TRANSCRIPT – RN DRIVE WITH WALEED ALY
Andrew Leigh MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister
Member for Fraser
20 May 2013
Topics: Federal budget, paid parental leave, GST.
Archive for the ‘Parliament’ Category.
Mark Latham’s Quarterly Essay discussed the opportunities and challenges facing modern Labor. Here’s my response, published in Australian Policy Online.
Response to Mark Latham’s Quarterly Essay
It’s occasionally been forgotten since he left the Labor leadership nearly a decade ago, but when he chooses to engage in policy, Mark Latham has a lot to say. He is optimistic about the intellectual and organisational future of the Labor Party, and appropriately proud of the role we have played in opening up the Australian economy in the 1980s and 1990s and dealing with climate change today.
One big question Labor thinkers are always willing to wrestle with is how the party’s guiding philosophy should evolve. Political parties invariably adapt as society changes, but Labor’s options have particularly opened up as the Coalition has shrunk into what Anthony Albanese has tagged ‘the noalition’. When Tony Abbott calls for a ‘people’s revolt’ against a market-based mechanism for dealing with climate change, it’s hard to know whether to criticise him for abandoning conservatism or trashing liberalism.
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 in parliament today on a bill to help ensure that all Australians have their say in the democratic process.
Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Improving Electoral Administration) Bill, 12 March 2013
This is the third bill on which I have spoken regarding reforms to the administration of our electoral system. I have a great passion for expanding our democracy. That passion is shared by a great number of electors in Fraser. At last count, we had 131,000 electors in Fraser. That compares to an average of 94,000 electors per electorate at the last election. Mine is either the largest or the second largest electorate in Australia, and I welcome more people onto the roll in the ACT.
Before this bill, the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Improving Electoral Procedure) Bill and the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Protecting Elector Participation) Bill introduced important amendments to enhance voter participation and update the electoral roll. We have introduced this suite of changes because, unlike our conservative counterparts, we understand how crucial inclusion and participation are to our system of democracy. That passion for expanding access to democracy is centuries old. It goes back to the times when William Wentworth, a conservative, campaigned to maintain the property qualification for voting. It goes back to those conservatives who stood against expanding the suffrage to women in Australia. It goes also today, in Queensland, to those members of the Queensland LNP who are campaigning to get rid of compulsory voting. At every turn you see progressives wanting to expand the franchise and conservatives opposing the expansion and wanting the shrinkage of the franchise.
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.
I’ve just put in a submission to the inquiry into the size of the ACT Legislative Assembly. Full text below.
Submission to the ACT Electoral Commission’s Expert Reference Group
Andrew Leigh MP
Federal Member for Fraser
28 February 2013
On ABC RN Drive yesterday, I spoke with presenter Waleed Aly and Senator Arthur Sinodinos about trust in politics and economic management. Here’s a podcast.
For the last week in January we had a chat about superannuation, industrial relations and the Coalition’s lack of policy vision.
For several months this year, an ANU student by the name of Emily Murray worked as an intern in my office, via the ANU ANIP program. During this, she interviewed 41 politicians, political advisers and campaigners. At the end of it, Emily has produced a report titled ‘Pressure Politics: Why Australian Politicians Support or Ignore NGO Policy Campaigns’.
I’d encourage anyone who has the time to read Emily’s full report. But for the busy types who frequent Capital Hill, she has also written a guest blog post, listing ten tips for pitching your ideas up to us pollies. Take it away Emily…
Ten Top Tips for Engaging with Politicians
By Emily Murray
Almost all of us have had a bit of a whinge at one point or another about our politicians. I can’t open a newspaper or visit my Granddad without hearing how the country’s going off track and how it could be fixed. It’s easier to throw stones than build bridges.
Have you ever tried taking your ideas and concerns to your politicians, and engaging them in a respectful discussion about an issue? The politicians I’ve met welcome meeting with their constituents and genuinely want to learn more about the issues that they face.
I’ve spent the last semester researching why politicians say yes or no to policy proposals from their constituents. Here are ten top tips to help you get your ideas on board!
I spoke in parliament yesterday on the passing of my most famous constituent, Bryce Courtenay.
Bryce Courtenay, 27 November 2012
A little over 12 months ago Paul Keating told Leigh Sales during a Lateline interview:
‘Well, it’s all about telling the stories. You gotta be able to tell the stories, I think.’
Today I pay tribute to one of our greatest ever storytellers. Australian author Bryce Courtenay lived in the suburb of Reid in my electorate, a few kilometres from my electorate office. Last week he died of stomach cancer, aged 79. He was a prolific author. In his 23 years of writing he wrote 23 books—almost one a year. I say ‘almost’ because the only time he missed his annual deadline was last year. He was upset by this even though the arthritis in his hands were so severe he could only perform two-finger typing.
My terrific chief of staff (aka office manager) Louise Crossman has just been offered a job as women’s adviser to Julie Collins, Minister for Community Services, Indigenous Employment and Economic Development, and Status of Women. Louise has run my office wonderfully well over recent years, and many in the Canberra community will have had the opportunity to get to know her at community forums and other events.
