Principles of Politics

Principles of Politics

Office of Andrew Leigh MP

How we practice politics can be as important as the policies we pursue. Here are a few ideas on how we should treat co-workers, constituents and colleagues.

  1. Since this is politics, we’ll never be everyone’s darlings. But we should treat people – particularly the most vulnerable – with respect and dignity.
  2. Our communications should try to engage with the better instincts of Australia, to tell stories, make new arguments, and convey fresh facts. When we dumb down debates and demonise our opponents, progressives lose. When we enrich the public conversation, we win.
  3. None of us would be here without the Labor Party. It is Australia’s oldest and greatest political party, and will outlast all of us. We have a responsibility to cherish its traditions, make it stronger and more democratic, and help Labor win elections.
  4. When we cannot help someone, we should tell them honestly, and use that time to help others; particularly the most disadvantaged.
  5. We should be working on the most important things possible – big ideas, critical questions, major community issues. The only way to get the space to do this is to say no to less important priorities. We can do anything, but we cannot do everything.
  6. Experimenting is good, and learning from our mistakes is healthy – but only if we share what we’ve learned with our team and our Labor colleagues.
  7. Envy and hate are two of the biggest timewasters in politics. Media coverage is a means, not an end. Working in politics is a privilege, and we’re lucky to do it. Many people would love to do what we do each day.
  8. Wherever possible, we should work to collaborate with colleagues on policies, campaigns and events. Labor is the party of “we”, not “I”.
  9. Don’t apologise for spending time with friends and family, exercising or reading fiction. Not only is socialising important in itself; a well-rounded life helps us do our jobs better. Strive for calmness, balance and gratitude.
  10. Act ethically, crack jokes when we can, and keep a sense of perspective. The typical career lasts around 80,000 hours. Let’s make them count.
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Australia needs to step up on climate change - Transcript, 3AW Mornings

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
3AW MORNINGS
THURSDAY, 5 SEPTEMBER 2019

Subjects: Climate strikes, the Morrison Government’s inaction on climate change; the economy floundering under a floundering government.

NEIL MITCHELL: On the line is the Labor Member for Fenner, he’s a former assistant shadow treasurer. Some say the smartest man in the Parliament. He’s a professor of economics at the ANU - Dr Andrew Leigh, morning.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Neil. How are you?

MITCHELL:  I'm okay. So do you think - you’re the teacher in a sense, is it a smart thing for kids to go on strike?

LEIGH: Well, as you say Neil, I've spent painfully long in education. I barely missed a day of school and then went touniversity for another ten years. But not all learning happens in formal institutions, and I think getting together to campaign for an issue bigger than yourself is pretty important. We often talk about Generation Z as being self-centred, yet they’re anything but. It's an altruistic movement which is focused on dealing with the central challenge that the planet faces right now. And that's why it's gotten support from thousands of scientists, from firms like Atlassian and from many of those who've been carefully watching the climate debate, watching the planet warm and seeing Australia's emissions just going up and up under the Morrison Government.

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Treasurer playing blame game instead of taking action - Transcript, 2GB Money News

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
2GB MONEY NEWS
WEDNESDAY, 4 SEPTEMBER 2019

Subject: National Accounts; The economy floundering under a floundering Government; Labor’s positive policies to take back control of the economy.

JOHN STANLEY: We've got problems with wage, we've got problems with inflation, we've got problems with jobs. So is it good enough for the government to just say ‘well look, we should wait to see the tax cuts flow through, we should wait till the September quarter’ or should there be action being taken right now? Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury from the Labor Party. He joins us now. Good evening to you.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY: G’day, John. Great to be with you.

STANLEY: I'm assuming your answer is going to be that they need to be doing more.

LEIGH: I think that'd be the answer of every serious economist, John. I mean, we’ve had this per capita recession. So on a per person basis, the economy had been shrinking, not growing, and that's gone on for the longest period since the early 1980s recession.

STANLEY: Can you just explain that per capita recession for us?

LEIGH: The figure you talked about before is the total size of the pie. But if you look at the slice that each person has, that’s been shrinking rather than growing. The economy is growing because we're adding more people, not because individuals are getting better off.

