During a visit to Tasmania today, my colleague, Shadow Minister for Regional Development Julie Collins, and I met with pensioners to discuss the federal budget. We got a warm reception but not surprisingly, they gave the budget the thumbs down. Julie and I subsequently issued this joint media release:
ANDREW LEIGH MP - SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASUER
JULIE COLLINS MP - SHADOW MINISTER FOR REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT
ABBOTT GOVERNMENT’S BUDGET FAILS PENSIONERS
The Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh, has confirmed the Abbott Government’s Budget is no friend to Tasmania’s pensioners.
Speaking with members of the Tasmanian Pensioner Association in Hobart today Dr Leigh said the Abbott Government’s Budget would affect Tasmanians who could least afford any loss of financial support.
“This Budget not only breaks promises, it breaks the social contract with older Australians,” Dr Leigh said.
I spoke this morning on SKY AM Agenda with host Kieran Gilbert and the Liberal's Mitch Fifield about news that Coalition MPs are urging a sharp cut in the renewable energy target (RET). Here's the transcript:
SKY – AM AGENDA
MONDAY, 30 JUNE 2014
SUBJECT/S: Renewable Energy Target and Coalition backbench revolt; McClure welfare review; Aged Care reforms
KIERAN GILBERT: Joining me now on the program is the Assistant Social Services Minister, Mitch Fifield and the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh. Gentlemen, good morning to you both.
Mitch Fifield, first to you, 25 of your colleagues - backbench, members of your government are speaking out against the renewal energy target, saying it should be scaled back, that aluminium should be excluded from it. This is much more than a ginger group, as Graham Richardson has pointed out there. This is half your backbench in the lower house of the parliament.
BREAKING POLITICS – FAIRFAX MEDIA
MONDAY, 30 JUNE 2014
SUBJECT/S: McClure welfare review and disability support; Renewable Energy Target and Coalition backbench revolt; Asylum seeker policy and secrecy.
CHRIS HAMMER: We're joined now by Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Labor member for Fraser here in the ACT. He's in the studio. And joining us via Skype, Andrew Laming the member for Bowman.
This morning I spoke to ABC 666 Breakfast presenter Philip Clark about calls for a Royal Commission into the financial advice arm of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia which a Senate inquiry found underpaid victims of a scandal and sought to avoid regulatory scrutiny.
ABC 666 CANBERRA – BREAKFAST SHOW
FRIDAY, 27 JUNE 2014
SUBJECT / S: Commonwealth Bank and ASIC report; multinational profit shifting and tax evasion.
PRESENTER, PHILIP CLARK: The Senate Committee into the Commonwealth Bank has called for the country to set up a Royal Commission into the Commonwealth Bank to investigate fraud and forgery and allegations of a cover-up inside its financial planning arm. This issue's been bubbling along for a while, since it was broken in the media about misconduct among CBA financial planners. It's much worse than we had thought. Thousands of Australians lost their life savings as a result of shoddy financial advice. And it ought not stop there. Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh, who's been campaigning in this area and others, is on the line this morning. Andrew, good morning.
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER, ANDREW LEIGH: Good morning Philip, how are you?
CLARK: I'm very well. It's uncovered a pretty dodgy set of dealings inside the CBA which probably does warrant further investigation, doesn't it?
LEIGH: Well it certainly makes troubling reading and it's looking into the Australian Securities and Investments Commission which is the oversight body for financial planners. This is why when we were in government, Labor tightened up the rules around financial advice, because of the Storm Financial affair, Timbercorp - where people not only lost all their money but were left with debts at the end - and Trio. We've had a succession of these corporate collapses. And in our view it wasn't enough to just put all the burden back onto the investors. You had to say financial planners must act in the best interest of the client, and that people had to be opting in to receive financial advice.
Ahead of formal protests at the CSIRO Black Mountain labs in Canberra, I spoke today about the literal decimation of Australia's premier science agency.
JUNE 25, 2014
In 1931, Labor member Jack Holloway became the first Australian to be Minister for Science. Eight decades later, the Abbott government became the first government in three generations to not have a science minister. The lack of a science minister has sat alongside another significant decision by this government: decimating the CSIRO. This government is literally sacking one in 10 CSIRO staff.
Today I spoke in Parliament about the Abbott Government's plan to cut government cleaners' pay by nearly $5 an hour. The change is slipped into the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Bill 2014.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
The context in which we are debating this bill is a context in which inequality has been rising for a generation. Since 1975 earnings in the top 10 per cent have gone up 59 per cent after inflation. Earnings in the bottom 10 per cent have gone up 15 per cent after inflation. So we have had a generation in which earnings have risen three times faster for financial dealers and anaesthetists than they have for checkout workers and cleaners. To put it another way: if cleaners had enjoyed the same wage growth over the last generation as people in the top of the earnings distribution, they would be $14,000 a year better off.
Labor will vote against the Government’s plans to increase fuel excises because of the cost of living impact on low and middle income earners. It's also a tax on regional and rural Australia. Today I spoke on the Excise Tariff Amendment (Fuel Indexation) Bill, suggesting that if the National Party had any integrity it would stand up against the petrol tax too.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Wednesday, 25 June 2014
In this debate we have seen a notable lack of speakers from the Nationals. This is the Liberal tail wagging the Nationals dog.
The Australian Financial Review has this morning published my opinion piece that mounts a defence of Australia's gun buyback scheme.
SHOOTING DOWN ARGUMENTS AGAINST TOUGH GUN LAWS
In the decade up to 1996, Australia averaged one mass shooting every year. Places like Hoddle Street, Queen Street, Strathfield, Surry Hills, the Central Coast and Port Arthur all became synonymous with killings in which five or more people died.
In the decade after the 1997 National Firearms Agreement (NFA), Australia did not have a single mass shooting.
Last night in the Chamber, I spoke against the Government's omnibus Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment Bill (2014 Budget Measures No.1).
House of Representatives
Tuesday, 24 June 2014
It is a pleasure, in this debate, to follow the contributions of the member for Jagajaga, the member for Gellibrand and the member for Hotham—three Labor members whose careers in politics have been founded on the notion that we must work for those more vulnerable than ourselves. It is a pleasure for me to follow them because the legislation we are debating tonight goes to the heart of the Australian social contract—a social contract that says that an egalitarian tradition is something that Australians hold dear.
This morning I spoke at the CEDA 2014 State of the Nation Conference at Parliament House, addressing the challenge of closing loopholes that allow multinational companies to pay a lower rate than Australian small businesses.
Thanks very much Stephen for a very generous introduction. Can I of course acknowledge that we're meeting on traditional lands of the Ngunnawal people and I pay my respects to their elders past and present.
It's a great honour to be sharing the stage too with John Brumby, one of our great economic reformers and Jeremy Thorpe, one of the deep thinkers in Australia around the issue of tax. You’ll be surprised to know that some people find tax eye-glazingly dull. I've been looking forward to talking to you about tax all week.