Speaking


Audio Recordings

For audio recordings of my speeches and conversations at events across the country, please see this podcast below. It's also available on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.




Written Speeches

Below you will find transcripts of doorstops, speeches and media interviews.

Australians deserve better than Scott Morrison - Transcript, RN Breakfast

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

ABC RN BREAKFAST

MONDAY, 4 JANUARY 2021

SUBJECT: Labor’s plan for a better recovery; the need to remain open to the world.

CATHY VAN EXTEL, HOST: Andrew Leigh is Labor's Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. Welcome back to Breakfast.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: G’day, Cathy. Great to be with you.

VAN EXTEL: Now, there’s a six week gap in the parliamentary sitting calendar during September-October This is being interpreted as a possible election window. Is that your expectation?

LEIGH: We’re ready to go to an election anytime the Prime Minister wants to call one, Cathy. I think Australians are hankering for recovery that doesn't just take us back to 2019, but does what that wartime generation did after World War II - builds back better. A recovery that creates a country which is better able to deal with climate change, which is more productive, which has more rapid wage growth, and more egalitarianism and community connectedness. I think what was at the heart of Anthony Albanese’s criticism of the prime minister was that we all want him to be as ambitious for Australia as he is for himself.

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Labor ready to lead on climate action - Transcript, 2SM with Marcus Paul

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 15 DECEMBER 2020

SUBJECTS: JobKeeper as BonusKeeper; Cycling crash; China; Climate change.

MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Dr Andrew Leigh is with us now on the program. Let's talk about the potential audit of the JobKeeper scheme. Andrew has been fighting hard on this, he's asked the Auditor General to look for companies using it to pay executive bonuses. We've gone through and named and shamed a number of big business corporations. They've done okay, if you like, in the last six to 12 months - so much so they've been able to turn over a profit and they've also paid their executive bonuses and they've ensured that their CEOs are very well rewarded. But the kicker of course is that they've done it, in my opinion, with the help of, in some cases, up to $70 or $80 million worth of Australian taxpayer dollars through the JobKeeper scheme. Or as Andrew has dubbed it, BonusKeeper. Morning, mate. How are you?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus. Great to be with you.

PAUL: Alright, where are you on this JobKeeper scheme? Will the Auditor-General look for companies using it to pay executive bonuses?

LEIGH: I certainly hope he will. The Auditor-General said that he was going to do a broad audit into JobKeeper. I wrote to him saying you need to look specifically at the issue of executive bonuses. Firms like Qube, the logistics company which got $14 million of JobKeeper and paid a $1.3 million bonus to its CEO - despite its earnings barely moving. So one of the other questions I've asked the Auditor-General look into is how many companies had a better 2020 than 2019, and yet received JobKeeper. There seem to be a few, like the company that owns Just Jeans and Smiggle, that have had a really strong 2020 in a profit sense but yet received taxpayer subsidies which they've used to pay out to shareholders and CEOs.

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Coalition's economic priorities out of touch - Transcript, ABC Brisbane Drive

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
ABC BRISBANE DRIVE

THURSDAY, 10 DECEMBER 2020

SUBJECT: Hundreds of companies paying no tax in Australia; the Coalition failing to crack down on multinational tax avoidance; companies using JobKeeper to pay out executive bonuses.

STEVE AUSTIN, HOST: Andrew Leigh is the federal Labor MP for the electorate of Fenner in Canberra. He's the Deputy Chair of the Standing Committee on Economics. Dr Andrew Leigh, thanks for coming back on.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Always a pleasure, Steve. Great to chat with you.

AUSTIN: Alright. How significant is it overall that a third of Australian companies paid no tax at all?

LEIGH: It's pretty significant, Steve. This is a time in which we need every cent we can get, with a million people out of work and government debt going towards a trillion dollars. Not only do we have a third of companies not paying tax, but as you said, there’s 80 companies that haven't paid tax for the last six years. Among the companies that didn't pay any tax this year are some of the giants of the resources sector - Woodside Petroleum, Chevron, BHP [Aluminium], as well as firms like IBM, CITIC and BNP Paribas. So these are significant entities, and in some cases there might be good reasons why they haven't paid tax. But we also know that there's a big fight going on between the well-paid accountants at large firms who are looking to try and find every tax loophole available and the under resourced Australian Tax Office, which has had its budget cut and has been put in a position where it's increasingly finding it difficult to go after the big end of town.

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We must let refugees stay and rebuild their lives - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 10 DECEMBER 2020

Yesterday, I went for an early-morning run with Lachlan Arthur and Cassie Cohen from the Canberra Refugee Marathon Project, and Zaki Haidari, a refugee on a temporary visa. A member of the Hazara ethnic group, Zaki's father was taken away one night by the Taliban. That was 10 years ago and he's never seen him again. Zaki's brother was beheaded when the Taliban stopped him and found out that he was a university student.

Zaki fled to Australia in fear of his life.

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Liberals' super hypocrisy must end - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 10 DECEMBER 2020

The Liberals never liked superannuation. Tony Abbott called it ‘a con job’. Bronwyn Bishop said it was ‘designed to penalise business’. Paul Keating got universal superannuation going. John Howard broke his promise and froze it. Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard raised it; Tony Abbott broke his promise and froze it.

