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.
Archive for the ‘National Identity’ Category.
ANDREW LEIGH MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION
MEMBER FOR FRASER
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.
I moved a motion in parliament today calling on the government to put the Republic back on the agenda.
Private Member’s Motion – An Australian Republic, 24 March 2014
Dr Leigh: To move—That this House:
(1) notes that:
(a) prior to the 1999 referendum to alter the Constitution to establish the Commonwealth of Australia as a republic, many opponents (including monarchists and direct electionists) fomented the expectation that if the vote were defeated, another referendum would be put within a few years;
(b) 14 years on, public support for Australia becoming a republic remains solid; and
(c) Australian engagement with Asia has strengthened, with the former government’s White Paper on Australia in the Asian Century reminding us that our future lies in our region; and
(2) calls upon the Parliament to make it a priority to hold a referendum to alter the Constitution to establish the Co mmonwealth of Australia as a republic, so that every Australian child can aspire to be our Head of State.
* * * * *
“Breathes there a man with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said;
This is my own, my native land.”
These fine words from Walter Scott 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.
In 1999, Australia held a referendum. It was a three-cornered contest between bipartisan parliamentary appointment Republicans, direct election Republicans and Monarchists.
As the Member for Wentworth has pointed out, the monarchists ‘delightedly, if cynically, exploited the division by promising the direct electionists that if the parliamentary model was defeated at a referendum they could have another referendum on a direct election model within a few years’.
We have waited half a generation since then.
I was interviewed yesterday by the doyenne of the parliamentary press gallery, Michelle Grattan. Among other things, we discussed Labor’s future, same-sex marriage, economics, and the Greens. Here’s a podcast.
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.
This morning, I joined Bill Shorten and Gai Brodtmann for a tour of Questacon before announcing some funding certainty for the popular Parliament and Civics Education Rebate (PACER) program. The funding will deliver a steady stream of young patrons to the capital’s vital national institutions:
Minister for Education Bill Shorten, Member for Canberra Gai Brodtmann, Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh
Minister for Education Bill Shorten joined the Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh and the Member for Canberra Gai Brodtmann on the steps of Questacon today to announce a further $6.5 million for the popular Parliament and Civics Education Rebate (PACER) program.
PACER provides a subsidy for schools travelling more than 150 kilometres to visit the national capital as part of a civics and citizenship education excursion.
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.
Member for Fraser
Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister
THURSDAY 20TH JUNE 2013
ANDREW LEIGH INVITES CANBERRANS TO JOIN HIM AT WALK TOGETHER
Dr Andrew Leigh, Member for Fraser has invited all Canberrans to “Walk Together” on Saturday 22 June 2013 to celebrate diversity and call for an end to the politics of fear, division and prejudice.
The Member for Fraser, Dr Andrew Leigh MP, said that it was important to ensure that the language around the refugee issue is always respectful and that we recognise the vast contribution refugees and migrants have made to this country
“There’s a local story that still brings a lump to my throat about an art competition run as part of Refugee Week, where the first prize went to a Karen Burmese woman who had woven a traditional crimson tunic,” said Dr Leigh,
“She was missing her homeland so much that she made a loom by taking the mattress of the wooden bed base and using the slats as a loom to weave a traditional Karen tunic.
“That story for me sums up the extraordinary courage and ability of Australia’s refugees,” he said.
From 1pm at Reconciliation Place on Saturday, 1000 people are expected to walk down to the lake, across Commonwealth Avenue Bridge and finish at a celebratory concert at Stage 88 in Commonwealth Park from 2pm.
Walk Together events are taking place in 16 cities and regional centres around Australia this weekend.
The celebratory concert will be kicked of 104.7’s Maz Hakim as MC, and include Welcome to Australia Ambassadors Ms Mariam Veiszadeh and Dr Andrew Leigh, as well as Minister Kate Lundy, Mr Simon Sheikh and local multicultural affairs leader, Mr Sam Wong AM.
