Charities need more support for their vital work - Transcript, 2GB Breakfast

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RADIO INTERVIEW

2GB BREAKFAST

WEDNESDAY, 8 APRIL 2020

SUBJECTS: Charities unable to access JobKeeper payments; coronavirus restrictions and the economy.

ALAN JONES, HOST: Andrew Leigh is a very highly credentialed Labor member of the Federal Parliament for the ACT seat of Fenner. He happens to be the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. He's most probably smarter than the people who've got the big gig, but that's another story. He's also though the Shadow Assistant Minister for Charities, and the in Parliament sitting today. He's written to me expressing some concern about this JobKeeper legislation bill to be introduced into Parliament. I might add that Andrew Leigh is a James Ruse old boy, so he comes from his fairly smart intellectual stable. Labor and the Government are on the one side, Labor will support the bill. Now this fellow is not oppositional, Andrew Leigh. He's capable of evaluating things on merit. He has written to me to say that even though the Government made a minor tweak to the JobKeeper bill, allowing charities to claim if they had a revenue drop of 15 per cent rather than 30 per cent they'd qualify, Andrew Leigh is saying that major charities including Anglicare, UnitingCare and Oxfam have said that the solution won't work. I just thought we'd have a word with him. This is really important, because I know that there is a bit of disillusionment – and I was going to raise this with Andrew - a bit of disillusionment about charities because people gave generously in drought and bushfires and no one knows where that money has gone. But nonetheless, in this environment which is very, very difficult, charitable work - there is tremendous demands on these charities. Andrew, good morning to you.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Alan. Great to be on with you.

JONES: Thank you. Can I just preface things by saying that point, that charities are a little bit on the nose with the public because they feel that hundreds of thousands of dollars were given somewhere for drought and bushfire relief and no one seems to know where it is. Is that something that is often raised with you?

LEIGH: Certainly from time to time. I think it's absolutely critical that charities account to their members properly for every dollar they spend. They've got a public trust to spend given the money wisely, but I think in bushfire relief it was charities we turned to-

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Charity jobs at risk - Media Release

CHARITY JOBS AT RISK

The future of hundreds of charity workers remain in limbo as they continue urging the Morrison Government to further revise the JobKeeper program.

In spite of initial changes to the program’s requirements, major charities - including Oxfam, Anglicare, UnitingCare, Fred Hollows Foundation, the Samaritans, St Vincent de Paul, Wesley Mission Queensland and many of our major medical research institutes - say they cannot meet the test of a 15 per cent drop in revenue required for charities to qualify.

According to a survey this week by the Australian Council of Social Service, many charities are expecting to have to shed jobs as a result of the drop in donations. They estimate that 37 per cent of anticipated job losses will still occur in organisations whose overall revenue loss is likely to be less than 15 per cent.

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Charities still missing out on support - Transcript, ABC Radio Canberra

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RADIO INTERVIEW

ABC RADIO CANBERRA

TUESDAY, 7 APRIL 2020

SUBJECTS: The need for Parliament to keep sitting; JobKeeper payments for casuals and migrant workers; charities unable to access JobKeeper payments; coronavirus modelling.

ADAM SHIRLEY, HOST: And it's the federal government's response for weeks now that you've probably been hanging on. What immediate financial relief is available to you? Where can you go? Where can't you? How clear is that advice from the federal government? Dr Andrew Leigh is a former professor of economics at the ANU. He's also the Federal Member for Fenner, a Labor member, and he's with us now on ABC Radio Canberra. Dr Leigh, good morning to you.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Adam. Great to be with you and your listeners.

SHIRLEY: How well are the economic measures taken by the Government working, in your view?

LEIGH: I think they'll have a significant effect. The estimate from Westpac is that if we hadn't had the wage subsidy the Parliament will pass tomorrow, unemployment would have hit 17 per cent. Westpac is now forecasting it'll hit 9 per cent. Now 9 per cent is still awful, but it's almost a halving of the unemployment rate as a result of this package. With stimulus 1 and 2,  Labor said we welcomed them but they didn't go far enough, and that we needed to do what other countries have done and provide significant wage subsidies. And I'm pleased that Parliament will be passing those tomorrow.

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Charities need more help from the Morrison Government - Transcript, Radio Interview

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RADIO INTERVIEW

2CC CANBERRA DRIVE

MONDAY, 6 APRIL 2020

SUBJECTS: JobKeeper payments for casuals; charities unable to access JobKeeper payments; the importance of maintaining community.

