HOW CAN ERIC ABETZ FIX UNEMPLOYMENT WHEN HE DOESN’T EVEN UNDERSTAND IT?
Joint media release with Shadow Minister for Employment Brendan O'Connor
The man in charge of keeping Australians working has today revealed he lacks even the most basic understanding of the unemployment rate.
In his press conference defending an unemployment figure which stubbornly continues to have a six in front of it, Employment Minister Eric Abetz said:
“a 6, a 5, a 4, a 3, a 2 or a 1 in front of the unemployment figure is unacceptable.”
Eric Abetz - Press Conference - 10 September 2015
ENCOURAGING WORDS ON THE CHARITIES COMMISSION MUST BE FOLLOWED BY ACTION
Social Services Minister Scott Morrison has today given the strongest signal yet that the Abbott Government has walked away from its plan to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.
But the charities sector will not have certainty until Minister Morrison formally withdraws the abolition bill which is still before the House of Representatives.
This morning, Minister Morrison told the Philanthropy Meets Parliament summit that his Government had “consulted widely, and there is very strong support for the ACNC.”
He went on to admit that: “I don’t believe there would be support in the Senate for there to be any change.”
PARTNERING WITH PHILANTHROPY AND CIVIL SOCIETY – A LABOR VIEW
SPEECH TO THE INAUGURAL PHILANTHROPY MEETS PARLIAMENT SUMMIT
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
Thank you to Alan Schwartz for that kind introduction, and to Philanthropy Australia for bringing you all into the nation’s Parliament. I would also like to congratulate Tony Stuart on his appointment as the newest member of the government’s Community Business Partnership.
I come bearing apologies from the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, who would very much like to have been with you today. As many of you would know, it was Bill who developed and delivered the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission when he was Minister for Financial Services back in 2012. He has an abiding interest in the community sector.
For centuries, people have given to help others. Many people give from a sense of religious duty. Whether it’s the Jewish tradition of tzedakah, the Muslim notion of zakat or the Christian tradition of tithing, the faithful have always seen an obligation to give.
Philanthropy is an important form of social capital in Australia. Five years ago, I wrote Disconnected, a book that tracked various metrics of community spirit over the decades. Based on charitable deductions data from the Australian Taxation Office, I estimated that the share of Australians who donate to charity had not risen much since the late-1970s. Other donations data showed the same pattern – the share of people who give blood slipped slightly over the period from 1980 to 2010.
TWO YEARS SINCE TONY ABBOTT'S 'LOWER TAXES' FALSEHOOD
Two years ago, Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey’s Liberals promised Australians that “taxes will always be lower under a Coalition government.”
– Real Solutions campaign brochure
It turns out that even when he writes things down, you can’t trust Tony Abbott. The Coalition are now running one of the highest-taxing governments in Australian history.
In Joe Hockey’s second bungled budget, Australia’s tax-to-GDP ratio rose to 22.3 per cent. The tax take is set to rise even further to 23.4 per cent over the forward estimates.
Don't cook the goose on tax reform, Huffington Post, 4 September
What does an efficient tax system look like? Economists will tell you that its one where we minimise the unwanted distortions on behaviour. Most taxes change what people do: if you tax chocolate bars at a higher rate than apples, people will be more likely to pack a Granny Smith with their lunch.
But some taxes lead to far bigger distortions than others. Insurance taxes discourage people buying insurance, which means they’re more vulnerable to risk. Stamp duty discourages mobility, which means we have too many empty-nesters rattling around in homes that would be better used by growing families. The result of inefficient taxes like these is underinsurance and higher house prices.
Efficiency isn’t the only thing that matters, but it has to be part of the debate. As 17th century French politician Jean-Baptiste Colbert put it, ‘The art of taxation consists in plucking the goose so as to get the most feathers with the least hissing’.
BELCONNEN COMMUNITY WELL ACQUAINTED WITH ABBOTT GOVERNMENT & FARCE
Last Friday, all of Australia looked on with open-mouthed astonishment at the Abbott Government’s ‘border farce’ debacle.
For Canberrans however, another farce has been unfolding for almost a year now as the Government has continually put off making a decision about where to base the merged Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
Since September last year, the Government has been considering ripping the department out of the Belconnen Town Centre, where Immigration has been based for more than 40 years.
RADIO NATIONAL DRIVE
THURSDAY, 3 SEPTEMBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: China Free Trade Agreement; State of the Australian economy; Canning by-election.
