I spoke in parliament on the government’s failure to turn a G20 growth aspiration into a clear plan for prosperity.
MPI – G20, 26 February 2014
I congratulate the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development on his decade-old diggings, but I am happy to assure the House that I, like all members on this side, do not support a GP tax. The aspiration set by the Treasurer for an additional 0.4 per cent growth per year over the next five years is a perfectly reasonable aspiration, and nobody in this parliament would disagree with it, but an aspiration is not a plan.
There are two very clear plans for growth on offer in this parliament. This side of the parliament believes that growth is driven by investment, by education and by fairness. That side of the parliament believes it is driven by cuts, cuts and cuts—cutting infrastructure, cutting services and cutting wages.
Joining a cycle of doorstops at Parliament House this morning, I spoke to reporters about the Group 20 Financial Ministers Communique that commits leaders to boosting GDP. Ultimately the success of the G20 in Australia will be judged around tangible results including job creation.
TRANSCRIPT, DOORSTOP INTERVIEW
AUSTRALIAN PARLIAMENT HOUSE
MONDAY, 24 FEBRUARY 2014
SUBJECT/S: G20 growth target; multinational profit shifting and tax; Manus Island; Craig Thomson; Sydney’s second airport
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION: We’ve seen the headline recommendation coming out of the weekend G20 meetings as being a two per cent growth boost. Now, no one can object to that. Two per cent more growth is of course a good thing. But, an aspiration is not a plan. And from Joe Hockey, what we’re getting is hints of a set of policies that are going to cut into growth at the same time that he aspires to more growth. If I came out here and told you that I’d like my running times to be two per cent faster, but I was going to sell my jogging shoes and sack my jogging partner, you’d have reason to doubt me. So, when Joe Hockey tells you that he’s going to boost Australia’s growth rate but he’s not going to build the NBN, not build urban rail, hacking into school funding and Trades Training Centres – and potentially demand driven universities – Australians have a right to ask ‘well, how serious are you are you about this growth target?’
The other thing we saw out of the G20 was a proposal to move on multinational profit-shifting. It’s essentially the same proposal that Wayne Swan and David Bradbury took to last year’s G20. But three-quarters of a billion dollars has been dropped from it because the Government wasn’t willing to go hard on multinational profit-shifting. So that’s $700 million, around the cost of a new hospital, which has got to be made up for in service cuts or tax increases. The Government is walking away from good moves on multinational profit shifting and they’re walking back on transparency of multinational tax paid, which has really got to leave you asking the question, ‘how serious are they about making sure that all companies pay their fair share of tax?’
This afternoon I welcomed locals with NBN Defenders as part of a National Broadband Network Day of Action. They presented me with a copy of the largest online petition this country has ever seen.
It urges the Abbott Government to abandon its broadband policy that uses fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) technology in favour of the superior fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) option championed by Labor. The quarter of a million people who’ve signed the petition feel strongly, as I do, that the FTTP NBN will serve Australia’s long-term interests much better and deliver a more reliable network with faster speeds.
Latham resident and accountant Nikki Douglass handed me a box with the 270,000 signature petition collected through the website change.org.
“This is the most critical infrastructure project facing Australia right now and the public wants to see an increase in the amount of fibre-to-the-premises being rolled out,” Ms Douglass said.
“We’re sending a strong message to Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull that he needs to start listening to the Australian people.”
Today’s delivery is just one of dozens taking place with MPs in their electorates around the country.
On ABC24 Capital Hill, I spoke with host Andrew Greene and Liberal Senator Zed Seselja about the benefits of fibre to the home, the Labor leadership campaign, and proposed paid parking in Parliament House. A transcript is over the fold.
On Sky AM Agenda, I spoke with host Kieran Gilbert and Liberal Minister Mitch Fifield about the Coalition’s secrecy on asylum-seeker boat arrivals, the risk of a digital divide if fibre to the home is stopped, and the Labor leadership contest.
My op-ed in today’s SMH sets out some of the questions the incoming Prime Minister has to answer.
Ten Challenges for Tony Abbott, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times, 13 September 2013
As a poll sceptic, I’m fairly rare in Parliament House. Most of the building watches opinion polls with the eagerness of sailors looking for land. For those on the Coalition side, the fact that almost every opinion poll in the past three years has gone in their favour has given them a strong sense of confidence that they would form government at this election.
The Coalition won the election with a convincing margin, and I congratulate Mr Abbott on becoming our 28th Prime Minister. But given the length of time the Abbott Government has had to prepare for office, the real surprise is the number of major policy questions that lie unanswered. Here are ten for starters.
