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They know what they’re against, but what are they for?







The Social Services Minister – determined to reject the views of the charities sector and trash the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC) – has no plan for the sector.

Minister Kevin Andrews’ Bill reads like a media alert more than a serious piece of legislation.

The ACNC Repeal Bill (Part 1) offers no transitional arrangements for a sector that employs a million people. There are no details of a successor agency.

This is a purely symbolic gesture, added to by the fact that debate on the Bill won’t take place this coming week as expected.

The Explanatory Memorandum states this Bill “will not take effect until the enactment of a later Bill, which will provide the details of the arrangements replacing the Commission”.

Alarmingly, the Minister gives himself the power to determine the successor agency without parliamentary approval. If the Minister won’t trust the public with his plans, why should parliament entrust him with the power to do as he wishes?

The Bill does nothing but create greater uncertainty for a pivotal sector at the heart of our communities.

The Minister appears without vision or heart for the charities that work for Australia’s vulnerable. There are nearly 60,000 charities registered with the ACNC.

Four of out five charities surveyed want to keep the ACNC. These include Save the Children, St John Ambulance Australia, the Ted Noffs Foundation, RSPCA, The Sidney Myer Fund & the Myer Foundation, Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, Volunteering Australia, Lifeline, ACOSS, SANE Australia, Musica Viva Australia, Hillsong Church, Social Ventures Australia, Australian Conservation Foundation, the YMCA, the Wesley Mission and the Queensland Theatre Company.

The explanatory memorandum says the ACNC was established to be a single reporting point for charities and claims that this “has not eventuated”.  But in just over a year, the agency has won strong support in the sector, and its red tape reduction directorate is working on reducing unnecessary reporting by charities.

The Government claims to be reducing red tape. But abolishing the ACNC will increase the red tape burden on charities.


DOORSTOP Transcript – Thursday, 20 March 2014

With legislation going before the House of Representatives yesterday to repeal the charities commission, this morning I spoke to reporters in the Press Gallery to defend the important work of the ACNC.  Here’s the transcript:




SUBJECT/S: Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission; FOFA and Arthur Sinodinos; Qantas sale.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Amidst their so-called ‘Repeal Day’ the Coalition brought forward the repeal of the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission. I say brought forward because the Coalition promised consultation: a consultation paper in February and extensive discussions with the sector. We haven’t seen any of that and that’s why more than 40 charities signed an open letter to the Government calling on them to rethink the scrapping of the charities commission.

The charities commission is important for donors who are vulnerable to door-to-door scams, if there isn’t an agency to report them to. It’s vital to the sector which appreciates the work the charities commission does. That’s why organisations as diverse as Save the Children, Lifeline, Hillsong Church, the RSPCA, and the Myer Foundation are calling on the Government to trash their laws to get rid of the charities commission and to hang on an organisation that’s supported by the sector.

I’ve heard people say the sector is split on this. It’s true. The sector is split on this. Four out of five charities support the charities commission. 94 per cent want the responsibilities to stay with the charities commission. Six per cent want them to go back to the tax office. So if the Government didn’t have a tin ear for consultation and if this process wasn’t being led by a Minister who’s much more driven by ideology than good public policy then they wouldn’t be pursuing this at all. They ought to put it aside and if they’re serious about scrapping red tape, hang on to a one-stop shop that’s working to reduce red tape for charities.

Continue reading ‘DOORSTOP Transcript – Thursday, 20 March 2014’ »

Bringing charities into the modern age – Opinion – 14 January, 2014

Today The Guardian published my opinion piece on reform Labor is proud of that defines and broadens the meaning of charity and charitable purpose.

The Abbott government shouldn’t drag charity back to the 17th century

This year the Charities Act, championed by federal Labor, will modernise our country’s definition of charity. Social services minister Kevin Andrews’ efforts to halt it should be scrutinised

The Abbott government has so far been in the business of looking in the rear view mirror rather than ahead. On everything from the national school curriculum to mining taxation and emissions trading, this is a government which is busy undoing, rather than doing. Another reform the Coalition has recently tried to sneakily unpick is Labor’s reforms to bring Australian charities law into the modern age.

