I spoke last night on a bill that will see Australia re-engage with the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and started my speech by telling the story of when I used to go along as a high school student in the 1980s to talk international development with my local MP, member for Berowra Phillip Ruddock.
International Fund for Agricultural Development Amendment Bill, 5 February 2013
It is a particular pleasure to follow the member for Berowra in this debate on the International Fund for Agricultural Development Amendment Bill 2012. My first-ever engagement with a federal parliamentarian was when I was a young volunteer for an organisation called Community Aid Abroad, now part of Oxfam. Community Aid Abroad invited us to visit our federal member of parliament, to speak about the importance of foreign aid and why it should be increased. I suspect I was to the left of the member for Berowra even as a whippersnapper but I do remember him being very good to me, giving me at least half an hour of his time, listening through what I am sure were not particularly well-informed comments about foreign aid and providing some genteel responses about his views on the issue. Those meetings do occasionally come back to me now is a federal member of parliament, thinking about the importance of giving time to somebody who has passionate feelings about an issue even if one might know more about that issue than they do. I use this opportunity to thank the member for Berowra, some two decades late, for his generosity in that regard. It made a mark and it continues to shape my dealings with my constituents.
Mr Ruddock: Can I interject and say thank you very much.
On ABC24 Capital Hill, we spoke about Australia’s trifecta of strong growth, low unemployment and stable inflation; about the difficult issue of live exports; and about wheat deregulation. The host was Lyndal Curtis and my co-panellist was Dennis Jensen (who bravely abstained from the Coalition’s vote against deregulating the wheat export market).
I spoke in parliament today on a government bill to restrict the impact of the super-trawler FV Abel Tasman (formerly the MV Margiris, among its previous five names).
Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Declared Fishing Activities) Bill, 13 September 2012
Balancing the economics of fishing is no easy task. Quentin Grafton, one of Australia’s leading economists of fisheries has argued that the massive expansion in fishing over the past 50 years has brought the industry to what seems like a paradox, where an immediate reduction in world-wide catch would actually increase future profits of the industry—he estimates it maybe by as much as much as $50 billion a year. There has been overfishing throughout the world and that has led to stock declines so severe that about 15 per cent of all exploited capture fisheries have collapsed or are at less than 10 per cent of their unexploited levels.
I spoke in parliament yesterday about trade liberalisation and anti-dumping.
Customs Amendment (Anti-dumping Improvements) Bill (No. 2) 2011
28 February 2012
It is my pleasure to rise to address the Customs Amendment (Anti-dumping Improvements) Bill (No. 2) 2011, a piece of trade legislation that sits proudly in a Labor legacy of trade reform. The opening up of Australian markets which has been so much to the benefit of Australia’s workers and consumers is fundamentally a Labor story. It was Gough Whitlam in 1973 who first cut tariffs, and then Bob Hawke and Paul Keating who continued through the tariff cuts. They did so with a view that open markets would be good for Australia, but that that process of dropping the tariff walls would entail transition costs. So they put in place a car industry plan and TCF plan, recognising that industry would need time to adjust. Those changes have been enormously beneficial for Australian families. They have put on average $3,900 per annum into the pockets of Australian households according to a report by the Centre for International Economics. Open markets have also meant that Australian industry has become more competitive. That has meant more export jobs. It has meant more opportunities for Australian workers.
The last parliamentary fortnight wrapped up with a debate over a motion moved by the Liberal Party about Australia’s ‘forgotten families’. I spoke in the debate, and used it as a chance to discuss the government’s achievements and agenda, and contrast them with the relentless negativity of the Opposition Leader.
My AFR op-ed today looks at the benefits that Australia gains from playing by global trade rules.
Apple Ruling Makes Sense, Australian Financial Review, 23 August 2011
In 1995, Japan accepted imported rice for the first time. A nation whose politicians had sometimes claimed that foreign rice was unfit for Japanese consumption yielded – thanks to a World Trade Organization deal. Within a few years, Australian rice exports to Japan were worth over $200 million.
Yet today, the Liberal and National parties are calling for Australia to thumb its nose at the WTO’s finding that our apple quarantine system was not based on solid science. Rather than allowing New Zealand apple imports, the Coalition would prefer to see Australia start a trade war.
I spoke in parliament last night on the issue of live animal exports.
Live Animal Exports, 14 June 2011
The image of our stock men and women is deeply etched on the national psyche: the laconic stockmen rocking easily in the saddle, cajoling and guiding the herd; the alert and agile stockman darting through the bush, bringing a bolter back or displaying campdrafting skills at the local rodeo.
I spoke at the Lowy Institute today, suggesting a few ideas for improving Australia’s aid program.
Fragile States and Agile Aid: Some Ideas for the Future of Australia’s Development Assistance Program
Andrew Leigh Federal Member for Fraser
Lowy Institute 18 May 2011
I acknowledge the traditional Indigenous owners of the lands on which we meet today.
Dai Manju lived in a small village in central China. Because her parents were ill and couldn’t afford the cost of sending her to school, she dropped out. When journalist Nicholas Kristof visited in 1990, she was hanging around the school hoping to pick up bits of knowledge.
After publishing a front page article about Dai in the New York Times, Kristof was chuffed to receive a donation of $10,000 from a reader. He promptly sent it on the school, which spent it on improving facilities, and provided Dai with a scholarship to stay in education so long as she passed exams. After a good amount of the money had been sent, Kristof phoned the donor to thank him for the generous gift. It was only then he realised that the man had in fact only sent $100, and the slip of a bank teller’s fingers had multiplied it one-hundredfold. Informed of their error, the bank agreed to provide the difference as a donation.
I spoke in parliament this week about the Royal Canberra Show.
Royal Canberra Show
2 March 2011
Last weekend I took the family to the territory’s one and only Royal Canberra Show. The show puts on display the best produce and livestock that the ACT and surrounding areas have on offer. Bolstered by the best growing season many producers ever seen, there was a diverse showcase of farm animals and agricultural and horticultural produce. As a boy who attended an agricultural high school, I greatly enjoyed watching the working dogs, seeing the cattle classing and checking out the fresh produce. We also witnessed the V6 HiLux team crash two utes in front of us, prompting my four-year-old to turn to me and say, ‘Daddy, was that meant to happen?’
I spoke in Parliament earlier this week against the current populist campaign to curtail foreign investment in Australian agriculture.
Foreign Investment in Agriculture
21 February 2011
An iron law of populism is that, while Australian businesspeople investing abroad are portrayed as job-creating entrepreneurs, foreign investors in our country are depicted as rapacious robber barons. And so it is with the latest campaign against foreign investment. As sometimes happens, the campaign started in the tabloids. Under headlines such as ‘Chinese buying up our farms’, ‘It’s time to stop selling off the farm’, and ‘It’s time to save our farms from foreign investors’, News Ltd tabloids have recently embarked upon a fear campaign against foreign investment in Australian agriculture. With anecdotes taking the place of statistics, foreign investment has been described by the tabloids as ‘a dramatic global land grab’, fed by ‘a looming global food shortage’.