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Archive for December 2012

NBN Tested at Gungahlin Library

I was excited to be at the Gungahlin Library this morning for testing of the ACT’s first public connection to the NBN. The Library forms part of the Gungahlin Digital Hub where residents will be able to learn more about how to access the exciting features of the NBN. Free training sessions will be available from early next year and will cover a range of computer basics, everyday online activities, and online safety and security, and connection options.

Senator Kate Lundy encouraged local businesses to imagine the possibilities of their future activities in a super-connected city like Canberra. She encouraged them to think creatively and strategically about the opportunities available to them through the NBN. By mid-2015, fibre construction will have commenced or be completed to 135,300 homes and businesses across the ACT beginning with the whole of Gungahlin Town Centre going live in January 2013.

Kate Lundy, Andrew Barr and myself checking out the download speed

Talking Gun Control

On the Today Show, I discussed my academic paper (coauthored with Christine Neill) on the effect of the Australian gun buyback on reducing firearms deaths.

I also spoke on The Drum about the economics and politics of gun law reform.

And on A Current Affair about the fact that a culture of sports shooting can co-exist with laws that restrict the number of guns in Australian homes.

Here’s the podcast of a 12min interview on ABC774 with John Morrison, and shorter interviews on 2cc with Mark Parton and ABC666 with Ross Solly (a caller to that program questioned the US gun ownership rate – here’s the data).

Other coverage in the Canberra Times, SMH, ABC, Quartz and Washington Post.

A Question of Titles

I’m writing a short book on income inequality for Black Inc. It will cover the long-run data on inequality (going back to the late-18th century), at the lifestyles of the rich and poor today, and at the extent of social mobility. It’ll also look at what drives inequality, and why inequality might be good or bad.

What do you think the title should be?

In Antarctica

On 13 December, I visted Antarctica on a parliamentary delegation. It’s an astonishing spot, and we were fortunate to have two hours on the ground speaking with the scientists. We even got to get a short ride in “Priscilla” (the snowbus, so named for its ability to navigate this snow-covered desert), to see ice drilling, snow camping, and some of the accommodation. We’d had a full-day briefing the previous day at the Australian Antarctic Division base in Hobart, talking with researchers about their ice core program (drilling down hundreds of metres to look at changes in greenhouse gas concentrations over thousands of years), their marine biology program (better understanding how krill respond to environmental changes), and their non-lethal whale reserach program.

I left with a strong sense of the value that comes from our Antarctic research program, and a sense of the research potential of this extraordinary part of the world. The following two videos give you some sense of the local environment.

More from the Canberra Times (plus a terrific new announcement on Antarctic ice cores from Environment Minister Tony Burke).

Aged Care Reform

Many older Canberrans and their loved ones are thinking about their aged care options. In my second aged care forum in as many months, I outlined Labor’s plans to reform the sector and heard from those who will be directly affected by these reforms.

If you’d like more detail, check out the Australian Government’s 2012 Living Longer, Living Better policy statement and the Productivity Commission’s 2011 Caring for Older Australians report.

Sky AM Agenda 6th December 2012

David Lipson hosted Paul Fletcher and me this morning. We talked about asylum seekers, green tape and whether Labor is the new party of liberalism.

On Labor and Liberalism

  • I spoke at the thinktank Per Capita today, arguing that Labor is a party of both egalitarianism and liberalism

    On Labor and Liberalism

    Andrew Leigh MP
    Federal Member for Fraser

    Per Capita Reform Agenda Series
    ‘The Future of the Left in Australia:
    Embracing Social Liberalism?’

    Corrs Chambers Westgarth

    5 December 2012

    Exiled in the Polish town of Poronin in 1913, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin had plenty of time on his hands. Having already spent three years in a Siberian jail, he was biding his time to return to Russia. And so the man who would soon serve as Russia’s first Communist leader turned his attention to the antipodes.

    Like many around the world, Lenin was struck by the way that the Australian Labor Party had swept into parliament. Just a few months after the party’s formation in 1891, Labor won 36 out of 141 seats in the NSW Legislative Assembly. In 1899, Labor won government in Queensland (it lasted a week). In Australia’s first national elections, Labor won 14 out of 75 seats in the House of Representatives. In 1903, Labor’s share of the vote doubled. In 1904, Chris Watson became Labor’s first Prime Minister. Other parties were struck by the strength of Labor’s support, and the energy and youth of their leaders.

    And yet Lenin was puzzled. In 1913, he wrote:

    ‘What sort of peculiar capitalist country is this, in which the workers’ representatives predominate in the Upper house and, till recently, did so in the Lower House as well, and yet the capitalist system is in no danger? … The Australian Labor Party does not even call itself a socialist party. Actually it is a liberal-bourgeois party, while the so-called Liberals in Australia are really conservatives. … Continue reading ‘On Labor and Liberalism’ »

    Internships and Fellowships

    With the parliamentary year having wrapped up, I thought I’d repost my call for potential interns and fellows. Details here (or below).

    Continue reading ‘Internships and Fellowships’ »

    Ageing Not a Problem

    My Chronicle column this week is on ageing, concluding with a shameless plug for my community forum this Friday.

    Ageing Not a Problem, The Chronicle, 4 December 2012

    When I hear people talk about the ‘problem’ of ageing, I’m tempted to reply: ‘it beats the alternative!’. Thanks to better food, quality healthcare, economic growth and a stronger safety net, life expectancy in Australia is now 84 for women and 80 for men, about two years longer than it was a decade ago. Older Australians are also healthier, with one study showing that the mobility and mental acuity of a 70 year-old today is comparable to that of a 60 year-old a generation ago.

    Last month, I held a community forum with Minister for Ageing Mark Butler. Over 160 people came along to hear about the government’s Living Longer – Living Better reforms. Based on an 800-page Productivity Commission report and extensive hearings around Australia, the package recognises that while the aged care system has served Australia well, it is not fit for purpose in the coming decades.

    Continue reading ‘Ageing Not a Problem’ »

    Local organisations to help Australia get ready for NDIS

    Three ACT-based organisations have received funding from the Gillard Government to help people with disability, as well as their carers and families, adjust to the options available under an NDIS. Providing support for the sector to adjust to the changes is an important step in a transition to an NDIS.


    Andrew Leigh MP
    Member for Fraser

    Gai Brodtmann MP
    Member for Canberra

    Local organisations to help Australia get ready for NDIS

    Three ACT-based organisations, National Rural Health Alliance, Disability Advocacy Network of Australia and ACT Disability, Aged and Carer Advocacy will receive close to $300 000 in funding from the Gillard Government to get ready for the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
    Continue reading ‘Local organisations to help Australia get ready for NDIS’ »

    Restoring Our Woodlands

    Over 90% of Australia’s yellow box grassy woodlands have been lost. But thanks to partnerships between the Labor Government and conservation groups such as Greening Australia, these are being restored. Today I joined federal Environment Minister Tony Burke at one such project, Mulligan’s Flat, to announce the restoration of the Greater Goorooyarroo Woodlands area.

    You can read more about the Labor Government’s Biodiversity Fund here.