I spoke in parliament today on the High Court’s decision on same-sex marriage.
Today the High Court unanimously decided that the Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act 2013 of the ACT could not operate concurrently with the federal Marriage Act. This judgment was the result of a decision by the Abbott government to challenge the ACT law in the courts. It is a decision which I believe was fundamentally misguided. Same-sex marriage is a political issue that should be decided in this chamber. As the Prime Minister’s sister, Christine Foster, has tweeted: ‘Sad news that the ACT same-sex marriage law has been overturned. Focus now firmly on federal parliament.’
Many members of this place support same-sex marriage, but the challenge is that the Liberal Party does not give its members a conscience vote. If Senator Brandis puts out press releases making statements such as, ‘Freedoms are some of the most fundamental of all human rights’, then the least he could do would be to allow his party room the freedom to vote for same-sex marriage.
As Warren and Grant of Aranda, who have been together for 27 years, told me: ‘Our marriage would not undermine heterosexual marriage—quite the opposite—our desire to be married reflects our deep respect for the institution of marriage.’
Future generations of Australians will look back and wonder why it took Australian parliaments so long to bring about the reform of marriage laws.
This morning I spoke with ABC 666 Canberra Breakfast host Jolene Laverty in support of the ACT Government’s same-sex marriage laws as something that will make our society stronger. Here’s the full transcript:
ABC 666 CANBERRA with host Jolene Laverty
JOLENE LAVERTY: ACT is ready to fight to become the first jurisdiction in Australia to legalise same-sex marriage. It’s expected to pass through the assembly with the full support of Labor and Green MPs. But really that looks like it’s going to be the easy part. There has been a commitment from the Coalition Government to challenge any law in the High Court. Attorney General Senator Brandis has asked the ACT to withdraw the bill. We invited him on this morning. He was not available. We also asked Senator Zed Seselja who was also not available to comment. You may have heard in the news there with Mark Dawson that Zed has given some comment to ABC News. This is what Senator Seselja had to say:
ZED SESELJA:One is that I don’t support same-sex marriage. Two, that I believe that same-sex marriage or marriage generally is the preserve of the federal parliament. So, whether your views are in favour of same-sex marriage or against same-sex marriage, the correct place for this to be debated is in the Commonwealth parliament. One thing I have always done is, I’ve always been upfront so people have always known my views on the issue. I don’t think there’s any secret. I’ve also, on this issue, even though my views on same-sex marriage are clear, what the issue is here is who has the power. I believe it’s very clear that the Commonwealth parliament has the power. The ACT Assembly does not.
LAVERTY: Andrew Leigh is the Labor member for Fraser. Now, you’ve been quoted as saying you’re disappointed but are you surprised?
ANDREW LEIGH: I am actually Jo. Thanks very much for the opportunity to speak about it. It’s quite usual for a federal government to challenge a state or territory law. It’s an inherently political decision and it’s a decision that I think, flies in the face of history and decency. The states and territories in fact, contrary to what Mr Seselja just said, had responsibility for marriage all the way up until 1961. So there’s nothing in the Constitution that says that states and territories can’t act here. The situation we are in arises from the Howard Government in 2004 narrowing the scope of the federal Marriage Act down to heterosexual marriages. That’s left open the opportunity for the ACT to say, ‘well, if the federal law is going to just regulate heterosexual marriages, we’ll have a parallel law that doesn’t overlap, doesn’t have anyone marry twice, which allows same-sex marriages’. I think that’s perfectly reasonable and that the notion that George Brandis will go about trying to tear up ACT same-sex marriage certificates is, to me, pretty repugnant.
My op-ed in today’s Daily Telegraph discusses Mr Abbott’s three broken promises in his first three weeks in office.
Broken promises after just three weeks in job, The Daily Telegraph, 11 October 2013
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has made a great deal of the importance of keeping his promises. A few days before the election, he said that if he became Prime Minister: ‘you should move heaven and earth to keep commitments and only if keeping commitments becomes almost impossible could you ever be justified in not keeping them. And I suspect the electorate would take a very dim view even in those circumstances.’
And yet after just three weeks in the job, Mr Abbott has broken at least three promises.
