As Australia bounces back, let’s make sure we’re not leaving people behind - Op Ed, The Canberra Times

AS AUSTRALIA BOUNCES BACK, LET’S MAKE SURE WE’RE NOT LEAVING PEOPLE BEHIND

The Canberra Times, 18 May 2020

Recently I heard from a Canberra woman who had changed employers last November. Her new employer told her she’d start off as a casual and then transition to permanency. When coronavirus hit, and the government announced its JobKeeper wage subsidy program, she hoped that it would apply to her. But as a casual who had been with her employer for less than year, she was excluded. As she wrote to me ‘This will have a long and lasting financial impact on our family’.

In another family, I heard the story of two children, aged 18 and 21, who had each been in casual jobs for 11 months. They’re ineligible too. A local Turkish restaurant told me that half their staff were international students. Because those workers are on temporary visas, they are ineligible for JobKeeper. The restaurant owners are worried they’ll have to close permanently. They pleaded ‘Save us from folding up.’

Labor supports the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme. More than that, we called for it. Early in the crisis when other countries had announced wage subsidy schemes, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it wouldn’t work in Australia. It was only under pressure from business, unions and the Labor Party that Mr Morrison changed his mind, recalled parliament and enacted the JobKeeper package. It’s the most important thing the government has done.

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We must avoid creating economic castaways - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 13 MAY 2020

Recently I heard from a woman in my electorate who changed employers in November last year. Her new employer told her she'd start off as a casual and then transition to permanency. Today, she can't access JobKeeper and says: 'This will have a long and lasting financial impact on our family'. In another family, they told me that their two children, aged 18 and 21, had each been in casual jobs for 11 months. They're ineligible too. A local Turkish restaurant tells me that half their staff were international students who are ineligible for JobKeeper. They're worried they'll have to close and have pleaded to me, 'Save us from folding up.'

Labor supports the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme. More than that, we called for it. Early in the crisis when other countries had announced wage subsidy schemes, the Prime Minister said it wouldn't work in Australia. It was only under pressure from business, unions and the Labor Party that he changed his mind, recalled parliament and enacted the JobKeeper package. It's the most important thing the government has done.

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Australia can't shoot from hip on China - Transcript, ABC News Capital Hill

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TV INTERVIEW

ABC NEWS CAPITAL HILL

WEDNESDAY, 13 MAY 2020

SUBJECT: Australia’s relationship with China.

GREG JENNETT, HOST: The international trade environment is rich with COVID context at the moment, and there’s plenty of interpretation that says Australia is being punished – barley, beef, other commodities, wine before that. Do you believe that is China’s motivation in at least temporarily  holding up some of these items?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Greg, I think it's really important when we're dealing with China to calm down and take the long view. This is a 5000 year old civilization. It's done more than any other country over our lifetimes to bring people out of poverty. We aren't helped by this talk of Thucydides traps and Cold War analogies and Chamberlain moments.

JENNETT: But what if they were true? What if these were Beijing’s motivations, that it is displeased that Australia is leading the charge on demands for investigations into this pandemic? Wouldn’t a country that respected its sovereignty forcefully rebut that and not expect to be punished via trade?

LEIGH: Take the long view doesn't mean you're not firm about your true values and about the institutions that underlie the international trading system. The World Trade Organisation has been a critical institution, and we should be strong supporters as a middle power engaged with the world of solving things through the World Trade Organisation. Australia has been a very extensive user of the anti-dumping system and China has not to date been bringing cases against our producers in a way in which we've been bringing them against theirs. But there's also-

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We should be ambitious for Australia - Transcript, Sky News

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TV INTERVIEW

SKY NEWS FIRST EDITION

TUESDAY, 12 MAY 2020

SUBJECTS: Economic reform; the Treasurer’s economic statement; JobKeeper; the opportunity to rebuild the economy to benefit all Australians.

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: We are joined now by Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities, Andrew Leigh, from Canberra. Andrew, good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Likewise.

STEFANOVIC: So first of all, the NSW Premier has flagged this morning payroll tax and stamp duty relief. A lot of economic reform does come from the states. Is that something that you would support?

