A PROGRESSIVE AGENDA FOR TACKLING AUSTRALIA’S PRODUCTIVITY CRISIS
Inside Story, 29 July 2019
At the start of June, the Productivity Commission quietly dropped a bombshell. Australia’s productivity growth had basically stalled. Labour productivity — output per hour worked — was more or less flatlining. After a generation in which labour productivity had grown at almost 2 per cent a year, it had tumbled to just 0.2 per cent.
The commission called the results “mediocre” and “troubling,” but for some sectors they were downright appalling. In farming, mining, construction, transport and retail, labour productivity went backwards. In other words, workers in those sectors were producing less per hour than they had the year before. The latest numbers continued a trend of weakening productivity growth that the commission dates back to 2013.Read more
ABC NEWS RADIO
THURSDAY, 25 JULY 2019
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: It’s a pretty extraordinary suggestion that we would take people earning under $50,000 out of the superannuation system. I don’t know why it is that when the Liberals sit down to go back to their basic philosophies, they're not talking about helping low income workers, they’re not talking about dealing with wage theft or climate change. It's all about saying ‘well I'm in a job with 15 per cent super contribution, but wouldn't be beaut if the poorest Australians didn't have anything in their super at all’.
HOST: Well, why don't you think Australians - I mean, particularly those on low incomes, like you say - why shouldn't they have the freedom to decide for themselves how to save?
LEIGH: Universal superannuation ensures that all Australians get the benefits of those compounding returns. Countries around the world look to Australia as an exemplar of a country that's managed to put in place superannuation for everyone. But the Liberals think that superannuation should only be for the rich, and they think instead the poor should be shut out of the system. It's just not the way to go. And if Scott Morrison is serious when he tells backbenchers they shouldn't be freelancing, then he'll crack down on this one.Read more
MONDAY, 22 JULY 2019
Subjects: The Drought Future Fund; the Morrison Government’s lack of policy clothing; foreign fighters; protesters; superannuation.
HOST: Thank you very much for your time this morning. One of the bills - and great to be with you - one of the bills that will be debated this week is the future drought fund. Will Labor support it?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: If it’s got new money, we're very happy to back it. The problem is so far the government simply wants to do pea and thimble tricks, moving money from one fund to another. The money they want to put in this future drought fund comes from the Building Australia Fund, which is the fund providing infrastructure across the nation, including in rural and regional communities-
HOST: But the government-
LEIGH: So it's beyond me why you want to take money out of rural and regional infrastructure and put it in combating drought. What farmers need is new resources, not a reallocation of existing ones.
MONDAY, 22 JULY 2019
Subjects: The Morrison Government’s policy nudity and economic inaction, the Drought Future Fund, Newstart.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: They say that it’s only when the tide goes out you find out who's been swimming naked. As the tide goes out on the Australian economy, we’re increasingly discovering the policy nudity of the Morrison Government. We've got engineering construction down, new car sales down, retail sales in the doldrums and productivity flatlining. Unemployment in Australia is a full percentage point higher than it is in Britain or the United States or New Zealand. We've got productivity growth now, according to the Productivity Commission, which is ‘mediocre’.
And in the face of all of this, the Morrison Government is stubbornly refusing to bring forward the infrastructure investment that the economy needs. When we left here last time, it was after a vote in which the Morrison Government had failed to accelerate the schedule for tax cuts. Labor was calling for more Australians to get a bigger tax cut sooner, to provide that critical stimulus that the Australian economy needs. But instead the Morrison Government has failed to focus on the big challenges to the Australian economy. They don't have a plan for wage growth. They don't have a plan for boosting productivity. They don't have a plan for bringing down the jobless rate. We now have an unemployment rate in remote Australia of 10 per cent. For Indigenous Australians, 21 per cent. We’ve got 150,000 Australians who have been out of work for more than a year, 80,000 of them out of work for more than two years.Read more
REMEMBERING CANBERRA'S SPACE LEGACY
The Canberra Times, 15 July 2019
Every baby boomer recalls where they were when they first heard Neil Armstrong say ‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’ (or the more poetic words that preceded them, ‘Tranquility base - the eagle has landed’).
Too few people know the crucial role that Canberra played in communicating those words to millions of people around the world.
As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landings this month, it’s worth honouring the role that the Australian tracking stations played in that momentous event. There were four tracking stations across Australia – Honeysuckle Creek and Tidbinbilla in the ACT, Parkes in NSW and Carnarvon in Western Australia. Together, they played a pivotal role in relaying sound and images from space back to NASA.
While Parkes starred in the movie, it was Honeysuckle Creek and its 26 metre antenna dish that received and relayed the first images of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon to 600 million people on Earth.Read more
ABC RN DRIVE
THURSDAY, 4 JULY 2019
SUBJECTS: Tax cuts, John Setka.
