We need to make marriage equality a reality at long last - Speech, House of Representatives



I have spoken half a dozen times in this parliament in support of marriage equality.

As an economist, we are often faced with public -policy decisions that involve trade-offs: one group made better off while another group is made worse off. This is, to my great delight, not one of those debates. This is a moment where a group of Australians will be made better off. Australians in same-sex relationships will have the opportunity to wed, and no-one will be made worse off.

Heterosexual marriages, like my own, will not be weakened. Indeed, some may be strengthened, given that, as we know, some heterosexual couples have held off tying the knot until marriage equality becomes reality.

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Christmas not always a happy time - OpEd, The Chronicle

Christmas not always a happy time

The Chronicle, 5 December 2017

It’s not just a schmaltzy song lyric.

According to daily happiness surveys conducted by Gallup, Christmas Day really is the happiest day of the year, with 66 percent reporting maximum enjoyment and minimum stress.

But for some, it’s the reverse. One in twenty people report they don’t have enough money to afford gifts for friends and family. For others, Christmas is a poignant reminder of loss. 

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No reason for a budget-busting, regressive tax change - Speech, Federation Chamber



Last week, by a vote of 51 to 49, the US Senate passed a major corporate tax cut.

The bill has several similarities with the corporate tax cut being debated here. A survey by the University of Chicago found that 37 out of 38 US economists said the GOP bill would increase the deficit. The 38th later said they didn't understand the question.

In Australia, an Economic Society of Australia survey of 31 economists found two-thirds agreeing that ‘Australia will receive a bigger economic growth dividend in the long run by spending on education than by offering an equivalent amount in a tax cut to business’. Treasury's own estimates say that the government's big-business company tax cut would deliver only a 0.1 per cent increase in personal income - in the 2030s. 

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Canberrans’ Strong Support for Marriage Equality - Speech, Federation Chamber



Two and half weeks ago I joined Canberrans in a park near my office as we waited for the results of the vote on marriage equality.

The results were overwhelming.

Compared with the 62 per cent vote nationally, 74 per cent of Canberrans supported same-sex marriage, making the ACT not just the OECD's most livable region, not just a Lonely Planet a must-visit destination, but also the state or territory in Australia with the highest support for same-sex marriage.

But these figures don't tell the full story. 

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Poverty in Canberra - OpEd, The RiotACT

Poverty in Canberra

The RiotACT, 29 November 2017

A couple of years ago, a newly appointed public servant was giving an interview to a business magazine. ‘Everybody is happy’, he said. Then he went on ‘in Canberra in particular, everybody is deliriously happy and comfortable.’

I thought of this interview when my team last cooked a barbecue for residents of the Early Morning Centre on Northbourne Avenue, which provides meals, health care and social support to city residents who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Looking in the eyes of the men and women at the centre, I saw a lot of resilience, but can’t say that everyone appeared deliriously happy.

The two toughest things about poverty in Canberra are icy winters and high housing costs. Not long ago, I met a woman who told me that she wore two beanies in her home, because she couldn’t afford to turn the heating up. Another constituent who came to my office told me about her struggle to pay rising rents on a fixed income.

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Time to stop the war on charities - Media Release


Today, the heads of 25 respected Australian charities are in Canberra, speaking out against the latest attack on the sector by the Turnbull Government.

This comes after two open letters to the Prime Minister from charities concerned about the way that this important sector is being treated.

From its inception in 2011 until the middle of last year, the Coalition tried to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission, a body recommended by more than a dozen independent inquiries, and supported by the vast majority of the sector.

Since coming to office, the Coalition has had no fewer than five ministers responsible for the charities commission. The latest hapless minister, Michael Sukkar, refused to meet with respected charities commission head Susan Pascoe and her fellow commissioners, then announced that Ms Pascoe would not be reappointed. Months on, we are still awaiting her replacement.

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Address to White Ribbon Day function - Speech




Thank you very much, it's a pleasure and honour to be here today. I too acknowledge that we're meeting on the traditional lands of the Ngunnawal people and pay my respects to elders past and present. I acknowledge the Indian High Commissioner. To White Ribbon co-founder Dr Michael Kaufman, thank you for being here to share your expertise. I certainly have read and admired your work. My ACT parliamentary colleagues, Rebecca Cody, Rachel Stephen-Smith and Caroline La Couteur. Thanks to everyone for being here on a beautiful Canberra day to discuss one of the most challenging issues that our community faces. 

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A strong, stable and scandal-free banking sector - Transcript, AM Agenda





SUBJECTS: Queensland election; Labor’s calls for a Banking Royal Commission; Marriage equality. 

KIERAN GILBERT: You've seen the result out of Queensland it looks like Palaszczuk has been reelected but with a lower Labor vote. Do you accept that this is a message to Labor as much as anything as well? With the Greens recording quite a strong result in Queensland?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Kieran, we'll wait and see how the Greens do. But it's pretty clear that the Greens aren't taking any seats off Labor. It's possible that the Shadow Treasurer Scott Emerson may well lose his seat to the Greens though I'm still hoping our fabulous Ali King will come through for Labor there. But the result is terrific. I look at Redlands where Kim Richards looks to have picked up a seat there. And a shout-out to my uncle Keith who was working Coochiemudlo booth for Kim. It's a strong result right across Queensland - 

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Labor Leading on Remittances - Media Release


This week, many Australians will be flying in and out of the country carrying suitcases of cash.

It may sound like a scene from a spy film, but the reason for it has more to do with banks than Bond. In short, excessive and confusing fees are making it too pricey to transfer money.

In Australia, many people work long hours to send money back to family overseas. According to the World Bank, remittances to developing countries are worth half a trillion dollars annually – twice the value of foreign aid.

These people deserve a safe and secure way for people to send money which doesn’t involve large portions being eaten up by fees from financial institutions.

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Why are So Many Airline Passengers Stashing Cash? - Op Ed, The Herald Sun


The Herald Sun, 22 November 2017

When we were growing up, it seemed like every gangster movie featured suitcases stuffed with cash. These days, action flicks are more likely to feature geeks with laptops authorising money transfers. From mobile money to paywave to cryptocurrencies, our economy is going cashless.

Yet there’s one area where cash is making a comeback: international remittances. When migrant workers want to send money abroad to support their families, they often find that the cheapest way to do it is to pack the cash into a suitcase and take it with them on the plane.

This is, to put it mildly, nuts. Travel is stressful enough without having to worry about a suitcase containing thousands of dollars of hard-earned money. Yet in our community forums on this issue, we’ve heard from Pacific Islanders, Filipinos and Africans about their experiences carrying cash overseas. Even aid agencies are affected.

One reason people are carrying cash is that international money transfers cost too much. According to one analysis, the past decade has seen big banks quadruple the amount they charge for transferring money overseas. Despite a 2014 commitment by the world’s 20 largest economies to reduce the cost of foreign exchange, the problem seems to be getting worse.

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8/1 Torrens Street, Braddon ACT 2612 | 02 6247 4396 | Andrew.Leigh.MP@aph.gov.au