Government chooses politics over super fairness - Radio National Breakfast





SUBJECT/S: Superannuation fairness.

FRAN KELLY: The Prime Minister left nobody in doubt yesterday on the Coalition's position on superannuation tax concessions.

TONY ABBOTT: We aren't ever going to increase the taxes on super. We aren't ever going to increase the restrictions on super because super belongs to the people.

KELLY: That sounds like 'never ever' to me. That emphatic response from the Prime Minister follows revelations yesterday that the Government had been looking at options to change the tax treatment of super right up until 22 April. That was the day Labor released its policy on super tax changes. Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh obtained these letters from Treasury under Freedom of Information. Andrew Leigh is speaking with our Business Editor Sheryle Bagwell, and she began by asking him what prompted his decision to go for an FOI request.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: The Government had been so unequivocal in saying that it would never make changes to superannuation that it occurred to us that it would be interesting to see what they were really talking about. What’s striking is that all the way up until Labor made our statement on superannuation – moving for superannuation concessions to be changed so that they were fairer and more sustainable – the Government's own Expenditure Review Committee were going forwards and backwards with Treasury looking at options for changing superannuation. The reason they backed off that was Labor's announcement.

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Talking political transparency and Grexit - RN Drive





SUBJECT/S: Political donations; Q&A; Greek economic crisis.

JONATHAN GREEN: Joining me now from Sydney is Senator Arthur Sinodinos and in our Canberra studio, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh. Welcome to you both. 



GREEN: Touch gloves, gentlemen.

LEIGH: I thought it was swords, isn't that what knights do? Or is it lances?

GREEN: That's sounding very fancy. To this [Hockey] ruling, Arthur Sinodonos, is it vindication for the Treasurer or a warning to editors about how to sell a story?

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Confronting family violence - Canberra Times

Confronting family violence, Canberra Times, 1 July

In the house where Emma* grew up, family violence was a regular part of life. Her father was abusive to Emma’s mother, and to the children. Emma told me that the smell of Dettol still evokes fear, as it reminds her of her mother’s injuries. Eventually, the harm that Emma’s mother sustained during her life would contribute to her early death at age 69.

When she grew up, Emma was determined not to suffer what her own mother had endured. But over the coming decades, she would find herself in two abusive relationships. In each case, she told me, there were some people – like the police officers to whom she reported the violence – who were supportive.

But then there were others who didn’t seem to understand her situation. One person suggested that perhaps it was just a ‘relationship problem’, and she needed to work harder to resolve it. Others questioned whether she had reported the violence from the very first blow, and suggested that she was a bad mother to her children if she had not sought an apprehended violence order immediately.

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Business, unions and civil society back action on climate change - Sky AM Agenda




MONDAY, 29 JUNE 2015


SUBJECT/S: Australian Climate Roundtable; Mafia infiltration of the Liberal Party; Electoral funding


KIERAN GILBERT: Gentlemen, thanks for joining me. With me I have the Assistant Social Services Minister Mitch Fifield and Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh. Andrew, to you first of all on this climate roundtable involving key business groups, unions, welfare groups, investors, environmental groups, all agreeing to parameters that so far the Federal Parliament and the nation's politicians haven't been able to agree to. Should this provide some impetus, do you think, for some sort of bipartisanship here?


SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER ANDREW LEIGH: Kieran, it's a great initiative. I really hope that we're able to kick Australia forwards along a path that so many other countries in the world are travelling down. You know, China's emissions fell last year – possibly just a temporary drop – but people now think they're going to peak around 2025 which is much earlier than previously anticipated. But what we've got in Australia is the Government setting up a Wind Farm Commissioner, we've got them debating motions at Liberal Party Conference denying climate science, we've got the Abbott Government really backing away from where the rest of the world is going. Britain, New Zealand, the United States – all these countries are taking serious action on climate change. Meanwhile Australia is being described by Kofi Annan as a climate villain. We need to step up to the plate on accepting that the science is real and doing something about it.

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Why should we care about inequality? - Sydney Morning Herald

Why should we care about inequality? Sydney Morning Herald, 29 June

Dutch economist Jan Pen once suggested a simple way of visualising the amount of inequality in a society. Imagine, he suggested, a parade, in which each person’s resources were represented by their height.

Suppose we were to conduct such a parade in Australia. People of average wealth would be average height. Those with half the average wealth would be half the average height. Those with twice the average wealth would be twice the average height.

Let’s suppose the parade took an hour to pass you. What would you see?

