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International experts praise Australia’s charities commission – Thursday, 10 April 2014

This afternoon I issued a media release that further strengthens the case to keep the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission. Experts in Australia for the 6th International Charity Regulators Conference and Forum have praised the work of the new regulator and challenged claims that it is heavy handed and tying organisations in red-tape.






International praise for threatened national charities commission

International charity experts gathering in Melbourne and Sydney this week have praised Australia’s first but threatened national charity regulator for its strong and positive reputation in the sector and high compliance rates.

Experts visiting Australia for the 6th International Charity Regulators Forum have also challenged Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews’ view that the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC) is heavy handed and tying organisations in red-tape.

Chief Legal Officer with the Charities Commission based in London, Kenneth Dibble, said the ACNC has had “extraordinary” success just 18 month since its inception:

“Introducing new regulations from scratch requires persuasion, good will and real interaction with charities and not for profits.  The ACNC has a mature relationship with the sector as a standalone regulator outside of the revenue office. It is flexible and sensitive to its constituency’s needs in a way that allows the sector to thrive. In such a short time the ACNC has commanded such respect from the sector. It’s very impressive.” – Kenneth Dibble, Chief Legal Officer, Charities Commission (for England and Wales)

Continue reading ‘International experts praise Australia’s charities commission – Thursday, 10 April 2014’ »

Opening up the Labor Party – 666 Canberra interview – Tuesday, 8 April 2014

In the wake of the WA senate election re-run, this morning I joined ABC 666 Breakfast presenter, Philip Clark, for a discussion about the democratisation of the Australian Labor Party and the important contribution of an increasingly diverse and modern union movement. I argue that the ALP should be more attractive to small-l liberals and that it should be easier for people across the community to join. Here’s the podcast.

THE BOLT REPORT – Transcript – Sunday, 6 April 2014



Subjects: WA Senate election, the Federal Budget and speeches by Glenn Stevens and Martin Parkinson; the Age Pension; Taxing multinationals; DisabilityCare; Gonksi; and Tony Abbott’s Paid Parental Leave scheme.
HOST ANDREW BOLT: Tony Abbott may have dodged a bullet in yesterday’s re-run Senate election in Western Australia. Both the Liberals and Labor did have swings against them, with support going instead to the big winners – the Greens and Clive Palmer’s party. The Nationals are just about finished. Result? Well, it’s early days in the counting but the signs are no change from the original result last year. The Liberals get three seats, Labor and the Greens one each, and the last going to Palmer. But that third Liberal seat may yet go to Labor. Joining me is Andrew Leigh, the Opposition’s assistant treasury spokesman. Andrew, thank you for your time.
BOLT: There have been three elections since you’ve lost last year’s federal election – the by-election for Kevin Rudd’s seat, the Tasmanian state election and now this Senate vote. Labor went backwards each time. Why is that? And what must change?
LEIGH: Well, Andrew, as I read the results in Western Australia at the moment, we’re seeing swings away from both the Liberal Party and the Labor Party. A slightly bigger swing away from the Liberal Party than from Labor. I’m still confident we’ll get both Joe Bullock and Louise Pratt up, because I think they would both make excellent senators. And, you know, we have a challenge in rebuilding the party, but I’m really optimistic under Bill Shorten we’ll be able to do that.
BOLT: But the fact that the vote’s gone down each time, you don’t read a warning sign in that?
LEIGH: This is a very unusual by-election, Andrew. This – we’ve never really had a re-run of a Senate election and turn-out was always going to be a challenge. I think we’ve seen, possibly, the Liberal Party not getting a third Senator. If that happened, that would be the first time that happened in a quarter of a century. But we’ll see as counting proceeds.

BREAKING POLITICS – Transcript – 17 March, 2014

This morning, I spoke with Chris Hammer about what’s making news this week, notably the Government’s repeal plan which confuses regulation that enhances public safety and accountability with burdensome red tape.



SUBJECT/S: Public polling on Medicare and Qantas; Home Insulation Program Royal Commission and cabinet confidentiality; Red tape and community safety.