In addition to speakers, there will be performances by Blue Yvie, the ACT Chinese Australian Association, Wiradjuri Echoes and Dente Musica Viva.
My SMH op-ed today is on the importance of increasing the share of honours given to women.
Why we need more female nominees, Sydney Morning Herald, 10 June 2013
One of the great privileges of being a parliamentarian is that you get to meet so many remarkable people. In the past fortnight, I’ve chatted with an Indigenous elder who’s passionate about early childhood education, and a community leader who’s working to boost volunteering rates. I’ve talked with a young entrepreneur building her start-up, and a painter who is creating stunningly beautiful work. In a job like this, it’s impossible not to be an optimist about Australia’s future.
This is why the biannual Order of Australia awards – granted on Australia Day and on the Queen’s Birthday – provides a welcomed opportunity to officially recognise some of the achievements and services we see from extraordinary Australians. The awards are overseen by the Governor-General, and, as part of a nineteen member Council for the Order of Australia, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister represents the Australian Government in the recommendation process.
I launched Stuart Cunningham’s new book Hidden Innovation tonight.
Launching Stuart Cunningham, Hidden Innovation: Policy, Industry and the Creative Sector
Paperchain Books, Manuka
9 April 2013
According to one study cited in Stuart Cunningham’s book, there are two opposing groups of people: ‘political junkies’ (PJs) and Big Brother fans (BBs). PJs think that it ‘beggars belief’ that anyone could think Big Brother was useful. BBs say that politicians are unapproachable and out of touch.
So as an MP who used to quite enjoy watching Big Brother, I found myself torn. Am I a BB or a PJ? A PJ in BBs? Or a BB in PJs?
The reference to Big Brother is just one of a myriad of cultural touchstones in this fascinating book. Stuart Cunningham’s book romps through Survivor and Go Back to Where you Came From, Korean bloggers and Fat Cow Motel, Australian iTunes game Fruit Ninja and Nigeria’s ‘Nollywood’.
My Chronicle column this week is about migration.
Celebrating the Australian Way of Diversity, The Chronicle, 2 April 2013
If you’ve ever seen a Bollywood movie, you probably know about the Indian festival of Holi, in which people shower one another with colourful powder. Indian society is typically quite respectful of social boundaries, but on Holi, it’s alright for anyone to throw powder at anyone else.
I launched Ian Warden’s new book on Canberra tonight. Here’s my speech, complete with a newly-uncovered 1977 ACT Anthem by Philip Grundy.
Launching Ian Warden, A Serious House on Serious Earth
Electric Shadows Bookshop, Canberra
4 April 2013
I acknowledge the Ngunnawal people, on whose lands we meet.
It is a pleasure to be here today to launch the book of a great Canberra icon, Ian Warden (also known as the Beige Bombshell).
If you travel today to Dalgety, a town of 75 people and one pub, it strikes you that there might exists a parallel universe to our own in which Australia’s capital is on the banks of the Snowy River, and Canberra is a sleepy town of 1700 people (as it was in 1911).
I spoke today on a bill to give the ACT Assembly the power to set its own size.
Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Amendment Bill, 12 March 2013
It is a pleasure to rise to speak on the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Amendment Bill 2013 today, the 100th birthday of Canberra. This morning we had a re-enactment out the front of Parliament House of the ceremony of the laying of the foundation stone. I have here the program for that ceremony, which was held on 12 March 1913. Today’s ceremony aimed to shadow that historic ceremony of 1913, when sheep greatly outnumbered the residents of Canberra. The ceremony this morning acknowledged the rich history of Canberra—not only the political heritage but also the social tapestry of the city. I was very pleased today to hear the member for Stirling speak so warmly of the city that I have the honour to represent in the federal parliament.