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Coalition failing charities. Again - Media Release

COALITION FAILS CHARITIES. AGAIN.

Zed Seselja has failed his first test as charities minister.

As state and territory consumer affairs ministers met yesterday, they reportedly found a gaping hole in the Minster’s agenda – outdated fundraising laws, which saddle charities with a paperwork burden of around $15 million every year.

This mishmash of laws designed for a pre-internet age cost charities more than $1 million a month, yet Senator Seselja can’t even be bothered to list it for discussion.

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Incarceration becoming almost normal life event - Transcript, 2SER The Daily

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
2SER THE DAILY
THURSDAY, 29 AUGUST 2019

Subject: New research on Australia’s incarceration rates.

HOST: Now with much talk about Closing the Gap, into the well-being of our First Australians, a new report into Indigenous incarceration suggests as a nation that the number of Australians incarcerated has radically increased over the last three decades. Now on the line we have the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury, Dr Andrew Leigh, whose report discusses the drivers behind the sharp increase in Indigenous people being placed behind bars and what can be done to rectify this issue. Welcome to the show.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY: Thanks, Stephen. Great to be with you.

HOST: Now this report you've authored suggests that currently 2.5 per cent of Indigenous Australians are incarcerated, which is a higher share than among other disadvantaged comparable ethnic groups like African-Americans. Now if crime rates are substantially dropping among developing nations, what accounts for this rapid increase in the amount of First Australians being imprisoned?

LEIGH: It is worth just pausing on that figure, isn't it? Two and half per cent means that if you count up 40 Indigenous Australians adults, one of them will be behind bars today. It’s even worse over in Western Australia, where the indigenous incarceration rate is over 4 per cent, meaning that one out of every 25 Indigenous Australian adults are incarcerated now. Over a lifetime, that means that more than a quarter of Indigenous men end up spending time behind bars. Incarceration is becoming an almost normal life event. Among the factors driving it are that police are more likely to press charges, and courts are more likely to convict. The sentences tend to be longer, and while awaiting trial people are more likely to be behind bars rather than out on bail.

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Indigenous Australians perhaps most incarcerated people on earth - Transcript, ABC News Radio

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
ABC NEWS RADIO
MONDAY, 26 AUGUST 2019

Subject: New research on Australia’s incarceration rates.

SARAH HALL: More Australians than ever before are in prison, with Indigenous Australians now more likely to be in prison than African Americans. That's according to a new report out by federal Labor MP and economist, Andrew Leigh. The Member for Fenner has found that since 1985, the Australian incarceration rate increased by 130 per cent, while the share of Indigenous adults in prison has more than doubled. For more on these findings, I’m joined by Dr Leigh in Canberra. Dr Leigh, thanks for joining us.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY: Pleasure, Sarah. Great to be talking with you.

HALL: Can you please break down these figures for us. What stood out to you the most?

LEIGH: Well, not since 1899 has Australia had such a large share of population in jail. The incarceration rate has been rising significantly since the 1980s, despite the fact that crime has been falling. You’re half as likely to be murdered now as you were in the 1980s, and the rates of robbery, car theft and assault have gone down markedly. But as a result of changes in policing practices and sentencing practices, a higher share of Australians are behind bars. 0.2 per cent of all adults are incarcerated, and 2½ per cent of Indigenous adults are incarcerated.

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We should listen to Indigenous perspectives this Father's Day - Op Ed, The Canberra Times

WE SHOULD LISTEN TO INDIGENOUS PERSPECTIVES THIS FATHER'S DAY

The Canberra Times, 27 August 2019

A few weeks ago, I spent time in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, meeting with people in remote communities like Bidyadanga, and learning from my Labor colleague, Senator Patrick Dodson.

Hearing their stories, I was struck by the way in which parenting and place are interconnected in Indigenous communities. In those places, your ancestors are part of the land, and the land is part of you. To be a good father is to take your children onto country, teach them the traditions, and listen to what they have to say. I asked Damien Crispin, a Broome-based stevedore who was part of the Indigenous Marathon Project last year, whether he’d ever consider living elsewhere. ‘No way - this is home’, he replied.