CHRIS HAMMER: There’s a new opinion poll out today in Fairfax showing the Government and Opposition running neck and neck. Perhaps of more interest is some of the questions further down the poll about peoples’ attitudes towards Medicare and the Government helping Qantas. On Medicare, the poll reveals that some 52 per cent of respondents support means-testing bulk billing for Medicare. 49 per cent support a six-dollar surcharge every time someone visits the doctor. And 50 per cent agree that the Government needs to do something to reduce the costs of Medicare. Well, to discuss this issue and others, I’m joined by Andrew Leigh, the Labor member for Fraser in the ACT and also Assistant Shadow Treasurer.


HAMMER: And, Andrew Laming, the Member for Bowman in Queensland. Andrew Laming, first to you as a former medical practitioner. What does this poll tell you about peoples’ attitude towards Medicare and the amount it costs government.

ANDREW LAMING: At the margins, it suggests that the Government’s getting its message across about just how important is it to get the budget under control. But I think the bigger picture in health is that you get 50 per cent of people every day of the week supporting means-testing so long as it doesn’t it doesn’t means-test them. These numbers don’t mean much to me and I don’t think there’s a great deal of savings to be made by introducing a few dollars here and there, given that already a quarter of Australia pay up to $50 to see a GP and overwhelming majority of the rest of them are already bulk-billed and will keep their bulk-billing status. The changes are very, very small.

HAMMER: So, the six dollar surcharge is not something you’d support?

LAMING: Look, it’s not a matter of supporting it. It will have an impact in those large city clinics where there’s an oversupply of doctors, people pop in and pop out for convenience GP visits. Collecting six dollars from them will raise somewhere in the vicinity of $175 million dollars over four years. It’s a drop in the ocean compared to the $120 billion annual health budget. We really need to focus on the big picture in health and this is not it.

HAMMER: Okay. Well, Andrew Leigh, support for Medicare has been very strong over the years. The conventional wisdom is you don’t tamper with it. Yet these polling figures people are willing to consider changes to Medicare including means-testing and the six dollar surcharge.

LEIGH: I think it’s really important that we maintain a strong Medicare system Chris and it’s true that Medicare is something that Australians are passionate about. But we had a huge period of Australian history where we fought about Medicare. Essentially all the elections from 1969 to 1993 are fights about Medicare, before finally the Coalition decides that they’ll support the system. If they want to now go ahead and argue for a six dollar GP surcharge then they ought to come forward, put that proposal on the table for the Australian people. If that proposal is contained in the Commission of Audit, then that’s one more reason why that 900 page report which is worrying many of my constituents ought to be in the public domain, as the last Commission of Audit report was, rather than sitting secret in the Treasury archives.

Continue reading ‘BREAKING POLITICS – Transcript – 17 March, 2014’ »

Sky AM Agenda – 10 Feb 2014

On 10 Feb, I joined host Kieran Gilbert and Liberal Senator Scott Ryan to discuss Labor candidate Terri Butler’s win in the Griffith by-election, the best way to tackle corruption allegations, and bipartisanship in politics.

Call for Interns/Fellows/Work Experience Students

When I was 16, I did two weeks’ work experience for John Langmore, who was then the member for Fraser. It was 1988, the first year that the new Parliament House had been opened, and I remember getting hopelessly lost as I went on errands around the building. I’m not sure that I provided any value to John, but the experience had a profound impact on me – as I learned a ton about the issues and personalities that drove politics in that era.

Over the past parliamentary term, I’ve been fortunate to have a variety of people help out as volunteers in my office, assisting me with speeches and submissions, helping solve constituent problems, answering the phone, assisting with campaigning activities, and looking into data-related issues (I’ve made particularly good use of economics students). They have ranged from work experience students (typically in years 10 or 11) to university students, to people in the workforce (two Teach for Australia students generously donated me their school holidays).

So I thought it might be useful to put out a formal call for interns, fellows and work experience students.

Keen to apply? See the FAQs below.

Continue reading ‘Call for Interns/Fellows/Work Experience Students’ »

Launching a book on the Gillard Governments

Last night, I launched Chris Aulich’s edited book on the Gillard Governments at the University of Canberra.

Launch of Chris Aulich (ed), The Gillard Governments

University of Canberra

30 January 2014

Andrew Leigh MP

I acknowledge the Ngunnawal people, on whose lands we meet today.

It is a pleasure to be launching Chris Aulich’s edited book The Gillard Governments, the eleventh in the ‘Commonwealth Administration Series’ that has chronicled federal governments back to 1983. The title is plural: referring to Prime Minister Gillard’s Government at the end of the 42nd parliament and for much of the 43rd parliament.