Walter Burley Griffin said that he was designing a city for a nation of ‘bold democrats’. To borrow a phrase from Seamus Heaney, I have always thought of Canberra as being the kind of place where hope and history rhyme. In the centenary celebrations, Canberra has been given an opportunity to celebrate but also to remember much of our history. Historian David Headon has produced a series of centenary booklets and centenary director Robyn Archer has made sure that history has been interwoven into the celebrations.
On Sky AM Agenda, I spoke with host Kieran Gilbert and Liberal Senator Mitch Fifield about the Western Australian election, Labor’s strong record of reforms, and Canberra’s Centenary.
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).
I spoke in parliament today in favour of a bill that will progress the constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Bill, 7 February 2013
We speak a lot in this House about Indigenous gaps. Yesterday we heard the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition speak eloquently about the gaps in life expectancy, educational attainment and employment between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. It is important to focus on those gaps, but it is also important to have a sense of optimism and pride in Australia’s Indigenous heritage. As the member for Throsby noted earlier in this debate, it is great and exciting to know that we have in this country a people whose association with the land goes back tens of thousands of years. Maintaining that sense of excitement and living alongside people with the longest continuing link to their land is a great thing. This bill in some sense recognises our pride in Australia’s Indigenous heritage. That Indigenous heritage involves maintaining a multiplicity of languages. As the member for Blair noted, there has been a decline in Indigenous language knowledge over recent years, and that is important to redress because language is culture—it maintains your links with generations gone by.
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.
I moved a private member’s motion in parliament today to recognise the importance of Eureka in the Australian national story.
Eureka, 26 November 2012
DR LEIGH: To move—That this House:
(1) recognises that:
(a) the Battle of Eureka:
(i) was a key moment in Australian democracy;
(ii) called for basic democratic rights, including broadening the franchise and removing the property qualification to stand for the Legislative Council;
(iii) inspired subsequent movements in Australian history, including female suffrage and the Australian Republican Movement; and
(iv) demanded changes to make mining taxation more equitable, with the revenue to be spent on improvements to local infrastructure; and
(b) the importance of the Battle of Eureka is to be commemorated by the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka in Ballarat, partly funded by the Australian Government in recognition of its national significance; and
(2) encourages all Australians to remember and respect the Battle of Eureka by:
(a) visiting the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka to learn about the history of the Battle of Eureka and its effect on modern democracy; and
(b) flying the Eureka Flag on 3 December each year in its memory.
Three hours after midnight on the Sabbath morning of Sunday, 3 December 1854, a winter and spring of discontent erupted in a short and dirty skirmish atop the gold-led diggings known as Eureka on the western outskirts of the Victorian town of Ballarat. The colonial authorities had sent troops from two British regiments, supported by the Victoria police—296 men, all told, against a tottering stockade defended by some 150 miners of the Ballarat Reform League. The miners protected a hand-sewn flag bearing a design of the Southern Cross, beneath which they had each sworn an oath ‘to stand truly by each other, to fight to defend our rights and liberties’. The bloody scrum described as the battle for Eureka lasted for fewer than 15 minutes. Six men of the colonial forces and 22 miners were killed. One hundred and fourteen of their Reform League comrades were imprisoned in the Ballarat lock-up and the flag was torn down. In the following months, 13 miners charged by the state with high treason were unanimously acquitted by citizen juries. All bar one of the political demands of the Ballarat Reform League were granted within 12 months. The first bill for the universal enfranchisement of men in the Australian colonies was passed by the Victorian Legislative Council in 1857.
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 opened the new national office of the Australian Republican Movement last night.
Opening the National Office of the Australian Republican Movement
10 September 2012
There is no more appropriate place for the ACT National Office than in Canberra, the one jurisdiction in Australia that voted for a Republic in 1999.
Of course, Canberra also voted for Waltzing Matilda as our national song.
So if the rest of Australia was like Canberra, we’d be a Republic with a national song about a sheep rustler.