People have always grappled with the meaning of charity and the practice of it. The concept – taken from the Latin and Greek to mean “unlimited loving-kindness to all others” – was linked to hope and faith by the Apostle Paul in the first century; it is also one of the five pillars of Islam. Philosophers and the laity have long tussled with what it means to be charitable; a common image of the practice of charity is of grey soup kitchens in the Dickensian era offering emergency relief for those beaten by hunger. But that image is now dated.

Australian governments have also had to grapple with the meaning of charity, because generous tax concessions are applied to organisations deemed to do charitable work. To decide which ones are eligible, governments in the past have relied on 400 years of case law to define a charity. It has resulted in confusion and costly court cases aimed at getting clarity about the meaning of modern-day charity and charitable purpose.

From the start of this year the Charities Act, championed by federal Labor, came into effect to change all that. It sets out in statute, a historic and uniform definition of “charity” to avoid the ambiguity of the past and to recognise the diversity and vibrancy of a sector that employs more than a million people. It is a sensible development, and the result of years of genuine consultation. Governments, regulators and the broader community will find it easier to define when a charity is a charity and when it is not. The Charities Act clarifies that to be a recognised as a charity, an organisation must be not-for-profit, have only charitable purposes that are for the public benefit, not have a disqualifying purpose and not be an individual, a political party or a government agency.

Modern Australian charities see the need and the cause, and so seek to build capacity and change systems that create disadvantage. The Act restates the existing (judge-made) law in plain English and also recognises charitable purposes such as the protection of human rights, the promotion of reconciliation and tolerance, and by recognising that many modern charities advance causes by preventing, educating, researching and raising awareness. In consultations, many charitable organisations have welcomed the Act’s broad support of advocacy.

Organisations that promote philanthropy say the reform will generate a new era of strong growth for charitable giving in Australia. The money foundations spend on legal advice to work out what they can legitimately fund can now be better spent on organisations doing good and lasting work, including action for the environment and human rights.

The reform also resolves a number of anomalies which stymied particular charities. For instance, the definition of disaster relief has been expanded to enable charities to go beyond the relief of individual distress after a disaster, by including rebuilding, repairing or securing not-for-profit community assets after a disaster. The legislation retains the flexibility inherent in the common law that enables the courts, as well as parliament, to continue to develop and extend the definition to other charitable purposes judged beneficial to Australians over time.

Disappointingly, last year social services minister Kevin Andrews hurriedly sought, without consultation, to delay the introduction of the Charities Act until September 2014, stealthily inserting an amendment to an omnibus bill that would have scuttled the change were it not for the Opposition and minor parties in the Senate.

The sector fought hard for the Charities Bill 2013 and was conceivably alarmed that Andrews sought to delay the new definition and keep charities stuck in the 17th century. During a committee hearing late last year World Vision Australia CEO and Community Council of Australia chair Tim Costello gave evidence that the sector was very surprised by the government’s attempt to take Australian charities back four centuries. “This new definition is extraordinarily important for all of us. With the consultations and over 200 submissions made, I have not heard of anyone in the sector who was troubled by this definition,” Costello said.

And yet the reform is not out of trouble. Andrews may well seek to again scrap or amend the charity definition when the new Senate is in place after 1 July 2014. Perhaps this shouldn’t surprise us, given his determination to abolish many Australian charities amid a raft of repeals (environment advocacy charities especially appear to be in his sights).

We hope the government does not take us back to Howard-era gag clauses. Andrews appears deaf to the sector’s aspirations and hopes of making a difference with a regulatory framework that supports them.

Monday Breaking Politics – Fairfax Media – 11 November 2013

This morning I spoke with Fairfax Media’s Tim Lester about what’s making news, notably developments that highlight the Abbott Government’s aggressively marketed asylum seeker policy is shambolic.  Here’s the full transcript:




Subjects: Asylum seeker stand-off with Indonesia, Warsaw Climate Change Conference, Grain Corp takeover.