As well as being a pleasure to launch this book, it’s also an honour. The editor presumably chose me because of one of the two records that I set during the 43rd parliament. During that parliament, I served for 99 days as a parliamentary secretary in the Gillard Government, making me the shortest-serving executive member of that government.[1] According to the Guinness Book of Records, people have spent more time in space, as a hostage, travelling by taxi and living in a hotel, than I spent in the executive. The other record is that during the 43rd parliament, I published two books (one on social capital, the other on inequality).

Or perhaps the honour of today’s invitation is due to the fact that I’m the local MP representing the University of Canberra, which has produced these Commonwealth Administration Series books for over thirty years.

This being Canberra, I can count among the book’s 24 contributors people who have been my boss, my co-worker, and my research assistant.

They are an impressive group, who bring expertise in policy and politics to bear in analysing the Gillard Governments.

If there is a general message that comes out of the policy analysis in this book, it is that Labor can count a significant number of legislative achievements under Julia Gillard’s Prime Ministership. Continue reading ‘Launching a book on the Gillard Governments’ »

Monday Breaking Politics – 18 November 2013

This morning, in my usual slot with host Tim Lester in the Fairfax Breaking Politics studio, I discussed some of the stories making news today including the stark difference in approach between Tony Abbott and Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron over alleged human rights abuses in Sri Lanka. Here’s the full transcript:





Subjects: Sri Lanka and human rights, child care review, shopper dockets, debt ceiling, role of the Speaker of the House of Representatives

TIM LESTER: The approach of two conservative leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Sri Lanka could not have been more marked. Britain’s David Cameron visited some disaffected families in one part of the country, also upset the government by calling for a war-crimes enquiry. Australia’s Tony Abbott, well he gave the Government a couple of patrol boats to help with asylum seekers and seemed only to praise them. Which leader was right? Well, to discuss that issue and others, we’re joined on Mondays in [the] Breaking Politics studio by Andrew Leigh, Labor MP here in Canberra. Andrew, thank you for coming in.

ANDREW LEIGH: A pleasure Tim.

LESTER: Who was right in their approach to Sri Lanka, Britain’s David Cameron or our Tony Abbott?

LEIGH: I think when we go overseas Tim, we do a little part of the exercise of telling the rest of the world what Australia is – what we stand for. Through each of our statement and our actions we convey Australian values and to have Mr Abbott in Sri Lanka saying of torture, ‘I accept that sometimes in difficult circumstances difficult things happen’ was to me pretty troubling.  That attitude seemed to contradict what I would have seen as a long standing principle going right back through Labor and conservative prime ministers of Australia that we would never accept that there are any difficult circumstances in which torture was acceptable. David Cameron conveyed his country’s values to the world. Mr Abbott, I think, took a domestic political agenda that was smaller than the big-hearted country he represents.

Continue reading ‘Monday Breaking Politics – 18 November 2013’ »

Doorstop interview transcript – 14 November 2013

During a doorstop interview with press gallery journalists this morning I urged the Abbott Government to justify to the Australian people why an increase in the debt cap from $300 billion to $500 billion is needed. I also acknowledged the extraordinary contribution of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd who last night announced his retirement from politics.



ANDREW LEIGH: Since it’s the first time in this new parliament doing doors, I feel as though I should acknowledge Peter Veness, whose ghost seems to still haunt politicians around this spot here. We saw the Prime Minister on 7.30 last night, very clearly saying why he needed $500 billion as the debt cap. It was because he wanted to avoid parliamentary scrutiny. There’s nothing more than that for the Government in this. They don’t need a $500 billion cap. Simply, they want it because they don’t believe that they should go back to the Parliament. It speaks to the arrogance of this Government and it speaks also to their secrecy, their unwillingness to release a budget update.

You know when the Prime Minister’s pressed because he starts to mislead the House. Yesterday when he was pressed on the issue of the debt cap, he misled the House twice. First of all saying that the Liberal Party had never voted against an increase in the debt caps and of course they had. And then saying that Labor had released the MYEFO budget update in December. Which of course we never did. The Prime Minister, if he needs $500 billion for his debt cap he needs to tell us precisely why by releasing the budget update which I suspect will tell us about the deterioration of the public finances, perhaps due to things like backtracking on cracking down on multinationals’ profit-shifting and also giving a big tax cut to mining billionaires, who I understand will be well represented in the parliament today.

