A couple of short videos give some ideas.
Archive for May 2012
A couple of short videos give some ideas.
A short speech on our economic strength and the importance of tax reform.
Tax Laws Amendment (2012 Measures No. 3) Bill 2012
Income Tax (Seasonal Labour Mobility Program Withholding Tax) Bill 2012
Tax Laws Amendment (Income Tax Rates) Bill 2012
30 May 2012
On a blog post on 8 December last year, Possum Comitatus—aka Scott Steel—wrote of ‘Australian exceptionalism’. He wrote:
‘Never before has there been a nation so completely oblivious to not just their own successes, but the sheer enormity of them, than Australia today.’
It is within the context of that extraordinary economic performance—unemployment, inflation and the cash rate each below 5 per cent for the first time in 40 years—that we are considering this package of bills.
I called today for Canberrans to ‘dob in a Black Spot’.
30 May 2012
Andrew Leigh MP
Federal Member for Fraser
IDENTIFYING BLACK SPOTS IN THE ACT
Each year, the ACT Black Spot consultative panel allocates over $1 million of Australian Government funding to make local roads safer. Safety measures include better line markings, upgraded traffic signals and improved lighting.
Chair of the ACT Black Spots Consultative Panel, Andrew Leigh, is again calling for Canberrans to suggest hazardous locations that require attention.
Volunteering is a strong tradition in Australia, nowhere more so than in the ACT. More than 6 million Australians volunteer each year – about 36% of the population. This number has grown significantly in the last decade and I hope we can raise it again this year.
To boost youth volunteering in our communities, the Gillard Labor Government is calling on budding young film makers aged 15 to under 25 to enter the volunteering video competition for young people.
Entrants are asked to create a video that will promote ways for young people to be involved in their community and capture the enjoyment, fun, and social interaction that volunteering brings.
The theme for this competition is “Your Passion, Our Nation. Volunteer Now!”
The competition closes 5pm on Sunday 22 July.
Find out more at the competition website.
This Sunday is the 20th anniversary of the High Court’s Mabo judgment. Because parliament is sitting, I won’t be able to attend Mabo Day celebrations being organised tonight by the ACT Torres Strait Islanders Corporation at the National Museum of Australia. But here’s the statement I’ve prepared to be read out.
Statement from Andrew Leigh, Federal Member for Fraser
Born on Murray Island one can only imagine what it would have been like to witnesses the moment Eddie Koiki Mabo realised that his land was owned by the Crown and not him and his people.
Noel Loos and Henry Reynolds recall of that moment in 1974: “Koiki was surprised and shocked”. They remember him saying “No way, it’s not theirs. It’s ours”.
From that moment to the High Court decision of June 3rd 1992, Eddie Mabo showed us that understanding is the responsibility of all Australians.
That an appreciation and understanding of Indigenous Australia, its history, culture and challenges is not an optional part of being Australian. It is essential to who we are.
Eddie Mabo Day helps further the understanding that is critical to reconciliation, through acknowledging and celebrating all Indigenous Australians and their contribution to our nation.
It is an opportunity to celebrate the life of a great Australian, to remember a man of extraordinary vision, warmth and intelligence. It encourages us to reflect upon a national identity with Aboriginality as a central and distinguishing theme.
With Indigenous stories taking their place as fundamental parts of the Australian story.
My apologies for not being able to be with you today to celebrate the remarkable contribution and life of Eddie Koiki Mabo.
The Australian Women’s Coalition will be running a series of workshops for young women aged 18-30, who live or work in the ACT region.
The workshops are designed to provide young women with the opportunity to develop transformation projects focusing issues that they most care about. The workshops are particularly aimed at reaching young women from migrant and refugee communities.
Funded by the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship, the SHOUT! workshops are free and will run from April 2012 to March 2013.
Find out more about the AWC and about the new SHOUT! workshops at: www.awcaus.org.au
In today’s Drum, I have an op-ed with Senator Lisa Singh.
Malaysia Trade Deal: In Praise of Openness, The Drum, 29 May 2012
The rise of Asia is often seen as the rise of Asia’s big nations, like India and China. But even taking these two giants out of the equation, Asia’s share of middle class consumption is expected to outstrip that of the United States and the European Union combined by the middle of this century. A growing Asian middle class means a massive increase in consumption and spending on imported goods and services. Those goods and services include the kind of things that Australians produce and expect: a wide range of yummy food; high-quality education; and elaborately transformed manufactures.
