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Out of the office - Op Ed, Inside Story

OUT OF THE OFFICE 

Inside Story, October 20 20202

“I’m sitting in a building here that was built for 5000 people… and there are probably six in it today,” National Australia Bank CEO Ross McEwan told me recently during a parliamentary committee hearing. But there’s more: according to the bank’s surveys, four-fifths of staff members don’t want to return to regular working when the pandemic is over.

Despite promises of an economic “snapback,” it’s becoming increasingly clear that the world of work is likely to change significantly as a result of coronavirus. One of the likely shifts will be the rise of teleworking. If Covid-19 has taken us back a decade in terms of globalisation, it’s taken us forward a decade technologically. Large swathes of the workforce are working from home and the trend is likely to endure, with one US study projecting the share of working days spent at home to rise from 5 per cent to 20 per cent after the pandemic passes. Having fewer desks than employees may become the norm for white-collar firms.

One of the valuable changes will be a move away from open-plan offices, which were always more about corporate symbolism than productivity. We know from a bevy of studies that workers are more stressed, more dissatisfied and more resentful when they work in an open-plan setting. Compared with regular offices, employees in open offices experience higher levels of noise and more interruptions. They are less motivated, less creative and more likely to take sick leave.

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Morrison Government just one scandal after another - Transcript, 2SM Mornings

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING

TUESDAY, 20 OCTOBER 2020

SUBJECTS: Federal ICAC; Air Rorts; Sports Rorts; WaterGate; JamLands; NSW community grants.

MARCUS PAUL, HOST: This fellow is also from the Australian Capital Territory, Labor frontbencher Andrew Leigh, who's written to more than 200 big companies - Apple, Maccas, Microsoft. He wants to get to the bottom of whether or not they've received JobKeeper subsidies and used the money to pay shareholder dividends or executive bonuses. I mean, that's not what the money was for. Absolutely, that's not what the money was for. And look, again, this is why we need to have a federal Independent Commission Against Corruption. I'm not obviously suggesting any corrupt behaviour by the government here, but certainly all this money needs to be accounted for and I would hate to think big business has received a bit of a leg up during this pandemic to pay, you know, bonuses to those who probably don’t need it. Let's be honest. 20 after 7, Andrew, good morning.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus. Happy birthday to your mum. I hope she's out of hospital soon, mate.

PAUL: Oh, very kind, mate. Thank you so much. Yeah, me too. Look, it’s a long haul. What - two fractures in your pelvis and, you know, at least another month. Poor thing. Anyway.

LEIGH: Yeah, falls are just such a serious issue for older people, aren’t they?

PAUL: Absolutely. Absolutely. And Mum, we wish you all the best. And there you go, Andrew does as well. Thank you, it's very kind, mate. Now, under the Morison Government we've had Sports Rorts, WaterGate, JamLands and Paladin. We've had the big stack with over 60 former Liberal staffers, ministers and candidates and donors appointed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. I mean, where does it all end, Andrew? There’s so much going on.

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JobKeeper shouldn't be funnelled to billionaires - Transcript, 5AA Mornings

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
5AA MORNINGS

MONDAY, 19 OCTOBER 2020

SUBJECT: Misuse of JobKeeper.

LEON BYNER, HOST: You've heard of JobKeeper. You know what it is, don't you? Right. Well, there are some in the community who say no, for many companies paying very generous salaries and dividends to their shareholders, we'd rather call it DividendKeeper. This is where companies use the subsidy, which was designed to keep workers hit by the coronavirus recession connected to their jobs, to prop up payments to shareholders. So if that money is being used for this purpose - and it certainly isn't what was legitimately put out by the government, they wanted to do the right thing by the workers. But unfortunately, it's been abused. So let's talk to Labor frontbencher, Andrew Leigh, who's written to more than 200 companies - including Apple, McDonald's, Microsoft - asking them to reveal whether they receive JobKeeper subsidies and use the money to pay shareholder dividends. Dr Andrew Leigh, good morning.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Leon. Great to be with you.

BYNER: Do you think you're gonna get an honest answer?

LEIGH: I've certainly gotten some responses rolling in so far, mostly those who are saying that they haven't received it. But I'd like to think that if a firm is receiving significant taxpayer subsidies, that they would respond when a federal Member of Parliament wrote to them to ask them about it.