LEIGH: Absolutely. The states have both the most efficient and the most inefficient taxes, and the move that the ACT has made over recent years in transitioning away from insurance and stamp duty taxes towards a land tax base is textbook economic reform. It's sensible as a way of buffeting the shocks during the crisis to look at relief from the most inefficient taxes which could then be phased down.

STEFANOVIC: We did hear from a short time ago Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who says you know it's all about minimising risk and a strong recovery at the moment. How do you see it?

LEIGH: You look at Australia coming out of World War Two, and that was a period in which we decided we wouldn't just put the place together the way it had been in the 1930s, but we'd build a better country. There was a white paper on full employment put together by the Labor government, and then Robert Menzies to his credit embarks on a massive program of home building and the home ownership rate shoots up. We should be ambitious for Australia not just to return to the pretty stagnant economy that we've had for the last seven years, but to do something better - to invest in the sources of productivity through education and infrastructure, and to ensure that we've got a more egalitarian and a more connected nation. I'm confident that we can do all of that, but it will take a hard focus and a sense of bipartisanship that's been absent in recent years.

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Australia needs to build a better economy - Transcript, 2CC Canberra

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

2CC CANBERRA DRIVE

MONDAY, 11 MAY 2020

SUBJECTS: Australia beyond the coronavirus; JobSeeker and JobKeeper programs; the Coalition tripling Government debt; the important of engaging with the world; high speed rail; Jack Mundey.

LEON DELANEY, HOST: Federal Parliament will resume here in Canberra tomorrow on what would have been budget day. Yes, this is like Christmas for political nerds. The budget has been delayed of course, but both sides are laying out their visions for Australia's economic future. The Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will be handing down a budget statement tomorrow, and today the Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has delivered a major speech to Labor MPs outlining a vision for the future. Now amongst the things mentioned by the Opposition Leader today is the idea that while we're facing a massive challenge at the moment coping with the COVID-19 crisis, it is also not only a challenge, it is also an opportunity. Joining me now 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. How are you?

DELANEY: Very well, thanks. Thanks for joining us today. This is an opportunity to overhaul Australia's economy, says your leader. How big an overhaul are we talking about?

LEIGH: I think the important thing here Leon is that the snapback isn't a throwback. It's not a throwback to the past in which we just accepted that a huge share of the workforce would be on casual insecure contracts. It's not a throwback to assuming that people can live on 40 bucks a day on Newstart. It's not a throwback to thinking that somehow cuts in company tax rates for big firms is the solution to Australia's economic problems. And it's not a throwback to a time in which we disparage scientists and suggest that they had not nothing to contribute in boosting productivity in research and development. So there's a lot that we can do in this time in order to invest in the nation's future - affordable housing, boosting manufacturing, putting a greater emphasis on job security and creating a more respectful relationship between business and unions are just a few of the things that Anthony talked about today.

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Economic snapback can't be throwback to bad policies - Transcript, ABC News Radio

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

ABC NEWS RADIO

MONDAY, 11 MAY 2020

SUBJECTS: Australia beyond the coronavirus; JobKeeper; the Coalition tripling Government debt.

GLEN BARTHOLOMEW, HOST: Labor MP Andrew Leigh was in that caucus meeting for that speech from Anthony Albanese. He's the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities, and joins us now. Good afternoon.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good afternoon, Glen. How are you?

BARTHOLOMEW: Not bad. Mr Albanese says the coronavirus crisis is an opportunity to reshape the economy. What more can you tell us about what specifically he might want done?

LEIGH: We need to ensure that the snapback isn't a throwback, and that we build a nation which is stronger, fairer and more committed to tackling the challenges of the future than we were beforehand. It's not as though we entered the crisis from a position of strength. The Reserve Bank's statement on monetary policy last week said private demand had been weak. People have been saying for many years that productivity was in the doldrums, and noting the problems with languishing wage growth and stagnant household living standards. So there’s a lot we can do in order to invest in social housing, to make sure we get a more cooperative relationship between business and unions, and to create an environment in which our scientists and our academics are working to boost research and development in Australia, so we're a more diversified, more productive economy.

