PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
WEDNESDAY, 4 MARCH 2020
SUBJECTS: Morrison’s ‘delivered’ surplus; Coronavirus; falling productivity; manufacturing.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. As Warren Buffett once put it, it’s only when the tide goes out you discover who's been swimming naked. Labor has been warning about problems in the Australian economy for many years now. We've been talking about the low productivity problem, the fact that growth has slowed since the government came to office. We've been pointing out that business investment is now at its lowest level since the early 1990s recession. We've noted the slowdown in the rate at which new businesses are being created. Australia has seen a motza of mergers, but a scarcity of start ups. Labor has noted the problems in innovation in the Australian economy. We've pointed out that retail spending is in a bad way, that construction faces significant challenges, that business confidence has taken a whack.
Throughout their nearly seven years in office, the government has done nothing to address these deep-seated structural problems. If anything, they've done harm. Think about the harm that was done to Australian households by the 2014 horror budget, or Scott Morrison's first plan when he became Treasurer of raising the GST to 15 per cent. Labor has been pointing out the need for greater incentives for business to invest for some time now. These were part of plans that we took to last year's election.Read more
WHEN EVEN TRUMP IS CUTTING PRISON NUMBERS, AUSTRALIA SHOULD TAKE NOTE
TenDaily, 28 February 2020
At this month’s Super Bowl, more than 100 million viewers saw a Republican ad that would have been unthinkable a decade ago.
President Trump’s campaign touted Alice Marie Johnson, a 64-year-old African-American woman who had been serving a life sentence for a non-violent drug offence. With tears in her eyes, Ms Johnson thanked Mr Trump for commuting her sentence.
It was a far cry from George HW Bush’s infamous 1988 attack on Michael Dukakis for allowing Willie Horton out on weekend release, and from the harsh sentencing laws that led to the United States having the highest prison population in the world.
It wasn’t just Republicans that drove the surge in imprisonment. From the 1970s to the early-2000s, it was unchallengeable political ideology in the United States that tough on crime was a vote-winner. This resulted in incarceration levels increasing four-fold, with two million Americans behind bars. By 2007, more than one percent of American adults were incarcerated. One study estimated that more than one quarter of African American men would spend time behind bars.Read more
ABC CANBERRA DRIVE
MONDAY, 24 FEBRUARY 2020
SUBJECT: ACT Integrity Commission.
ANNA VIDOT: Andrew Leigh has introduced a Private Member's Bill which would give the ACT Integrity Commission oversight of the Australian Federal Police. Now of course, the fun intricacies of being the capital territory within the Commonwealth means that ACT Policing will not fall under the remit of the new ACT anti-corruption watchdog, in part because they're a branch of the AFP. So to explain why he wants the whole of the AFP included in the ACT remit instead, Member for Fenner Andrew Leigh joins me from Parliament House. Andrew Leigh, what exactly are you seeking to do with this bill?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: G’day, Anna. Great to be with you and your listeners. This is a bill which is aimed at ensuring that the ACT Integrity Commission has the same scope of powers as, say, the Victorian Integrity Commission. I think most people when they think about a body which is looking at corruption would imagine that that would cover public servants, politicians and include the police. But because of the way in which the ACT gets its policing services through a contract with the federal government, that's currently not possible under the Self-Government Act. I’d assume that the Morrison Government would have been quite happy to work with the Barr Government in ensuring that they had the integrity commission that the ACT wanted, that had passed the Assembly. But it turns out the Morrison Government doesn't want a full blown integrity commission here in the ACT, so I've needed to move this private member's bill in an attempt to put pressure on the government to do the right thing.Read more
MONDAY, 24 FEBRUARY 2020
SUBJECTS: Australia’s stagnant economy; the cost of climate change inaction.
ANNELISE NIELSEN: Now we're joined by Andrew Leigh, Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. Andrew, thank you for your time.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Pleasure, Annelise.
NIELSEN: Now we haven't been talking too much about an economy lately. It’s all been emissions targets, but it's obviously a huge issue especially leading up to the federal budget. You're saying that when you take a longer term look at the Australian economy, things aren't looking as good as we might be led to believe.
LEIGH: Annelise, I'm really worried not only about the fact that growth is down and wage growth is down and investment is down, but also that productivity actually declined in 2018-19. Australian firms are less innovative than they were. We're seeing less job mobility, less geographic mobility. All the signs are pointing towards an Australian economy that's more stultified and less dynamic than it should be.Read more
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
MONDAY, 24 FEBRUARY 2020
SUBJECTS: Prime Minister snooze; Economic stagnation; Cost of inaction on climate change; Integrity Commission; Coalition division; Bettina Arndt.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. The Australian economy faces significant challenges. Productivity fell in 2018-19. On many indicators the Australian economy is more stagnant than it was and is underperforming many advanced countries. We know we have challenges in meeting the Closing the Gap targets, on meeting our international commitments on climate change. On test scores, Australian school students are a full year of achievement behind where they were two decades ago.