First, given that we know from independent experts such as the Grattan Institute that Direct Action will not meet the bipartisan target of cutting emissions by 5 percent by 2020, how does the government intend to reduce our carbon emissions? Given that Australia has just had the hottest summer on record, is it really acceptable for the developed nation with the highest emissions per person to back away from action on carbon emissions?
I appeared on ABC Lateline with host Emma Alberici and Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne to discuss the Coalition’s hide-and-seek game with their policies, how their announced policies will disproportionately benefit the top 1%, naval bases and Labor’s plan to invest in productivity through infrastructure and education.
A transcript (thanks to Lateline) is over the fold.
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.
On Sky AM Agenda, I spoke with host Kieran Gilbert and Liberal Senator Mitch Fifield. I outlined Labor’s positive plan for education and infrastructure, and noted the Coalition’s $30B of regressive spending – in the form of their $22B unfair parental leave scheme and their $8B restoration of the private health insurance rebate for higher income earners. I also discussed the impact that tens of billions in Coalition cuts would have on health, education and jobs. A transcript is over the fold.
On ABC666 this morning, I joined a ‘pollie panel’ with other candidates for the seat of Fraser. We discussed the Coalition’s regressive paid parental leave scheme, and their additional 12,000-20,000 job cuts, plus Labor’s plans to invest in education and the NBN. Here’s a podcast.
I spoke with Tim Lester on Breaking Politics today. A transcript is below.
TRANSCRIPT OF ANDREW LEIGH MP
‘BREAKING POLITICS’ WITH TIM LESTER
12 AUGUST 2013
E & O E – PROOF ONLY
Subjects: Election campaign, First debate, NBN, Costings, Peter Beattie.
TIM LESTER: Andrew Leigh, welcome into Breaking Politics.
ANDREW LEIGH: Thanks Tim.
TIM LESTER: How’s the campaign going?
ANDREW LEIGH: I’m loving it. I was out in Amaroo, in my electorate, yesterday – door-knocking, talking to people about the National Broadband Network. One bloke said he’d just gotten it hooked up, and he was enjoying using it to have better conversations with relatives overseas. Gotta say Tim, no-one came up to me and said “the real problem with the National Broadband Network is they’ve brought the fibre all the way to my home, and I wish they’d stopped it in the cabinet down the street,” but maybe Mr Turnbull meets people like that when he doorknocks.
After the first election debate, I locked horns with Shadow Finance Spokesman Andrew Robb about the government’s plans for managing the economic transition, and the need for the Coalition to bring their policies into the sunlight.
I spoke in parliament tonight about the need to reduce cyberbullying.
Reducing Cyberbullying, 24 June 2013
Bullying has long posed a challenge for schools, parents, workplaces and, most significantly, its victims. It also poses a challenge for us legislators, and it is a challenge the Gillard government has sought to address through initiatives such as the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence, through directing more than $20 million to the Fair Work Commission to provide victims of workplace bullying with a quick and effective way to resolve bullying at work and prevent it ever happening again.
But, as online communications become increasingly prevalent in our offices, our schools and our social lives, it is clear that combating bullying needs to adjust to take this new dimension into account. It is especially important we recognise the safety and security needs of young people, who are growing up in a world with greater digital use than any previous generation.
I spoke today on the Matter of Public Importance debate, moved by Malcolm Turnbull.
Matter of Public Importance – National Broadband Network, 4 June 2013
I appreciate the member for Wentworth providing us with a chance to set the record straight on what has been a disgraceful fear campaign by the coalition.
As with any major national project there are important conversations that policymakers need to have about what we want to achieve and how best to set about achieving it. So I want to speak first about why Australia needs the National Broadband Network—a fibre-to-the-home network—and then discuss the issues of asbestos that the honourable member has raised and how the government is responding to those.
The simple fact is that in a 21st century developed country, access to the internet is a form of basic infrastructure. It is to our generation as the water and electricity networks were to generations before. The member for Wentworth knows this; he has great knowledge of the information technology industry—certainly unlike his leader, who has confessed ‘I’m no tech-head’.
My op-ed in Online Opinion discusses why it’s so important to build infrastructure for generations to come, not just today’s needs.
The Power of Fibre
When construction on the Sydney Harbour Bridge began in 1923, the city was home to fewer than 40,000 cars – not enough to cause a traffic jam. It may have seemed like a bold move, then, to build a bridge capable of carrying six lanes of road traffic, flanked by a further two lanes for trains. Upon completion, it would have cost you six pence to drive your car across the bridge, but only three if you were upon your horse.
