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Archive for November 2012

Australia-China Forum

I spoke in parliament today about the Australia-China Forum, which I attended in Beijing on 15 November 2012.

Australia-China Forum, 29 November 2012

Earlier this month it was my pleasure to attend the second annual Australia-China Forum. Established during a difficult period in the bilateral relationship, the forum provides an opportunity for businesspeople, government officials, academics and journalists to discuss issues that matter to our two countries. The Australian delegation was led by the indefatigable Gareth Evans, and the Chinese delegation was led by another former foreign minister, Li Zhaoxing. We were generously hosted by the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs, CPIFA. By chance, the forum took place on the precise day that the new Chinese leadership was announced to the world.

Continue reading ‘Australia-China Forum’ »

The Australian Economy – Strengths and Risks

I spoke in parliament today about the state of the Australian and global economy (and snuck in a few words of thanks to my staff, interns, volunteers and family).

Review of the Reserve Bank of Australia Annual Report, 29 November 2012

The review of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s annual report is an opportunity to reflect on the strength of the Australian economy and on some of the potential threats to that ongoing strength. If you had told any economic policy maker two decades ago that, three years after the biggest downturn since the Great Depression, the Australian unemployment rate would have a ’5′ in front of it, inflation would be in the middle of the target band and growth would be at around the long-term average, they would say that you were dreaming. But that has been the stand-out performance of the Australian economy over recent years.

Continue reading ‘The Australian Economy – Strengths and Risks’ »

A Guest Post from Emily Murray: Ten Tips for Engaging with Politicians

For several months this year, an ANU student by the name of Emily Murray worked as an intern in my office, via the ANU ANIP program. During this, she interviewed 41 politicians, political advisers and campaigners. At the end of it, Emily has produced a report titled ‘Pressure Politics: Why Australian Politicians Support or Ignore NGO Policy Campaigns’.

I’d encourage anyone who has the time to read Emily’s full report. But for the busy types who frequent Capital Hill, she has also written a guest blog post, listing ten tips for pitching your ideas up to us pollies. Take it away Emily…

Ten Top Tips for Engaging with Politicians
By Emily Murray

Almost all of us have had a bit of a whinge at one point or another about our politicians. I can’t open a newspaper or visit my Granddad without hearing how the country’s going off track and how it could be fixed. It’s easier to throw stones than build bridges.

Have you ever tried taking your ideas and concerns to your politicians, and engaging them in a respectful discussion about an issue? The politicians I’ve met welcome meeting with their constituents and genuinely want to learn more about the issues that they face.

I’ve spent the last semester researching why politicians say yes or no to policy proposals from their constituents. Here are ten top tips to help you get your ideas on board!

Continue reading ‘A Guest Post from Emily Murray: Ten Tips for Engaging with Politicians’ »

Ten “People’s Maps” of the Fraser Electorate

Back in October 2011, I launched the ‘Mapping the Northside’ project to develop a people’s map of my electorate.

Belconnen Arts Centre displayed a 3m x 2m map on their wall, where people could come in and locate their favourite places in Canberra’s north – the federal electorate of Fraser that I have the privilege to represent. Belconnen Arts Centre also facilitated information sessions at Gorman House Arts Centre, Gungahlin Library, and at their own location in Emu Bank, Belconnen. Local professional artist Maryann Mussared was on hand to help with the creative process.

Popular locations included local universities, mountains, popular walking spots and community facilities such as John Knight Park in Belconnen and Gungahlin Skate Park.  We turned this into a Google Map of people’s favourite places.

I’ve now joined forces with design students from the University of Canberra to put some of those key places into an infographics map. The range of options and different ways of showing key northside places was incredible and I was impressed by the students’ creativity.

You can have a look at the different ideas the students came up with at the links below. My favourite was Michelle’s, and this will appear in my next community newsletter.

What do you think?

Many thanks go to Ben Ennis Butler, the University of Canberra, Belconnen Arts Centre, Gungahlin Library and the Gorman House Arts Centre for their support on this exciting project.