Yet the government doesn't have a plan to deal with these issues. Scott Morrison had a plot to become prime minister, but no plan as to what to do when he got there. He doesn't have a plan for the economy. He doesn't have a plan for growth. He doesn't have a plan for climate change. Scott Morrison likes to talk about pulling the doona over your head, but when it comes to leadership, he is captain snooze. He has absolutely no ability to deal with the big challenges. He just wants to sit back, pull the doona over his head and not worry about the big issues.Read more
WE NEED TO REV UP AUSTRALIA'S STAGNANT ECONOMY
The Canberra Times, 24 February 2020
On many of the standard measures, the Australian economy is in a bad way. Since 2013, economic growth has slowed. Wage growth is the worst on record. Household spending is growing at its slowest pace since the Global Financial Crisis. Retail is amid its deepest downturn since 1990, with Harris Scarfe, Dimmeys, Bardot and Jeanswest among those to hit the wall. New car sales last year fell 8 percent, with fewer vehicles sold than at any time since 2011. Construction is now shrinking at its fastest rate since 1999. Business investment is at its lowest level since the 1990s recession.
But that’s just the surface metrics. It is a sad fact is that Australia’s economy is less productive, less nimble, and less dynamic than many other advanced countries. Indeed, on many indicators, the economy has become more stagnant over time.Read more
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
MONDAY, 10 FEBRUARY 2020
SUBJECTS: Climate change; the economic benefits of renewable energy; Llew O’Brien quitting the Nationals; Scott Morrison’s lack of leadership.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. Australia is the advanced economy that is most at risk from dangerous climate change. We know that if climate change is left unchecked, we could lose the Great Barrier Reef. We know the extreme weather events will get more and more frequent. Ross Garnaut’s report in 2009 warned of increased flooding, hailstones, fires, lightning strikes. So we know that Australia ought to be leading global efforts on climate change, that we have a unique interest in increasing the speed at which the world moves. This excuse that we’re a small share of global emissions misses the fact that if every country with less than 2 per cent of global emissions did nothing, a third of global emissions would not be acted upon.
Australia has been experiencing severe weather events already. We've gone from an extraordinary bushfire season to immediate floods. This is not normal. Extreme weather events like Australia has been experiencing are not normal. Here in Canberra we've been experiencing record temperatures. Successive days over 40 degrees. From the 1970s to the 1990s, we had a 25 year period in which the Canberra temperature never once went over 40 degrees. Now it seems to have become the new normal.Read more
CANBERRA AND CLIMATE CHANGE
The Canberra Times, 30 January 2020
It’s become a common quip for Canberrans to ask when the frogs, lice and locusts are arriving.
We’ve had people evacuated from their workplaces and our airport shut down, seen years of research lost to wild weather and a record number of calls to emergency services. This week, the Orroral Valley fire turned our southern skies an apocalyptic red. Animals have died in their hundreds in Canberra. Across Australia, more than a billion animals, including koalas, kangaroos, kookaburras and snakes, have been killed.
Not all of these events can be directly linked to climate change, but there’s no denying that a warming climate makes dangerous weather more likely. As former meteorologist and researcher Dr Clem Davis said, “with increased warming in the atmosphere, you are more likely to get severe weather events”. In 2008, Ross Garnaut’s climate change review noted that unchecked climate change would likely lead to more hot days, droughts, extreme winds, hailstorms, thunderstorms and floods.Read more
THE BEST WAYS TO LEND A HAND TO BUSHFIRE RELIEF
The Herald-Sun and Courier Mail, 18 January 2020
Millions of hectares of bush have been burned. Dozens of lives have been lost. Up to a billion mammals, birds, reptiles, bats, frogs and invertebrates may have died. Smoke from Australia’s bushfires has reached as far as New Zealand and Chile. Australia’s bush capital has recorded the worst air quality in the world.
Amid the tragedy, many of us are looking at how we can help. On the front lines, our volunteer fire fighting services need donations, which will allow them not only to fight this year’s fires, but also to be better prepared next season. In affected communities, Red Cross, Vinnies, the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, the Salvos, Foodbank and the Rural Advisory Mental Health program are among those working with families who have lost their homes.
To help injured animals, and to provide sources of food and water to keep native animals alive, the World Wildlife Fund, WIRES, the RSPCA, the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital and Adelaide Koala Rescue are among the bodies that are seeking donations.Read more
OUR SCHOOL KIDS' TEST SCORES ARE IN FREE FALL. HERE'S HOW WE FIX IT.
Ten Daily, 11 December 2019
Australia has just recorded the worst labour productivity growth since records began and the worst school test results this century. As a cornucopia of commentators have noted, Australia now underperforms plenty of nations that are poorer than us, such as Korea, Singapore and Estonia.
In reality, the test score slump shouldn’t surprise anyone. A decade ago, Melbourne University’s Chris Ryan and I showed that Australia’s test scores had dropped over the period from 1964 to 2003. NAPLAN results suggest little change in student performance from 2008 to 2019.
But it’s the OECD’s PISA tests that paint the most troubling picture. Administered every three years since 2000, they show Australian students doing worse on maths, reading and science. Every time Australian 15 year-olds are tested, average scores have dropped.Read more