Does Love Have Any Place in Politics? - The Minefield with Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens (Radio National Podcast)
Thursday 25 August 2016 11:30AM
Next week, the 45th Parliament sits for the first time since the federal election. The government holds a paper-thin majority in the House of Representatives; the Liberal Party Room is suffering significant internal discord; and the new Senate is more fractious, demanding and wilfully recalcitrant than any in modern history.
These are the ideal conditions for political discord and outright opportunism.
Australia is hardly unique in this respect. Western politics as a whole seems to be following this trend toward greater political instability, less cooperation; more anger, less empathy. The media’s own fetishisation of the spectacle of conflict is doubtless complicit in this state of affairs.
But the proliferation of social movements and forms of political activism are not exempt from blame either.
On all sides, the prospects for constructive, broad-based collective action are under threat. The question is: if there is to be a change in our fraught and fractious political climate, what will be the agent? From where might the impetus for change come?
For one Australian politician, that change must come from within politics itself.
AUSTRALIAN PARLIAMENT HOUSE
TUESDAY, 23 AUGUST 2016
***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***
I acknowledge we are meeting on the traditional lands of the Ngunnawal people and pay my respects to their elders past and present.
I acknowledge Peter van Noorden, Professor Margaret Harding, Bruce Moore and the editorial team.
I was delighted to receive the call-up to speak today. But it only came yesterday, so I have been – as they say – lucubrating over the evening in preparing my remarks today.
This is the Second Edition of Oxford’s Australian National Dictionary. The first one to come along in 28 years – since 1988. It has indeed been a long time between verbs.
I've been asked to say a few words today and I'm happy to do that.
Apophany. Ultracrepidarian. Stemwinder.Read more
The Politics of Love
Collins Street Baptist Church
16 August 2016
This is the first time I’ve given a speech in a Melbourne church. Which is a bit neglectful, since I literally owe my life to a Melbourne church. Let me tell you the story.
In 1964, a man called Michael delivered the sermon at Ivanhoe Methodist on behalf of his father, Reverend Keith. He was lean and bookish – a runner and an academic-to-be. He had been in Sarawak in Borneo. In the congregation was Barbara, a blonde-haired young woman who had represented her school in debating championships, and was training to be a teacher. She had just returned from the highlands of Papua New Guinea. They got chatting, and he offered to drive her home. She lived a few hundred meters from the church – and said yes. They talked about religion, travel – and even some politics. And so my parents fell in love.
In a world where religion is too often a source of conflict, it is easy to forget that attending a church isn’t just an opportunity to meet your future spouse (by the way, if you’re single, feel free to take a moment to shoot a quick smile to your left and right). Those who attend a religious service regularly are more likely to volunteer time to community organisations, give money, or donate blood. As someone who does not regularly attend church, I’m keenly aware of the positive role that our religious organisations can play in encouraging us to be better versions of ourselves.
Politics, too, provides an opportunity to be a better version of ourselves. After all, as Aristotle noted, politics is simply the art of working out how to live together. Politicians were at the heart of shaping Federation, creating the age pension, abolishing child labour, designing Medicare, and legislating native title. I’m honoured to serve in the same profession as Winston Churchill, Alexander Hamilton, Xanana Gusmao and Aung San Suu Kyi.Read more
[The report is available from ANU Press]
AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY
MONDAY, 15 AUGUST 2016
***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***
Thank you for that very generous introduction. Can I of course acknowledge we’re meeting on the traditional lands of the Ngunnawal people and pay my respects to their elders past and present.
Let me start by thanking Peter Drysdale for inviting me to speak at this event.
