Openness in a Populist World - Transcript, Sky Business





SUBJECTS: New book Choosing Openness, trade and foreign investment, energy policy, Malcolm Turnbull’s tax cuts for millionaires and multinationals, Labor’s fairer tax plan, migration, inequality.

TICKY FULLERTON, PRESENTER: Well it's all very interesting timing for our first chat with Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh, who is launching a new book for the Lowy Institute called Choosing Openness, why global engagement is best for Australia. In a former life Andrew Leigh was also a professor of economics at the Australian National University, so what does he make of the state that Australia and the world is in? I spoke with him earlier.

Andrew Leigh it's great to get you there. Now this is not the first book you've written, you're making the case for openness in trade, migration, investment in this populist world.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Well it is a world in which people are encouraging a hunkering down, in which we're seeing a rise of right-wing populism not just in the United States, Austria, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands but indeed in our own country. And part of that harks back to the notion that for most of human history, we did live in very small groups of about 150 or so, where being distrustful of outsiders was a good survival strategy. The trouble is that now engaging with outsiders is actually the best path to prosperity and i'm making the case in Choosing Openness that if we have the right social programs to support engagement with the world, then Australia can benefit through trade, migration and investment.

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Openness from a Progressive Perspective - Transcript, 2GB





SUBJECTS: New book Choosing Openness, German election, migration, inequality, energy policy.

ROSS GREENWOOD, HOST: Welcome back to Money News right around Australia. It's actually appropriate that you've actually got all this talk about Donald Trump and tax and globalisation and what happens to Australia now. Are we driven down a lower tax path? Is there more appetite in Australia to try and maintain competitiveness on tax with the largest economy in the world, and one that we have a free trade agreement with because, obviously, the free-flow of goods between the two countries is going to be influence by the cost of a whole bunch of things - it could be energy, it could be labour, or indeed it could be taxes as well. Now, it's appropriate I say, because today the Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh, who is also the Shadow Minister for Competition and Productivity, and for Trade in Services, has launched a new book that raises, in his mind, a whole bunch of questions. It is called 'Choosing Openness' and it makes a timely intervention into the debate about globalisation, free trade, but also immigration, which is a key issue. Let's get him on the line now. Many thanks for your time, Andrew

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: A pleasure Ross, great to be with you.

GREENWOOD: Alright, so you've also been an economics professor at Australian National University; you've done a whole bunch of things, awarded the Young Economist Award, a prize given every two years by the Economics Society of Australia. You've got skin in the game in regards to this. Many of your colleagues in the Labor Party have indicated that they would prefer more of a closed shop here in Australia, that they prefer Australia to be more protected and that really that we don't really openly trade with the rest of the world. Do you believe that is really the model for Australia for the future?

LEIGH: Ross, that's not the picture I see when I look around the Labor caucus. I hear first speeches that tell great stories of immigrants. I see a leader who was in Korea and Japan this week; a Shadow Treasurer and Shadow Foreign Minister who are releasing a paper on our Asian engagement tomorrow. The globalisers have the upper hand in my party - and have done so for at least the past generation.

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Australia does better when we engage - Transcript, ABC Sydney Mornings





SUBJECTS: New book Choosing Openness, Brexit and German election, migration and the US refugee resettlement deal

WENDY HARMER: We often hear about politicians that they’re not experts in the field that they end up having their portfolios in, but I don’t think you could argue with this one because my guest is Andrew Leigh. He’s the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and prior to entering the Australian Parliament in 2010, he was a professor of economics at the Australian National University. That’s not too shabby, is it? He holds a PhD in public policy from Harvard, he graduated from the University of Sydney with first class honours in law and arts and he’s a pretty prolific author as well. He has a few books – I don’t know how many altogether, but the ‘The Luck of Politics’, ‘The Economics of Just About Everything’, ‘Battlers and Billionaires: The Story of Inequity in Australia’ and ‘Disconnected’. This latest effort is a Lowy Institute paper, which is released today. It’s called ‘Choosing Openness’. So I don’t think we can complain about the lack of expertise. Hello Andrew Leigh, welcome to the program.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: G’day, Wendy. Great to be with you.

HARMER: Thanks. It’s very nice to have you along. Now, as I mentioned there, it’s in the news today that former prime minister Tony Abbott is about to advise a new think tank in Britain on how to Brexit. What would you be saying? I imagine you’d be saying ‘wrong way, go back’.

LEIGH: Well, there’s nothing wrong with trying to make lemonade out of lemons, Wendy, but let’s face it – Brexit was a retreat from the global engagement that Britain had engaged in throughout that post war era. There’s now an ongoing Remain movement that’s still looking at the prospect of whether Britain might be best served by staying within the European Union and that I think has a stronger free trading bedrock than do these attempts to see how Britain can make its way outside the European Union.