TIM LESTER: There is debate about how many times it has happened in recent days but no debate over the fact that it is happening. Indonesia is turning back asylum boats that the Abbott Government would like our near neighbour to take. What does this say about the Abbott Government’s asylum policy going forward? Every Monday Breaking Politics is joined by the Labor MP in Fraser, Andrew Leigh. Welcome in Andrew.


LESTER: First, does Indonesia’s stance on tow-backs surprise you?

LEIGH: Not in the least Tim. This is what Labor has said for upwards of a year would happen. The Indonesian Government has been firm and consistent in their position on Mr Abbott’s tow-back policies. That’s why before the election he conspicuously failed to raise it with our Indonesian colleagues. I think calling the Government’s asylum seeker policy ‘shambolic’ is probably being too generous. We’re now learning more about what Australian navy vessels are doing through the Jakarta Post than we are through the official briefing from Mr Morrison. It appears now that the reason he wants a General to stand next to him is so that he can shield behind that General and refuse to answer questions. And, as to the ‘buy-back the boats’ policy, we’ve heard precious little of that in recent times. It’s really disappointing Tim. This is a vital relationship for Australia. We must treat our Indonesia colleagues with respect. They are the fourth-largest country in the world; a very important relationship for Australia being dealt tremendous blows by the toing and froing, the back and forth that is this Government’s asylum seeker policy.

Continue reading ‘Monday Breaking Politics – Fairfax Media – 11 November 2013’ »

Media Release – Andrew Leigh welcomes appointment as Shadow Assistant Treasurer & Shadow Minister for Competition


Andrew Leigh

Shadow Assistant Treasurer
Shadow Minister for Competition
Member for Fraser


I am delighted with the opportunity to serve in the Opposition’s economic team as Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Competition.

I thank my colleagues for giving me the chance to serve in the Shadow Ministry, and thank Opposition Leader Bill Shorten for entrusting me with this role.

Labor has a proud economic record. We saved Australia from recession, built vital infrastructure projects and invested in a better education system. With the carbon price package, we switched the tax mix: lowering the tax burden on work and increasing it on pollution. Inflation stayed low, and we maintained the open-economy settings that have helped raise prosperity.

The work of improving productivity and boosting innovation is vital in raising living standards for all Australians. And the ethos of the fair go demands policies that narrow the gap, rather than perpetuate inequality.

Over the next three years, I will be enthusiastically engaging with the business community, the social sector, the union movement, and my former colleagues in academia.

I particularly look forward to working with the other members of our economic team, including Chris Bowen, Tony Burke, Ed Husic and Bernie Ripoll.


Boost for ANU to support native title anthropology – 27 August 2013

Campaign Media Release

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus

Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh


The Rudd Labor Government is providing over $1.75 million to attract a new generation of anthropologists to native title work and to    encourage senior anthropologists to stay on in the field.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC and Member for Fraser Dr Andrew Leigh today visited the Australian National University to  announce Native Title Anthropologist Grants for the next three years.

“I congratulate the successful recipients and welcome their contributions to the native title anthropology sector,” Mr Dreyfus said.

“These projects will provide a range of programs, including training for junior anthropologists, field work programs, an Indigenous internship and research placements.”

Continue reading ‘Boost for ANU to support native title anthropology – 27 August 2013’ »

Stronger legal support for women and welfare rights in ACT – 27 August 2013

Campaign Media Release

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus

Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh

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.

Continue reading ‘Stronger legal support for women and welfare rights in ACT – 27 August 2013’ »

ACT secures three new trade training centres – 14 Aug 2013

Today we announced $9.4m for new training centres in the ACT as part of a long term Labor Government program to secure jobs for young people and grow our economy:

Continue reading ‘ACT secures three new trade training centres – 14 Aug 2013’ »

Talking Politics with Mark Parton on 2CC – 13 August 2013

This morning, I had the pleasure of chatting with Mark Parton about Labor’s investments, the importance of the public service, and the joys of election campaigning. Here’s a podcast.

Tax deductibility for gifts to National Arboretum – 12 Aug 2013

Media Release

In a win for one of Canberra’s most important national institutions, a re-elected Rudd Labor Government would make gifts to the National Arboretum tax-deductible.