This Father’s Day, I’ve been thinking about what Indigenous traditions can teach non-Indigenous people like me about being a better dad. Living near the base of Mount Majura, I’m struck by the fact that when my three sons take a walk or a bike ride in the bush, they immediately become more animated, less focused on themselves. It’s like a switch has been flicked, and they become more engaged, gentler, and even more fun to be around.

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We need to be smart on crime - Transcript, Triple J Hack

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
TRIPLE J HACK
MONDAY, 26 AUGUST 2019

Subject: New research on Australia’s incarceration rates.

AVANI DIAS: You probably know that when Australia was first colonised, the UK transported thousands of convicts here to serve out sentences for their crimes. Well it turns out Australia's back to where it was in that time. In fact, a new report has found we're entering a second convict age and that's despite a drop in crime rates. Perhaps the worst part of this report is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are now more likely to be imprisoned than African-Americans. Federal Labor's Andrew Leigh wrote this research. He's also an economist and he's with us now. Andrew, Australia's incarceration rate is at the highest level in 120 years. Why is that?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY: Avani, it's more likely now that police will press charges, that judges will impose a custodial sentence. Compared with the mid-1980s, that  custodial sentence will be longer, and that while you are awaiting trial, you likely won't be out on bail, you will be behind bars. So we've had a whole lot of tweaks to the law, which have together caused our incarceration rate to go through the roof. What's striking about this is it's come at a time in which crime rates have fallen. The murder rate’s now half what it was in the 1980s. Car theft is down. Robbery rates are down. But incarceration rates are substantially up.

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More people locked up than ever before - Transcript, ABC Afternoon Briefing

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
TV INTERVIEW
AFTERNOON BRIEFING
MONDAY, 26 AUGUST 2019

Subject: New research on Australia’s incarceration rates.

PATRICIA KARVELAS: I think we've got Andrew Leigh now, welcome.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY: Thanks, great to be with you.

KARVELAS: You just completed a research paper which identifies what you are calling disturbingly a second convict age. Take me through what you found and why you used that language? Because that’s quite alarming.

LEIGH: It is, Patricia, and so are the figures. Incarceration rates in Australia haven't been this high since 1899, in the tail end of the transportation era. We now have 0.2 per cent of adults in jail, but for Indigenous Australians, it is 2.5 per cent of adults behind bars. That’s up from 1 per cent when the Aboriginal deaths in custody report came out in 1991. And as you said in your introduction, it means Indigenous Australians are now perhaps the most incarcerated people on earth with an incarceration rate that exceeds that for African-Americans. If you look at the exposure over a lifetime since - an Indigenous man born in the 1970s has one in four chances of spending time behind bars. Research out of Western Australia suggests that as many as nine out of 10 Indigenous men born in the 1970s have been arrested, summonsed or charged in their lifetime. So increasingly, incarceration is becoming a normal life event for Indigenous Australians and that is having massively damaging impacts on our attempts to close the gap.

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Incarceration at highest level since 1899 - Transcript, ABC Canberra

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
ABC CANBERRA
MONDAY. 26 AUGUST 2019

Subject: New research on Australia’s incarceration rates.

ADRIENNE FRANCIS: You know that of course Australia's states, with the exception of South Australia and Victoria, were first established as penal colonies. It comes as no surprise then that in the 19th century, a large proportion of the adult population were incarcerated. In fact, as many as 6.5 per cent of the adult population in the 1860s were in jail. So what might surprise you is that we currently imprison a greater proportion of adults than at any time since the late 19th century. That's the finding of some research conducted by federal parliamentarian and Member for Fenner Andrew Leigh. He says we're now in a second convict page. Andrew Leigh joins me on the line. Good morning, Andrew. What is the current rate of incarceration in Australia?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY: Good morning, Adrienne. Great to be with you. The current rate of incarceration is 0.2 per cent - so two in 1000 Australians are behind bars. As you say, the highest level since 1899.

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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.