As well as providing a market for our exports, the rise of Asia has also benefited Australian consumers. The past 20 years have seen real prices for imported furniture, handbags, clothes, shoes and medical products roughly halved. Real prices of computers, telephones and other electrical goods have fallen by about two-thirds.
I spoke today on a private member’s motion, moved by Adam Bandt, to raise the level of Newstart by $50 per week.
Private Member’s Motion – Adam Bandt
28 May 2012
The issue of movement from welfare into work is one that has long concerned me. It was the reason that I chose 12 years ago to study overseas, researching on the topic of poverty and inequality, looking at the issue of how to move people from welfare into work and the relative effectiveness of interventions such as government jobs, wage subsidies and training programs.
It is important that we make that transition from welfare into work as straightforward as possible, particularly for families with children. We know that there are intergenerational cycles of joblessness and we know that high-quality programs that increase employment are at the core of a civilised society.
I put out a media release today with my ACT colleagues on the pension increases that are being provided as part of our carbon pricing plan.
SENATOR KATE LUNDY
Senator for the ACT
GAI BRODTMANN MP
Member for Canberra
ANDREW LEIGH MP
Member for Fraser
Extra cash for thousands of local pensioners
Thousands of Canberra pensioners are set to get extra support to help them make ends meet, with $6.6 million worth of new cash payments hitting local households from today.
ACT Senator Kate Lundy said more than 30,100 pensioners in the ACT would receive a cash payment over the coming weeks, ahead of the introduction of the carbon price on 1 July.
“All full and part pensioners in the ACT will receive a lump sum payment of $250 for singles and $380 for couples combined.
I spoke in parliament today about Canberra hosting the Girl Guides’ regional jamboree – for the first time in 47 years.
Girl Guides Jamboree
24 May 2012
On 16 April I attended the Girl Guides NSW & ACT Jamboree held at Exhibition Park, with the member for Canberra Gai Brodtmann, and Trudy McIntosh, an intern in my office. There were over 550 guides aged between 10 and 17 who pitched their tents for a week of fun-filled activities and leadership workshops. This was the first jamboree to be held in Canberra since 1966. Margaret Norris, a long-time girl guide, attended the opening night’s celebrations and shared with the girls her experiences. Margaret had attended the first camp in Canberra in 1966 and her reflections were insightful.
My review essay in Inside Story discusses offending rates and incarceration in Australia and the United States.
Crimes and Punishments
Inside Story, 24 May 2012
WITH his casual dress sense, ready laugh and broad vowels, Bruce Western immediately strikes you as the expatriate Queenslander he is. The Harvard-based sociologist is also one of the leading scholars of crime in the United States, and a few years ago he presented a seminar about his research at the United States Studies Centre in Sydney.
Now, I’ve attended hundreds of conferences and academic seminars, and I don’t recall ever gasping out loud. But I did when Western’s PowerPoint presentation began reeling through the following facts.
US jails currently hold over two million people, more than 1 per cent of the adult population. Among men aged twenty to thirty-four who didn’t complete high school, the imprisonment rate is a jaw-dropping 12 per cent for whites and 37 per cent for blacks. That’s right – 37 per cent of young, black high school dropouts are currently behind bars.
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 spoke in parliament last night about the Opposition’s threat to block an increase in Australia’s debt ceiling.
23 May 2012
On 17 April this year the member for North Sydney [Joe Hockey] travelled to London where he gave a speech in which he said that Hong Kong’s government debt was ‘moderate’. That speech pointed out that Hong Kong’s gross government debt was then 34 per cent of GDP. As Simon Howson pointed out to me, given that Australia’s gross government debt will peak at 18 per cent of GDP, the only appropriate word for Australia’s debt levels is ‘low’. Australia’s net debt as a share of GDP will peak at 9.6 per cent of GDP. That is like somebody earning $100,000 and owing $9,600. This debt was, of course, taken on in order to save jobs—200,000 of them, and tens of thousands of small businesses.
I spoke in parliament last night about the impact on the environment of delaying the introduction of a carbon price.
