Speaking


Treasury Laws Amendment (Enterprise Tax Plan No. 2) Bill 2017

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

11 SEPTEMBER 2017

Today, I want to deal with three arguments that the coalition have made for cutting the company tax rate. They've claimed that Labor once supported cuts to the company tax, they've claimed that other countries have lower corporate tax rates and that ours are comparatively high and they've claimed that cutting the company tax rate for big business will boost growth. I will explain to the House, in turn, the problems with each of these arguments.

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Social Services Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform) Bill 2017

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

MONDAY, 11 SEPTEMBER 2017

 In the Senate inquiry into this bill, Sharon Pellas from Volunteering Australia, reported:

I have actually found that in the volunteering role I have had a lot more value in terms of the input that I give into where I've been volunteering in both services. I've actually had an opportunity to also increase my skill set and learn to use different IT systems that I wasn't aware of before. I've also been able to share my knowledge in terms of good customer service skills and looking at customer service models. I've also been able to foster self-esteem in people under Job Network and also with people who are working for the dole. I've been able to be involved in bringing a community together.

She says:

I'm still looking for work. I'm doing that myself anyway. So I think I keep a much more positive approach than what I would have if I wasn't volunteering.

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Competition and Consumer Amendment (Competition Policy Review) Bill 2017

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

TUESDAY, 5 SEPTEMBER 2017

It is timely for this House to be debating competition policy given the increasing concern internationally about the impact of rising market concentration on growing inequality around the world. The importance of competition policy has not always been appreciated by the economics profession. In a recent speech, Rod Sims quoted from a number of doyens of the economics profession, including Milton Friedman, who was sceptical of the role that antitrust has to play. But, as he noted, the economics profession has come around on that issue.

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SPEECH TO JUSTICE CONNECT’S ‘FIX FUNDRAISING’ EVENT

SPEECH TO JUSTICE CONNECT’S

‘FIX FUNDRAISING’ EVENT

 

WEDNESDAY, 5 APRIL 2017

MELBOURNE

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 Thank you for the generous introduction. You were good enough to run through my various titles, but for the purposes of today only one of those matters. I am proud to be the first Shadow Minister for Charities and Not-for-Profits. Under a Shorten Labor Government, I would be the first Minister for Charities and Not-for-Profits. I have had consistent responsibility for that portfolio since Labor lost office in 2013.

I note that Assistant Minister Michael Sukkar has just taken over responsibility for charities in the Turnbull Government. I look forward to working with him - as I've done with his five predecessors over the past four years. 

Adam Smith, one of the founders of modern economics, is best known for his book The Wealth of Nations, but in an earlier work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith gave what I think is one of the best answers to the question of how we should spend our lives. He wrote, 'to be amiable and be meritorious, that is to deserve love and deserve reward, are the great characters of virtue. Man naturally desires not only to be loved, but to be lovely. To be that thing which is the natural and proper object of love.'

Talking with people in business, I'm often struck by how well Smith's words encapsulate what we aspire towards. Most people don't just want to make money, we want that sense of inner tranquillity that comes from feeling that we are decent, ethical and admirable. In Smith's formulation, most of us want to be 'lovely'. Being involved in charities and philanthropy is one way we can do that. The typical career lasts only about 80,000 hours, and most of us want to make a contribution in that time.

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"Australia needs to do its part where the United States has failed." - Private Member's Motion

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CANBERRA

MONDAY, 27 MARCH 2017

 I move that this House:

(1) notes that:

(a) the Global Gag Rule (GGR), as implemented by the United States, will prove detrimental to millions of women and girls around the world;

(b) the GGR has expanded to an unprecedented degree, applying to 15 times more funding as a consequence of its extension into all global health funding, which will result in roughly $9.5 billion dollars in global health funding being affected;

(c) the GGR will result in the targeting of some of the most effective health organisations in the world, operating in 60 low and middle income countries;

(d) a study by researchers at Stanford University found that after the GGR came into effect in 2001, the abortion rate increased sharply in sub-Saharan African countries that had been dependent on such funding;

(e) the funding cuts will likely prevent many global health organisations from offering HIV prevention and treatment services, maternal health care and even Zika virus prevention; and

(f) it is possible that as many as 21,700 maternal deaths could occur in the next four years as a consequence of this executive order, which is in addition to 6.5 million unintended pregnancies and 2.1 million unsafe abortions from 2017 to 2020, according to Marie Stopes International;

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Bourke St Fund - Speech to Parliament

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CANBERRA

WEDNESDAY, 15 FEBRUARY 2017

Dr Leigh (Fenner) (11:24): Perhaps the most poignant thing to come out of the tragedy that took place in Bourke Street on 20 January this year was a letter by Henry Dow, which was read at the Federal Square remembrance for the victims. He told the story of Lou, a taxi driver. He said: 'Administering first aid with me under that skinny little tree is a man named Lou. He's everything great and courageous you've seen, heard or read rolled into one authentically humble bloke.' He talked about how, having seen the car fly by, he managed to help some passers-by, and he said that was the moment at which Lou came over. 'Lou grabbed my hand and firmly told me to "keep it together", that I was okay and that we needed to keep strong for this woman. In a level and loud voice Lou barked orders at other pedestrians standing by, having not fled but still too stunned to think or move. He directed assistance to several of the victims lying on the pavement around us, all whilst keeping me calm and speaking lovingly to this woman: "I'm Lou. You're going to be okay. We are looking after you."'

