The ABS deserves better - Transcript, ABC Canberra Drive





SUBJECTS: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Malcolm Turnbull’s unnecessary marriage equality opinion poll, Malcolm Turnbull’s tax cuts for big business, Census fail, housing affordability, Malcolm Turnbull’s second rate NBN.

LAURA TCHILINGUIRIAN: Staff numbers at the Australian Bureau of Statistics will be cut by 17 per cent next year. It’s going to result in the loss of 480 jobs. Now up to about 100 staff were given voluntary redundancies back in march and there were about 120 staff members who were axed late last year as well. So, what is this all going to mean? Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh joins me. Good afternoon.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good afternoon, Laura. How are you?

TCHILINGUIRIAN: I’m well. What are your concerns over this announcement?

LEIGH: I’ve got concerns for Canberra and concerns for the rest of Australia. For Canberra, this is yet another cut to a public service which has been so savagely slashed over recent years by the Liberals. But for the rest of Australia, they rely on the data that the Bureau of Statistics produces. When councils are considering where to put new investment, they look to ABS data. When state and territory governments look at new bus routes, they look at the Bureau of Statistics. Businesses look to the Bureau of Statistics data for consumer demand. As we policy makers deal with challenges like housing affordability, of course we’re looking to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. They’ve been doing such good work and such vital work for Australia, Laura, that it’s just so deeply unfair that they’re being punished because Malcolm Turnbull wants to give his big business mates a $65 million tax cut.

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The Liberals’ war on evidence continues - Media Release


The Liberals are continuing their war on evidence: forcing job cuts and survey cuts at the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics stated that:

‘The ABS does not have the resources to undertake all the activities that our customers demand… Average staffing levels will need to decline by around 17 per cent over the next two years.’

The latest Australian Public Service Statistical Bulletin lists the total number of staff at the Australian Bureau of Statistics at 2833. As even the most underfunded statistician could tell you, 17 percent of that equates to 482 job losses.

Malcolm Turnbull now needs to confirm whether nearly 500 jobs are set to be axed as the Bureau  struggles with the Liberals’ ongoing campaign to weaken the public service.

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Still buffering - OpEd, The RiotACT

Still buffering

The RiotACT, 24 October 2017

‘When the internet is too slow to do my homework, it means I have to stay up late to finish it’.

‘My daughter drives into university at night because our home connection is too slow. I worry about her returning to a deserted campus in the late hours and spending long periods alone in computer labs, but it’s the only way she can get the speeds she needs to get core coursework done .’

‘I’m trying to build cybersecurity start-up, but it’s hard to do it from home when we don’t have a stable broadband connection.’

On a warm spring evening, nearly one hundred Canberrans gathered at the Belconnen Community Centre to discuss with Tara Cheyne MLA and me the ways they use broadband, and the challenges many are facing in getting a decent connection.

In days gone by, fast internet was a luxury. Now, it’s becoming a necessity. Streaming television. Watching university lectures. Video calls between grandparents and grandchildren. Speedy internet is like water and electricity – we expect it to be there when we need it.

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Dick Smith is living in a bubble if he thinks immigration is to blame for the property boom - OpEd, HuffPost

Dick Smith is living in a bubble if he thinks immigration is to blame for the property boom (plus other common misconceptions about the pros and cons of migration to Australia)

HuffPost, 19 October 2017

Across the globe, there are 250 million migrants. If they all lived in the same nation, it would be the fifth-largest country in the world. International tourism visits now exceed 1 billion people annually. The rate at which humans are travelling internationally is increasing every year. 

In Australia, concerns about migration grew from the mid-1960s to the early 1990s, with the share of people who thought that immigration was 'too high' rising from 20 to 70 per cent.

Since the early 1990s, Australians' views of our migrant intake has warmed. In early 2017, Lowy Institute polling found that 35 per cent thought that immigration levels were 'about right' and 18 per cent thought they were 'too low'.

The share of people who think that immigration is 'too high', which was around 70 percent in the early 1990s, is now at 40 per cent.

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Labor brings a win for workers’ rights - Media Release




Workers’ rights have been protected after the Senate crossbench joined Labor to back in an amendment to the Competition and Consumer Amendment (Competition Policy Review) Bill 2017, by a vote of 33 to 25.

The support of the entire crossbench – with the exception of One Nation Senators - helped block a move by the Turnbull Government to increase the maximum penalty for breaches of the secondary boycott provisions, or ‘sympathy strikes’, from $750,000 to $10 million.

