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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.

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.

Breaking Politics – Transcript – Monday, 10 March 2014

At the start of the week I spoke with Fairfax Media’s Breaking Politics host Chris Hammer and Andrew Laming about what’s making news, including speculation the still secret Audit Commission report has recommended making it harder for Australians to be eligible for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. Here’s the full transcript:



SUBJECT/S: Pension age; Commonwealth Seniors Health Card; Relaxing media laws.

HOST CHRIS HAMMER: At just what age should Australians be able to retire and what age would they be able to access the old age pension? At the moment that age is 65 but in a few time, by 2023 it will rise to 67. Now there’s speculation the Government may raise it again to 70. Joining me to discuss that and other issues, in the studio is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Labor member for Fraser in the ACT, Andrew Leigh and from Brisbane, the member for Bowman, Andrew Laming.

Andrew Laming, good to see you. Where are you this morning?

ANDREW LAMING: Well I’m down at my local quarry where I was hoping to show off a vigorous economy but at the moment there are no customers, so you’d just have to trust me.

HAMMER: Okay, very well. To the topic at hand, Andrew Laming can the Government defend or should the Government even be looking at raising the pension age to 70?

LAMING: Well Chris, we’re certainly looking over a decade ahead now, so it’s pretty hard to predict what living standards and expectations will look like then. But I think it’s important that the Government, given the history of the pension age, continues to debate about where an appropriate age setting should be. I’m glad that’s not a topic too hard to the Coalition to discuss and look ultimately we are, as a health expert I know, slightly fitter and slightly better able to contribute to the economy and Andrew Leigh would admit, that the longer keep people in the workforce the better it is for Australia’s long term future.

HAMMER: Andrew Leigh, we are living longer. It does make sense?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION: I certainly agree on the importance of participation Chris. But you’ve got to remember there are two key ages. There’s the age that people can access their super which is 60 and the age people get the pension which will eventually be 67. The Government is only focusing on the latter of those ages and that’s of course the time at which manual workers get their pension. And so, to say to manual workers, ‘look you’re going to now have to wait ten years longer than more affluent people who’ve got money in superannuation’ and doing that in an environment where you know that manual workers, sometimes their bodies just give out, say if you’re a bricklayer. We also know that low-income Australians die younger. So, it doesn’t seem particularly fair to be pushing out the pension age for people who do hard physical labour and who in many cases die at younger ages.

Continue reading ‘Breaking Politics – Transcript – Monday, 10 March 2014’ »

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’ »

SKY AM Agenda – Transcript – Monday 27 January

On 27 Jan, I joined host Kieran Gilbert and Liberal Senator Mitch Fifield to discuss the evidence against Work for the Dole, the possible sell-off of the National Disability Insurance Agency, Australian of the Year Adam Goodes and speculation about the next Governor General. A transcript is over the fold.

Continue reading ‘SKY AM Agenda – Transcript – Monday 27 January’ »

Labor’s legacy & broken Coalition promises

I delivered a speech in the House of Representatives today – what’s called an ‘Address in Reply’ in response to the Government’s opening speech – exploring Labor’s strong economic and policy legacy. I  urged the ALP to remain the party of big  ideas and one underpinned by key principles of fairness, inclusion and equality and I lamented the Abbott Government’s early and disappointing broken promises. Here’s the full text thanks to Hansard.

Can I congratulate the members for Bass and Corangamite on the passion with which they have delivered their first speeches and hope that they will serve their constituencies with the same energy and passion as their predecessors did.

I want to begin my remarks today with the stories of two constituents of mine: Carol and Denise. Denise has a 21-year-old son, Tim, with Down syndrome. She regularly has to prove his eligibility for a modest Centrelink payment and work within a system that has not been working for her and has not been working for Tim. Tim’s chromosomes are not going to change, but the old system required her to prove that. DisabilityCare will change that.