JOURNALIST: Just in regards to the debt ceiling, is Labor playing a dangerous game given we’ve got the deadline of mid-December for this decision to be made?

LEIGH: Labor has been absolutely clear that we will support an increase in the debt cap to $400 billion. That will be plenty to keep the Government going now and indeed right up to peak debt which let’s not forget is projected to happen after the next election. So, if any party is playing political games here, it is the Liberal Party.

Continue reading ‘Doorstop interview transcript – 14 November 2013’ »

Labor’s legacy & broken Coalition promises

I delivered a speech in the House of Representatives today – what’s called an ‘Address in Reply’ in response to the Government’s opening speech – exploring Labor’s strong economic and policy legacy. I  urged the ALP to remain the party of big  ideas and one underpinned by key principles of fairness, inclusion and equality and I lamented the Abbott Government’s early and disappointing broken promises. Here’s the full text thanks to Hansard.

Can I congratulate the members for Bass and Corangamite on the passion with which they have delivered their first speeches and hope that they will serve their constituencies with the same energy and passion as their predecessors did.

I want to begin my remarks today with the stories of two constituents of mine: Carol and Denise. Denise has a 21-year-old son, Tim, with Down syndrome. She regularly has to prove his eligibility for a modest Centrelink payment and work within a system that has not been working for her and has not been working for Tim. Tim’s chromosomes are not going to change, but the old system required her to prove that. DisabilityCare will change that.

Then there is 48-year-old Carol, who works as a cleaner. Despite working on Sundays to earn some overtime she still earns less than $37,000 a year. Carol is not alone. A lot of low-income workers in cleaning, aged care, retail and hospitality are not full time and they are predominantly women. The removal of the low-income superannuation contribution will affect 3.6 million Australians and two-thirds of them are women. All of them, like Carol, work hard to make ends meet. They are the mothers who work part time because they are looking after young children. For them, saving for later in life is not a tax strategy.

DisabilityCare and the low-income superannuation contribution demonstrate how Labor take the initiative to defend those who are doing it tough. Labor are the party of ideas and we are the party of reform, the party with the courage to make the big decisions when they are needed. As the opposition leader said at this year’s Fraser lecture:

‘We’re the dreamers, doers and fighters.

‘We have ideas, and … we’re prepared to fight to make them a reality.’

I agree. Only the Labor Party is prepared to fight for a fair go for all and shoulder the responsibility for reform. Only Labor knows that reform must balance economic imperatives with social need and hope. I am sorry to say that that is in stark contrast to the approach of the Abbott government. We have already seen how quick they are to protect sympathetic vested interests and how much quicker they are to slug those doing it tough.

The Treasurer would have you believe that drastic action has to be taken because of the economic legacy left by Labor. Over the next few weeks we are doubtless going to hear, time and time again, what a terrible state the economy is in. Before the Treasurer attempts to airbrush recent history, let’s take a sober and sensible look at the economy that the government have inherited and what they have done with it so far. That look has to recognise the simple, fundamental truth. The government have inherited economic statistics and public finances that are better than those of almost any country in the developed world.

Continue reading ‘Labor’s legacy & broken Coalition promises’ »

2CC with Mark Parton – 12 November 2013

This morning, ahead of the opening of the 44th parliament, I spoke with 2CC’s Mark Parton about the comparatively strong performance of Australia’s economy and Labor’s decision to block Treasurer Joe Hockey’s push to raise the debt ceiling from $300 billion to $500 billion. Here’s the audio.

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’ »

Sky AM Agenda – Saturday 9 November 2013

This morning I appeared on Sky TV with host David Lipson. Topics canvassed were cuts to the public service, the asylum seeker stand-off with Indonesia, MP entitlements and the Coalition’s plan to repeal racial vilification laws. Here’s the full transcript:



David Lipson: Joining me in the Canberra studio by the shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh. Thanks for your time today.

Andrew Leigh: Pleasure David.

Lipson: Let’s start off where we finished with Josh Frydenberg, the public service cuts. You’re a Canberra MP, how significant is the impact be on the Canberra economy. We knew this was going to happen but now it’s being put into practice.

