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Archive for March 2012

Aranda Ambling

With Chris Bourke MLA, I had the pleasure today of launching the gorgeous Frost Hollow to Forest Walk for the Friends of Aranda Bushland (more details here). Here’s a picture of me with FOAB stalwart Jean Geue.

ABC 24 Capital Hill – 29 March

I was on ABC 24′s Capital Hill program yesterday evening with Liberal MP Russell Broadbent, hosted by Lyndal Curtis. Topics discussed include the Gillard Government’s announcement of superfast broadband for 3.5 million homes and businesses, as well as budget priorities.

Sky AM Agenda – 29 March

I was on the Sky News AM Agenda program this morning with Liberal MP Kelly O’Dwyer, hosted by Kieran Gilbert. We discussed the Gillard Government’s commitment to delivering a budget surplus and the values driving budget decisions, such as a commitment to a fair health system.

Mapping the Northside

Next Tuesday, we’ll be launching the final ‘people’s map’ of the northside of Canberra. Details on the BAC website (and below).

Tuesday 3 April > 6:00pm

In 2011, Belconnen Arts Centre and Andrew Leigh MP ran a joint project: ‘Mapping The Northside’. Come along and hear about the 160 favourite places of the many local residents who participated. Learn about the special natural, cultural, gastronomical and sporting spots, and find out the most popular place in the federal electorate of Fraser. The event will feature live music and light refreshments.

Cost > Free! Bookings recommended

More information & bookings > or 02 6173 3300

Belconnen Community Forum

I held one of my regular community forums at lunchtime today at the Belconnen Community Services theaterette (‘theatre@bcs’). I started off speaking about the mining tax package, which has just passed the parliament, and will provide for a cut to the company tax rate, an increase in superannuation, and more investment (particularly in the mining regions).

There were a wide variety of questions, covering the Gonski review of school funding, local arts facilities, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, refugee policy, the purchase of submarines, the lack of a letterbox at the Kangara Waters community, defence force and public service pension indexation, the adequacy of footpaths in the city centre, the merits of taking on debt to pay for fiscal stimulus, the frequency of grass cutting, household assistance in the carbon pricing plan, and the effect of federal pension increases on ACT public housing costs.

I enjoy the interplay of ideas at these forums, and welcome anyone who lives or works on the northside of Canberra to come along to a future community forum.

This forum was held on a weekday lunchtime, but there’s no perfect time of the day for a community forum, so I aim to vary the dates and times to allow as many people as possible to attend. For details of upcoming forums, click here.

AYAD Farewell Speech – 21 March 2012

I had the pleasure of farewelling the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development in the foyer of the High Court of Australia on Wednesday night. Here’s an audio file of my speech.

Better Regulating Financial Advice

A bill regulating financial advice passed the House of Representatives today. Due to a bit of a fillibuster by the Coalition, I ended up not speaking in the debate, but I thought I’d post my speech here.

Corporations Amendment (Future of Financial Advice) Bill 2011

The collapse of Opes Prime and Storm Financial affected thousands of Australians, each one a story of betrayal and loss.  I want to share just two.

In February 2008, Tracey Richards went to see her Storm Financial planner. Instead of withdrawing money to buy a motorhome, she was persuaded to borrow another $200,000 and invest more deeply in the share market. For the Brisbane receptionist, this was her third big margin loan investment through Storm. The first investment in 2001 was her life savings of $250,000, with another $400,000 later added from the sale of her home.

Now all is gone.

Continue reading ‘Better Regulating Financial Advice’ »

Electoral Reforms

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.

Continue reading ‘Electoral Reforms’ »

Centenary of Canberra

I spoke in parliament last night about the Centenary of Canberra in 2013.