HARPER: You warn against this sort of populist – you put a few of them in together, interconnected, haven’t you, these sorts of populist politics which have brought us Donald Trump and Brexit. Can you just outline your argument there of why you think that those populist decisions came about in the first place?

LEIGH: I think there’s a handful of factors that have driven populism. We’ve had some poor economic outcomes – rising inequality, there’s been an increase in the death rate among low educated whites in the United States, a pretty extraordinary development. We’ve seen very rapid technological change and I think sometimes when the world is changing fast people can feel a little adrift from their values. So things like genetic sequencing, mobile computing, artificial intelligence have given a sort of cyclone feel to what’s going on in the world. We’ve had some pretty canny political entrepreneurs who have made the most of this. You can look at Marine Le Pen in France as a good example of this and of course President Trump. Then you’ve seen a decline in traditional institutions, among them mainstream political parties whose voters have fallen by about 10 per cent right across the advanced world. Just as we’ve retreated from traditional institutions like churches and big business and trade unions, so too traditional political parties have shrunk. So all of that has made space for these right wing populist movements such as Brexit, such as the Alternative for Deutschland Party which entered the parliament in Germany on the weekend.

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Again. The ATO systems crashed again - Media Release




Yesterday critical ATO systems went down. Again. For at least the 14th time since December 2016.

Important tax office systems have now crashed so often it’s hardly a surprise to hear of another – but it isn’t good enough for the government to continually allow important online functions to be taken down for so long.

This outage was reportedly first experienced at 11.30am and the myTax service was still offline at 4.30pm. This is unacceptable.

The Turnbull Government – and its peak digital agency, the DTA - has overseen a litany of embarrassing tech wrecks, perhaps none as drawn out and futile as their management of the failing ATO systems.

ATO systems have been crashing since at least December last year and have occurred repeatedly right through to this years’ tax time. 

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Parliament should have been allowed to do its job - Transcript, Sky News Agenda





SUBJECTS: Same-sex marriage postal survey and its impact on mental health, religious protection, the energy crisis and the Clean Energy Target.  

KIEREN GILBERT: On the program now is Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh. Your thoughts on that issue, which has been reported in the Fairfax papers and Patrick McGorry expanding on that this morning about their experience with particularly the youth services, that there’s been a spike in requests for assistance.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Really troubling, Kieran, and it isn’t just the statistics we’re seeing. We had Eddie, a 14-year-old with two mums come to Parliament last week to talk about the experiences that he’s felt as a child of same-sex parents. It’s not as though gay and lesbian couples don’t already have children – they do and many of those children are feeling the brunt of some of the nastiness in this campaign. We warned this would happen. This is why Labor never supported this notion of a national survey and thought the parliament should just do its job.

GILBERT: But it’s not all bad, as Professor McGorry pointed out in that interview. While there’s a short term spike and issue, by November 15, if the result goes as the polls suggest, this will be a big win for that particular group of people in terms of the community’s support, acknowledgement, their broader acceptance.

LEIGH: We could have had that win by just letting parliament do its job. The important thing now is to make sure those organisations are resourced. Bill Shorten has called on Malcolm Turnbull to provide additional resourcing to mental health services, particularly those supporting young gay and lesbian teenagers.

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Lack of detail haunts Liberal policy - Speech, House of Representatives



Five years ago, Daniel O'Connell took on a contract to do some plumbing work in a caravan park in regional Victoria. Daniel was commissioned to do the work by a firm called Global Contracting, which eventually admitted that it wasn't going to pay him. He was left $200,000 out of pocket, one of around 300 contractors that lost a collective $8 million when the people who ran Global Contracting shifted money into other firms.

Phoenixing activity costs the Australian economy as much as $3 billion a year. In Northern Tasmania, a franchisee who ran multiple Noodle Box franchises was charged with alleged phoenix activity for having reportedly reassigned a number of the Noodle Box store leases, plant and equipment in such a way as to deny the creditors access to what was rightfully theirs. The scourge of phoenix activities hurts taxpayers, workers and honest businesses.

On 24 May, the member for Gorton, Senator Gallagher and I announced Labor's plan to crack down on dodgy directors. We pointed out that it was easier to become a company director than to open a bank account.

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Vale, Connie Johnson - Speech, Federation Chamber



On Wednesday, 10 May, this year, 5c pieces glittered in the autumn sun in Canberra as 25,000 Canberrans gathered to toss 5c pieces into a huge heart of coins on one of the netball courts. As Megan Doherty put it:

"By nightfall, the heart had become a big silver lake of hope and generosity."