On Thursday night, I joined host David Speers, Centre for Policy Development’s Miriam Lyons, Liberal MP Alan Tudge and former Liberal MP Ross Cameron on Sky’s The Nation program. We discussed gender and politics, asylum seekers and the Labor leadership.
On MixCanberra this morning, Liberal candidate Zed Seselja and I discussed optimism and talking with kids, kangaroos and roadside signs, Miley Cyrus and high-speed rail, and which Canberra agency will be forcibly relocated to the Central Coast if the Liberals win. Unfortunately, we didn’t get an answer on all these issues, but here’s a podcast.
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC and Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh today announced new funding for the Women’s Legal Centre ACT and the Welfare Rights and Legal Centre ACT.
The Rudd Labor Government will provide an extra $200,000 to the Women’s Legal Centre ACT for the next four years and an extra $240,000 for the Welfare Rights and Legal Centre ACT over the same period.
“Access to legal advice and support is essential to strengthening our local communities and our democracy,” said Mr Dreyfus.
“The Rudd Labor Government is deeply committed to a fair go under the law and this funding for the Women’s Legal Centre ACT and the Welfare Rights and Legal Centre ACT will make a real difference to people in Canberra.
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.
On Sky AM Agenda, I spoke with host Kieran Gilbert and Liberal Senator Mitch Fifield about the choice between economic debt of 10% of GDP and a social debt of 200,000 unemployed; about the government’s plans for better schools; and about the passing of former House Speaker Joan Child.
In parliament today, I spoke about superannuation, and about aged care.
Superannuation Legislation Amendment (Reducing Illegal Early Release and Other Measures) Bill, 11 February 2013
In 1991, the then Prime Minister Paul Keating said of the superannuation guarantee:
‘It will make Australia a more equal place, a more egalitarian place and hence a more cohesive and happier place.’
We do not often talk about happiness and superannuation in the same breath, but I think we should, because a strong superannuation system is a system that ensures dignity in retirement. It ensures that Australian retirees can enjoy that extra grey nomad trip and the comfort of being able to spend time with loved ones without worrying about paying the bills. It ensures that generations that have given much to Australia enjoy the retirement to which they are entitled.
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.
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.
I appeared on Lateline on 5 October 2012, speaking about the increasingly scratchy tone of debate in Australian politics; the way that Labor policies such as paid parental leave, equal pay and superannuation have helped women; the strength of the Australian economy; and Labor’s decision to replace a badly-targeted dental policy with a better one. A transcript is here.
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: www.andrewleigh.org.
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.
Family Dynamics Affect Poverty, Australian Financial Review, 3 August 2012, R7
There are two polar views on why poverty persists across generations. On the hardline conservative view, poverty is the result of bad choices: not staying in school, not taking a job, not waiting to have a child. At the other end of the spectrum is the view that poverty is simply a lack of money. Provide enough income support, and intergenerational poverty will disappear.
In our hearts, most of us know that neither of these views can be right. And yet many progressives have found the conservative view so harsh that we have recoiled from any discussion about the role that families play in determining children’s outcomes.
Dr Anne Summers AO is a best-selling author, journalist and thought-leader with a long career in politics, the media, business and the non-government sector in Australia, Europe and the United States. She is author of several books, including the classic Damned Whores and God’s Police, first published in 1975, Ducks on the Pond, her autobiography in 1999, The End of Equality, (2003) On Luck (2008) and her most recent book The Lost Mother published in 2009 by Melbourne University Press.
About the Fraser Lecture
Originated by former member Bob McMullan, and now continued by Andrew Leigh MP, the Fraser Lecture is a chance to hear a high-profile Australian speak about his or her vision for Australia’s future. Past speakers have included Julia Gillard, Sharan Burrow, Kevin Rudd and Clare Martin. This is the 12th Fraser Lecture.
‘When I was young, I asked my grandmother what her view would be on having a gay grandchild. Her response was steadfast: “I could not support it,” she said. “It would be against God, and against everything I believe in.” Years later, I came out to my family before leaving home to move to university (an economics degree!). My grandmother was unsteady in the knowledge that she now had a gay grandchild, something that was seen as uncommon in North Queensland at the time.
