Climate action needed now - Speech, House of Representatives

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.

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Coalition chooses pointscoring over policy again - Speech, House of Representatives

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.

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Superannuation fees cost us more than energy bills - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 2 MARCH 2020

Australians spend more on superannuation fees than they do on energy: over $30 billion per year. According to work by the Productivity Commission, this amounts to some 1.1 per cent of total assets, which may not sound like much until you realise that the difference between fees of one per cent and half a per cent is the difference between a nest egg which is 10 per cent bigger or 10 per cent smaller.

As the Productivity Commission noted, ‘While some may be receiving exceptional investment returns or member services, the evidence indicates that funds that charge higher fees tend to deliver lower returns once both investment and administration fees have been netted off. Higher fees also persist over time.’ The Productivity Commission further concluded that ‘Superannuation fees in Australia are higher than those observed in other OECD countries.’

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When even Trump is cutting prison numbers, Australia should take note - Op Ed, TenDaily

WHEN EVEN TRUMP IS CUTTING PRISON NUMBERS, AUSTRALIA SHOULD TAKE NOTE

TenDaily, 28 February 2020

At this month’s Super Bowl, more than 100 million viewers saw a Republican ad that would have been unthinkable a decade ago.

President Trump’s campaign touted Alice Marie Johnson, a 64-year-old African-American woman who had been serving a life sentence for a non-violent drug offence. With tears in her eyes, Ms Johnson thanked Mr Trump for commuting her sentence.

It was a far cry from George HW Bush’s infamous 1988 attack on Michael Dukakis for allowing Willie Horton out on weekend release, and from the harsh sentencing laws that led to the United States having the highest prison population in the world.

It wasn’t just Republicans that drove the surge in imprisonment. From the 1970s to the early-2000s, it was unchallengeable political ideology in the United States that tough on crime was a vote-winner. This resulted in incarceration levels increasing four-fold, with two million Americans behind bars. By 2007, more than one percent of American adults were incarcerated. One study estimated that more than one quarter of African American men would spend time behind bars.

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Launch of the Australian Social Progress Index - Speech, Canberra

LAUNCH OF THE AUSTRALIAN SOCIAL PROGRESS INDEX

PARLIAMENTARY FRIENDS OF SOCIAL SCIENCE

PARLIAMENT HOUSE

WEDNESDAY, 26 FEBRUARY 2020

My name is Andrew Leigh, one of the three convenors of the Parliamentary Friends of Social Science, along with Dave Sharma and Adam Bandt. Thanks to my colleagues Pat Conroy and Matt Keogh for attending. I acknowledge the Ngunnawal people, and thank Kristy Muir and Megan Weir for their fascinating presentations.

As you well know, the conversation we're having around better measurement of wellbeing is one that's been occurring around the globe - the OECD's Better Life Index, the Millennium Development Goals, the Sustainable Development Goals, the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission, the Australian Bureau of Statistics Measures of Australia's Progress publication (which came out from 2002 to 2014). There’s also New Zealand's move to wellbeing budgeting, which my colleague Jim Chalmers said last week he would pursue were he to become Treasurer, looking at a broader range of indices alongside GDP, such as environmental performance, suicide and homelessness.

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Closing the Gap: Words are not enough - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 25 FEBRUARY 2020

Once again, we look at the Closing the Gap targets with some sense of dismay. Once again, Australia notes that we are not on track to meet those important targets.

Five of the seven targets are not on track: the target to halve the gap in child mortality rates, which was on track two years ago but is now off track; the target to halve the gap for Indigenous children in reading, writing and numeracy; the target to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous school attendance; the target to halve the gap in employment outcomes; and the target to close the gap in life expectancy. These are not on track.

Only two of the targets are on track: the target for 95 per cent of Indigenous four-year-olds to be enrolled in early childhood education and the target to halve the gap for Indigenous Australians aged 20 to 24 in year 12 attainment or equivalent. And so it is a disappointing track record. For the work that has been done, we note that much remains undone.

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Coalition needs to take responsibility for poor decisions - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 24 FEBRUARY 2020

Imagine you're facing a heatwave and your city has just experienced the worst air quality in the world.

Now imagine you're facing those threats while living alone.

Now imagine that your only way of communicating is about to be cut off.

That was the situation that Canberra woman Jenelle Outhwaite faced last month when she learned the CapTel service that she relies on was going to be axed by the Morrison government. Like thousands of Australians, Ms Outhwaite has hearing difficulties and relies on this vital service for everyday communications.

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Randomista revolution for foreign aid - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 24 FEBRUARY 2020

Foreign aid is close to my heart, having as a child grown up in Indonesia, in Banda Aceh and Jakarta, seeing firsthand the impact of Australia's aid program on those communities. For want of simple treatments like oral rehydration, children have died around the world. Australian aid saves lives. It's been estimated by Reverend Tim Costello that the cuts to Australia's aid budget may have cost as many as 200,000 lives around the world. That's because our aid is going to health programs and to anti-poverty programs. It is directly assisting some of the world's most vulnerable. Australian aid is absolutely critical, as it looks to improve the wellbeing of the world's poorest.

My predecessor as member for Fraser was Bob McMullan, who once told me that his most rewarding job in two decades of politics was to serve as Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance in the Rudd government. In that capacity, he put in place Australia's disability-inclusive development program. In practice, this meant that Australia's school-building program in Indonesia ensured that schools built with Australian aid money had ramps leading to their front doors—so Indonesian children in wheelchairs were able to attend school for the first time thanks to Australia's aid program. My maternal uncle, Keith Stebbins, spent his career in Papua New Guinea, working with the education department and writing textbooks for that country. He spent a lot of time in remote areas of Papua New Guinea, working in those communities and seeing the impact that a great education can have on life prospects.

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Canberra, the celebration capital - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 24 FEBRUARY 2020

It is festival season in Australia's greatest city and over the weekend around 200,000 Canberrans came to the National Multicultural Festival, enjoying Korean deep fried chicken with cheese, Croatian cevapi, Tibetan momos, South Indian puri, North Indian butter chicken, debating the critical question as to whether the German or the Serbian stall produced the better sausage and enjoying some 220kg of potatoes prepared by the Czech association.

This weekend it continues with the Canberra Show coming up. Around 50,000 people attended last year and, with this being the first year that Canberrans can take light rail to the Canberra Show, hopefully that record will be broken. We have a host of exciting activities coming up.

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Labor stands for integrity and transparency - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 24 FEBRUARY 2020

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

It is a pleasure to move this bill today, expanding the reach of the ACT Integrity Commission. The ACT Integrity Commission passed the ACT Assembly in November 2018. It reflects the Barr government's strong commitment to tackling integrity issues within the ACT.

Labor stands for integrity and transparency. We have zero tolerance for corruption. In the ACT, as in the rest of Australia, the public has a right to trust that their public officials can stand up to justified scrutiny. This was a bill which passed the ACT Assembly with support from the ACT Liberals and the ACT Greens. It is vital that the ACT Integrity Commission has the same coverage of bodies in jurisdictions such as Victoria. In Victoria, the Integrity Commission covers the police but, as a result of the way in which policing services are delivered in the ACT, this is not possible within the scope of the ACT Self Government Act as it presently stands.

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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.