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
Like many Canberrans, I am sorry to hear that Gai Brodtmann is stepping down from federal parliament.
Canberra has no more passionate champion than Gai. Like her predecessor, Annette Ellis, she has been an active presence in the community, working with a bevy of community groups across the electorate.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
SKY NEWS AM AGENDA
MONDAY, 13 AUGUST 2018
SUBJECTS: NEG and coal-fired power stations, Government donation of $444 million to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
KIERAN GILBERT: With me now is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh. Thanks very much for your time. The Government looks like it's going to be adopting the competition watchdog approach of providing finance underwriting, new dispatchable power whether it be coal or gas. What's Labor's view of that which was a recommendation by the ACCC and Rod Sims?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Let's be careful about misinterpreting the ACCC, Kieran. Certainly there is no private sector appetite for building more coal fired power plants. It seems strange that an ostensibly market-based party in the Liberals would be proposing that we spend taxpayer money on new coal fired power plants. It's true around the world where you're seeing a drop off in coal demand as countries move to meet their Paris targets. Australia has seen rising energy prices and rising emissions under the Liberals. We need to make sure that we are doing our part to bring down emissions otherwise other countries -
GILBERT: When you say don't misinterpret, what else do you mean by that? From what I read of that competition watchdog review of energy price recently, he said there needs to be a capacity for federal government to underwrite new dispatchable power sources. You don't agree that that was the outcome?
LEIGH: I don't see anything in the ACCC report that suggests the taxpayer dollars should go to fund new coal-fired power plants, Kieran.
‘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
Moving to Gungahlin
The Chronicle, 7 August 2018
In 1991, when it was officially launched as Canberra’s fourth town, Gungahlin had less than 400 residents. Now, it’s home to more than 70,000.
Originally spelt ‘Goongarline’, the region’s name means ‘white man’s house’ or ‘little rocky hill’.
As one of the fastest-growing parts of Australia, Gungahlin has plenty to recommend it. For those who like to exercise, there’s an Olympic-sized pool, a popular Saturday Parkrun and a flying fox at Yerrabi Pond for the kids. The strength of community is demonstrated by the active Gungahlin Community Council, and active faith groups at the Uniting Church, Anglican Church, Presbyterian Church and the Gungahlin Mosque.Read more
TRUMP UPS THE ANTE IN TRADE WAR
Sydney Morning Herald, 2 August 2018
After campaigning hard for tariffs on imported washing machines, US manufacturer Whirlpool was delighted in January when the Trump administration imposed new import duties. Whirlpool chief executive Marc Bitzer told an investor call: "This is, without any doubt, a positive catalyst for Whirlpool." The company’s share price jumped by about 10 per cent.
A few months later, things weren’t looking so rosy. The Trump administration announced that it would impose steel tariffs: meaning that the price of one of Whirlpool’s main raw materials would increase substantially. According to the Wall Street Journal, Bitzer warned investors in April that "there continues to be uncertainty regarding potential future tariffs and trade actions". Whirlpool’s share price had fallen by about 20 percent.
But the biggest losers weren’t shareholders, they were consumers. In the three months to the end of June, prices of washers and dryers in the US rose by one-fifth, the largest increase in more than a decade.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
LABOR LEADING CONSUMER AND COMPETITION DEBATE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 27 JUNE 2018
Dr LEIGH (Fenner): I move:
That all words after "That" be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:
"whilst not declining to give the bill a second reading, the House notes the Government's failure to commit to a full suite of measures to strengthen the consumer watchdog, including:
(1) increasing the maximum penalties for anti-competitive conduct;
(2) cracking down on payday lenders;
(3) providing the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission with an independent market studies function;
(4) increasing the litigation budget of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission;
(5) requiring car manufacturers to share technical information with independent mechanics on commercially fair and reasonable terms, with safeguards that enable environmental, safety and security-related technical information to be shared with the independent sector; and
(6) prioritising cases that disproportionately affect disadvantaged Australians".
It is always a good day when the coalition belatedly adopts Labor's policies. On 15 June 2016, Labor called on the government to raise the penalties for ripping off consumers. We did so following a succession of scandals in which firms had seen penalties for anticonsumer conduct as simply the cost of doing business. We had that period from 2011 to 2015 when Nurofen, one of the big shots in the pain business, began selling a series of painkillers said to target pain in the body—Nurofen Back Pain, Nurofen Period Pain, Nurofen Migraine Pain and Nurofen Tension Headache—but the fact was they all had the same active ingredient, 342 milligrams of ibuprofen lysine. The fact was that Nurofen were misleading consumers, and the penalties dealt out to them were a mere slap on the wrist.Read more