Speech at the launch of 'A new Australia-China Agenda: Experts on the Australia-China Relationship'
28 October 2014
This week and last, federal parliament has been resounding with tributes to the late Gough Whitlam. Many people have noted his bravery – more than four decades ago – in travelling to China to announce that a Labor Government would initiate ties with the mainland.
At the time, Whitlam’s critics said of the visit that his Chinese hosts had ‘played him like a trout’.
I thought of this recently when looking at statistics on our exports to China – now our number one destination for Australian fisheries exports.
There are many ways of summing up the importance of the Australia-China relationship.
Condolence motion for the Hon. Gough Whitlam, AC, QC
House of Representatives
28 October 2014
GK Chesterton once said that "Tradition means giving a vote to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead."
Progressives are at our best when our reforms draw out the golden threads of history.
The notion that society is a contract between the past, the present, and unborn generations is as powerful a guide for progressives as it is for the other side of politics.
No-one better understood the value of tradition than Gough Whitlam.
When Prime Minister McMahon set the date for the 1972 election as December 2, Whitlam noted that it was the anniversary of the 1805 Battle of Austerlitz, when Napoleon defeated the Russian and Austrian armies. It was, he said, "a date on which a crushing defeat was administered to a coalition - another ramshackle, reactionary coalition".
20 October 2014
The Government decision to stop funding the Youth Connections program continues to astound me. Some of the most vulnerable people in our community will have the threads connecting them to school, work, and a stable life completely cut away.Read more
Diwali in Canberra
20 October 2014
Diwali, or Deepavali as it is also known, is one of the most import festivals in the Hindu calendar. Diwali was celebrated this weekend in Canberra at the Albert Hall. A celebration of the victory of light over darkness, Diwali is an important reminder that all of us are strengthened when we celebrate each other and each others festivals.Read more
Political legacies and Abbott's Unfair Budget
House of Representatives
20 October 2014
There are some issues in politics in which party's legacies can tell you a lot about what they intend to do. It was Labor who fought to introduce Medicare and universal superannuation and Labor who has continued to raise the rate of contribution. It's unsurprising to anyone who knows a modicum of political history that the Abbott Government is now freezing it at 9.5% - a level that is inadequate for Australians retiring.
This is an issue that concerns many of my constituents, in a post-budget survey, more than 4,000 people responded to a tell me what they thought about the Budget and 90% of participants in the Fraser electorate told me that they believed the Abbott/Hockey Budget broke promises. Even 53% of self professed Liberal Party voters told me that the Budget broke promises.Read more
Equal to our core: making the case for egalitarianism as Australia’s national value
Speech at the launch of the Bachelor of Economics (Advanced)
University of Adelaide
14 October 2014
I could not be more delighted to be with you this evening on this terrific occasion, the launch of the university’s Bachelor of Economics (Advanced) degree.
I know your degree will be one of only two available in Australia – and as the other one is being offered in Melbourne, I’m serenely confident yours will be the better. When I was Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Gillard, I am sure she once told me she was glad to have had the dual benefit of a Melbourne degree and an Adelaide education.
Or perhaps I made that up. Never mind. I read in the publicity that the degree will be both a “pathway” to Honours and a “springboard” into leadership…I suppose as long as there’s a “ladder of opportunity” at the end of the “pathway” providing access up to the “springboard” it’ll all work just fine.
There has been an explosion of interest in behavioural economics over the past few years, and many interesting studies have shed new light on the often-irrational nature of human decision-making. I was fortunate enough to be invited along to the Grattan Institute in Melbourne to discuss how the insights of behavioural economics can help guide public policymaking.
‘WHAT ROLE FOR BEHAVIOURAL ECONOMICS IN PUBLIC POLICY?’
ADDRESS TO THE GRATTAN INSTITUTE
WEDNESDAY, 8 OCTOBER 2014
While I was in graduate school, two of my classmates, Stefano DellaVigna and Ulrike Malmendier, carried out a study on gym visits. They obtained data from three Boston gyms, and analysed the attendance patterns of members.
Dividing annual fees by the number of visits, they found that the typical gym member spent $17 per visit, even although casual visits cost only $10. In total, the average member loses $600 compared with if they had just paid as a casual. The title of the paper? ‘Paying not to go to the gym’.
The Women's Legal Centre will have $100,000 cut from its funding by the Abbott Government in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 financial years. A constituent of mine got in touch to share her story about the Women's Legal Centre, and concerns about the government's cuts. Without community legal assistance she and her children would have been exposed to prolonged abuse and trauma. Sadly, her story is not unique, nor is it uncommon.Read more
1 October 2014
I spoke in parliament to offer my condolences for the death of Emeritus Professor Anthony McMichael AO, and recognise his major contribution to our understanding of the links between climate change and human health.Read more
This week I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak at the OECD-NBER Conference on Productivity Growth and Innovation in the Long Run in Paris. My theme was the relationship between inequality and social mobility; here's the details.
DOES TOO MUCH INEQUALITY PREVENT SOCIAL MOBILITY?
FRIDAY, 26 SEPTEMBER 2014
For much of the time we’ve been on the planet, humans have led a static existence. We lived where our parents lived. We did the jobs our parents did. The chances of moving up or down the ladder were limited.
Indeed, that era was so recent that most of us still carry the mark of it. Most Anglo-Saxon surnames denote occupations (Smith, Archer, Miller) or places (Marsh, Hill, Lake), reflecting a time when few left their village or rose above their station.
There’s nothing wrong with living in the same town as your parents, or following them into the same career. But for many of our forebears, this wasn’t a choice: it was a necessity. As recently as a few centuries ago, virtually everyone on the planet was consigned to a caste system.
The lack of mobility wasn’t just unfair – it was extraordinarily inefficient. Imagine how many talented youngsters from poor backgrounds lived and died without a chance to use their skills. How many potential Mozarts were lost because they never got to hold an instrument? How many would-be Darwins were denied a decent schooling? How many budding Bill Gateses languished because they couldn’t get financial backing for their entrepreneurial idea?