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Archive for February 2012

Using Markets to Address Environmental Challenges

I spoke briefly in parliament today about the use of market-based mechanisms to deal with environmental challenges.

Market-Based Environmental Mechanisms
29 February 2012

Yesterday it was my pleasure to meet in this House with members of a Chinese-Australian Leadership Award Fellowship delegation—about 15 Chinese visitors, led by Jiao Xueli of the National Development and Reform Commission, coming to Australia to learn from Sydney University Professor Alan Randall about our experiences of using market based mechanisms to deal with environmental challenges.

Continue reading ‘Using Markets to Address Environmental Challenges’ »

Trade Liberalisation & Anti-Dumping

I spoke in parliament yesterday about trade liberalisation and anti-dumping.

Customs Amendment (Anti-dumping Improvements) Bill (No. 2) 2011
28 February 2012

It is my pleasure to rise to address the Customs Amendment (Anti-dumping Improvements) Bill (No. 2) 2011, a piece of trade legislation that sits proudly in a Labor legacy of trade reform. The opening up of Australian markets which has been so much to the benefit of Australia’s workers and consumers is fundamentally a Labor story. It was Gough Whitlam in 1973 who first cut tariffs, and then Bob Hawke and Paul Keating who continued through the tariff cuts. They did so with a view that open markets would be good for Australia, but that that process of dropping the tariff walls would entail transition costs. So they put in place a car industry plan and TCF plan, recognising that industry would need time to adjust. Those changes have been enormously beneficial for Australian families. They have put on average $3,900 per annum into the pockets of Australian households according to a report by the Centre for International Economics. Open markets have also meant that Australian industry has become more competitive. That has meant more export jobs. It has meant more opportunities for Australian workers.

Continue reading ‘Trade Liberalisation & Anti-Dumping’ »

Wrong Time for a Sovereign Wealth Fund

I spoke today in parliament on a Greens motion proposing a sovereign wealth fund (curiously, while Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg have both publicly argued for one, they didn’t come along to support Adam Bandt’s motion today).

My speech draws heavily on an opinion piece I had published in the AFR last year.

Private Members’ Business: Sovereign Wealth Fund
28 February 2012

It is always a pleasure to follow one of the modest members in this place! Opened in 1880, the Melbourne Royal Exhibition Building is widely considered a national treasure. It was the first building in Australia to achieve World Heritage listing. It was made possible by the discovery of gold in the 19th century. If you want to see the legacy of the first Australian mining boom, you just need to look around central Melbourne. The question we are facing today is effectively this: would Victoria now be better off if the Victorian government of the 19th century had saved the money rather than building infrastructure? That is basically the argument made by those who argue that the right policy response to today’s mining boom is a sovereign wealth fund. One of those sovereign wealth funds has various advocates. I have certainly heard the members for Wentworth (Malcolm Turnbull) and Kooyong (Josh Frydenberg) in the popular press making strong arguments in favour of sovereign wealth funds.

There are typically three arguments made by proponents of sovereign wealth funds and it is worth going through those in turn.

Continue reading ‘Wrong Time for a Sovereign Wealth Fund’ »

Marie Colvin & Syria

I spoke last night about the late war correspondent Marie Colvin, and about the ongoing tragedy in Syria.

Marie Colvin and Syria
Adjournment Debate
27 February 2012

Last week, renowned war correspondent Marie Colvin was killed in the Syrian city of Homs. She was killed covering the attacks of the Assad regime on its own people. Throughout her career, Marie Colvin had covered conflicts in the Balkans, Chechnya and Zimbabwe. She had covered the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. In 2001, covering the conflict between government forces and the rebel Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, Marie Colvin was struck by shrapnel and lost her left eye. She wore a black eye patch, which became her trademark. After the loss of her eye she wrote about why she covered wars, putting herself in danger. She said that it is important to tell people what is really happening and about humanity in extremes, pushed to the unendurable. She said:

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Back to Issues and Ideas

I have an opinion piece in the National Times today on the implications of the leadership challenge for the future direction of the ALP.

Party values must rise to the challenge, National Times, 28 February 2012

When they’re in progress, political leadership challenges are like cyclones: throwing policies into disarray, snapping friendships in an instant, and hurling participants off into the distance.

