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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Openness in a Populist World - Transcript, Sky Business





SUBJECTS: New book Choosing Openness, trade and foreign investment, energy policy, Malcolm Turnbull’s tax cuts for millionaires and multinationals, Labor’s fairer tax plan, migration, inequality.

TICKY FULLERTON, PRESENTER: Well it's all very interesting timing for our first chat with Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh, who is launching a new book for the Lowy Institute called Choosing Openness, why global engagement is best for Australia. In a former life Andrew Leigh was also a professor of economics at the Australian National University, so what does he make of the state that Australia and the world is in? I spoke with him earlier.

Andrew Leigh it's great to get you there. Now this is not the first book you've written, you're making the case for openness in trade, migration, investment in this populist world.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Well it is a world in which people are encouraging a hunkering down, in which we're seeing a rise of right-wing populism not just in the United States, Austria, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands but indeed in our own country. And part of that harks back to the notion that for most of human history, we did live in very small groups of about 150 or so, where being distrustful of outsiders was a good survival strategy. The trouble is that now engaging with outsiders is actually the best path to prosperity and i'm making the case in Choosing Openness that if we have the right social programs to support engagement with the world, then Australia can benefit through trade, migration and investment.

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Openness from a Progressive Perspective - Transcript, 2GB





SUBJECTS: New book Choosing Openness, German election, migration, inequality, energy policy.

ROSS GREENWOOD, HOST: Welcome back to Money News right around Australia. It's actually appropriate that you've actually got all this talk about Donald Trump and tax and globalisation and what happens to Australia now. Are we driven down a lower tax path? Is there more appetite in Australia to try and maintain competitiveness on tax with the largest economy in the world, and one that we have a free trade agreement with because, obviously, the free-flow of goods between the two countries is going to be influence by the cost of a whole bunch of things - it could be energy, it could be labour, or indeed it could be taxes as well. Now, it's appropriate I say, because today the Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh, who is also the Shadow Minister for Competition and Productivity, and for Trade in Services, has launched a new book that raises, in his mind, a whole bunch of questions. It is called 'Choosing Openness' and it makes a timely intervention into the debate about globalisation, free trade, but also immigration, which is a key issue. Let's get him on the line now. Many thanks for your time, Andrew

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: A pleasure Ross, great to be with you.

GREENWOOD: Alright, so you've also been an economics professor at Australian National University; you've done a whole bunch of things, awarded the Young Economist Award, a prize given every two years by the Economics Society of Australia. You've got skin in the game in regards to this. Many of your colleagues in the Labor Party have indicated that they would prefer more of a closed shop here in Australia, that they prefer Australia to be more protected and that really that we don't really openly trade with the rest of the world. Do you believe that is really the model for Australia for the future?

LEIGH: Ross, that's not the picture I see when I look around the Labor caucus. I hear first speeches that tell great stories of immigrants. I see a leader who was in Korea and Japan this week; a Shadow Treasurer and Shadow Foreign Minister who are releasing a paper on our Asian engagement tomorrow. The globalisers have the upper hand in my party - and have done so for at least the past generation.

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Australia does better when we engage - Transcript, ABC Sydney Mornings





SUBJECTS: New book Choosing Openness, Brexit and German election, migration and the US refugee resettlement deal

WENDY HARMER: We often hear about politicians that they’re not experts in the field that they end up having their portfolios in, but I don’t think you could argue with this one because my guest is Andrew Leigh. He’s the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and prior to entering the Australian Parliament in 2010, he was a professor of economics at the Australian National University. That’s not too shabby, is it? He holds a PhD in public policy from Harvard, he graduated from the University of Sydney with first class honours in law and arts and he’s a pretty prolific author as well. He has a few books – I don’t know how many altogether, but the ‘The Luck of Politics’, ‘The Economics of Just About Everything’, ‘Battlers and Billionaires: The Story of Inequity in Australia’ and ‘Disconnected’. This latest effort is a Lowy Institute paper, which is released today. It’s called ‘Choosing Openness’. So I don’t think we can complain about the lack of expertise. Hello Andrew Leigh, welcome to the program.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: G’day, Wendy. Great to be with you.

HARMER: Thanks. It’s very nice to have you along. Now, as I mentioned there, it’s in the news today that former prime minister Tony Abbott is about to advise a new think tank in Britain on how to Brexit. What would you be saying? I imagine you’d be saying ‘wrong way, go back’.

LEIGH: Well, there’s nothing wrong with trying to make lemonade out of lemons, Wendy, but let’s face it – Brexit was a retreat from the global engagement that Britain had engaged in throughout that post war era. There’s now an ongoing Remain movement that’s still looking at the prospect of whether Britain might be best served by staying within the European Union and that I think has a stronger free trading bedrock than do these attempts to see how Britain can make its way outside the European Union.

HARPER: You warn against this sort of populist – you put a few of them in together, interconnected, haven’t you, these sorts of populist politics which have brought us Donald Trump and Brexit. Can you just outline your argument there of why you think that those populist decisions came about in the first place?

