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Nobody likes running deficits, but right now creating jobs is priority number one - Op Ed, The Canberra Times

NOBODY LIKES RUNNING DEFICITS, BUT RIGHT NOW CREATING JOBS IS PRIORITY NUMBER ONE

The Canberra Times, 2 September 2020

‘The first duty of all Governments in the present period of stress is to relieve, as far as possible, the hardships and needs of persons who are willing to work but cannot find employment.’

The year was 1930, and the Canberra Times editorial reflected the anguish of the Great Depression. Around the world, unemployment spiked, and millions of lives were blighted by joblessness.

Nine decades on, the world is suffering the worst downturn since the Great Depression. Yet economic policymakers have a considerable advantage over their predecessors. It wasn’t until 1936 that John Maynard Keynes published The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, advising governments to spend in order to support demand. Keynesian economics did not become mainstream until decades later.

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JobKeeper designed for battlers, not billionaires - Transcript, ABC North Queensland Drive

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
ABC NORTH QUEENSLAND DRIVE
TUESDAY, 1 SEPTEMBER 2020

SUBJECT: JobKeeper payments.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: JobKeeper was designed for battlers, not billionaires. It was designed to keep people in work during the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Wage subsidy schemes like this have worked well around the world, and most firms have done the right thing. But there's a small number of firms who have taken the taxpayer handouts and used them to fund bonuses for executives. I think that fundamentally breaks the social contract between firms and the rest of the community. 

ADAM STEPHEN, HOST: How did you work out that some of the companies that had taken JobKeeper subsidies, wage subsidies for their workforce, had subsequently either paid out executive bonuses or given dividends to shareholders? 

LEIGH: Yeah, it's interesting question. If you're an unlisted company, no one knows whether or not you’re getting JobKeeper. But if you're a listed firm, then ASIC’s asked people to disclose to the share market the amount of JobKeeper they're receiving. So as we're now in the annual reporting season, a range of firms are reporting that they received taxpayer handouts and that they’ve paid executive bonuses.

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Need all hands to the wheel to address unemployment - Transcript, 5AA Mornings

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
5AA MORNINGS
TUESDAY, 1 SEPTEMBER 2020

SUBJECTS: JobKeeper payments; unemployment; Scott Morrison playing ‘whack a premier’.

LEON BYNER, HOST: This is a story that really needed to be out there because, as you know, the recession - and we've got one – has hit a lot of people hard. But a scheme that was designed to reduce inequality and help people out, according to my next guest, has been misused by a small number of firms who are channelling executive bonuses. Now, I would have thought that this ought to be illegal, but they've named - I'll give you some examples. Star casino. They got $64 million in JobKeeper and gave their CEO an equity bonus of $800,000. SeaLink received $8 million in JobKeeper, and gave the CEO a $500,000 bonus. Now look, there's a whole raft of companies that have done this. So let's talk to a bloke who is an expert in economics, but he speaks plain English, which is always a good thing. The Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities, Dr Andrew Leigh. Andrew, good morning. How can this happen?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: G’day, Leon. Great to be with you. Saying that I think economics and talk English is the kindest compliment!

This is one of those instances in which firms have done the wrong thing. Not most firms, but a few firms. The fact is, if you're putting your hand out for taxpayer support, which is absolutely the right the right thing to do in order to keep people in work, then you can’t then turn around and use that money to subsidise people in the executive suites. People already on seven figure salaries shouldn't have their salaries topped up using taxpayer handouts. It's as simple as that.

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PM playing 'whack a premier' to distract voters - Transcript, 2CC Canberra Breakfast

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
2CC CANBERRA BREAKFAST
TUESDAY, 1 SEPTEMBER 2020

SUBJECTS: JobKeeper and JobSeeker; foreign affairs and Australia’s national interest; China; Scott Morrison playing ‘whack a premier’ to pass the buck on aged care; charities facing perfect storm of falling donations and increased demand.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO, HOST: Joining us, as they will. on a Tuesday is our political panel. The Labor Member for Fenner and Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities Andrew Leigh joins us for the first time. G’day, Andrew.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: G’day, Stephen.

