THE VALUE OF FREEING IDEAS, NOT JUST LOCKING THEM UP
The Economist, 8 November 2019
Back in the 1960s, Bob Kearns was an engineer working and lecturing in Detroit. Due to an unfortunate wedding night accident involving a champagne cork, he was legally blind in his left eye. When driving in a Michigan rainstorm, Kearns lamented the inability of his wipers to help him see better. In those days, windshield wipers had two settings—fast and slow—and they were always moving. Kearns’s notion was that it should be possible to have a slower setting, in which the wipers paused briefly between each wipe.
Motivated by his own experience, as well as a long-standing desire to work for a big car company like Ford, Kearns spent years working out a way to make wipers pause. His solution relied on electronics—an unusual and innovative thing in those days. He fitted the mechanism to his own Ford Galaxie with most of the contraption inside a black box and drove it down to Ford to show its engineers. They pored over the car and were impressed. Kearns was then given the details of tests he would need to perform to become a Ford supplier. Those took months of work that Kearns completed in his basement. Ford, however, passed on him being a supplier, though the firm did employ Kearns for a brief period. In the meantime, Kearns filed for a patent on his invention.Read more
THE SCIENCE OF SESAME STREET
New York Daily News, 8 November 2019
Oscar the Grouch gives children permission to feel sad. Big Bird questions everything. Mr. Snuffleupagus is the imaginary friend. Count von Count loves mathematics. Grover embodies self-confidence. Ernie delights in practical jokes. Bert has an utterly different personality to Ernie, but is his best friend nonetheless. Zoe proves that girls can be both dainty and strong. Kermit the Frog is always a gentleman.
Nov. 10 marks the 50th anniversary of the moment when “Sesame Street” first aired on television. But it’s not just a day for nostalgia; it’s also a time when we should recall what a remarkable venture the show is, and the extent to which it is grounded in careful science and hard data.
THURSDAY, 7 NOVEMBER 2019
SUBJECT: Labor campaign review.
LEON DELANEY: As you know, Labor today released its self-examination of what went so horribly wrong at the May election. The report was prepared by Craig Emerson and Jay Weatherill. It's a 92 page review. It's made 60 findings and 26 recommendations. In short, it says that Labor quote ‘lost the election because of a weak strategy that could not adapt to the change in the Liberal leadership, a cluttered policy agenda looked risky and an unpopular leader’. Joining me now is the Federal Member for Fenner and Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities Andrew Leigh. Good afternoon.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good afternoon, Leon. How are you?
DELANEY: Really well. How are you today.
LEIGH: Terrifically well.
DELANEY: Do you agree with the findings of this report?
LEIGH: Yes, I do. I think it's a hard hitting but important review, and one that talks about the importance of getting your digital strategy right, of making sure there's policy coherence and ensuring that we are focused in our message. We were very keen to solve as many of Australia's problems as we could, but in so doing - in pulling together the broadest policy agenda that Labor's taking for an election in my lifetime - I think we didn't carry that core message that a great campaign needs. And the review talks about some of those challenges.Read more
THURSDAY, 7 NOVEMBER 2019
SUBJECTS: Labor campaign review; Innovation + Equality.
ANNA VIDOT: To talk through some of these tea leaves and entrails, Andrew Leigh is on the line, the Labor MP for Fenner. Andrew Leigh, good evening.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good evening, Anna. How are you?
VIDOT: I’m well. This review's pretty blunt, that while there were a range of factors Labor was in many ways responsible for its own demise in 2019, that an adaptable campaign with a strong strategy would have won, the review says. I can't imagine this was an easy thing to read.
LEIGH: That’s right and not just for me, but also for the thousands of volunteers, trade union members, for the people who knocked on doors and made telephone calls, who worked their guts out for the progressive change that we hoped to be able to deliver on May the 18th. I think for those people, we owe it to go into a deep review and to release that publicly today, so everybody can read all about the campaign, warts and all. It does reflect the fact that we looked to solve many challenges - from the challenge of climate change to housing affordability, school fairness and access to medicines. In doing so, we thought we would be building trust with the Australian people by laying out a detailed agenda. Instead we left ourselves open to a scare campaign.Read more
ABC RN BREAKFAST
THURSDAY, 7 NOVEMBER 2019
Subjects: Big banks appearing before the House Economics Committee tomorrow; Labor campaign review; Innovation + Equality.
HAMISH MACDONALD: The chiefs of Australia's biggest banks will be back in Canberra tomorrow for their twice yearly parliamentary grilling as they face pressure for not passing on the Reserve Bank's latest rate cut in full. The former Turnbull Government launched the hearings three years ago while fending off calls for a banking royal commission. The hearings have now been expanded in the wake of the Hayne Commission, and this time around it also examined the superannuation sector as well as smaller banks. Andrew Leigh is deputy chair of the Standing Committee on Economics. Welcome to Breakfast.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Thanks Hamish, great to be with you.
MACDONALD: We've had a royal commission. There's an ACCC inquiry into mortgage practices. So what will you be interrogating the chiefs of Westpac and the Commonwealth Bank about tomorrow?