Centenary of Canberra
20 March 2012

One hundred years ago Walter Burley Griffin said that he wanted to design a city for a nation of ‘bold democrats’. On 12 March 2013 Canberra will celebrate its centenary, a celebration that all Australians can be proud of. Tonight I want to speak about two exciting aspects of Canberra’s centenary. The first is the opportunity to speak in greater depth about what our history means and where it has been going. It is my pleasure this evening to engage in one aspect of this—a forum hosted by the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects entitled ‘Sex in the city’ in which noted architecture writer Elizabeth Farrelly presented her views on gender and urban development. I would like to thank Paul Costigan, Diane Firth, my fellow commentator, Gary Rake, and many others for an important discussion about where a great Australian city is to go. Better understanding your own city is the first step towards improving it.

Continue reading ‘Centenary of Canberra’ »

Great Northside Places – Part I

Following my praise of the northside of Canberra, my southside colleague Gai Brodtmann has fired back a couple of recent salvos. So I’ve decided that only empirical evidence will settle our north versus south dispute.

As a first step, let’s answer a simple question: is the coffee better or the northside or southside? To test this, Gai and I will each nominate our favourite cafe. We’ll subject ourselves to the decision of a trio of members of the fourth estate.

So if you’re a coffee-loving journalist, and would be willing to judge, please get in touch. And if you’re a northsider with a favourite cafe, please let me know.

I find it hard to imagine that any cafe in the south can hold an empty coffee mug to Roasters, Wilburs or Black Pepper, but we’ll soon find out what some independent assessors think.

Chris McElhinny

I spoke in parliament today about the late Chris McElhinny.

Chris McElhinny
19 March 2012

Dr Chris McElhinny, Senior Lecturer in Silviculture at the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society, died on 18 February 2012. Chris’s first career was as a craftsman and teacher in wood. He taught at the then Canberra—now ANU—Institute of the Arts from 1983-1991. Amongst other distinctions in that role, he made the furniture for the Parliament House suite of the President of the Senate.

Continue reading ‘Chris McElhinny’ »

Reframe @ ANU

On 4 April, I’m speaking at an ANU event around Eric Knight’s book Reframe.

Details, details:

Venue: Molonglo Theatre, JG Crawford Building 132, Lennox Crossing, ANU
Date: 4 April
Time: 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

The Politics of Fear

I have an article on the ABC Drum website today about the politics of fear.

Power-seeking politicians walking the low road on fear
ABC The Drum Opinion, 19 March 2012

For centuries, power-seeking politicians have recognised that scaring the public is an effective tactic to win support.

Today, with ready access to a media that’s hungry for shocking stories, any parliamentarian who wants to whip up fear will usually find a ready audience.

Nowhere is this truer than in the case of fear of crime. Most Australians – particularly those whose major source of information is talkback radio – believe that crime is high and rising. And yet as a report earlier this month from the Australian Institute of Criminology showed, most categories of crime in Australia have been falling over time.

Continue reading ‘The Politics of Fear’ »

The Future of Community Organisations

On ABC Radio National last night, I spoke with Waleed Aly about joining, volunteering, the health of the Country Women’s Association, and my book Disconnected. The other guest was Jennie Hill, Queensland President, Country Women’s Association. You can listen to the conversation here or here.

Chatting with Ross Solly & Gary Humphries

On ABC 666 this morning, I spoke with Ross Solly and Liberal Senator Gary Humphries. Topics included the benefits of a profits-based mining tax, why the government chose the most capable person to run the Future Fund, and the importance of not bringing into play the character of a victim of an alleged sexual assault. Here’s the audio.

A New R18+ Computer Games Classification

I spoke in parliament yesterday about the new R18+ computer games classification.

Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Amendment (R 18+ Computer Games) Bill 2012
14 March 2012

It is important to say at the outset of the discussion of this Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Amendment (R 18+ Computer Games) Bill 2012 that there are many terrific uses of computer games. Many Australians enjoy computer games and although I am not a big gamer myself, my two little boys, Sebastian and Theodore, love getting on the iPad any moment they can. Their favourite game is Angry Birds. It is a chance for them to work on their fine motor skills, a little breather for their parents and an opportunity for them to work together as brothers. However, there are many computer games in Australia to which I would not want children exposed and certainly not without their parents’ knowledge.