Then there is 48-year-old Carol, who works as a cleaner. Despite working on Sundays to earn some overtime she still earns less than $37,000 a year. Carol is not alone. A lot of low-income workers in cleaning, aged care, retail and hospitality are not full time and they are predominantly women. The removal of the low-income superannuation contribution will affect 3.6 million Australians and two-thirds of them are women. All of them, like Carol, work hard to make ends meet. They are the mothers who work part time because they are looking after young children. For them, saving for later in life is not a tax strategy.

DisabilityCare and the low-income superannuation contribution demonstrate how Labor take the initiative to defend those who are doing it tough. Labor are the party of ideas and we are the party of reform, the party with the courage to make the big decisions when they are needed. As the opposition leader said at this year’s Fraser lecture:

‘We’re the dreamers, doers and fighters.

‘We have ideas, and … we’re prepared to fight to make them a reality.’

I agree. Only the Labor Party is prepared to fight for a fair go for all and shoulder the responsibility for reform. Only Labor knows that reform must balance economic imperatives with social need and hope. I am sorry to say that that is in stark contrast to the approach of the Abbott government. We have already seen how quick they are to protect sympathetic vested interests and how much quicker they are to slug those doing it tough.

The Treasurer would have you believe that drastic action has to be taken because of the economic legacy left by Labor. Over the next few weeks we are doubtless going to hear, time and time again, what a terrible state the economy is in. Before the Treasurer attempts to airbrush recent history, let’s take a sober and sensible look at the economy that the government have inherited and what they have done with it so far. That look has to recognise the simple, fundamental truth. The government have inherited economic statistics and public finances that are better than those of almost any country in the developed world.

Continue reading ‘Labor’s legacy & broken Coalition promises’ »

Cranleigh School Art Show – 18-20 October

The Cranleigh School Artshow is being held in late-October. They have asked me to publicise it on my blog, and I am happy to do this. Details below.

Art Show October 2013

The Cranleigh Capital Chemist Artshow is an annual event held at Cranleigh School, Starke Street in Holt on the third week of October. The show raises money for the school and promotes well known Canberra and regional artists. It also showcases the abilities of our students.

This year we are hoping to raise more than $25,000 for a specialised music program at Cranleigh.

Friday 18th – Opening Night

6.00pm for sponsors.

7.00pm – 9.00pm for the public

Opening night includes

  • Robyn Archer AO, Centenary of Canberra Creative Director, will be opening the show.
  • Featured Guest Artist Kylie Heslop.
  • Wine and delicious food served by students from The Woden School.
  • Live jazz music by the Radford jazz band.
  • Silent auction.

19-20 October gallery open for viewing 9.00-5.00pm

Labor will defend Canberra – 6 September 2013

Media Release


An extra efficiency dividend on the public service will more spell even harder times for the Commonwealth Public Service should Tony Abbott and the Liberals win tomorrow’s election.

An extra 0.25 per cent increase in the efficiency dividend announced by the Liberals yesterday will take it to 2.5 per cent next financial year.

This is in addition to the minimum 12,000 jobs due to be axed if Tony Abbott wins government.

On the final day of the campaign, ACT Federal Labor representatives urged Canberra to remember the devastation to the local economy and relocation of families when Mr Howard was elected in 1996.

Senator Kate Lundy and MPs Andrew Leigh and Gai Brodtmann pledged to protect jobs and continue building a healthy and inclusive Canberra.

Continue reading ‘Labor will defend Canberra – 6 September 2013’ »

13th Fraser Lecture – Delivered by Bill Shorten MP

On 26 August 2013, Bill Shorten delivered the 13th Fraser Lecture on the topic “The Battle of Ideas and the Good Society”. The video begins with an introduction from me, and concludes with Bill taking questions. A full transcript of the speech is over the fold.

Continue reading ‘13th Fraser Lecture – Delivered by Bill Shorten MP’ »

Addressing the National Rural Health Alliance – 14 August 2013

On 14 August, I spoke to the National Rural Health Alliance about their top three priorities for improving rural and regional health: health workforce, disability, and telehealth/NBN.

Sky PM Agenda – 25 June 2013

On 25 June 2013, I spoke with Sky host David Speers and Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos about the government’s proud record on jobs, pricing carbon and creating DisabilityCare; and the future reform agenda on education and innovation.

