Which side of politics owns the Eureka legend?
An after-dinner debate for the conference on “Eureka’s significance, then and now”
Australian National University
3 December 2014
My thanks to John Moloney for his introduction, Dave Headon for organising tonight’s debate, and the gathered historians for being here on this, the 160th anniversary of Eureka. Let me pay my respects to the Ngunnawal people, the traditional owners of the land and their elders past and present.
I want to particularly thank my three parliamentary colleagues: Nick Champion, Michael McCormack and Lucy Wicks. We don't do enough in parliament that is bipartisan. These three parliamentary colleagues are people who enjoy talking about the role of history in our national conversation, and recognise that history isn't just the stories gone by, it is part of the golden threads that link the past to what we do in the future.
The government has ended the Parliamentary year with its budget in a real mess. In this op-ed for the Daily Telegraph, I've looked ahead to the Mid-year Economic and Fiscal Outlook statement to encourage Joe Hockey and his colleagues to find a better, fairer way.
Meritocracy at risk of becoming a mate-ocracy, Daily Telegraph, 5 December
Early last year, Joe Hockey pledged: "We'll deliver a surplus in our first year and every year after that." For the eighth time, he committed that an incoming Coalition government would never preside over a budget in deficit. Every Coalition budget, Mr Hockey pledged, would be a surplus budget.
Fast forward a year, and the only thing in surplus is red ink. When the Coalition came to office, the Charter of Budget Honesty laid out the state of the books. This year's budget deficit was forecast to be $24 billion.
So much for paying down debt. By the time Mr Hockey had delivered his first budget, he'd pushed this year's deficit up to $30 billion. Now, most informed sources have it blowing out still further when the mini-Budget is released in a few weeks.
Why is the deficit rising? Part of the answer is that Mr Hockey can't resist looking after his mates. A billion dollars to multinationals, a tax break for people with more than $2 million in their superannuation accounts, and soon you're talking real money.
DEAR HOCKEY: GET YOUR OWN HOUSE IN ORDER
Joe Hockey’s hypocrisy appears to know no bounds, as he lectures European leaders about cracking down on corporate tax avoidance while re-opening $1.1 billion in loopholes here in Australia.
The Treasurer has reportedly written to the European Union’s tax commissioner urging him to tighten rules that allow profit shifting and lead to erosion of the national tax base.
Yet while Mr Hockey attempts to throw his weight around in Europe, back in Australia he could not be taking a lighter touch on multinational profit shifting.
Yesterday it looked as though we'd get to decide on the future of the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission once and for all. Today, the government has backed away from putting it to a vote. This uncertainty is bad for the charity sector and has gone on long enough.
ALARMED ANDREWS RUNS AWAY FROM ACNC FIGHT
Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has beaten a retreat from putting his plan to abolish the charities commission to a vote in the parliament, leaving not-for-profits in limbo again heading into Christmas.
Yesterday Minster Andrews finally allowed for debate on the bill to abolish the charities commission, 253 days after it was first introduced to the House of Representatives.
The debate was scheduled to continue today, but the government has now pulled its bill again and will not bring it to a vote before Parliament rises for the year.
Yesterday the government finally brought the bill to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission forward for debate. I kicked things off for the Opposition by explaining exactly why we need to keep this important, effective agency.
Speech: Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Repeal Bill (No.1) 2014
House of Representatives
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 is of the opinion that the Government’s plan to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission is an insult to the good work of the charitable sector, and to all Australians who want accountability and transparency when it comes to their generous donations.”
What the charities commission does
Let me start with a story of great concern. It is about some scammers who set up charities with names such as Friends of the Disabled Children's Task Force, Friends of the Underprivileged Children's Task Force, and Chronic Constructive Pulmonary Disease of Australia Incorporated. Australians, inspired by a deep sense of generosity, donated more than $1 million to them. It turned out that there was not much evidence of the money going to the disadvantaged or needy, and those charities have now been shut down.
All scammers are dodgy, but I have always regarded charity scammers as a particular form of low-life. Other scammers exploit greed or lust or ignorance, but charity scammers prey on our goodwill; they take that great Aussie tradition of wanting to help the vulnerable, and they use it to line their own pockets.