LEON DELANEY, HOST: Joining me now the Federal Member for Fenner and Shadow Assistant Minister for Charities and Treasury, Dr Andrew Leigh. Good afternoon.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good afternoon, Leon. Great to be with you.

DELANEY: Good to have you along again. I'll tell you what, that's a bit of a mouthful, all of this nonsense about changing the Fair Work Act and fiddling about with the different awards and enterprise agreements and so forth. I know we're here to talk about the changes for registered charities, but can we touch upon the JobKeeper package more generally to begin with, and which way you think the government should be addressing this question of implementing the changes. Changing the Fair Work Act or individually going through all the awards?

LEIGH: Leon, there's lots of twists and turns with this but I don't think it's hard to imagine the Fair Work Commission, which deals with a national wage case and with many awards every year, can't deal with an issue like this. What's important is to make sure that as many workers as possible are supported at a time when they might otherwise lose their jobs. There's debate in the US as to whether the unemployment rate there now is 13 per cent or 16 per cent, but either way it's clear that much of the world is in a recession already and it's just critical that as many employees as possible maintain that connection to their workplace. Once a firm goes insolvent, once a worker loses their job, those relationships are really hard to rebuild Leon and it means that the recovery becomes a whole lot slower. We want a V-shaped recovery, and that means doing what we can now. It also means looking after those casuals who've been employed for less than 12 months. The Government’s set this-

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Charities on the brink - Media Release

CHARITIES ON THE BRINK

Major charities will have to dismiss staff in coming weeks unless the Morrison Government again revises its JobKeeper program.

Charities run a range of different services including retail stores, early childhood centres, disability services and facilities that bring communities together. In many cases, some operations have suffered massive losses of 80 per cent or more. But because other operations have been sustained, they do not meet the test of a 15 per cent drop in revenue that is required for charities to qualify for the JobKeeper program.

Charities have seen a major increase in demand for help, while also experiencing a drop in donations and volunteering numbers. While some federal assistance has been provided, much more is needed to help the sector navigate the impact of coronavirus.The government’s decision on 5 April to offer charities a reduced threshold (15 percent rather than a 30 percent drop in turnover) was an attempt to fix the problem. But major charities say that it isn’t a solution.

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Important to have a plan post-crisis - Transcript, Sky News

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TV INTERVIEW

SKY NEWS

FRIDAY, 3 APRIL 2020

SUBJECTS: The impact of coronavirus on Australian airlines; competition; US unemployment figures; Australian unemployment figures; stimulus measures and the wage subsidy package; government debt.

TOM CONNELL, HOST: My next guest on the program is Andrew Leigh, a shadow minister for the Labor party. Andrew, thanks very much for your time. Why don’t we start on Virgin Australia, I know you’ve had some comments to make on this. Labor’s been saying that the government might be acting in haste here, denying the assistance that Virgin is after, which might be a $1.4 billion or so loan. What is Labor saying exactly, that should be considered or that should just be given to Virgin to make sure they stay?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Tom, the bottom line is Australia needs two full service airlines. Much as we love the budget carriers, it's important that there is competition in the business end of the market. No market is well served by a monopoly. We saw from 2001 to 2008, after Ansett exited the market, the impact that that had on the choice of routes and on the fares themselves. So it's vital that the Government recognises that consumers are well served by competition. Whether that's done through an equity stake or through a loan - I'm actually pretty relaxed about that, Tom. But the Government should be engaging constructively. You know, they seem to be behaving towards Virgin no more constructively they behaved towards Holden when they goaded them to leave the country. This isn't a sensible approach for Australian flyers.

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Let’s take this chance to rebuild our solidarity - Op Ed. Herald-Sun

LET’S TAKE THIS CHANCE TO REBUILD OUR SOLIDARITY 

Herald Sun, 30 March 2020

A century ago, the Spanish Flu hit Australia. Quarantine measures were only partially effective, so in 1919, authorities turned to social distancing. Public gatherings were cancelled. Masks were distributed. Schools were closed. People stayed home when they could. One analysis of the response found that it prevented 22 percent of Australians from catching the potentially deadly disease. In the end, 15,000 Australians died. It was a huge toll, but smaller than you might expect from a disease that claimed over 50 million lives globally.

