This morning I issued a media release urging the Prime Minister to listen to the wisdom in his own party room on the importance of the charities commission.
Malcolm turnbull backs charities commission
Harmonising laws for the not-for-profit sector, now being achieved by the single and national Commonwealth regulator, is an idea that has been enthusiastically backed by members of the Coalition, including Malcolm Turnbull.
The Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission, currently threatened with the axe under Tony Abbott, isn’t just something Labor has championed. It is a textbook reform streamlining reporting laws for the sector advocated by Liberals in recent years.
This evening I appeared on the ABC's The Drum program to argue for the retention of two Labor initiatives; strong pro-consumer financial advice laws and the four pillars banking policy. Here's the transcript:
TELEVISION INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT
THE DRUM, ABC 1
FRIDAY 20 JUNE 2014
SUBJECT / S: Future of Financial Advice reforms; Four pillars banking policy; ALP 2013 election campaign review.
PRESENTER, ELEANOR HALL: Let me first go to the issue of the financial advice laws because we have a situation where the Government is actually, as your Shadow Treasurer put it earlier today, capitulating on the issue of commissions. Can you tell us whether Labor will now back those financial laws through the Parliament?
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER, ANDREW LEIGH: Well, we're certainly not inclined to back things that are not in the best interests of consumers. I think the best way of understanding this pretty technical area of policy is to look at who is on which side. The bankers are pushing for them, Council of the Aging, National Seniors and Choice are against them.
Today I issued a media release welcoming a minority report produced by Labor Senators in favour of retaining the charities commission.
EVIDENCE IN FAVOUR OF ACNC “COMPELLING”
Labor Senators have urged their upper house colleagues to reject the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Repeal Bill.
In their Dissenting Report, tabled last night with the Economics Legislation Committee Chair’s Report into the ACNC (Repeal) (1) Bill 2014, Labor Senators Mark Bishop and Louise Pratt concluded:
1.24 The Labor members found the evidence in favour of retaining the ACNC compelling—not only because of the sheer numbers of charities and other organisations that strongly supported the work of the ACNC but because of the soundness of their arguments.
1.25 In its very short life, the ACNC has already registered impressive achievements, maintained strong support for its work and has shown itself flexible and accommodating through the transition period. It has been especially willing to develop mechanisms to assist highly regulated organisations to minimise their administrative burden.
At the start of the last fortnight of parliamentary sittings before the new Senate is installed, the focus of discussions on Breaking Politics today was naturally on the fate of budget measures. Here's the transcript.
BREAKING POLITICS – FAIRFAX MEDIA
MONDAY, 16 JUNE 2014
SUBJECT / S: Federal Budget negotiations; Superannuation; PPL.
CHRIS HAMMER, PRESENTER: We're joined now in the studio by Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Labor Member for Fraser in the ACT and Andrew Laming, the Member for Bowman in Queensland. Andrew Laming, do you accept that the Budget now is unlikely to make its targets?
SKY NEWS SATURDAY AGENDA
SATURDAY, 14 JUNE 2014
SUBJECT/S: The Abbott Government’s unfair budget; Climate change; McClure Review; Changes to the social safety net.
DAVID LIPSON: Joining me now here in the Canberra studio the shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh, thank you for your time.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Pleasure David.
LIPSON: We just heard from the finance minister on the repeal of the carbon tax. He says he’s cautiously optimistic that this will pass through the Senate. What do you think will happen in the Senate?
LEIGH: I’m no political predictor, I think that’s a mugs game, but I’m deeply concerned that the government’s now pursuing this strategy. We’ve just had the hottest summer on record, the hottest Australian year on record, we’ve had record breaking temperatures on the east coast and we’ve seen that total emissions have now had their biggest fall in a quarter of a century as a result of putting a price on carbon. So this is a policy which is working, which has reduced electricity emissions by 11 per cent since it came into effect which is doing so while providing household assistance through increased allowances and tax cuts –
This morning I spoke with Radio National Breakfast program business editor, Sheryle Bagwell, about US President Barack Obama's praise for Australia's gun control laws introduced in 1996 following the Port Arthur massacre.
During an online forum, Obama cited the success of Australia's 'very tough' gun buy-back program in controlling gun violence.
