HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 13 MAY 2020
Recently I heard from a woman in my electorate who changed employers in November last year. Her new employer told her she'd start off as a casual and then transition to permanency. Today, she can't access JobKeeper and says: 'This will have a long and lasting financial impact on our family'. In another family, they told me that their two children, aged 18 and 21, had each been in casual jobs for 11 months. They're ineligible too. A local Turkish restaurant tells me that half their staff were international students who are ineligible for JobKeeper. They're worried they'll have to close and have pleaded to me, 'Save us from folding up.'
Labor supports the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme. More than that, we called for it. Early in the crisis when other countries had announced wage subsidy schemes, the Prime Minister said it wouldn't work in Australia. It was only under pressure from business, unions and the Labor Party that he changed his mind, recalled parliament and enacted the JobKeeper package. It's the most important thing the government has done.Read more
ABC NEWS CAPITAL HILL
WEDNESDAY, 13 MAY 2020
SUBJECT: Australia’s relationship with China.
GREG JENNETT, HOST: The international trade environment is rich with COVID context at the moment, and there’s plenty of interpretation that says Australia is being punished – barley, beef, other commodities, wine before that. Do you believe that is China’s motivation in at least temporarily holding up some of these items?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Greg, I think it's really important when we're dealing with China to calm down and take the long view. This is a 5000 year old civilization. It's done more than any other country over our lifetimes to bring people out of poverty. We aren't helped by this talk of Thucydides traps and Cold War analogies and Chamberlain moments.
JENNETT: But what if they were true? What if these were Beijing’s motivations, that it is displeased that Australia is leading the charge on demands for investigations into this pandemic? Wouldn’t a country that respected its sovereignty forcefully rebut that and not expect to be punished via trade?
LEIGH: Take the long view doesn't mean you're not firm about your true values and about the institutions that underlie the international trading system. The World Trade Organisation has been a critical institution, and we should be strong supporters as a middle power engaged with the world of solving things through the World Trade Organisation. Australia has been a very extensive user of the anti-dumping system and China has not to date been bringing cases against our producers in a way in which we've been bringing them against theirs. But there's also-Read more
SKY NEWS FIRST EDITION
TUESDAY, 12 MAY 2020
SUBJECTS: Economic reform; the Treasurer’s economic statement; JobKeeper; the opportunity to rebuild the economy to benefit all Australians.
PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: We are joined now by Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities, Andrew Leigh, from Canberra. Andrew, good to see you. Thanks for joining us.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Likewise.
STEFANOVIC: So first of all, the NSW Premier has flagged this morning payroll tax and stamp duty relief. A lot of economic reform does come from the states. Is that something that you would support?
LEIGH: Absolutely. The states have both the most efficient and the most inefficient taxes, and the move that the ACT has made over recent years in transitioning away from insurance and stamp duty taxes towards a land tax base is textbook economic reform. It's sensible as a way of buffeting the shocks during the crisis to look at relief from the most inefficient taxes which could then be phased down.
STEFANOVIC: We did hear from a short time ago Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who says you know it's all about minimising risk and a strong recovery at the moment. How do you see it?
LEIGH: You look at Australia coming out of World War Two, and that was a period in which we decided we wouldn't just put the place together the way it had been in the 1930s, but we'd build a better country. There was a white paper on full employment put together by the Labor government, and then Robert Menzies to his credit embarks on a massive program of home building and the home ownership rate shoots up. We should be ambitious for Australia not just to return to the pretty stagnant economy that we've had for the last seven years, but to do something better - to invest in the sources of productivity through education and infrastructure, and to ensure that we've got a more egalitarian and a more connected nation. I'm confident that we can do all of that, but it will take a hard focus and a sense of bipartisanship that's been absent in recent years.Read more
2CC CANBERRA DRIVE
MONDAY, 11 MAY 2020
SUBJECTS: Australia beyond the coronavirus; JobSeeker and JobKeeper programs; the Coalition tripling Government debt; the important of engaging with the world; high speed rail; Jack Mundey.
LEON DELANEY, HOST: Federal Parliament will resume here in Canberra tomorrow on what would have been budget day. Yes, this is like Christmas for political nerds. The budget has been delayed of course, but both sides are laying out their visions for Australia's economic future. The Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will be handing down a budget statement tomorrow, and today the Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has delivered a major speech to Labor MPs outlining a vision for the future. Now amongst the things mentioned by the Opposition Leader today is the idea that while we're facing a massive challenge at the moment coping with the COVID-19 crisis, it is also not only a challenge, it is also an opportunity. Joining me now Member for Fenner and Shadow Assistant Minister for Charities and Treasury, Dr Andrew Leigh. Good afternoon.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good afternoon, Leon. How are you?