Yet as history shows us, the morning after a leadership challenge often dawns clear. Gough Whitlam saw off two leadership challenges from Jim Cairns before gaining a large swing in the 1969 election, and going on to win in 1972. After the Coalition’s loss in the 1993 election, some worried that leadership infighting would doom them to irrelevance. Three years later, united around Howard, the Coalition won a crushing victory and 11½ years in office.

Continue reading ‘Back to Issues and Ideas’ »

ABC News Breakfast – 28 February

Amanda Rishworth and I appeared on the ABC News Breakfast program this morning talking about the resignation of Senator Mark Arbib and the future of the Gillard Government.

New centre to boost management careers in the ACT

I opened the Australian Institute of Management’s new centre on Childers St in the city this evening. A terrific event, and an organisation that’s well-placed to play a role across businesses, governments and NGOs in the ACT.

Here’s the media release.

Continue reading ‘New centre to boost management careers in the ACT’ »

Fairer School Funding

After a Canberra forum on school funding, I spoke briefly about the recently announced Gonski Review. To read the report and have your say, log onto

Community Forums and Mobile Offices

A list of some of my community forums and mobile offices for 2012 is below. Other events, forums and mobile offices will be posted here during the year.

Community Forums

  • Wednesday 14 November, Gungahlin Lakes Golf Club, 6-7.30pm

Mobile Offices

  • Saturday 24 November: Gungahlin (Hibberson St, outside Big W) 10-11am, then Dickson (outside Woolworths) 11:15am-12.15pm

Past events

  • Multicultural Festival, City Centre, Saturday 11 February
  • Civic Bus Interchange 8:00am Wednesday 22 February
  • Canberra Show, Exhibition Park, Saturday 25 February
  • Welcoming the Babies, Stage 88, Commonwealth Park, Sunday 4 March
  • Canberra Day , Stage 88, Commonwealth Park, Monday 12 March
  • Charnwood 10:00am/Kippax 11:15am Saturday 12 May
  • Saturday 30 June: Gungahlin (Hibberson St, outside Big W) 10-11am, then Dickson (outside Woolworths) 11:15am-12.15pm
  • Tuesday 27 March 12:30pm, Community Forum at  Belconnen Community Theatre
  • Tuesday 15 May 6:00pm, Community Forum at Dickson Quality Hotel (Trevor Scott Room)
  • Saturday 11 August 10:30 Ginninderra Labor Club

Mobile office tomorrow

I have a mobile office at the Civic bus interchange tomorrow morning (Wed), from 8-9am. If you’d like to chat about anything from Dickson shops to disability support, do come up and say g’day.

Have your say on Majura Parkway

The initial stages for the Majura Parkway are now underway and ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and I invite Canberrans to have their say on the proposed design.

Our media release is copied below.

Drop-in session to showcase proposed design of Majura Parkway

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and Federal Member for Fraser, Andrew Leigh, have invited Canberrans to attend a drop-in information session next week to view the proposed design and alignment of Majura Parkway.

“Drop-in information sessions will be held from 4:00pm to 7:00pm on Thursday 23 and Friday 24 February 2012 at the Ainslie Football Club,” Mr Leigh said.

Continue reading ‘Have your say on Majura Parkway’ »


I spoke in parliament yesterday about the benefits of e-health; telling the story through the prism of 80 year-old Canberran Pat Douglass.

Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records Bill 2011
16 February 2012

On 14 December last year, I had the honour of assisting Pat Douglass to sign up to Calvary eHealth as the first patient in the ACT and southern New South Wales. It was a delight to meet Pat Douglass. She is 80, still living independently, a bright person and a wonderful contributor to the north Canberra community. Mrs Douglass had a fall in the street near her home and acquired a brain injury. Her experience of her care and her health records demonstrate why e-health is such an important development. Mrs Douglass was confined to hospital for 10 weeks. After undergoing rehabilitation she returned home, but none of her regular doctors knew that she had been in hospital. None of her doctors knew about her injury or how she had been progressing. Similarly, the hospital was unaware of Mrs Douglass’ regular health requirements. Any information on normal medicines or routine check-ups that Mrs Douglass might have required during her time in hospital was not available to the doctors at Calvary.

Continue reading ‘E-Health’ »

Sky AM Agenda – 16 February

I was on Sky’s AM Agenda program this morning with Kelly O’Dwyer and hosted by Kieran Gilbert. Topics discussed today included contrasting the Labor Party’s strong record on economic and productivity with the Liberal Party’s plans to cut wages and conditions. We also talked about the Prime Minister’s statement on Closing the Gap.