Australians have seen this bad sequel of a movie before. After saying that low wages were a ‘deliberate design feature’ of their economic policies, and ignoring record low wage growth, the Liberals suddenly say that freezing super will boost wages. Yet their own retirement incomes review shows that a dollar less of super doesn't mean a dollar more of wages. And because returns compound, a dollar put into superannuation turns into two or three dollars at retirement.

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Government needs to act on tax avoidance - Transcript, ABC News Radio

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
ABC NEWS RADIO

THURSDAY, 10 DECEMBER 2020

SUBJECTS: Hundreds of companies paying no tax in Australia; the Coalition failing to crack down on multinational tax avoidance.

GLEN BARTHOLOMEW, HOST: The Australian Taxation Office’s latest corporate tax transparency data shows about a third of companies didn't pay any tax. More than 2300 corporate entities are included in the report looking at the 2018-19 financial year, which finds hundreds of companies reduced their tax bills to zero during that period. So why is that okay? Andrew Leigh is a former professor of economics who is now the Deputy Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics. Good morning.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: G’day, Glen. Great to be with you.

BARTHOLOMEW: Explain to people how it can be that about a third of companies did not pay any tax.

LEIGH: In some cases it’s because they're doing significant investments. But in other cases, it looks as though there may be questions about their adherence to the laws. There's 80 companies that paid no tax six years in a row, and that's got to raise an eyebrow or two. We know that globally there's around 40 per cent of multinational profits that are shifted to tax havens like the Cayman Islands, and that's a number that's been rising in recent years. Around $600 billion of profits are being funnelled off to low tax or no tax jurisdictions. And it gets easier, Glen, when firms are engaged in weightless production - where it's not immediately obvious where the value is being produced - and firms have been using some sharp accounting tricks in order to exploit some of those loopholes. Unfortunately, while other countries have stepped up to try and close those loopholes, Australia’s been a bit of a laggard when it comes to acting on multinational tax avoidance.

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Australia doesn't need more irresponsible lending - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 9 DECEMBER 2020

In 1935 a banking royal commission was held to look at the critical impact on the Australian economy of problems in the banks. It was two generations later that Labor found itself in the position of again calling for a royal commission into the banking sector in Australia. Those calls were ignored by the government, which called it a ‘populist whinge’ and resisted for more than 18 months a royal commission into the banks.

When Ken Hayne finally lifted the lid on the misconduct it was clear to everyone that the call to have a royal commission had been the right one and that the Liberals had been wrong to vote 26 times against a banking royal commission. Yet here we are today with the Liberals advocating against the number one recommendation of the Hayne royal commission, recommendation 1.1: 'the National Consumer Credit Protection Act should not be amended to alter the obligation to assess unsuitability.'

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Australia's record of helping migrants learn English under threat - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 8 DECEMBER 2020

The Adult Migrant English Program has existed since 1948. Over that 72-year period, two million migrants have benefited from the AMEP. Learning English is an important part of nation-building. When Australians are surveyed as to what they believe it is that makes an Australian, most don't say it's being born here, but many do say it's speaking English. Speaking English is an important part of being an Australian and being able to contribute politically or in business circles and to engage with your neighbours.

Australia, in the main, does settlement well. We have differences in this House over asylum seeker policy, but, when people are accepted to come to Australia, the settlement services are as good as in any other country. In 2009 the then United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, said that Australia had 'one of the best refugee resettlement programs in the world'.

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The House Economics Committee's 2020 - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 9 DECEMBER 2020

The committee this year has engaged in a productive series of conversations with a range of entities—ASIC, APRA and the ACCC. We have held a series of hearings with major banks and major superannuation funds and, most recently, we have had productive discussions with the Reserve Bank. As has become clear from these conversations, the Reserve Bank has concerns about the state of the Australian economy. The Reserve Bank governor noted recently: 'What has become clearer, though, as time has passed is that the Australian economy is likely to experience a run of years of relatively high unemployment, unemployment being too high, and wage increases and inflation being too low, leaving us short of the Reserve Bank's goals.' The Reserve Bank's own figures have unemployment at six per cent by the end of 2022 and extremely weak wage growth. That must surely be in part a function of the fact that the government will reduce real government expenditure by 17.5 per cent in 2021-22, the fiscal year starting in just seven months’ time. That is a record cut in government expenditure and will have an impact on the macroeconomy. The governor noted: 'Businesses are failing or they are going to fail. I think the insolvency rate at the moment is low but it is going to rise.'

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Slow pace of redress a weight on survivors - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 8 DECEMBER 2020

As with most Treasury laws amendment bills, Treasury Laws Amendment (2020 Measures No. 6) Bill 2020 contains a number of unrelated schedules. I'll confine my brief remarks today to schedules 1 and 3.

Schedule 1 expands the eligibility of the government's temporary full expensing-of-depreciating-assets measure, which brings in Australian businesses which breach the $5 billion income test because of foreign activities. While Labor supports this, it is important to note that any expensing measure must be judged primarily in terms of its impact on employment. As I mentioned in my remarks relating to the principal bill that came before the House, it is critical that firms be encouraged to make investments in capital which are complementary to their workforce, rather than supplementary.

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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.