2CC CANBERRA DRIVE
MONDAY, 6 APRIL 2020
SUBJECTS: JobKeeper payments for casuals; charities unable to access JobKeeper payments; the importance of maintaining community.
LEON DELANEY, HOST: Joining me now the Federal Member for Fenner and Shadow Assistant Minister for Charities and Treasury, Dr Andrew Leigh. Good afternoon.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good afternoon, Leon. Great to be with you.
DELANEY: Good to have you along again. I'll tell you what, that's a bit of a mouthful, all of this nonsense about changing the Fair Work Act and fiddling about with the different awards and enterprise agreements and so forth. I know we're here to talk about the changes for registered charities, but can we touch upon the JobKeeper package more generally to begin with, and which way you think the government should be addressing this question of implementing the changes. Changing the Fair Work Act or individually going through all the awards?
LEIGH: Leon, there's lots of twists and turns with this but I don't think it's hard to imagine the Fair Work Commission, which deals with a national wage case and with many awards every year, can't deal with an issue like this. What's important is to make sure that as many workers as possible are supported at a time when they might otherwise lose their jobs. There's debate in the US as to whether the unemployment rate there now is 13 per cent or 16 per cent, but either way it's clear that much of the world is in a recession already and it's just critical that as many employees as possible maintain that connection to their workplace. Once a firm goes insolvent, once a worker loses their job, those relationships are really hard to rebuild Leon and it means that the recovery becomes a whole lot slower. We want a V-shaped recovery, and that means doing what we can now. It also means looking after those casuals who've been employed for less than 12 months. The Government’s set this-Read more
CHARITIES ON THE BRINK
Major charities will have to dismiss staff in coming weeks unless the Morrison Government again revises its JobKeeper program.
Charities run a range of different services including retail stores, early childhood centres, disability services and facilities that bring communities together. In many cases, some operations have suffered massive losses of 80 per cent or more. But because other operations have been sustained, they do not meet the test of a 15 per cent drop in revenue that is required for charities to qualify for the JobKeeper program.
Charities have seen a major increase in demand for help, while also experiencing a drop in donations and volunteering numbers. While some federal assistance has been provided, much more is needed to help the sector navigate the impact of coronavirus.The government’s decision on 5 April to offer charities a reduced threshold (15 percent rather than a 30 percent drop in turnover) was an attempt to fix the problem. But major charities say that it isn’t a solution.Read more
FRIDAY, 3 APRIL 2020
SUBJECTS: The impact of coronavirus on Australian airlines; competition; US unemployment figures; Australian unemployment figures; stimulus measures and the wage subsidy package; government debt.
TOM CONNELL, HOST: My next guest on the program is Andrew Leigh, a shadow minister for the Labor party. Andrew, thanks very much for your time. Why don’t we start on Virgin Australia, I know you’ve had some comments to make on this. Labor’s been saying that the government might be acting in haste here, denying the assistance that Virgin is after, which might be a $1.4 billion or so loan. What is Labor saying exactly, that should be considered or that should just be given to Virgin to make sure they stay?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Tom, the bottom line is Australia needs two full service airlines. Much as we love the budget carriers, it's important that there is competition in the business end of the market. No market is well served by a monopoly. We saw from 2001 to 2008, after Ansett exited the market, the impact that that had on the choice of routes and on the fares themselves. So it's vital that the Government recognises that consumers are well served by competition. Whether that's done through an equity stake or through a loan - I'm actually pretty relaxed about that, Tom. But the Government should be engaging constructively. You know, they seem to be behaving towards Virgin no more constructively they behaved towards Holden when they goaded them to leave the country. This isn't a sensible approach for Australian flyers.Read more
LET’S TAKE THIS CHANCE TO REBUILD OUR SOLIDARITY
Herald Sun, 30 March 2020
A century ago, the Spanish Flu hit Australia. Quarantine measures were only partially effective, so in 1919, authorities turned to social distancing. Public gatherings were cancelled. Masks were distributed. Schools were closed. People stayed home when they could. One analysis of the response found that it prevented 22 percent of Australians from catching the potentially deadly disease. In the end, 15,000 Australians died. It was a huge toll, but smaller than you might expect from a disease that claimed over 50 million lives globally.
Social distancing measures work, but they are especially tough on those with fewer social connections. In a recent survey on social connections, Nick Terrell and I found that Australians report having only about half as many close friends as they did in the mid-1980s. We are also less likely to know our neighbours. Remarkably, half of all Australians report feeling lonely at least once a week.
Social capital is the idea that the bonds of trust and reciprocity that bind us together have inherent value. Those with stronger social networks tend to be healthier, to do better in business, and to report being happier with their lives. Yet over the past generation, Australians have become disconnected. We are less likely to attend church, less likely to join clubs, less likely to be part of a union, and less active in politics.
Sometimes, a crisis can build social capital. We have seen this at times of war, and at moments when communities put aside their differences to battle bushfires or fight floods. But disasters can also be emotionally scarring. As Lifeline warns, ‘The stress caused following a natural disaster can lead to “burnout” and physical, mental and emotional exhaustion.’Read more
HON LINDA BURNEY MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND SOCIAL SERVICES
MEMBER FOR BARTON
ANDREW LEIGH MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER CHARITIES
MEMBER FOR FENNER
EMERGENCY RELIEF BOOST WELCOME BUT PAYMENTS STILL NEEDED SOONER
The boost in emergency relief funding for food banks and financial counselling services announced today is important and welcome step, which Labor has been calling for.
But many families facing the loss of a job or being stood down will still be waiting at least a month to get the $550 per fortnight Coronavirus supplement.Read more
RADIO NORTHERN BEACHES
WEDNESDAY, 25 MARCH 2020
SUBJECTS: Reconnected, the impact of coronavirus on charities.