Values and Tradeoffs

My op-ed in today’s Daily Telegraph talks about why it’s vital that the Coalition start to release policies, so we can have a real debate over ideas and values.

The real cost to voters of Abbott in the Lodge, Daily Telegraph, 24 June 2013

Former New York governor Mario Cuomo once said that politicians campaign in poetry, but govern in prose. A corollary is that while politicians campaign in ‘and,’ we govern in ‘or.’ Each decision to invest in one area makes it harder to devote resources in another area.

In this sense, the federal budget is more than a set of numbers, it is a statement of a government’s values. A government can never invest as much, or cut taxes by as much, as it would like to. Governments must decide between worthy causes. In these choices they reveal their values.

Labor’s choices are fully outlined in the budget papers. We are making long-term, smart investments in schools and infrastructure. We are delivering once-in-a-generation reforms to improve care for people with a permanent and severe disability. And we’re paying for these critical policies with $43 billion of responsible savings. The budget papers show that these savings fund our priorities not just over the forward estimates, but well into the future.

Continue reading ‘Values and Tradeoffs’ »


Andrew Leigh MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister
Member for Fraser
28 May 2013

TOPICS:                Funding the NDIS, advertising of live odds during sporting matches, election disclosure changes, the Government’s efficiency dividend, asylum seekers

Continue reading ‘Transcript’ »

Talking Budget with Mark Parton

I spoke this morning with Mark Parton about the federal budget, and the clear choice it presents for this year’s election: between Labor’s nation-building reforms in health, schools and DisabilityCare, and the Coalition’s threatened cuts. Here’s a podcast.

Andrew Leigh MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister
Member for Fraser
15 May 2013

TOPICS:                The Budget.

Continue reading ‘Talking Budget with Mark Parton’ »

DisabilityCare Australia

On ABC666, I spoke with presenter Ross Solly and Liberal Senator Gary Humphries this morning about how DisabilityCare Australia will help change lives, and the importance of ensuring it has a stable funding base. Here’s a podcast.

Andrew Leigh MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister
Member for Fraser
2nd May 2013

TOPICS:               DisabilityCare Australia, Medicare Levy

Continue reading ‘DisabilityCare Australia’ »

ABC24 Capital Hill – 8 March 2013

On the ABC Capital Hill program, I spoke with host Lyndal Curtis and Liberal MP Russell Broadbent about the opportunity for the new Victorian Liberal Government to reverse its savage cuts, and about the importance of treating asylum-seekers with dignity in our public debates.

Let Many Shoulders Take Some of the Burden

I have an article in today’s Canberra Times about the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Let Many Shoulders Take Some of the Burden, Canberra Times, 20 February 2013

Disability touches the lives of millions of Australians. Almost one in five Australians either have a disability, have a family member with a disability or are a carer for someone with a disability.

Yet our response to disability has not reflected the scale or severity of its impact. In a prosperous nation like ours, it is profoundly wrong that heart-breaking, often shocking, stories of life with disability are not exceptional.

Continue reading ‘Let Many Shoulders Take Some of the Burden’ »

Making a Difference in Fraser

I spoke today about the federal government actions that have made a positive difference in my electorate of Fraser.

Appropriations Bills, 12 February 2013

There are several old chestnuts the Liberals can be relied on to trot out every election year, and one of those that we hear so often in the ACT is the line, ‘Labor ignores Canberra’—the suggestion that somehow Labor governments take Canberra for granted. But, unfortunately for the Liberals, the people of Fraser are a clever bunch. They are able to see through this line easily, because it is so demonstrably false. The investments that this Labor government has made in Fraser are visible everywhere, from the Majura Parkway to the National Broadband Network rolling out and the many schools enjoying new facilities thanks to the Building the Education Revolution program.

