The Age of Ambition, New Matilda, 20 October 2016
Globally, these are tough times to be a social democrat. The cumulative social democratic vote share in Western Europe has fallen by one-third, to its lowest in 70 years. Angry politics is alive and well in the person of Trump and Le Pen, Farage and Wilders. It’s a politics that emphasises differences within the community, and urges citizens to jump at the shadows of trade, immigration and foreign investment.
Amidst secular stagnation, fear of terrorism, and a hate-filled politics, a message of inclusion, egalitarianism and multiculturalism doesn’t always resonate. In that environment, what is the best approach for the left’s party of government, the Australian Labor Party?
Labor is now in our 125th year – the seventh age for Australia’s oldest political party. Some have argued that we need to defend the status quo, and tweak our way to a better world. There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of this. Indeed, there’s a bit of me that’s temperamentally technocratic – desiring to defend against cuts, and fight for better indexation.
But it’s not a whole program. Labor’s story has always had a touch of élan, a bit of vision, a sense of excitement. Ours has always been the party of ambition.Read more
Documents from the Prime Minister’s own department confirm what Treasury officials revealed yesterday – the Treasurer is on track to break his promise of introducing a Diverted Profits Tax before the end of the year.
Speaking on Radio National this morning, Mr Morrison repeated the explicit promise he made immediately prior to the federal election to introduce a Diverted Profits Tax by the end of this year to tackle multinational tax avoidance:
"We have budget revenue measures which are about improving the integrity of the tax base, whether it be our diverted profits tax legislation which comes in later in the year.”
– Scott Morrison, 20 October 2016.
This is where it starts to get awkward. Because according to two excellent sources – the Treasurer’s own department and the Prime Minister’s department – Mr Morrison will not keep that promise.Read more
Brian Mitchell & Andrew Leigh, "Aussie Economy Starting to Look Like a Game Show", Hobart Mercury, 19 October 2016
Growing up, we were both fans of the television show Sale of the Century. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, millions of Australians tuned in to the quiz show, to see contestants try their hand at winning cars, holidays and cash. Guided by hosts like Tony Barber, Glenn Ridge, Delvene Delaney and Jo Bailey, some contestants won big. In 1992, Robert Kusmierski took home cash and prizes worth $676,790. But most who chanced their hand went home with next to nothing.
It made for a terrific gameshow, but today, as Labor parliamentarians, we’re worried that our society is starting to look too much like a gameshow. If you compare wages in 1980 (when the first episode of Sale of the Century went to air) with today, then you see a labour market where earnings have growth three times as fast for the top tenth as for the bottom tenth. It’s been a great generation for lawyers and landlords – not so much for retail workers and renters.
To some extent, success in life is determined by hard work, but luck matters too. Billionaire Warren Buffett likes to reflect on his good fortune at being born in an era when his investing skills can be put to work. For most of human history, those skills wouldn’t have been much use. We also know that the labour market pays more to men, tall people and right-handers. That’s luck, not skill.Read more
During last night’s Estimates hearings the Australian Statistician admitted to Labor Senators how much extra money the Turnbull Government will spend rescuing the 2016 Australian Census – universally known as the ‘Worst Census Ever’ – from complete failure.
“(A)s a result of some of the remedial activities we took in terms of the Census we have to date probably incurred additional costs of around $20 million…and we anticipate possibly spending another $10 million.”
– David W. Kalsich, Australian Statistician, Senate Economics Legislation Committee [10.05pm, 19/10/2016]Read more
Immediately prior to the federal election, Treasurer Scott Morrison made an explicit promise to introduce a Diverted Profits Tax to tackle multinational tax avoidance by the end of this year:
"Two pieces of legislation in particular that the government enacted will target this conduct of booking profits offshore - the Multinational Anti Avoidance Law (MAAL) and the Diverted Profits Tax (DPT). ...The DPT will be introduced in the second half of 2016 and will apply from 1 July 2017.”
– Scott Morrison, 27 June.
However, in response to questions from the Government’s own Senator Ian Macdonald in Senate Estimates today, Treasury officials noted that, “the legislation is yet to be drafted.” [Senate Economics Legislation Committee, 16.38.32]
With just over three sitting weeks to go until the end of the Parliamentary year, the Treasurer has dozens of tax measures that he has announced but not enacted. When it comes to taking on the big end of town, Scott Morrison is all mouth and no trousers.
WEDNESDAY, 19 OCTOBER 2016
MEDIA CONTACTS: TAIMUS WERNER-GIBBINGS 0437 320 393
The Good Life, The Chronicle, 4 October
"One of the phoniest phrases in modern, contemporary language is quality time", Lindsay Tanner tells me, "There is only one form of quality time - that's quantity time."
I'm chatting with the former Finance Minister not about dollars, but about making sense of modern life. Being a good parent, he argues, isn't something you can do on a few hours a week.
