Media


Can we make work work? - Op Ed, Inside Story

CAN WE MAKE WORK WORK?

Inside Story, 27 November 2020

Liberty Ashes is a private waste collection company operating in New York City. Over a six-year period, one of the company’s garbage trucks severed the fingers of three employees. Two pinkies and one ring finger were lost because the truck lacked a safety latch.

Garbage collection is one of the most dangerous jobs in America. Each year, around one in 2000 workers in the industry lose their lives. Standard economic theory tells us that a risk of this magnitude should be accompanied by substantially higher pay. But the median hourly wage for American garbage collectors is only US$17.40, which hardly seems sufficient to make up for a death rate comparable to serving in a war zone, not to mention the daily risk of other injuries.

In You’re Paid What You’re Worth: And Other Myths of the Modern Economy, sociologist Jake Rosenfeld outlines many of the injustices that underpin the American economy. In Oklahoma City, Walmart workers took up a canned goods collection to support people who couldn’t afford food. The beneficiaries? Fellow Walmart employees who weren’t able to make ends meet on the company’s meagre salaries. Across the United States, home-care workers subsisted on an average hourly wage of $10 an hour. Many couldn’t find full-time work, so they worked multiple shifts at different aged care homes. This precarious arrangement not only made life tough for workers, it also helped to spread Covid-19 among aged Americans when the pandemic struck.

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Superannuation system envy of the world - Transcript, 2SM with Marcus Paul

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING

TUESDAY, 24 NOVEMBER 2020

SUBJECT: Charities struggling for volunteers; Coronavirus vaccinations; Superannuation.

MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Charities and Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. And he's a regular now on the program, each and every Tuesday. Andrew, good morning to you mate.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus. Top of the morning to you.

PAUL: Great to have your company. Have you been well?

LEIGH: I have, indeed. I ran my first ultramarathon on the weekend - did a 50km trail run and pulled up alright. So life is good.

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Government must be held to account over Robodebt - Transcript, 2SM with Marcus Paul

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 17 NOVEMBER 2020

SUBJECTS: Robodebt; Ministerial accountability; Labor’s positive policies.

MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Back in 1984, Bob Hawke stood down Mick Young from cabinet for failing to declare a stuffed Paddington Bear at customs. We know in New South Wales in more modern history, we had a premier rolled over a bottle of plonk. But we're wondering whether Scott Morrison will stand aside Alan Tudge or even Stuart Robert following the $1.2 billion Robodebt settlement. We know there was a class action. We know that unfortunately, a number of people took their lives and it was just a big, big mess. That's why you do not allow computers to take over social services – I don’t give a stuff what anybody says and how much money it saves, you cannot allow computer systems to generate bills. Because the chances are quite often there'll be errors in there, and that's exactly what happened with Robodebt. And now, as a result of this, taxpayers – you, me and everybody else who goes to work each and every day - are going to have to foot this bill to repay the money and to compensate victims of Robodebt $1.2 billion. Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury is Andrew Leigh. Good morning, Andrew. 

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus. Great to be with you.

PAUL: Yeah, you too, as always. You’re becoming a regular and I enjoy our chats, I really do.

LEIGH: Likewise.

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Women have right to feel safe and respected in any workplace - Transcript, 2SM with Marcus Paul

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING

TUESDAY, 10 NOVEMBER 2020

SUBJECTS: Australia’s largest ever e-petition for a strong and diverse news media; Four Corners allegations; JobKeeper.

MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Dr Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury is with us on the program. Andrew, good morning, mate.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus. Great to be with you.

PAUL: Alright. So at least it's now official, if you like, this e-petition calling for media diversity, and we played your piece just a moment ago of the tabling. I don't know, I might be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure I heard a very audible sigh from the Speaker and I thought that was a little rude.