Here's the link to the interview on the RN Breakfast website.
Treasurer Joe Hockey and the 47 per cent, Fairfax Online, 13 June 2014
You know Joe Hockey is in trouble when he starts sounding like Mitt Romney. As the multi-millionaire Republican presidential candidate hit the skids in 2012, he gave a speech to a $50,000-a-head fundraiser in which he claimed that 47 percent of Americans ‘are dependent upon government’ and ‘believe they are victims’.
This week, Mr Hockey stepped into the same desperate territory, bemoaning that ‘over half of Australian households receive a taxpayer funded payment from the government’. We must, he said, ‘discourage the leaners’. In effect, Mr Hockey is arguing that half the Australian population are leaners, not lifters.
This afternoon I spoke with Capital Hill host, Lyndal Curtis, about the unfairness of the Federal Budget and the prospect of more punitive welfare measures under the Coalition. Here's the transcript:
CAPITAL HILL, ABC NEWS24
THURSDAY, 12 JUNE 2014
SUBJECT / S: Joe Hockey’s remarks on leaners; Federal budget and inequality; Welfare and means-testing; Tax reform.
LYNDAL CURTIS: The welfare reform report is not out yet but already the shape of what the government is looking at is becoming clearer. A medium to long-term plan to drastically wind back the number of payments and use what is happening in New Zealand to deliver better targeted help. It comes at a time that the Treasurer has been warning that the system delivers too much, to too many people. Part of the broader conversation he started when he declared the age of entitlement over and started speaking about people who can afford to do so, standing on their own two feet, without the need for government support. Labor has already condemned the action that the government has already taken on payments in the Budget. The Assistance Shadow Treasurer Andrew Leigh joins me now. Andrew Leigh welcome to Capital Hill.
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER, ANDREW LEIGH: Thanks Lyndal.
CURTIS: Do you believe that the current welfare system as Joe Hockey says makes payments too broadly available to too many people?
LEIGH: Absolutely not. And it’s not just me saying that. It’s what you see when you look at the international evidence. When you compare Australia to other countries, we're a relatively low-taxing, low-spending nation. Down the end of the spectrum where we would see the US and Mexico, not up the Scandinavian end of the spectrum.
This morning I spoke to NewsRadio about Treasurer Joe Hockey's speech last night in which he rejected criticism his budget is unfair, saying the government must "reward the lifters and discourage the leaners". Here's the transcript:
RADIO INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT
THURSDAY, 12 JUNE 2014
SUBJECT / S: Joe Hockey’s Sydney Institute speech; Federal Budget and Inequality
PRESENTER: The Treasurer has launched a new defence of the Budget, rejecting claims that it is unfair and hits the needy hardest. Mr Hockey says that the Budget aims to cut the overall cost of welfare so those most in need can be protected, but he says that it is not the Government’s role to achieve equality through the tax and welfare system. For a Labor response to the Treasurer, Marius Benson is speaking to Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer.
MARIUS BENSON: Andrew Leigh the Treasurer says that the welfare situation, the cost of welfare at the moment is unsustainable. As things stand, the average Australian tax payer is working for a month just to pay the welfare for other Australians.
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER, ANDREW LEIGH: Mr Hockey seems to have missed the fact that Australia is much closer down the US and Mexican end of the spectrum than the Swedish or Scandinavian end of the spectrum. Australian tax as a share of national income is relatively low. We have a lean and efficient welfare state and he has just delivered a budget which is massively redistributive from the worst off to the best off in the community.
This article on Australia's gun buyback program was syndicated by Zocalo, and appeared in various outlets, including Time magazine and the Huffington Post.
Dear NRA: My Country Is Proof That Reducing Guns Reduces Deaths
Sometimes a tragedy is so awful that it changes the national debate. The 1996 Dunblane school shooting in Scotland, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, and the 2011 Norwegian gun massacre all prompted an outpouring of anguish and a demand for changes in law.
In Australia, that moment was the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, in which a gunman killed 35 people at a tourist attraction in Tasmania. To put the size of the death toll into perspective, the United States population is 14 times larger than Australia, so the impact of the Port Arthur massacre on Australia would be like a U.S. shooting that cost more than 400 lives.