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TRANSCRIPT – Breaking Politics – Monday, 24 March 2014

ANDREW LEIGH MP

SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER

SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION

MEMBER FOR FRASER

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TELEVISION INTERVIEW
BREAKING POLITICS – FAIRFAX MEDIA
MONDAY, 24 MARCH 2014

SUBJECT/S: Manus Island detention centre riot inquiries and Regional Resettlement Program; Labor minority government in South Australia; Paul Howes’ career; Australia becoming a Republic.

CHRIS HAMMER: The Papua New Guinean Government is looking to stymie a human rights into conditions at the Manus Island detention centre. This follows a tour of the centre last Friday by journalists led by the head of the inquiry. The Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, has defended the decision, saying it is a matter for the PNG Government. Well joining me to discuss this and other issues is Andrew Laming, Liberal Member for Bowman in Queensland and Andrew Leigh, the Labor Member for Fraser in the ACT, also Shadow Assistant Treasurer.

Andrew Leigh, to you first, Scott Morrison is right isn’t he, this is purely a matter for the PNG Government?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: It’s important that the Australian Government works constructively with the PNG Government and part of the refugee resettlement agreement was always that resettlement would occur as speedily as possible. What I’m concerned about is Minister Morrison’s slowness to engage with Papua New Guinea; the fact that we know that he only spoke face to face with his PNG counterpart less than a month ago and the Government hasn’t put resettlement at the top of its agenda. The events in the detention centre with the tragic death of an asylum seeker have led Labor to call for an independent inquiry and for a senate inquiry, both of which are now underway and it’s really incumbent on the Government to begin that resettlement process as quickly as possible.

Continue reading ‘TRANSCRIPT – Breaking Politics – Monday, 24 March 2014’ »

AALD Miami

I spoke in parliament today about the inaugural meetings of the Australia-American Leadership Dialogue in Miami.

Australia-America Leadership Dialogue, 17 March 2014

It was my pleasure to attend, from 5 to 7 March, the inaugural Australian American Leadership Dialogue meetings in Miami, Florida. They were discussions that covered a wide range of topics, as is usual with the AALD, under the Chatham House Rule. Among the topics discussed were the changing role of diversity in the United States, with Miami providing something of an example as to how the rest of the United States may be over the decades to come; issues of infrastructure financing, which both countries face; immigration reform; and the desire of both the United States and Australia to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The meetings were also an opportunity to engage in discussion and innovation. It was commented that President Obama’s focus on neuroscience will be important for Australia as we look to boost innovation. It an opportunity also, through the lens of Miami, to look to Latin America, where many Australian students are currently studying and Australian firms such as seek.com are operating.

There were many attendees, but I would like particularly to acknowledge Phillip Scanlan, Martin Adams and Julie Singer-Scanlan from the AALD; US ambassador John Berry; and the mayor of Miami, Tomas Regalado, who I hope will visit Perth and perhaps other Australian cities as part of a return visit next year.

Does Size Matter? An Economic Perspective on the Population Debate

My speech at the Lowy Institute looks at population size, immigration flows and refugee policy.

Does Size Matter? An Economic Perspective on the Population Debate*

Lowy Institute
13 March 2014

Andrew Leigh
Shadow Assistant Treasurer
Federal Member for Fraser
www.andrewleigh.com

I’ve wanted to say something about this rather controversial topic for a long time. Now that I take to the podium, I can’t help thinking of an epitaph Dorothy Parker penned for her gravestone: ‘Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment.’

A great epitaph for a writer. Perhaps not so much for a politician. Nevertheless, I hope what follows shows that my belief in evidence is stronger than my desire to avoid tough questions.

If there’s one thing that’s really big in the population size debate, it’s the size of the scare campaigns made by both sides.