CENATIEMPO: And Zed Seselja, the ACT Liberal Senator and Assistant Minister for Finance, Charities and Electoral Matters. You guys are actually head to head in more than one way today.

ZED SESELJA, LIBERAL SENATOR: Good morning, Stephen. Morning. Andrew. How are you?

LEIGH: Wonderfully well. Yes, it's a nice coincidence to have two people concerned about charities from the ACT, isn’t it Stephen?

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Our nation needs good journalism - Transcript, 2CC Canberra Drive

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
2CC CANBERRA DRIVE
TUESDAY, 25 AUGUST 2020

SUBJECTS: Google; the importance of supporting local Australian journalism; multinational tax avoidance; JobSeeker and JobKeeper.

LEON DELANEY, HOST: Have you noticed that when you open up Google Chrome or when you use Google search, these little yellow triangles pop up with warning signs saying ‘warning, warning, Will Robinson, danger’? No, they say something like ‘warning, the Australian Government is about to impose rules that will dramatically impact upon Google's ability to provide you with services’ or something to that effect. So in order to shed some light on just what damn hell is going on there, I thought I should consult with that well-known technology guru, the Member for Fenner Andrew Leigh. Good afternoon.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good afternoon, Leon.

DELANEY: I never knew you were a technology guru. When did this happen?

LEIGH: [laughter] Like almost everyone, I appreciate Google and make good use of their products, but I think they might have overreached in this case. This is simply an ask for a trillion dollar company to make a small contribution to keeping the news media going. And as you know, Leon-

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Why are the Canberra Liberals so extreme? - Op Ed, CityNews

WHY ARE THE CANBERRA LIBERALS SO EXTREME?

CityNews, 18 August 2020

When the marriage equality vote was held in 2017, the Prime Minister supported it. Every premier and chief minister backed it. Every opposition leader – federal, state or territory – voted for marriage equality.

Except one. In the ACT, Canberra Liberal leader Alistair Coe opposed marriage equality. Three out of four Canberrans voted yes to marriage equality, the highest share in Australia. Yet Canberra was the only place where a major party leader voted no.

Marriage equality isn’t just an isolated incident. On a broad swath of issues, the Canberra Liberals have shown themselves not just to be more conservative than the typical Canberran, but to be the most conservative Liberal branch in Australia.

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Liberals should focus on constituents, not cash - Transcript, ABC Radio Canberra

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
ABC CANBERRA BREAKFAST
THURSDAY, 13 AUGUST 2020

SUBJECTS: The Liberal Party hosting fundraisers in the midst of the worst pandemic in a century; charities facing falling donations; stranded Canberrans returning home from the NSW/Victoria border. 

LISH FEJER, HOST: In a couple of weeks, parliament will be sitting and already there are MPs and their staff quarantining here in Canberra. But there are preparations being made for three proposed Liberal Party fundraising dinners to make the most of the time with politicians back in town. Ben Morton, who represents the WA seat of Tangney, said the events were not being organised by his office but by the Tangney campaign, which is part of the WA division. A spokeswoman for Ben Morton and the Tangney campaign told The Guardian that the Australian Government advice is that Australians should comply with the relevant advice in the state or territory where they're located, as appropriate. These very small events, said the spokeswoman, will only go ahead if they strictly comply with the relevant COVID safe rules that apply for venues in the ACT.  Dr Andrew Leigh is the ALP Member for Fenner and former professor of economics, and joins us this morning. Hello.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: G’day, Lish. G’day, Adam.

FEJER: So, what have they done wrong here? You're taking them to task.

LEIGH: Yes. We've had a lot of parliamentary sitting days cancelled. Now that parliament is finally getting together, all politicians’ focus should be on the main game. And that shouldn't be on raising money for the Liberal Party. It should be on doing the work that our constituents want us to be doing. We need to be very careful and cautious about the spread of coronavirus. I know all politicians are being judicious in terms the number of face to face meetings they take. Our office is still doing phone calls and zoom where that works, just as a safer way of making sure we reduce any chance of the spread of the virus. I just don't think it passes the pub test to have a two and a half thousand dollar fundraiser at the moment.