Leigh: Well we knew it was going to happen David but it’s going to be pretty significant. Contrary to what Mr Frydenberg said, growth in public service numbers during Labor’s term in office matched population growth, the number of public servants per head didn’t change since the end of the Howard years. But what we have seen now is savage cuts; we’ve seen the incorporation of AusAID into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade being done in a terribly ham-fisted way. AusAID workers being brought into the DFAT atrium like cattle, made to stand on the ground floor while the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials look down and one of those DFAT officials mimed machine gunning those AusAID workers. Now were learning the new graduates for AusAID who had signed contracts with AusAID, and in many cases turned down other offers, in fact won’t have their jobs in February. So it’s being done in a terribly messy way -

Lipson: – that corralling is not the government’s fault, that seems to be a departmental issue doesn’t it?

Leigh: I think it ultimately does go back to the Minister, I think you need to recognise if you’re going to shut down an agency like AusAID and brutally incorporate them in to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with no proper change management process, no looking after the employees, that’s really going to hit people hard. We are seeing in CSIRO up to a quarter of the workers whose jobs are in jeopardy. This is the organisation that invented the polymer bank note and wi-fi, and perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that a Government without a science minister wants to slash the CSIRO but it’s deeply disturbing none the less.

Continue reading ‘Sky AM Agenda – Saturday 9 November 2013’ »

Monday Breaking Politics – Fairfax Media – 4 November 2013

In my weekly video discussion for Breaking Politics I talked about the respected work of the Australian Electoral Commission and an expectation that within a generation it will adopt electronic ballots. Host Tim Lester also asked about same-sex marriage, climate policy and mandate theory. Here’s the full transcript:



TIM LESTER: Western Australia is on course for an historic re-run of the 2013 senate election. To help us understand what’s happening there and some of the other politics of the day, our Monday regular Andrew Leigh, the Labor Member for Fraser is in, and of course also Shadow Assistant Treasurer. Thank you for coming in Andrew.

ANDREW LEIGH: Pleasure Tim.

LESTER: Is there a need for a new senate election in Western Australia?

LEIGH: It’ll be a matter ultimately for the Court of Disputed Returns to determine it. But certainly I’m concerned about the over a thousand West Australian voters who appear to have disenfranchised through this process. The Australian Electoral Commission is a great national institution. It’s one that I’m immensely proud of. When I lived in the U.S. for four years I thought many times, what the U.S. really needs is an institution of the calibre of the AEC. But even great institutions sometimes make mistakes and I think it’s telling that the last time something like this occurred was a hundred years ago and perhaps that’s the place we’ll end up, ultimately having another election in W.A.

LESTER: So, how serious is this mistake, losing 1375 votes?

LEIGH: I think it’s deeply concerning and certainly Ed Killesteyn, the Electoral Commissioner, has spoken of his embarrassment at the error that’s taken place. I don’t believe that there has been any intentional foul play that’s taken place. It’s simply an error by the AEC’s hard working staff. The question is, what’s now practically the best way of dealing with the situation we find ourselves in.

LESTER: There’s also questions going forward as to the best way for us to deal, handle, so many votes. Isn’t this screaming for electronic voting in some form?

LEIGH: Electronic voting has certainly got its appeal Tim, not just for making sure that we keep track of votes, the speed of recount, but also making sure that we bring down the informal rate. One of the things that troubles me is that the informal voting rate as steadily crept up in recent elections. It’s harder to make a mistake, even with a large number of candidates on the ballot paper with electronic voting. In fact, you can structure the systems so it’s impossible to vote informally.

Continue reading ‘Monday Breaking Politics – Fairfax Media – 4 November 2013’ »

Passage of ACT Marriage Equality Same-Sex Bill – 22 October 2013

History was made today with the passage in the ACT Assembly of the momentous Marriage Equality Same-Sex Bill.  My congratulations to my ACT Labor colleagues and all those who helped make this win happen.


Andrew Leigh

Member for Fraser


Andrew Leigh welcomes milestone ACT same-sex marriage law

Federal Labor Member for Fraser, Andrew Leigh, has congratulated his Australian Capital Territory colleagues for the successful passage today of the trailblazing Marriage Equality Same-Sex Bill.

“The irony is that this bill is only possible because the Howard Government amended the federal Marriage Act in 2004, restricting it to cover only heterosexual marriage.