The conversation was part of a new podcast I've started, which focuses not on politics and policy, but on living a happy, healthy and ethical life. Over recent years, I've become less interested in intelligence, and more in wisdom.
It seems to me that Australia probably doesn't need more parliamentarians with snappy slogans and incisive insults. But there may be a case for politicians taking a bit of time to explore the deeper questions, of how we make the most of our brief time on the planet.
The podcast is called "The Good Life", a phrase coined by Aristotle about 2300 years ago to sum up what it is to live life to the full. In the podcast, I’ve spoken with Michael Traill, who jumped ship from banking to become the founding head of Social Ventures Australia. I’ve explored food and fun with Australia's happiest epicurean Annabel Crabb.
I’ve delved into trauma, healing and meditation with SANE Australia head Jack Heath. With palliative care nurse Nikki Johnston, I discussed what makes a good death, and what the prospect of mortality can teach us about living well. And with Graeme Simsion, author of "The Rosie Project", we talked about autism, writing and the fine line between success and failure.
I'd love to get your thoughts on The Good Life, and who you look to for guidance on being healthier, happier and more ethical in your own life.
To download the podcast, search "Andrew Leigh Good Life" on iTunes, or go to www.goodlifepodcast.podbean.com.
Today the Treasurer has confirmed the deficit for 2015-16 soared to $40 billion, which is 8 times bigger than estimated the day the Coalition took office.
The 2015-16 Final Budget Outcome shows that net debt reached $296 billion at the end of last financial year, which is $77 billion more than projected when Labor left office.Read more
Agile Aid For Fragile States - submission to "Australia Ahead of the Curve: An Agenda for International Development to 2025”
Andrew Leigh, Shadow Assistant Treasurer, and Senator Claire Moore, Shadow Minister for
International Development and the Pacific.
In 1970, countries from across the globe agreed to a common aid goal: that for every hundred dollars of national income, they would give 70 cents of aid to developing countries.
In almost half a century since then, Australia has repeatedly reaffirmed our commitment to the international aid target. Other nations have gotten there. Unlike Sweden, Denmark and the United Kingdom, Australia has never met the 70 cent goal.
But like any target, we can still judge Australian governments on how close or far they have come to meeting this commitment to the world's poorest.
When Labor was in government, overseas foreign aid increased from 28 cents in every hundred dollars) in 2007-08 to 37 cents in 2013-14. Had Labor been returned, aid was budgeted to rise to 50 cents in every hundred dollars in 2017-18.
Then the Coalition won office with an aid commitment that matched Labor’s, but then put us on a very different path. Today, Australia spends just 23 cents per hundred dollars on overseas aid. Under Labor, our aid contribution exceeded the average for the rich country OECD grouping (30 cents per hundred dollars). Now, we are not only below the OECD average, our aid share is the lowest since comparable records began in the 1970s. When aid was headed to 50 cents in every hundred dollars, we were on the path to meet our promised aid goal. With aid at 23 cents, we have literally shrunk from the task to which our nation once committed.Read more
THE WORST CENSUS EVER
Today marks the end of the reporting period for the 2016 Australian Census.
As of yesterday, the Census was still missing five per cent of households. This is significantly worse than the 2011 Census, which had an undercount rate of 1.7 per cent.
Indeed, in response to questions from Matt Thistlethwaite in the House Standing Committee on Economics, Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe acknowledged yesterday that an undercount rate of five per cent was concerning.Read more
Dinner Speech to the Japan Update
Australia-Japan Research Centre
Australian National University
21 September 2016
Let me start by thanking the Australia-Japan Research Centre for inviting me to speak here tonight. In 2014, the Japanese and Australian Prime Ministers Abe and Abbott expressed their strong support for the Australia-Japan Research Centre in promoting research collaboration and intellectual exchanges between Australia and Japan on political and economic relations. Both sides of politics strongly support the Australia-Japan relationship as well as the great work of the Australia-Japan Research Centre.
But I want to start tonight with the story of Sacarnawa Deconeski. Sacarnawa was the first recorded Japanese resident in Australia. He settled in Queensland having reached Australia in 1871, applying for naturalisation in 1882.Although most Japanese settlers in the late 1800s worked as pearlers in northern Australia, Sacarnawa was different. He was a professional acrobat.
After travelling around Australia as an entertainer for many years, in 1875 Sacarnawa married a woman from Melbourne. As many of us do in later life, Sacarnawa gave up acrobatics. He and his wife set up a farm in Far North Queensland near the town of Herberton. At its height, Herberton was the richest tin mining field in Australia and was home to 17 pubs. In case you’re wondering, Canberra has 56 pubs and clubs, but on per capita terms Herberton was doing pretty well for a small town.
By the start of Federation, Australia had 4000 Japanese immigrants, mostly based in Townsville where the Japanese Government had established its first consulate in 1896. During Australia’s shameful period of the White Australia Policy, the consulate closed in 1908 and it wasn’t until 1966 that consular offices reopened in Brisbane and, eventually, in Cairns, too.Read more