIGH: You put it very nicely. Yes, Mr Hockey is good at one thing in the area of manufacturing, and that’s manufacturing a budget crisis. I think he wants people to forget that last year he did the deal with the Greens for unlimited debt, he said ‘no’ to 50 tax measures that Labor had put in place, and he gave $9 billion to the reserve Bank that they hadn’t asked for. Now he’s standing around saying, lo and behold, there are fiscal problems, when he’s doubled the deficit.

Continue reading ‘Talking Budget Fairness with Leon Delaney’ »

Discussing the Manufactured ‘Budget Crisis’ on ABC NewsRadio

I spoke today with Marius Benson about Joe Hockey’s one big manufacturing success – a manufactured budget crisis, created by doubling the deficit. Here’s a transcript.

ANDREW LEIGH
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION
MEMBER FOR FRASER

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
INTERVIEW
ABC NEWSRADIO

THURSDAY, 24 APRIL, 2014

SUBJECT/S: Budget cuts; Means testing; Superannuation; Pensions

MARIUS BENSON, PRESENTER: Andrew Leigh, good morning.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning Marius.

BENSON: Can I start with some areas where there may be agreement with, between you and the Treasurer? That the broad points that he says we need to head back to surplus. To do that you need to cut government spending, it’s on track at 26 per cent, well above revenue coming in at 23 per cent and you should cap spending increases at 1.75 per cent, that increase above the inflation rate. I’m not sure how much of all of that you agree with. Andrew Leigh are you still with us there? We’re back live and I was just putting some points to you there that you might agree with in terms of the need to head back to surplus, broadly as one.

LEIGH: I can hear you now.

BENSON: Excellent. Did you hear the point I was putting to you which is the need to return to surplus is one that Joe Hockey was stressing?

LEIGH: Well it was certainly something that was in Labor’s last budget update in the Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Outlook. But what we’ve got now from Joe Hockey is really the Shadow Treasurer in drag, still trying to score political points by being unwilling to admit the impact of his own decisions on the budget bottom line. I mean, if you’re going to repeal the carbon price and the mining tax, that’s a huge hit to the budget. If you’re not going to go ahead with measures that Labor put in place to tax multinational firms fairly or to tax the superannuation of high income earners fairly, then again you blow holes in the budget. And if you relax Labor’s fiscal rule that was clearly put in place to contain spending growth, then again you manufacture a deficit. Joe Hockey has effectively doubled the deficit since coming to office by his own decisions. And he’s now playing political games and wanting the most vulnerable to bear the costs.

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Launching “Measuring and Promoting Wellbeing”, in honour of Ian Castles

Today I launched a new book on economic growth, a collection of essays in honour of former chief statistician Ian Castles.

Launching Measuring and Promoting Wellbeing: How Important is Economic Growth? Essays in Honour of Ian Castles AO and a Selection of Castles’ Papers
Edited by Andrew Podger and Dennis Trewin, ANU Press, 2014

Andrew Leigh MP
Shadow Assistant Treasurer
Federal Member for Fraser

Australian Treasury
24 April 2014

One of the most famous music acceptance speeches was delivered at the 2003 Grammy awards by rapper Eminem, who simply stood up and reeled off the names of 15 musicians who had made him who he was.

The next time the Australian economy wins an international award, perhaps it should give a similar speech. That speech would doubtless acknowledge the post-war economists known as ‘the seven dwarfs’: Allen Brown, Nugget Coombs, John Crawford, Harry Bland, Dick Randall, Fred Wheeler and Roland Wilson, as well as other greats who have run Treasury – Bernie Fraser, Chris Higgins, Ken Henry and Martin Parkinson among them.

Continue reading ‘Launching “Measuring and Promoting Wellbeing”, in honour of Ian Castles’ »

Talking Budgets & Medicare with PVO

On 22 April 2014, I joined Peter Van Onselen on Sky to discuss budget sustainability, pensions, superannuation, and Medicare co-payments.

A novacastrian argument for the charities commission

In the Newcastle Herald, I have an op-ed on the importance of the charities commission

Charities commission is a vital public safeguard, Newcastle Herald, 22 April 2014

Australians are generous people. We donate millions of dollars to charities we trust each year. Many of us volunteer our time for charitable work with organisations at the heart of our communities. As World Vision CEO Tim Costello puts it: ‘‘The charity sector isn’t just a few amateurs with goodwill.’’