I’m very sorry to see her moving on, but am also pleased that in past years, I’ve seen staff happily move into jobs with Ministers Combet, Garrett and Collins. No job is forever, and having the chance to work with a team bright and energetic people is one of the things I really enjoy about this job. Over the coming years, Louise is certain to make her mark on Australian politics.
Accordingly, I’m now looking for a new Louise. You can think of the job as a hybrid of ‘chief of staff’ (managing people) and office manager (managing paperwork). Successful applicant will need to be politically attuned, good at teamwork, and enjoy community development. Sense of humour a plus.
The official job ad is below.
Applications are invited for the above position based in Canberra.
The duties of the positions include: managing a team of five full-time and part-time staff (plus volunteers), community engagement, liaising with government departments, preparing and coordinating correspondence, organising events and meetings.
Applicants should possess the following skills and experience:
- Experience in managing a medium-sized team in a high-pressure environment
- Passionate about community engagement
- Hard working and enthusiastic about addressing local issues
- Excellent oral and written communication skills
- Understanding of local media
Extensive understanding of government and parliamentary processes
A commencing salary between $67 956 and $76 548 will be paid, plus allowances up to $25 060, depending on skills and experience.
A probationary period of 3 months will apply.
Applications attaching a CV plus at least two referees should be forwarded to email@example.com
Applications close on 21 November 2012. For further information please contact Louise Crossman, acting office manager, on 02 6247 4396.
I’m on paternity leave from parliament from Mon-Thu this week (thanks to the Opposition granting me a rare pair).
In between helping Gweneth wrangle our 5 year-old, 3 year-old and 1 month-old boys, I’ll be checking email sporadically. But I may be a little slower in responding than usual. And while 16-hour parlimentary days are tiring, I have a feeling that I’ll be working harder still at home this week!
Incidentally, two-week dad and partner pay starts on 1 January 2013.
I spoke in parliament last night on an amendment calling on the Coalition to submit their costings to the independent Parliamentary Budget Office.
Coalition Costings and the Parliamentary Budget Office, 10 September 2012
The motion which we are debating this evening is moved by the member for Mayo, who is one of the self-appointed group of modest members. The term ‘modest members’ is not only a current misnomer but also a historical reference to the great Bert Kelly. In thinking about speaking to the member for Mayo’s motion I thought perhaps I would go to my bookshelves and pull down Economics Made Easy by Bert Kelly. As I listened to the member for North Sydney, I was struck by the words in Rod Carnegie’s introduction. He says, ‘When confrontation and mutual name calling are stock forms of debate it does us all a service to learn and relearn that shouting loud and long need not be as effective as gentle persuasion.’
We have just had 10 minutes of long, loud shouting from the member for North Sydney. It is not quite clear what the member for North Sydney is saying about the coalition’s position on preferencing the Greens in the electorate of Melbourne. The historical record shows that the decision by the Liberal Party to preference the Greens Party in Melbourne saw the first election at a general election of the current member for Melbourne. In his speech, the member for North Sydney said, ‘We don’t back frauds,’ and, ‘You’ll suffer,’ but it is not clear whether they are words which ought to be taken as gospel truth and carefully scripted remarks or whether they are merely off-the-cuff rhetoric to be thrown around in a debate and have no matter when it comes to the Liberal Party’s decision on preferencing at the next election.
I spoke in parliament this week about electoral reform.
Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Improving Electoral Procedure) Bill, 22 August 2012
When I last spoke in the parliament supporting electoral reform, I noted my genuine delight in welcoming new Fraser residents onto the electoral roll. I spoke of how each month it is my pleasure to send enrolment forms and letters to potential and newly enrolled electors. But if we are to ensure we increase democratic participation we must also make it easier to vote. For the Labor Party, franchise and participation have always been important. Having as many votes as possible count in the next federal election matters to me and that is why this bill is important.
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 last night about the late Frank Walker.
19 June 2012
Frank Walker did more in public life than many of us can ever hope to do. During his time he suffered more than any of us probably ever will. He lost his two sons, Michael and Sean, to suicide. Both died at age 33, and he found both of them. But he contributed an extraordinary amount to our public life. He spent his first years in a Coogee housing commission home. His family moved to New Guinea in 1948 after his father, Jack Walker—a brickworks dragger and a member of the Communist Party of Australia—was black-listed. He was a campaigner for the underdog, and perhaps part of that was formed by those early years in Papua New Guinea, sitting alongside indigenous children in coastal villages.
I moved a private member’s motion in the House of Representatives today on the strength of the Australian economy, and the need to approach economic debates with facts rather than fear (avoiding phobophobia).