ACT representatives Senator Kate Lundy, Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh and Member for Canberra Gai Brodtmann said that this decision will encourage philanthropy to help build one of our great and newest national icons.

Already, generous Canberrans have contributed significantly to the major buildings on the arboretum site. It is hoped that this decision will inspire more donations to support the rest of the National Arboretum as well.

The National Arboretum opened in February and has been receiving 50,000 visitors a month, cementing itself as one of Canberra’s greatest tourist attractions.

The Government’s decision to provide the attraction with deductible gift recipient (DGR) status through a specific listing in the tax laws will ensure the project gets much needed ongoing support.

The arboretum is home to an extraordinary collection of living trees, cultivated for conservation, scientific research and education, especially in regards to the impacts of climate change.

Australians who make donations of more than $2 to the arboretum will be able to claim the gift as a tax deduction.

The National Arboretum is a jointly funded initiative between the Commonwealth and ACT governments. The ACT Government has contributed approximately $50 million with the Commonwealth Government allocating $20 million as part of its centenary of Canberra gift to the people of the ACT.

Gifts will be tax deductible from 1 July 2013, however a legislative amendment will be necessary to give effect to this. Funding for this commitment is already included in the budget.

ABC RN Drive with Waleed Aly & Arthur Sinodinos – 5 Aug 2013

I spoke yesterday on ABC RN Drive with Waleed Aly & Arthur Sinodinos. Here’s a podcast.

Transcript – ABC RN Drive with Waleed Aly & Arthur Sinodinos – 5 Aug 2013

Waleed Aly: Time to talk our political panel, two of our favourite politicians, Senator Arthur Sinodinos, Parliamentary Secretary to the Opposition Leader, previously chief of staff to Prime Minister John Howard. And Dr Andrew Leigh, member for Fraser, previously the parliamentary secretary to Julia Gillard when she was Prime Minister. Gentlemen, welcome back to the show.

I’ve got to say that I was very intrigued, that when you’re not on our program, you guys are getting together, making all kinds of bets. This is scandalous behaviour. It’s an interesting bet. You’re looking at annualised real GDP growth which was 2.5 per cent, trend unemployment which was 5.7 per cent and average variable mortgage interest rates which were 6.2 per cent. And it seems to me that each of you is betting that if the other side get in, those indicators will get worse. Have I got that right Arthur?

Continue reading ‘ABC RN Drive with Waleed Aly & Arthur Sinodinos – 5 Aug 2013’ »

Breaking Politics – 5 August 2013


Andrew Leigh
Member for Fraser


TOPICS: First full day of campaigning, Political donations, School funding

Tim Lester: Kelly O’Dwyer, Liberal MP in the Melbourne electorate of Higgins and Labor MP here in Fraser, Andrew Leigh, welcome to Breaking Politics on our first election campaign edition. Kelly, first to you, how does it feel now that we’ve got a contest on?

Kelly O’Dwyer: Well, look I think it’s terrific that Kevin Rudd has finally named a date, and no longer are the union heavies and Labor hacks going to decide who the Prime Minister is, but instead, the Australian people will get a chance on the seventh of September who it is that they want to lead the nation, which team they have trust in to better build our economy and our country and we’re going to learn that on the seventh of September. I got off to a flying start last night, Reverend Tim Costello conducted a town hall meeting with me, Anna Burke and the Greens candidate for Kooyong, for a number of electorates getting together, and we had a packed town hall meeting. So it’s been busy for day one.

TL; Ok, and Andrew Leigh, your sense, when you heard the Prime Minister was on his way to the Governor General yesterday, delighted, or not.

Andrew Leigh: I share Kelly’s enthusiasm for the political process, Tim, and I would say to any young person, in particular, who’s not on the rolls, you’ve now got that seven-day window to sign up, and it’s so important that everyone has their say. This is an election which is about big choices for Australia, we’ve just seen Victoria sign up to the Better Schools Plan, so now four out of five Australian kids are signed on to that. Western Australia’s signed on to DisabilityCare so that now covers almost all of Australia and we’re seeing big reforms through the National Broadband Network, and through historic investments in roads and infrastructure going out across Australia, so it’s a big election, big choices for Australia.