Continue reading ‘A New R18+ Computer Games Classification’ »

Sky News AM Agenda – Thursday 15 March

Kelly O’Dwyer and I had a pleasant chat this morning on AM Agenda with Kieran Gilbert. Topics included the Gillard Government’s company tax cuts (opposed by the Liberal Party) and Opposition scaremongering on guns and crime.

Growing up in Aceh

Last December, I told the story of growing up in Aceh at the Street Theatre, as part of ABC 666′s Now Hear This event. The theme of the night was ‘Friendship’.

It was one of the scariest and most rewarding things I’ve done since entering politics. If you’d like to hear the story, you can listen to it here.

Jervis Bay Territory

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.

Continue reading ‘Jervis Bay Territory’ »

Ride for the Little Black Dress

I spoke in parliament last night about ‘Ride for the Little Black Dress’, a fundraising event organised by the Jodi Lee Foundation to raise money for and awareness of bowel cancer. The ride is named because Jodi Lee – who died two years ago – loved to wear little black dresses.

Ride for the Little Black Dress
13 March 2012

Last Saturday, it was my pleasure to join a group of men who were riding for the Jodi Lee Foundation’s ‘Ride for the Little Black Dress’ from Canberra to Melbourne. The ride set off from the forecourt of Parliament House and among the leaders were Nick Lee, husband of the late Jodi Lee who died two years ago; his friend Andrew Poole; cancer doctor David Rangiah and ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher. It was a sunny day but we were speaking about one of the darkest topics in Australia.

Continue reading ‘Ride for the Little Black Dress’ »

Road Safety

I spoke in parliament today on road safety.

Road Safety Remuneration (Consequential Amendments and Related Provisions) Bill 2012
13 March 2012

We have all seen horrific images of fatal motor vehicle accidents, the twisted and torn remains of cars, the spray of shattered glass that marks the sites and that look of shock, anguish and disbelief on people’s faces. Every death that occurs on the roads is not just the tragic loss of one person’s life. Rather, it spreads ripples right through the community. It is children who grow up without a parent; it is family birthday celebrations without an aunt or an uncle; it is the distinctive laugh of a friend no longer heard at Friday night drinks. That is why the Road Safety Remuneration Bill 2011 and the Road Safety Remuneration (Consequential Amendments and Related Provisions) Bill 2011 are so important. These bills address the heartbreaking loss and tragedy of the road toll and its far-reaching cost to the nation.

Continue reading ‘Road Safety’ »

Helen Fraser

I spoke in parliament today about the passing of Helen Fraser.

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.

Continue reading ‘Helen Fraser’ »

Market-based reforms and transparent budgeting

Parliament this afternoon chose to debate a Matter of Public Importance that I’d proposed.

My MPI was ‘The urgent need for market-based reforms and for strict and transparent budgeting’. Here’s my speech.

Matter of Public Importance – ‘The urgent need for market-based reforms and for strict and transparent budgeting’
13 March 2012

Today’s matter of public importance is on the need for market based reforms and the need for strict and transparent budgeting. I want to start by talking about market based mechanisms in dealing with environmental challenges. This used to be a pretty controversial area, and in fact the first person to raise it was none other than George HW Bush, who suggested that we might deal with environmental challenges by putting a price on the externality. He faced objections, but the objections at that time came from the Left. It was those on the progressive side of politics who took some time to come around.

Continue reading ‘Market-based reforms and transparent budgeting’ »


I have an opinion piece in today’s Canberra Times on eHealth.

eHealth Means All Are More Informed, Canberra Times, 12 March 2012

Recently, octogenarian Pat Douglass was the first patient in the ACT and southern New South Wales to sign up for an eHealth record, at Calvary Hospital. Calvary is one of 12 national projects that are pre-testing elements of the personally controlled electronic health record system.