So it may come as a surprise that until very recently Australia did not have an independent charities regulator, monitoring and supporting the activities of thousands of charities and not-for-profit organisations.

In 2012, the former Labor government introduced the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission. The creation of the commission followed a report from the Productivity Commission, and was broadly welcomed by the sector, with which Labor consulted closely. The commission determines the legal status of groups seeking special tax treatment on behalf of the Commonwealth. It ensures charities comply with the law and that they do not rip donors off. To protect yourself against scammers, you can check a charity’s credentials on the website (acnc.gov.au).

In the Newcastle CBD alone, there are 77 registered charities with information on the commission’s website.

Continue reading ‘A novacastrian argument for the charities commission’ »

Discussing Neville Wran & Budget Speculation on Sky AM Agenda

ANDREW LEIGH MP
ACTING SHADOW TREASURER
FEDERAL MEMBER FOR FRASER

E&OE – PROOF ONLY

TELEVISION INTERVIEW

SKY AM AGENDA

MONDAY, 21 APRIL 2014

SUBJECTS: Neville Wran; Age pension; Tony Abbott’s paid parental leave.

KEIRAN GILBERT: With us on the program we’ve got Liberal frontbencher Steve Ciobo and also Labor frontbencher Andrew Leigh. Now Andrew Leigh first to you, on Neville Wran, described by one person this morning, Troy Bramston, the author and journalist as the greatest ever Labor leader either state or federal. How do you reflect on the contribution of the former premier?

SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER, ANDREW LEIGH: He was pretty extraordinary Kieran, and Malcolm Turnbull reminded us once again why he really ought to be the parliamentary eulogist. There’s no one better to encapsulate a life than Malcolm. In the area of law reform, he just dusted off the cobwebs after a decade of conservative rule in New South Wales, with things like the decriminalisation of homosexuality, stopping smoking on public transport, four year terms and an elected legislative council.

These sorts of things that we just regard as basic and fundamental. Then at the same time, the national parks in the north-east of New South Wales; investing in infrastructure and hospitals and schools – ahead of inflation in eight out of the nine years of the his term and then to step down while he was the top of his game. Since World War Two, only Menzies has done that from the prime ministership. There’s a few other premiers, Carr, Bracks, Beattie who managed to do it but as Malcolm has noted, it’s a rare thing to step down voluntarily from the top office.

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Egalitarianism Under Threat

After I gave a National Press Club address on egalitarianism, a somewhat aggrieved Maurice Newman responded by throwing his dictionary of quotations at my head. Today’s Australian kindly gave me space to respond.

Gap Between Haves and Have Nots Must be Narrowed, The Australian, 21 April 2014

Egalitarianism goes deep in the Australian character. Most of us don’t like tipping, and passengers tend to sit in the front seat of the taxi. There aren’t private areas on our beaches, and audiences rarely stand when the prime minister enters the room. We’re a country that happily dispensed with knighthoods decades ago, and no sensible person would suggest that the land of ‘mate’ should become the kingdom of ‘sir’.

And yet that egalitarian ethos is increasingly under threat from a rise in inequality over the past generation.

In Battlers and Billionaires, I found that since 1975, real wages for the bottom tenth have risen 15 per cent, while wages for the top tenth have risen 59 per cent.

Continue reading ‘Egalitarianism Under Threat’ »

Promises, promises…

ANDREW LEIGH MP
ACTING SHADOW TREASURER
FEDERAL MEMBER FOR FRASER

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP INTERVIEW
SATURDAY, 19 APRIL 2014
CANBERRA

SUBJECT / S: Tony Abbott breaks yet another promise on pension cuts; Kevin Rudd; Climate Change.

ANDREW LEIGH, ACTING SHADOW TREASURER: Thanks to everybody for coming to sunny Hackett on a Saturday afternoon. I wanted to make a couple of comments about the very clear statement now that the Prime Minister intends breaking his pledge to pensioners. Suggestions now that the government is going to cut into the pension will be a deep blow to Australian pensioners who had a clear promise the day before the election that there would be no cuts to pensions. Ultimately the government has found itself caught between its economic and political strategy. Joe Hockey has manufactured a budget crisis by things such as going soft on multinationals, giving $9 billion to the Reserve Bank. He’s doubled the deficit and now the government has found that it can’t both deal with the situation Joe Hockey has created and also manage to keep its pledge to pensioners.  This will be a cruel blow to 2.3 million Australians who rely so heavily on the pension and who expect that they had a Prime Minster who could keep his world. Happy to take questions.