Continue reading ‘Breaking Politics – 5 August 2013’ »

Nation’s most powerful computer switched on at ANU


Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research

Minister for Higher Education


Member for Fraser


31 July 2013

Nation’s most powerful computer switched on at ANU

Australia’s most powerful supercomputer, which also ranks as one of the largest in the world will enable scientists to gain new and valuable insights into issues of pressing national importance like climate change, water management and earth science.

Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr launched the new facility in Canberra today with Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh. Labor has supported the extraordinary machine with a $50 million grant under the Super Science Initiative.

Australia’s newest and fastest supercomputer is the centre piece of the new National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) facility at the Australian National University.

According to researchers at the University, it can perform the same number of calculations in one hour that 7 billion people armed with calculators could perform in 20 years. It has a capacity comparable to around 30,000 ordinary laptop computers working together as a single system.

Continue reading ‘Nation’s most powerful computer switched on at ANU’ »

National Dinosaur Museum and YMCA of Canberra win $161,093 Tourism Quality Funding

30 July 2013


Federal Government tourism quality funding of $76,668 for the National Dinosaur Museum in Nicholls and $84,425 for the YMCA of Canberra was announced today by the Federal Member for Fraser, Dr Andrew Leigh.

Dr Leigh said the National Dinosaur Museum would benefit from new display cabinets and a new waterproof shaded decking area for visitors to rest and enjoy the environment.

“The YMCA of Canberra will also benefit from important redevelopment that involves the construction of additional accommodation rooms, some with ensuite facilities, new bathrooms and additional office space,” said Dr Leigh.

Continue reading ‘National Dinosaur Museum and YMCA of Canberra win $161,093 Tourism Quality Funding’ »

$16 million for volunteers


Senator the Hon Kate Lundy

Senator for the ACT

The Hon Andrew Leigh

Member for Fraser

26 JULY 2013


Community organisations in Fraser will share in $27,564 through the Australian Government’s 2013 Volunteer Grants program.

Senator for the ACT, the Hon Kate Lundy and Federal Member for Fraser, Dr Andrew Leigh, said nine organisations have been successful under the program and that the grants, which range between $1000 and $5000, will help volunteers meet the rising costs of running a not-for-profit organisation. The grants are:

  • The Australian Capital Territory Blind Cricket Association for transport expenses;
  • Another Chance Opportunity Shop for store supplies;
  • Meals and Bread Program for food storage equipment;
  • Ginninderra District Girl Guides for cooking and computer equipment;
  • Lu Rees Archives of Australian Children’s Literature Association for computer equipment;
  • Special Olympics ACT for office equipment;
  • Diamantina Scout Group for kitchen and cooking equipment;
  • Transplant ACT Committee for volunteer background screening checks; and
  • UN Women Australia for computer equipment and training courses.

Continue reading ‘$16 million for volunteers’ »

Launching Common Ground Canberra

Minister for Housing and Homelessness

Member for Fraser

ACT Minister for Housing

A $17 million boost to help tackle homelessness in Canberra

Continue reading ‘Launching Common Ground Canberra’ »

Discussing Asylum Seeker Policy on ABC666

I spoke this morning on ABC 666 about asylum-seeker policy, and the new Regional Settlement Arrangement. Here’s a podcast.


Andrew Leigh
Member for Fraser

TUESDAY 23rd JULY 2013

Topics:                        Asylum Seekers, Foreign Aid

Note:                           Due to time constraints, Gary Humphries’ contributions have not been transcribed.

Ross Solly:                  Gary Humphries will be joining us very soon, but Andrew Leigh, the member for Fraser is here with me in the 666 Breakfast studio. Andrew Leigh, good morning to you.

Andrew Leigh: Good morning Ross.

Ross Solly:                   Just on that photograph and the film footage, are you comfortable with it being used the way it is?

Andrew Leigh: Look, this is a desperately hard area of policy, Ross. The purpose that the Immigration Department has used the photograph for, is to make sure that people don’t make a risky boat journey and that we don’t see more drownings at sea. So it’s part of a policy that I believe is aimed at being as compassionate as we can.