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Labor calls for advance payments under redress scheme - Media Release

LINDA BURNEY MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND SOCIAL SERVICES

MEMBER FOR BARTON

MARK DREYFUS

SHADOW ATTORNEY GENERAL

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

ANDREW LEIGH MP

SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES

MEMBER FOR FENNER

LABOR CALLS FOR ADVANCE PAYMENTS UNDER REDRESS SCHEME SO SURVIVORS DON’T MISS OUT

The Morrison Government must end the uncaring and negligent way in which it has denied justice to survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.

In particular the Government must ensure the elderly, or those with illness, are urgently able to access advance payments under the National Redress Scheme. 

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We can't rebuild without the building industry - Transcript, Doorstop

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

DOORSTOP INTERVIEW

CANBERRA

THURSDAY, 23 APRIL 2020

SUBJECTS: Coronavirus; trades jobs at risk; social housing investment during COVID-19; economic implications of COVID-19; construction sector impacts due to COVID-19; JobKeeper; Parliamentary sittings; World Health Organization; wet markets.

ANDREW LEIGH, MEMBER FOR FENNER: Thanks very much for coming along today. And welcome to Holt in the wonderful Fenner electorate. My name's Andrew Leigh. And it's a great pleasure to be here with our Labor Leader, Anthony Albanese, Jason Clare and Dave Smith. I want to thank today also, George, Chris and Dave, for showing us around this building site. We know two things about the building industry. First of all, it's had a lean couple of years. Last year building construction fell. Part of the general weakness that we've seen in the Australian economy, slow growth, sluggish productivity, wage growth down, all of these things hitting Australia hard before COVID-19 came along. We know too that the building industry is the most cyclical industry. Construction goes up and down with the economy.

So, when times are tough, construction gets hit pretty hard. But that is no reason the construction sector should suffer at a time like this. Australia needs a lot more houses. And when you look at how Australia has responded in past economic downturns, the construction sector has been essential to that. We came out of World War Two, we didn't just say, 'Let's put things back the way they were'. We said, 'Let's do it better'. And a huge construction boom followed the end of World War Two. Labor is strongly committed to the building industry and the construction sector, to building more houses that Australia needs, and to the thousands of jobs the construction sector supports. And that's why we're here listening to the stories of these builders today. Let me hand over now to Anthony

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Poor bear burden of coronavirus downturn, but inequality not inevitable in Australia - Op Ed, The Guardian

THE POOR BEAR THE BURDEN OF THE CORONAVIRUS DOWNTURN, BUT INEQUALITY IS NOT INEVITABLE IN AUSTRALIA

Over the three-month American summer break, school students diverge. In high-income families, students keep learning, thanks to museum trips, instructional camps, and home tutoring. In low-income families, students slip backwards, losing 1-2 months’ worth of learning by the time they return to school. According to one study, the ‘summer slide’ accounts for two-thirds of the difference between poor and rich students.

The gap between high-performing and low-performing children in Australia is already larger than in most advanced nations. With a large share of families currently homeschooling, this problem is likely to worsen. Speaking with a range of parents, I’m struck by the differences in how children are spending their days - with some being intensively tutored, while others are literally left to their own devices.

Before COVID-19 hit, we already had too much inequality in Australia. And that’s not just a Labor view. In one survey, people were three times more likely to agree than disagree with the statement that ‘income and wealth should be redistributed towards ordinary working people’.

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Emergency relief funding must reach local services - Media Release

LINDA BURNEY MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND SOCIAL SERVICES

MEMBER FOR BARTON

 ANDREW LEIGH MP

SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY

SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES

MEMBER FOR FENNER

EMERGENCY RELIEF FUNDING MUST REACH LOCAL SERVICES

Labor welcomes today’s additional investment in emergency relief services, and the Government must make sure it reaches local community organisations quickly. 

Local emergency relief organisations across the country are under immense pressure. Some have been forced to close their doors because they cannot get the goods, funding and support they need.  

These organisations deliver an invaluable service. They help with food and bills; as well as provide social interaction to vulnerable and often socially isolated Australians.

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | Andrew.Leigh.MP@aph.gov.au | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.