LEIGH: I think there’s a handful of factors that have driven populism. We’ve had some poor economic outcomes – rising inequality, there’s been an increase in the death rate among low educated whites in the United States, a pretty extraordinary development. We’ve seen very rapid technological change and I think sometimes when the world is changing fast people can feel a little adrift from their values. So things like genetic sequencing, mobile computing, artificial intelligence have given a sort of cyclone feel to what’s going on in the world. We’ve had some pretty canny political entrepreneurs who have made the most of this. You can look at Marine Le Pen in France as a good example of this and of course President Trump. Then you’ve seen a decline in traditional institutions, among them mainstream political parties whose voters have fallen by about 10 per cent right across the advanced world. Just as we’ve retreated from traditional institutions like churches and big business and trade unions, so too traditional political parties have shrunk. So all of that has made space for these right wing populist movements such as Brexit, such as the Alternative for Deutschland Party which entered the parliament in Germany on the weekend.

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Again. The ATO systems crashed again - Media Release




Yesterday critical ATO systems went down. Again. For at least the 14th time since December 2016.

Important tax office systems have now crashed so often it’s hardly a surprise to hear of another – but it isn’t good enough for the government to continually allow important online functions to be taken down for so long.

This outage was reportedly first experienced at 11.30am and the myTax service was still offline at 4.30pm. This is unacceptable.

The Turnbull Government – and its peak digital agency, the DTA - has overseen a litany of embarrassing tech wrecks, perhaps none as drawn out and futile as their management of the failing ATO systems.

ATO systems have been crashing since at least December last year and have occurred repeatedly right through to this years’ tax time. 

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Armistice Centenary Grants Program 2017

Expressions of interest are now being accepted for the Armistice Centenary Grants Program (ACGP).

If you have an idea to commemorate the end of World War I in the Northside, I want to know about it.

The ACGP is a one-off grant program providing grants of between $3000 and $50,000 for local community-based projects and activities to remember the end of WWI or Centenary of the Armistice. 

Your project or activity could be as simple as giving an existing memorial a new lease of life, putting on a theatre production about the time, or writing a history for a battle that you believe deserves recognition.

Please get in touch with my office if you would like to discuss the program in more detail.


The deadline for submissions is 2 February 2018.

In your EOI, please include the following:

  1. The name of your organisation
  2. The address of your organisation's base
  3. The main contact person within your organisation and their best phone and email contact
  4. The grant amount being applied for
  5. A description of your project, including an explanation of how the Fenner community will benefit from it
  6. A plan for execution of your project
  7. A budget for the project

Key aspects of this funding program:

  • MPs will establish a community consultation committee to undertake consultation in their electorate to identify eligible projects and invite applicants to apply. Once projects have been selected, they will be nominated to the Department of Veteran's Affairs for final approval.
  • You must apply as an organisation - please see eligibility below
  • You should be able to demonstrate how you plan to carry out your project and provide a budget

To be eligible for funding, the applicant must be an organisation of one of the following types:

  • An incorporated organisation (if seeking funding of $10,00 or more)
  • Ex-service organisation
  • Not-for-profit community organisation
  • School or educational institution
  • Museum or cultural institution
  • Historical association
  • an Australian local government body

Examples of projects that could receive funding include:

  • A public commemoration of the Centenary of Armistice Day
  • New war memorials where none exists and will be the focus of community commemoration
  • New rolls, plaques or honour boards
  • Restoration of existing memorials
  • Preservation and display of artefacts
  • School initiatives undertaken by students that focus on military involvement and are relevant to the community
  • Educational and cultural projects with a military heritage focus
  • Hire of equipment for commemorative events
  • Purchase items necessary for a project such as flagpoles, monuments, display cabinets for memorabilia and art supplies


The following are not eligible for funding:

  • individuals
  • organisations with outstanding acquittals to the Department of Veteran's Affairs
  • an organisation outside Australia
  • a political party
  • an unincorporated organisation (if applying for more than $10,000)

The following are considered not eligible for funding:

  • Projects of a commercial nature/for profit
  • Projects undertaken outside Australia
  • Projects exclusively commemorating animals
  • Projects commemorating individuals
  • Restoration of graves
  • Scholarships

The following items are not eligible to receive a grant:

  • Capital expenditure for purchase of assets such as office equipment, vehicles, computers and so on
  • Construction or fit-out and alterations of premises
  • Salaries
  • Recurring expenditure
  • Costs incurred in the preparation of a grant application
  • Costs incurred in order to obtain planning, environmental or regulatory approvals
  • Accommodation and travel costs
  • Educational materials where the DVA already provides similar resources for schools
  • Purchase of memorabilia
  • Purchase o military hardware
  • Honour Boards or plaques acknowledging the membership or service of an ex-service organisation
  • Trophies, prizes and gifts
  • Eligible items that have already been purchased or ordered
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