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Australia needs action on climate change - Transcript, Sky News Agenda





SUBJECTS: ACCC Report; Energy prices; Newspoll.

KIERAN GILBERT: With me now is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh. Dr Leigh thanks very much for your time.


GILBERT: This ACCC report comes out today, Newpoll showing about 60 per cent of people don't want to pay a dollar more for subsidising clean energy and you can see why given the pressure they're under?

LEIGH: I think if you talk to anyone who has got solar panels on their roof, they'll tell you how they brought down their power prices. Australia has got more solar per square metre than any other country in the world, it's got great opportunities for wind and wave and combined with battery and backup systems allows you to get that sustainability of supply that you need.

GILBERT: But to get the solar panels on the roof you need thousands of dollars in the first place? That's thousands many households wouldn't have.

LEIGH: The cost of these have come down significantly, which has been driving the uptake. Renewables produce about a fifth of our total electricity generation at the moment, Bloomberg forecasts that it will be three fifths in a couple of decades’ time. And we've got the situation now where three quarters of our coal plants are operating beyond their planned life, so we need to make that transition to renewables, not just to drive down power prices but of course to tackle climate change – given that we're the nation with the highest per person emissions in the world and doing so little to address climate change.

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Australia needs to engage with the world - Transcript, Weekend Sunrise





SUBJECTS: Populism, Inequality, Trade, Immigration, Foreign Investment. 

ANDREW O’KEEFE: The recent history of world politics has been a triumph of populism. From Trump in the US to the National Front in France, from Duterte in the Philippines to Erdogan in Turkey to Brexit in the UK, voters are moving away from the major parties and giving their vote to angry strongmen and women, rejecting globalisation along the way.

MONIQUE WRIGHT: Some analysts have blamed this on the failure of capitalism to look after the working classes, and others say that populism represents a streak of xenophobia.

O’KEEFE: One man who's been closely watching the trends is Federal MP and Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh, who's just published a volume on the subject called 'Choosing Openness'. Andrew joins us from Canberra. Morning to you, Andrew. 


O’KEEFE: Now, you're a man of many hats. Sure you're a pollie, but you were a professor of economics at ANU in Canberra. So, wearing your political hat first, how would you define populism and where do you find populists?

LEIGH: Populism is the politics of us and them them, the division of the ideas of a pure mass of people are oppressed by a vile elite. It doesn't have to be xenophobic, but it's so often is.

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Foreign investment rules - OpEd, Australian Financial Review

Foreign investment rules

Australian Financial Review, 12 October 2017

Despite its name, the Chiko Roll does not contain any chicken. Its contents are mostly cabbage and barley, along with other pulped vegetables and a small amount of beef. Its genius lies in the casing – made of egg and flour, and deep fried in oil. Yet the Chiko Roll wasn’t just a culinary innovation; it also changed how Australia controlled foreign investment. In 1972, when tens of millions of Chiko Rolls were being sold annually, the US conglomerate IT&T made a bid to buy the company. The idea of an Australian food icon being sold to Americans caused a backlash in the press and parliament. As one commentator notes, ‘the cabinet meeting over the Chiko Roll… was the beginning of the regulation of foreign investment in Australia’.

In recent years, Australians have tended to be more hostile to foreign investment than people in other advanced countries. In 2008, 90 per cent agreed that the federal government has ‘a responsibility to ensure major Australian companies are kept in majority Australian control’. Only 27 per cent support foreign investment in infrastructure. This was the third-lowest level of support out of twelve advanced nations in which opinions were canvassed.

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Will dodgy directors get to keep burning companies all summer long? - Media Release


Tomorrow will mark one month since the Turnbull Government announced it would finally introduce a director identification number to take action on illegal phoenix activity, but the public is yet to see any draft legislation.

There are only three joint sitting weeks left in the year. Dodgy directors could continue scamming honest businesses, employees and taxpayers all through summer if Malcolm Turnbull delays any further.

The Government hasn’t clarified whether acquiring a director identification number will require a 100-point identity check – a fundamental aspect of the proposal Labor announced in May. Bizarrely, Minister Kelly O’Dwyer has even linked a director identification number to the use of biometric data.

The Government keeps missing deadlines on a register of beneficial ownership, something they’re yet to commit to making public. 

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Queenslanders’ $50m fuel slug - Media Release


Brisbane drivers have forked over around $50 million more annually than their interstate counterparts since 2009 due to a lack of competition.

Today’s findings by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission show the dangers of concentrated markets.

These findings back in Labor’s calls for increased fines for anti-competitive conduct, and a completely independent market studies function for the competition watchdog.

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