In fact, if you were to take the time to visit all of the sites where Labor has invested in my electorate of Fraser, you would be taking a pretty comprehensive tour of Canberra’s north. I can even provide you with a loose itinerary. You can set off from the flourishing suburb of Braddon, where my electorate office is located and where Minister for Human Services Kim Carr and I opened a one-stop shop for Medicare and Centrelink in October last year. The co-location of these facilities is a core part of Labor’s service delivery reforms. It is making access to housing, health, crisis support, education and training, and family and financial support easier for Canberrans.

Continue reading ‘Making a Difference in Fraser’ »

National Disability Insurance Scheme

I spoke in parliament today in favour of a bill to create the NDIS.

National Disability Insurance Scheme Bill, 7 February 2013

Last month, I received a letter from Denise Reid, one of my constituents. Ms Reid wrote to me about her son Tim, a 21-year-old man with Down syndrome. She has given me permission to share the contents of that letter with the House today, so I want to begin by reading part of it. She writes:

‘I receive a part payment, sixty-five dollars and fourteen cents per fortnight, with the remainder paid to my ex-husband. We share care of our son, who is 21. He has Down syndrome. From time to time, Centrelink reviews eligibility for this payment. I find this extremely frustrating. My son has an intellectual disability. There is no cure and he will never grow out of it.’

Continue reading ‘National Disability Insurance Scheme’ »

Liberalism & Egalitarianism

I have an opinion piece in the Australian today, continuing to prosecute the case that Labor is the true party of small-L liberalism in Australia (on the same theme, see also my first speech, this Global Mail article and this speech to Per Capita).

Liberals are conservatives while Labor is the true party of Alfred Deakin, The Australian, 10 January 2013

In the United States, if you want to insult a right-winger, call them a ‘liberal’. In Australia, if you want to insult a left-winger, call them a ‘Liberal’. In both countries, liberalism has become detached from its original meaning.

It’s time to bring Australian liberalism back to its traditional roots. Small-L liberalism involves a willingness to protect minority rights (even when they’re unpopular) and a recognition that open markets are the best way to boost prosperity.

Continue reading ‘Liberalism & Egalitarianism’ »

Local organisations to help Australia get ready for NDIS

Three ACT-based organisations have received funding from the Gillard Government to help people with disability, as well as their carers and families, adjust to the options available under an NDIS. Providing support for the sector to adjust to the changes is an important step in a transition to an NDIS.


Andrew Leigh MP
Member for Fraser

Gai Brodtmann MP
Member for Canberra

Local organisations to help Australia get ready for NDIS

Three ACT-based organisations, National Rural Health Alliance, Disability Advocacy Network of Australia and ACT Disability, Aged and Carer Advocacy will receive close to $300 000 in funding from the Gillard Government to get ready for the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Continue reading ‘Local organisations to help Australia get ready for NDIS’ »

Sky AM Agenda – 27 September 2012

On Sky AM Agenda, I spoke with host David Lipson and Liberal MP Kelly O’Dwyer. We discussed budget measures (including Labor’s focus on efficiencies over the Coalition’s job cuts), the resurgence of closed-economy thinking in the Coalition, and Labor’s important achievements over the past five years.

Talking about the National Disability Insurance Scheme

I spoke in parliament this morning about the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

NDIS, 12 September 2012

On 24 August it was my pleasure to join with parliamentary secretary Jan McLucas and member for Canberra, Gai Brodtmann, at the Griffin Centre in Canberra to hold a forum on the National Disability Insurance Scheme. It is the second forum in my electorate on the NDIS that I have helped organise. A previous forum in Belconnen was well attended by a range of carers, people with disabilities and people of goodwill who are committed to building a national disability insurance scheme. I also met in my electorate office with a range of people with disabilities and their carers to discuss what an NDIS will mean for them.

Continue reading ‘Talking about the National Disability Insurance Scheme’ »

Talking Economics with Jan Libich

Last Wednesday, I spoke with La Trobe University economist Jan Libich about some of my academic findings – from teacher pay & aptitude to child gender & divorce – and possible policy implications. If you want to read more, the research is available at my academic website:

And if you’d like to watch Jan’s other interviews (including with Eric Leeper and Don Brash), they’re available on his YouTube channel.