DELANEY: Very well, thanks. Thanks for joining us today. This is an opportunity to overhaul Australia's economy, says your leader. How big an overhaul are we talking about?
LEIGH: I think the important thing here Leon is that the snapback isn't a throwback. It's not a throwback to the past in which we just accepted that a huge share of the workforce would be on casual insecure contracts. It's not a throwback to assuming that people can live on 40 bucks a day on Newstart. It's not a throwback to thinking that somehow cuts in company tax rates for big firms is the solution to Australia's economic problems. And it's not a throwback to a time in which we disparage scientists and suggest that they had not nothing to contribute in boosting productivity in research and development. So there's a lot that we can do in this time in order to invest in the nation's future - affordable housing, boosting manufacturing, putting a greater emphasis on job security and creating a more respectful relationship between business and unions are just a few of the things that Anthony talked about today.Read more
ABC NEWS RADIO
MONDAY, 11 MAY 2020
SUBJECTS: Australia beyond the coronavirus; JobKeeper; the Coalition tripling Government debt.
GLEN BARTHOLOMEW, HOST: Labor MP Andrew Leigh was in that caucus meeting for that speech from Anthony Albanese. He's the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities, and joins us now. Good afternoon.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good afternoon, Glen. How are you?
BARTHOLOMEW: Not bad. Mr Albanese says the coronavirus crisis is an opportunity to reshape the economy. What more can you tell us about what specifically he might want done?
LEIGH: We need to ensure that the snapback isn't a throwback, and that we build a nation which is stronger, fairer and more committed to tackling the challenges of the future than we were beforehand. It's not as though we entered the crisis from a position of strength. The Reserve Bank's statement on monetary policy last week said private demand had been weak. People have been saying for many years that productivity was in the doldrums, and noting the problems with languishing wage growth and stagnant household living standards. So there’s a lot we can do in order to invest in social housing, to make sure we get a more cooperative relationship between business and unions, and to create an environment in which our scientists and our academics are working to boost research and development in Australia, so we're a more diversified, more productive economy.Read more
THURSDAY, 23 APRIL 2020
SUBJECTS: Coronavirus; trades jobs at risk; social housing investment during COVID-19; economic implications of COVID-19; construction sector impacts due to COVID-19; JobKeeper; Parliamentary sittings; World Health Organization; wet markets.
ANDREW LEIGH, MEMBER FOR FENNER: Thanks very much for coming along today. And welcome to Holt in the wonderful Fenner electorate. My name's Andrew Leigh. And it's a great pleasure to be here with our Labor Leader, Anthony Albanese, Jason Clare and Dave Smith. I want to thank today also, George, Chris and Dave, for showing us around this building site. We know two things about the building industry. First of all, it's had a lean couple of years. Last year building construction fell. Part of the general weakness that we've seen in the Australian economy, slow growth, sluggish productivity, wage growth down, all of these things hitting Australia hard before COVID-19 came along. We know too that the building industry is the most cyclical industry. Construction goes up and down with the economy.
So, when times are tough, construction gets hit pretty hard. But that is no reason the construction sector should suffer at a time like this. Australia needs a lot more houses. And when you look at how Australia has responded in past economic downturns, the construction sector has been essential to that. We came out of World War Two, we didn't just say, 'Let's put things back the way they were'. We said, 'Let's do it better'. And a huge construction boom followed the end of World War Two. Labor is strongly committed to the building industry and the construction sector, to building more houses that Australia needs, and to the thousands of jobs the construction sector supports. And that's why we're here listening to the stories of these builders today. Let me hand over now to AnthonyRead more
SATURDAY, 11 APRIL 2020
SUBJECTS: Charities unable to access JobKeeper payments; unemployment.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: While finance is the lifeblood of the economy, charities are the connective tissue. The 1.3 million charity workers help hold Australia together at times of crisis. This is a massive sector, and one which has been suffering a perfect storm over recent weeks. We've seen a huge drop off in donations to Australia's charities. Philanthropic foundations are experiencing lower sharemarket returns, so they're giving less. Australians are giving less to their favourite charities, and many significant fundraising events such as fundraising balls are dropping off. Op shops are closing. Charities are getting far less revenue now than they did in the past. They're suffering a fall in their volunteer base, too. Millions of Australians volunteer, but older Australians are increasingly refraining from volunteering because of the risk of being exposed to others.