Social distancing measures work, but they are especially tough on those with fewer social connections. In a recent survey on social connections, Nick Terrell and I found that Australians report having only about half as many close friends as they did in the mid-1980s. We are also less likely to know our neighbours. Remarkably, half of all Australians report feeling lonely at least once a week.

Social capital is the idea that the bonds of trust and reciprocity that bind us together have inherent value. Those with stronger social networks tend to be healthier, to do better in business, and to report being happier with their lives. Yet over the past generation, Australians have become disconnected. We are less likely to attend church, less likely to join clubs, less likely to be part of a union, and less active in politics.

Sometimes, a crisis can build social capital. We have seen this at times of war, and at moments when communities put aside their differences to battle bushfires or fight floods. But disasters can also be emotionally scarring. As Lifeline warns, ‘The stress caused following a natural disaster can lead to “burnout” and physical, mental and emotional exhaustion.’

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Emergency relief boost welcome, but payments still needed sooner - Media Release

HON LINDA BURNEY MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND SOCIAL SERVICES
MEMBER FOR BARTON

ANDREW LEIGH MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER CHARITIES
MEMBER FOR FENNER

EMERGENCY RELIEF BOOST WELCOME BUT PAYMENTS STILL NEEDED SOONER

The boost in emergency relief funding for food banks and financial counselling services announced today is important and welcome step, which Labor has been calling for.

But many families facing the loss of a job or being stood down will still be waiting at least a month to get the $550 per fortnight Coronavirus supplement.

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Homelessness charities in real trouble when they are needed most - Media Release

JASON CLARE MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR REGIONAL SERVICES, LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND TERRITORIES
MEMBER FOR BLAXLAND

HON LINDA BURNEY MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND SOCIAL SERVICES
MEMBER FOR BARTON

ANDREW LEIGH MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER CHARITIES
MEMBER FOR FENNER

HOMELESSNESS CHARITIES IN REAL TROUBLE WHEN THEY ARE NEEDED MOST

Food Bank is running out of food.

They have suffered a 27% drop in food donations, at the same time there is a 50% increase in demand.

As winter approaches and the Centrelink lines get longer, the charities that help the homeless and most vulnerable are suffering the perfect storm.

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Charities need support now more than ever - Transcript, Volunteer Voices

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

RADIO NORTHERN BEACHES

WEDNESDAY, 25 MARCH 2020

SUBJECTS: Reconnected, the impact of coronavirus on charities.

MICHAEL LESTER, HOST: Welcome to Radio Northern Beaches, 88.7 and 90.3. I'm Michael Lester with our weekly Volunteer Voices show here on Radio Northern Beaches. And I'm delighted to welcome to our program today Andrew Leigh, who is the Member of Parliament for the ACT seat of Fenner and he has been a member of parliament since 2010. Andrew is an academic, a former professor of economics at ANU, a great author and commentator on social and policy issues. Andrew, I'm very pleased to welcome you here to Volunteer Voices.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Thanks, Michael. A real pleasure to be with you.

LESTER: Now this is a difficult time Andrew, but in many ways I think an interesting time to talk to you as we as a society face the challenges to our social interconnectedness if you like, as a community, when we confront a lot of the social distancing, self isolation and other very drastic measures that are being undertaken. Perhaps as a bit of a background to that discussion Andrew, perhaps you could take us through the work you did in 2010 when you actually looked at some of the statistics and facts around social participation, volunteering and engagement in Australia against the backdrop of the figures from America that were showing significant declines in community participation and organisations in the last 20 years.

LEIGH: Thanks very much, Michael. When I was a doctoral student at Harvard in the early 2000s, I worked with Robert Putnam on his research team. Putnam had just produced Bowling Alone, which was a magnificent study looking at the contours of social capital in America - how the networks of trust and reciprocity in that country had first waxed and then waned over the course of the 20th century. He documented that for the first half of the 20th century, there was quite a significant increase in the strength of community and associational life, and then from the 1960s, 1970s onwards that there had been a decline. In Disconnected, I looked at the same patterns for Australia and found much the same trends. Churchgoing, union membership, member of the Scouts, Guides, Rotary, Lions - all of that seemed to have declined since the 1970s. Australians tend to have fewer organisations per person and a smaller share of the population actively engaged in civic organisation.

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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.