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Global Handwashing Day and Randomistas - Transcript, ABC Melbourne Drive

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
ABC MELBOURNE DRIVE
THURSDAY, 15 OCTOBER 2020

SUBJECTS: Global Handwashing Day; Randomistas.

RAF EPSTEIN, HOST: Someone has written about this in his book Randomistas, is known to you in another guise - his day job. Andrew Leigh's day job is being part of the Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese’s finance team. He is of course an MP from Canberra as well. Andrew Leigh, thanks for joining us.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Pleasure, Raf. Happy Global Handwashing Day.

EPSTEIN: Thank you. No one's ever said that to me before. Who is Mr Semmelweis? What did he do?

LEIGH: Ignaz Semmelweis was a doctor who worked at Vienna General Hospital in the mid-19th century, and he noticed this really interesting pattern Raf. They admitted patients on alternate days into the maternity ward where babies were delivered by midwives and the maternity ward where babies were delivered by doctors. And he noticed that mothers admitted into the clinic run by midwives had a death rate less than one in 20, while those admitted to the hospital run by doctors had a death rate of more than one in 10. The mothers actually knew this - some of them would actually deliver in the streets rather than be admitted into the ward run by doctors. So he went through various theories. Was it that the doctors were delivering when women lay on their sides? Was something to do with the bell that the priest rang? Eventually he figured out that it had to do with dirty hands. And so he began insisting that doctors wash their hands with chlorine wash and the death rate in the doctors’ ward plummeted. And that was the start of the hand washing movement.

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Government needs to make poverty national priority - Transcript, 2SM

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING

THURSDAY, 15 OCTOBER 2020

SUBJECTS: Parliamentary Friends of Cycling; Anti-Poverty Week; social housing; the Morrison Government’s cuts to JobKeeper and JobSeeker; food insecurity.

MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Andrew Leigh, Shadow Assistant Minister for Charities, Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. Hello, mate. How are you?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: G’day, Marcus. Great to be with you. 

PAUL: Yeah, nice to talk to you as well. Now you have just launched the Parliamentary Friends of Cycling. Tell me all about this, mate. It’s a great idea. 

LEIGH: Absolutely. We're on the bike. Helen Haines, Dave Sharma and I decided that it was important to have a group that represented cyclists, as so many cyclists around Australia do it to stay fit, to commute, to just hang out with the kids. So Steven Hodge, who is one of Australia's great cyclists, got us all together and set up this group, which will campaign to get more people cycling more often.

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The government has delivered a budget that set its sights low, but still asks too much of Australians - Op Ed, The Canberra Times

THE GOVERNMENT HAS DELIVERED A BUDGET THAT SET ITS SIGHTS LOW, BUT STILL ASKS TOO MUCH OF AUSTRALIANS

The Canberra Times, October 10 2020

A trillion dollars is a lot of money – one with twelve zeros after it.

That’s where Australia’s debt will peak. To put it in perspective, when the Liberals launched their ‘debt truck’ scare campaign in 2009, they did so with the figure ‘$315 billion’ emblazoned on the side – one third of the level of projected peak debt under the Coalition today.

So what does Australia get from that spending?

The economy came into this crisis from a position of weakness. Last year, productivity went backwards, investment was in the doldrums, wage growth was among the slowest on record. We had problems in retail and a downturn in construction.

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Government needs to focus on productivity and equity - Transcript, ABC Canberra Breakfast

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
ABC CANBERRA BREAKFAST
FRIDAY, 9 OCTOBER 2020

SUBJECTS: Federal Budget; Budget in reply.

ADAM SHIRLEY, HOST: Dr Andrew Leigh is the Federal Member for Fenner and the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. And he, like many, was watching very closely Anthony Albanese’s words last night. He’s Opposition Leader. Dr Leigh, good morning to you.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Adam. Great to be with you.

SHIRLEY: Given childcare is such a central theme of the Opposition's reply last night, what do you make of Ruth's comments, for instance, on how to structurally make the standard better - not just provide more money and places?