In addition to the $300,000 raised in coins, there was an additional nearly $2 million raised for the purpose of 'cancer vanquishment'.

The woman who organised this was Connie Johnson. She had contracted cancer in 2009 and spent nearly 10 of her 40 years battling cancer. She launched the charity organisation Love Your Sister in 2012 to raise money for breast cancer research through the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. She worked with her brother, Logie-winning actor Samuel Johnson, who rode on a unicycle around Australia to raise money for cancer research. The heart on the Lyneham netball court was Connie Johnson's attempt to top her brother's extraordinary fundraising effort.

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Too little, too late on phoenixing - Transcript, The Business





SUBJECTS: The Turnbull Government adopting Labor’s plans to tackle dodgy directors, power prices and a clean energy target.

ELYSSE MORGAN: Andrew Leigh, you've been pushing for a crackdown on businesses phoenixing. You must be pleased with the Turnbull Government’s announcement today?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Well, I am pleased that they’re finally acting, Elysse. But it’s taken a long time. Brendan O’Connor, Katy Gallagher and I announced Labor’s policy on tackling dodgy phoenix directors back in May – four months ago – based off the recommendations of Monash and Melbourne Universities’ studies on this. Since then, we’ve had the Australian Institute of Company Directors, the ACTU and a host of expert bodies come on board and call for the Turnbull Government to act. But all the Government has said on the director identification number is still at the announceable stage. We had the Minister today talking about maybe doing biometric checks – clearly they haven’t though this through very well. And they still haven’t adopted Labor’s policies of ramping up the penalties and improving the test for depriving employees of their entitlements.

MORGAN: Just to break it down a bit, the Government has adopted the recommendation that every company director should have an identification number. But we don’t know yet if that will include a 100 point identity check. Any reason do you think why they haven’t gone down that path?

LEIGH: I think they’ve just been sitting on their hands, frankly. This has been a recommendation that’s been absolutely clear from a range of expert bodies. The 100 point ID check is in place, it’s how we check people’s identity when they open a bank account and using a 100 point ID check here would ensure that it is as tough to become a company director as it is to open a bank account.

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Labor policy leading the way on dodgy directors - Media Release


The Turnbull Government has been dragged kicking and screaming to finally take action on phoenix activity, almost four months after Labor unveiled its policy.

We've been calling for the introduction of director ID numbers since May, with support from the Productivity Commission, Australian Institute of Company Directors and  Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman.

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Boosting philanthropy fundamental for stronger Australia - Keynote address, Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit



Thank you for that very generous introduction. I acknowledge we are meeting on the traditional lands of the Ngunnawal people and pay my respects to elders past and present. I want to acknowledge Joe Skrzynski, Sarah Davies and Krystian Seibert, and in a building known for its give-and-take, the fact that here we have here one of the largest collection of givers assembled in the history of the parliament.

My first significant venture into philanthropy came in 1991 when I was working for Community Aid Abroad, now known as Oxfam. As a teenager, I decided that I would set about raising money for Community Aid Abroad in the local shopping centre using the only method that then occurred to me which was to dress up in a clown suit on a summer’s day and attempt to persuade young children to buy juggling balls from me. Over the course of a very hot morning I think I managed to make about $100 for Community Aid Abroad, but the next year they took me on to the New South Wales board where I got involved on working on their philanthropy strategies. I learned from that the power of story-telling; the value of going to those who’d been generous in the past and telling them in clear language the stories of the impoverished people around the world that their donations had assisted.

That sparked a lifelong interest in community engagement, also known as social capital. Sarah Davies mentioned I did my PhD at Harvard and one of the people I worked with was Robert Putnam who had then just brought out a book called Bowling Alone. Working with Putnam I got interested in what the trends were in Australia and began collecting statistics on how community life had fared in Australia over the last few generations. It turned into a 2010 book, Disconnected, which mapped many of the same trends that Putnam had laid out in Bowling Alone.

With that academic interest, when I came into politics it was natural I’d stay interested in the charities issue. After the last election, Bill Shorten reflected Labor‘s strong commitment to charities and not-for-profits by giving me the portfolio of Charities and Not-for-Profits. It’s the first time either of the major political parties have had a minister or a shadow minister responsible for Charities and Not-for-Profits and it marks Labor‘s strong commitment to your sector. 

Last December, we learned from the Giving Australia 2016 Report, some striking statistics on philanthropy. And for anyone who wasn’t watching the papers carefully last December, they were also helpfully reported again 10 months later in today’s press.  They show that while the amount of dollars donated rose from 2005 to 2016, the share of donors has fallen from 87 to 81 per cent. 

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