Today, the politics and business e-newsletter, Inside Canberra, published by latest opinion piece on the Federal Budget:
Whether you ask parents, pensioners or conservative premiers, it’s pretty clear that the Coalition’s first budget is deeply unpopular. Part of the reason for this is that it breaks promises faster than a child snapping up kindling. So much for no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no cuts to pensions, no cuts to the ABC, and no new taxes. Broken too are the pledge not to cut more than 12,000 public servants, and the promise not to make further cuts to foreign aid. It now appears that when Mr Abbott was sermonising about the need for politicians to keep their word, he wasn’t talking about himself.
I held a doorstop this morning at Parliament House drawing attention to today's Senate Committee hearing into the ACNC Repeal Bill (1) and the adverse consquences for charities and not for profits if the Bill was passed.
FRIDAY, 23 MAY 2014
SUBJECT / S: Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission; Inequality and the Federal Budget; Falling Consumer Confidence.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Thank you for coming everyone. I thought I would say a few words ahead of the Senate Committee's inquiry into the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission.
The ACNC was established by Labor after an exhaustive process. Inquiries had been held going back to the 1990s about the need for an independent voice for charities. The charities commission protects charities because they have a regulator than understands their needs and protects donors who have the confidence that when someone comes knocking at their door, that they are not a scammer. But the Coalition for reasons that can only be regarded as ideology, wants to scrap the ACNC.
I submitted this piece for today's Daily Telegraph, outlining the betrayals in the Federal Budget:
Budgets are like plumbing. If everything works as it should, then no-one takes much notice. But get it wrong, and things start to smell bad fast.
Today, it isn’t just Labor supporters who are noticing the whiff. Since the budget was handed down, everyone from pensioners to conservative premiers, students to business leaders have criticised aspects of the 2014 budget.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Last year, Tony Abbott suggested that his government would cut the deficit, treat all Australians fairly, and keep his promises.
Yet on the current evidence, he’s failing on all three counts.
Today, The Mercury published my opinion piece on the Federal Budget:
James Kelly of Berriedale has been unemployed for more than four years since graduating from Year 12. He’s been actively looking for work in retail. “I didn’t expect it would be this hard to get a job. It’s a bit demoralising ... I’d much rather not be on benefits but unfortunately I don’t have too many other options.”
James has a Certificate II in retail. But as most Tasmanians know, it’s tough if you’re young and unemployed across the state.
In Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s first Federal Budget, people like James will be hit even harder. In effect, they will be punished just because life’s dice has rolled against them.
Yesterday I spoke about the federal budget with ABC Radio National Drive host Waleed Aly and the Liberal's Josh Frydenberg. Here's the full transcript:
ABC RADIO NATIONAL DRIVE WITH WALEED ALY
WEDNESDAY, 15 MAY 2014
SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s Budget of broken promises; manufactured debt crisis and debt levy; fuel excise indexation; budget impact of losing mining tax and carbon price; premiers angry about cuts to schools and hospitals funding
HOST WALEED ALY: What do you make of the Budget? The Prime Minister said it’s tough and fair. The Opposition leader Bill Shorten says it is full of broken promises and bad news. Joining me now to thrash this out is Josh Frydenberg, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, and Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh. To both of you, thank you very much for joining us.
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER, ANDREW LEIGH: Pleasure.
JOSH FRYDENBERG: Good to be with you.
ALY: I might start with Josh, with this whole idea, the overarching aim of this, the overarching promise was to get the Budget back into shape. We had a fiscal crisis, a budget crisis, yet at the end of all this, the deficit has been reduced by $4.1 billion for the next year, which is not really crisis proportions. What happened to the crisis?
RADIO INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT
ABC 666 CANBERRA - MORNINGS
WEDNESDAY, 15 MAY 2014
SUBJECT/S: Budget: Australian Public Service cuts bigger than promised and impact on ACT; Zed Seselja; Infrastructure spending ignores public transport; State schools and hospitals budgets slashed and prospect of a rise in the GST
HOST GENEVIEVE JACOBS: Let’s do some excavation on what the budget means for the Territory’s economy. The Member for Fraser, Andrew Leigh, is on the line. Andrew Leigh, good morning to you.
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER, ANDREW LEIGH: Good morning Genevieve. How are you?
JACOBS: I'm well. Now there's a lot of heavy lifting here according to the Treasurer. Does Canberra end up with the hernia?
LEIGH: I think we do Genevieve. I mean we were the place that was targeted the most by the Coalition's pre-election promises and I think the place that was most entitled to think that was as bad as it was going to get, that when Zed Seselja said there would be 12,000 public service job cuts that there actually would be 12,000 job cuts, not 16,500.
Andrew Leigh, Gai Brodtmann and Senator Kate Lundy have condemned the Abbott Government’s first budget as an attack on Canberra that Liberal Senator Zed Seselja has failed to stop.
The Abbott Government will cut 16,500 jobs from the Australian Public Service, with over 7000 of those jobs slated to go in the next financial year.
This is an even bigger cut than the Coalition promised. It demonstrates that Senator Seselja is a limp defender of Canberra.
In her terrific book Dirt Cheap, the late Elisabeth Wynhausen decided to take leave from her journalism job and try life as a low-wage worker. In one job, Wynhausen moved to a country town and worked packing eggs. She earned near minimum wage in a job that started at 6am, left her body aching at the end of the day, and where the smell from the nearby chook sheds was constant. Three weeks in, the manager, a millionaire several times over, came to tell the workers they were losing their jobs.
I thought of Wynhausen's story again last night as I looked at the budget papers.
BREAKING POLITICS - FAIRFAX MEDIA
MONDAY, 12 MAY 2014
SUBJECT/S: Budget to axe or privatise Commonwealth agencies; Deficit levy.
CHRIS HAMMER: Well, the federal budget is now just one day away and you have to wonder what's left to announce, so comprehensively has features of it been leaked during the past week or more. Joining me to discuss it is Andrew Leigh, the member for Fraser here in the ACT, the Labor member.
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER, ANDREW LEIGH: Morning Chris.
HAMMER: Also Shadow Assistant Treasurer. So a big week for you. And from Brisbane, Andrew Laming, the Federal Member for Bowman. Andrew Leigh to you first, the stories in the papers today are about cutting or merging government agencies and depending on which paper you believe, somewhere between 50 and 70 government agencies are going to be either abolished or merged. If that's delivering the same services with greater efficiencies, surely that's something to be supported.
LEIGH: That's a big ‘if’ Chris. We look at the Preventative Health Agency, an agency which is investing and making sure that we reduce of rates of obesity, rates of smoking – including cigar smoking – and other preventable health conditions. We look at Indigenous Business Australia which is aiming to increase the number of entrepreneurs in the Indigenous community. These are just some of the agencies that are on the chopping block with no clear plans to replace them. Then there's the expert agencies. [This is] a government that thinks it doesn't need experts to provide advice on climate change. Now we've seen the National Water Commission being cut into and corporate advisory groups which provide vital advice to governments on markets. You just let it all rip, guided only by your big business donors and your gut. Good governments take advice from great experts and they draw-in a wide range of views which is why these bodies were established.Read more
Minister for Business Services and Consumers Gail Gago today called on the Abbott Government to abandon its plans to axe the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).
Ms Gago today joined Federal Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh and Uniting Communities Chief Executive Simon Schrapel to highlight the potential of the ACNC to cut red tape and support the work of local charities.
“Charities need a nationally consistent approach, which is why the ACNC is so important,” she said.
“The charities commission strengthens organisations that work with some of our most vulnerable citizens.