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).
Archive for the ‘Foreign Affairs’ Category.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
I spoke in parliament today about the late war hero and public servant, Sir Richard Kingsland.
Sir Richard Kingsland, 13 September 2012
Sir Richard Kingsland passed away at Calvary John James Hospital after a short illness on Monday, the 27th. Like many of my constituents, his was a life of public service. His wartime service was marked by the bravery and ingenuity he displayed in the 1940 retrieval of Field Marshal Viscount Gort VC from a Moroccan hotel. It is a tale of derring-do that befits 007, perhaps with a hint of the Pink Panther.
I spoke in parliament yesterday about Private Robert Poate, a young Canberra man killed in Afghanistan.
Private Robert Poate, 10 September 2012
Among the fallen that we remember today is Canberra-born Private Robert Poate. This young, promising and highly qualified soldier’s life was cut short by a rogue Afghan solider in Oruzgan province last month. He was on his first tour of duty. Today we offer our deepest condolences to Private Poate’s colleagues, friends and, most of all, his family: Hugh, Janny and Nicola. As a soldier, a mate, a brother and a son, this tragic loss has been keenly felt by Canberra’s close-knit community.
The long tail of academic publishing means that two years after leaving my professorial post at ANU, I’m still having pieces appear in the journals. In case it’s of interest, here are the handful of publications that have come out in 2012.
- ‘Does Racial and Ethnic Discrimination Vary Across Minority Groups? Evidence From a Field Experiment’ (with Alison Booth and Elena Varganova) (2012) Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics
- ‘Bargaining Over Labor: Do Patients Have Any Power?’ (with Joshua Gans) (2012) Economic Record
- ‘How Much Did the 2009 Australian Fiscal Stimulus Boost Demand? Evidence from Household-Reported Spending Effects‘, B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics
- ‘How Partisan is the Press? Multiple Measures of Media Slant’ (with Joshua Gans) (2012) Economic Record
- ‘Teacher Pay and Teacher Aptitude’ (2012) Economics of Education Review
- ‘The Economics and Politics of Teacher Merit Pay’ (2012), CESifo Economic Studies (forthcoming)
- ‘Intergenerational Income Mobility in Urban China’ (with Cathy Gong and Xin Meng) (2012) Review of Income and Wealth (forthcoming)
- ‘Effects of Temporary In-Work Benefits for Welfare Recipients: Examination of the Australian Working Credit Programme’ (with Roger Wilkins) (2012), Fiscal Studies (forthcoming)
All my academic work – including many replication datasets – is available at www.andrewleigh.org.
In the SMH News Review section today, I’ve done ‘The Essay’ – a shorter version of my McKell Institute speech.
Dumb Luck – Smart Future, Sydney Morning Herald, 9 June 2012
In the Pacific Ocean, off the west coast of South America, sit the Galapagos Islands. Although they straddle the equator, the pattern of ocean currents has a cooling effect, making them an ideal breeding ground.
The islands are volcanic – so all animal life on the Galapagos Islands came originally by flying or floating nearly 1000 kilometres from Ecuador. And yet for the species that survived, life on the Galapagos Islands was perfect. Migrating birds lucky enough to be blown off course found an environment with few natural predators. Tortoises that floated here found beaches perfectly suited to their breeding environments. Life flourished.
Looking back across Australian economic history, I am often struck by the extent to which luck has similarly played a part in our success. Politicians are sometimes reluctant to talk about luck – preferring to focus on the things we can control than those we can’t. But I think it’s still worth talking about the role that fortune has played, if only to help understand what preparations we should be making. If we don’t do that, we’re like the Galapagos tortoise, which must have thought itself the luckiest species on earth, until British sailors discovered the islands in the late-eighteenth century, and ate them in their thousands.
On 31 May 2012, it will be 110 years since the signing of the peace treaty in the Boer War. The National Boer War Association has asked me to let descendants know about the memorial (the picture shows an artist’s rendering), and that special ‘descendants’ and ‘in memory’ medallions have been struck in honour of veterans.
Anyone who thinks they might be a descendant is encouraged to go to the Ancestor Search function on the Boer War Memorial website, or to contact the National Boer War Memorial Association.