Continue reading ‘Discussing Asylum Seeker Policy on ABC666’ »

Interview with Mark Parton – 17 July 2013



Andrew Leigh

Member for Fraser


TOPICS:                                Austerity, changes to fringe benefits tax, live exports

Mark Parton:                     Andrew Leigh is a thinker and he’s got a piece in the Canberra Times this morning about austerity measures, and he says that when the Great Depression hit the United States, US treasury secretary Andrew Mellon famously advocated austerity.  His formula was simple – liquidate labour, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate – it’ll purge the rottenness out of the system. The theory behind austerity is elegant; Proponents argue that government crowds out business and the tax payers will equate spending cuts today with tax cuts tomorrow. There’ll be some short term pain as prices and wages fall, but from cuts will come growth and on the face of it, you can understand why they bought it as a concept back in the 1920s and 30s. But in its simplest form, it just doesn’t really work. Andrew Leigh joins us right now, of course, the federal member for Fraser here in the ACT. G’day Andrew

Continue reading ‘Interview with Mark Parton – 17 July 2013’ »

2CC with Mark Parton

Andrew Leigh MP
Member for Fraser
10 July 2013

TOPICS:                      Battlers and Billionaires, election date, polls

Mark Parton:           We had Andrew Leigh, the federal member for Fraser on the program recently and this is after the whole leadership change with federal Labor. It’s worked out really badly for Andrew that his new book’s been released at the time that all this stuff’s been going down. It’s the book called Battlers and Billionaires. He writes really well does Andrew and the book is basically about you know egalitarianism in Australia and whether or not things are as equal as they should be.  Now look, I disagree with a number of things that Andrew puts forward in the book, but gee it’s a good read. I haven’t read it all I’ve just read some extracts from it. I’ve got Andrew on the line right now.

Morning Andrew.

Continue reading ‘2CC with Mark Parton’ »

Triple J Hack with Tom Tilley

Andrew Leigh MP
Member for Fraser
9 July 2013

TOPICS:                                Polls, Labor leader election reforms, young Australian political participation and enrolling.

Tom Tilley:                          In the Hack studio we have a Labor MP Andrew Leigh and he was voted in to the Canberra seat of Fraser at the last election and Andrew I’d love to know what you think of these reform ideas, thanks for joining us.

Andrew Leigh:                  Pleasure, Tom.

Tom Tilley:                          Do you think it will actually make a difference, because a lot of people are wondering that it’ll actually do if it does get through the caucus Andrew, what difference does it make to have half of the votes for the leader coming from normal Labor party members rather than just coming from the caucus?

Continue reading ‘Triple J Hack with Tom Tilley’ »

Sky AM Agenda – 9 July 2013

On Sky AM Agenda, I spoke with host Kieran Gilbert and Liberal MP Josh Frydenberg about thoughtful asylum-seeker policy (rather than sloganeering), and reforms to make the ALP more democratic.

Andrew Leigh MP
Member for Fraser
9 July 2013

TOPICS:                                Polls, Labor leader election reforms, asylum seekers.

Kieran Gilbert:                   This is AM Agenda. With me now Labor MP Andrew Leigh and Liberal MP Josh Frydenberg. Josh to you in Melbourne first of all, Kevin Rudd, as I put to Penny Wong and Barnaby Joyce just a moment ago, well ahead as preferred Prime Minister, 20 points, 22 points in front, that compared to, well, Mr Abbott was 12 points in front of Julia Gillard in that last Newspoll before she was deposed.

Continue reading ‘Sky AM Agenda – 9 July 2013’ »

Breaking Politics with Tim Lester

Andrew Leigh MP
Member for Fraser
8 July 2013

TOPICS:                                Red tape, asylum seekers, election date

Tim Lester:                          Kelly O’Dwyer, Andrew Leigh, welcome into Breaking Politics. Kelly, you’re in Sydney today doing your own Skype there. Thank you for coming on and I gather you’re there as part of the presentation of the Coalition’s ‘Red Tape’ policy. Tell us, how severe is the Government red tape problem such that it needs you and others to develop a new policy on it?