Continue reading ‘Promises, promises…’ »

Lifeline Canberra urges Commonwealth to keep ACNC – WIN TV story – 16 April

Territory Govt leads the way, working with the ACNC to benefit charities – Press conference transcript

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

PRESS CONFERENCE
CANBERRA
WEDNESDAY, 16 APRIL 2014

SUBJECT/S: ACT Government working with the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission to help charities.

FEDERAL ASSISTANT SHADOW TREASURER, ANDREW LEIGH: Thank you everyone for coming along. I’m Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, and I’m here with ACT Treasurer Andrew Barr, Mike Zissler from Lifeline, and Lyn Harwood from Communities@Work. We are here at [Lifeline shopfront] Hipsley Lane to talk about the importance of Canberra charities and the importance of reducing the paper work burden. When Labor was in government we put in place in 2012 the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission. One of the aims of that Commission was to reduce reporting duplication that charities face; to allow those charities to spend less time doing paperwork and more time helping the vulnerable. We’ve now found that as a result of the ACT ceding its reporting requirements to the ACNC, Canberra charities could save $2 million dollars. So, I’m calling on the Abbott Government to back the ACNC, to support Canberra charities and to get out of the way and reduce the paper work on our great Canberra charities. I’ll hand over to Andrew [Barr].

Continue reading ‘Territory Govt leads the way, working with the ACNC to benefit charities – Press conference transcript’ »

ACNC reduces costs for charities across the ACT – Wednesday 16 April, 2014

This morning I held a press event with ACT Treasurer, Andrew Barr, and leaders in the community sector – Lifeline Canberra CEO, Mike Zissler, and Lynne Harwood who heads Communities@Work –  to advocate to keep the charities commission and grow the benefits to charities. It’s great news and proof of the potential of the ACNC that the Territory Government is ceding many of its charity reporting requirements to the ACNC in the interests of streamlining reporting and reducing costs for charities. Other states are urged to follow the ACT’s lead.

ANDREW LEIGH MP, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER

ANDREW BARR MLA, ACT TREASURER, COMMUNITY SERVICES MINISTER

MEDIA RELEASE

ACNC reduces costs for charities across for the Australian Capital Territory

The ACT Government is cutting red tape to save up to $2 million a year for local charities by working with the first national independent charity regulator, the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC).

But ACT Treasurer and Community Services Minister Andrew Barr said that can only continue if the Commonwealth Government listens to the pleas of the charitable sector and keeps the ACNC.

“If the Commonwealth commits to keeping the ACNC, the ACT Government will legislate so that charities and other incorporated associations do not need to duplicate reporting made to the ACNC,” Minister Barr said.

“This ‘report once, use many’ principle will reduce the regulatory burden on charities.”

“Only a national regulator can provide a one-stop shop and reduce reporting duplication for charities that work and fundraise across states and territories.”

“It is impossible for one level of government by itself to reap the full savings benefit that co-operation with the ACNC promised. By working together, both regulatory red-tape and funding agency red-tape can be reduced for the sector.’

Federal Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Dr Andrew Leigh, who has portfolio responsibility for the ACNC, again called on the Abbott government to reverse its decision to abolish the regulator.

“The ACT Government’s cooperation with the ACNC demonstrates how the reporting burden can be reduced for Canberra charities – allowing them to spend more time building community and helping the vulnerable.”

Continue reading ‘ACNC reduces costs for charities across the ACT – Wednesday 16 April, 2014’ »

Breaking Politics – Monday, 14 April

In my usual media spot on Mondays with the Liberal’s Andrew Laming and Breaking Politics host, Chris Hammer, topics up for debate were the spectre of raising the pension age to 70 and flagged federal budget cuts to the CSIRO. Here’s the full transcript:

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TELEVISION INTERVIEW
BREAKING POLITICS – FAIRFAX MEDIA
MONDAY, 14 APRIL 2014

SUBJECT/S: Joe Hockey’s budget and cuts; Age Pension, CSIRO, the ABC and SBS; Superannuation and inequality; Unfair PPL Scheme, Trade and Foreign investment

CHRIS HAMMER: Well the budget is now less than a month away and Treasurer, Joe Hockey, is talking tough. His given the clearest signal yet that he intends to raise the pension age to 70, but perhaps not in this term of government. Joining me to discuss that and other matters, budgetary and otherwise, I’m joined by Andrew Leigh, the Federal Labor member for Fraser here in the ACT, and Andrew Laming, the Liberal member for Bowman in Queensland. Good morning. Andrew Laming, let me start with you. Should the pension age be raised to 70?