At the Canberra Multicultural Festival, speaking with Greg about the future

At last weekend’s Canberra Multicultural Festival, I met Greg, a wardsman at the local hospital. He spoke with me about the importance of making long-term decisions for the sake of future generations.

Australia’s Economic Performance

I spoke in parliament yesterday about Australia’s economic performance.

Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2011-2012, Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2011-2012
14 February 2012

It is with great pleasure that I rise today to speak on these appropriation bills—important legislation to support the reforms that this government is implementing. The Gillard government’s economic reforms take place in a context in which the performance of Australia’s economy among the best in the world. Jorg Decressin of the IMF said last month:

‘There is no advanced economy—or maybe there are one or two—that is as well placed as Australia in order to combat a deeper slow down, were such a slowdown to materialise, and that’s because you still have room to cut interest rates if that was necessary and you also have a very strong fiscal position.’

Anoop Singh of the IMF said, on 2 February 2012, that ‘despite the global slowdown, Australia is facing good times’. The IMF’s article IV analysis of Australia in October 2011 described our performance since the onset of the global financial crisis as enviable.

Continue reading ‘Australia’s Economic Performance’ »

Australian National Botanic Gardens

I spoke in parliament yesterday about the splendid Australian National Botanic Gardens in my electorate.

Australian National Botanic Gardens
14 February 2012

The Australian National Botanic Gardens is one of my favourite places in my electorate of Fraser. It is not only a national institution; it is also a key part of the local community. The first plantings in the gardens took place in the 1940s, but it was not until 1970 that then Prime Minister John Gorton officially opened the Australian National Botanic Gardens. It was the first botanical institution to specialise in Australian native flora and has grown to be the world’s most comprehensive display of Australian living native plants. Today the gardens have about a third of all Australian plant species represented.

Continue reading ‘Australian National Botanic Gardens’ »

National Sorry Day

I spoke in parliament yesterday, recognising National Sorry Day.

National Sorry Day
13 February 2012

It was William Faulkner who said: ‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.’ Today, we are so reminded of how apt that line is in considering the national apology. The national apology to the stolen generations on 13 February 2008 saw the Australian parliament acknowledge the pain and suffering caused by previous policies and finally say, ‘We are sorry’. It is an honour for me to follow in this debate the member for Hasluck (Ken Wyatt), somebody who I have a great admiration for on this issue and many others. I count myself among those in this place who has been fortunate to have benefited from his wisdom, and I hope to learn more from him during our times here.

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A Strong Public Service

I’ve put forward a private members’ motion in parliament this week on the importance of public services jobs, and am hoping it’ll be debated in the coming weeks.

Public Service

That this House:

(1) recognises the important role played by the Australian Public Service in upholding and promoting our democracy and its key role in ensuring stable government;

(2) commends the Australian Public Service on continuing to be one of the most efficient and effective public services in the world; and

(3) condemns plans by the Opposition to make 12,000 public servants redundant.

Moved: Andrew Leigh. Seconded: Gai Brodtmann

National Year of Reading

To encourage more Australians to dive into a book, the federal government supports the National Year of Reading. There will be events in libraries, bookshops and community venues, working to raise reading levels across Australia. I was pleased today to attend the official launch by the Prime Minister, at the National Library.

With ACT Reading Ambassador Marion Halligan & Centenary of Canberra Creative Director Robyn Archer

With my friend and colleague (& National Reading Ambassador) Dick Adams MP

Also, for dads with 3-5 year-old kids, Dickson Library are holding a reading event this Saturday. Details here.

Same-Sex Marriage – Supporting Reform

I spoke today in parliament on a motion relating to same-sex marriage. Stephen Jones also tabled a private members’ bill today, which will come up for a vote in the coming months.

Same-Sex Marriage – Supporting Reform
13 February 2012

This is the third time I have spoken publicly on same-sex marriage. In August 2011, I reported back to parliament on the views of my constituents for and against same-sex marriage. Within Labor Party forums I have also spoken out in favour of changing our part platform. But this is the first time I have spoken in parliament since the Labor Party changed its national platform. That platform now reads:

Continue reading ‘Same-Sex Marriage – Supporting Reform’ »

Register for Welcoming the Babies

With my annual Welcoming the Babies event less than three weeks away, parents intending to come should register their baby.