LEIGH: I think it might have been just a reflection the sheer size of the petition. I know it’s an e-petition, but when you bring these things into parliament, you have to have them physically with you. It was about the size of two reams of paper, so he might have been looking at the weight I was lifting. And given I’m a runner rather than weightlifter, it probably looked like a fairly heroic feat.

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Proposed CIC more cover up commission than corruption commission - Transcript, 2SM with Marcus Paul

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING

TUESDAY, 3 NOVEMBER 2020

SUBJECT: Commonwealth Integrity Commission.

MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. He's on the program. Andrew, good morning.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus.

PAUL: You've campaigned long and hard for a federal ICAC. Are you at all surprised by the fact that this is a kind of watered down ICAC, if you like?

LEIGH: This is more a cover up commission than a corruption commission, Marcus. I mean, you've been on the case as much as anyone and I think the government is only acting because of the strong public pressure that has been on your program and from Labor, from independents like Helen Haines. What’s been delivered is just like Mike Carlton said - a corruption commission which can't initiate its own hearings, which doesn't have the power to sit in public, which wouldn't have the power to look back through so many of the scandals that have emerged under the Morrison Government.

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The economics of generosity - Op Ed, Smart Company

THE ECONOMICS OF GENEROSITY

Smart Company, November 2 2020

In its early years, Sydney technology company Atlassian had a workplace giving program. Employees could choose to support any charity they favoured, but because of a lack of promotion and a cumbersome sign-up process, only around 2 per cent of Atlassian staff were part of the program. So in 2015 Atlassian revamped the program. They minimised employees’ ability to choose which organisation they would donate to, and focused on supporting the work in Cambodia of Room to Read, a charity that works to improve girls’ literacy. The sign-up pro-gram was massively simplified, so it took just two clicks and could be done in six seconds or less. The first 100 employees who signed up to the revised program were given an Atlassian Foundation sweatshirt.

A literacy charity wasn’t the obvious partner for an enterprise software company, but the firm has built ties by encouraging a group of staff each year to fund their own travel to Cambodia to assist with the charity’s work. Because the sign-up process was quicker and simpler, enrolments increased twenty-fold. Over 40 per cent of Atlassian employees now participate in the program. Room to Read has expanded to over a dozen developing nations, and the option to join Atlassian’s workplace giving program is now embedded in the sign-up process for all new employees.

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Me versus we: ‘The Upswing’ - Op Ed, The Monthly

ME VERSUS WE: 'THE UPSWING'

The Monthly, November 2020

On a summer’s day in San Francisco, a university student waited to cross a zebra crossing. Some cars obeyed the law and stopped. Others whizzed through the intersection. A second student observed the cars and recorded their status, grading them on a five-point scale from beaten-up hatchbacks to luxury sedans. Afterwards, researchers tabulated the data. Among the most modest cars, all stopped at the crossing. Of the most expensive, almost half ignored the pedestrian and drove straight through.

Pan across to Australia in early 2020, as the federal government was devising its economic response to the coronavirus pandemic. While other countries had offered wage subsidies, the Coalition was initially reluctant. Then business leaders began turning up the pressure. In one telephone call, retail billionaire Solomon Lew reportedly cried as he spoke to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, urging him to provide wage subsidies to affected firms. At the end of March, a package was announced.

Because Solomon Lew had to shut many of his stores, his company – which owns Dotti, Just Jeans and Portmans, among others – experienced a drop in revenue, and qualified for around $45 million in JobKeeper payments. But it wasn’t long before the firm’s fortunes turned around, helped by strong online sales. At the end of September, Lew’s company announced that its profits had matched those in previous year, and paid shareholders a $57 million dividend. As the largest shareholder, Lew himself received more than $20 million. A policy designed to support workers ended up benefiting an Australian billionaire. And it wasn’t an isolated example. Other firms used JobKeeper to prop up profits, and even paid executive bonuses after receiving the taxpayer-funded assistance.