This week, I met with a delegation of three Burmese members of parliament, newly elected to represent Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy Party. The photo shows me chatting with MP Phyo Zeya Thaw, who was also a hip-hop artist (in fact, that’s what got him into trouble with the regime). I asked Mr Thaw whether the regime had jailed him for his activism. His reply: “Only for 3 years and 3 months.” It was a humbling conversation.
Senator Lisa Singh and I have an opinion piece in today’s Canberra Times on the implications of the rise of Asia for Australia. The full text is over the fold. It’s based on our submission to Ken Henry’s Asian Century white paper.
The Asian Century Beckons, Canberra Times, 25 April 2012
In the 21st century, we can confidently predict two trends. First, Australia will become more ethnically diverse. And second, we will become more enmeshed with Asia. The next generation of Australians will be more likely to have been born in Asia, travelled to Asia, worked in Asia, or married someone from Asia.
In a recent forum at the ANU Crawford School, I joined Reframe author Eric Knight, change.org‘s Rebecca Wilson, Liberal MP Joshua Frydenberg and Big Ideas host Paul Barclay to discuss the topic ‘Beyond Populist Politics and Policies’. A podcast of the show (from ABC Radio National) is now available.
I held one of my regular community forums at lunchtime today at the Belconnen Community Services theaterette (‘theatre@bcs’). I started off speaking about the mining tax package, which has just passed the parliament, and will provide for a cut to the company tax rate, an increase in superannuation, and more investment (particularly in the mining regions).
There were a wide variety of questions, covering the Gonski review of school funding, local arts facilities, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, refugee policy, the purchase of submarines, the lack of a letterbox at the Kangara Waters community, defence force and public service pension indexation, the adequacy of footpaths in the city centre, the merits of taking on debt to pay for fiscal stimulus, the frequency of grass cutting, household assistance in the carbon pricing plan, and the effect of federal pension increases on ACT public housing costs.
I enjoy the interplay of ideas at these forums, and welcome anyone who lives or works on the northside of Canberra to come along to a future community forum.
This forum was held on a weekday lunchtime, but there’s no perfect time of the day for a community forum, so I aim to vary the dates and times to allow as many people as possible to attend. For details of upcoming forums, click here.
I spoke last night about the late war correspondent Marie Colvin, and about the ongoing tragedy in Syria.
Marie Colvin and Syria
27 February 2012
Last week, renowned war correspondent Marie Colvin was killed in the Syrian city of Homs. She was killed covering the attacks of the Assad regime on its own people. Throughout her career, Marie Colvin had covered conflicts in the Balkans, Chechnya and Zimbabwe. She had covered the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. In 2001, covering the conflict between government forces and the rebel Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, Marie Colvin was struck by shrapnel and lost her left eye. She wore a black eye patch, which became her trademark. After the loss of her eye she wrote about why she covered wars, putting herself in danger. She said that it is important to tell people what is really happening and about humanity in extremes, pushed to the unendurable. She said:
I spoke in parliament tonight about Asia-literacy, Ken Henry’s Asian Century report, refugees, and the Canberra Multicultural Festival. The speech is below (and if you’re at the Festival this coming Saturday, please come over to the Andrew Leigh stall and say g’day).
I spoke yesterday with ABC 666′s Ross Solly. He was keen to talk about personalities, and I wanted to talk about issues. It was a fun conversation, and a link to the audio is below.
In a relatively short Sky AM Agenda discussion with Mitch Fifield, we discussed the latest asylum-seeker tragedy and the consular assistance being provided to Julian Assange (I also drew on Michael Fullilove’s comparison between News of the World and Wikileaks).
I put out the following release today.
Fraser Commonwealth Youth Forum delegates ready to go
21 September 2011
“Two young people from the electorate of Fraser will be part of the 30-strong Australian delegation representing young Australians at the Commonwealth Youth Forum in October,” Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh said.
Andrew Leigh said Melissa Dimmick of Turner and Anthony Obeyesekere of Braddon have both been selected to provide youth-related recommendations to Commonwealth Heads of Government.
I spoke yesterday on the topic of reforming the United Nations’ General Assembly.
