A kinder politics - Speech, House of Representatives



This has been one of the most emotional weeks that I've seen in politics in my 7½ years in this place, a tough week for people on both sides of the House, where the personal has melted into the political, when private lives have been splashed across the front page and pulled apart in this very chamber.

The incredibly brave member for Longman was yesterday forced to relive one of the hardest experiences of her life: the moment when, as a six-year-old, her mother dropped off her school and never came back to pick her up. Her gracious speech, given in the face of intense scrutiny, her capiacity for forgiveness instead of hatred, is what we should strive for as politicians.

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The Liberals' war on charities - Speech, House of Representatives





On Monday, Senator Louise Pratt, Labor colleagues and I met with dozens of charities concerned about the latest salvo in the Liberals’ war on charities. They included the Australian Council for International Development, CHOICE, Red Cross, Oxfam, CARE Australia, the Consumer Action Law Centre, Financial Counselling Australia, ACOSS, World Vision, RESULTS Australia and Pew Charitable Trusts. There is bipartisan support for banning foreign political donations. Indeed, it's been a year since the Leader of the Opposition introduced a private member's bill that would do just that. But banning donations to political parties should not entail cutting down free speech.

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The Treasurer's 10 greatest muck ups - Speech, House of Representatives



Dr LEIGH (Fenner) (17:13):  I move:

That all words after 'That' be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:

'whilst not declining to give the bill a second reading, the House:

(1) is of the opinion that with Government debt soaring ever higher, it’s time the Turnbull Government abandoned its plan to give big business a multi-billion tax cut;

(2) notes that the Government is debating legislative fixes that are a result of its slapdash approach to policy making; and

(3) calls on the Government to commit to a post-implementation review of this measure'.

Labor will support the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enterprise Tax Plan Base Rate Entities) Bill 2017, but we will not do so without calling the attention of this House to the Treasurer's litany of mistakes.

Just over 21 years ago, English Premier League side Southampton fielded a substitute player, Ali Dia, who had just arrived at the injury-depleted side with virtually unknown footballing credentials. In a match Southampton lost 2-0, Dia himself was substituted after a shocking performance and released from his contract within two weeks.

As it turned out, he'd bluffed his way into the job by getting a university friend to impersonate Ballon d'Or winner George Weah in a phone call to manager Graeme Souness to extol the player's skills. Souness's misplaced faith was mocked for decades to come. The player whom Dia replaced, Matt Le Tissier, spoke of the new substitute's performance in the following terms: 'He ran around the pitch like Bambi on ice. It was very, very embarrassing to watch.' Souness defended the decision on the basis that his playing stocks were depleted, but nonetheless confessed that the experience was 'a kick in the bollocks'.

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Treasurer patches up his own patch-up - Media Release


Another day, another muck up by Scott Morrison.

Since its announcement, Labor has supported cutting taxes for businesses with a turnover below $2 million.

However, as early as September 2016, tax experts have warned that the actual legislation itself was unclear about whether or not bucket companies earning so-called passive income would be eligible for this tax cut.

The Turnbull Government initially denied that there was a problem, then after more than a year, they admitted that their legislation was faulty, and introduced a bill to fix it.

We were assured that this would be the end of it. But today, we will see the Turnbull Government patching up their patch-up. They have to amend their own amending bill, admitting - yet again – that they can't get the basics right.

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Another damning indictment of Morrison’s management - Transcript, Doorstop





SUBJECTS: Productivity Commission’s draft report on Competition in the Australian Financial System; Turnbull Government’s latest fumble on tax policy: PC endorses more transparency for the Council of Financial Regulators; Barnaby Joyce; share market volatility.

CHRIS BOWEN, SHADOW TREASURER: Well good morning everybody, thanks for coming.

This morning, yet another damning indictment of Scott Morrison’s management of negative gearing in the housing market.

Today we see the release of the Productivity Commission’s draft report into banking competition. Now of course competition in banking and financial services is vital and we said that the Productivity Commission should be commissioned to undertake this review. But what has the Productivity Commission found?

