MEDIA RELEASE - Evidence in favour of ACNC "compelling"

Today I issued a media release welcoming a minority report produced by Labor Senators in favour of retaining the charities commission.



Labor Senators have urged their upper house colleagues to reject the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Repeal Bill.

In their Dissenting Report, tabled last night with the Economics Legislation Committee Chair’s Report into the ACNC (Repeal) (1) Bill 2014, Labor Senators Mark Bishop and Louise Pratt concluded:

1.24 The Labor members found the evidence in favour of retaining the ACNC compelling—not only because of the sheer numbers of charities and other organisations that strongly supported the work of the ACNC but because of the soundness of their arguments.

1.25 In its very short life, the ACNC has already registered impressive achievements, maintained strong support for its work and has shown itself flexible and accommodating through the transition period. It has been especially willing to develop mechanisms to assist highly regulated organisations to minimise their administrative burden.


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Breaking Politics - 16 June

At the start of the last fortnight of parliamentary sittings before the new Senate is installed, the focus of discussions on Breaking Politics today was naturally on the fate of budget measures. Here's the transcript.


MONDAY, 16 JUNE 2014

SUBJECT / S: Federal Budget negotiations; Superannuation; PPL

CHRIS HAMMER, PRESENTER: We're joined now in the studio by Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Labor Member for Fraser in the ACT and Andrew Laming, the Member for Bowman in Queensland. Andrew Laming, do you accept that the Budget now is unlikely to make its targets?




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Sky AM Agenda - 14 June 2014





SUBJECT/S: The Abbott Government’s unfair budget; Climate change; McClure Review; Changes to the social safety net.  

DAVID LIPSON: Joining me now here in the Canberra studio the shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh, thank you for your time.


LIPSON: We just heard from the finance minister on the repeal of the carbon tax. He says he’s cautiously optimistic that this will pass through the Senate. What do you think will happen in the Senate?

LEIGH: I’m no political predictor, I think that’s a mugs game, but I’m deeply concerned that the government’s now pursuing this strategy. We’ve just had the hottest summer on record, the hottest Australian year on record, we’ve had record breaking temperatures on the east coast and we’ve seen that total emissions have now had their biggest fall in a quarter of a century as a result of putting a price on carbon. So this is a policy which is working, which has reduced electricity emissions by 11 per cent since it came into effect which is doing so while providing household assistance through increased allowances and tax cuts –

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Talking about gun control on ABC RN Breakkie

This morning I spoke with Radio National Breakfast program business editor, Sheryle Bagwell, about US President Barack Obama's praise for Australia's gun control laws introduced in 1996 following the Port Arthur massacre.

During an online forum, Obama cited the success of Australia's 'very tough' gun buy-back program in controlling gun violence.

Here's the link to the interview on the RN Breakfast website.

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Joe Hockey and the 47 per cent

Treasurer Joe Hockey and the 47 per cent, Fairfax Online, 13 June 2014

You know Joe Hockey is in trouble when he starts sounding like Mitt Romney. As the multi-millionaire Republican presidential candidate hit the skids in 2012, he gave a speech to a $50,000-a-head fundraiser in which he claimed that 47 percent of Americans ‘are dependent upon government’ and ‘believe they are victims’.

This week, Mr Hockey stepped into the same desperate territory, bemoaning that ‘over half of Australian households receive a taxpayer funded payment from the government’. We must, he said, ‘discourage the leaners’. In effect, Mr Hockey is arguing that half the Australian population are leaners, not lifters.

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Talking politics and the economy on Capital Hill

This afternoon I spoke with Capital Hill host, Lyndal Curtis, about the unfairness of the Federal Budget and the prospect of more punitive welfare measures under the Coalition. Here's the transcript: 



SUBJECT / S: Joe Hockey’s remarks on leaners; Federal budget and inequality; Welfare and means-testing; Tax reform.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The welfare reform report is not out yet but already the shape of what the government is looking at is becoming clearer. A medium to long-term plan to drastically wind back the number of payments and use what is happening in New Zealand to deliver better targeted help. It comes at a time that the Treasurer has been warning that the system delivers too much, to too many people. Part of the broader conversation he started when he declared the age of entitlement over and started speaking about people who can afford to do so, standing on their own two feet, without the need for government support. Labor has already condemned the action that the government has already taken on payments in the Budget. The Assistance Shadow Treasurer Andrew Leigh joins me now. Andrew Leigh welcome to Capital Hill.