Andrew Leigh, Federal Member for Fraser is inviting locals to come along and celebrate the newest members of our community at the second annual Welcoming the Babies event on Sunday 4 March 2012 (10.30am to 12.30pm) at Stage 88 in Commonwealth Park.

“I am proud to be holding my second Welcoming the Babies event and am looking forward to celebrating the day with parents and members of our community,” said Andrew Leigh.

The inaugural Welcoming the Babies held in 2011 had 150 people in attendance, including babies, their parents, and siblings.

Andrew Leigh invites parents to register babies up to 18 months of age, so that they can participate.

“As a father of two young boys I know how daunting it can be trying to get information about what’s out there. By bringing together the various services and organisations in one place we’re hoping to make looking after young ones that little bit easier,” said Andrew Leigh.

“It’s a chance for parents to find out the different things out there for them and it’s also a way for us to celebrate our youngest and cutest residents.

“Last year was a great success and was a fun filled day with face painting, balloons, and entertainment. I’m looking forward to an even bigger Welcoming the Babies this year.

“The event is also a reminder that we need supportive families and a strong community to give children the best opportunity in life,” said Andrew Leigh.

Parents wishing to register their babies should email < at > or call 6247 4396 with the name of their baby and their contact details.

All members of the community are invited to come along and help celebrate Welcoming the Babies.

For more information and background, you can find details on last year’s event on Andrew Leigh’s blog:

A Selection of Parliamentary Valentines

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
Update, Sunday:
  • @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.
And there are a few more that aren’t quite suitable for a family-oriented blog.
Got more? Tweet them at #AusPolValentines.

Parliamentary Valentines?

First, there was #HealthPolicyValentines:

  • I promise to cover you, in sickness and in health, ’til death panels do us part.
  • My love for you is like health care cost growth: out of control.
  • You are my statistically significant other

Then, Justin Wolfers created #FedValentines:

  • I’d like to borrow you overnight and then hold you to maturity
  • Roses are red, violets are blue, thank you for Twist and, of course, QE2!
  • The non-traditional stimulus was way better than I thought it would be

But both have reminded me that 14 Feb is a long parliamentary sittings day (the House rises at 10.30pm). So since I won’t be taking my wife out for a romantic dinner, perhaps I should be coming up with an apt parliamentary Valentine. Here’s a few to start off:

  • If you were a bill, I’d pass you without amendment
  • You’ll always be my first preference
  • Our love is always in surplus
  • It’s hard to believe I was ever a swinging voter

But I’m sure Twitter can do better. Let’s make the hashtag #AusPolValentines

Politics and Parenthood

My Chronicle column this month is on politics and parenthood.

Politics and Parenthood
The Chronicle, February 2012

Canberra FM recently had parents phone in with their favourite parenting disaster stories. A woman told of the time that she was rushing her two children out of the house to get to swim school. Wanting to assist, her 2 year-old shouted out ‘I’ll get towel’. When swim class finished, the discovery was made that ‘getting the towel’ meant helpfully stuffing the swimming bag with paper towel.

Continue reading ‘Politics and Parenthood’ »

Fairer Healthcare

I spoke today in favour of legislation to means-test the private health insurance rebate.

Continue reading ‘Fairer Healthcare’ »

Living on the Northside

In parliament today, I entreated more parliamentarians (and staff) to live on the northside of Canberra.

Continue reading ‘Living on the Northside’ »

Inside Canberra

Along with Gary Humphries, Paul Bongiorno and new editor Michael Keating, I re-launched the journal ‘Inside Canberra’ last night. In the first issue, I have a short piece on economic growth, which is below. (And yes, my title is shamelessly cribbed from Gene Sperling’s splendid book of the same name.)

Continue reading ‘Inside Canberra’ »

Peter Veness

I spoke in parliament today on a condolence motion for the late AAP journalist Peter Veness.

Continue reading ‘Peter Veness’ »

A Strong Public Service

I spoke in parliament today about Joe Hockey’s extraordinary attacks on public servants.

Continue reading ‘A Strong Public Service’ »

The Asian Century

I spoke in parliament tonight about Asia-literacy, Ken Henry’s Asian Century report, refugees, and the Canberra Multicultural Festival. The speech is below (and if you’re at the Festival this coming Saturday, please come over to the Andrew Leigh stall and say g’day).

Continue reading ‘The Asian Century’ »