Climate Change – the Cost of Delaying Action
22 May 2012
Tipping points are crucial in the climate debate. They can be the difference between success and failure and, if misjudged, can prove costly. While, thankfully, the global environment has not yet reached any tipping points, we have had a few political tipping points in the Australian climate debate. A lone voice that switched the opposition leadership from the member for Wentworth to the member for Warringah condemned the party of Menzies to be antimarket, and turn its back on economists and scientists.
Another tipping point, less well known, was just as costly. On 7 December 2009 five Greens party senators had the opportunity to act on climate change and ensure Australia had a price on carbon. They had the choice to join two brave Liberal senators and act in the interests of the future. Instead, the five Greens party senators chose political self-interest over the national interest. They chose to side with the sceptics and the antimarket forces. What was the result of their action? The Clean Energy Future package enacted by this parliament has the same 2020 emissions reduction target as that of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme back in 2009. Both schemes aim to reduce our carbon emissions by five per cent compared with a year 2000 baseline. Both schemes are market mechanisms designed to find the least-cost method of reducing carbon pollution.
I spoke in parliament last night about some of the many extraordinary volunteers in Canberra.
Volunteering in the ACT
22 May 2012
Over recent decades, Australians have lost social capital. We are less likely to be civically engaged in our communities; we are more disconnected than we once were. But this does not change the fact that there are many great volunteers in Australia, and no part of the country is more likely to volunteer than here in the ACT. Tonight I want to share with the House three stories of volunteering in the ACT worth celebrating.
Last week I attended the 2012 ACT Volunteer of the Year Awards. Across a wide range of awards the contribution that volunteers make to our community and our economy was recognised. The 2012 ACT Volunteer of the Year was Dr Mary Webb. Nominated by Multiple Sclerosis Ltd, Mary has provided volunteer service to those people in the Canberra community with MS. Over the years, she has also made a valuable contribution through her service to various advisory bodies.
In parliament today, I moved a motion on the importance of a strong public service. The motion and speech are below.
A Strong Public Service
Private Member’s Motion
21 May 2012
To move—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.
An article in Fairfax papers today asks several MPs’ view on raising unemployment benefits. Not surprisingly, it contains only a snippet of the conversation that I had with journalist Stephanie Peatling. So I thought it might be worth setting out my thoughts on the issue in more detail.
Unlike pensions, which are aimed at being ongoing for multiple years, unemployment benefits are designed to be a temporary payment. Nonetheless, I share the feeling of many of my colleagues that the current level of unemployment benefits are an extremely low amount to live on. If we doubled tax revenue, I’d raise unemployment benefits in a heartbeat. But tax revenue has actually fallen (from around 24% of GDP under Howard to 22% now). So anyone who proposes an expensive policy like significantly increasing unemployment benefits needs to identify which taxes they’d increase or which spending programs they’d cut. (And in the current parliament, how they’d get the change through both Houses.) For example, if you asked me ‘would you scrap an NDIS to raise unemployment benefits?’, I’d say no.
As an economist, I think about tradeoffs, which I’m starting to realise may be somewhat atypical in politics. Perhaps some people answer the question as ‘if the money was free and you didn’t have to lose any of your favourite programs, would you raise unemployment benefits?’. If that’s the question, count me in as a supporter too.
I’m also concerned about the social consequences of intergenerational poverty, since it does look like there may be adverse impacts of welfare dependence in families with children. This is something I’ve worried about quite a bit while since when I was an econ prof at ANU (see for example this paper, or this recent speech). So the JET scheme (which provides childcare to high-needs parents for 10 cents an hour) strikes me as important for the next generation. The ANU ‘Youth in Focus’ study has some valuable insights on the issues too (though the links to it are alas broken at present).
We’re calling for tenders to build the Majura Parkway, funded 50/50 by the federal and ACT governments. Media release below.
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister
Andrew Leigh MP
Member for Fraser Katy Gallagher
ACT Chief Minister
Minister for Territory and Municipal Services
MAJURA PARKWAY: CONSTRUCTION TENDER CALLED
From 26 May construction companies interested in building the new Majura Parkway – the Territory’s largest ever road project – will have two months in which to submit their best bids under the tender process to be conducted by the ACT Government.
What Do We Eat After the Low-Hanging Fruit? A Brief Economic History of Australia, With Some Lessons for the Future
I spoke today at the McKell Institute in Sydney on Australian economic history, with some ideas for the future. The speech is below.