United Nations General Assembly Reform
19 September 2011
In 1945, the establishment of the United Nations was a triumph of hope over experience. The League of Nations had failed to forestall World War II, yet the creation of the United Nations signalled optimism that such horrors could be avoided in the future—hope that succeeding generations, as the charter says, might be saved from ‘the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind’.
I spoke a month ago in the adjournment debate about the challenges of reforming the United Nations Security Council and I want to follow up tonight by offering a few suggestions for reform of the United Nations General Assembly. Again, I am grateful to William Isdale for his assistance.
I spoke in parliament yesterday about the tenth anniversary of the September 11 tragedy.
United States of America: Terrorist Attacks
14 September 2011
Last Sunday, Peter Negron once again stood before a crowd gathered in Lower Manhattan to remember and pay tribute to the victims of the September 11 tragedy. Two years after losing his father in the attacks, Peter, then a slight 13-year-old barely able to reach the microphone, had read the children’s poem Stars, including the lines:
‘I felt them watching over me, each one
‘And let me cry and cry till I was done.’
I spoke in parliament this week about proposals to reform the UN Security Council.
United Nations Security Council Reform
17 August 2011
In 1994 the genocide in Rwanda shook the world’s collective conscience. A mixture of international unwillingness and poor procedure meant that effective action was not taken to prevent the killings. The next year, in what became the largest mass murder in Europe since World War II, United Nations forces in Srebrenica failed to protect those who had sought refuge in a so-called UN ‘safe zone’. In 1999, fear of a veto in the Security Council prevented UN forces from intervening in atrocities in Kosovo. All of these failures revealed structural defects in the way the international community responds to mass atrocities.
I spoke in parliament today about democratisation movements in Malaysia.
I was proud tonight to launch Jemma Purdey’s fine biography of the late Herb Feith. We had around 120 people in the Main Committee Room at Parliament House, which was testament to the number of people Herb’s life touched.
Book Launch of Jemma Purdey, From Vienna to Yogyakarta: The Life of Herb Feith
Andrew Leigh MP
6 July 2011
I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the lands on which we meet today, and thanking those who have worked hard to organise today, particularly Louise Crossman and Nik Feith Tan.
Jemmy Purdey, family and friends of Herb, internationalists all – thank you for coming today to celebrate Herb’s life and Jemma’s fine book.
Let me begin with a story.
I’m in Sao Paulo this week, attending the Partnership Forum for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which is a strategy conference held every 2-3 years.
The conference is mostly implementers and NGOs, with a smattering of politicians (I’ve enjoyed chatting with Mark Lancaster, a moderate Tory who is the principal private secretary on international development to the Secretary of State).
Six things I’ve learned since I arrived:
- There are forms of malaria that can kill you within 24 hours of the first symptoms.
- After mosquitoes bite an infected person, they need to sit in a dark corner. So spraying insecticide in dark corners is surprisingly effective.
- There’s been a lot of emphasis on preventing mother-child transmission of HIV by ensuring all HIV+ mothers are on antiretrovirals during pregnancy. But after the birth, there often isn’t the money to keep up treatment. The result is that we prevent the child being born with HIV (which is terrific), but pretty much guarantee that s/he will be an orphan within a few years. Hard ethical issues.
- Treating regular TB costs a few dollars. Treating multi-drug resistant TB costs around $10,000.
- The tendency for mission creep is strong – not surprisingly, given the Global Fund has mobilised nearly $22 billion in the past decade. But it’s important to keep remembering that the reason donors have been so generous is that they think they know pretty precisely what their cash is going towards. Broaden the remit, and the dollars may disappear.
- There’s a lot of talk about reactionary government attitudes hampering the outreach efforts of HIV programs to marginalised groups such as sexworkers, men who have sex with men, and injecting drug users. But the policymakers who hold those views either aren’t attending, or are staying very quiet. Instead, the atmosphere is very inclusive. My favourite moment came during a Q&A session today, when the MC said ‘Everyone who has asked a question so far has been male – can I hear from a woman now?’. A voice piped up at the back of the room ‘I’m transgender – does that count?’.