LEIGH: I think Ruth’s spot on. We need to think about early childhood as education, not mere babysitting. Anyone who's tried to look after three of their own children, as I have, will have huge respect for someone who sits down and looks after 13 children for an entire day. Ensuring that you've got a high-quality play based learning is absolutely vital. So one of the things we did when we were last in government was to improve education standards for early childhood educators, to reduce ratios and to ensure that there was real respect around the sector. But there's also this affordability question, and that was what Anthony was going to last night. We know that childcare fees have increased by an average of $3,800 a year since 2013. We know that many families are simply just priced out of childcare, and for families with a couple of kids, then often it's just not worth both parents working a full five days. That burden falls disproportionately on women.

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Older workers left behind by Budget - Transcript, 2SER The Wire

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
2SER THE WIRE
THURSDAY, 8 OCTOBER 2020

SUBJECTS: The Federal Budget leaving behind women, older workers, the homeless and those in insecure housing; tax cuts; population.

ROD CHAMBERS, HOST: I asked the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury Dr Andrew Leigh what were his first impressions of this big spending budget.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: My overall perspective on the budget, Rod, is it is a human capital recession that we've suffered and the budget doesn't really invest in the drivers of human capital. There's not enough investment in health, we still don't have an Australian Centre for Disease Control unlike every other advanced country. There's barely any investment in education, in schools and vocational training and universities, which is the sort of human capital investment you would expect at a time when we're facing such a substantial human capital crisis.

CHAMBERS: Certainly, the tax cuts seem to be the main tools to provide stimulus. Do you think this is going to be effective?

LEIGH: I think it'll have some impact. But fundamentally, we have some deep-seated economic challenges. We know that productivity was going backwards last year, that wage growth was in the doldrums, retail spending was down. A Morrison Stagnation predated the Morrison Recession. So really, what we need at the moment is reforms that go to the underlying structural weaknesses in the economy and seek to not only give the economy a sugar hit, but provide lasting economic growth.

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Budget leaving women behind - Transcript, 2GB Money News

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
2GB MONEY NEWS
THURSDAY, 8 OCTOBER 2020

SUBJECTS: Federal Budget leaving women behind; Budget in reply.

BROOKE CORTE, HOST: Dr Andrew Leigh is Labor's Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. Hi, Andrew, welcome to Money News. 

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Thanks, Brooke. Glad to be with you.

CORTE:Now, Scott Morrison is saying this is a budget for all Australians and the government is adamant it's not gendered. Do you think women have been ignored?

LEIGH:I do. I think that women haven't gotten their fair share of the budget response. This has been a human capital crisis. It's particularly adversely affected the services sector, but the budget responses neglected health and education, neglected the services sector. You've got a desultory women's economic security statement - about as big as you'd expect from a prime minister who names his chooks after former prime ministers’ wives - and you haven't got the investments in childcare, in family violence, in sexual harassment, in aged care, in all of those female dominated sectors where women have been suffering so much of the burden of COVID-19. They haven't been receiving the attention and the response.

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Missed opportunities in the Budget - Transcript, 2CC Canberra Live

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
2CC CANBERRA LIVE
WEDNESDAY, 7 OCTOBER 2020

SUBJECTS: Federal Budget; the Morrison Government’s lack of investment in education, childcare and productivity; the University of Canberra; the Morrison Government undermining universities; tax cuts.

LEON DELANEY, HOST: Last night was budget night, as you know, and Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has promised the earth - but has he delivered anything other than dirt? Well, let's find out what the opinion is of the Opposition. Joining me now Shadow Assistant Minister of Treasury and Federal Member for Fenner Dr Andrew Legh. Good afternoon.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good afternoon, Leon. Great to be with you.

DELANEY: Thanks very much for joining us today. Now, obviously, you're in the Opposition. It's your job to oppose and criticise. So let's start with asking the difficult question. Is there anything in last night's budget that you think was bang on, where they hit the nail on the head and they got an absolutely right?

LEIGH: Look, there’s a decent mental health package. I think there's sensible reforms there. There are more university places, though not as many as there should be. And we've been calling for some time for low and middle income earners to get a tax cut sooner, and so we’re pleased that the government’s heeded that call. But with a trillion dollars in debt, I don't think there's enough to show for it. You know, a trillion is a pretty massive number - one with 12 zeros after it. Australia’s never had this much debt before, and yet right across the next four years the government's projecting unemployment will be higher than it was last year. The Morrison Recession is looking like lasting a long time.

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | Andrew.Leigh.MP@aph.gov.au | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.