KEYNOTE ADDRESS, CUSTOMER OWNED BANKING ASSOCIATION REGULATORY AFFAIRS SUMMIT
National Gallery of Australia, 22 August 2018
Thank you, Michael [Lawrence], for that introduction. As a member for the ACT, welcome to those of you who are not Canberrans to the best city in Australia (as rated by the OECD). I acknowledge that we're meeting on traditional lands of the Ngunnawal people and pay my respect to their elders past and present.
At the outset I wanted to say a few words about where the Australian economy is tracking. I’ll begin, because I'm a natural optimist, with the things that look positive. The Reserve Bank recently noted that there has been a broad pick up in global growth in 2017 which has largely carried through to 2018. Chinese growth is increasingly consumption driven, East Asian semiconductor trade is healthy, European machinery investments has been strong. In the United States and Japan and Germany and in Britain, unemployment is in a multi-decade low. Forecasts for global growth have been revised up for 2018 and 2019.
For Australia, commodity prices remain solid. Analysts are a little concerned about the medium term outlook. Some of that turns on the changes that China is making around managing local production to improve urban air quality. A good thing for the air in their cities, but it may have knock on effects on our iron ore exports.
If you're a business, global interest rates are now as low as they've been since 3000 B.C., according to analysis done by the Bank of England. So that's the upside. That's my Edward de Bono ‘yellow hat’ analysis.Read more
WE TERRITORIANS WILL KEEP UP THE PRESSURE TO HAVE OUR DEMOCRATIC VOICES HEARD
House of Representatives, 20 August 2018
I move that this bill be now read a second time.
Twenty-one years ago this parliament restricted the rights of territorians to have their voices heard through their elected representatives on the issue of voluntary assisted dying. Back then, they said that these parliaments were too immature to be given the power of voluntary assisted dying. They said that no state had done it and a territory shouldn't be the first. Today, those arguments are gone. Victoria has now legislated on voluntary assisted dying. The whole notion that there might be some mass migration of Australians towards a territory that was the first to legislate on euthanasia — that argument is out the window.
And parliaments have grown up. Back in 1997, when Kevin Andrews passed his private member's bill, the ACT assembly was just nine years old—just a kid attending primary school. Now it's grown up, left home and shown itself to be a mature debating chamber. Yes, the ACT is a unicameral assembly, but so is Queensland. The ACT has a bigger population than Tasmania. A 30-year-old mature assembly has tackled complicated issues, from light rail to infrastructure investment, from innovation to higher education. This is a parliament that has shown itself to be fit to handle a difficult challenge such as voluntary assisted dying.Read more
GENDER EQUITY MORE THAN A WOMEN'S ISSUE
House of Representatives, 15 August 2018
I rise to speak on the topic of gender equity. The Workplace Gender Equality Agency reports that in 1997 the gender pay gap among full-time workers in Australia was 16½ per cent. Twenty years later in 2017, it had narrowed to 15½ per cent. If we continue at that pace, narrowing the gender pay gap by half a percentage point every decade, then in a mere 310 years, Australian women will be earning the same wages as Australian men.
I suspect if you told Jessie Street, Vida Goldstein, Louisa Lawson or Eileen Powell that it was going to take until 2328 for Australia to close the gender pay gap, they would have told you that we weren't doing a good enough job. We have also a gender gap in superannuation balances: for those aged 55-64, men have an average balance of $310,000; women, an average balance of $196,000.Read more
TERRITORIANS SHOULD NOT HAVE THEIR RIGHTS RESTRICTED
Federation Chamber, 15 August 2018
In 1997, as the Commonwealth parliament sought to remove legislative rights from the ACT and the Northern Territory, then Liberal Chief Minister of the ACT, Kate Carnell, appeared before a committee of this parliament and said:
… what is at issue here is nothing less than the democratic rights of the citizens of the ACT...