ANDREW LAMING: Well, obviously the pension age is already changing from 65 to 67 over the next decade and Andrew Leigh has long made that very important point that with longevity in Australia that period between retirement and expected length of life only continues to increase. So this is a debate that brave politicians will continue to have. I think that the pace at which it’s increasing, a couple of years per decade, is thoroughly reasonable and of course we’ve also got the life expectancy figures to back those calculations.

HAMMER: Whatever the merits of the policy though, this isn’t going to be a quick fix for the budget, is it, because we’re looking at so many years into the future?

LAMING: That’s correct. So, already these increases through to 2023 are continuing at a trajectory on from that date, obviously only helps the budget in the 2020s. It doesn’t help the budget right now.

HAMMER: Andrew Leigh, raising the pension to 70, is it a good idea, an inevitable idea?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Well it was an idea ruled out Chris the day before the election by the Prime Minister who said ‘no changes to pensions’.

HAMMER: But I think he was referring to this term of government. If he goes to the next election saying ‘this is what we intend to do’, well that would be fine, wouldn’t it?

LEIGH: He certainly didn’t make that clear in his unequivocal statement the day before the election Chris. But the impact of this is that a scheme which was set up to avoid poverty among the elderly is now looking at being changed in a way that would increase poverty among the elderly. Andrew is right when he says that average life expectancy is rising but the other fact to bear in mind is that workers in manual jobs like check-out operators and cleaners find it tough to work till 70 and workers in those occupations will die on average six years younger than the most affluent Australians. So on life expectancy, there’s a big gap between most and least affluent and I’m really scared about what this broken promise will do to the most vulnerable Australians.

Continue reading ‘Breaking Politics – Monday, 14 April’ »

Talking budgets and pensions with Steve Price on 2GB

I joined Steve Price on 2GB to discuss how Joe Hockey has doubled the deficit, by scrapping sensible tax measures – and why it would be unjust for Prime Minister Abbott to break his promise to pensioners. Here’s a podcast.

Sky News with Helen Dalley

I joined presenter Helen Dalley on Sky News to discuss the fact that the Abbott Government has doubled the deficit since coming to office, and now looks set to breach its pension promise.

Age pension under attack – Network Ten interview – Monday, 14 April 2014

I appeared on Network Ten’s breakfast show, Wake Up, this morning to discuss Joe Hockey’s anticipated budget attack on pensions. Here’s the transcript:

ANDREW LEIGH MP

SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER

SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION

MEMBER FOR FRASER


E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TELEVISION INTERVIEW

WAKE UP – NETWORK TEN
MONDAY, 14 APRIL 2014

SUBJECT/S: Age pension and the budget; Tony Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme; and CSIRO cuts.

NATARSHA BELLING: To talk more, we are joined this morning by Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh. Good morning Andrew, thanks for joining us this morning.

ANDREW LEIGH: Morning, Tarsh.

BELLING: Now, in regards to Mr Hockey’s statement he claims that his generation will have to work longer because there will be serious future budgetary stresses from an ageing population. So is this something the Government needs to do?

LEIGH: Well Tarsh, the Government has said very clearly before the election there would be no cuts to pensions, so this would be a breach of that promise, and I think a very unfair one. We established the pension over a hundred years ago to deal with poverty among seniors, and to address it now in a way that increases poverty among seniors doesn’t seem smart or fair.

JAMES MATHISON: You talk about smart and fair but the reality is that the population is ageing. What are you guys proposing that would be an appropriate age or an appropriate way to combat the fact that our population is getting older?

LEIGH: We did two big things in government James. We raised the pension by the largest amount since its introduction, then we phased in a rise from 65 to 67 and that will be phased in between 2017 and 2023. To go as far as 70, as your vox pop illustrated, there’s a bunch of people whose bodies really struggle to get them to 70 in jobs like cleaning and check out operators. But on top of that, we know that low income Australians die about six years earlier than high income Australians, so they’ll enjoy the pension for fewer years.

