CANBERRA AND CLIMATE CHANGE
The Canberra Times, 30 January 2020
It’s become a common quip for Canberrans to ask when the frogs, lice and locusts are arriving.
We’ve had people evacuated from their workplaces and our airport shut down, seen years of research lost to wild weather and a record number of calls to emergency services. This week, the Orroral Valley fire turned our southern skies an apocalyptic red. Animals have died in their hundreds in Canberra. Across Australia, more than a billion animals, including koalas, kangaroos, kookaburras and snakes, have been killed.
Not all of these events can be directly linked to climate change, but there’s no denying that a warming climate makes dangerous weather more likely. As former meteorologist and researcher Dr Clem Davis said, “with increased warming in the atmosphere, you are more likely to get severe weather events”. In 2008, Ross Garnaut’s climate change review noted that unchecked climate change would likely lead to more hot days, droughts, extreme winds, hailstorms, thunderstorms and floods.Read more
THE BEST WAYS TO LEND A HAND TO BUSHFIRE RELIEF
The Herald-Sun and Courier Mail, 18 January 2020
Millions of hectares of bush have been burned. Dozens of lives have been lost. Up to a billion mammals, birds, reptiles, bats, frogs and invertebrates may have died. Smoke from Australia’s bushfires has reached as far as New Zealand and Chile. Australia’s bush capital has recorded the worst air quality in the world.
Amid the tragedy, many of us are looking at how we can help. On the front lines, our volunteer fire fighting services need donations, which will allow them not only to fight this year’s fires, but also to be better prepared next season. In affected communities, Red Cross, Vinnies, the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, the Salvos, Foodbank and the Rural Advisory Mental Health program are among those working with families who have lost their homes.
To help injured animals, and to provide sources of food and water to keep native animals alive, the World Wildlife Fund, WIRES, the RSPCA, the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital and Adelaide Koala Rescue are among the bodies that are seeking donations.Read more
OUR SCHOOL KIDS' TEST SCORES ARE IN FREE FALL. HERE'S HOW WE FIX IT.
Ten Daily, 11 December 2019
Australia has just recorded the worst labour productivity growth since records began and the worst school test results this century. As a cornucopia of commentators have noted, Australia now underperforms plenty of nations that are poorer than us, such as Korea, Singapore and Estonia.
In reality, the test score slump shouldn’t surprise anyone. A decade ago, Melbourne University’s Chris Ryan and I showed that Australia’s test scores had dropped over the period from 1964 to 2003. NAPLAN results suggest little change in student performance from 2008 to 2019.
But it’s the OECD’s PISA tests that paint the most troubling picture. Administered every three years since 2000, they show Australian students doing worse on maths, reading and science. Every time Australian 15 year-olds are tested, average scores have dropped.Read more
HUMANITY'S PATHS: A "STAR TREK" UTOPIA OR A "TERMINATOR" DYSTOPIA?
Salon, 2 December 2019
The United States today is more unequal than it has been in generations and more technologically advanced than ever. As the top 1 percent increases its share of the world’s wealth, advances in artificial intelligence are driving new breakthroughs in facial recognition, language translation, and abstract strategy games. While the earnings gap between highly educated workers and the unskilled widens, CRISPR technology lets scientists edit genomes. For robot designers, data analysts, and medical researchers, it can be the best of times. To paraphrase technology entrepreneur Jerry Kaplan, theirs is a future represented by "Star Trek"— a world where technology’s benefits are widely shared. For someone with few skills, few assets, and no job, it can feel like the worst of times. Theirs is a future that can seem like the dystopian one of "Terminator," after a self-aware artificial intelligence realizes that it no longer needs humanity.
Some people argue that inequality is the price we must pay for innovation. They say that we can’t all be billionaires. They assert that if we try to make society more equal by raising the top tax rate, it could deter risk taking and innovation. If we have to choose between having more stuff and distributing it fairly, they conclude that we should go for growth over equity.Read more
SKY NEWS AM AGENDA
MONDAY, 2 DECEMBER 2019
SUBJECTS: Deloitte; multinational tax avoidance; Westpac; Morrison’s union bashing bill.
KIERAN GILBERT: Let’s return now to local politics. Joining us the Labor frontbencher, Andrew Leigh. Thanks so much for your time. Chris Richardson has done his Budget Monitor from Deloitte Access Economics, one of the most respected budget watchers in this place, in Australia. What are your thoughts on his judgments? Because some are reading it as a vindication of what the Prime Minister and the government have committed to, in terms of their fiscal restraint.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: I think that’d be a misreading of Chris Richardson's report. The Government's been claiming that the Australian economy's issues are all caused by people overseas, but indeed what Chris Richardson shows is that the iron ore price has supported the budget - iron ore numbers are better than the government anticipated in May - and also shows very clearly that wages are lacklustre and profits are going strongly. So there’s a real problem in the Australian economy with wages, that's flowing through to spending. That’s why we're seeing real problems in brick and mortar retail, why we're seeing new car sales down, why we're seeing households really doing it tough and so many retailers saying ‘this is the beginning of December, it's meant to be a big spending season, but with wages in the doldrums it may not be much good’.Read more
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
MONDAY, 2 DECEMBER 2019
SUBJECTS: Westpac; Deloitte; the Morrison Government dodging scrutiny; George Christensen; Ken Wyatt.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Deputy Chair of the House of Representatives Economics Committee. Starting at 8am this morning, the House Economics Committee will be hearing from APRA, the prudential regulator.
