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
ABC NEWS RADIO
THURSDAY, 28 JUNE 2018
SUBJECTS: Malcolm Turnbull’s $80 billion tax cut for big business; By-elections.
FIONA ELLIS-JONES: Labor’s Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and joins us now this morning. Andrew Leigh, thanks for your time today.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Pleasure, Fiona. Great to be with you.
ELLIS-JONES: Please can you clarify this – will Labor limit tax cuts to firms with turnovers no higher than $2 million?
LEIGH: Fiona, we’ve been absolutely clear that we’re putting investment in hospitals and schools ahead of big business tax cuts. You’d have to have been living under a rock if you’d missed that message from Labor. We’ve said clearly that for businesses under $2 million turnover – that’s nine out of 10 Australian businesses – they’ll get the same tax cut under Labor. And we’re continuing to consider our position for businesses between $2 and $10 million of turnover.
THURSDAY, 28 JUNE 2018
SUBJECTS: Malcolm Turnbull’s lack of action on tax havens, the Government’s war on charities, company tax.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer.
We know that Malcolm Turnbull has been soft on the big end of town, but again yesterday in Question Time he claimed that his multinational anti-avoidance laws had raised significant revenue for the government. Last time Malcolm Turnbull made a claim like this, we had to write to the Tax Commissioner to find out the truth. So yesterday, I did that again. I’ve written formally to the Tax Commissioner to find out precisely how much revenue the Liberals’ multinational tax laws have raised.
We know that the Liberals have a history of telling porkies on multinational tax. They claimed credit for the Chevron judgement, which added $300 million to the budget, despite the fact that they had voted against those very laws in the parliament. And we’ve seen the Liberals again and again oppose Labor’s sensible measures to close multinational tax loopholes.
LABOR STANDS FOR TAX TRANSPARENCY
FEDERATION CHAMBER, 26 JUNE 2018
Dr ANDREW LEIGH: This is a motion based on a lie. Labor never voted against the multinational anti-avoidance law. Let me say that again for the benefit of the member for Goldstein, who moved the motion. This is a motion based on a lie, a falsehood. The member is misleading the House. Labor never voted against the multinational anti-avoidance law. I know this—
TIM WILSON: Did you support it?
LEIGH: Yes, Labor did support it, remember? I will take that interjection from the member for Goldstein. I refer the member to the Senate Hansard, 9 November 2015. Senator Dastyari said:
'Labor's position is that we support this bill.'
WILSON: What about the House?
LEIGH: The member for Goldstein asks about the House. I will come to the House, Member for Goldstein. There's not a moment in which Labor did not support the bill.
LEIGH: The problem with the member for Goldstein is he thinks that if a lie is repeated often enough it becomes the truth. He thinks, because he's sat in the House—
Government members interjecting—
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Members will be quite, please.
LEIGH: and he's heard the talking point from the Treasurer and the minister for revenue, that somehow it's okay to continue to mislead the House.Read more
YOUR CAR, YOUR CHOICE
Federation Chamber, 25 June 2018
That this House:
(1) declares that:
(a) given new cars have multiple onboard computers, real time access to digital files and codes—which vary from car to car—are needed to complete many aspects of a repair or service;
(b) car manufacturers generally own and control this technical information and in many cases are the only sources of re-initialisation codes and software upgrades;
(c) independent car repairers—who comprise the vast majority of Australian mechanics—are at a competitive disadvantage, since most car manufacturers do not supply the same information to independent mechanics that they provide to authorised dealers;
(d) the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s report New car retailing industry market study (14 December 2017) concluded that the industry’s voluntary code has failed to address the problem; and
(e) failure to address this problem is hurting small businesses, increasing prices for consumers, and providing less choice, with the impact being most acute in regional areas; and
(2) calls on the Government to adopt Labor’s policy of mandatory information sharing, which would:
(a) require car manufacturers to share technical information with independent mechanics on commercially fair and reasonable terms;
(b) create safeguards that enable environmental, safety and security related technical information to be shared with the independent sector; and
(c) provide a level playing field, benefiting consumers and independent mechanics alike.Read more
SUPPORTING SAFE ACCESS ZONES
Federation Chamber, 25 June 2018
No woman makes the decision to terminate a baby lightly. It is a decision best made in consultation with a medical practitioner and one which involves significant stress.
This is why safe access zones have been established in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. They reflect the history of women being harassed by anti-abortion protesters as they've sought to enter an abortion clinic.Read more
MONDAY, 25 JUNE 2018
SUBJECTS: Malcolm Turnbull’s big business handout; Labor’s plan for a bigger, better and fairer tax cut.
TOM CONNELL: Joining me live right now is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh. Thanks for your time today.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Pleasure, Tom.
CONNELL: Interesting turn it took today with this Labor ad attacking Malcolm Turnbull, saying he could benefit by millions. Do you really think that’s his motivation?
LEIGH: I think the Prime Minister has a bit of a glass jaw if he’s getting concerned over this sort of thing. This is a government which had two former Labor Prime Ministers dragged before Royal Commissions. Labor Leader Bill Shorten was called before a Royal Commission for two days. The government was attacking Tanya Plibersek and her husband in parliament last week. They’ve referred to Bill Shorten as being a ‘sycophant’, a ‘hypocrite’, accused him of taking ‘backhanders’. Now they’re unwilling to deal with the basic facts.Read more
LABOR PROTECTS CHARITIES
The bipartisan Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security has today handed down its report on the Foreign Interference Transparency Scheme Bill 2017, recommending that charities be excluded.
These recommendations reflect Labor’s strong engagement with and commitment to charities.
TAX TRANSPARENCY, COURTESY OF LABOR
Hundreds of Australia’s biggest private companies are one step closer to being forced out of the shadows and into the sunlight, thanks to a Labor bill passed today.
The Private Senator’s Bill would ensure that big businesses have their high-level tax information published, which will allow proper scrutiny and help restore the trust in the integrity of the tax system that was brought about when the Gillard Government passed tax transparency reforms in June 2013.
In December 2015, the Greens and the Liberals raised the transparency threshold for private companies from $100 million to $200 million. This dodgy deal took two-thirds of the private companies out of the spotlight and back into the darkness.