She referred to the proposed Andrews Bill as 'limiting our self-governing powers'. Ms Carnell emphasised the long-term effects of depriving citizens of democratic rights enjoyed by those in the states. But the Andrews Bill passed the parliament, and the restriction of the democratic right of territorians is with us today.Read more
WEDNESDAY, 15 AUGUST 2018
SUBJECTS: The need for Malcolm Turnbull to take action on racist hate speech, Territory rights, Renewables and taxpayer-funded coal power.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning everyone. We saw statements in the Senate last night that were hateful, hurtful and harmful. They were ignorant and mean spirited and which suggested that Australia should go back to the discredited White Australia Policy. My parents campaigned against the White Australia Policy, advocating its abolition as young students. Australia is better off for the abolition of the White Australia Policy – not just for the flow of migrants that came in, but for what it said to the world for our self-confidence as a nation that we no longer needed to discriminate based on race or religion.
Since then we've had migrants come into Australia who have enriched the nation. Australia is better off for the migration of Gustav Nossal, Les Murray, Frank Lowy, Anh Do and millions of other migrants who have brought innovation and ideas to Australia. Migrants are more likely to patent, they're more likely to start new businesses. Migrants are more likely to export, they bring a sense of entrepreneurialism and vigour to our economy.
We know that diversity is an economic driver. Diverse companies are more productive. Diverse cities are more productive. Diverse nations produce more. Yet what we've seen from Senator Anning's comments are a suggestion that we should go back to the past by reinstating discrimination.
Let's be clear, this man is only in Parliament as a result of Malcolm Turnbull's double dissolution. These statements are being made in a context in which the Coalition has denigrated migration. The Coalition needs to speak more strongly and forcefully for a value of a multicultural Australia and for the benefits that migrants bring to Australia.Read more
LET'S BRING THE A-LEAGUE TO THE CAPITAL
Federation Chamber, 13 August 2018
If you know all the north Canberra Bels - Belnorth, Belsouth, Belwest, the Devils and the Foxes - if you know the Uniteds, Citys and FCs, the Medusas, the Gliders, the Pumas, Olympic, the Panthers and the Spurs, the Bulls, White Eagles and Wanderers, the Knights, the Magpies and the Blues, then you'll know these names: Warren, Grella, Zelic, Shipard, Valeri, Farina, Perry, Rogic, Arrows, Cosmos, Arzani.
Those great names of Australian soccer have all played a part in the growth of football here in Canberra as well as across the nation.Read more
LIBERALS BRING CHARITIES TOGETHER - AGAINST THEIR POLICIES
House of Representatives, 13 August 2018
I was delighted after the last election to be appointed by Bill Shorten, the Leader of the Opposition, as the shadow minister for charities and not-for-profits. It's the first time that either major party has had a portfolio for charities and not-for-profits, reflecting Labor's strong belief in the charitable sector. I acknowledge the important work also being done by Senator Louise Pratt in her role of working with volunteers. It indicates very clearly Labor's strong support for our voluntary sector.
But that strong support for the voluntary sector hasn't been reciprocated by both sides of the House. We have seen two open letters – one to Prime Minister Abbott and another to Prime Minister Turnbull – from the charity sector, complaining about attacks on the charity sector. The most recent letter was signed by Volunteering Australia, Carers Australia, the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Community Council of Australia, Justice Connect, Philanthropy Australia and the Starlight Children's Foundation.
The fact is the Liberals have brought charities together – against their retrograde policies.Read more
PENALTY RATES ARE AN AUSTRALIAN VALUE
House of Representatives, 13 August 2018
Given that there are no government speakers taking the jump, I thought I would use this opportunity to say a few words about the Fair Work Amendment (Restoring Penalty Rates) Bill 2018 and the importance of maintaining penalty rates.