At the same time, we need our charities more than we ever have. We need Australia's charities to assist with addressing family violence, with the challenge of joblessness, with the mental health issues that are arising and with problems around financial counselling. We're drawing on Australia's charities to help the homeless and Indigenous Australians, groups that are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. And yet the Government has been slow to assist charities. Their first response package contained nothing for charities whatsoever. The second response package contained nothing for major charities. The third package, the wage subsidy scheme called JobKeeper, did assist some charities and more when the Government on Sunday night changed the threshold so that charities only had to have a 15 per cent drop in turnover rather than a 30 per cent drop in order to qualify. Labor welcomed that change.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 8 APRIL 2020
When parliament met 16 days ago, Britain, New Zealand, Ireland and Sweden were among the countries that had implemented significant wage subsidies to save jobs. Labor said at the time that Australia should do the same, and we're very pleased that, as a result of significant pressure from Labor, the business community and the union movement, the government has announced a $130 billion wage subsidy scheme.
This reflects Labor's fundamental view—like it says on the tin—we're Labor: we believe in the dignity and the purpose that comes with the job. We believe that it is important to minimise the unemployment tragedy that flows from the coronavirus crisis. One private-sector forecaster estimated that without this package unemployment would have gone to 17 per cent and that with it, it will peak at nine per cent. An eight per cent reduction in unemployment is worth the significant debt that the government will accrue as a result of this package. Total support will now be more in the order of 10 per cent of GDP than the three per cent of GDP it was beforehand.Read more
WEDNESDAY, 8 APRIL 2020
SUBJECTS: Charities unable to access JobKeeper payments; coronavirus restrictions and the economy.
ALAN JONES, HOST: Andrew Leigh is a very highly credentialed Labor member of the Federal Parliament for the ACT seat of Fenner. He happens to be the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. He's most probably smarter than the people who've got the big gig, but that's another story. He's also though the Shadow Assistant Minister for Charities, and the in Parliament sitting today. He's written to me expressing some concern about this JobKeeper legislation bill to be introduced into Parliament. I might add that Andrew Leigh is a James Ruse old boy, so he comes from his fairly smart intellectual stable. Labor and the Government are on the one side, Labor will support the bill. Now this fellow is not oppositional, Andrew Leigh. He's capable of evaluating things on merit. He has written to me to say that even though the Government made a minor tweak to the JobKeeper bill, allowing charities to claim if they had a revenue drop of 15 per cent rather than 30 per cent they'd qualify, Andrew Leigh is saying that major charities including Anglicare, UnitingCare and Oxfam have said that the solution won't work. I just thought we'd have a word with him. This is really important, because I know that there is a bit of disillusionment – and I was going to raise this with Andrew - a bit of disillusionment about charities because people gave generously in drought and bushfires and no one knows where that money has gone. But nonetheless, in this environment which is very, very difficult, charitable work - there is tremendous demands on these charities. Andrew, good morning to you.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Alan. Great to be on with you.
JONES: Thank you. Can I just preface things by saying that point, that charities are a little bit on the nose with the public because they feel that hundreds of thousands of dollars were given somewhere for drought and bushfire relief and no one seems to know where it is. Is that something that is often raised with you?
LEIGH: Certainly from time to time. I think it's absolutely critical that charities account to their members properly for every dollar they spend. They've got a public trust to spend given the money wisely, but I think in bushfire relief it was charities we turned to-Read more
ABC RADIO CANBERRA
TUESDAY, 7 APRIL 2020
SUBJECTS: The need for Parliament to keep sitting; JobKeeper payments for casuals and migrant workers; charities unable to access JobKeeper payments; coronavirus modelling.
ADAM SHIRLEY, HOST: And it's the federal government's response for weeks now that you've probably been hanging on. What immediate financial relief is available to you? Where can you go? Where can't you? How clear is that advice from the federal government? Dr Andrew Leigh is a former professor of economics at the ANU. He's also the Federal Member for Fenner, a Labor member, and he's with us now on ABC Radio Canberra. Dr Leigh, good morning to you.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Adam. Great to be with you and your listeners.
SHIRLEY: How well are the economic measures taken by the Government working, in your view?
LEIGH: I think they'll have a significant effect. The estimate from Westpac is that if we hadn't had the wage subsidy the Parliament will pass tomorrow, unemployment would have hit 17 per cent. Westpac is now forecasting it'll hit 9 per cent. Now 9 per cent is still awful, but it's almost a halving of the unemployment rate as a result of this package. With stimulus 1 and 2, Labor said we welcomed them but they didn't go far enough, and that we needed to do what other countries have done and provide significant wage subsidies. And I'm pleased that Parliament will be passing those tomorrow.Read more