APRA has said that it has initiated its own inquiry into the Westpac scandal, in which we saw 23 million money laundering breaches. Labor will be seeking answers from APRA as to this investigation, and how they are exploring some of the critical issues around this Westpac breach. We need to make sure this breach never happens again. In particular, we need to learn the systematic lessons out of one Australia's worst money laundering scandals. I'm concerned by the fact that there have been reports that the compliance officer who reported the breach has been moved aside, and I'll be asking questions about how APRA is investigating that aspect of the story and also how whistleblowers are handled more broadly. This comes on top of the House Economic Committee hearings last Friday, in which Citibank appeared before the committee. Citibank has acknowledged they were the bank that was responsible for the vast majority of the 23 million transactions. It was money sent by Citibank, received by Westpac. And so in the House Economics Committee, we explored Citibank’s views as to this money laundering scandal, and how they are ensuring that they improve their processes around money transfer.Read more
STEPHEN JONES MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES
MEMBER FOR WHITLAM
ANDREW LEIGH MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES
MEMBER FOR FENNER
LIBERALS PROTECT BANKS FROM SCRUTINY – AGAIN
It appears that the Morrison Government is once again standing between banks and public scrutiny.
Reports this morning indicate that the Liberals will block Labor’s push to recall Westpac before the House of Representatives House Economics Committee after the bank reported 23 million breaches of money laundering laws - almost one breach for every Australian.
The Committee heard from Westpac just a fortnight ago, before this scandal broke. It's vital that the committee gets to the bottom of what Westpac did wrong and how the money moved. If issues around money laundering are not sufficiently addressed, it could have adverse implications for financing of organised crime and terrorism.Read more
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
WEDNESDAY, 27 NOVEMBER 2019
SUBJECTS: Labor to recall Westpac for questioning; wages growth stalling under the Coalition; interest rates; national security; Angus Taylor.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and the Deputy Chair of the House of Representatives Economics Committee. We’ve seen last week from Australia's oldest bank one of Australia's worst money laundering scandals. Westpac reported 23 million breaches of money laundering laws, an egregious blight on the financial sector.
It was Labor that called for a royal commission into the financial services, and it's Labor that's today calling for Westpac to front the House of Representatives Economics Committee. We can't wait for the next hearings next year when Westpac is scheduled to come before us. Westpac should come before the House Economics Committee at the earliest opportunity. This scandal has already seen Westpac’s CEO and Chair step down, but it's important that we look at this from an institutional standpoint. It's important we get to the bottom of what Westpac did wrong, how the child exploitation financing occurred, how the money moved, and how this was allowed to recur 23 million times - almost one breach for every Australian.Read more
ABC RADIO SYDNEY
TUESDAY, 26 NOVEMBER 2019
SUBJECTS: Innovation + Equality; Westpac.
WENDY HARMER: We have a text here saying ‘more good news stories please’. Maybe we've got one, maybe we can put Andrew Leigh under the category of a good news story. He's a Federal Labor MP, co-author of a new book, Innovation + Equality: how to create a future that is more Star Trek than Terminator.
ROBBIE BUCK: Well we hope it's a good news story, but is it going to be a good news story? That's the big question. Good morning, Andrew.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Morning, Robbie. I think it's a good news story, but I'm not sure it's as good news as kids playing in gardens.
HARMER: [laughter] Well, we'll do our best.Read more
MONDAY, 25 NOVEMBER 2019
SUBJECTS: Innovation + Equality; 2019 election; disconnected communities; China; the need for a more ethnically diverse Parliament.
JEREMY CORDEAUX: I've got Andrew Leigh on the line. He's a politician, he's with the Labor Party. He's the Deputy Chair of the Standing Committee on Economics, which sounds awfully dry but having spoken to him before, I can tell you he's not awfully dry - he's a lot of fun. Andrew, how are you?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Terrifically well, Jeremy. The better for chatting with you.
CORDEAUX: Happy Christmas.
LEIGH: And to you. You got big plans for the season?
CORDEAUX: No. I think probably, I think we go on holidays two weeks from today, something like that. No, I'm just going to fall over the line and just go home and play in the garden.
LEIGH: That sounds like the rest of Australia.
CORDEAUX: [laughter] Well, the worst thing is to make plans because the moment you start making plans, they won't happen. Everything will change right there in front of you. It's not it's not worth it.
LEIGH: There is some great economic research that suggests that much of the pleasure of holidays comes not from having them, but from anticipating them. So our family always tries to plan our holidays as far in advance as we can, so we can have that anticipation effect.
CORDEAUX: But Andrew, isn't that about everything in life? Isn't the anticipation, the pre savouring of something, far more interesting than the actual meal?Read more