“As a result, today’s ACT bill simply fills in the gap – allowing same-sex marriages by ACT couples.”

Dr Leigh said the federal Attorney General’s plan to challenge the ACT law in the High Court is “mean-spirited”.

“There’s nothing in the Constitution that says states and territories can’t pass laws on marriage. In fact, until the 1960s, marriage was principally a state and territory matter.

“A High Court challenge like this is extremely unusual, and would normally come from a private citizen, not the federal government.

“This legal challenge is a diversion from what is fundamentally a political issue. If the Abbott Government wants to try and quash this law, then same-sex marriage should be debated in the federal parliament with the Liberal Party allowing its members a conscience vote, not binding them as it did last time around.”

Continue reading ‘Passage of ACT Marriage Equality Same-Sex Bill – 22 October 2013’ »

Friday Forum – ABC Canberra Breakfast with Ross Solly – 18 October

This morning I joined 666 ABC host Ross Solly and Liberal MP Peter Hendy for a discussion about parliamentary entitlements, carbon policy and mandates. I argued that as the member for Fraser, I would be breaking faith with north Canberrans if I backed away from a carbon tax and the transition to an emissions trading scheme. Listen to the audio by clicking here.

2CC Breakfast with Mark Parton – 15 October

This morning I spoke with 2CC presenter Mark Parton about the new Labor frontbench featuring 11 women appointed yesterday by leader Bill Shorten. Labor’s ministry team again highlights the disappointing lack of diversity in Tony Abbott’s cabinet. Listen to the full interview or read the transcript:


MARK PARTON: Well, we will get the full unveiling of the Labor front bench, the opposition front bench on Friday, but we know that Andrew Leigh, the Federal Member for Fraser is back where he belongs. He’s a part of the main team.  He’s on the line now. Hello Andrew.

ANDREW LEIGH: G’day Mark. Thank you for that, that’s very kind of you.

PARTON: Well, I mean and you know because I’ve said it publicly for a long time. I just am of the belief that you’re one of the most talented and smartest people on the team and you should be in the cockpit driving the plane for God’s sake. Now I’m sure, I’m sure that you know more about what portfolio you’re going to end up with.

LEIGH: I don’t actually. I haven’t had the opportunity.

PARTON: Oh come on Andrew.

LEIGH: I’m looking forward to sitting down with Bill Shorten at some stage during the week, but haven’t had the chance to even have that face-to-face discussion with him and, as he put it, if you have some sense as to what you’re doing then go away and tell your spouse and then walk into an empty room and tell that empty room as well. So I’ll be following that sage advice if I do find out what I’m getting.

Continue reading ‘2CC Breakfast with Mark Parton – 15 October’ »

Chatting Politics with Waleed Aly

On 14 October, I spoke with Waleed Aly on ABC RN Drive about the new shadow ministry, Labor’s support for a price on carbon, and the need for Labor in Opposition to remain positive and ideas-driven. Here’s a podcast.

Monday Political Forum with Richard Glover – ABC 702 Sydney

Average Australians are now the richest people on the planet according to the latest Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report. Has Australia got the balance right between freeing people up to generate wealth and distributing it fairly? Wealth distribution was just one of the topics discussed with ABC 702 host Richard Glover and fellow guests Dr John Hewson, former Liberal leader, and Reserve Bank board member Heather Ridout for Monday Political Forum. Hear our tips for students swotting for their higher school certificate and more.

Labor shadow ministry – ABC 666 Canberra – 14 October

I’m honoured to be chosen by my colleagues today for a spot in the shadow ministry. I spoke with local ABC Drive host, Adam Shirley, about the development. Listen here .

Breaking Politics – Fairfax Media – 14 October 2013

This morning I joined Tim Lester for my weekly conversation on Breaking Politics. I welcomed the new Labor leader, Bill Shorten, and discussed foreign investment and concern over the looming prospect of a U.S. Government deficit default.  The full transcript is below and the video here.

HOST TIM LESTER: So, Labor has a new cabinet and with Bill Shorten in the position of Opposition leader, the team can now take its places. We will learn this week, not only who is on the front bench but what roles they will have and one of the names kicking around is Andrew Leigh, the Labor MP in the electorate of Fraser, a regular on Breaking Politics. Welcome back Andrew.