A big Australia, one side tells us, is a ‘catastrophe’[1] that ‘risks destroying our traditions and even our common language’.[2] Immigration has ‘undermined our higher education system, [and] put intolerable pressure on an overstretched health and transport system’.[3] Some go further, blaming ‘limp-wristed citizenship requirements’ for ‘ethnic crime waves sweeping across our nation, where samurai swords and machetes have become part of the media lexicon’.[4]

Not to be outdone, the other side of the debate argue that: ‘Putting caps on growth would turn Australia into a stagnant, ageing and inward-looking country – a basket case to rival the declining states of Europe.’[5] Some have warned that if population growth is too slow, the share market would stagnate, small businesses would be unable to fund their ventures, taxes would rise, and debt would balloon.[6]

Continue reading ‘Does Size Matter? An Economic Perspective on the Population Debate’ »

UN Report on Human Rights in North Korea

I spoke today on the new UN Report into Human Rights in North Korea, chaired by Michael Kirby.

Human Rights Abuses in North Korea, 3 March 2014

Three stories from North Korea’s prison camps.

First, a story told by camp survivor Ms Jee Heon A:

‘… there was this pregnant woman … The babies who were born were usually dead, but in this case the baby was born alive. The baby was crying as it was born, so we were curious, this was the first time we saw a baby being born. So we were watching this baby and we were so happy. But suddenly we heard the footsteps. The security agent … told us to put the baby in the water upside down. So the mother was begging. ‘I was told that I would not be able to have the baby, but I actually got lucky and got pregnant so please let me keep the baby, please forgive me.’ But the agent kept beating this woman, the mother who just gave birth. And the baby, since it was just born, it was just crying. And the mother, with her shaking hands she picked up the baby and she put the baby face down in the water. The baby stopped crying and we saw this water bubble coming out of the mouth of the baby.’

Second, an account told by Mr Jeong Kwang-il:

Continue reading ‘UN Report on Human Rights in North Korea’ »

Launching a book on the Gillard Governments

Last night, I launched Chris Aulich’s edited book on the Gillard Governments at the University of Canberra.

Launch of Chris Aulich (ed), The Gillard Governments

University of Canberra

30 January 2014

Andrew Leigh MP

I acknowledge the Ngunnawal people, on whose lands we meet today.

It is a pleasure to be launching Chris Aulich’s edited book The Gillard Governments, the eleventh in the ‘Commonwealth Administration Series’ that has chronicled federal governments back to 1983. The title is plural: referring to Prime Minister Gillard’s Government at the end of the 42nd parliament and for much of the 43rd parliament.

As well as being a pleasure to launch this book, it’s also an honour. The editor presumably chose me because of one of the two records that I set during the 43rd parliament. During that parliament, I served for 99 days as a parliamentary secretary in the Gillard Government, making me the shortest-serving executive member of that government.[1] According to the Guinness Book of Records, people have spent more time in space, as a hostage, travelling by taxi and living in a hotel, than I spent in the executive. The other record is that during the 43rd parliament, I published two books (one on social capital, the other on inequality).

Or perhaps the honour of today’s invitation is due to the fact that I’m the local MP representing the University of Canberra, which has produced these Commonwealth Administration Series books for over thirty years.

This being Canberra, I can count among the book’s 24 contributors people who have been my boss, my co-worker, and my research assistant.

They are an impressive group, who bring expertise in policy and politics to bear in analysing the Gillard Governments.

If there is a general message that comes out of the policy analysis in this book, it is that Labor can count a significant number of legislative achievements under Julia Gillard’s Prime Ministership. Continue reading ‘Launching a book on the Gillard Governments’ »

Viva Mandela – Condolence Speech, 9 December 2013

Yesterday I joined parliamentary members in expressing sadness over the passing of the former South African President, Nelson Rolihlahla Nelson. I gave this condolence speech:

Richard Stengel, who worked with Nelson Mandela on his autobiography, told the story of when he was out walking one morning in the Transkei with Mr Mandela and they spoke about when he would be joining his ancestors. Mandela said:

Men come and go. I have come and I will go when my time comes.

He had an extraordinary life. The first time he shook the hand of a white man was when he went off to boarding school. He was born into a relatively privileged family by black South African standards. He grew to stand six foot two and he had a strong education. Nonetheless, when he was a young man in Johannesburg people spat on him in buses, shopkeepers turned him away and whites treated him as if he could not read or write. He thought to himself that, if that was how he was treated, how must it be for so many other black South Africans?