Liberalism and Labor

I’m speaking at Per Capita in Melbourne next Wednesday, on the topic of liberalism and the ALP. Details here, and below.

Reform Agenda Series: The Future of the Left in Australia: Embracing social liberalism?, with Andrew Leigh MP, 5 December 2012
Please join us in Melbourne for this Reform Agenda Series event featuring guest speaker Andrew Leigh MP, Member for Fraser.

Prior to entering Parliament, Andrew was a Professor of Economics at the Australian National University. Has has a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard, and has written extensively on economics and social policy. At this forum, he will be discussing why the ALP should embrace the legacy of liberalism – egalitarianism, minority rights and open markets; with a response by Dennis Glover, Per Capita Fellow, speechwriter and political columnist. This will be followed by an open Q & A session.

Venue: Corrs Chambers Westgarth – Level 36, 600 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Date: Wednesday 5 December 2012
Time: Light refreshment served from 10.30am. Forum 11.00am – 12.00pm
Cost: This is a free event

To RSVP for this event, please email Allison Orr on a.orr<AT> or call 02 9310 5000.

Social Entrepreneurship

I spoke in parliament yesterday about social entrepreneurship in Canberra, discussing a breakfast meeting with social entrepreneurs and the Ben Donohue Walk and Run for Fun.

Social Entrepreneurs, 27 November 2012

On 16 October this year I held a breakfast meeting with a small but passionate group of local social entrepreneurs: Bradley Carron-Arthur, Courtney Slone, Katrina Marson, Melanie Poole, Tony Shields and Ben Moody. The aim of the breakfast was to bring together these social entrepreneurs to share their stories, experiences and their ideas for solving some of the challenges they face. I hope in the future they can act as a brains trust for one another and for other budding social entrepreneurs. Their projects range from coordinating volunteers and boosting mental health awareness to improving Australia’s international development efforts. I would like to thank them for their ideas and their efforts to assist those in need and for helping to build social capital. Social entrepreneurs are people who take an idea and with passion and persistence bring to fruition enterprises that assist those in need.

Continue reading ‘Social Entrepreneurship’ »

Asylum Seekers

I spoke in parliament twice yesterday about asylum seekers, and the importance of reducing drownings at sea and treating refugees with dignity.

Migration Amendment (Unauthorised Maritime Arrivals and Other Measures), 27 November 2012

The issue of migration and of refugees is one that is particularly close to my heart. I spoke in my first speech in this place about my mother’s parents, a boilermaker and a teacher, who lived by the credo that if there was a spare room in the house it ought to be used by someone who needed the space. I remember as a little kid, eating at my grandparents’ place and spending time speaking to migrants, some of them refugees—from Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, Chile, Cambodia and Sri Lanka.

I also told a story that still brings a lump to my throat about an art competition run as part of Refugee Week, where the first prize went to a Karen Burmese woman who had woven a traditional crimson tunic. She was missing her homeland so much that she had made a loom by taking the mattress of the wooden bed base and using the slats as a loom to weave a traditional Karen tunic. That story for me sums up the extraordinary courage and ability of Australia’s refugees. It is why you will never hear me referring to refugees as ‘illegals’. It is why you will never hear me using phrases like ‘boatpeople’.

It was of course Australia’s own Doc Evatt who was a key drafter of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, which says in Article 14(1): ‘Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.’ And that is why there is nothing illegal about seeking asylum from persecution.

Continue reading ‘Asylum Seekers’ »

Gambling Reforms

I spoke in parliament yesterday about the government’s reforms to address problem gambling.

National Gambling Reform, 27 November 2012

May I start with a story from an email sent to me by one of my constituents, Gary Hatcliffe. He wrote to me as follows:

‘My name is Gary Hatcliffe. The pokies have taken away the past 25 years of living for me. Some would say I had a choice; unfortunately, the addiction overpowered my logical thought processes. As a result, I have just completed 7 months of live-in rehabilitation and I now reside in a half-way house in Canberra. Eight months ago I was destitute in Melbourne (having hit rock bottom once again) and I was going to kill myself.