PATRICIA KARVELAS: Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities. Welcome.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: G’day, Patricia. Great to be with you.
KARVELAS: Labor said it didn't want to stand in the way of badly needed economic stimulus, but this was going to pass with or without you. So why didn't you decide to back it earlier?
LEIGH: Patricia, we wanted to fight for what's right for the economy, which is ensuring that we got money into the hands of workers straight away. We moved amendments in the House of Representatives and in the Senate that would have seen the middle income tax cut brought forward from 2022 to 2019. The economy is really fragile right now. Just today we've had problematic figures come out on job vacancies and retail sales. Yesterday we had dwelling approval figures coming out that were of equal concern. Tuesday the Reserve Bank was cutting rates down to historically low levels. Wages have been flatlining for six years. Productivity, according to the Productivity Commission, is ‘mediocre’. We’re nine months into a per capita recession and economists think that there's about a one in three chance that will fall into a full recession in the next few years. So our priority was always on ensuring that the economy got the stimulus it needed now and that's why we moved those amendments in the House and in the Senate. And when they were unsuccessful, we ultimately had to make a decision as to whether to vote for or against the unamended package, and we took the view that we wouldn't stand in the way of getting money into the economy now.Read more
2GB MONEY NEWS
TUESDAY, 2 JULY 2019
SUBJECTS: Interest rate cut; tax cuts.
ROSS GREENWOOD: Great to have your company here on Money News, going right around Australia. Of course this interest rate decision we've heard about today from the Reserve Bank, cutting interest rates to these record lows, just 1 per cent for the cash rate. And tonight a series of lenders bringing out variable interest rates for mortgage borrowers at two point something per cent - some 2.89 per cent I’ve seen today. Then you've got some of our big banks - the ANZ, for example, clearly learned a lesson from the last time rates were cut. It didn't pass it on in full and gained the full wrath of our politicians and the community. Today said they would pass these rate cuts on in full. But what does it say about Australia's economy and indeed what more needs to be done? Let's now go to the Shadow Assistant Finance Minister or Minister for Treasury. That man is always great with his time and that is Andrew Leigh, who was on the line right now. Andrew, many thanks for your time.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Pleasure, Ross. Glad to be with you again.
MONDAY, 1 JULY 2019
Subjects: Tax cuts, penalty rate cuts, the government’s bold economic forecasts, Christopher Pyne’s newfound camera shyness.
LAURA JAYES: Joining me now is Labor frontbencher Andrew Leigh. He's always in town because this is your hometown. Where is Labor at? What is your position on the tax cut package at the moment?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Laura, we want to make sure that more Australians get a bigger tax cut sooner. The economy needs that additional stimulus and Australians need some support after years in which wages have been flatlining. Labor is encouraging the government to bring forward the stage two tax cuts and we want to get those stage one tax cuts done as quickly as possible.Read more
MONDAY, 1 JULY 2019
Subjects: Tax cuts, penalty rate cuts, the government’s heroic economic forecasts.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: My name is Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. Today's the day when many Australians were meant to be seeing more money in their pockets. Instead they're getting less. Scott Morrison promised that on the 1st of July his tax cut would begin to flow. He lied. Many Australians will not get the tax cut today they were promised by Scott Morrison, because he ineptly failed to get the legislation through Parliament when Labor offered bipartisan support. But instead today we’re going to see 700,000 Australians on penalty rates getting less money in their pockets. As a result of the Coalition's cuts to penalty rates, these 700,000 Australians will lose up to $2000 a year through lower penalty rates.Read more
ABC NEWS RADIO
MONDAY, 1 JULY 2019
Subject: Tax cuts.
SANDY ALOISI: Let's speak now to Labor MP Andrew Leigh, who joins us from Parliament House in Canberra. Mr Leigh, good morning. Thank you for your time.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Pleasure, Sandy. Great to be with you.
ALOISI: The Prime Minister says Labor's threats to block the package are an act of belligerent arrogance. Will you accept the election mandate and backed the Government's plans in full?
LEIGH: Our proposal is to ensure that more Australians get bigger tax cuts sooner. That's what the economy needs and that's what Australians need. It’s the 1st of July today and that’s a day that marks 700,000 Australians beginning to lose penalty rates under a Morrison Government. Some will lose up to $2,000. We know that the economy is having all sorts of problems. Forecasts out today show that twenty leading Australian economists universally disbelieve the government's household spending forecasts. You've got gold prices at record highs, bond prices at record lows, and you’ve got unemployment higher than it should be. The Australian economy needs stimulus now. Australians need tax cuts now, not off in 2024.Read more