The Australian Women’s Coalition will be running a series of workshops for young women aged 18-30, who live or work in the ACT region.
The workshops are designed to provide young women with the opportunity to develop transformation projects focusing issues that they most care about. The workshops are particularly aimed at reaching young women from migrant and refugee communities.
Funded by the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship, the SHOUT! workshops are free and will run from April 2012 to March 2013.
Before parliament rose last Thursday, I spoke in favour of a bill to provide dad and partner pay. In fact, mine was the last speech before parliament rose (with the exception of some guy who trash-talked the economy for half an hour).
Paid Parental Leave and Other Legislation Amendment (Dad and Partner Pay and Other Measures) Bill 2012
10 May 2012
The work we do in this place impacts on people’s lives—often far more than we imagine at the time. This bill, the Paid Parental Leave (Dad and Partner and Other Measures) Bill 2012, is one such example. I want to start off by sharing with the House the story of a friend of mine, Damien Hickman, and how he felt about the two weeks leave that he took when his first child arrived. Liesel Grace Hickman arrived on 23 June last year. Damien said: ‘I just did not want to be anywhere else. My whole world shrank to this tiny four-kilogram bundle and the three-hourly cycles.’ He said: ‘It was like nothing I had experienced or could have prepared for. I was placed under this spell. She was the ultimate timewaster. I would just stare at her and half an hour would go by like 30 seconds. To be there for my partner, look after the house and be there as an extra pair of hands and support was pretty special.’
I spoke today in parliament on a motion relating to same-sex marriage. Stephen Jones also tabled a private members’ bill today, which will come up for a vote in the coming months.
Same-Sex Marriage – Supporting Reform
13 February 2012
This is the third time I have spoken publicly on same-sex marriage. In August 2011, I reported back to parliament on the views of my constituents for and against same-sex marriage. Within Labor Party forums I have also spoken out in favour of changing our part platform. But this is the first time I have spoken in parliament since the Labor Party changed its national platform. That platform now reads:
My AFR column today summarises a handful of fascinating new papers on the US slump.
US Recession Hits Home, Australian Financial Review, 18 October 2011
Empirical economists are a perky bunch. Give us a badly-designed policy, a natural disaster or an economic calamity, and we’ll use it to learn something about human behaviour.
And so it is with the latest recession in the US. While Tea Party Republicans force America to repeat the policy mistakes that prolonged the Great Depression of the 1930s, a spate of fascinating new research papers have analysed the current slump.
I spoke in parliament today about the Melba Men’s Shed.
Melba Men’s Shed
13 October 2011
On 23 September I visited the Melba Men’s Shed with my staffer Damien Hickman. Members of men’s sheds come from all walks of life. The bond that unites them is that they are men with time on their hands and would like something meaningful to do with that time. Men after retirement often find that once the phone stops ringing and they are no longer called on to make decisions their social networks are not as extensive as that of women.
There are many men’s sheds across Australia for which ‘first bloke’ Tim Matheson is a patron. They provide a place for men to meet and socialise. If you look inside one you might see a number of men restoring furniture or restoring bikes for a local school, and a few young men working with older men, learning new skills and maybe something about life. The Melba Men’s Shed has grown from six to 10 people, to 25 to 30 people. I would like to thank Stuart Allan the President of the Melba Men’s Shed.
I spoke in Parliament on Wednesday about the ACT Telstra Business Women’s Awards.
Telstra Business Women’s Awards
12 October 2011
I was recently privileged to attend the Telstra Business Women’s Awards, which recognise outstanding women and their contribution to the business community. Past winners include some of Australia’s most talented business leaders, whose career paths and individual achievements continue to inspire businesspeople around the country. It is often tough being a woman in business or in other leadership roles. In her book Delusions of Gender, Cordelia Fine tells the story of botanist Jeanne Baret and mathematician Sophie Germain, who around the turn of the 19th century were forced to pretend to be men in order to excel in the world of science. Thankfully, those kinds of games are no longer necessary. But it is still true that it is tougher to be a woman in business than it is to be a man.