LESTER: Tell us, what are your hopes for a frontbench spot?

LEIGH: Caucus will make that decision, now that we’ve changed the rules to allow democracy to flow through the party and I think that’s a great thing. We’re seeing a whole lot of opening up in the Labor Party, opening up of the selection of the leader to the membership which has been so warmly welcomed and now, going back to the system of the caucus choosing the frontbench. We’re fortunate to have an array of talent comfortably fill two high-quality frontbenches, so it’s going to be a tough decision for us collectively to make today.

Continue reading ‘Breaking Politics – Fairfax Media – 14 October 2013’ »

Capital Hill – The Three Andrews

On 9 October 2013, I joined host Andrew Greene and Liberal MP Andrew Laming on ABC24′s Capital Hill program. Topics included the importance of supporting jobs (including public sector jobs) and Coalition MPs using entitlements to attend weddings and participate in triathlons.

Here’s the full transcript:

ANDREW GREENE: Joining me to discuss the day is Labor MP Andrew Leigh who’s here in Canberra, and Liberal MP Andrew Laming in Brisbane. It’s going to be a bit confusing but welcome to you both.

ANDREW LEIGH: Thanks Andrew.


GREENE: Before becoming Prime Minister, Tony Abbott declared there was a budget emergency though he has been reluctant to use the phrase since. The Grattan Institute’s John Daley today told the National Press Club there’s no emergency but it is plenty to be worried about.

JOHN DALEY: But there’s no flashing, blue lights. The Australian government budget is not in cardiac arrest on the operating table needing a triple by-pass to keep it alive. We don’t have that kind of emergency but Australian government budgets are unfit, overweight and smoking and now they have high blood pressure and chest pains and most worryingly, I’d suggest, the patient has gone into denial and is eating more cheese.

GREENE: Well, firstly to you, Andrew Leigh in Canberra, we have seen an IMF report released overnight that again is warning of a slow-down in growth, rising unemployment. The current government is dealing with the legacy of Labor, isn’t it?

LEIGH: The figures we’ve seen out of the IMF are broadly are in line with the Treasury updates before the election so I don’t think there’s anything to be surprised about in this. Clearly, risks in Europe with the banking system, risks in the US caused by the extreme wing of the Republicans pushing the country to the shutdown now and potentially even to a default on October 17th. I’m not sure Mr Abbott would be as congenial towards the Tea Party now as he was last year. But certainly it is not a time to be cutting jobs and Mr Abbott’s pledge to cut 12,000 public service jobs is, I think, badly timed. David Johnston’s suggestion that the Government might break its pledge to exempt defence is even more concerning.

Continue reading ‘Capital Hill – The Three Andrews’ »

Breaking Politics – 8 October

This morning I spoke with Fairfax Media’s Tim Lester for Breaking Politics, exploring news of the day. I was asked about on-going revelations Coalition MPs, including Prime Minister Tony Abbott, have repaid  tax payer funded outings, the impact of the US Congress budget impasse and about the rights of West Papuans to express their concerns.  Here’s the full transcript:


TIM LESTER: When is it legitimate for an MP to claim his or her travel expenses on the taxpayer? Going to weddings for example. There are some numerous and now some notorious cases out there. To help us fathom this issues and others, our regular for Monday, joining us this week on a Tuesday because of holidays is Andrew Leigh, the MP for Fraser, Labor MP. Thank you for coming in Andrew.


LESTER: Tony Abbott attended weddings several years ago. Now, one of them was Peter Slipper’s several years ago now. He claimed the costs. The taxpayers paid for him. He’s now paid it back seven years later when the issue surfaces as contentious. Has he done the right thing or the wrong thing?

LEIGH: Mr Abbott’s seems to have a fairly expansive view of entitlements and you’re beginning to see a bit of a pattern here. Like the Howard Government which had seven ministers resign early on as a result of various scandals including travel expenses scandals. There are now four Coalition cabinet ministers, including the Prime Minister who are under investigation here. I guess what worries me is that if they’re taking that sort of approach to these cases that we know about, what approach do they take to public expenses more broadly? That plays into a broader question over schemes such as paid parental leave which I think demonstrate an even more cavalier approach to the public finances.

LESTER: So, the various cases of weddings that we’ve seen here where these MPs have gone along and claimed on the taxpayer, they should not have done that?

