Australia's Stagnant Economy - Speech, Melbourne




19 FEBRUARY 2020

I acknowledge the Wurundjeri people, on whose lands we meet today.

It’s less than two months since John Cain left us, and just over a week since the outpouring of public recognition that his memorial service evoked. As a child of the Cain era, his passing still feels raw. My parents grew up in Melbourne, and we visited regularly. I recall the sense of fresh possibility when the Cain Government’s 1982 election ended three decades of Liberal rule. The Cain Government was a reformist government – reforming liquor laws, investing in public health and education, taking on the gun lobby and the tobacco lobby.

Unlike the showponies and charlatans of today, John Cain took public service seriously. ‘It’s no good being in office for three years, or four, or five’, he said. ‘I want to see long-term change’. He drew on evidence, reformed the public service, and worked with the caucus and the broader labour movement. ‘It’s hard to make decisions on complex issues’, he noted. ‘It’s is more difficult if the process is defective.’

Read more
2 reactions Share

Give a little love to our nation's capital - Speech, House of Representatives


It has been 17 years since the 2003 Canberra bushfires but the memory loomed large over the capital in the recent summer months. Emergency services battled multiple fires in record-breaking heat. My constituents in Jervis Bay were evacuated as the fires closed in.

One blaze still burns, despite the rain. The Orroral Valley fire, which started in Namadgi National Park on 27 January and burned out of control for more than a fortnight, is now contained, but it has burned more than 86,000 hectares, around 30 per cent of the land area of the ACT.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Coalition still dragging feet on phoenixing action - Speech, House of Representatives


When Megan was seven years old her dad lost his job. Megan told me that she kind of enjoyed it at the time. Rather than having to go to work every day, he would stay home and help her organise her toys. She'd get to walk to school with him, which she only realised later was because the family couldn't afford the petrol. Megan's dad had been the victim of phoenixing in which a dodgy director had shifted the assets out of the company, shut the firm down and caused him to lose his job.

The impact of phoenixing on the Australian economy is massive. PwC estimated that in 2016-17 the impact was at least $5 billion a year. That's $3.2 billion in unpaid bills, $300 million in unpaid employee entitlements, $1.7 billion in unpaid taxes and compliance costs. The stories of phoenix activity are legion. There were suggestions that phoenixing was one of the reasons for delays in the building works recently conducted at Parliament House. I have spoken to tradies on the Gold Coast, in Canberra, in Melbourne, in Sydney and in Western Australia who've told me they've been the victims of illegal phoenixing activities.

Phoenixing erodes the very bedrock of business which is trust.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Morrison Government on the go slow - Speech, House of Representatives


Periodically in this House, we have a serious conversation about who's standing up for consumers and who's standing up for vested interests. We had that conversation in 2012, when Labor moved the future of financial advice reforms, opposed by the coalition. As the Hayne royal commission highlighted:

There must be recognition that conflicts of interests and conflicts between duty and interest should be eliminated rather than 'managed' …

Yet, when it came to office, the coalition set about winding back the future of financial advice reforms, ensuring that no longer did a best interest duty need to be followed. It would seem to be fundamental that a financial advisor needs to act in the best interests of their client, yet the coalition somehow thought that that ought not be the law of the land. Part of this wind-back involved the creation of a loophole affecting units or shares in listed investment trusts and listed investment companies. That has led to a significant increase in the market, with the LIC and LIT market doubling in size to $45 billion since 2015.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Coalition commitment on beneficial ownership register remains unmet - Speech, House of Representatives


The Hayne royal commission's final report observed ASIC's 'deeply entrenched culture of negotiating outcomes rather than insisting upon public denunciation of and punishment for wrongdoing.' Commissioner Hayne raised a number of concerns about the policies and culture of ASIC and these were issues that our committee's deliberations went directly to.