CURTIS: Do you believe that the current welfare system as Joe Hockey says makes payments too broadly available to too many people?

LEIGH: Absolutely not. And it’s not just me saying that. It’s what you see when you look at the international evidence. When you compare Australia to other countries, we're a relatively low-taxing, low-spending nation. Down the end of the spectrum where we would see the US and Mexico, not up the Scandinavian end of the spectrum.

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Are half of Australians ‘leaners’?

This morning I spoke to NewsRadio about Treasurer Joe Hockey's speech last night in which he rejected criticism his budget is unfair, saying the government must "reward the lifters and discourage the leaners". Here's the transcript:




SUBJECT / S: Joe Hockey’s Sydney Institute speech; Federal Budget and Inequality


PRESENTER: The Treasurer has launched a new defence of the Budget, rejecting claims that it is unfair and hits the needy hardest. Mr Hockey says that the Budget aims to cut the overall cost of welfare so those most in need can be protected, but he says that it is not the Government’s role to achieve equality through the tax and welfare system. For a Labor response to the Treasurer, Marius Benson is speaking to Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer.

MARIUS BENSON: Andrew Leigh the Treasurer says that the welfare situation, the cost of welfare at the moment is unsustainable. As things stand, the average Australian tax payer is working for a month just to pay the welfare for other Australians. 

SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER, ANDREW LEIGH: Mr Hockey seems to have missed the fact that Australia is much closer down the US and Mexican end of the spectrum than the Swedish or Scandinavian end of the spectrum. Australian tax as a share of national income is relatively low. We have a lean and efficient welfare state and he has just delivered a budget which is massively redistributive from the worst off to the best off in the community.




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Dear NRA: My country is proof that reducing guns reduces deaths

This article on Australia's gun buyback program was syndicated by Zocalo, and appeared in various outlets, including Time magazine and the Huffington Post.


 Dear NRA: My Country Is Proof That Reducing Guns Reduces Deaths 

Sometimes a tragedy is so awful that it changes the national debate. The 1996 Dunblane school shooting in Scotland, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, and the 2011 Norwegian gun massacre all prompted an outpouring of anguish and a demand for changes in law.

In Australia, that moment was the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, in which a gunman killed 35 people at a tourist attraction in Tasmania. To put the size of the death toll into perspective, the United States population is 14 times larger than Australia, so the impact of the Port Arthur massacre on Australia would be like a U.S. shooting that cost more than 400 lives.

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Lateline Friday Political Forum - 6 June 2014

I joined ABC Lateline host Emma Alberici and Liberal MP Josh Frydenberg for a wide ranging discussion on Liberal Party leadership tensions, the Budget deficit, Arthur Sinodinos, East Jerusalem and the approach of Clive Palmer and critical role of his Palmer United Party in the new Senate. Here's the full transcript:



EMMA ALBERICI: To discuss the week that began with tensions between the Prime Minister and his communications Minister and ended with debate over Israel.

I was joined a short time ago from Melbourne by Josh Frydenberg, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and from Parliament House in Canberra, by Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer. Gentlemen, good evening.


JOSH FRYDENBERG: Nice to be with you Emma.

ALBERICI: Now the events of the past week with Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones suggesting that Malcolm Turnbull is trying to destabilise Tony Abbott's leadership. Mr Turnbull himself said people might come to the conclusion that this was a coordinated campaign against them. What do you think, Josh Frydenberg, is behind these attacks on Mr Turnbull by the PM's good friends in the media?

FRYDENBERG: Look firstly, can I say about Malcolm Turnbull. He's extremely talented, he's extremely passionate and he's extremely experienced and we're very lucky to have Malcolm Turnbull in our team. His main job, his main focus is about fixing up Labor's mess that they left with the NBN.

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MEDIA RELEASE - Has Anyone Seen Kevin Andrews?

Today I issued a media release off the back of surprising evidence given at this week's Senate Estimates, showing once again the contempt the Social Services Minister has for the charities and the not for profit sector.






Has Anyone Seen Kevin Andrews?

Minister Kevin Andrews has not met with the head of the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission for eight months, Senate Estimates has revealed.

ACNC Commissioner, Susan Pascoe, confirmed before Senate Estimates, “We are not in regular contact with the Minister.” The last time Minister Andrews met with the ACNC was in November 2013.

Minister Andrews has legislative responsibility for the ACNC – a national agency aimed at making charities and not for profits stronger, accountable and more visible.

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