A Strong Australian Economy
18 June 2012
I move: That this House:
(1) notes that:
(a) by historical standards, unemployment, inflation and interest rates are at very low levels;
(b) for the first time in Australian history, Australia has a AAA rating from all three major credit rating agencies;
(c) Australia’s debt levels, despite the hit to revenues from the global financial crisis, are around one tenth the level of major advanced economies;
(d) OECD Economic Outlook 91 confirms that the Australian economy will significantly outperform OECD economies as a whole over this year and next; and
(e) the IMF has said of Australia: ‘we welcome the authorities’ commitment to return to a budget surplus by 2012-13 to rebuild fiscal buffers, putting Commonwealth government finances in a stronger position’; and
(2) calls upon all Members to approach economic debates with facts rather than fear, and to put the national interest first when discussing the strong Australian economy.
Economic reform in Australia has never been easy. In the postwar decades, the conservatives built up a tariff wall that helped make Australian industry uncompetitive and kept consumer prices high. In 1973, Gough Whitlam began the long process of breaking down Australia’s tariff walls—the 25 per cent across-the-board tariff cuts.
I spoke with host Kieran Gilbert and the very reasonable Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham about the importance of parliament not playing judge and jury, about Australia’s strong economy, and about why Aluminium smelters are more affected by a $1000/tonne world price drop than a $1/tonne carbon price effect.
I enjoyed tonight’s community forum at Dickson very much. Issues raised included human rights in China, development in Campbell, support for hearing-impaired people, support for mental illness, income taxes & intergenerational equity, government advertising, carbon pricing, minerals taxation, public sector jobs, superannuation, trust in government, and clean energy investment. In particular, I appreciated some of the people who were willing to share very personal stories about mental illness, disability support and human rights.
If you’d like to come along to a future mobile office or community forum, a full list of dates is here.
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 yesterday on ABC 666 with Ross Solly about the events of recent days, and took calls from listeners. Here’s a podcast.
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.
I spoke in parliament today about reforms to increase democratic participation.
Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Maintaining Address) Bill 2011
21 March 2012
My electorate of Fraser has one of the highest number of enrolled voters in Australia. As a result, we send out hundreds of enrolment forms to potential new electors and it is my pleasure to be able to send out every month hundreds of letters to people who have joined the rolls. It is a genuine delight to welcome somebody onto the electoral rolls.
I spoke in parliament today about the Jervis Bay Territory, including Wreck Bay and HMAS Creswell.
Jervis Bay Territory
14 March 2012
When Canberra was founded it was decided you could not have a capital city without a port, so one part of my electorate is the Jervis Bay Territory. It was my great pleasure last Thursday to visit the Jervis Bay Territory for the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Wreck Bay land grant. In 1987, the then Minister of State for Aboriginal Affairs, Clyde Holding, a minister in the Hawke government, held an important ceremony to grant land to the Wreck Bay Indigenous community. The Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council now has an elected executive. I would like to personally thank them for their hard work in making these celebrations such a success: Craig Ardler, Joseph Brown-McLeod, Annette Brown, Julie Freeman, Jennifer Stewart, Clive Freeman, James McKenzie, Cyril (Todd) Roberts and Darren Sturgeon.
I spoke in parliament today about the passing of Helen Fraser.
13 March 2012
On 4 March 2012 Helen Whitton Fraser passed away, aged 91. Helen Fraser was the wife of the late Jim Fraser, after whom my seat is named. At the memorial service for Helen Fraser her son, Andrew Fraser, said that hers was a life of ‘strength, love and fun’. She met her husband to be on a tennis court when she was aged 16 and he 29. They did not get married for another 22 years. By that time Jim Fraser was already the local member for the ACT. This was well before self-government, so he was the only political representative for the ACT and looked after more electors than anyone else in the parliament.
A surprisingly congenial discussion with Kieran Gilbert and Simon Birmingham about politics and policy.
I only started it an hour ago, but here are a few of my favourite parliamentary Valentines so far.
- @Jovianshadow Simon Ray: The Senate is red, the House is green, you’re the sweetest, I ever seen.
- @laurie_ms Lauren W: You’re a perfectly drafted bill
- @xx_Alexandra Alex: You can cross my floor any day.
- @ewing Robert Ewing: My love for you will never be challenged.
- @John_Hanna John Hanna: You Ring My Bells.
- @Bubuhelen Helen Tudor: It may be a hung parliament but I’m hung up on you.
- @gagewrites Benjamin Gage: You’re my Light on the Hill.
- @BronwynHinz Bronwyn Hinz: Meeting you made me a True Believer
- @bcagney Bradley Cagney: you are the apple of my ‘aye’
- @Drag0nista Drag0nista: You had me at Order!
- @leoniedoyle Leonie Doyle: Lock the doors
- @kpgriffin Kevin Griffin: You are the rungs in my ladder of opportunity.
- @joshgans Joshua Gans: Well may we say God save the Queen because nothing will change how I feel about you.
- @fairerfields peter mott: You and I make are meant to be that even Tony Abbott would grant me a pair
- @BartholomewD Di. Human, not dog: You make the party room the party room
- @SpaceKidette Space Kidette: I heard my maiden speech & then came question time.Come to the party room and be my valentine?
- @steveandhens Steve C: This is awkward. I expected a mandate.