He was tried for his revolutionary activities for the ANC and sentenced. In the sentencing hearings, he spoke for four hours, finishing with the final statement:

During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

Continue reading ‘Viva Mandela – Condolence Speech, 9 December 2013’ »

Sky AM Agenda – 2 December 2013

On Sky AM Agenda, I spoke with host Kieran Gilbert and Liberal MP Josh Frydenberg about the Coalition’s broken promise on school funding, protectionist decision on foreign investment, and problematic calls in foreign policy.

Monday Breaking Politics – 25 November 2013

In my regular discussion on Breaking Politics with Tim Lester about issues shaping the news, I spoke about potential GST reform for online purchases and the Abbott Government’s adoption of a new position on Israel at the UN. I also caution against a Grattan Institute plan to delay access to aged pensions.

TRANSCRIPT - ONLINE INTERVIEW

BREAKING POLITICS – FAIRFAX VIDEO

MONDAY, 25 NOVEMBER 2013

CANBERRA

SUBJECT/S: Israeli settlements, Age/Nielsen Poll, GST and online purchases, carbon pricing, pension age.

TIM LESTER: The Abbott government appears to have made a contentious, but largely unreported change in a critical foreign policy stance in recent days. Has it reduced Australia’s opposition to some of the most contentious of Israeli activities in the West Bank, including the construction of settlements? Every Monday Breaking Politics is joined by Labor MP from Canberra, Andrew Leigh. Welcome in Andrew.

ANDREW LEIGH: Thanks Tim.

LESTER: Tell me, what worries you about Australia’s foreign policy approach to Israel and the Palestinians at the moment?

LEIGH: As a good friend of Israel’s, I believe Australia should be committed to a two-state solution. That means that we need to ensure that Israel maintains the adherence to international norms which are so vital in bringing about a two state solution. There’s a thing called the Geneva Convention, we’ve had it for more than 60 years, that says that if you’re an occupying power, you shouldn’t deport people out of the territories you occupy or transfer new people into it. But we’ve seen occupied settlements going up 70 percent in the first half of this year, compared to the first half of last year. That was deplored under Labor, sitting with the vast consensus in the international community as being illegal against international law. But now the Coalition has back-flipped on that and voted with just eleven countries against 160 countries that believe that Israel should adhere to international law.

Continue reading ‘Monday Breaking Politics – 25 November 2013’ »

Speech – The Importance of Indonesia to Australia

I spoke in the House of Representatives today about Australia’s ties with Indonesia – discussing the three years I lived there, and some of the great Australians who helped shape the relationship.

SPEECH

ADJOURNMENT DEBATE

THURSDAY, 21 NOVEMBER 2013

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA

The Importance of Indonesia to Australia, House of Representatives, 21 November 2013

Last night in the House the Leader of the Opposition spoke about the importance of ‘team Australia’ in our engagement with Indonesia. It is a phrase which the late great Senator Peter Cook used to use often. I wish to speak today about the personal value I place on that relationship.

I have spoken previously in parliament about some of the great Australians who helped to forge the bond with Indonesia in the 1950s. Jamie Mackie, who worked in the state planning bureau in Jakarta, lectured in economic history at Gadjah Mada University and eventually formed a group at the Monash University Centre of Southeast Asian Studies, which earned the title of ‘a second Cornell’ in recognition of its engagement with Indonesian issues. I have spoken too about Herb Feith, who was instrumental in setting up the Australian volunteering program, having written to the Australian Prime Minister and the Indonesian President—Menzies and Sukarno—when he was aged 22. Herb’s work in building the relationship with Indonesia was absolutely vital. As Herb wrote in 1954 of Australian volunteers in Indonesia:

‘… these young people assert by the way they live, that racial equality is real. By having natural and friendly relations with Indonesians on the basis of mutual respect.’

Continue reading ‘Speech – The Importance of Indonesia to Australia’ »

Sky AM Agenda

On Sky AM Agenda, I joined Liberal MP Steve Ciobo and host Kieran Gilbert to discuss Mr Hockey’s request for a no-doc $500B loan, Mr Abbott’s curious statements on human rights in Sri Lanka, and the emerging split in the Coalition over foreign investment.