We spoke to ASIC about their optimal litigation success rate. They advise that in the five years to 2018-19 their enforcement litigation success rate has been above 90 per cent. That does suggest that while they're having a good record in court, they may not be sufficiently aggressive in taking cases to court. The conversation over the optimal litigation success rate will be an ongoing one between our committee and ASIC.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Coalition in complete disarray and disfunction - Transcript, Doorstop


SUBJECTS: Climate change; the economic benefits of renewable energy; Llew O’Brien quitting the Nationals; Scott Morrison’s lack of leadership. 

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. Australia is the advanced economy that is most at risk from dangerous climate change. We know that if climate change is left unchecked, we could lose the Great Barrier Reef. We know the extreme weather events will get more and more frequent. Ross Garnaut’s report in 2009 warned of increased flooding, hailstones, fires, lightning strikes. So we know that Australia ought to be leading global efforts on climate change, that we have a unique interest in increasing the speed at which the world moves. This excuse that we’re a small share of global emissions misses the fact that if every country with less than 2 per cent of global emissions did nothing, a third of global emissions would not be acted upon.

Australia has been experiencing severe weather events already. We've gone from an extraordinary bushfire season to immediate floods. This is not normal. Extreme weather events like Australia has been experiencing are not normal. Here in Canberra we've been experiencing record temperatures. Successive days over 40 degrees. From the 1970s to the 1990s, we had a 25 year period in which the Canberra  temperature never once went over 40 degrees. Now it seems to have become the new normal.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Where's the Government's plan for the economy? - Speech, House of Representatives


The Australian economy is in a bad way. In its latest business outlook, Deloitte Access Economics forecast below trend growth of two per cent in 2019-20 and 2.4 per cent in 2020-21. These figures are significantly below the Morrison government's midyear budget forecasts. Deloitte says:

The nation's growth won't lift that much from today's decade low and we don't expect unemployment to drop or wages to accelerate through 2020.

Retail, as they point out, is already amid its deepest downturn since 1990. You can see the collapse of the retail sector in the shuttering of so many household names among major Australian retailers. This sector is doing it tough under the Morrison government. Deloitte points out that construction is shrinking at its fastest rate since 1999. And, as the shadow Treasurer pointed out, ‘this is what happens when a Liberal government in its seventh year spends all its time spinning, pork barrelling and playing politics instead of actually coming up with a plan to meet the big challenges of the economy’.

Read more
2 reactions Share

We can't talk about bushfires without talking about climate change - Speech, House of Representatives


Edward Ryan was born at Calvary Hospital on 20 January. A few hours later his parents' car was smashed by hailstones in the hospital car park.

As Edward left hospital with his parents two days later, Canberrans were being evacuated from their homes and workplaces as bushfires bore down.

When Edward was just a fortnight old, flames framed our southern skies, turning them red, as emergency services battled the Orroral Valley fire—the worst since the 2003 Canberra bushfires.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Australia needs to step up on world stage - Speech, House of Representatives


This bill enjoys bipartisan support. It involves providing replenishment funds to six multilateral development organisations. But it comes at a time when aid has been savagely cut to the lowest level since records began. Since the government came to office in 2013, it has cut nearly $12 billion from Australia's aid program. That means aid as a share of national income is lower now than it was under Liberal prime ministers Menzies, Holt, Gordon, McMahon, Fraser and Howard. Those governments recognised the importance of overseas aid, not just in alleviating poverty but also in building trade in our region, and also in ensuring that our region is safer.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Reducing the Harms from Gambling - Speech, House of Representatives


In the 1980s, economist Gary Becker developed the theory of rational addiction. Rational addiction, which applies to any sort of addictive substance, is the notion that as an individual considers whether or not to take up an addictive substance they think rationally about the probability that they will get addicted to it and the costs and benefits of all of that—so, when a teenager takes their first smoke, they're thinking rationally about the long-term impact it will have on their lives if they become addicted; when somebody takes their first drink, they're thinking about the risk of addiction and, mathematically, quickly doing all the costs and benefits as to the lifetime impact; or, when someone gambles, there are also computing the costs and benefits and considering rationally the probability of addiction.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Stay in touch

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter


Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | Andrew.Leigh.MP@aph.gov.au | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.