MICHAEL LESTER, HOST: Welcome to Radio Northern Beaches, 88.7 and 90.3. I'm Michael Lester with our weekly Volunteer Voices show here on Radio Northern Beaches. And I'm delighted to welcome to our program today Andrew Leigh, who is the Member of Parliament for the ACT seat of Fenner and he has been a member of parliament since 2010. Andrew is an academic, a former professor of economics at ANU, a great author and commentator on social and policy issues. Andrew, I'm very pleased to welcome you here to Volunteer Voices.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Thanks, Michael. A real pleasure to be with you.
LESTER: Now this is a difficult time Andrew, but in many ways I think an interesting time to talk to you as we as a society face the challenges to our social interconnectedness if you like, as a community, when we confront a lot of the social distancing, self isolation and other very drastic measures that are being undertaken. Perhaps as a bit of a background to that discussion Andrew, perhaps you could take us through the work you did in 2010 when you actually looked at some of the statistics and facts around social participation, volunteering and engagement in Australia against the backdrop of the figures from America that were showing significant declines in community participation and organisations in the last 20 years.
LEIGH: Thanks very much, Michael. When I was a doctoral student at Harvard in the early 2000s, I worked with Robert Putnam on his research team. Putnam had just produced Bowling Alone, which was a magnificent study looking at the contours of social capital in America - how the networks of trust and reciprocity in that country had first waxed and then waned over the course of the 20th century. He documented that for the first half of the 20th century, there was quite a significant increase in the strength of community and associational life, and then from the 1960s, 1970s onwards that there had been a decline. In Disconnected, I looked at the same patterns for Australia and found much the same trends. Churchgoing, union membership, member of the Scouts, Guides, Rotary, Lions - all of that seemed to have declined since the 1970s. Australians tend to have fewer organisations per person and a smaller share of the population actively engaged in civic organisation.Read more
ABC NEWS RADIO
TUESDAY, 24 MARCH 2020
SUBJECTS: The impact of coronavirus on charities, stimulus packages.
GLEN BARTHOLOMEW, HOST: We have Andrew Leigh back on the line for us now. Andrew, good afternoon, and as I saying a pretty welcome move to extend this aid to the charity sector.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: It was, Glen, although it's still the major charities that are being left out, and that means that around half the workers in the sector won't be covered because they work for some of the big charities who are being asked to do the heavy lifting. So as we're seeing these lines outside Centrelink offices across the country, people being turned away - one woman said she was turned away with $10 in a bank account - who will she turn to? She’ll turn to a charity, and likely the charity she'll turn to is one that hasn't been supported by the government.
BARTHOLOMEW: What were the criteria to determine who was supported and who wasn't?
LEIGH: Well, it’s those with turnover under $50 million. But that excludes groups like the Red Cross, Fred Hollows Foundation, RSPCA, Save the Children, Mission Australia, Smith Family, Goodstart Early Learning - some of the significant charities that have been doing work, supporting people recovering from the bushfires, but are now seeing a big drop off in donations. They're seeing challenges for their volunteer base because of social distancing, and they're seeing challenges in fundraising for when activities like fundraising balls are cancelled. Philanthropic foundations are giving less because of the sharemarket collapse.Read more
HELPING THE HELPERS
The Canberra Times, 24 March 2020
On the NSW South Coast, charities are hard at work supporting victims of this summer’s unprecedented fires. There are homes to be rebuilt and debris to be removed. Teachers are seeing signs of mental distress among children who were evacuated from their homes three or four times. When local MP Fiona Phillips and I held a roundtable with charities in Nowra earlier this month, they told us how their budgets and staff were overstretched.
And that was when there were less than 200 coronavirus cases in Australia.
In the face of Australia’s greatest post-war health emergency, there’s a risk that Australian charity workers have become the forgotten people.
Already, we’ve seen charities sidelined by the federal government’s response. In the first stimulus package, businesses were prioritised over non-profit groups. That meant a for-profit childcare centre could access support that was unavailable to a non-profit early learning centre. Although the second stimulus package contained support for small charities, the main measures are off limits to major charities such as Mission Australia, Barnados, the Smith Family, and Goodstart Early Learning.Read more
ABC RADIO SYDNEY
MONDAY, 23 MARCH 2020
SUBJECTS: Randomistas and the history of hand washing.
RICHARD GLOVER, HOST: Dr Andrew Leigh is the Labor MP for the seat of Fenner. He's also somebody who's very interested in random studies and science and economics and all those sorts of things, and has written about the story of Dr Semmelweis in his book ‘Randomistas’, which is a book about radical researchers and how they've changed our world. Well, in his case - in Semmelweis’ case – it certainly took a while. Andrew Leigh joins us on the line. Good afternoon.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good afternoon, Richard. How are you?
GLOVER: Yeah, good. As we’re all spending so much time washing our hands, I thought we'd praise the man who kind of first got onto the idea of why it was so important.
LEIGH: Semmelweis was a wonderful pioneer, a quirky man who worked in the Vienna General Hospital. He noted this significant difference between the alternate days in which the births were delivered by female midwives and the days when they were delivered by male doctors. He noted that women were about twice as likely to die if they were admitted to the clinic on a day in which the doctors were doing the delivery rather than the midwives.Read more
LINDA BURNEY MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND SOCIAL SERVICES
MEMBER FOR BARTON
ANDREW LEIGH MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES
MEMBER FOR FENNER
FOOD RELIEF SERVICES GET FOOD TO THE MOST VULNERABLE NOW THEY’RE AT TIPPING POINT
Food banks and emergency relief services are at tipping point as the COVID-19 challenge depletes food supplies and squeezes supply chains.
Food banks provide a vital service in our community by saving excess food and getting it to vulnerable Australians.Read more