What Do We Eat After the Low-Hanging Fruit? A Brief Economic History of Australia, With Some Lessons for the Future*
18 May 2012
McKell Institute, Sydney
In the Pacific Ocean, off the west coast of South America, sit the Galapagos Islands. Although they straddle the equator, the pattern of ocean currents have a cooling effect, making them an ideal breeding ground for tortoises, iguanas, penguins, finches, albatrosses, gulls, and pelicans.
Because the islands are volcanic, what’s striking about animal life on the Galapagos Islands is that all of it came originally by flying or floating nearly 1000 kilometres from Ecuador. And yet for the species that survived, life on the Galapagos Islands was perfect. Migrating birds lucky enough to be blown off course found an environment with few natural predators. Tortoises that floated here found beaches perfectly suited to their breeding environments. Life flourished.
Looking back across Australian economic history, I am often struck by the extent to which luck has similarly played a part in our success. Politicians are sometimes reluctant to talk about luck – preferring to focus on the things we can control than those we can’t. It is true that ‘chance favours the prepared mind’. But I think it’s still worth talking about the role that luck has played, if only to help understand what preparations we should be making. If we don’t do that, we’re like the Galapagos tortoise, which must have thought itself the luckiest species on earth, until British sailors discovered the islands in the late-eighteenth century, and ate them in their thousands.
On 2CC this morning, I spoke with host Mark Parton and Liberal Senator Gary Humphries about the government’s economic reforms, the importance of putting a price on carbon, and maintaining strong employment outcomes in the ACT. Here’s a podcast.
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.
Today I joined ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and Senator Don Farrell in opening the ACT’s own National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme station. Technology is developing at such a rapid rate that what was state-of-the-art only a few years ago soon becomes obsolete, and now households can recycle their unwanted televisions and computers. See media release below:
Senator Don Farrell
Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water
Katy Gallagher MLA
ACT Chief Minister
Minister for Territory and Municipal Services
Gai Brodtmann MP
Member for Canberra
Andrew Leigh MP
Member for Fraser
15 May 2012
FREE TV AND COMPUTER RECYCLING SCHEME OPENS FOR BUSINESS IN THE ACT
Australia today celebrates a major milestone in waste management with the first services under the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme opening for business in the ACT.
Householders delivering unwanted TVs and computers to the Mugga Lane waste transfer station in Canberra this morning were greeted by Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water, Senator Don Farrell, and ACT Chief Minister and Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Katy Gallagher.
“This is an exciting first step for this important initiative, made possible by the Gillard Government’s landmark Product Stewardship legislation,” Senator Farrell said.
“People dropping off their unwanted televisions and computers for free here today, and in the future, can do so with the knowledge that these products will be recycled in an environmentally friendly way.
“Hazardous materials contained in these products, including lead, mercury and zinc, will be prevented from entering the environment through landfill. Valuable non-renewable resources, including gold and other precious metals will also be reclaimed for reuse.”
On 31 May 2012, it will be 110 years since the signing of the peace treaty in the Boer War. The National Boer War Association has asked me to let descendants know about the memorial (the picture shows an artist’s rendering), and that special ‘descendants’ and ‘in memory’ medallions have been struck in honour of veterans.
Anyone who thinks they might be a descendant is encouraged to go to the Ancestor Search function on the Boer War Memorial website, or to contact the National Boer War Memorial Association.
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.’
The Chronicle this week has a story about one of the first Canberrans to be connected to the National Broadband Network. You can read it here.
I’ll be out and about with two mobile offices tomorrow morning, and a community forum next Tuesday. Do drop by and say g’day.
Mobile Offices – Saturday 12 May
- Charnwood Shops (outside Woolworths), 10-11am
- Kippax Fair (Hardwick Crescent), 11.15am-12.15pm
Community forum -Tuesday 15 May
- Dickson Quality Hotel (Trevor Scott Room), 6pm
Times don’t suit? More events here.
This week, I met with a delegation of three Burmese members of parliament, newly elected to represent Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy Party. The photo shows me chatting with MP Phyo Zeya Thaw, who was also a hip-hop artist (in fact, that’s what got him into trouble with the regime). I asked Mr Thaw whether the regime had jailed him for his activism. His reply: “Only for 3 years and 3 months.” It was a humbling conversation.