My latest opinion piece in The Australian looks at how increased diversity in our community can enrich Australians socially, culturally and economically. Here's the details:
Urgent case for a diverse nation, The Australian, 24 July 2014
PROGRESSIVES are often most comfortable making a political or moral case for diversity: that it is a necessary corollary of liberalism in a multi-ethnic society or, more optimistically, a social good in itself.
This is no longer enough. Our ideas must expand beyond platitudes about multiculturalism giving us good places to eat. We need to recognise the real economic and social benefits that flow from diversity and acknowledge the challenges so we can find ways to maintain cohesive societies in the face of these.
To see the positive impact of diversity, go to Silicon Valley. Half of all start-up teams include a first-generation migrant, from Russian-born Sergey Brin at Google to Hungarian-born Andy Grove at Intel.
Tonight I joined Sky PM Agenda host David Speers and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer Steven Ciobo to discuss the need for a carbon price, the federal budget and the Abbott government's reforms to financial advice.
SKY NEWS PM AGENDA
WEDNESDAY, 16 JULY 2014
SUBJECT/S: Carbon price repeal, Budget, Changes to Financial Advice, Senate.
David Speers: You’re watching PM Agenda, good to have you with us, let’s bring in our panellists this afternoon. We're joined by the Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer Steve Ciobo, welcome to you both.
Andrew Leigh, Shadow Assistant Treasurer: Thanks David.
Speers: Let’s start on the Carbon Tax, a lot of people, not just me I'm sure, are wondering when is this finally going to be voted on in the Senate? Um, we know where you stand, we know where you stand, we know where I think everybody stands.
Steven Ciobo, Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer: We know where the Australian people stand, David.
Speers: Well, when is there going to be a vote?
Leigh: The great thing about Parliament which really surprised me before I came in David is the disconnect between the House of Reps and the Senate. I spend far more time with Steve's beautiful face then I do with my Labor Senate colleagues. So the Senate is a beast unto itself, and this Senate seems to be even more unusual.
There are worrying reports in today's Canberra Times that compliance functions at the Tax Office will be severely affected by the loss of 3,000 staff. Here's my comments in response:
TAX OFFICE STAFF BLOW THE WHISTLE ON HIT TO REVENUE
There is fresh evidence that the Abbott Government’s cuts to the Australian Tax Office will cost the Budget far more than they will save, with outgoing tax staff admitting that revenue collection risks being ‘gutted’ by a loss of skilled, specialist staff.
Today I chatted with ABC News Radio's Marius Benson about the importance of getting banking and financial sector reform right for Australian consumers. Here's the transcript:
ABC News Radio
TUESDAY 15 JULY 2014
SUBJECT/S: Australia’s banking and financial system; changes to Future of Financial Advice laws
MARIUS BENSON: The future of Australia's banking and financial system could become clearer today with the release of a report by former banker David Murray. That system is dominated by the big four banks and there's been criticism that their record profits of recent years have been underwritten by taxpayer-backed guarantees, but the public hasn't benefited from their success. The Murray Report will also look at the financial advice industry as the government moves ahead with its plans for changes to its Future of Financial Advice laws. For a Labor view on changes in the Australian financial world, I’m speaking to the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh.
Andrew Leigh, good morning.
The Abbott Government is cutting thousands of staff from the Australian Taxation Office in the name of budget 'savings'. But there are real concerns these cuts will actually cost Australia millions more than they save through lost revenue.
ATO STAFF CUTS MEANS MILLIONS IN TAX DODGES
The Abbott Government’s deep staff cuts at the Australian Tax Office (ATO) will result in a hit to the federal budget, with new evidence revealing every dollar cut from spending on staff will sacrifice up to $6 in unpaid tax.
The ATO shed 900 staff in the 2013-2014 financial year and will lose a further 2,100 staff by the end of October as part of the government’s drive for savings.
This morning I joined Sky AM Agenda host Kieran Gilbert and Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Darren Chester to discuss the repeal of the carbon tax and the importance of negotiation in the Senate. Here's the transcript:
SKY NEWS AM AGENDA
MONDAY, 14 JULY 2014
SUBJECT/S: Climate change; the new Senate; federal budget
KIERAN GILBERT: Thanks for your company on AM Agenda. With me now, the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, Darren Chester, and also the Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh. Before we get into our discussion I just want to play you a little bit of what the Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, had to say to the media here in Canberra ahead of the introduction of the repeal again of the carbon tax to Parliament at midday today:
This morning I spoke with 2CC's Mark Parton about why moving public servants out of Canberra would create a less effective APS. Here's the transcript:
2CC - BREAKFAST WITH MARK PARTON
TOPICS: Relocating Australian public servants; carbon pricing
Mark Parton: Let’s go to Andrew Leigh, Federal Member for Fraser for the ALP. He’s on the line - good morning Andrew.
Andrew Leigh: Morning Mark.
Mark Parton: We’ve just had a chat to Andrew Wilkie, he wants to throw the public servants all round the country - he’s dreaming, isn’t he?
Andrew Leigh: Well I can see where the electoral demographics come from with this. Tasmania has got a lot of seats, even though in fact I think I have twice as many voters as Andrew. I think I’ve got the largest seat in Australia and he’s got one of the smallest. But it just doesn’t make any sense…
With the release of the government's Options Paper on replacements for the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, I've again called for Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews to listen to the voices of leading Australian charities and keep the commission intact.Read more
With reports today that the Treasurer is preparing to legislate "new" measures so global companies pay their share of tax, I was keen to remind the public of the Abbott Government's backward steps in this area. Joe Hockey's measures aren’t new and they don't embrace what Labor sought to put in place.
HOCKEY’S HOT AIR SOLUTION TO MULTINATIONAL PROFIT-SHIFTING
The Abbott Government’s measures on multinational profit-shifting are still considerably weaker than those announced last year by Labor.
Since coming to office, the Government’s only policy announcements on multinational profit-shifting have been to reverse sensible Labor measures.
During a visit to Tasmania today, my colleague, Shadow Minister for Regional Development Julie Collins, and I met with pensioners to discuss the federal budget. We got a warm reception but not surprisingly, they gave the budget the thumbs down. Julie and I subsequently issued this joint media release:
ANDREW LEIGH MP - SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASUER
JULIE COLLINS MP - SHADOW MINISTER FOR REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT
ABBOTT GOVERNMENT’S BUDGET FAILS PENSIONERS
The Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh, has confirmed the Abbott Government’s Budget is no friend to Tasmania’s pensioners.
Speaking with members of the Tasmanian Pensioner Association in Hobart today Dr Leigh said the Abbott Government’s Budget would affect Tasmanians who could least afford any loss of financial support.
“This Budget not only breaks promises, it breaks the social contract with older Australians,” Dr Leigh said.