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.

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The Worst Census Ever - Media Release


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.

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From Sacarnawa Deconeski to Pokemon Go: The Multifaceted Australia-Japan Relationship* - Speech

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.

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The TPP must be an agreement that brings down trade barriers - TV interview





SUBJECT/S: Syrian airstrikes; Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement; Turnbull Government’s migration message.

KIERAN GILBERT: This is AM Agenda coming to you live from New York this morning and joining me now Labor front bencher, Andrew Leigh. Andrew coincidently a lot is happening on the international stage and the bungled Syrian air strikes having reverberations at the UN. I know Labor supports the Australian involvement there. Isn’t it the fact that it’s a brutal reality that in a messy conflict like Syria that mistakes like this can happen?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Morning Kieran. It’s good to be with you, and I hope all is well in New York. Certainly what’s going on here is of deep concern. It reflects the fact that the Free Syrian army has now largely collapsed and this is now a conflict between the Syrian military and Al Qaeda and Daesh. That means of course that this is a serious blunder but it also highlights the fact that this is a conflict that has now been going on for more than five years.

GILBERT: The stalemate continues and hopefully the ceasefire will hold. I want to ask you about the Trans Pacific Partnership arrangement. The Prime Minister urging the Congress to support it but that window is closing with the Obama administration having not long to go and both Trump and Clinton opposing the TPP, as it’s known? 

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Fearless Comedy - The Chronicle

Fearless Comedy, The Chronicle, September 6

For one night, on the Canberra Theatre stage, a bevy of Australia’s top comedians came to tell stories, sing and dance.

Penny Greenhalgh showed how to ice skate without ice, using only an audience volunteer for balance. Sammy J sang in praise of nerds. Vanessa Conlin rhapsodised about single life in family-friendly Canberra. Adam Richard and Juliet Moody borrowed audience members’ phones and created songs using their text messages.

Last week’s Fearless Comedy Gala was an unusual event – a comedy night to raise money for the ACT Domestic Violence Crisis Service. By performing for free, the entertainers showed their commitment to this significant cause.

In the words of organiser Juliet Moody, herself a survivor of family violence, ‘There is no fear in real love.’

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According to the Prime Minister, today caps off a year of “great achievement”.

It was the year Malcolm Turnbull‘s Government stuffed-up the Census.

First, they failed to effectively address community concerns about the increase to the period for which names and addresses will be retained.

    • Then they wasted millions of hours of Australians’ time by urging us to log on to the Census website even after it had crashed.
    • Finally, they tried to avoid taking responsibility for the debacle by blaming the hard-working public servants whom the government had stripped of funding and resources.  
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Labor is making sure the omnibus savings bill won't hurt the most vulnerable - Sky To The Point





SUBJECT/S: Shadow Ministry; Omnibus Bill; Botched 2016 Census; Same-sex marriage legislation; Coalition losing votes in the House; Trove – the National Library’s digital archive; The Senate has nothing to do; Turnbull running scared.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: The Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Dr Andrew Leigh, joins us live from Canberra, thanks very much for your company. As of last week, you are now officially the only unpaid member of the Labor Frontbench. Have you thought about putting the cap around? Kristina Keneally thinks that we should start a social media campaign and see if we can do some crowd funding.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: You always were a great one for political trivia, Peter. I suspect that the three of us might be the only ones in Australia who care about this issue.

VAN ONSELEN: I don't know about that.

KRISTINA KENEALLY: I think you undersell yourself Dr Leigh, as we speak, I am setting up the GoFundMe campaign for your frontbench position.

VAN ONSELEN: Genuine question though –

LEIGH: Genuinely Kristina, if you're raising money raise it for homeless people. Don't raise it for someone who has slipped from the top 1 per cent to the top 2 per cent. Nothing to worry about.

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Today marks one month since the Turnbull Government oversaw Australia’s worst Census ever.

So the revelations this week that Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) executives have warned staff that the return rate of Census forms is at “crisis” levels should surprise no one.

The fact that Michael McCormack, the Minister made responsible for the Census by Malcolm Turnbull, has kept avoiding the Australian people is an indictment on the Turnbull Government.

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Failure can be a Great Teacher - Radio Interview





SUBJECT/S: Senator Dastyari’s resignation;  the lack of women in the Liberal Party; political donations; Australia’s weak GDP growth and decline in living standards since 2013.

PATRICIA KARVELAS: Andrew Leigh joins us now. Thanks for your time.


KARVELAS: You've seen that he just stood down. Shouldn't he have done that a few days ago?

LEIGH: Sam wasn't guilty of lying, cheating or stealing. He made an error of judgement. A mistake for which he has now paid the price. I think he's shown his ability to put the team ahead of himself with his statement that he didn't want to be the reason that the Turnbull Government escaped proper scrutiny. And there are plenty of things we need to be scrutinising them over. From the mucking up of the Census to the decline in living standards that were reported today. From their ongoing attempts to cut Medicare to their failure to act on multinational taxation in the G20. We need to be an effective opposition and Sam's statement today recognised the primacy of that role for the Opposition.

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Australia is falling well short on the growth measure - ABC NewsRadio





SUBJECT/S: G20 meeting; Growth targets; Trade policy; Superannuation; Sam Dastyari.

MARIUS BENSON: Andrew Leigh can I begin by asking you about the G20 meeting which has concluded in China. The message was the same from the G20 leaders; free trade is good, more free trade is better. But that seems to ignore a couple of things. One is that the same message has not been matched by the promised growth for some years. And the other is there has been a shift in world opinion, you can see it with Donald Trump, you can see it with Brexit, you can see it with Pauline Hanson advocating protectionist measures here. But that protectionist view, that change in world opinion ignored by world leaders. Is that a problem?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Marius, you've gone to one of the biggest concerns about where the global economy is going which is that we need to confront those protectionist views head on. In recent years we've seen trade barriers come down around the world and that's put thousands of dollars into the pockets of the typical Australian household and benefited people around the world. But the rise of protectionism does demand that we have a strong social safety net. I've always thought that you can't be a free trader unless you're also committed to a strong social safety net because trade adds to the total pie but the benefits don't flow evenly. We need to make sure that we have the fairness measures in place in order to make trade work.

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