Afternoon Briefing with Greg Jennett 6 June - Transcript


SUBJECTS: Government’s productivity agenda, reform on non-compete clauses, release of 10th Australian Charities Report.

LORNA DUNKLEY (ABC NEWS): Assistant Minister for Treasury, Andrew Leigh, says Australia needs to put greater emphasis on productivity to curb slowing GDP growth. The economy grew just 0.1 per cent the first quarter of this year.

Despite this, Mr Leigh told Afternoon Briefings', Greg Jennett, he's optimistic about the future of Australia's economy.

ASSISTANT MINISTER ANDREW LEIGH: The Coalition's productivity agenda tends to be about cutting; cutting wages, cutting regulation. Ours is about investing, investing in people, investing in infrastructure and investing in institutions like our National Competition Policy reforms.

That's how we're going to get the sustainable wage growth into the future. I'm really confident that we're going to harness the best the technology has to offer in order to increase living standards.

JENNETT: That's years away though, isn't it? Moving from a stubbornly slow and weak economy, as we find right now, for some of those bigger picture competition reforms to really make a difference.

LEIGH: It depends what you're talking about, Greg. I mean if you're talking about investing in infrastructure, that can immediately reduce people's commuting times. If you're talking about skilling someone up through a fee‑free TAFE place, then immediately they're more productive out in the workplace.

Yes, some of these productivity reforms take a while, but that's no reason not to get started now. I'm a pro‑growth progressive, as is the Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, understanding the importance of investing -- particularly in Australia's most disadvantaged regions and people.

JENNETT: Yep. We always discuss, I think you'd be familiar with this by now, Andrew, when you come on the program, non‑compete clauses. These are in employment contracts, and for those who don't know, restrain a worker from starting a new job or even starting a new business. We always ask, "Are we there yet?" And I'm going to, but I note that the ACTU, as reported in the Financial Review, its Assistant Secretary, Joseph Mitchell, has said the spread of these things is completely haywire, and he's looking to the US for a complete ban.

Now you wouldn't normally associate this as an ACT, or union movement concern, would you? Does it mean it's time to act?

LEIGH: Joseph Mitchell is a terrific official and has engaged extensively right across the union movement, and one of the things he said to me is that people were surprised when they began those consultations at the prevalence of non‑compete clauses showing up in the employment agreements of fitness instructors, security guards, early childhood workers, and in each case making it harder for those workers to move to a better job.

According to the US Federal Trade Commission, the US ban on non‑competes will boost wages for American workers by more than $500 a year and see another 8,000 businesses created in the US.

If that's true in Australia too, then it's really important that we're looking at reform here, and I welcome the ACTU's constructive engagement.

JENNETT: As you have been for some time, so just update us, how is the timeline progressing towards some sort of breakthrough moment on this, specifically a Federal ban?

LEIGH: We're always systematic when we're doing reform in the Albanese Government. We've had an issues paper that closed at the end of May and we received a range of thoughtful submissions from across the spectrum. We're now considering options, and if we decide to take a reform path, we'll bring forward those options for consultation with the community.

JENNETT: All right. Let's move on to cost‑of‑living pinches. They show up in so many areas, but particularly in your charities area as you now routinely run data across the financial viability of charities.

What's the picture that emerges about money in coming to them and the expenses that they're incurring in their work?=

LEIGH: Well, Greg, I'm really grateful for your interest in the Australian Charities and Not‑For‑Profits Commission latest report. It shows that the money going into charities has increased, but their expenses have increased still further.

Many charities are feeling the pinch, and these are charities who are out there helping some of the most vulnerable.

I'll soon be taking part in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout, along with the speaker, Milton Dick, and I'd encourage other Australians to help out our extraordinary charities and not‑for‑profits, as a volunteer, or a donor.

JENNETT: Sure, no, no, sorry to interrupt. It says something about Australians, doesn't it, that even with less disposable income in aggregate, the amount donated to charities isn't falling.

LEIGH: It's a real good mark for a strong egalitarian tendencies, the willingness of Australians, even when they're doing it tough, to give to somebody who's more vulnerable.


LEIGH: But it is important too that we push towards doubling philanthropy by 2030, the Government's target. We'll have the Productivity Commission's report out soon with its recommendations as to how government and philanthropy can work together to grow the strength of the charitable not‑for‑profit sector.

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  • Andrew Leigh
    published this page in What's New 2024-06-07 13:33:32 +1000

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