PATRICIA KARVELAS: Let's kick off with the China Free Trade Agreement, which the Coalition has been defending today. The Opposition has reservations about arrangements for foreign labour under the deal, but Trade Minister Andrew Robb says those aspects of the negotiations are the same as when Labor initiated negotiations 10 years ago. Dr Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer – nice to have you back on RN Drive.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Thanks Patricia, lovely to be with you.
KARVELAS: The Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, is pushing for changes to be made to the FTA. But as the Trade Minister told us yesterday, making those changes is likely to lead to the Chinese walking away. That's the risk, they say. Is the Opposition playing politics as the risk of losing a deal vital to the national economy?
LEIGH: Patricia, we simply want the Government to sit down with us and work through the real concern that many Australians have about the fact that this is the first trade deal that removes labour market testing for Chinese migrants in the trade and technical occupations. That's a threat to what free trade agreements ought to do, which is to create more jobs and better paying ones. I'm a free trader not from blind ideology, but because I know the evidence that bringing down trade barriers has been good for creating Australian jobs. It's the migration portion of this agreement that Labor has concerns about.
The Abbott Government's super blind spot, Business Spectator, 3 September
Joint op-ed with Bernie Ripoll MP
People sometimes ask why those of us in the Labor Party are such strong advocates for evidence-based policymaking. The reason, of course, is that without drawing on evidence, personal prejudices can quickly come to guide public policy, paving the way for blind spots to cloud the view of what needs to be done.
The Abbott Government is letting just such a blind spot block out good evidence when it comes to changing the governance arrangements for Australia’s industry super funds.
The Government is proposing to end more than two decades of successful joint governance by employer and employee-nominated fund directors and instead force boards to take on both an independent chair and one-third independent directors.
THURSDAY, 3 SEPTEMBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: State of the Australian economy; Superannuation; Government backflip on Bank Deposits Levy
STUART BOCKING: Labor's Shadow Assistant Treasurer is Andrew Leigh and he's on the line now, good morning.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning Stuart.
BOCKING: What's your take from the figures yesterday, those GDP figures, what we've seen with the value of the dollar and of course, the market volatility over the past week or so?
LEIGH: Stuart, we're in an economic transition with the investment phase of the mining boom phasing down and subtracting from growth. What we need is a Government with a clear plan for what comes after the mining boom. For mine, that would involve heavy investment in technology and engineering jobs, making sure that we're creating jobs in renewables rather than attacking the solar and wind sectors, and making sure that we've got significant investment in long-term growth. What I worry is that Joe Hockey is much keener on finding excuses than finding solutions. Last time the growth figures came out he was all focused on the quarterly numbers because that's what made him look good in the international comparison. Now he wants us to look at the annual numbers because that's what makes him look good.
BOCKING: In fairness, governments are always at that – you'd be doing exactly the same thing and have in the past when you were in government. You're always going to look for the numbers that do seem most appealing. I think one of the difficulties many people have is accepting that countries like the US, countries like Greece have a better rate of economic growth than we do.
LEIGH: That's absolutely a concern for me, Stuart. And you can take simple numbers that we know should be going in one direction and see that they're going the other. The unemployment rate should be going down, instead it is now at a 13-year high. Consumer sentiment should be getting better, but instead it's 11 per cent down from where it was at the election. Growth ought to be getting better but instead growth is waning. The deficit ought to be falling – Mr Abbott said that would be his number one test of economic credibility – but the deficit has doubled in just the last 12 months. So the numbers that should be going up are going down, and the numbers that should be going down are going up.
THURSDAY, 3 SEPTEMBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: State of the Australian economy.
MARIUS BENSON: Andrew Leigh, the Government and some substantial economists this morning are saying things aren't that good but at least the economy isn't heading into recession. Do you agree we're not heading into recession?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Marius, I think responsible alternative governments are very, very careful in their language around that sort of thing. Yesterday's numbers are a significant cause for concern. We were told that the election of an Abbott Government would be like a shot of adrenalin to the Australian economy but instead we've got figures which are only positive because of a significant increase in government spending.
BENSON: But the Government says at least we're growing; look at Canada, look at Brazil, look at those other resources-reliant economies that are in recession.
LEIGH: They're casting around for comparisons. Last quarter Joe Hockey was doing his comparisons based on quarterly numbers; now he's doing them on annual numbers. The fact is, Marius, we've got unemployment at a 13-year high, consumer sentiment 11 per cent below where it was at the election, we've had the budget deficit doubled just in the last 12 months and we've got taxes and spending rising, contrary to what the Abbott Liberals told us before the election, that they would be a lower taxing government.