Dr Jan Libich: Welcome to La Trobe University in Melbourne. My name is Jan Libich and I’m privileged to have Dr Andrew Leigh here. Welcome Andrew. Thanks for joining us.

Dr Andrew Leigh: It’s a pleasure.

Continue reading ‘Talking Economics with Jan Libich’ »

Local NDIS Forum with Jan McLucas and Gai Brodtmann

Today, Gai Brodtmann and I held an NDIS forum at the Griffin Centre with Parliamentary Secretary Jan McLucas. Jan had three ‘asks’ of attendees: sign up at, join the conversation at, and talk with your friends about the NDIS.

Forum to discuss a National Disability Insurance Scheme

My colleague, Member for Canberra Gai Brodtmann, and I are hosting Senator the Hon Jan McLucas, Parliamentary Secretary for Disability and Carers, tomorrow afternoon to talk about a National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The forum is at the Griffin Centre in Canberra City between 2pm and 4pm. Tea and coffee will be provided.

The forum is open to the general public, so if you wanted to find out more about what a National Disability Insurance Scheme might look like, I encourage you to come along.

Please RSVP to me by 12 noon tomorrow on Andrew.Leigh.MP {at}

Putting Facts Before Fear in Economic Debates

I moved a private member’s motion in the House of Representatives today on the strength of the Australian economy, and the need to approach economic debates with facts rather than fear (avoiding phobophobia).

A Strong Australian Economy
18 June 2012

I move: That this House:
(1) notes that:
(a) by historical standards, unemployment, inflation and interest rates are at very low levels;
(b) for the first time in Australian history, Australia has a AAA rating from all three major credit rating agencies;
(c) Australia’s debt levels, despite the hit to revenues from the global financial crisis, are around one tenth the level of major advanced economies;
(d) OECD Economic Outlook 91 confirms that the Australian economy will significantly outperform OECD economies as a whole over this year and next; and
(e) the IMF has said of Australia: ‘we welcome the authorities’ commitment to return to a budget surplus by 2012-13 to rebuild fiscal buffers, putting Commonwealth government finances in a stronger position’; and
(2) calls upon all Members to approach economic debates with facts rather than fear, and to put the national interest first when discussing the strong Australian economy.

Economic reform in Australia has never been easy. In the postwar decades, the conservatives built up a tariff wall that helped make Australian industry uncompetitive and kept consumer prices high. In 1973, Gough Whitlam began the long process of breaking down Australia’s tariff walls—the 25 per cent across-the-board tariff cuts.

Continue reading ‘Putting Facts Before Fear in Economic Debates’ »

Intergenerational Disadvantage in Canberra

I spoke in parliament about my latest community conversation on disadvantage, which focused on intergenerational poverty.

Fraser Community Summit, 31 May 2012

Every six months or so I hold a conversation to talk about disadvantage in the Fraser electorate. On Tuesday, 29 May I was pleased to welcome 10 representatives from local community sector groups up to Parliament House for an early breakfast conversation. I call it a community summit, but really it is more of an informal conversation with people I regard as my brains trust on poverty.

The focus of this conversation was on intergenerational disadvantage and how to stop the cycle of poverty from replicating itself across generations. One of the attendees at the summit made the point that disadvantage itself is now more complex than it was in the past and is often interrelated with issues such as mental illness, poor health, substance abuse, domestic violence and addiction. Another attendee told the story of a child whose parents were addicted to hard drugs and who was never given anything by his parents; all he had were the things that he had found or stolen. Another spoke about families who eat McDonald’s every meal because it is simpler to get takeaway than to prepare a meal. Attendees were concerned about the impact of imprisonment on the children of those who are behind bars.

Continue reading ‘Intergenerational Disadvantage in Canberra’ »

Talking public finance on Sky with Arthur Sinodinos

On Sky’s Lunchtime Agenda program, I joined host David Lipson and Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos to discuss how a budget surplus puts downward pressure on interest rates, and why a National Disability Insurance Scheme is a higher priority than tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.

Potentially Popular Podcast on Populism

In a recent forum at the ANU Crawford School, I joined Reframe author Eric Knight,‘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.