TUESDAY, 10 MARCH 2020
SUBJECTS: Charities and bushfire recovery; stimulus.
FIONA PHILLIPS, MEMBER FOR GILMORE:It’s been great today to have Andrew Leigh here, who is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Charities and also the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. The purpose of the meeting today was to meet with the charities - the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul - and to basically get an update on what's happening with the bushfire crisis and the recovery process. But most importantly, just to make sure that we capture and make sure that our vulnerable people are being looked after through the crisis and recovery. So we've had a good chat today. I was obviously also very concerned about our small businesses, and getting them the support they need, and also our tourism operators that I know we need more funding to help promote local events.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Thanks, Fiona. My name's Andrew Leigh, Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities. It's been a really good opportunity this morning to speak to some of the key organisations who've been at the forefront of the bushfire response and the reconstruction efforts. We’ve spoken about the challenges of coordination, the importance of ensuring that data is shared with appropriate privacy protections, making sure that we're getting more support in cash rather than unwanted in-kind donations, and how critical it is to ensure that those who are most vulnerable are looked after. People who are homeless, people with disabilities, Indigenous Australians can sometimes be left out of disaster response and the charities we're speaking to today made it absolutely clear that those people are in the forefront of their minds as they're moving towards the reconstruction phase. We think there's important lessons out of the response here for local, state and federal governments.Read more
THOMAS PIKETTY AND THE ROOTS OF GLOBAL INEQUALITY
The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 March 2020
Thomas Piketty isn’t scared to tell a big story. In 2013, he produced Capital in the Twenty-First Century, a 700-page tome about inequality that combined Jane Austen and Honoréde Balzac with data from tax returns and national statistics.
One idea that captivated many readers was r versus g. When the rate of return on capital (think rental yields and share dividends) exceeds the overall economic growth rate, then inequality rises. When g is bigger than r, inequality falls.Read more
THE WAR ON CHARITIES CONTINUES
Nearly two years after the report from the mandated five-year review of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission’s legislation was given to the Government – in May 2018 – the Morrison Government has finally responded.
Of the 30 recommendations, 11 have been rejected. This includes the sector’s top ask: for Commonwealth leadership to deliver a harmonised fundraising system.
Australia’s fundraising laws predate mobile phones and the internet. They require charities who raise money online to register in multiple states across Australia.Read more
ABC NEWS RADIO
FRIDAY, 6 MARCH 2020
SUBJECTS: Morrison Government’s lack of a plan for productivity; wages; innovation; investment and growth; debt doubling under the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government.
MATT O’NEIL, HOST: Labor's Andrew Leigh is a former economist, now Federal Member for Fenner in the ACT, and joins us now. Good morning, Andrew. Thank you for your time.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Matt. I always figure once an economist, always an economist.
O’NEIL: [laughter] Andrew, what would Labor be doing to shield the economy from the coronavirus fallout?
LEIGH: I think it's pretty clear that the economy does need appropriate stimulus. What we did during the Global Financial Crisis was to move quickly, even before the first impacts of the global downturn were apparent in Australia, with stimulus that saved around 200,000 jobs and tens of thousands of Australian businesses. The trouble is that we're entering this challenge with an the economy which is much weaker than it should be. We used to have growth sitting between 3 and 3¼ per cent, and now we're getting 2 to 2¼ quarter per cent. We've had years of wage stagnation - not by accident, but through deliberate government policy, as the Finance Minister has pointed out. Anti-union attacks, penalty rate cuts - all of that has acted to dampen down wage growth, which of course then flows through to household spending because earnings flow back into the economy. You cut pay packets, you cut household incomes, and there's a negative spiral as a result of that. Business investment is lousy and construction and retail are in a very bad way at the moment.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 4 MARCH 2020
The problem of multinational profit-shifting is a massive one. Globally it has been estimated that some $600 billion of profits are shifted to tax havens. That is around two-fifths of all multinational profits being shifted to tax havens. Tax havens affect Australia's tax base. They siphon taxable profits away from jurisdictions like Australia, and the effect is that Australians either have to pay higher personal income taxes or else suffer from a lower quality of services.
