HUMANITY'S PATHS: A "STAR TREK" UTOPIA OR A "TERMINATOR" DYSTOPIA?
Salon, 2 December 2019
The United States today is more unequal than it has been in generations and more technologically advanced than ever. As the top 1 percent increases its share of the world’s wealth, advances in artificial intelligence are driving new breakthroughs in facial recognition, language translation, and abstract strategy games. While the earnings gap between highly educated workers and the unskilled widens, CRISPR technology lets scientists edit genomes. For robot designers, data analysts, and medical researchers, it can be the best of times. To paraphrase technology entrepreneur Jerry Kaplan, theirs is a future represented by "Star Trek"— a world where technology’s benefits are widely shared. For someone with few skills, few assets, and no job, it can feel like the worst of times. Theirs is a future that can seem like the dystopian one of "Terminator," after a self-aware artificial intelligence realizes that it no longer needs humanity.
Some people argue that inequality is the price we must pay for innovation. They say that we can’t all be billionaires. They assert that if we try to make society more equal by raising the top tax rate, it could deter risk taking and innovation. If we have to choose between having more stuff and distributing it fairly, they conclude that we should go for growth over equity.Read more
SKY NEWS AM AGENDA
MONDAY, 2 DECEMBER 2019
SUBJECTS: Deloitte; multinational tax avoidance; Westpac; Morrison’s union bashing bill.
KIERAN GILBERT: Let’s return now to local politics. Joining us the Labor frontbencher, Andrew Leigh. Thanks so much for your time. Chris Richardson has done his Budget Monitor from Deloitte Access Economics, one of the most respected budget watchers in this place, in Australia. What are your thoughts on his judgments? Because some are reading it as a vindication of what the Prime Minister and the government have committed to, in terms of their fiscal restraint.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: I think that’d be a misreading of Chris Richardson's report. The Government's been claiming that the Australian economy's issues are all caused by people overseas, but indeed what Chris Richardson shows is that the iron ore price has supported the budget - iron ore numbers are better than the government anticipated in May - and also shows very clearly that wages are lacklustre and profits are going strongly. So there’s a real problem in the Australian economy with wages, that's flowing through to spending. That’s why we're seeing real problems in brick and mortar retail, why we're seeing new car sales down, why we're seeing households really doing it tough and so many retailers saying ‘this is the beginning of December, it's meant to be a big spending season, but with wages in the doldrums it may not be much good’.Read more
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
MONDAY, 2 DECEMBER 2019
SUBJECTS: Westpac; Deloitte; the Morrison Government dodging scrutiny; George Christensen; Ken Wyatt.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Deputy Chair of the House of Representatives Economics Committee. Starting at 8am this morning, the House Economics Committee will be hearing from APRA, the prudential regulator.
APRA has said that it has initiated its own inquiry into the Westpac scandal, in which we saw 23 million money laundering breaches. Labor will be seeking answers from APRA as to this investigation, and how they are exploring some of the critical issues around this Westpac breach. We need to make sure this breach never happens again. In particular, we need to learn the systematic lessons out of one Australia's worst money laundering scandals. I'm concerned by the fact that there have been reports that the compliance officer who reported the breach has been moved aside, and I'll be asking questions about how APRA is investigating that aspect of the story and also how whistleblowers are handled more broadly. This comes on top of the House Economic Committee hearings last Friday, in which Citibank appeared before the committee. Citibank has acknowledged they were the bank that was responsible for the vast majority of the 23 million transactions. It was money sent by Citibank, received by Westpac. And so in the House Economics Committee, we explored Citibank’s views as to this money laundering scandal, and how they are ensuring that they improve their processes around money transfer.Read more
STEPHEN JONES MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES
MEMBER FOR WHITLAM
ANDREW LEIGH MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES
MEMBER FOR FENNER
LIBERALS PROTECT BANKS FROM SCRUTINY – AGAIN
It appears that the Morrison Government is once again standing between banks and public scrutiny.
Reports this morning indicate that the Liberals will block Labor’s push to recall Westpac before the House of Representatives House Economics Committee after the bank reported 23 million breaches of money laundering laws - almost one breach for every Australian.
The Committee heard from Westpac just a fortnight ago, before this scandal broke. It's vital that the committee gets to the bottom of what Westpac did wrong and how the money moved. If issues around money laundering are not sufficiently addressed, it could have adverse implications for financing of organised crime and terrorism.Read more
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
WEDNESDAY, 27 NOVEMBER 2019
SUBJECTS: Labor to recall Westpac for questioning; wages growth stalling under the Coalition; interest rates; national security; Angus Taylor.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and the Deputy Chair of the House of Representatives Economics Committee. We’ve seen last week from Australia's oldest bank one of Australia's worst money laundering scandals. Westpac reported 23 million breaches of money laundering laws, an egregious blight on the financial sector.