LEIGH: I certainly don’t believe so. I mean it’s great to see Coalition MPs going to weddings. They’re so excited by them, you wonder how they can be against same-sex marriage. But this strikes me as an entirely personal matter and I’m surprised they’ve claimed for it.

Continue reading ‘Breaking Politics – 8 October’ »

Sky AM Agenda – 7 October 2013

On Sky AM Agenda, I spoke with host Laura Jayes and Liberal minister Mitch Fifield about the Coalition’s odd policy of liberalising trade and restricting foreign investment, and about the four cabinet members who have claimed travel allowance to attend weddings.

Sky AM Agenda – 23 September 2013

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.

Sky – The Nation – 19 September 2013

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.

ABC RN Drive – 9 September 2013

I spoke on ABC RN Drive tonight with Arthur Sinodinos and Waleed Aly. We discussed mandates, micro-parties and Labor’s future. Here’s a podcast. And, here’s the transcript:






Subjects: Campaigning, senate preferences, minor parties, mandates, carbon tax


WALEED ALY: I’m joined one last time for an election panel, Arthur Sinodinos who is possibly the incoming finance minister if he can hold onto his seat and Dr Andrew Leigh, the re-elected Member for the Canberra seat of Fraser, one of the few Labor MPs just to romp it in.

ARTHUR SINODINOS: Congratulations Andrew.

ANDREW LEIGH: Thank you very much Arthur. I very much hope you get back and get that finance role.

ALY: Yes, the congratulations can’t be reciprocal at this point Arthur.

SINODINOS: No, we’re still waiting. It looks like I’m number six, with postal votes close to come, so fingers and toes crossed. If you have any calculators, send them my way.

ALY: I don’t know that any calculators which change the result. How much trouble are you actually in?

SINODINOS: Well look, the venerable and respected ABC election calculator has me winning the sixth spot based on the preference flows. But we’ll wait and see. I don’t want to jinx myself by calling these things.

ALY: I guess it’s not my job to worry about you jinxing yourself (laugh) so I’ll keep asking the questions. The thought was that Pauline Hanson might take your seat. That threat seems to have faded. Who do you think most likely to be your main competition?

SINODINOS: The Liberal Democrats took the number five position. They took eight per cent of the vote, largely I think because people thought they were the Liberals.

ALY: They’ve admitted that. They may have got votes by mistake. How does that make you feel?

SINODINOS: We had made representations about this to the AEC but that aside, we have to work with what we’ve got. That also cleared the pitch for people like Pauline Hanson. The way the distributions are going, I’m ahead of the Greens at this stage. So, hopefully, it’ll stay that way. But that’s life. That’s politic arithmetic.

ALY: I suppose it is. Before we get to Labor side of the equation, given what we are about to see in the senate, and Arthur is caught up in that, but, we’re likely to see in Victoria, the Motor Enthusiasts Party (MEP) apparently is in with a real chance for a seat with a minuscule, unbelievably small vote. Have we got a problem here?

LEIGH: It does seem an odd situation, doesn’t it? A party that gets a very small share of votes are able to translate into a lot of electoral power. But you would need, I guess, strong support across the parliament for something like allowing optional voting below the line for the Senate. As I read it, there’s not strong support for reform of that kind. Continue reading ‘ABC RN Drive – 9 September 2013’ »

Talking Politics on 666 & 2CC

I did two interviews on local radio this morning about the lessons for Labor from the election loss, attempts to repeal the emissions trading scheme, how Canberra will fare amidst job-shedding, questions Mr Abbott needs to be asked (such as the impact on Indigenous incarceration of cutting Aboriginal Legal Aid), and the achievements of the ALP over the past six years:

Breaking Politics – 9 September 2013

On 9 September, I spoke with host Tim Lester and Liberal MP Kelly O’Dwyer on the achievements and mistakes of the Labor Government, why we should stick with the most affordable way of dealing with climate change, and the questions for the incoming government to answer (such as how it will build links with the US administration, given that most of the personal ties are to the Republican side of politics). Here’s a video.

Sky AM Agenda – 9 September 2013

On 9 September, I spoke with host David Lipson and Liberal Senator Mitch Fifield about whether the ALP should swing like a weathervane on carbon pricing, the questions for the Coalition to answer in the days ahead, and what “minority government” looks like in the Senate.