Australia needs to engage with the world - Transcript, Weekend Sunrise





SUBJECTS: Populism, Inequality, Trade, Immigration, Foreign Investment. 

ANDREW O’KEEFE: The recent history of world politics has been a triumph of populism. From Trump in the US to the National Front in France, from Duterte in the Philippines to Erdogan in Turkey to Brexit in the UK, voters are moving away from the major parties and giving their vote to angry strongmen and women, rejecting globalisation along the way.

MONIQUE WRIGHT: Some analysts have blamed this on the failure of capitalism to look after the working classes, and others say that populism represents a streak of xenophobia.

O’KEEFE: One man who's been closely watching the trends is Federal MP and Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh, who's just published a volume on the subject called 'Choosing Openness'. Andrew joins us from Canberra. Morning to you, Andrew. 


O’KEEFE: Now, you're a man of many hats. Sure you're a pollie, but you were a professor of economics at ANU in Canberra. So, wearing your political hat first, how would you define populism and where do you find populists?

LEIGH: Populism is the politics of us and them them, the division of the ideas of a pure mass of people are oppressed by a vile elite. It doesn't have to be xenophobic, but it's so often is.

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Foreign investment rules - OpEd, Australian Financial Review

Foreign investment rules

Australian Financial Review, 12 October 2017

Despite its name, the Chiko Roll does not contain any chicken. Its contents are mostly cabbage and barley, along with other pulped vegetables and a small amount of beef. Its genius lies in the casing – made of egg and flour, and deep fried in oil. Yet the Chiko Roll wasn’t just a culinary innovation; it also changed how Australia controlled foreign investment. In 1972, when tens of millions of Chiko Rolls were being sold annually, the US conglomerate IT&T made a bid to buy the company. The idea of an Australian food icon being sold to Americans caused a backlash in the press and parliament. As one commentator notes, ‘the cabinet meeting over the Chiko Roll… was the beginning of the regulation of foreign investment in Australia’.

In recent years, Australians have tended to be more hostile to foreign investment than people in other advanced countries. In 2008, 90 per cent agreed that the federal government has ‘a responsibility to ensure major Australian companies are kept in majority Australian control’. Only 27 per cent support foreign investment in infrastructure. This was the third-lowest level of support out of twelve advanced nations in which opinions were canvassed.

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Will dodgy directors get to keep burning companies all summer long? - Media Release


Tomorrow will mark one month since the Turnbull Government announced it would finally introduce a director identification number to take action on illegal phoenix activity, but the public is yet to see any draft legislation.

There are only three joint sitting weeks left in the year. Dodgy directors could continue scamming honest businesses, employees and taxpayers all through summer if Malcolm Turnbull delays any further.

The Government hasn’t clarified whether acquiring a director identification number will require a 100-point identity check – a fundamental aspect of the proposal Labor announced in May. Bizarrely, Minister Kelly O’Dwyer has even linked a director identification number to the use of biometric data.

The Government keeps missing deadlines on a register of beneficial ownership, something they’re yet to commit to making public. 

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Queenslanders’ $50m fuel slug - Media Release


Brisbane drivers have forked over around $50 million more annually than their interstate counterparts since 2009 due to a lack of competition.

Today’s findings by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission show the dangers of concentrated markets.

These findings back in Labor’s calls for increased fines for anti-competitive conduct, and a completely independent market studies function for the competition watchdog.

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Technology, Transitions and Teachers in The Tocsin

Technology, Transitions and Teachers*

The Tocsin
Published by the John Curtin Research Centre
Issue 2, October 2017

Andrew Leigh

The twentieth century saw an explosion in technologies, from aircraft to radio, antibiotics to smartphones. Living standards rose massively. Yet the middle of that century – the 1920s to the 1970s – saw the largest reduction in inequality in Australian history.

Australia today faces two intertwined challenges. First, how do we continue the pace of innovation in the twenty-first century that we saw in the twentieth? Second, how do we ensure that prosperity is broadly shared? As it happens, I will argue that a single policy recommendation offers the greatest promise to make us more entrepreneurial and more equal.

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Caring Communities - OpEd, The Chronicle

One School’s Desire to Do Better

The Chronicle, 3 October 2017

Ainslie School celebrated its 90th birthday last month, proud of its past and looking towards the future. Opened by Prime Minister Stanley Bruce in 1927, the school is distinguished by its Art Deco architecture and its honour boards. There’s an old-fashioned phone in the foyer, and some say that the library is haunted by a friendly ghost called Mary.

