Fewer Ads, More Action - Media Release


At the end of the financial year, Australians are being barraged with ads on TV and radio, in print and online touting the Turnbull Government’s supposed success in cracking down on multinational tax dodging.

What these advertisements don’t say is that the Turnbull Government is currently refusing to back sensible Labor proposals that would close multinational tax loopholes and add billions of dollars to the government’s bottom line.

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Trouble Brewing - Op Ed, Daily Telegraph

Trouble Brewing

The Daily Telegraph, 30 June 2017

Thirty years ago, Phil Sexton was a young brewer who found himself increasingly disheartened by Australia’s beer industry. To Phil, conventional beer brewing was blokey, sexist and parochial. He felt the industry treated brewing like a bland exercise in engineering rather than a craft to be mastered.

Fed up with the status quo, Phil and his friends pooled their resources and started their own brewery. The going was tough. The big players used their market muscle to shut them out of virtually every local pub. But Phil and his friends persisted. They started their own pub, sold their own beers and created what is now a household name for craft beer drinkers in Australia: Matilda Bay.

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I will never say no to more representation for the ACT - Transcript, ABC Canberra Breakfast





Subjects: Census results and a third MP for Canberra.

ADAM SHIRLEY: The territory briefly had three seats in the House of Reps, between 1996 and 1998. They were the seats of Fraser, Canberra and Namadgi in the day. A current serving MP in the House of Reps for the Canberra region is Andrew Leigh, the Labor Member for Fenner and he’s with us on Breakfast to discuss this further. Andrew Leigh, a very good morning to you.


SHIRLEY: So, as far as the work it takes to represent Canberra’s growing population, just how hard is it to represent such a large number of constituents, given the area that you represent and the number of people in it?

LEIGH: Well, Adam, it certainly means that you have a fuller inbox. Your phones are ringing off the hook and people are coming in the door more often than they would be in smaller electorates. I speak a lot with my parliamentary colleagues about the work we all do representing electorates. There are challenges across the board - people in far North Queensland are representing huge electorates, but the sheer population in the Canberra electorates does place strains on. We don’t get any extra staffing resources for that, so I’d very much welcome a third seat for the ACT, because I think that would mean that Canberrans who wanted to raise something with their lower house MP just had readier access.

SHIRLEY: So, as far as you see it, is it simply a matter of opportunity to see your local representative, to raise a problem that you might have?

LEIGH: Well, I’m going first to that issue, because it would occur regardless of who was in there. Gai and I work as hard as we can in order to see people, raising issues in the house, but we’d love to have a third colleague there as well. Then of course, for Canberrans, if that person was somebody who was supporting Medicare, fair funding of schools, egalitarianism, I think that would be a great outcome for Canberra as well.

SHIRLEY: To some of those policy issues that you debate as a Labor member, is this as much about securing another Labor seat in what is traditionally a Labor voting town?

LEIGH: Well, Adam, I’m a Labor representative - of course I would say that having more people on the Labor side of Parliament means we’re more likely to get positive reforms put in place. We’ve seen Labor, for example in the cases of the public service, preside over a government in which public service numbers grew in line with population. Under the Coalition, we’ve seen savage cuts to the public service. We’ve seen a Labor Government make a commitment to climate change and to marriage equality, issues that are very important to many Canberrans. So to the extent that a third representative was making those powerful arguments, I think that would be welcomed by the vast majority of Canberrans. 

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The Turnbull Government needs to get serious on household debt - Transcript, Sky News Agenda




MONDAY, 26 JUNE 2017

Subjects: Record household debt, curtailing hate speech, fair school funding.

KIERAN GILBERT: With me now is Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh. The debt Bomb puts Nation in Danger", the front page of The Australian today and it refers to Australia and Canada as nations where personal debt is a risk. What do you make of that when there has been talk of a risk to the economy, there has been a property bubble that people have referred to this BIS report released suggested it is personal debt more broadly. What are your thoughts on those findings, is it a worry?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: They are two sides of the same coin. The rapid run up in house prices has meant Australians are more indebted than ever before. That has big implications for the economy. When you've got a lot of debt you don't feel like spending. Philip Lowe, the Reserve Bank Governor has highlighted this as one of the factors that might be dragging back the economy at the moment. The thing is, Kieran, we have these tax settings right now that encourage people to take on too much debt. The negative gearing and capital gains tax discount together act to encourage Australians to take on debt because they can deduct investment losses against wage income. You can't do that in Britain, you can't do that in the United States and that's why Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen have announced that we would restrict negative gearing to new built homes. It's important for financial stability as well as for housing affordability because if we allow this debt run up to continue then we are putting strains - 

GILBERT: So what is the risk then that Philip Lowe and those referred to these elevated levels of personal debt recently but what's the risk; that rates go up, property prices go down or both at the same time?

LEIGH: Both of those. Certainly a house price correction would pose significant risk to the Australian economy. The more debt you've got the more fragile your circumstances are to a shock. I think it's vital that the Federal Government starts taking this seriously. Those who have called for a reform of negative gearing include economists across the political spectrum. Organisations like the Grattan Institute, the Government's own Financial Systems Inquiry, the Reserve Bank has called for this, prominent Liberals: Mike Baird, Jeff Kennett, Joe Hockey in his outgoing speech to Parliament. It's not a radical idea, it's important in terms of making sure that we don't see the home ownership rate to continue to decline - it's now the lowest it has been in 60 years. 