Continue reading ‘Gambling Reforms’ »

Bryce Courtenay

I spoke in parliament yesterday on the passing of my most famous constituent, Bryce Courtenay.

Bryce Courtenay, 27 November 2012

A little over 12 months ago Paul Keating told Leigh Sales during a Lateline interview:

‘Well, it’s all about telling the stories. You gotta be able to tell the stories, I think.’

Today I pay tribute to one of our greatest ever storytellers. Australian author Bryce Courtenay lived in the suburb of Reid in my electorate, a few kilometres from my electorate office. Last week he died of stomach cancer, aged 79. He was a prolific author. In his 23 years of writing he wrote 23 books—almost one a year. I say ‘almost’ because the only time he missed his annual deadline was last year. He was upset by this even though the arthritis in his hands were so severe he could only perform two-finger typing.

Continue reading ‘Bryce Courtenay’ »

Mining jobs in the local media

WIN News covered my call for Canberrans to tell me they want to work in the mining industry. They also interviewed a local construction worker who has struggled to crack into the industry.

Ross Peake also covered the story in the Canberra Times.

You can email Andrew.Leigh.MP {at} or call 6247 4396 to let me know you’re interested in working in or around the mines so I can encourage the companies to come to Canberra and provide more information.

Want to work in the mining industry?

Plenty of young Canberrans want to be a part of the mining boom but aren’t sure how to go about getting a job there. If you’re interested in working in the mining industry, email Andrew.Leigh.MP {at} or call 6247 4396 to let me know. With enough people interested, I’ll host information sessions on working in the mining industry.


Andrew Leigh MP

Member for Fraser


Andrew Leigh, Federal Member for Fraser, today asked Canberrans to let him know if they want to work in the mining industry.

According to the 2011 Census, only 94 people who usually live in Canberra are employed in the mining industry.

“I’ve had some young Canberrans tell me they’d like to work in the mining industry to try and save some money to buy a house and start a family.

“As Canberra is located so far away from the mines, it’s difficult to get information about how to apply for jobs in the industry,” said Dr Leigh. Continue reading ‘Want to work in the mining industry?’ »

Recognising Eureka

I moved a private member’s motion in parliament today to recognise the importance of Eureka in the Australian national story.

Eureka, 26 November 2012

DR LEIGH: To move—That this House:

(1) recognises that:

(a) the Battle of Eureka:

(i) was a key moment in Australian democracy;

(ii) called for basic democratic rights, including broadening the franchise and removing the property qualification to stand for the Legislative Council;

(iii) inspired subsequent movements in Australian history, including female suffrage and the Australian Republican Movement; and

(iv) demanded changes to make mining taxation more equitable, with the revenue to be spent on improvements to local infrastructure; and

(b) the importance of the Battle of Eureka is to be commemorated by the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka in Ballarat, partly funded by the Australian Government in recognition of its national significance; and

(2) encourages all Australians to remember and respect the Battle of Eureka by:

(a) visiting the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka to learn about the history of the Battle of Eureka and its effect on modern democracy; and

(b) flying the Eureka Flag on 3 December each year in its memory.

Three hours after midnight on the Sabbath morning of Sunday, 3 December 1854, a winter and spring of discontent erupted in a short and dirty skirmish atop the gold-led diggings known as Eureka on the western outskirts of the Victorian town of Ballarat. The colonial authorities had sent troops from two British regiments, supported by the Victoria police—296 men, all told, against a tottering stockade defended by some 150 miners of the Ballarat Reform League. The miners protected a hand-sewn flag bearing a design of the Southern Cross, beneath which they had each sworn an oath ‘to stand truly by each other, to fight to defend our rights and liberties’. The bloody scrum described as the battle for Eureka lasted for fewer than 15 minutes. Six men of the colonial forces and 22 miners were killed. One hundred and fourteen of their Reform League comrades were imprisoned in the Ballarat lock-up and the flag was torn down. In the following months, 13 miners charged by the state with high treason were unanimously acquitted by citizen juries. All bar one of the political demands of the Ballarat Reform League were granted within 12 months. The first bill for the universal enfranchisement of men in the Australian colonies was passed by the Victorian Legislative Council in 1857.