It was Labor that called for a royal commission into the financial services, and it's Labor that's today calling for Westpac to front the House of Representatives Economics Committee. We can't wait for the next hearings next year when Westpac is scheduled to come before us. Westpac should come before the House Economics Committee at the earliest opportunity. This scandal has already seen Westpac’s CEO and Chair step down, but it's important that we look at this from an institutional standpoint. It's important we get to the bottom of what Westpac did wrong, how the child exploitation financing occurred, how the money moved, and how this was allowed to recur 23 million times - almost one breach for every Australian.Read more
ABC RADIO SYDNEY
TUESDAY, 26 NOVEMBER 2019
SUBJECTS: Innovation + Equality; Westpac.
WENDY HARMER: We have a text here saying ‘more good news stories please’. Maybe we've got one, maybe we can put Andrew Leigh under the category of a good news story. He's a Federal Labor MP, co-author of a new book, Innovation + Equality: how to create a future that is more Star Trek than Terminator.
ROBBIE BUCK: Well we hope it's a good news story, but is it going to be a good news story? That's the big question. Good morning, Andrew.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Morning, Robbie. I think it's a good news story, but I'm not sure it's as good news as kids playing in gardens.
HARMER: [laughter] Well, we'll do our best.Read more
MONDAY, 25 NOVEMBER 2019
SUBJECTS: Innovation + Equality; 2019 election; disconnected communities; China; the need for a more ethnically diverse Parliament.
JEREMY CORDEAUX: I've got Andrew Leigh on the line. He's a politician, he's with the Labor Party. He's the Deputy Chair of the Standing Committee on Economics, which sounds awfully dry but having spoken to him before, I can tell you he's not awfully dry - he's a lot of fun. Andrew, how are you?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Terrifically well, Jeremy. The better for chatting with you.
CORDEAUX: Happy Christmas.
LEIGH: And to you. You got big plans for the season?
CORDEAUX: No. I think probably, I think we go on holidays two weeks from today, something like that. No, I'm just going to fall over the line and just go home and play in the garden.
LEIGH: That sounds like the rest of Australia.
CORDEAUX: [laughter] Well, the worst thing is to make plans because the moment you start making plans, they won't happen. Everything will change right there in front of you. It's not it's not worth it.
LEIGH: There is some great economic research that suggests that much of the pleasure of holidays comes not from having them, but from anticipating them. So our family always tries to plan our holidays as far in advance as we can, so we can have that anticipation effect.
CORDEAUX: But Andrew, isn't that about everything in life? Isn't the anticipation, the pre savouring of something, far more interesting than the actual meal?Read more
MORE STAR TREK THAN TERMINATOR?
Inside Story, 25 November 2019
The most significant consumer innovation of the last decade was announced on 9 January 2007. Despite uneven health, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs took to the stage at the Macworld Conference in San Francisco and unveiled the iPhone. Ten years later, a billion of them had been sold. Today, many think touchscreen smartphones are as necessary as underwear and more important than socks. Yet when Jobs launched his revolutionary phone, many believed it would fail. His counterpart at Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, laughed at the device, calling it “a not very good email machine.”
The critics were wrong, and wrong in a major way. As industry insiders, they all paid the price for their poor predictions. Their products would all exit the industry, replaced by the new Apple, of course, but also by Samsung and Huawei. What turns out to be a successful innovation might not seem that way at first. There is a reason for that: innovation is new to the world. If it was obvious, someone would have done it.Read more
SKY NEWS FIRST EDITION
MONDAY, 25 NOVEMBER 2019
LAURA JAYES: Joining me now is Labor MP Andrew Leigh. He joins us live from Canberra. Did you see this last night? How concerned are you?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Laura, very concerned. I think both the stories you're talking about, concerning Mr Wang and Mr Zhao, raise issues of the first order importance for Australia. It's not unusual for Australia to provide asylum status to people who say that they might be harmed if they go back home. Chen Yonglin was the Chinese official granted asylum a number of years back. Before that of course you think of Vladimir Petrov. What's most important is that Mr Wang’s safety is looked after in the interim, while the government carefully works through the details of his application.
JAYES: Do you think the government as well though needs to consider concerns like copycat approaches by lower level operatives, and also the backlash that we could see from China both economically and politically?
LEIGH: There's no scenario in which Australia's relationship with China isn't of first order importance to Australia. It's important that we maintain those strong economic ties, which improve prosperity in both countries. But at the same time, we need to recognise we have different political systems, different sets of values when it comes to issues around democracy and human rights. We should never hold back from staying true to those values.Read more
Review of Alain de Botton, The School of Life: An Emotional Education
Sydney Morning Herald, 23 November 2019
In 1901, 98 percent of Australians told Census-takers that they adhered to a religion. For the vast majority, religion was where we got our notions of what it was to live a ‘good life’. Today, nearly one-third of Australians reports having no religion: seeking wisdom not from the pulpit, but from secular sages.
If there was a high priest of the unbelievers, it would be Swiss-born philosopher Alain de Botton.
Since writing Essays in Love at the age of 23, he has published a dozen books including How Proust Can Change Your Life, The Art of Travel, The Architecture of Happiness, Religion for Atheists, How to Think More About Sex and The News: A User's Manual.Read more