ABC SYDNEY BREAKFAST
THURSDAY, 19 MARCH 2020
SUBJECTS: Economic stimulus; charities affected by coronavirus; the Reserve Bank.
WENDY HARMER, HOST: This is very timely that we are speaking to Andrew Leigh. Andrew Leigh is a former economist and he’s Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities. And I guess that he's been keeping his eye on the bailout packages, the stimulus that's been offered, this brand new tranche of measures that are supposed to be released tomorrow that are coming from the government to try and deal with this economic crisis. We welcome him to the program. Hello, Andrew.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: G’day, Wendy. Great to be with you.
HARMER: Now we are expecting something quite interesting to come tomorrow. We are, we have been told - this is the that the drop - that a central feature of the soon to be announced package will be something called a, well a survival package for those who are without jobs. A temporary wage.
LEIGH: I'm pleased that the government's recognised that last week's package wasn't enough. When you look at its scale compared to other countries, I think that becomes pretty clear. It was less than 1 per cent of GDP. The New Zealanders, for example, have just unveiled a stimulus package worth around four per cent of national income. People need to remember that this is a temporary shock and there's no reason that anyone ought to be pushed to the breadline, to be losing their job, have their business go bust because of a virus for which we'll have a vaccine within a year or two. This is exactly why we have governments, exactly why fiscal policy was developed, in order to help get us all through temporary shocks like this one.Read more
TUESDAY, 10 MARCH 2020
SUBJECTS: Charities and bushfire recovery; stimulus.
FIONA PHILLIPS, MEMBER FOR GILMORE:It’s been great today to have Andrew Leigh here, who is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Charities and also the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. The purpose of the meeting today was to meet with the charities - the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul - and to basically get an update on what's happening with the bushfire crisis and the recovery process. But most importantly, just to make sure that we capture and make sure that our vulnerable people are being looked after through the crisis and recovery. So we've had a good chat today. I was obviously also very concerned about our small businesses, and getting them the support they need, and also our tourism operators that I know we need more funding to help promote local events.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Thanks, Fiona. My name's Andrew Leigh, Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities. It's been a really good opportunity this morning to speak to some of the key organisations who've been at the forefront of the bushfire response and the reconstruction efforts. We’ve spoken about the challenges of coordination, the importance of ensuring that data is shared with appropriate privacy protections, making sure that we're getting more support in cash rather than unwanted in-kind donations, and how critical it is to ensure that those who are most vulnerable are looked after. People who are homeless, people with disabilities, Indigenous Australians can sometimes be left out of disaster response and the charities we're speaking to today made it absolutely clear that those people are in the forefront of their minds as they're moving towards the reconstruction phase. We think there's important lessons out of the response here for local, state and federal governments.Read more
THOMAS PIKETTY AND THE ROOTS OF GLOBAL INEQUALITY
The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 March 2020
Thomas Piketty isn’t scared to tell a big story. In 2013, he produced Capital in the Twenty-First Century, a 700-page tome about inequality that combined Jane Austen and Honoréde Balzac with data from tax returns and national statistics.
One idea that captivated many readers was r versus g. When the rate of return on capital (think rental yields and share dividends) exceeds the overall economic growth rate, then inequality rises. When g is bigger than r, inequality falls.Read more
ABC NEWS RADIO
FRIDAY, 6 MARCH 2020
SUBJECTS: Morrison Government’s lack of a plan for productivity; wages; innovation; investment and growth; debt doubling under the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government.
MATT O’NEIL, HOST: Labor's Andrew Leigh is a former economist, now Federal Member for Fenner in the ACT, and joins us now. Good morning, Andrew. Thank you for your time.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Matt. I always figure once an economist, always an economist.
O’NEIL: [laughter] Andrew, what would Labor be doing to shield the economy from the coronavirus fallout?
LEIGH: I think it's pretty clear that the economy does need appropriate stimulus. What we did during the Global Financial Crisis was to move quickly, even before the first impacts of the global downturn were apparent in Australia, with stimulus that saved around 200,000 jobs and tens of thousands of Australian businesses. The trouble is that we're entering this challenge with an the economy which is much weaker than it should be. We used to have growth sitting between 3 and 3¼ per cent, and now we're getting 2 to 2¼ quarter per cent. We've had years of wage stagnation - not by accident, but through deliberate government policy, as the Finance Minister has pointed out. Anti-union attacks, penalty rate cuts - all of that has acted to dampen down wage growth, which of course then flows through to household spending because earnings flow back into the economy. You cut pay packets, you cut household incomes, and there's a negative spiral as a result of that. Business investment is lousy and construction and retail are in a very bad way at the moment.
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