Continue reading ‘Recognising Eureka’ »

Gary Banks

I spoke in parliament today about outgoing Productivity Commission chairman Gary Banks.

Gary Banks, 26 November 2012

Canberra economist Gary Banks AO is stepping down after 14 years of service to the Productivity Commission. He was the Productivity Commission’s inaugural chairman and he was the executive commissioner of its predecessor, the Industry Commission.

The Productivity Commission and its predecessor bodies have done important work for major Labor reforms, whether that was tariff reform in the 1970s or competition reform in the 1990s. During Mr Banks’ term as chairman, the Productivity Commission has brought down important work on aged care policy, the National Disability Insurance Scheme and on carbon pricing. The Productivity Commission has also done critically important work on school reform and on reporting Indigenous disadvantage.

Continue reading ‘Gary Banks’ »

Australia-China forum panel discussion

I recently attended the Australia-China forum in Beijing and was a part of a breakfast panel discussing various political issues. We covered off the Asian Century White Paper and optimism in Australian politics during the session. The audio from the panel is available below.

Australia-China Forum panel discussion by Andrewleighmp on Mixcloud

Why I enjoy mobile offices

Abbott confirms plans to get rid of 20,000 jobs from the ACT

More Canberra public service job cuts promised by Tony Abbott this week. Mr Abbott said in a speech yesterday “Do we really need 20,000 more public servants in Canberra today than we had at the end of the Howard era? We don’t…”.


Andrew Leigh MP

Member for Fraser

Gai Brodtmann MP

Member for Canberra

23 November 2012

Abbott confirms plans to get rid of 20,000 jobs from the ACT

Tony Abbott has confirmed that a Federal Coalition government will get rid of 20,000 jobs in the ACT – potentially throwing our economy back into the same type of downturn we suffered when John Howard slashed the public sector in 1996. Continue reading ‘Abbott confirms plans to get rid of 20,000 jobs from the ACT’ »

Mobile Offices Tomorrow

I’ll be holding two of my regular mobile offices tomorrow, Saturday 24 November:

  • 10-11am: Gungahlin (on Hibberson St, outside Big W)
  • 11.15am-12.15pm: Dickson (outside Woolworths)

These are a good chance to raise policy issues, chat about matters affecting you and your family, or just to say g’day.

Helping local government become energy efficient

The Gillard Government continues to invest in clean energy communities. A new grant program for local government is now open to help local communities reduce their energy use.

Andrew Leigh MP
Member for Fraser

Gai Brodtmann MP
Member for Canberra


Andrew Leigh MP, Federal Member for Fraser, and Gai Brodtmann MP, Federal Member for Canberra, today welcomed the opening of the Gillard Labor Government’s Local Government Energy Efficiency Program, which will help local government to cut costs in community facilities.

The $24 million Local Government Energy Efficiency Program provides support to local governments across Australia to install low pollution, clean energy solar and heat pump hot water systems to drive smarter energy use.
Continue reading ‘Helping local government become energy efficient’ »

Sky AM Agenda 22 November

Today on AM Agenda, Keiran Gilbert spoke with Kelly O’Dwyer and me about the complexities of asylum seeker policy

Government delivering historic pay rises to community workers

One of the significant achievements of the Gillard Government has been the pay increase awarded to workers in the community sector. The Fair Work Act allowed workers in the sector to bargain for equal pay. The Gillard Government is committed to pay its share of the cost of wage increases, setting up a Special Account to fund the increases. SACS workers will receive pay rises between 23 and 45 per cent in nine instalments starting from December 2012.


Andrew Leigh MP

Member for Fraser

Gai Brodtmann MP

Member for Canberra

22 November 2012

Government delivering historic pay rises to community workers

The Australian Government has taken the next step in meeting its commitment to deliver historic equal pay rises to eligible social and community sector workers.