Continue reading ‘eHealth’ »

At the Jervis Bay Territory – 8 March 2012

Last Thursday was the 25th anniversary of the land grant for the Wreck Bay Indigenous Community, so I timed my regular visit to coincide with the celebrations.

Historic Anniversary for Wreck Bay Land Grant

I spent today in the Jervis Bay Territory; a small pocket of Commonwealth-owned coastal land near Nowra. I spent my time meeting with local constituents and talking with the local school, and also had the chance to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Wreck Bay Land grant.

Media Release


Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

Minister for Disability Reform


Member for Fraser

 Historic anniversary for Wreck Bay Land grant

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Wreck Bay Land grant, a significant anniversary for the local Aboriginal community.

Twenty-five years ago the then Hawke government handed back 403 hectares of land in Wreck Bay, in the Booderee National Park in Jervis Bay, to the local Aboriginal community.

This historic event followed many years of negotiation and was a significant step in recognising traditional land and beginning a process of healing for the local Aboriginal community.

Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin said that since the land grant, the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council has worked hard to protect natural and cultural sites.

“The council has ensured their land has retained its rich variety of habitats, which provide a home for more than 200 species of birds, 30 species of land mammals and 180 species of fish,” Ms Macklin said.

“The council also continues to pass on traditional knowledge, ensuring that their rich cultural heritage is not lost.

“And by providing community services, education and training, supporting health needs, including aid and housing assistance, the council has helped to build a strong community.”

Member for Fraser, Andrew Leigh, joined the community for the anniversary celebrations and congratulated the Wreck Bay community and council for their hard work and dedication over the past 25 years.

“Today is a special day for the Wreck Bay community and I’m pleased to be able to share in the celebrations to mark this historic occasion,” Dr Leigh said.

“The Australian Government has provided $20,000 funding to support the events marking the anniversary of the Wreck Bay Land grant.”

Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community was handed the land title in 1987 under the Aboriginal Land Grant (Jervis Bay) Act 1986.

Celebrity Suburb Names

With Monday 12 March 2012 marking the 99th anniversary of Canberra, Robyn Archer and her team have a plethora of highbrow projects ready to go in the centenary year. But at the same time, I thought it was important to have some lowbrow ones as well.

Some time ago, Maryann Mussared dropped me off a list of ‘celebrity suburb names’ she’d devised. Here’s the game: come up with a celebrity after whom your suburb could have been named. The more outrageous the better.

For example, you might decide that Hackett was named after the Triple J ‘Hack’ program, or Braddon is named after Brad Haddin.

Here’s Maryann’s list:

  • Ainslie – Ainslie Gotto
  • Bruce – Bruce Willis (or the Australian Bruces)
  • Campbell – Glen Campbell (singer)
  • Casey – Ben Casey (TV actor)
  • Cook – Masterchef
  • Dunlop – Tyres
  • Florey – Original home of Floriade
  • Forde – Harrison Ford (actor) or Ford Prefect (fiction character)
  • Franklin – D. Roosevelt
  • Fraser – Tammie Fraser
  • Harrison – Rex Harrison (actor)
  • Higgins – Missy Higgins (singer) or Henry Higgins (fiction character)
  • Latham – Mark Latham
  • Macgregor – Euan Macgregor (actor) or Farmer Macgregor (fiction character)
  • Macquarie – Pass
  • Melba – Peach Melba
  • Mitchell – Warren Mitchell
  • O’Connor – Des O’Connor (actor)
  • Page – Elaine Page
  • Reid – Chopper Reid
  • Russell – Russell Crowe
  • Scullin – Oarsome Foursome
  • Spence – Bruce Spence (actor)
  • Turner – Ike & Tina
  • Watson – Dr Watson (fictional character)

Of course, most Canberra suburbs are still missing, so can you add to the list? If so, post your suggestions in comments below, or tweet them with the tag #celebcanberra.

Let’s see how many we can come up with between now and the 99th birthday of our fine city.

Opening of Lena Karmel Lodge

Opening Lena Karmel Lodge with ANU Vice-Chancellor Ian Young and Lena Karmel. Photo by Stuart Hay.

