Doorstop interview - 23 June




MONDAY, 23 JUNE 2014

SUBJECT / S: Charities commission backed by Malcolm Turnbull; ASIO powers and ISP data retention; State asset sales and competition.

SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER, ANDREW LEIGH: Good morning everyone. Welcome to another gorgeous Canberra morning. I’m Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer. 

We know that the charities commission was recommended by a series of reports, going right back to the Howard Government days. It was set up by Labor in 2012 and is already doing a strong job in protecting donors and supporting charities. But now it's been revealed that while the Howard Government was in office, a report came down signed co-signed by Malcolm Turnbull supporting the charities commission. Malcolm Turnbull argued for a charities commission for exactly the same reason Labor implemented a charities commission, which is that it supports the sector and now enjoys the support of four out of five charities in a recent survey.

So, if Tony Abbott won't listen to the Australian people, maybe at least he could listen to Malcolm Turnbull. Because just as Malcolm Turnbull supports carbon pricing, so too, he supports the sensible reform of the charities commission.

I'm happy to take questions.

REPORTER: We've got the parenting payment, Family Tax Benefit, senior supplements, that's due to be unveiled this week in Parliament. Has Labor come to a final decision on those including Family Tax Benefit Part B and the income threshold?

LEIGH: Look these are complicated policy announcements and Jenny Macklin will walk people through Labor's position on them. But we'll be guided by the basic principles of fairness, which I've got to say have not categorised this budget. It's not just a budget that increases the deficit, it's not just a budget that breaks promises, but a budget that takes from the most vulnerable to give to the most affluent. We've seen that very clearly with the NATSEM modelling that has sole parents in the poorest income quintile losing one-tenth of their income as a result of this Budget.

REPORTER: We've new digital surveillance laws being muted by the Abbott Government, sweeping new powers given to ASIO. What are your thoughts on that? It is also in your electorate, I suppose, the headquarters of ASIO. Do you support these measures?

LEIGH: We'll work constructively with the Government. We're yet to see the detail of these proposals. Certainly it is appropriate that we crack down on terrorism wherever we can. It's also important too though, that we have independent oversight measures and the removal of the independent oversight mechanism for ASIO security assessments deeply concerns me, because while I think ASIO does a terrific job, I also think it's important to have that ASIO oversight mechanism in place.

REPORTER: What about data retention for potentially two to three years for internet service providers. Is that some that you'd consider?

LEIGH: We'll again work constructively through with the Government. I know that some data retention takes place already. And, the challenge in this space is to make sure that we're dealing with new technologies, applying the same principles that we applied back in the days in which wrongdoing was carried out by post and telephone.

REPORTER: Rod Sims, the Chairman of the ACCC, is due to give a speech today and his raising some concerns about the state asset sales push, about whether they will hurt competition and push up prices. Are they sentiments you would agree with?

LEIGH: I'm deeply concerned by suggestions that the Abbott Government might pay states to sell off assets in a way that hurts consumers. What Rod Sims is warning about is the very risk that an asset sale might take place and lead to consumers being gouged. Tony Abbott has a theological belief in privitisation. Labor has a much more pragmatic view. We approach every privitisation on a case by case basis, and certainly we don't want to see instances in which consumers are left worse off as a result of a privitisation that then locks up an asset which is really a natural monopoly.

All right, thanks everyone.

REPORTER: Thank you.


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