Member for Canberra, Gai Brodtmann, and Member for Fraser, Andrew Leigh, today announced the Australian Government’s offers as part of its $2.8 billion share of the increases have begun going out to social and community services organisations in the ACT. Continue reading ‘Government delivering historic pay rises to community workers’ »

$26 million boost for the University of Canberra

The Gillard Government continues to invest in quality teaching and learning in the ACT. Today I joined Senator Chris Evans and Chief Minister Katy Gallagher to announce Structural Adjustment Funding for the University of Canberra. The new programs will give students greater options for pathways into university. Senator Evans also announced a national partnership between the University of Canberra and the Aurora Project to open up access and improve the university experience for Indigenous students.


Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research

Leader of the Government in the Senate


Federal Member for Fraser


20 November 2012

$26 million boost for the University of Canberra

A significant investment by the Gillard Government will ensure the University of Canberra can offer better access to a quality education experience.

Federal Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans, ACT Chief Minister, Katy Gallagher and Member for Fraser, Andrew Leigh, today visited UC to announce the $26 million transformation of the University of Canberra to help it offer more courses, new entry pathways and the latest learning technologies.

Continue reading ‘$26 million boost for the University of Canberra’ »

More awards for local university teachers

Great to see the Spanish Program at ANU being recognised for its innovative approach to teaching and learning.


Andrew Leigh MP

Member for Fraser

20 November 2012

Award winners improve the university experience

The Spanish Program at the Australian National University has been recognised as one of Australia’s best higher education programs at the 2012 Australian Awards for University Teaching at the National Gallery Australia in Canberra last night.

Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh said Associate Professor Martin and his team had won the Award for Programs that Enhance Learning for their dedication to improving the experience for students in the higher education sector.

Continue reading ‘More awards for local university teachers’ »

Local hairdresser wins Australian Apprentice of the Year

I was delighted to find out that a local hairdresser, Sara Burke, won the Australian Apprentice of the Year award last week. Sara also volunteers her spare time to assist her two favourite charities, the Leukaemia Foundation and the Canberra Blind Society. For fashion parades and runway shoots, Sara charges a small fee for doing the models’ hair, with all proceeds going to charity. Congratulations Sara!


Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research

Leader of the Government in the Senate


Member for Fraser


19 November 2012

Canberra hairdresser named Australia’s best apprentice

Aranda resident Sara Burke was on Friday 16 November announced as the Australian Apprentice of the Year at the 2012 Australian Training Awards.

The La Bimbi Hairdresser recently completed a Certificate III in Hairdressing through the Canberra Institute of Technology. Now fully qualified, Ms Burke mentors the salon’s Australian Apprentices.

Continue reading ‘Local hairdresser wins Australian Apprentice of the Year’ »

Want to know more about aged care reform?

Over 150 people joined Minister the Hon Mark Butler MP and me at the Griffin Centre in Civic to learn about the Gillard Government’s significant reforms in the aged care sector. The event was well oversubscribed so I’m holding another event on 7 December at 10:30am, also in the Griffin Centre. If you’d like to come along, please call my office on 6247 4396 or email Andrew.Leigh.MP {at}


Minister for Mental Health and Ageing

Minister for Social Inclusion

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Mental Health Reform


Federal Member for Fraser


19 November 2012


Minister for Ageing Mark Butler joined local MP Andrew Leigh today to report back to the community on the Government’s $3.7 billion aged care reforms.

Mr Butler met with local residents to discuss the Federal Government’s Living Longer Living Better aged care reform package, designed to provide locals with a better aged care system now, and in the future.
Continue reading ‘Want to know more about aged care reform?’ »

Local finalists for the Australian Training Awards

The Australian Training Awards are on tomorrow night and we have two terrific finalists from the Fraser electorate.


Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research

Leader of the Government in the Senate


Member for Fraser


14 November 2012

Local finalists for the Australian Training Awards

Local company Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) and Aranda’s Sara Burke have been named as finalists for the 2012 Australian Training Awards.

