6PR MONEY NEWS WITH KARALEE KATSAMBANIS
THURSDAY, 28 SEPTEMBER 2023
SUBJECTS: Qantas appearance at Senate Inquiry into Aviation, Employment White Paper, TAFE Centres of Excellence, Consultations into changes to charities commission’s secrecy provisions, Minting of new coins with King Charles effigy.
KARALEE KATSAMBANIS (HOST): We're going to catch up now as we do with the Honourable Dr Andrew Leigh, who, as we know, is Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury, as well as Employment. Just giving us a wrap up of what's been happening in Canberra this week. Dr. Leigh. Good evening.
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT CHARITIES, COMPETITION, AND TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: Good evening, Karalee. Great to be back on Money News with you and your listeners.
KATSAMBANIS: Oh, lovely to have you. Look, I know that we're a bit pressed for time, a few things I want to canvass with you. First of all, Qantas, I mean, we've seen Richard Goyder, we've seen Vanessa Hudson front up in front of the Senate inquiry. We heard the shocking revelations yesterday that Qatar Airways actually heard about what was going on through the Australian media rather than through the Federal Government. Do you think they deserve better? Do you think the Australian taxpayers deserve better?
LEIGH: Well, it's up to Qantas to answer to the general public, but certainly they've got a lot of rebuilding to be done. Qantas seems to have done a good job of prioritising shareholder interests. Not such a good job of prioritising the interests of its workers after illegally standing down 1700 workers. Or indeed of its customers, with Qantas now being one of the most complained-about companies in Australia.
As a government, we've been very clear that Qantas needs to do better. And the flights into Canberra, we have one of the highest cancellation rates in the country and that's a big frustration for many Canberrans. But I know if you're in WA, then getting to the rest of the country is often a case of getting on a plane. So, competitive airline services are important. Through the Aviation White Paper process and through our Competition Taskforce, we're very focused on how we can get more competition into the country.
KATSAMBANIS: Yeah, we certainly need it from over this side of the country. Okay, just also, as we know, the Employment White Paper was released. We've spoken about it on Money News this week. Just interested, given your portfolio of Employment, turbocharging the TAFE Centres of Excellence, accelerating apprenticeships, what is this going to mean? And also for Western Australians too.
LEIGH: TAFE Centres of Excellence are partnerships between jobs and skills councils, industry and universities. They're aiming to bridge those gaps. Too much of our education system has been siloed. A TAFE Centre of Excellence will allow people to move more seamlessly between vocational and academic training. That allows TAFEs to deliver new bachelor equivalent, and higher apprenticeships independent of universities, allowing them to give students the skills they need.
We know, Karalee, that technology is advancing and the only way that workers' wages will keep up is if we increase the quality of skills training we've got. And so TAFE Centres of Excellence are one of the ways in which we're looking to do that.
KATSAMBANIS: Minister, one thing I wanted to also ask you today and wrap up with you as well, is that very interestingly, the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission. It's actually confirmed that it's investigating concerns raised about the Hillsong Church. Now, this is a very rare thing that the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission will actually comment on, but the Commissioner, Sue Woodward, used her discretion to correct a record following statements in the Australian Parliament. Can you explain that for our listeners?
LEIGH: Karalee, I'm really glad you raised this one. Every now and then, there will be a high-profile charity scandal that hits the headlines. And right now, the charities commission is limited in what it can say about its investigation activities. So, something might be splashed all over the Sunday night news and yet you don't get a statement out from the regulator on Monday morning saying, “here's what we're doing in response”. That's because its Act limits its ability to talk about its ongoing investigations and we think it's time to update that.
Updating it will bring the charities commission into line with other Australian regulators and also with most of its overseas counterparts, allowing it to speak out when it's in the public interest about investigations that are ongoing.
KATSAMBANIS: And, of course, people making complaints, whistleblowers, there'll be protection for those as well.
LEIGH: That's right. Whistleblower complaints already exist in legislation, and so that remains under this legislation. This is just about providing more transparency and more integrity to the great charity sector. Now, I know there's no-one who gets more frustrated when a charity scandal hits the news than the hardworking people at Australia's 60,000 charities. They're the ones that feel as though it's potentially their sector, their reputation that's being tarnished. So, they want this power for the charities commissioner to say, “we're on the job, we're investigating”.
KATSAMBANIS: Dr Leigh, just before I let you shoot off tonight, I know you've probably got a plane to catch. I just want to ask you a bit of a lighter one to end on with our wrap from Parliament. King Charles III. When is his head going to actually appear on Aussie coins? There's only a couple of months to go till Christmas. I remember earlier in the year it is scheduled to happen. Can you shed any light for our listeners here on Money News?
LEIGH: We're aiming towards the end of this year for having the king on coins, and that's going to be a big thing for many Australians. We've been used to almost all of our lives to having queens on the coins. And now to move to kingly coins will be a transformation for almost everybody in Australia.
There will be a notable change to the monarch, too. When people look at the coin, they'll see that the Queen is facing to the right. Now, the King will face to the left, which is a tradition that goes back some hundreds of years. So, we're moving quickly with the Mint. The Mint, of course, has to test their dies. The dies have to be sustainable for some 200,000 to 300,000 coin printings. They're going through that process at the moment.
KATSAMBANIS: That is great. Well, listen, I wanted to say Dr. Andrew Leigh, I'll let you go. Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury and Employment. Thank you very much for your time this evening on Money News.
LEIGH: Real pleasure.