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Australian Lessons on Gun Control - Opinion Piece, Washington Post


Washington Post, 6 October 2017

Australia experienced our deadliest mass shooting in 1996 after gunman Martin Bryant killed 35 people in and around the Port Arthur tourist site. Twelve days later — before all the victims had been laid to rest — Australia’s police ministers met and unanimously agreed on a package of measures to tighten licensing and registration requirements, restrict access to semi-automatic weapons and limit sales.

The national government coordinated a buyback program, which paid market prices for guns that were handed back. Over the next year, more than 600,000 firearms — about one in five of all guns in Australia — were handed into police stations. Given the harrowing loss of life in the United States to gun violence, it’s worth understanding the impact of the Australian reforms.

Did it stop gun massacres? Following the tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas this week, some have dismissedAustralia’s buyback as ineffective, asserting that mass shootings were too rare in Australia prior to the buyback to show any clear evidence of progress.

Alas, that isn’t correct. If we define a mass shooting as the killing of five or more victims, Australia experienced an average of one mass shooting per year in the decade to 1996. In the decade after, no mass shootings took place. The chance of this being due to luck alone is less than 1 in 100.

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If you make cuts to those at the bottom then you can't be surprised when there is a backlash against globalisation - Transcript, RN Drive

SUBJECT/S; Asylum seeker policy, Marriage equality postal survey, New book 'Choosing Openness'.
PATRICIA KARVELAS: I'm joined by Labor Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh. Welcome back to RN Drive.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Thank you Patricia, good to be with you.
KARVELAS: So Labor restarted offshore processing and the Coalition has of course maintained it in their 4 years in power. Do you both bear some responsibility for what we're seeing here, 6 deaths on Manus Island.
LEIGH: Patricia, the first thing to say is Labor's thoughts - like those of all Australians - are with the families of the deceased. We need to move slowly and deliberately when we're dealing with issues like this as indeed you did there with your comments on the Las Vegas shooting. We're dealing with a loss of life. Labor have asked to be briefed and certainly we're not about to start politicising that death.
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How to Best Secure Australia's Prosperity - Transcript, AM Agenda






SUBJECTS: Marriage equality postal survey, energy crisis, new book ‘Choosing Openness’, trade, immigration, foreign investment.

KIERAN GILBERT, PRESENTER: This is AM Agenda. With me now is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh. In relation to the Government and the states, what are your thoughts on GST held back in return for the states lifting these moratoriums. Do you think that is a good move?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Seems to be the blame game all over again, doesn't it Kieran? You’ve got a government that has been unwilling to impose a national interest test, unwilling to pull the gas trigger, unwilling to put in place a Clean Energy Target that their own hand-picked Chief Scientist recommended. And now they want to take money away from schools and hospitals across various states simply because they have been unable to put the right policies in place on gas.

GILBERT: They didn't have to pull the trigger, did they? They got the companies to agree to doing it themselves voluntarily.

LEIGH: Kieran, I remember back in April when Malcolm Turnbull was telling us that gas prices were going to halve. My guess is most of your viewers haven't seen that halving yet. The Turnbull Government has been a lot talk on this but unwilling to take tough action. When Labor put in place a national interest policy last year, we were criticised by Josh Frydenberg as being protectionist. Had the Government moved with Labor a year ago, we would be in a better place than we are now.

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Stronger advocacy for openness - Transcript, ABC News






SUBJECTS: New book ‘Choosing Openness’, trade, immigration, foreign investment, Turnbull tax proposals, Labor’s fairer tax plan, inequality.

MIRIAM COROWRA, PRESENTER: Cutting the company tax rate and stimulating wage growth are two key issues that have been topping the political agenda this week. The Treasurer warned that if these two issues are not addressed now Australia risks falling behind the rest of the world and the nation's economy will suffer. 

GREG JENNET, PRESENTER: To discuss this and other political issues of the week we're joined by Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh from Parliament House in Canberra. Andrew Leigh, you've just written a report for the Lowy Institute which is normally preoccupied with matters of national security and strategic policy. Why is the subject of income inequality being bracketed in among those topics? 

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Greg, I think one of the central challenges of our age is this rise in right-wing populism. We've seen not only the British Brexit decision and the rise of Donald Trump, but also right-wing parties in Germany and Austria and Hungary really making the argument that those countries would be better off retreating from the global economy. My new book Choosing Openness argues that for Australia that would be the wrong choice, and that our prosperity has been grounded very much in the benefits of open trade, migration and foreign investment. We need to manage those things properly. As you say, there's been a significant rise in inequality in the past generation. But if we have the right social protections, then Australia can benefit significantly from engaging with the world. 

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