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Tony Atkinson - Speech to Parliament

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CANBERRA

THURSDAY, 16 FEBRUARY 2017

Dr Leigh (Fenner) (16:48): If you have ever referred to 'the one per cent', you are using the work of Tony Atkinson. Tony, who died on New Year's Day this year, aged 72, contributed as much as any modern economist to the study of poverty and inequality.

When I first met Tony in the early 2000s, I was struck by the contrast between his exalted status and his willingness to engage with a mere PhD student. He was the head of Oxford's prestigious Nuffield College, and had recently been knighted by both the British and French governments. It always made me smile when I thought about the fact that the only 'Sir' that I knew well was my inequality co-author.

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'EXPLAINING THE RISE OF AUSTRALIAN INEQUALITY': JUST IDEAS TALK #2 - Speech

‘EXPLAINING THE RISE OF AUSTRALIAN INEQUALITY’

JUST IDEAS TALK #2


PER CAPITA’S REFORM AGENDA SERIES

MONDAY, 5 DECEMBER 2016

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There are many forms of inequality, but perhaps the starkest is the difference between those who own no assets and earn their living by selling their labour – and those who earn vast assets, and can live off the proceeds.

Between these two extremes lies home ownership. It’s not a perfect marker, but if you don’t own a home, it’s likely you live by the sweat of your brow. Conversely, if you’re living off your investments, it’s a pretty good bet you own your home.

At the end of World War II, Australia was a nation where just 53 percent of households owned their homes.[1] In the major cities, the figure was just 46 percent.[2] Most city-dwellers rented. And most homes were made of wood or fibro cement.

Then in the post-war years, something remarkable happened. The Australian home ownership rate surged. By 1954, it was up to 63 percent. By 1961, it was 70 percent. In just over a decade, the distribution of Australian housing wealth became significantly more equal.

It wasn’t just homes. Shared prosperity in the post-war decades meant cars became cheaper. By the 1960s, most Australian homes had a vacuum cleaner, a washing machine, a television and a fridge – items that in the pre-war era were only owned by the most affluent.[3] Even access to university was shared. For someone like my grandfather Keith Leigh, attending Melbourne University would have been impossible on a modest clergyman’s wage. Only a post-war veteran’s scholarship made it feasible.

The intellectual seeds for these changes were sown in John Curtin’s white paper on full employment, and his clearly professed view that ‘there will have to be a fairer distribution of wealth’.

But the surprising thing is what happened next. 

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Plutocratic politics is on the rise - Speech

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CANBERRA

THURSDAY, 24 NOVEMBER 2016

Suppose for just a moment that the 10 minutes allocated to this speech was distributed as unequally as Australian wealth. If that was true, I would spend the first six minutes and 13 seconds talking about the richest fifth, then two minutes and three seconds speaking about the next fifth, just a minute and eight seconds speaking about middle Australia, 31 seconds speaking about the second-bottom fifth and the last five seconds speaking about the poorest. In short, it would sound an awful lot like the typical Liberal speech.

This is a government that says it fights for freedoms. But the problem is that the sorts of freedoms they fight for are not the freedoms ordinary Australians care about. They fight for the freedom to stash your cash in a tax haven. The freedom for big banks to avoid a royal commission. The freedom to buy a negatively-geared home for your one-year-old baby. The freedom to tax deduct a $6,000 toaster. The freedom to be named in the Panama papers.

Plutocratic politics is on the rise. We on this side of the House thought it was pretty bad when John Howard said he would not move into the Lodge. Now we have a Prime Minister who is too good to move into Kirribilli House. Yet he lectures us about elites. Let's face it: being lectured about elites by this Prime Minister is like being lectured about sportsmanship by John McEnroe, about abstinence by Ozzy Osbourne, about driver safety by Troy Buswell, or about loyalty by the Member for Cook.

This is a government that never takes responsibility. When Adam and Eve were caught in the Garden of Eden, the Liberals sent around talking points saying it was all Labor's fault and that if only we had supported a company tax cut the serpent would not have got there at all.

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RESPONSE TO THE MINISTER FOR TRADE’S STATEMENT ON INVESTMENT - Speech

AUSTRALIAN PARLIAMENT HOUSE

WEDNESDAY, 23 NOVEMBER 2016

I rise representing the member for Blaxland, who is Labor's shadow minister for trade and investment and is presently on parental leave. At the outset I note that the opposition were not provided in advance with a copy of the statement or the document that the minister has tabled, so my comments will be of a general nature responding to the minister's speech and discussing the coalition's role in the fall in Australian investment that we have seen over recent years.

Labor acknowledges the benefits to Australia of foreign investment. As Senator Wong recently noted:

“Last year Australians saved just over $363 billion, yet investment in our economy was nearly $425 billion. This was, of course, nothing out of the ordinary. Over the last four decades, the gap between Australia's national savings and investment has averaged around 4 per cent of GDP.”

By tapping into foreign investment Australia is using the savings of other nations in order to finance investment in our own country. Foreign investment ensures that we enjoy higher living standards and that we have a more productive economy and more sustainable industries. To do away with foreign investment would be to see employment decrease, wages fall, prices rise and the choices offered to consumers decrease. 

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8/1 Torrens Street, Braddon ACT 2612 | 02 6247 4396 | Andrew.Leigh.MP@aph.gov.au