Continue reading ‘Age pension under attack – Network Ten interview – Monday, 14 April 2014’ »

Newsradio interview transcript – 11 April, 2014

This morning I spoke to Marius Benson about what Treasurer Joe Hockey has signalled; a further increase in the pension age and more means testing of welfare.

TRANSCRIPT

INTERVIEW, ABC NEWSRADIO

FRIDAY, 11 APRIL 2014

SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s broken promise on the Age Pension; Free trade agreements; Unemployment; WA Senate; Australian Labor Party.

MARIUS BENSON, PRESENTER: Andrew Leigh, good morning.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Morning Marius.

BENSON: The economic outlook, certainly the employment outlook, did brighten noticeably yesterday.

LEIGH: Marius, there’s two ways of bringing down the unemployment rate. You can either have a whole lot of people find jobs or you can have a whole lot of people cease looking for jobs. Economists call the latter the ‘discouraged worker effect’ and given that the participation rate went down yesterday I think what we’re seeing is mostly people giving up unfortunately, rather than people moving from unemployment into employment.

BENSON: The unemployment figures are more complex than they look on the surface, but it did seem to cheer, at least, the Australian dollar. But everything connects, the dollar rose yesterday that makes life harder for our exporters who were thinking life might get easier as the result of a couple of free trade agreements over the past week or so. How important do you think those free trade agreements are when you look at the dollar going up a couple of cents?

LEIGH: A multilateral free trade agreement always beats a bilateral free trade agreement, so we’re in the world of the second-best once we’re striking country-to-country deals. This one seems to have attracted an unusual amount of criticism from agricultural groups: the National Farmer’s Federation saying that it falls short of the mark, cane growers saying that it’s a kick in the guts, Cattle Council disappointed, the Australia Pork Limited describing it as ‘a missed opportunity’. So that’s a surprising amount of critique from the agricultural sector about a deal which is principally on agriculture for Australian exporters.

Continue reading ‘Newsradio interview transcript – 11 April, 2014’ »

International experts praise Australia’s charities commission – Thursday, 10 April 2014

This afternoon I issued a media release that further strengthens the case to keep the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission. Experts in Australia for the 6th International Charity Regulators Conference and Forum have praised the work of the new regulator and challenged claims that it is heavy handed and tying organisations in red-tape.

ANDREW LEIGH MP

SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER

SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION

MEMBER FOR FRASER

MEDIA RELEASE

International praise for threatened national charities commission

International charity experts gathering in Melbourne and Sydney this week have praised Australia’s first but threatened national charity regulator for its strong and positive reputation in the sector and high compliance rates.

Experts visiting Australia for the 6th International Charity Regulators Forum have also challenged Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews’ view that the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC) is heavy handed and tying organisations in red-tape.

Chief Legal Officer with the Charities Commission based in London, Kenneth Dibble, said the ACNC has had “extraordinary” success just 18 month since its inception:

“Introducing new regulations from scratch requires persuasion, good will and real interaction with charities and not for profits.  The ACNC has a mature relationship with the sector as a standalone regulator outside of the revenue office. It is flexible and sensitive to its constituency’s needs in a way that allows the sector to thrive. In such a short time the ACNC has commanded such respect from the sector. It’s very impressive.” – Kenneth Dibble, Chief Legal Officer, Charities Commission (for England and Wales)

Continue reading ‘International experts praise Australia’s charities commission – Thursday, 10 April 2014’ »

Opening up the Labor Party – 666 Canberra interview – Tuesday, 8 April 2014

In the wake of the WA senate election re-run, this morning I joined ABC 666 Breakfast presenter, Philip Clark, for a discussion about the democratisation of the Australian Labor Party and the important contribution of an increasingly diverse and modern union movement. I argue that the ALP should be more attractive to small-l liberals and that it should be easier for people across the community to join. Here’s the podcast.

Sky AM Agenda – Monday, 7 April 2014

This morning I joined host Kieran Gilbert and Liberal Senator Mitch Fifield to discuss the WA Senate re-run, free trade and security deals with Japan, and Labor’s ongoing commitment to democratic reform. Here’s the full transcript:

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TELEVISION INTERVIEW

SKY AM AGENDA
MONDAY, 7 APRIL 2014

SUBJECT/S: WA Senate election; Free trade and security discussions with Japan; Clive Palmer and campaign financing; ALP reform.