I was delighted to join ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and ANU Vice-Chancellor Ian Young to open the Lena Karmel Lodge at the Australian National University today.

This follows on from the opening of Weeden Lodge at the University of Canberra last week. Both of these projects were funded through the National Rental Affordability Scheme, which has proven to be a great way to keep more Canberrans in work in the construction industry while also providing much-needed rental accommodation for students.

The media release is below.





550 more students to get affordable accommodation

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher today joined Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh and ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Young in opening the Australian National University’s newest student accommodation – Lena Karmel Lodge, which will provide even more affordable accommodation for Canberra’s growing student population.

Located in the City West precinct, the development was supported by contributions from the ACT and Commonwealth governments through the National Rental Affordability Scheme.

“Just last week I was pleased to open Weeden Lodge – which is already home to up to 220 University of Canberra students in the refurbished Cameron Offices in Belconnen. It is great to follow that this week by opening Lena Karmel Lodge, for a further 550 ANU students.

“Both of these new spaces for students deliver an affordable accommodation option at a discounted rent of at least 20 per cent below the market rate. This means that studying in Canberra remains an attractive option for current and future students,” the Chief Minister said.

Minister for Housing Brendan O’Connor said Lena Karmel Lodge was part of the Gillard Government’s $4.3 billion investment to increase the supply of affordable housing across the nation through the National Rental Affordability Scheme.

“The Gillard Government recognises that people are struggling to find rental properties around Australia,” Mr O’Connor said.

“That’s why we are helping to build 50,000 new rental properties nationwide, allowing households to save thousands of dollars each year in rent.

“Investing in building projects like Lena Karmel Lodge also helps support local builders and tradies and keeps the economy strong,” Mr O’Connor said.

Dr Leigh said Lena Karmel Lodge was further evidence of the Gillard Government’s commitment to Canberra.

“Education is Canberra’s second largest export, and these extra beds mean we can continue to attract and educate Australia’s future workforce, while freeing up rental properties for other Canberrans,” Dr Leigh said.

As well as providing new accommodation for the 550 ANU students, the facilities also house a conference room, a cafeteria, small gym and ground floor shops.

The Chief Minister congratulated the ANU on nearing completion of its objective of building 1,033 new units through the National Rental Affordability Scheme.

“Significant additions of student accommodation are not only important to the ANU, but also bolster Canberra’s reputation as one of Australia’s leading cities for obtaining further education.

“The Territory Government, together with the Commonwealth is extremely proud to have contributed to these affordable rental units, which will also help improve overall rental affordability, which means fewer students are competing for accommodation in the private rental market,” the Chief Minister concluded.

Sky AM Agenda – 1 March 2012

A surprisingly congenial discussion with Kieran Gilbert and Simon Birmingham about politics and policy.

Welcoming the Babies Postponed

Andrew Leigh MP
Member for Fraser


‘Welcoming the Babies’ Postponed

Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh’s annual ‘Welcoming the Babies’ event has been postponed due to poor weather.

“Unfortunately, we’ve had some bad news. The National Capital Authority advised me that I’m unable to have the event at Stage 88 this weekend due to poor weather and concerns for safety,” said Andrew Leigh.

“With many babies already registered for this event, and knowing how important it is to connect families with community services, I’m still going ahead with a modified version of Welcoming the Babies.”

Here are the new details:

Date: Monday 26 March 2012

Time: 10:00am-11:00am

Venue: Andrew Leigh’s electorate office, 1 Torrens St, Braddon (at the corner of Torrens and Cooyong Streets)

“The best thing about having it in my office is that we can be sure it won’t be rained out! Parents should feel welcome to drop in, even if it’s just for a short time.”

A light morning tea will be provided. Parents will also still have a chance to connect with community service providers and one another, with many service providers either in attendance or providing materials. RSVPs are strongly recommended.

For more information or to RSVP email Andrew.Leigh.MP<@> or phone 6247 4396.