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Beyond the Echo Chamber - Comment, University of Canberra's Digital News Report


University of Canberra’s Digital News Report: Australia 2017

When I was first elected to the Parliament of Australia in 2010, my team regularly sent a glossy flyer to everyone in the electorate bearing the eponymous title ‘The Leigh Report’. In addition, most electors in my northside Canberra seat would get a letter from me once or twice a year, discussing a specific issue or a local forum.

Over the past seven years we’ve steadily shifted away from the letterbox and towards the inbox, the browser and the app. My website is updated with new material several times a day and I maintain an active Facebook page. I have an Instagram account. Twitter tells me I’ve written nearly 9000 tweets. When I deliver a major speech, it goes up on an ‘Andrew Leigh – Speeches and Conversations’ podcast, available through iTunes and other podcast apps. Last year I started a second podcast: ‘The Good Life’, which interviews experts about living a happier, healthier and more ethical life. Each month I send out an email about what’s going on in national politics. It used to be called ‘The Leigh eReport’ to distinguish it from the physical version. Three years after sending out the last physical newsletter, we realised it wasn’t ever coming back and we changed the email update to ‘The Leigh Report’.

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Book launch - Regulating Charities: The Inside Story



Thank you for inviting me to launch this important book. This work delves into the history as to how the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission came to be. You can see from Susan Pascoe’s chapter a discussion of the many reviews that led into the charities commission.  You can see the extensive use of data, the careful analysis of the numbers of charities we have, the weight of charities, the important role they play in the community.

You can also see the forward looking approach to thinking about where charities regulation needs to go next. Too often we can be overly focussed on what’s going to be sorted out by the end of the week. But it is vital that we have an eye to the long game. What this volume helps us do is to think about what a ten or a twenty year charity agenda looks like.

For me, that’s very much about looking at what ASIC has been able to do in the corporate regulatory space. There are great benefits to having a nation made up of states and territories that do different things. But in the area of regulation, that overlap can often just be burdensome. We took those burdens of state corporate regulations  away from our business sector in 1989-1990 and I don’t think anyone’s argued for them to come back. Looking at how we can encourage states and territories to play better with the ACNC is clearly a long-run reform. 

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Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Fees Imposition Amendment (Fee Streamlining and Other Measures) Bill 2017

Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Fees Imposition Amendment (Fee Streamlining and Other Measures) Bill 2017

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Foreign investment over the last two centuries has been important to Australia's economic prosperity. In the 19th century, foreign investment helped to build our wool industry. In 1855, CSR's investment helped to build the sugar industry. In 1877, we saw the United States firm Schweppes set up in Australia, followed by Kraft and Kellogg's. Indeed, Kraft's purchase of Vegemite in 1935 probably helped make that product the success story that it is.

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Parliament accepts Labor's position on the GST low value threshold - Media Release


In a win for common sense, the Government has backed down and accepted Labor’s amendments to its GST Low Value Threshold legislation.

Labor’s amendments will see a delay the commencement of the legislation by 12 months and require the Productivity Commission conduct a short inquiry on implementation and other GST collection models, giving the Government and Parliament the opportunity to consider legislative amendments well before the new 1 July 2018 start date.

How did we get here? Scott Morrison’s sheer incompetence.

The Senate Economics Legislation Committee report into the GST Low Value Threshold legislation served as documentary proof of this incompetence, with stakeholder evidence almost reaching a consensus over problems with implementation, the vendor-based model and calls for a 12 month delay.

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Vale Mark Colvin

Vale Mark Colvin 

Tuesday 21 June 2017

Mark Colvin was born in London to an Australian-born mother, Anne, and a British father—the naval officer, diplomat, secret agent and historian, John Colvin. His father's work took him overseas, so the young Mark Colvin was sent to boarding schools, including Summer Fields prep, near Oxford, and Westminster School, in London. He did not enjoy his time at boarding school, which he later described as barbaric. After his parents divorced, when he was 11, Mark and his younger sister lived with their mother, while their father moved into a nearby flat. But even then Mark did not find out his father was a high-ranking member of MI6, and could not ascertain from his father the full details, even when his father passed away in 2003. In his memoir, Light and Shadow: Memoirs of a Spy's Son, he goes into some of those details. He reflected, too, in an interview with his son, William Colvin, about the impact that his upbringing had on him. He said to his son: 'I always tried to be a good dad to you and take you to lots of places.' He was determined not to send his own children to boarding school, despite being a foreign correspondent, but was determined to go to the theatre and to cook meals and to be what he called 'as much of a present dad as possible.' Words that I am sure all of us in this place who are struggling to combine work and parenting feel most acutely.

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The Women's Budget Statement - OpEd, The Chronicle


The Chronicle, 20 June 2017

Many things have been said about federal budgets, but ‘page-turner’, ‘must-read’ and ‘unforgettable’ are not among them. Full of tables, charts and acronyms, even the most dedicated public servants would only keep the budget by the bedside if they suffered from insomnia. 

But budgets matter. They tell us about the government’s priorities. How they choose to tax and spend is a marker of the values of those in charge.

Starting in 1983, Australian Governments of both political stripes produced a women’s budget. Unfortunately, this ceased in 2013. Since then, the Labor Opposition has produced the annual statement.

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