Speech at the opening of the Eugene Anchugov Chinese art exhibition
Parliament House, Canberra
3 December 2014
I acknowledge Philip Ruddock and other members of parliament, Eugene Anchugov, David Fang and Kevin Lui.
Thank you for bringing this extraordinary exhibition to the Great Hall.
When I was in Beijing recently I took some time to enjoy the street-life.
I found myself looking on as a bystander to an unusual calligraphy lesson.
Using water from a small plastic bucket, two men were taking turns painting characters on the pavement squares with a long handled brush.
The brush was about three feet long, so they could paint directly onto the pavement without crouching or bending.
It was in no way clear who was the master and who was the pupil.
The Abbott Government has decided to use the last two days of parliament for the year to debate abolishing the charities commission. That's an appalling message to send the not-for-profit sector as they're gearing up to help hundreds of thousands of Australian families out over Christmas.
CHARITIES COMMISSION KERFUFFLE AN EMBARRASSMENT FOR ANDREWS
The Abbott Government’s plans to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission are in a shambles, as the government will this afternoon attempt to rush through a pointless bill which cannot pass the Senate.
Exactly one year ago, Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews stood up in the parliament and committed to sending the charities commission to the chopping block.
As it becomes increasingly clear that the Abbott Government cannot get some of its most unfair policies through the Senate, I joined GetUp! on the lawns of Parliament to wave farewell to federal budget.
Bon voyage Budget!
Speech to the GetUp! rally - Parliament House, Canberra
I’m sure I speak for the other two politicians here with us – Clive Palmer and Christine Milne – when I say that this is definitely the coolest event we’ll attend today.
Today is the 160th anniversary of the Eureka uprising – a demonstration of how people power can change Australia. Now, I’m not urging you to burn your mining licences – those of you who have them – but it is a reminder that people committed to building a better Australia can ultimately prevail.
Friends, Tony Abbott’s unfair budget needs to go. This Budget represents a shift in the burden from the poor to the rich: Robin Hood in reverse.
With the Abbott Government refusing to back my push for greater tax transparency, I took to the pages of Business Spectator to make the case for more truth and less 'truthiness' in the debate about multinational tax.
The truth about the government's tax stance, Business Spectator, 2 December 2014
If you want to know how your local school is performing, you can check the My School website for data on its results, funding, enrolments and more. If you want to be sure about a company you’re doing business with, you can search ASIC’s registers for details of its ownership, history and past run-ins with the law. And if you want to find out where to eat out, many states and territories have rated their restaurants for food safety (my favourite is Brisbane City Council, which gives all establishments a star rating).
Transparency is valuable in many contexts because it helps us make more informed decisions — whether as parents, consumers or businesspeople. More sunlight provides a strong incentive for companies, organisations and individuals to do the right thing.
That transparency principle underpins the Private Members Bill I’ve just introduced in the federal parliament. The bill aims to put more information about how much tax multinational companies pay into the public domain. With better information out there on the public record, we’ll be able to have a frank and informed discussion about whether big companies are paying their fair share.
As the start of December brings a new Labor government for Victoria, I joined Sky AM Agenda to talk about what lessons the federal Liberals should be taking from the defeat of their state counterparts, starting with their unfair budget.
SKY AM AGENDA
MONDAY, 1 DECEMBER 2014
SUBJECT/S: Victorian state election; Joe Hockey’s mini-budget; Movember
KIERAN GILBERT: This is AM Agenda, thanks for your company this Monday. With me is the Coalition frontbencher Darren Chester and Labor's Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant treasurer. Gentlemen, good morning to you both. Let's start with the Victorian election again. As a Victorian, Darren, you've said that some federal issues were at play over the weekend?
DARREN CHESTER, MEMBER FOR GIPPSLAND: It is a disappointing result for the Coalition and you need to be a realist in these situations. It was quite a tough environment in Victoria and some of the federal issues were playing into that. I think primarily it was a campaign fought on some pretty tough state issues for the government. The TAFE issue, ambulance pay, the Geoff Shaw disfunctionality that surrounded the parliament there for a couple of months, that made it very hard for Denis Napthine and Peter Ryan to get a clear message out. There's always more than one issue that plays into an election. I think there's no doubt that the tough budget decisions we had to make, and continue to try and implement, have had some impact but I wouldn't overstate that.