Kelly O’Dwyer:                  Well it’s incredibly severe, Tim. We have seen the Government announce that it was going to get rid of one new piece of regulation for every new piece of regulation that it brought in. In fact, it’s done the complete opposite; it’s brought in more than 21,000 new pieces of regulation since 2007. This has a very significant and severe impact not only on business but also on a lot of not-for-profit organisations. It’s making it more difficult for people to do the job that they need to do in helping grow their business and serve our community. So we’ve put together a policy document that’s going to cut a billion dollars of red tape and regulation. It’s been done in conjunction with not-for-profits and business. We’ve consulted right round the country for the last 18 months and I think you’ll be quite excited by the document we release today.

Continue reading ‘Breaking Politics with Tim Lester’ »

Battlers & Billionaires Extract in Inside Story

What do Australians think about equality? Inside Story, 4 July 2013

To see whether you care about inequality, take this simple test. Would you prefer to be born into a society in which the bottom fifth of households had 1 per cent and the top fifth had 62 per cent of the wealth? Or a society in which the poor had 15 per cent and the rich had 24 per cent?

The first set of numbers is the actual distribution of wealth in Australia. When surveyed about their ideal distribution, though, the majority of respondents wanted the nation to be more egalitarian. Indeed, the second set of figures is the preference of the most affluent.

In part, this is because most people believe that our wealth distribution is considerably more equal than it turns out to be. On average, Australians think that the top fifth has 40 per cent of all wealth (actually 62 per cent), while the bottom fifth has 9 per cent (actually 1 per cent). This isn’t just a mistake that Australians make: a similar survey found that Americans also underestimated their level of wealth inequality. Shown the distributions in Sweden and the United States (without country labels), 92 per cent of US respondents preferred the former.

Continue reading ‘Battlers & Billionaires Extract in Inside Story’ »

Interview with Mark Parton – 2 July 2013

Andrew Leigh MP
Member for Fraser
2 July 2013

TOPICS:                                Ministerial changes, immigration policy

Mark Parton:                      Now we obviously had a lot of changes in the ministry, the shakeup has demoted some Gillard loyalists – it’s dumped one Parliamentary Secretary altogether. We’re talking about the extremely talented Member for Fraser here in the ACT, Andrew Leigh, who joins us right now. G’day Andrew.

Andrew Leigh:                  G’day Mark.

Mark Parton:                     That was a smack in the face, wasn’t it?

Continue reading ‘Interview with Mark Parton – 2 July 2013’ »

Battlers & Billionaires with Marius Benson

Andrew Leigh MP
Member for Fraser
2 July 2013

Topics:                         Ministerial changes, ‘Battlers and Billionaires’.

Announcer:                        There were winners and losers when Kevin Rudd announced Labor’s latest ministerial line up yesterday, although mainly winners, as many of the Gillard old guard had already resigned their posts. One loser was Andrew Leigh, who lost his position as a parliamentary secretary. But it’s not likely to be the last that’s heard from the active Andrew Leigh, who was a professor of economics before entering parliament. He’s also the author of several book. The latest, Battlers and Billionaires, looks at a widening economic divide. Andrew Leigh is speaking to Marius Benson.

Marius Benson:                Andrew Leigh, you must feel a little disappointed today, you lost the position of parliamentary secretary yesterday, is that just the price you pay for backing the wrong horse in a two horse race?

Andrew Leigh:                  Well naturally I’m disappointed, but I took the view that after supporting the former Prime Minister that the honourable thing to do was to tell Mr Rudd that while I was willing to serve, I was also willing to stand down if he wanted me to. So he’s asked me to stand down from that role, and to offer him advice on economic issues, which I’m happy to do.

Continue reading ‘Battlers & Billionaires with Marius Benson’ »

Battlers & Billionaires with Jonathan Green

Andrew Leigh MP
Member for Fraser
1 July 2013

Topics:                         Ministerial changes, ‘Battlers and Billionaires’.