For the first half a minute, people would be literally underground. These are the people with more debts than assets. Perhaps they are homeless, but have credit card debts. Or they are a business owner about to go bankrupt.

Then would come the little people. For the first few minutes, they are no bigger than Lego figures. They might have some clothing and a television, but little else. By the ten minute mark, people are the size of a child’s doll. They might own an old car.

Twenty minutes have gone by, but still the marchers are no taller than a newborn baby. Most probably don’t have regular work. Few would dream about them – or their children – breaking into the central Sydney property market.

Forty-five minutes in, and the watcher can now look the marchers in the eye. These are homeowners with well-paying jobs – in many cases probably with two full-time workers in the household. 

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IMF bells the cat on Abbott's budget forecasts - PVO NewsDay





SUBJECT/S: Citizenship; IMF report; Q&A; Infrastructure

PETER VAN ONSELEN: Joining me now from Canberra I have the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Christian Porter, and Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh, two men probably better known for their careers before politics. Andrew, you were a prolific professor of economics at ANU, and Christian Porter, you were a former state Treasurer in WA – I bet you're glad you're not in that role now with the way their budget is looking. Gentlemen, thanks for your company. Let's start by talking about citizenship. I want to ask you, Christian Porter: are you comfortable about stripping the citizenship of minors? That wasn't, as I understand it, in the 1948 Citizenship Act but it will be in the new legislation.

PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE PRIME MINISTER CHRISTIAN PORTER: I'm not entirely sure whether your assessment there about the first run of the s35 drafting is correct. But nevertheless, the Minister here has the residual ability to exempt persons who would otherwise fall into the category. So I'm more than comfortable with the way in which it has been drafted. It seems to me to be rather elegantly drafted with a mind to constitutionality.

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Senate passes motion of support for charities commission - Joint Media Release with Senator Penny Wong


The Senate has today voiced support for the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission in the face of ongoing uncertainty about its future under the Abbott Government.

Labor moved a motion acknowledging the strong support the commission has within the charity sector and called on the Abbott Government to drop plans to scrap it.

In March last year the Government introduced a bill to Parliament to repeal the charities commission. That bill has remained on the Notice Paper even after Scott Morrison replaced Kevin Andrews as Social Services minister and acknowledged that abolishing the commission was not his priority. 

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Another round of attacks on Australian schools - Breaking Politics




MONDAY, 22 JUNE 2015

SUBJECT/S: Abbott Government’s secret school cuts plans; Citizenship; People smuggling; Economic situation in Greece

CHRIS HAMMER: Andrew Leigh is Labor’s member for Fraser here in the ACT and he’s also the Shadow Assistant Treasurer – good morning.


HAMMER: Now, suddenly out there this morning is a Government discussion paper on schools and education – your observations?

LEIGH: It’s a secret plan for cuts to Australian schools that I think ought to be deeply disturbing for all parents. One of the great things about our public education system is that it recognises that everybody can send their child to a local public school without needing to pay. That gives you a greater diversity of backgrounds and local schools, and reflects the fact that when a child gets more education there’s a public good component to that. One of the whacky things about this paper is it seems to suggest that the Commonwealth has a natural role for funding non-government schools, but no natural role for funding government schools. I can’t see any economic logic in that.

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More holes showing in Joe's flimsy tax package - Media Release


The Abbott Government’s rushed and flimsy multinational tax package continues to unravel, with the Law Council of Australia warning Treasurer Joe Hockey not to go ahead with his draft bill.

In a submission on the Exposure Draft of the Government’s proposed changes to Part VI A of the Tax Act, the council has cautioned that the Treasurer’s plan:

“does not accord with, and in many respects derogates from, key design principles for a fair and effective tax and transfer system."  

The Council has highlighted a range of problems with the proposal, including that it will create different levels of taxation for companies carrying out similar business activities, and risks breaching Australia’s existing Double Taxation Agreements. 

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Labor ready to make Tasmania the innovation isle - Joint Media Release


Joint release with Senator Lisa Singh

Federal Labor will encourage more Tasmanian school students to learn coding, entice more Tasmanian university students into studying science, and create the incentives for more people to start up their own firms in an effort to reduce the state’s unemployment.

“New firms generate a disproportionately large share of the jobs in any modern economy, so part of the answer to reducing unemployment in Tasmania has to be building its culture of science and research to generate start-ups,” said Dr Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer.

“Labor’s vision is to take advantage of Tasmania’s intellectual and infrastructure capacity and make it one of the first choices in Australia for science, research and new innovation industries.

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