Monday Breaking Politics – 18 November 2013

This morning, in my usual slot with host Tim Lester in the Fairfax Breaking Politics studio, I discussed some of the stories making news today including the stark difference in approach between Tony Abbott and Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron over alleged human rights abuses in Sri Lanka. Here’s the full transcript:

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

BREAKING POLITICS

FAIRFAX VIDEO

MONDAY, 18 NOVEMBER 2013

Subjects: Sri Lanka and human rights, child care review, shopper dockets, debt ceiling, role of the Speaker of the House of Representatives

TIM LESTER: The approach of two conservative leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Sri Lanka could not have been more marked. Britain’s David Cameron visited some disaffected families in one part of the country, also upset the government by calling for a war-crimes enquiry. Australia’s Tony Abbott, well he gave the Government a couple of patrol boats to help with asylum seekers and seemed only to praise them. Which leader was right? Well, to discuss that issue and others, we’re joined on Mondays in [the] Breaking Politics studio by Andrew Leigh, Labor MP here in Canberra. Andrew, thank you for coming in.

ANDREW LEIGH: A pleasure Tim.

LESTER: Who was right in their approach to Sri Lanka, Britain’s David Cameron or our Tony Abbott?

LEIGH: I think when we go overseas Tim, we do a little part of the exercise of telling the rest of the world what Australia is – what we stand for. Through each of our statement and our actions we convey Australian values and to have Mr Abbott in Sri Lanka saying of torture, ‘I accept that sometimes in difficult circumstances difficult things happen’ was to me pretty troubling.  That attitude seemed to contradict what I would have seen as a long standing principle going right back through Labor and conservative prime ministers of Australia that we would never accept that there are any difficult circumstances in which torture was acceptable. David Cameron conveyed his country’s values to the world. Mr Abbott, I think, took a domestic political agenda that was smaller than the big-hearted country he represents.

Continue reading ‘Monday Breaking Politics – 18 November 2013’ »

Monday Breaking Politics – Fairfax Media – 11 November 2013

This morning I spoke with Fairfax Media’s Tim Lester about what’s making news, notably developments that highlight the Abbott Government’s aggressively marketed asylum seeker policy is shambolic.  Here’s the full transcript:

BREAKING POLITICS

FAIRFAX VIDEO

MONDAY, 11 NOVEMBER 2013

Subjects: Asylum seeker stand-off with Indonesia, Warsaw Climate Change Conference, Grain Corp takeover.

TIM LESTER: There is debate about how many times it has happened in recent days but no debate over the fact that it is happening. Indonesia is turning back asylum boats that the Abbott Government would like our near neighbour to take. What does this say about the Abbott Government’s asylum policy going forward? Every Monday Breaking Politics is joined by the Labor MP in Fraser, Andrew Leigh. Welcome in Andrew.

ANDREW LEIGH: Thanks Tim.

LESTER: First, does Indonesia’s stance on tow-backs surprise you?

LEIGH: Not in the least Tim. This is what Labor has said for upwards of a year would happen. The Indonesian Government has been firm and consistent in their position on Mr Abbott’s tow-back policies. That’s why before the election he conspicuously failed to raise it with our Indonesian colleagues. I think calling the Government’s asylum seeker policy ‘shambolic’ is probably being too generous. We’re now learning more about what Australian navy vessels are doing through the Jakarta Post than we are through the official briefing from Mr Morrison. It appears now that the reason he wants a General to stand next to him is so that he can shield behind that General and refuse to answer questions. And, as to the ‘buy-back the boats’ policy, we’ve heard precious little of that in recent times. It’s really disappointing Tim. This is a vital relationship for Australia. We must treat our Indonesia colleagues with respect. They are the fourth-largest country in the world; a very important relationship for Australia being dealt tremendous blows by the toing and froing, the back and forth that is this Government’s asylum seeker policy.