Next Monday, parliament will be debating my motion to apologise to the late Peter Norman, whose courageous stance for racial equality got him blocked from competing in subsequent Olympics. Here’s the motion:
DR LEIGH: To move—That this House:
(1) recognises the extraordinary athletic achievements of the late Peter Norman, who won the silver medal in the 200 metres sprint running event at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, in a time of 20.06 seconds, which still stands as the Australian record;
(2) acknowledges the bravery of Peter Norman in donning an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge on the podium, in solidarity with African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who gave the ‘black power’ salute;
(3) apologises to Peter Norman for the wrong done by Australia in failing to send him to the 1972 Munich Olympics, despite repeatedly qualifying; and
(4) belatedly recognises the powerful role that Peter Norman played in furthering racial equality.
I’m speaking at the University of Canberra on 1 August, on the topic ‘The Naked Truth? Media and Politics in the Digital Age’. Details below.
I spoke in Parliament today about the late ABC journalist Alan Saunders, a polymath of the airwaves. My radio listening will be poorer for his passing.
18 June 2012
ABC’s Radio National is one of Australia’s great public institutions, and I rise to speak about the late Alan Saunders, who died unexpectedly last Friday. Alan Saunders spent 25 years with Radio National. He moved to Australia in 1981 to pursue research at the Australian National University’s History of Ideas unit, where he received a PhD. He received the Pascall Prize for critical writing and broadcasting in 1992. He contributed to programs about food, design and philosophy. As Amanda Armstrong put it:
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.
This Sunday is the 20th anniversary of the High Court’s Mabo judgment. Because parliament is sitting, I won’t be able to attend Mabo Day celebrations being organised tonight by the ACT Torres Strait Islanders Corporation at the National Museum of Australia. But here’s the statement I’ve prepared to be read out.
Statement from Andrew Leigh, Federal Member for Fraser
Born on Murray Island one can only imagine what it would have been like to witnesses the moment Eddie Koiki Mabo realised that his land was owned by the Crown and not him and his people.
Noel Loos and Henry Reynolds recall of that moment in 1974: “Koiki was surprised and shocked”. They remember him saying “No way, it’s not theirs. It’s ours”.
From that moment to the High Court decision of June 3rd 1992, Eddie Mabo showed us that understanding is the responsibility of all Australians.
That an appreciation and understanding of Indigenous Australia, its history, culture and challenges is not an optional part of being Australian. It is essential to who we are.
Eddie Mabo Day helps further the understanding that is critical to reconciliation, through acknowledging and celebrating all Indigenous Australians and their contribution to our nation.
It is an opportunity to celebrate the life of a great Australian, to remember a man of extraordinary vision, warmth and intelligence. It encourages us to reflect upon a national identity with Aboriginality as a central and distinguishing theme.
With Indigenous stories taking their place as fundamental parts of the Australian story.
My apologies for not being able to be with you today to celebrate the remarkable contribution and life of Eddie Koiki Mabo.
What Do We Eat After the Low-Hanging Fruit? A Brief Economic History of Australia, With Some Lessons for the Future
I spoke today at the McKell Institute in Sydney on Australian economic history, with some ideas for the future. The speech is below.
What Do We Eat After the Low-Hanging Fruit? A Brief Economic History of Australia, With Some Lessons for the Future*
18 May 2012
McKell Institute, Sydney
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 have a cooling effect, making them an ideal breeding ground for tortoises, iguanas, penguins, finches, albatrosses, gulls, and pelicans.
Because the islands are volcanic, what’s striking about animal life on the Galapagos Islands is that all of it 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. It is true that ‘chance favours the prepared mind’. But I think it’s still worth talking about the role that luck 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.
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.
On the eve of ANZAC Day 2012, I thought I’d post one of the finest pieces I’ve read about Gallipoli: Peter Weir’s 2001 lecture, titled ‘Gallipoli: Shooting History’.
So far as I can work out, it’s not online, so thanks to Leonie Doyle for scanning it, and I hope the copyright holders won’t object.