Let us remember that Scott Morrison has for months been saying the answer to Australia’s housing affordability problems is to leave all the heavy lifting to the regulators, to leave all the heavy lifting to APRA, who would engage in macro-prudential regulation and that would fix everything. He told us there was no need to fix negative gearing. He told us that as recently as yesterday.

The Productivity Commission report has found that because Scott Morrison has left the heavy lifting to the regulators, to APRA, that in fact banks have increased their profit margins and that has been subsidised by the tax payer due to negative gearing.

The Productivity Commission has said that this has led to a windfall for the banks. Their words, ‘a windfall; for the banks. And half of that windfall has been subsidised by the Australian tax payer through negative gearing. Now we’ve said all along that negative gearing must be fixed. Evidence mounts day after day for months now, that negative gearing has to be fixed. It appears that Scott Morrison is the only person who doesn’t want to fix negative gearing. Cabinet, of course rolled him when he dared even suggest it be considered.

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Domestic shareholders receive little benefit of a corporate income tax cut - Transcript, ABC Melbourne





SUBJECTS: Stock Market; Corporate Tax Cuts; Workplace Laws; Adani

RAF EPSTEIN: We are joined by one of the members of Bill Shorten's economic team, Dr Andrew Leigh he is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer. Good afternoon.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good afternoon, Raf. Great to be with you.

EPSTEIN: Just on the stock market, America and here - it doesn't look like it's going to end too soon. Is that a big worry or a simple correction?

LEIGH: It is significant. It seems to be led out of the United States, Raf, with business responses to their jobs report. The reporting that I've seen out of there suggests businesses are concerned that with a fairly tight employment market they might have to start raising wages and that's prompted a bit of a sell off on the US market which has flowed through to here.

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Festival shows off our fun side - OpEd, The Chronicle

Festival shows off our fun side

The Chronicle, 6 February 2018

What do Nordic folk dancing, African food and writer Poh Lin Yeow have in common? They’ll all be featuring at the Canberra Multicultural Festival, kicking off on 16 February.

One man who would have been proud of our colourful festival was King O’Malley, a member of the first Australian parliament who was a great champion for Canberra.

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The war on charities continues - Media Release


Representatives worried about the Turnbull Government’s war on charities gathered at Parliament House today to voice their concerns.

Along with my Labor colleagues, I met with dozens of representatives from organisations including:

  • Australian Council for International Development
  • Red Cross
  • Fred Hollows Foundation
  • Oxfam Australia
  • CARE Australia
  • Consumer Action Law Centre
  • Financial Counselling Australia
  • Australian Council of Social Service
  • World Vision Australia
  • RESULTS Australia
  • Pew Charitable Trusts

Two-thirds of Australian charities recently told Pro Bono that they are finding it harder to be heard by the federal government than five years ago.

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Loneliness a Problem We Must Tackle Together - OpEd, The Sun Herald

Loneliness a Problem We Must Tackle Together

The Herald Sun, 4 February 2018

Berenice Benson has always wanted to go to New York. At age 85, and suffering from dementia, the walls of her nursing home room are covered with pictures of the famous city. She told staff at the Uniting Care Mirinjani retirement village that if she couldn’t visit, the next best thing would be to meet a New York police officer.

It took two years, but a few weeks ago the staff arranged for her dream to come true. Detective Howard Shank, visiting from New York, stepped into the nursing home in her uniform and introduced himself with a smile. Ms Benson burst into tears. When she recovered her composure, she said ‘this has been the best day of my life’. She felt 20 years old again.

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A decent wage not just fair, it's also good for business - OpEd, Daily Telegraph

Paying decent wages not just a fair go, it’s good for business too

The Daily Telegraph, 26 January 2018

In 1914, Henry Ford shocked America when he announced that he would double the pay of his workers, to $5 a day. He didn’t do this out of a sense of social justice or concern for his workers – remember that Ford Motors was known for its aggressive anti-union tactics. He did it because he understood the economic case for decent wages.

At a time when other car makers were trying to cut costs, Ford increased his wage bill by $10 million – more than half the firm’s annual profits. One competitor predicted that the workers wouldn’t know what to do with the extra cash – that they would be ‘demoralised by this sudden affluence’.

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