AIE is a finalist in the Small Training Provider of the Year category while Sara Burke is a finalist for the Australian Apprentice of the Year award. Continue reading ‘Local finalists for the Australian Training Awards’ »

Local manufacturer reduces emissions, cuts power bills

I was pleased to announce today that a local company received funding under the Clean Technology Investment Program to reduce their energy use and power bills.


Andrew Leigh MP

Member for Fraser

14 November 2012


$90 945 from the Gillard’s Government’s $1 billion Clean Technology Investment will help Elvin Group, a local manufacturer based in Mitchell, to reduce energy costs, improve efficiency and lower carbon pollution.

Andrew Leigh, Member for Fraser, congratulated Elvin Group for preparing for a clean energy future by transforming its operations to reduce energy emissions and improve its competitiveness.

Continue reading ‘Local manufacturer reduces emissions, cuts power bills’ »

Looking for a Chief of Staff / Office Manager

My terrific chief of staff (aka office manager) Louise Crossman has just been offered a job as women’s adviser to Julie Collins, Minister for Community Services, Indigenous Employment and Economic Development, and Status of Women. Louise has run my office wonderfully well over recent years, and many in the Canberra community will have had the opportunity to get to know her at community forums and other events.

I’m very sorry to see her moving on, but am also pleased that in past years, I’ve seen staff happily move into jobs with Ministers Combet, Garrett and Collins. No job is forever, and having the chance to work with a team bright and energetic people is one of the things I really enjoy about this job. Over the coming years, Louise is certain to make her mark on Australian politics.

Accordingly, I’m now looking for a new Louise. You can think of the job as a hybrid of ‘chief of staff’ (managing people) and office manager (managing paperwork). Successful applicant will need to be politically attuned, good at teamwork, and enjoy community development. Sense of humour a plus.

The official job ad is below.


Applications are invited for the above position based in Canberra.

The duties of the positions include: managing a team of five full-time and part-time staff (plus volunteers), community engagement, liaising with government departments, preparing and coordinating correspondence, organising events and meetings.

Applicants should possess the following skills and experience:

  • Experience in managing a medium-sized team in a high-pressure environment
  • Passionate about community engagement
  • Hard working and enthusiastic about addressing local issues
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Understanding of local media

Extensive understanding of government and parliamentary processes

A commencing salary between $67 956 and $76 548 will be paid, plus allowances up to $25 060, depending on skills and experience.

A probationary period of 3 months will apply.

Applications attaching a CV plus at least two referees should be forwarded to

Applications close on 21 November 2012. For further information please contact Louise Crossman, acting office manager, on 02 6247 4396.

New Life

My latest Chronicle column is on parenthood.

Wonderous Times With Newborns, The Chronicle, 6 November 2012

Ever wondered why a calf can walk after a few hours, while a baby takes a year to learn the same skill? It turns out that the problem arises from two features of humans – we stand on two legs (which requires a small and bony pelvis), but also have large brains (which are hard to fit through that pelvis). Evolution’s solution to this problem is that all humans are born – in a sense – prematurely. After emerging from the womb, we need more protection from the world than do most other animals.

I’m typing this article one-handed, with a one month old boy asleep in the crook of my left arm. There’s something extraordinary about new life – its beautiful vulnerability and that unique ‘new baby smell’ that disappears all too quickly. Zachary is our third child, and we’ve gotten a few things right this time that we wish we’d done before.

Continue reading ‘New Life’ »

Sky AM Agenda – 8 Nov 2012

On Sky AM Agenda, I spoke about lessons from President Obama’s victory for Australian politics, the need to better manage peak power demand, and why good governments routinely cost policy ideas that are in the public domain. The presenter was David Lipson and my co-panellist was Kelly O’Dwyer.

ABC Capital Hill – 6 Nov 2012

On ABC24 Capital Hill, we spoke about Australia’s trifecta of strong growth, low unemployment and stable inflation; about the difficult issue of live exports; and about wheat deregulation. The host was Lyndal Curtis and my co-panellist was Dennis Jensen (who bravely abstained from the Coalition’s vote against deregulating the wheat export market).