Today the Sydney Harbour Bridge is an indispensable artery to the city’s transport system, with over 160,000 cars crossing it every day. Beyond its iconic aesthetics, the beauty of the bridge lies in the fact that it was never designed for a Sydney of the 1920s. It was designed for a Sydney of the future.
It was with this same view to the future that Labor first proposed the National Broadband Network. Without a doubt, the internet has been the biggest technological game changer of the past half-century. And its capacity for growth is still expanding: just think about how much your own use of the internet has changed in the past 10 years, and then imagine the same change over the next decade.
On ABC702 yesterday, I enjoyed a conversation with host Richard Glover and guests Dick Smith and Malcolm Turnbull, ranging from carbon pricing to urban congestion, parliamentary roles to economic growth, helicopter travel to books that make you cry. Here’s a podcast.
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.
I spoke in parliament today about the benefits of super-fast broadband for the ACT.
National Broadband Network, 7 February 2013
When I was 11 years old, in 1984, I got my first computer. It was an Aquarius. It had 3½ kilobytes of memory. I was excited when I upgraded, finally, to a VIC-20 with five kilobytes of memory. Now, that might sound tiny, but at about that time Gareth Powell, the Sydney Morning Herald computer editor, wrote that he thought no program would ever need more than 16 kilobytes. Those sorts of statements about technology remind us that the things we can do with new technology often far outpace our imagination—and those that think that superfast broadband will just mean faster Facebook and YouTube do not get the power of technology.
In about 12 months, people living in the shaded area will be able to connect to the NBN
Yesterday, I welcomed the release of detailed maps by NBN Co, showing where construction of the National Broadband Network (NBN) will start in Civic.
This is really exciting for local families and business in the Civic area. In around 12 months’ time, people in Civic will be able to start connecting to the National Broadband Network. The map shows that NBN fibre is being rolled out Civic, Acton and parts of Braddon which will allow more residents access to faster, affordable and more reliable broadband.
The map is another sign that construction of the National Broadband Network is continuing to accelerate, with work now having commenced or been completed to over 784,000 homes and businesses across Australia. The release of this map means that work is starting in this area and over the next few months, we’ll start to see NBN Co workers locally doing the detailed planning and inspection work, and then rolling out the fibre. Within around twelve months, construction of the NBN in Civic will be completed. This means that families and businesses will be able to connect to faster, more reliable broadband services. A standard NBN connection to the home or office is free – and NBN retail services are available for similar prices to what people are paying now, but for a much superior service.
The National Broadband Network is about preparing Australia for the future. It’s about ensuring that our local communities in places like Canberra are not left behind as the world and our local economy changes. From seeing your local doctor from home, to your kids being able to take a specialist class at another school – the NBN will change the way we live, work, and access services. It will lead to a new wave of innovation, and I’m delighted that people in Civic will be among the first to benefit.
I was excited to be at the Gungahlin Library this morning for testing of the ACT’s first public connection to the NBN. The Library forms part of the Gungahlin Digital Hub where residents will be able to learn more about how to access the exciting features of the NBN. Free training sessions will be available from early next year and will cover a range of computer basics, everyday online activities, and online safety and security, and connection options.
Senator Kate Lundy encouraged local businesses to imagine the possibilities of their future activities in a super-connected city like Canberra. She encouraged them to think creatively and strategically about the opportunities available to them through the NBN. By mid-2015, fibre construction will have commenced or be completed to 135,300 homes and businesses across the ACT beginning with the whole of Gungahlin Town Centre going live in January 2013.
Kate Lundy, Andrew Barr and myself checking out the download speed
I spoke in parliament yesterday about the recent laying of National Broadband Network cables in Palmerston, and the benefits of the NBN for health, education and business.
Benefits of the National Broadband Network, 9 October 2012
Last week Senator Kate Lundy and I attended the laying of the distribution fibre cable in Palmerston, in my electorate of Fraser. NBN Co. forecast that construction should be complete in the central business district of Gungahlin and nearby suburbs by the end of the year. Homes and businesses in Gungahlin are now one step closer to connecting to the National Broadband Network and being able to access faster, more affordable and more reliable broadband. This will not only boost internet speeds but also strengthen the local community.
One example of where the NBN is strengthening community is in the lives of those suffering from a chronic health condition. In New South Wales, Hunter Nursing is using the National Broadband Network to remotely monitor the health of patients suffering from one or more chronic diseases. A trial of 50 high-risk patients using an in-patient home device with an online interface enabled them to have their health monitored in their own home by health professionals. Through high-speed broadband, patients and carers were able to use their device to access monitoring equipment and communicate with health professionals via video-conferencing and email. The benefit of this was that patients enjoyed one-to-one care in the comfort of their own homes. They could monitor their own health status and they could maintain their independence.