Continue reading ‘Monday Breaking Politics – Fairfax Media – 11 November 2013’ »

Monday Breaking Politics – Fairfax Media

This morning, I spoke with Tim Lester about some of the stories making news today: surveyed economists rejecting the government’s Direct Action policy to limit climate change, the unwelcome prospect of Australia Post delivering Centrelink services and Tony Abbott’s uncouth comments in a Washington Post interview. Here’s the transcript:

TRANSCRIPT

BREAKING POLITICS WITH TIM LESTER

MONDAY 28 OCTOBER 2013

Subjects: Centrelink and Australia Post, Direct Action, Foreign Affairs.

TIM LESTER: Has the Abbott Government found a viable way of saving money by shifting the front office operations of Centrelink to the control of Australia Post. It’s likely to cause plenty of discussion in politics this week. Labor MP Andrew Leigh, the member for Fraser here in the ACT, joins us in the Breaking Politics studio to discuss this and a few other issues on a Monday. Andrew, welcome in, appreciate your time.

ANDREW LEIGH: Thank you Tim.

LESTER: Is it a good idea to the front office operations of Centrelink and put them in Australia Post outlets?

LEIGH: Tim, the work that Centrelink does is pretty high level work. It’s not simply dispensing payments. It’s working through the appropriate payments for someone at a time of crisis in their life. People come into a Centrelink office after having lost a job, after having experienced a family breakdown and some of the clients have mental health issues. It’s a time of great vulnerability and that’s why Centrelink officers are trained professionals. The notion that they could simply be lining up in an Australia Post office, dodging through the stands of calendars and express post envelopes misses what Australia Post does. It’s the kind of thing you would expect from a Government that’s just gotten rid of the income support payment, effectively a cut to payment for unemployment benefits to now say now to some of the most vulnerable Australians including those with mental illness, just go the Australia Post Office instead.

LESTER: So you see a real danger in mixing these two?

LEIGH: I think some of the most vulnerable Australians will be hurt by this Tim and I think that, unfortunately, it seems to be so much of a pattern with this Government. Taking away the Schoolkids Bonus, taking away income support payments, giving more money to millionaires to have families, giving big tax cuts to mining billionaires. It’s the wrong philosophy for an Australia founded on the ‘fair go’.

Continue reading ‘Monday Breaking Politics – Fairfax Media’ »

Breaking Politics – 8 October

This morning I spoke with Fairfax Media’s Tim Lester for Breaking Politics, exploring news of the day. I was asked about on-going revelations Coalition MPs, including Prime Minister Tony Abbott, have repaid  tax payer funded outings, the impact of the US Congress budget impasse and about the rights of West Papuans to express their concerns.  Here’s the full transcript:

BREAKING POLITICS – FAIRFAX MEDIA

TIM LESTER: When is it legitimate for an MP to claim his or her travel expenses on the taxpayer? Going to weddings for example. There are some numerous and now some notorious cases out there. To help us fathom this issues and others, our regular for Monday, joining us this week on a Tuesday because of holidays is Andrew Leigh, the MP for Fraser, Labor MP. Thank you for coming in Andrew.

ANDREW LEIGH: Thanks.

LESTER: Tony Abbott attended weddings several years ago. Now, one of them was Peter Slipper’s several years ago now. He claimed the costs. The taxpayers paid for him. He’s now paid it back seven years later when the issue surfaces as contentious. Has he done the right thing or the wrong thing?

LEIGH: Mr Abbott’s seems to have a fairly expansive view of entitlements and you’re beginning to see a bit of a pattern here. Like the Howard Government which had seven ministers resign early on as a result of various scandals including travel expenses scandals. There are now four Coalition cabinet ministers, including the Prime Minister who are under investigation here. I guess what worries me is that if they’re taking that sort of approach to these cases that we know about, what approach do they take to public expenses more broadly? That plays into a broader question over schemes such as paid parental leave which I think demonstrate an even more cavalier approach to the public finances.

LESTER: So, the various cases of weddings that we’ve seen here where these MPs have gone along and claimed on the taxpayer, they should not have done that?

LEIGH: I certainly don’t believe so. I mean it’s great to see Coalition MPs going to weddings. They’re so excited by them, you wonder how they can be against same-sex marriage. But this strikes me as an entirely personal matter and I’m surprised they’ve claimed for it.