Let's face it, when was the last time you planned your child's birthday party for a Monday morning, went to a christening on a Tuesday, invited friends to your house for a barbecue lunch on a Wednesday or went off to see the AFL Grand Final on a Thursday lunchtime? The fact is weekends exist for a reason. They help workers coordinate socialising time together, which is so vital to the health of the Australian community.
We live in an Australia that has become more disconnected over recent decades. We've seen a decline in the share of Australians attending church or being part of community groups such as the Scouts, the Guides, Rotary and Lions. Surveys that I've helped to have commissioned over the years have shown that the share of Australians who know their neighbours has fallen and the number of close friends that Australians can count has dwindled. So protecting the weekend is absolutely vital to building the strength of social capital in Australia. The strength of the weekend reflects the ability of a society to get together to enjoy life. The purpose of life is not to work. It is terrific when we add to GDP, but GDP is not the sole benchmark of the performance of a society. When we have strong weekends, when people can get together with their friends and neighbours, we are healthier as a society. Frankly, things work a lot better in a society with a high degree of social capital and civic connectedness. Playing sport, being part of a union, attending religious services and supporting community life are fundamental to the kind of Australia that many people want to live in.Read more
‘FIVE NEW IDEAS ABOUT INEQUALITY’
OUT OF THE ECHO CHAMBER DAY
MELBOURNE ABORIGINAL YOUTH SPORT AND RECREATION CO-OPERATIVE, FITZROY
7 AUGUST 2018
Over the weekend, I read an intriguing story about the increasing size of superyachts. The article noted that one of the richest men in Australia has over recent years upgraded from a 21-metre long sports cruiser to a 27-metre flybridge cruiser. His latest is a 73-metre Hasna superyacht, worth $75 million. But it’s not the biggest privately owned yacht in Australia. Another rich-lister owns a 74-metre Italian-made yacht.
Yet as investment banker Mark Carnegie notes, no matter how large they get, ‘someone’s always got a bigger one’. Carnegie observes that people buy these megaboats ‘as a means of transport; a place to sleep; a venue to entertain; a floating activity centre; and, most important of all, to show off.’
In the world of luxury boats, one expert observes that ‘the client who 15 years ago would have been satisfied with a 40-metre yacht, which would then have been one of the largest yachts in the bay, is now surrounded by dozens of yachts of 60-70 metres, and this plants the seed that he really ought to upgrade.’ The world’s largest yachts now include multiple swimming pools, submersibles, jet skis, concert halls and dance floors. Running costs alone can be millions of dollars per year.Read more
FUTURES OF SENTENCING AND INCARCERATION WORKSHOP
University of Queensland, 1 August 2018
I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet today and pay respects to elders past and present.
My focus on mass incarceration is not as a lawyer or as a justice scholar. In fact, it is now a little over 20 years since I did my last day in the law. I finished up as Michael Kirby's Associate in the middle of 1998. My focus instead is as an economist who is concerned about the issues of poverty, disadvantage and inequality in Australia. It is becoming increasingly inescapable that you can't take a serious look at inequality and deep poverty in Australia without understanding what's going on with mass incarceration. In order to put a picture of what's going on together, I went back to trace the trends on the rates of incarceration in Australia. And in this, I also want to acknowledge the economist Saul Eslake who has helped build the long-run series back to 1900.
These days, the Australian Bureau of Statistics measures incarceration as a share of the adult population. But because of data limitations, I’m going to discuss today the incarceration rate as a share of the total population. In 1900, just a generation after the end of transportation, Australia incarcerated 0.126% of the population. By 1920, that had more than halved to 0.051%. It stays at about that level over the course of the next seven decades. Indeed, as recently as 1990, Australia's incarceration rate was only 0.077%. But in 2000, it had risen to 0.113%. By 2010, it was 0.133% - a doubling in just two decades. One of the first private member’s motions I moved was in 2011, on the topic of reducing crime and incarceration. Since then, the incarceration rate has risen by one-quarter, to 0.167%. That is the highest rate since Federation.Read more