KIERAN GILBERT: With me on the program this morning, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh and also the Assistant Minister for Social Services, Mitch Fifield. Gentleman, good morning to you both. Mitch Fifield, first to you on this Japanese arrangement, obviously the free trade agreement looking good and the Prime Minister hopeful but he’s also looking to secure closer defence ties. This comes just a couple of days out from his visit to Beijing, there could be a few sensitivities to smooth out when he arrives in China, just a couple of days from now?

MITCH FIFIELD: Well Kieran, in 2007 John Howard entered into a security agreement with Japan, a statement that we were looking to have closer defence relationship. What the Prime Minister is working on is building upon that. We’re looking to enter a closer relationship in defence, science and material. Australia is very supportive of Japan adopting a more normal security posture. They have been an exemplary international citizen for the past 50 years so I think what we’re seeing is just a natural evolution.

GILBERT: Andrew Leigh, is it fair enough for the PM to be pursuing this? He is going to be the first foreign leader to address a security council meeting of the Japanese security council. Is that going too far in your view or is what Mitch Fifield and the Prime Minster saying correct, can you nurture one friendship while not alienating someone else?

ANDREW LEIGH: Mitch I think reflects the fact that much of this is bipartisan policy Kieran, and certainly the security ties were something worked on during the Labor time as indeed was the trade deal. I remember visiting Tokyo last year and in senior government meetings pushing the case for a trade deal. We need to be careful on both fronts. Labor won’t be backing a trade deal at all costs and in the area of security, we need to make sure that we’re sensitive to the impacts on our Chinese friends. I think Rory Medcalf’s piece this morning was good on this in terms of recognising that Australia needs to be playing a sophisticated game in Asia.

Continue reading ‘Sky AM Agenda – Monday, 7 April 2014’ »

Chatting Population with Tim Webster

On 2UE Sunday afternoons, I joined Tim Webster to discuss my Lowy Institute speech on population. Here’s a podcast.

THE BOLT REPORT – Transcript – Sunday, 6 April 2014

ANDREW LEIGH MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER
MEMBER FOR FRASER

TRANSCRIPT

E & O E – PROOF ONLY
TELEVISION INTERVIEW
THE BOLT REPORT
SUNDAY 6 APRIL 2014
_____________________________________________________________
Subjects: WA Senate election, the Federal Budget and speeches by Glenn Stevens and Martin Parkinson; the Age Pension; Taxing multinationals; DisabilityCare; Gonksi; and Tony Abbott’s Paid Parental Leave scheme.
HOST ANDREW BOLT: Tony Abbott may have dodged a bullet in yesterday’s re-run Senate election in Western Australia. Both the Liberals and Labor did have swings against them, with support going instead to the big winners – the Greens and Clive Palmer’s party. The Nationals are just about finished. Result? Well, it’s early days in the counting but the signs are no change from the original result last year. The Liberals get three seats, Labor and the Greens one each, and the last going to Palmer. But that third Liberal seat may yet go to Labor. Joining me is Andrew Leigh, the Opposition’s assistant treasury spokesman. Andrew, thank you for your time.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Pleasure, Andrew.
BOLT: There have been three elections since you’ve lost last year’s federal election – the by-election for Kevin Rudd’s seat, the Tasmanian state election and now this Senate vote. Labor went backwards each time. Why is that? And what must change?
LEIGH: Well, Andrew, as I read the results in Western Australia at the moment, we’re seeing swings away from both the Liberal Party and the Labor Party. A slightly bigger swing away from the Liberal Party than from Labor. I’m still confident we’ll get both Joe Bullock and Louise Pratt up, because I think they would both make excellent senators. And, you know, we have a challenge in rebuilding the party, but I’m really optimistic under Bill Shorten we’ll be able to do that.
BOLT: But the fact that the vote’s gone down each time, you don’t read a warning sign in that?
LEIGH: This is a very unusual by-election, Andrew. This – we’ve never really had a re-run of a Senate election and turn-out was always going to be a challenge. I think we’ve seen, possibly, the Liberal Party not getting a third Senator. If that happened, that would be the first time that happened in a quarter of a century. But we’ll see as counting proceeds.