Jonathan Green:              Still on politics, and one of the losers from the events of last week in Canberra is Dr Andrew Leigh; without doubt one of the sharpest minds in the parliament, but left out of the new expanded Rudd ministry. He was the Parliamentary Secretary to the former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, but that job now goes to Ed Husic. So what does the future hold for this former professor of economics. He joins us now, Dr Leigh, good evening.

Andrew Leigh:                  Good evening Jonathan.

Jonathan Green:              Did you resign, or were you pushed?

Andrew Leigh:                  Well, I thought in the circumstances of last week, after supporting the incumbent Prime Minister, that I should tell Kevin Rudd that while I was willing to continue to serve, I was also willing to tender my resignation if he wanted it. And he accepted the resignation and said that he wanted me to continue to offer advice to him on international economic issues, which I’m very happy to do.

Continue reading ‘Battlers & Billionaires with Jonathan Green’ »

Talking Battlers & Billionaires with Alex Sloan

Andrew Leigh MP
Member for Fraser
1 July 2013

TOPICS:                                Battlers and Billionaires, Cabinet reshuffle

Alex Sloan:                          Joining me in the studio is Andrew Leigh who of course is the Parliamentary Member for Fraser, the Labor Member for Fraser  and he has launched his book today which is called ‘Battlers and Billionaires: The Story of Inequality in Australia’. Andrew Leigh lovely to see you.

Andrew Leigh:                  Likewise Alex.

Alex Sloan:                          Now first of all just on the politics and it is reported that you have been, I will just read it now, Kate Lundy is disappointed to lose the Sports portfolio while Andrew Leigh has been dropped all together.

Andrew Leigh:                  After supporting the former Prime Minister in the caucus ballot last week, Alex, I thought it was the honourable thing to do to tell Kevin Rudd I was willing to serve but that I was also willing to step down if he wanted me to do that, and so he’s asked me to step down but has asked me to advise him on economic issues which I am certainly happy to do.

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Talking Battlers & Billionaires with Steve Austin

Andrew Leigh MP
Member for Fraser
1 July 2013

Topics:                        Battlers and Billionaires

Steve Austin:           When I was presenting the evening program, I interviewed a chap by the name of Andrew Leigh. Andrew Leigh’s background is one of being a sociologist and economist. He got into federal politics, he’s now the Federal Labor Member for Fraser in New South Wales, and I interviewed him about a book he wrote then called Disconnected, and it looked at social capital and how it had weakened over the past generation – less people volunteer, less people part of community groups, church organisations, social groups and things like that. He’s changed direction this time, using his educational background, but he’s come to the conclusion that Australia is more unequal today than it was a generation ago. Andrew Leigh good morning to you.

Andrew Leigh:        Good morning Steve.

Steve Austin:           Andrew I want us to go back and look at how the people who have money are making it. How are the rich, the very rich, the stinking, filthy rich of Australia making their money.

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Transcript – ‘Breaking Politics’ with Tim Lester

Andrew Leigh MP
Member for Fraser
1 July 2013

TOPICS:                                New ministry list, Coalition cuts, Boat turn-backs, new inequality book

Tim Lester:                          Now another of our regulars on Monday on Breaking Politics, Andrew Leigh, the Labor MP here in the ACT in the electorate of Fraser. Welcome in, nice to have you in.

Andrew Leigh:                  Thanks Tim.

Tim Lester:                          Andrew, your response to the announcement of the ministry this morning. What do you think of the front bench?

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Transcript – ABC the World Today

Andrew Leigh MP
Member for Fraser
1 July 2013

TOPICS:                                Battlers and Billionaires

SCOTT BEVAN:                  As welfare groups warn of growing demands on their services, there are warnings about growing inequality in Australia. In his new book, Battlers and Billionaires, the Federal Labor MP Andrew Leigh, outlines the history of income inequality in Australia, which he notes is now approaching the highs of the 1920s. Mr Leigh says that’s at odds with Australia’s reputation as an egalitarian society. He’s spoken to our reporter, Lexi Metherell.

LEXI METHERELL:              Andrew Leigh, in your book, you write of the Australian national character as having a peculiarly Australian quality of egalitarianism. What evidence do you have to support that?

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