As all of you know, Peter was recently awarded the Order of Australia which, among many other things, was for his ground-breaking work as the intellectual architect of APEC.Read more
Dr LEIGH (Fraser) (15:53): In mid-2009, the then Leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Turnbull, decided he would bring back an old stunt from the Liberal Party—the notion of a debt truck. He put a debt truck on the road, sat at its wheel and said that under Labor gross debt might go to $315 billion. That, he thought, was so terrifying that the Australian people had to be warned about it. Well, it is instructive to look at the budget papers to see where gross debt will be under the Turnbull government. Under the Turnbull government, gross debt is going not to $315 billion but to $624 billion. Gross debt will be nearly twice as large as when Malcolm Turnbull got his first debt truck. I have news for the Prime Minister: it is time to trade in his debt truck and buy a debt B-double.Read more
Second Reading Speech: Tax Laws Amendment (Tougher Penalties for Country-by-Country Reporting) Bill 2016, 2 May 2016: House of Representatives
Dr LEIGH (Fraser) (11:39): I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
The image of blue Caribbean seas, golden island sands and a lonely coconut palm standing above a spot marked X on a faded map remains a powerful image in our social mythology.
And well it might, because the notion of buried treasure in the Caribbean is no myth. In the 2012 American election there was widespread outrage at the notion that Mitt Romney had been keeping a significant share of his wealth in the Cayman Islands. Perhaps this was because he and other wealthy people with money to hide from tax had noticed that the previous year the Tax Justice Network's Financial Secrecy Index had declared the Cayman Islands to be the world's second most significant tax haven.Read more
Dr LEIGH (Fraser) (16:30): The 2016 Lunar New Year celebrations, acknowledging the Year of the Monkey, were recently hosted by the member for Berowra, the Father of the House, and me here in one of our courtyards. Members and senators were joined by community representatives including Sam Wong AM; Donni and Samuel Pho, from the Australian Salvation Army; Mrs Chin Wong; and Gary Lee, the 2016 New Australian of the Year. The Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, also spoke at the celebrations and welcomed the inauguration of what will hopefully be an annual fixture on the parliamentary calendar. We launched traditional floating lanterns into one of the parliamentary ponds—possibly the first time this has happened—and then moved to the public lawns on Federation Mall to enjoy the skills of David Wong's Prosperous Mountain Lion Dance group.Read more
Dr LEIGH (Fraser) (15:56): I was holding a street stall recently when a young couple came up to chat about their troubles buying a first home. She was a teacher, he was a builder, and they were thinking about having a family but they were worried that they would not be able to meet the mortgage repayments when their two incomes went down to one. Despite being in their late 20s, this couple were looking at moving back in with their in-laws. Changing nappies and juggling sleepless nights under the same roof as their in-laws was not their idea of the Australian dream. But their story is, sadly, typical.Read more
Tax Laws Amendment (Tougher Penalties for Country-by-Country Reporting) Bill 2016
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
MONDAY, 29 FEBRUARY 2016
Dr LEIGH (Fraser) (10:38): I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
Picture a glorious summer's evening at the SCG: the stadium lights are blazing, the dusk is settling in, and family and friends are abuzz at the prospect of a close finish to a match that is hanging in the balance. Suddenly a naked man runs out on the pitch, screaming in front of thousands. The security detail finally tackles him after a minute of cavorting.
Incidents such as these are not uncommon. One happened late last year at a Big Bash Twenty20 match, prompting Ricky Ponting in the commentary box to say: 'Let's hope that is a $6,000 fine at least. It's disgraceful; we don't like seeing that. Some people probably do, but it's a bad look for the game.' He was certainly right that the look was bad—for the streaker as well as for the game—but unfortunately Mr. Ponting's quite reasonable minimum fine threshold was above what the real streaker would receive. The penalty for invading the pitch at the Sydney Cricket Ground is $5,500.Read more
Change is made by those who show up - a tribute to Pat Corbett
I rise this afternoon to pay tribute to Patricia Lukin Corbett, a branch member of mine and a terrific supporter of progressive politics in Australia. Pat passed away on 3 January this year aged 89. Her life was an extraordinary one of service to others. She reminded us of the adage that change is made by those who show up.Read more