Continue reading ‘Breaking Politics – 8 October’ »

Sky AM Agenda – 7 October 2013

On Sky AM Agenda, I spoke with host Laura Jayes and Liberal minister Mitch Fifield about the Coalition’s odd policy of liberalising trade and restricting foreign investment, and about the four cabinet members who have claimed travel allowance to attend weddings.

Sky Lunchtime Agenda – 1 October 2013

On 1 October, I joined host Laura Jayes and Liberal MP Alan Tudge to discuss Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s attempts to persuade Indonesia to accept boat buybacks and towbacks, and the importance of maintaining ethical standards if Australia is to continue to have a viable live animal export trade.

AusAID should not become an ATM for diplomats – 19 September

MEDIA RELEASE

The Abbott Government’s decision to integrate AusAID into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is extremely short-sighted.

“AusAID is not an ATM for diplomats,” said Andrew Leigh, the Federal Member for Fraser in the Australian Capital Territory.

“The purpose of development assistance is fighting poverty. Absorbing AusAID into DFAT signals that fight – to save and improve the lives of the world’s absolute poor – is not valued.”

“This takes us back to 1973. Like Tony Abbott’s decision to scrap the science ministry and his choice to have only one women in a cabinet of twenty people, this shows that this is a back-to-the-future government,” said Dr Leigh. Continue reading ‘AusAID should not become an ATM for diplomats – 19 September’ »

Ten Challenges for Tony Abbott

My op-ed in today’s SMH sets out some of the questions the incoming Prime Minister has to answer.

Ten Challenges for Tony Abbott, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times, 13 September 2013

As a poll sceptic, I’m fairly rare in Parliament House. Most of the building watches opinion polls with the eagerness of sailors looking for land. For those on the Coalition side, the fact that almost every opinion poll in the past three years has gone in their favour has given them a strong sense of confidence that they would form government at this election.

The Coalition won the election with a convincing margin, and I congratulate Mr Abbott on becoming our 28th Prime Minister. But given the length of time the Abbott Government has had to prepare for office, the real surprise is the number of major policy questions that lie unanswered. Here are ten for starters.

First, given that we know from independent experts such as the Grattan Institute that Direct Action will not meet the bipartisan target of cutting emissions by 5 percent by 2020, how does the government intend to reduce our carbon emissions? Given that Australia has just had the hottest summer on record, is it really acceptable for the developed nation with the highest emissions per person to back away from action on carbon emissions?

Continue reading ‘Ten Challenges for Tony Abbott’ »

Breaking Politics – 9 September 2013

On 9 September, I spoke with host Tim Lester and Liberal MP Kelly O’Dwyer on the achievements and mistakes of the Labor Government, why we should stick with the most affordable way of dealing with climate change, and the questions for the incoming government to answer (such as how it will build links with the US administration, given that most of the personal ties are to the Republican side of politics). Here’s a video.

Sky PM Agenda with David Speers – 29 August 2013

On 29 August, Andrew Leigh MP appeared on Sky PM Agenda with host David Speers and Liberal MP Josh Frydenberg. Topics included the Coalition’s secrecy over releasing costings, and the situation in Syria.

ABC702 with Malcolm Turnbull & David Smith – 19 Aug 2013

On last night’s ABC702 Political Forum, I joined Liberal MP Malcolm Turnbull and David Smith from the US Studies Centre in a congenial conversation with host Richard Glover about the philosophical differences between the parties (I argued Labor is the party of egalitarianism and liberalism), the Coalition’s uncosted paid parental leave scheme, negative advertising, and the situation in Egypt. Here’s a podcast.

Will Japan Grow Again?

My op-ed in today’s AFR looks at the prospects for jumpstarting Japan’s ailing economy.

Three Arrows on Their Way, Australian Financial Review, 4 June 2013

In the mid-1930s, John Maynard Keynes coined the phrase ‘animal spirits’ to sum up the impact of a country’s mood on its economic environment. When nations get stuck in a funk, it’s hard to escape. Conversely, when growth gets going, exuberance builds on exuberance (sometimes to the point of creating a bubble). Either way, the sentiments of consumers and businesses can build on one another.