LEIGH: At the heart of the Hayne Royal Commission was the notion that greed and short term profit had been put ahead of basic standards of honesty. The Hayne Royal Commission called not just for tweaks in procedure, but for deep cultural change in our biggest banks. So I’ll be asking the big banks how they're going about implementing those significant changes, how they're going about ensuring that customers are placed first and that there will never again be the sorts of scandals that we've seen.Read more
SKY NEWS FIRST EDITION
TUESDAY, 5 NOVEMBER 2019
SUBJECTS: The Morrison Government failing to manage the economy; the Morrison Government failing to step up on the world stage; Labor election review.
LAURA JAYES: Let’s go live now to the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury, Andrew Leigh. He joins me now from Sydney this morning. Andrew Leigh, thanks so much for your time.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Pleasure, Laura.
JAYES: First of all, the RBA is meeting once again today to consider a rate cut, if another one is needed. What’s your tip on what decision they’ll make?
LEIGH: The markets have the Reserve Bank keeping rates on hold, but regardless of whether they cut by another 25 basis points or keep constant at 0.75 per cent, the RBA is running out of monetary policy firepower. We know that there's limited impact that quantitative easing could have, and so really the question is: will the Morrison Government step up and do with fiscal policy what the Reserve Bank can't do with monetary policy? We need structural reform. We need fiscal policy, and we need it now more than ever, given that we've had the worst retail sales numbers in a generation coming out yesterday. On a per person basis, the economy shrank over the last fiscal year. We've got unemployment a percentage point higher than in Britain or New Zealand or the United States. And we've got problems with wage growth being in the doldrums, which is really at the heart of the retail sales problem.Read more
FRYDENBERG IS PLAYING A JAUNTY TUNE ON PICASSO'S VIOLIN
The Canberra Times, 30 October 2019
‘I found a Picasso and a Stradivarius in my attic’, goes the joke. ‘Alas, Stradivarius couldn’t paint, and Picasso made terrible violins’.
The Morrison Government has a similar problem. When it comes to economic growth, what matters to households are their living standards: how incomes are growing on a per-person basis. When it comes to carbon emissions, the big question is how Australia is impacting the planet. So it’s total emissions that count.
But that’s not what the Coalition has been spruiking. When discussing the economy, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg points to ‘28 years of uninterrupted economic growth’ as proof of the economy’s resilience. What he won’t admit is that on a per-person basis, Australia’s gross domestic product (the sum of the economy’s output) shrank over the past year. The nation has been through a ‘per-capita recession’.Read more
RUNNING OUT OF EXCUSES FOR HIGH INEQUALITY
The Hill, 28 October 2019
American views on inequality have profoundly shifted. In 1995, 30 percent believed that poverty is due to circumstances beyond individual control. Today, fully 55 percent of Americans take that view. Two decades ago, most Americans didn’t see a role for government in addressing inequality. Now, most do.
The traditional economic argument against addressing inequality is that it blunts the incentives for the wealthy to invest. But while cutting top tax rates might give the most affluent a larger share, the consequence can be that governments need to cut productivity-enhancing measures like infrastructure and education spending. As a result, growth slows. The wealthy end up with a bigger share of a smaller pie. They have more in relative terms, but less in absolute terms.Read more
ABC NEWS RADIO
THURSDAY, 24 OCTOBER 2019
SUBJECTS: Identity-matching bill; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Mark Zuckerberg; Facebook advertising.
SANDY ALOISI: Let’s get reaction to this now. Federal Labor MP Andrew Leigh is with me now. Good afternoon. Thanks for joining us.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Pleasure, Sandy.
ALOISI: A fairly rare bipartisan decision on a bill that one could say was controversial from the outset.
LEIGH: Yes, and I commend the six Liberals on the committee for standing up for the basic principle that we shouldn't allow Peter Dutton to set up a mass surveillance system. As the bill was drafted, the Australian Human Rights Commissioner noted it could contemplate intrusive surveillance of people who hadn't committed any crime. That's a concern in the abstract, but it's a particular concern when at the same time as this bill is before the Parliament, you've got Peter Dutton saying that there should be mandatory prison sentences for people who engage in peaceful legal protest activity and calling for protesters to be photographed. We need to ensure that this doesn't lead to the establishment of a huge database of facial images that would allow people to be identified that haven't committed any crime.Read more
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
TUESDAY, 22 OCTOBER 2019
SUBJECTS: The Government’s lack of economic leadership; COAG; Your Car, Your Choice; Government inaction on the need to fix fundraising; Syria.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY: Good morning everyone. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. We know full well that if the Australian economy was performing strongly, Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg would be claiming credit for every skerrick of economic news. But when we've got troubling economic indicators, they run a mile rather than take responsibility for the impact of their policies. We’ve seen Josh Frydenberg return from the IMF meetings claiming that the problems in the Australian economy are all someone else's fault, all have to do with global economic circumstances. And yet we know, repeated as recently as last week in the Deloitte report, that many of the Australian economy problems are home grown.Read more