Tax havens aren't always illegal but they're frequently immoral, and the users of tax havens include an awful lot of crooks. Tax havens are used by the North Korean regime for money laundering. They're used by extortionists. They're used by drug runners. Mexican drug cartels have been known to stash money in tax havens. So, if you're operating out of a tax haven, you're likely rubbing shoulders with some pretty unsavoury characters.Read more
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
WEDNESDAY, 4 MARCH 2020
SUBJECTS: Morrison’s ‘delivered’ surplus; Coronavirus; falling productivity; manufacturing.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. As Warren Buffett once put it, it’s only when the tide goes out you discover who's been swimming naked. Labor has been warning about problems in the Australian economy for many years now. We've been talking about the low productivity problem, the fact that growth has slowed since the government came to office. We've been pointing out that business investment is now at its lowest level since the early 1990s recession. We've noted the slowdown in the rate at which new businesses are being created. Australia has seen a motza of mergers, but a scarcity of start ups. Labor has noted the problems in innovation in the Australian economy. We've pointed out that retail spending is in a bad way, that construction faces significant challenges, that business confidence has taken a whack.
Throughout their nearly seven years in office, the government has done nothing to address these deep-seated structural problems. If anything, they've done harm. Think about the harm that was done to Australian households by the 2014 horror budget, or Scott Morrison's first plan when he became Treasurer of raising the GST to 15 per cent. Labor has been pointing out the need for greater incentives for business to invest for some time now. These were part of plans that we took to last year's election.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 3 MARCH 2020
My 85-year-old constituent Jean Carter has had it tough. Last September her granddaughter, who lived in the same Wreck Bay house, passed away. Then the fires came within five kilometres of Wreck Bay and she was forced to evacuate. Ms Carter is a member of the stolen generations. She prefers self-reliance to government handouts, but she struggles to access what little disaster assistance is available from the Morrison government.
Here in Canberra, the Belconnen Tennis Club applied for a grant to upgrade their 50-year-old lighting system. Their submission ranked 82 out of 100: it did better than hundreds of applications that were funded. As President Martin Klein said after they were knocked back, 'To play tennis, you need to be able to see the ball'.
But those opposite do their best work in the dark.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 2 MARCH 2020
I want to pay tribute to a great Australian.
David Yencken passed away on 21 September at home in Albert Park, Victoria after a 66-year career in the public service which earnt him praise and multiple awards. Before he went into the public service, David ran one of the earliest art galleries devoted to Australian painting. He opened Brummels Gallery in South Yarra in 1956. The following year he broke new ground again. He opened one of the first motels in Australia. In 1965, David co-founded Merchant Builders Pty Ltd, which went on to win three Victorian Architectural Medals and several other architectural awards, including the inaugural Robin Boyd Environmental Award for changing the face of residential Melbourne in 1972.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 2 MARCH 2020
In 2008 Ross Garnaut's climate change review said that unchecked climate change would lead to more hot days, droughts, extreme weather, hailstorms, thunderstorms and floods. Here in Australia we've witnessed a summer with much of that in abundance. It's been a brutal summer for the east coast. The city of Canberra was hit by severe smoke haze. On Thursday, after almost 40 days of continual operations by the ACT Emergency Services Agency, the Orroral Valley fire was officially out. That fire was the first fire to threaten Canberra since the 2003 bushfires. ESA Commissioner Georgeina Whelan, the first female commissioner of the ESA, has been honoured with the ACT Award for Excellence in Women's Leadership.
The recent bushfires have brought out the best in some, but for others it has led to the spreading of misinformation or even disinformation.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 2 MARCH 2020
According to its latest annual report, outcome 1 of the Australian Treasury is ‘to improve the wellbeing of the Australian people’. Treasury has included 'wellbeing' in its mission statement since John Howard's era. As the Shadow Treasurer has noted, measuring wellbeing is now an accepted part of how many countries do their budgets, taking account of indicators such as child poverty or mental health.
As we teach our students in first-year economics, economics isn't about maximising money, it's about maximising wellbeing.Read more