2CC interview with Mark Parton – Thursday, 3 April

This morning I joined Mark Parton and Liberal Party Senator Zed Seselja for a feisty discussion about the budget and the public service in the context of a wide ranging speech delivered last night by Treasury head, Martin Parkinson. Here’s the audio to listen to.

Capital still an ideas leader

My Chronicle column this week is on innovation.

Capital still an ideas leader, The Chronicle, 1 April 2014

Ask a non-Canberran what words they associate with ‘Canberra’, and it’s likely they’ll come back with ‘politics’ or ‘government’. Yet as those of us who live here know, ours is a city that’s considerably more than the seat of government. If I had to devise a single notion that sums up smart bureaucrats, connected academics and innovative start-ups, it would be that Canberra is an ‘ideas city’.

Recently, I had the pleasure of launching a new book by Peter Dawson, titled Creative Capital. It tells the tale of a city that is informed, modest and connected. Peter Dawson discusses the Australian National University’s role in dating rocks from Apollo 11, Vikram Sharma’s work on quantum cryptography and Alex Zelinsky’s machines that prevent drivers from falling asleep. He reminds us of about Chris Parish’s cancer research, Peter Gage’s HIV research, Charmaine Simeonovic’s work on diabetes and Tim Hirst’s breakthroughs on influenza. And he describes Canberra scientists who’ve delivered environmental breakthroughs: Andrew Blakers on solar photovoltaic cells; Stephen Kaneff, Peter Carden and others on concentrating solar.

Continue reading ‘Capital still an ideas leader’ »

Pre-budget discussion on ABC NewsRadio – Monday, 31 March

As the Treasurer receives the final report of the Commission of Audit – a document set to guide the drafting of the Abbott Government’s first budget – I spoke this morning to the ABC’s Marius Benson about secrecy surrounding cuts expected in the upcoming May budget. Listen to the NewsRadio podcast here.

National Press Club address – Australian Egalitarianism Under Threat – Thursday, 27 March 2014

Addressing the National Press Club, I talked about a generation of rising inequality, how the Abbott Government’s policies will affect inequality and the importance of maintaining Australia’s egalitarian ethos (download audio; iTunes podcast):

ANDREW LEIGH MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION
MEMBER FOR FRASER

Battlers and Billionaires: Australian Egalitarianism Under Threat*

National Press Club Address

THURSDAY, 27 MARCH 2014

CANBERRA

In 2002, two bombs exploded in Bali nightclubs, killing and injuring hundreds of people. At the local hospital, there was a shortage of painkillers. Graeme Southwick, an Australian doctor on duty, asked patients to assess their own pain levels. He kept being told by patients in the ‘Australian’ ward that they were okay – the person next to them was suffering more.

Coming across this account, historian John Hirst was reminded of the description of injured Australians in Gallipoli nearly a century earlier. He quotes the official war historian Charles Bean, who describes the suffering and then says, ‘Yet the men never showed better than in these difficulties. The lightly hurt were full of thought for the severely wounded.’

Even in the midst of their own pain, the first instinct of many Australians was to think of those worse off than themselves.

Continue reading ‘National Press Club address – Australian Egalitarianism Under Threat – Thursday, 27 March 2014’ »

SPEECH – Bruce GP Super Clinic opens – Wednesday, 26 March

I spoke in Parliament today to celebrate the arrival of the Bruce GP Super Clinic, and to ask what it is about efficient, affordable and accessible healthcare that the Government thinks is ‘nasty’?:

This week saw the opening of the GP Super Clinic in Bruce. Residents in Canberra’s north now have better access to general practitioners, nurses, pathologists, dieticians, counsellors and a range of other allied health practitioners. The facility is located on the grounds of the University of Canberra, which means it can integrate teaching, training and research. There are already eight GPs treating patients in the new clinic in Bruce, and there is capacity to expand to 18 doctors and related supporting services.

The super clinic will help to meet the expected demand coming from the growth in Canberra’s northern suburbs. It will provide improved access for northsiders to vital health services. I celebrated the opening of the clinic; I helped turn the first sod last year with former health minister, Tanya Plibersek, who is a passionate supporter of GP super clinics, unlike the current health minister.