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Canberrans are coming home - Transcript, ABC Radio Sydney

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
ABC SYDNEY BREAKFAST
THURSDAY, 13 AUGUST 2020

SUBJECT: Stranded Canberrans returning home from the NSW/Victoria border. 

ROBBIE BUCK, HOST: It’s to do with those hundred or so Canberrans who was stuck at the Victorian border, and it appears after that conversation yesterday there's been some movement at the station. Dr Andrew Leigh is the federal Member for Fenner in the ACT. Morning, Andrew.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Robbie. How are you?

BUCK: Very well. Things moved quite quickly yesterday.

WENDY HARMER, HOST: Yeah, you know we’re claiming credit for this one, don’t you Andrew?

LEIGH: I think we all should. It's a great result. It should have happened to week earlier, but the fact that finally the New South Wales Government saw sense is just terrific.  And for those hundred Canberrans at the border, they will be very relieved to be back home and starting their two weeks of self isolation.

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NSW needs to wake up from bureaucratic nightmare - Transcript, ABC Radio Sydney

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

ABC SYDNEY BREAKFAST

WEDNESDAY, 12 AUGUST 2020

SUBJECT: Canberrans stuck at the NSW/Victoria border. 

ROBBIE BUCK, HOST: We’re going to take you to the New South Wales/Victoria border now. We have been talking about New South Wales travellers being stuck in Victoria, Wendy - a caller or texted - her tale of making a mercy dash because her mum was dying and then not being able to get back into New South Wales we’ve spoken about. But spare thought for a lot of the ACT residents who are stuck on the New South Wales/Victorian border, and they've been there for the last six days. They've been caught up in this rule change by the state government, requiring people traveling from Victoria to fly through the Sydney Airport before going to self funded quarantine. And Dr Andrew Leigh, who's the federal Member for Fenner in the ACT, happens to be one of those stuck there. Morning, Andrew.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: G’day, Robbie. Just to correct you, I’m not stuck there. I'm just trying to get my constituents back here.

WENDY HARMER, HOST: There's about 100 of them, I believe, Andrew.

LEIGH: It's a huge number, Wendy, and they're stuck in a sort of Kafka-esque nightmare where the ACT Government would be happy to go to the border with a couple of police cars and escort everyone back. It’s a three and a half hour drive, no one needs to stop, just a full tank of fuel and they’d go straight through. And what the New South Wales Government is saying instead is they should drive to Melbourne airport, abandon their cars, fly to Sydney, go into quarantine and then make their way back to Canberra. They’d endanger themselves and it'd come at a huge expense. Instead, they can come through New South Wales - endangering absolutely no one - and be back home. I just can't see what the New South Wales Government's problem is.

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Scott Morrison pointing fingers when he should be stepping up - Transcript, 2CC Canberra Drive

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
2CC CANBERRA DRIVE
TUESDAY, 11 AUGUST 2020

SUBJECTS: Aged Care Royal Commission; Parliament sitting; ACT Liberal candidate dumped two days after replacing dumped Liberal candidate.

LEON DELANEY, HOST: Joining me now, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities and federal Member for Fenner, Andrew Leigh. Good afternoon.

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

DELANEY: Thanks for joining us again. Let's start with the Aged Care Royal Commission, because obviously that's been very important process in getting to the bottom of the deficiencies in our aged care system. And it was said yesterday that the pandemic has actually revealed all of the flaws that already exist in the aged care sector, in a way that has never been the case before. Some of the things that we've learned were shocking enough before the pandemic has struck, but the handling of the aged care system during the pandemic has also been extremely difficult and disappointing.

LEIGH: Certainly has, Leon. Labor called for a Royal Commission into aged care because we were aware of the significant problems within the sector, and the need for us as a nation to do better with aged care. But now we've found out of this Royal Commission that there was no plan to deal with COVID-19 in aged care, and that's just frankly scandalous, as Chris Bowen our Shadow Health Minister was pointed out. We know that aged care is a huge point of vulnerability for coronavirus. If you look at the deaths in Australia of COVID related deaths, 68 per cent have occurred in nursing homes. So the federal government's failure to better prepare aged care homes for coronavirus is a real scandal.

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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.