For Japan, the post-war decades are a story of astonishing transformation, as the country transformed itself from a developing to a developed country. By the 1980s, airport bookshelves were filled with tomes about the virtues of the Japanese economic model, with titles like Trading Places: How we are Giving Our Future to Japan and How to Reclaim It and Blindside: Why Japan Is Still on Track to Overtake the U.S. by the Year 2000.

But the past twenty years have been a story of malaise. Hard as it is to believe, the Japanese economy – in nominal terms – is almost exactly the same size as it was twenty years ago. The deflation trap has proved devilishly hard to escape, and net government debt is now more than 140 percent of GDP, the highest in the OECD (Australia’s debt share is one of the lowest).

Continue reading ‘Will Japan Grow Again?’ »

Do you have a Boer War ancestor?

The folks behind the proposed Boer War Memorial are looking for support from descendents of people who served in the war. If you think a family member might have fought for Australia in that conflict, you can look them up using this handy search engine (which thoughtfully also lets you download the entire database).

Israel Decides

On the ABC website, I have an opinion piece on the upcoming Israeli election.

We owe it as friends to warn Israel, The Drum, 15 January 2013

Israelis will go to the polls next Tuesday to elect a new government.

If early signs are to be believed, Israel’s most conservative government ever may be replaced by one even further to the right.

Already, there are signs that settler activity will intensify after the election.

The question for Australia is: what can we do to bring about peace in the Middle East?

First, some background.

Continue reading ‘Israel Decides’ »

Sky AM Agenda 6th December 2012


David Lipson hosted Paul Fletcher and me this morning. We talked about asylum seekers, green tape and whether Labor is the new party of liberalism.

Australia-China Forum

I spoke in parliament today about the Australia-China Forum, which I attended in Beijing on 15 November 2012.

Australia-China Forum, 29 November 2012

Earlier this month it was my pleasure to attend the second annual Australia-China Forum. Established during a difficult period in the bilateral relationship, the forum provides an opportunity for businesspeople, government officials, academics and journalists to discuss issues that matter to our two countries. The Australian delegation was led by the indefatigable Gareth Evans, and the Chinese delegation was led by another former foreign minister, Li Zhaoxing. We were generously hosted by the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs, CPIFA. By chance, the forum took place on the precise day that the new Chinese leadership was announced to the world.

Continue reading ‘Australia-China Forum’ »

Australia-China forum panel discussion

I recently attended the Australia-China forum in Beijing and was a part of a breakfast panel discussing various political issues. We covered off the Asian Century White Paper and optimism in Australian politics during the session. The audio from the panel is available below.

Australia-China Forum panel discussion by Andrewleighmp on Mixcloud

Sky AM Agenda – 8 Nov 2012

On Sky AM Agenda, I spoke about lessons from President Obama’s victory for Australian politics, the need to better manage peak power demand, and why good governments routinely cost policy ideas that are in the public domain. The presenter was David Lipson and my co-panellist was Kelly O’Dwyer.

Meet the Press – 28 October 2012

For a 20th anniversary segment, I appeared on Meet the Press with Liberal MP Joshua Frydenberg, and interviewers Hugh Riminton and Misha Schubert. Topics included why I’m in the ALP, what the Asian Century White Paper means for Australia, and the importance of education and entrepreneurship to our nation’s future.

Vale Coral Bell

I spoke in parliament today about the late international relations scholar Coral Bell.

Coral Bell, 11 October 2012

I rise to speak about a great constituent of mine, Coral Bell, AO, who passed away on 26 September 2012. Coral Bell was a former academic at the Australian National University and one of the great international relations scholars in Australia. Her former ANU colleague Andrew Carr said, ‘She was a landmark figure in Australia’s international relations who was often the only woman in the room yet was always well heard and respected for her intelligence and character’. My friend Michael Fullilove, who has recently taken over as executive director of the Lowy Institute—and I congratulate him on that—called Dr Bell ‘a giant of the Australian foreign policy scene’.

Continue reading ‘Vale Coral Bell’ »