Continue reading ‘SPEECH – Bruce GP Super Clinic opens – Wednesday, 26 March’ »

Labor supports better military superannuation pension

Federal Labor will support the triple indexation of military superannuation pensions. Here’s the media release issued today by the Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Don Farrell:

SENATOR DON FARRELL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR VETERANS’ AFFAIRS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE CENTENARY OF ANZAC
SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA

MEDIA RELEASE

LABOR SUPPORTS TRIPLE INDEXATION OF MILITARY SUPERANNUATION PENSIONS BILL

The Opposition will support the Defence Force Retirement Benefits Legislation Amendment (Fair Indexation) Bill 2014 which allows the “triple indexing” of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits (DFRB) and the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits (DFRDB) military superannuation pensions for those aged over 55.

Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Senator Don Farrell said an estimated 57,000 retired military personnel will receive a $160 million boost to their pensions from July 1 this year if this legislation passes with the support of Labor.

Continue reading ‘Labor supports better military superannuation pension’ »

A Mate for Head of State

Crowning glory would be our own head of state, Canberra Times, 26 March 2014

Walter Scott once wrote: ‘Breathes there a man with soul so dead / Who never to himself hath said / This is my own, my native land.’

Alas, these fine words have never been uttered by any Australian head of state about Australia. Under our Constitution, they never could be uttered.

That is because – while no British citizen can ever be Australia’s head of government – only a British citizen can ever be Australia’s head of state.

Continue reading ‘A Mate for Head of State’ »

MEDIA RELEASE – Bradbury to lead international tax policy division – 25 March 2014

This morning I issued a release congratulating Federal Labor’s former Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury for his new strategic leadership role with the OECD.

ANDREW LEIGH MP

SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER

SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION

MEMBER FOR FRASER

MEDIA RELEASE

DAVID BRADBURY TO LEAD OECD TAX POLICY AND STATISTICS DIVISION

Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh, has warmly congratulated former Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury on his appointment to a strategic role with the  Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The OECD undertook a competitive and global selection process to choose Mr Bradbury as the new head of the Tax Policy and Statistics Division based in Paris.

From next month Mr Bradbury will be in charge of raising the profile of tax policy analysis work at the OECD.

“David has an international reputation for his strong leadership and understanding of the taxation of multinational enterprises. He and Wayne Swan led the Australian debate on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting and modernising Australia’s transfer pricing laws.”

Mr Bradbury, a former tax lawyer, was Assistant Treasurer under the previous Labor Government, with responsibilities in including taxation reforms. He was instrumental in establishing Australia’s first and vital national regulator of the not-for-profit sector.

“I congratulate David and wish him well in his new and important role,” added Dr Leigh.

TUESDAY 25 MARCH, 2014

Joint media release – More frontline health delivered by Labor – Tuesday, 25 March 2014

CATHERINE KING MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH

MEMBER FOR BALLARAT

ANDREW LEIGH MP

MEMBER FOR FRASER

MEDIA RELEASE

MORE FRONTLINE HEALTH SERVICES BEING DELIVERED BY LABOR

Residents in Canberra’s north now have better access to general practitioners, nurses, pathologists, dieticians, counsellors and a range of other allied health practitioners after the opening of the GP Super Clinic in Bruce.

This facility partners with the University of Canberra and integrates teaching, training and research.

More than 3 million MBS items have been delivered through the GP Super Clinics program across Australia, and GP Super Clinics are providing better access to primary care and delivering healthcare, despite the lack of support for better primary care infrastructure by the Abbott government.

There are already nine GPs treating patients from the new clinic in Bruce with the capacity to expand to 18 doctors along with supporting services.  This will help meet the expected demand coming from the growth in Canberra’s northern suburbs into the future.

‘GP Super Clinics are providing better access to bulk-billing services as well as after-hours access to doctors across the country,’ said Shadow Minister for Health Catherine King.

‘This Super Clinic will also enhance the area’s medical training capacity through a partnership with the University of Canberra and provides access to pathology labs, radiology and pharmacy,’ Ms King said.

‘I have been a strong advocate for a Super Clinic on Canberra’s Northside, and was pleased to attend the sod-turning ceremony in February 2013 with former Health Minister Tanya Plibersek,’ said Member for Fraser, Dr Andrew Leigh.

‘The Liberals have never seen a GP Super Clinic they didn’t want to block. Without Labor’s commitment to better health care and better medical training, Canberrans would not be benefiting from this first-rate facility.’

The funding agreement for this GP Super Clinic was signed in May 2012, construction commenced in March last year and it is officially opening today, having commenced operations in February.

TUESDAY, 25 MARCH 2014