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A proper COVID-19 recovery must start with big thinking in parliament - Opinion, The Canberra Times

A PROPER COVID-19 RECOVERY MUST START WITH BIG THINKING IN PARLIAMENT

The Canberra Times, 29 October 2020 

At the end of World War II, my grandparents Jean and Roly Stebbins built their own beachside house near the Melbourne suburb of Altona, making the bricks by hand. As a teacher and a railway worker, they raised four children into a society built on the promise that the 1950s would be better than the 1930s.

My mother's family were among the millions of Australians who benefited from the foresighted policies of that era. As the fight against fascism drew to a close, prime minister John Curtin commissioned H. C. "Nugget" Coombs to lead a team to write a white paper on full employment. The two men had gotten to know each other watching Aussie rules matches in Canberra, and Coombs was known for his breadth and boldness.

Produced in 1945, the white paper noted that from 1919 to 1939, "more than one-tenth of the men and women desiring work were unemployed", and it committed the nation to full employment as "a fundamental aim of the Commonwealth government". The white paper emphasised the need for high-skill jobs, harnessing the "spirit of enterprise". It focused on ways of raising productivity, and the importance of ensuring that workers received "a fair share of increased output flowing from the growing productivity of labour".

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Why won't Scott Morrison create a federal ICAC? - Transcript, 2SM with Marcus Paul

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING

WEDNESDAY, 28 OCTOBER 2020

SUBJECTS: ASIC; the need for a federal ICAC; the recession.

MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Andrew Leigh is the Deputy Chair of the Standing Committee on Economics in Canberra. He's been leading the charge on this issue with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, ASIC. He’s been grilling them in a House Economics Committee hearing, and he also has a fair bit to say about the need for a federal ICAC. Is it any wonder? Andrew, good morning mate.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus. Great to be with you.

PAUL: Just explain to me what's happened here. We know that Karen Chester, the acting Chair of ASIC, says it took far too long for the corporate watchdog to respond to the knowledge it had overpaid its boss and deputy nearly 200 grand.

LEIGH: Yes. Red lights should have been flashing last year when it was reported that the senior lawyer at ASIC was being paid more than the Chief Justice of Australia, once you included the relocation allowance. And it seems as though the Audit Office then came in, the Auditor General said ‘you’ve got to fix this’ and according to Karen Chester ASIC moved at a glacially slow pace. Josh Frydenberg learned about this more than a month ago, but still didn't move on it. And the fact is that the very body that caught it, the Auditor General, is having his budget cut by the Morrison Government. So the watchdog’s being punished, despite the fact that he's the one that's saving the taxpayer money.

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Morrison Government doesn't want federal ICAC - Transcript, ABC News Radio

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
ABC NEWS RADIO

MONDAY, 26 OCTOBER 2020

SUBJECTS: ASIC expenses and the resignation of the Deputy Chair; the need for a Federal ICAC.

GLEN BARTHOLOMEW, HOST: The Deputy Chair of the corporate watchdog has quit after an audit raised concerns about thousands of dollars in expenses he was given. The Australia National Audit Office flagged irregularities with payments made to Dan Crennan and ASIC Chair James Shipton. Mr Shipton’s stood aside pending the outcome of an investigation. Labor MP Andrew Leigh was among those questioning the ASIC arrangements at a committee hearing at federal parliament on Friday. He joins us now. Thanks for your time.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Pleasure, Glen. Great to be with you.

BARTHOLOMEW: Remind us, how exactly had these regulators breached regulations?

LEIGH: Yes, it was a bit of a bombshell on Friday. We'd been expecting to get a regular sort of update from ASIC and suddenly we had James Shipton saying that he was stepping aside. He disclosed that ASIC had paid $69,621 in housing costs on behalf of Daniel Crennan, and also a tax bill of $119,557 for his own tax affairs. Mr Shipton said he'd be standing aside until the end of the year. The concern is that those payments were a form of remuneration and therefore breached the remuneration guidelines.

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | Andrew.Leigh.MP@aph.gov.au | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.