Helping the Helpers - Op Ed, The Herald-Sun and Courier Mail

THE BEST WAYS TO LEND A HAND TO BUSHFIRE RELIEF

The Herald-Sun and Courier Mail, 18 January 2020

Millions of hectares of bush have been burned. Dozens of lives have been lost. Up to a billion mammals, birds, reptiles, bats, frogs and invertebrates may have died. Smoke from Australia’s bushfires has reached as far as New Zealand and Chile. Australia’s bush capital has recorded the worst air quality in the world.

Amid the tragedy, many of us are looking at how we can help. On the front lines, our volunteer fire fighting services need donations, which will allow them not only to fight this year’s fires, but also to be better prepared next season. In affected communities, Red Cross, Vinnies, the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, the Salvos, Foodbank and the Rural Advisory Mental Health program are among those working with families who have lost their homes.

To help injured animals, and to provide sources of food and water to keep native animals alive, the World Wildlife Fund, WIRES, the RSPCA, the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital and Adelaide Koala Rescue are among the bodies that are seeking donations.

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Our school kids' test scores are in free fall. Here's how we fix it - Op Ed, Ten Daily

OUR SCHOOL KIDS' TEST SCORES ARE IN FREE FALL. HERE'S HOW WE FIX IT.

Ten Daily, 11 December 2019

Australia has just recorded the worst labour productivity growth since records began and the worst school test results this century. As a cornucopia of commentators have noted, Australia now underperforms plenty of nations that are poorer than us, such as Korea, Singapore and Estonia.                                            

In reality, the test score slump shouldn’t surprise anyone. A decade ago, Melbourne University’s Chris Ryan and I showed that Australia’s test scores had dropped over the period from 1964 to 2003. NAPLAN results suggest little change in student performance from 2008 to 2019.

But it’s the OECD’s PISA tests that paint the most troubling picture. Administered every three years since 2000, they show Australian students doing worse on maths, reading and science. Every time Australian 15 year-olds are tested, average scores have dropped. 

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Coalition's war on charities - Media Release

COALITION’S WAR ON CHARITIES

Today’s push to strip environmental charities of their tax-deductible gift recipient status proves yet again that this anti-environment government wants to shut down any criticism of its lousy record on climate change, biodiversity and protection of the oceans. 

There are already laws in place that allow for organisations to have their tax deductible status revoked if they failure to comply with the strict requirements governing charities and not-for-profits.

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Australia needs to step up on world stage - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 5 DECEMBER 2019

This bill enjoys bipartisan support. It involves providing replenishment funds to six multilateral development organisations. But it comes at a time when aid has been savagely cut to the lowest level since records began. Since the government came to office in 2013, it has cut nearly $12 billion from Australia's aid program. That means aid as a share of national income is lower now than it was under Liberal prime ministers Menzies, Holt, Gordon, McMahon, Fraser and Howard. Those governments recognised the importance of overseas aid, not just in alleviating poverty but also in building trade in our region, and also in ensuring that our region is safer.

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Reducing the Harms from Gambling - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 3 DECEMBER 2019

In the 1980s, economist Gary Becker developed the theory of rational addiction. Rational addiction, which applies to any sort of addictive substance, is the notion that as an individual considers whether or not to take up an addictive substance they think rationally about the probability that they will get addicted to it and the costs and benefits of all of that—so, when a teenager takes their first smoke, they're thinking rationally about the long-term impact it will have on their lives if they become addicted; when somebody takes their first drink, they're thinking about the risk of addiction and, mathematically, quickly doing all the costs and benefits as to the lifetime impact; or, when someone gambles, there are also computing the costs and benefits and considering rationally the probability of addiction.

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Worrying trends in the Australian economy - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 3 DECEMBER 2019

Recently the House Economics Committee had the pleasure of hearing from Rod Sims, the head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and his staff, to investigate a range of important issues surrounding competition and market dynamics within the Australian economy.

At the outset, as our report notes, there have been a number of worrying trends in the Australian economy, suggesting that it is becoming less dynamic. Sasan Bakhtiari has tracked the number of new start-up firms in Australia, going back to the beginning of the century. He finds that at the beginning of the century the Australian economy was creating new firms at a rate of about 15 per cent a year; now that's down to just nine per cent a year.

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Liberal MP labels Canberra a burden on the taxpayer - Media Release

SENATOR KATY GALLAGHER
SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE PUBLIC SERVICE
SENATOR FOR THE AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY
 
ALICIA PAYNE MP
MEMBER FOR CANBERRA
 
ANDREW LEIGH MP
MEMBER FOR FENNER
 
DAVID SMITH MP
MEMBER FOR BEAN

LIBERAL MP LABELS CANBERRA A BURDEN ON THE TAXPAYER

A Liberal MP has gone rogue and devalued the important role that the Australian Public Service (APS) plays in our democratic system of government.

While debating the Morrison Government’s plan to cut the aged pension and Newstart Allowance, Tim Wilson, Member for Goldstein responded to a speech by Member for Canberra, Alicia Payne MP, and claimed:

“After all the whole basis of the Canberra economy is, literally, government. The raiding of tax payers’ hip pockets for the benefit of the few.”

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Christmas can be hard on those down on their luck - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 2 DECEMBER 2019

The Christmas season can be hard on those who are down on their luck.

I thank organisations in Canberra who are doing their part to help the most disadvantaged in our community at this time. The Salvation Army in Scullin will be serving a Christmas lunch from 12.30, and St John's Care Reid will be serving its Christmas lunch from noon. St John's Care, UnitingCare Kippax and Canberra City Care are working together to make sure that they are helping as many people as they can during the Christmas season.

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Recognising sacrifice - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 2 DECEMBER 2019

Two and a half thousand years ago Pericles delivered a funeral oration, reading in part:

… for the Athens that I have celebrated is only what the heroism of these and their like have made her … none of these allowed either wealth with its prospect of future enjoyment to unnerve his spirit, or poverty with its hope of a day of freedom and riches to tempt him to shrink from danger … reckoning this to be the most glorious of hazards, they joyfully determined to accept the risk …

Thucydides quotes Pericles:

So died these men as became Athenians. You, their survivors, must determine to have as unfaltering a resolution in the field, though you may pray that it may have a happier issue.

In honouring those who have fallen in service of Australia, we follow in the footsteps of Pericles. The manner in which that is done fundamentally shapes the character of nations.

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Humanity's paths: a "Star Trek" utopia or a "Terminator" dystopia? - Op Ed, Salon

HUMANITY'S PATHS: A "STAR TREK" UTOPIA OR A "TERMINATOR" DYSTOPIA?

Salon, 2 December 2019

The United States today is more unequal than it has been in generations and more technologically advanced than ever. As the top 1 percent increases its share of the world’s wealth, advances in artificial intelligence are driving new breakthroughs in facial recognition, language translation, and abstract strategy games. While the earnings gap between highly educated workers and the unskilled widens, CRISPR technology lets scientists edit genomes. For robot designers, data analysts, and medical researchers, it can be the best of times. To paraphrase technology entrepreneur Jerry Kaplan, theirs is a future represented by "Star Trek"— a world where technology’s benefits are widely shared. For someone with few skills, few assets, and no job, it can feel like the worst of times. Theirs is a future that can seem like the dystopian one of "Terminator," after a self-aware artificial intelligence realizes that it no longer needs humanity.

Some people argue that inequality is the price we must pay for innovation. They say that we can’t all be billionaires. They assert that if we try to make society more equal by raising the top tax rate, it could deter risk taking and innovation. If we have to choose between having more stuff and distributing it fairly, they conclude that we should go for growth over equity.

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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.