PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
WEDNESDAY, 25 AUGUST 2021
SUBJECTS: Government’s historic JobKeeper waste; Labor’s JobKeeper transparency amendment; Government’s vaccine failure; Labor’s vaccine incentive.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: JobKeeper is the biggest program ever put in place as a one-off by the Australian Government, and it involved more waste than any Australian government program has seen. We know that some $13 billion - almost $1,000 for every Australian adult - was given through the JobKeeper program to firms with rising earnings. Yes, JobKeeper saved some jobs. But there weren't jobs saved by giving money to AP Eagers, the car company with rising earnings. There weren't jobs saved by giving money to Premier Investments and Harvey Norman. There weren't jobs saved by giving money to Accent Group, who used part of it to give a $1 million bonus to their CEO. JobKeeper went to the Australian Club, a men's-only club in Sydney that increased its surplus. It went to independent schools such as The Kings School, Wesley College and Brisbane Grammar, who saw an increase in their surplus. JobKeeper went to the Royal Australian Golf Club, that surely didn't need taxpayer handouts. While the Government changed the rules three times to keep public universities out, JobKeeper went to Bond University and New York University's Sydney campus.Read more
Government sending JobKeeper debt notices to pensioners, but not billionaires who pocketed millions - Transcript, 5AA Mornings
5AA MORNINGS WITH LEON BYNER
WEDNSDAY, 11 AUGUST 2021
SUBJECTS: The Government pursuing pensioners but not billionaires for JobKeeper repayments
LEON BYNER, HOST: My next guest is an Australian politician, but he's also an author, he's a lawyer, former professor of economics at the Australian National University, and has been a member of the Australian House of Reps for Labor since 2010. He's a clever bloke, alright. Now, the reason I'm going to talk to him in a moment is that we have thousands of Australians getting debt notices for pandemic welfare overpayments. Many profitable businesses are evading the same repayments. Now, the Government, of course, is being accused of double standards, and if those facts I've just put to you hold water, which they appear to do, we have a fairness issue here. Let's talk with the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury, Dr Andrew Leigh. Andrew, it's good to talk to you.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Likewise, Leon. Great to be with you.
BYNER: Now, how much money? Have you done a bit of an audit to work out how much money ought to be paid back to Australian taxpayers on this?
LEIGH: Leon, if you just take the basic question of how many JobKeeper recipients actually saw their earnings go up rather than down, it's some $13 billion. Put into perspective, that's more than the Commonwealth Government spent on public schools last year. It's more than they spend on childcare last year. It's about enough to take a fibre to the home network to every urban premises in Australia. It's a lot of money.Read more
Government always picks on pensioners and gives back rubs to billionaires - Transcript, 2SM Mornings
2SM MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 10 AUGUST 2021
SUBJECTS: The Government pursuing pensioners but not billionaires for JobKeeper repayments; the Government’s vaccine failures; Scott Morrison leads the most anti-university government in Australia’s history; the Government’s lack of action on climate change.
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: All right, Andrew Leigh, Federal Member for Fenner. Good morning to you, Andrew.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus. Great to be with you.
PAUL: All right, look, I know there's a couple of other things you want to talk about, but I don't want to say I told you so, but it's almost reminiscent of RoboDebt. You have been working extremely hard. We don't call you #JobKeeper warrior for nothing. You've tried to call back tens of millions of dollars from big business that have done well out of the pandemic. We don't criticise them for putting their hand out at first, but once they've paid handsome dividends and made a profit and all the rest of it they should give our money back, us taxpayers. Most of the money is borrowed anyway, but they haven't, and they're not being forced to by the Federal Government, by the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, in particular. But when it comes to average income earners, people who've done the right thing, that obviously did receive JobKeeper, some of them a little bit too much, after they've done the right thing and put their tax returns in, they now have a debt and they're being chased for it - $32 million worth. Andrew, why are we chasing mums and dads and small-income, average-income earners and not big business?
LEIGH: Extraordinary double standard isn't it, Marcus? You'd think that the Government would, as its first port of call, look at those multinationals who've received JobKeeper and gotten rising earnings. Instead, they always seem to look to the little guy. The Government that developed RoboDebt, the illegal scheme that cost them a massive court settlement; the Government that wanted to put in place automatic assessments for people on the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Yet again, every time they look to raise money for the budget it's raising it from the most vulnerable rather than from the most affluent.Read more
Government only ever recovers payments from pensioners, and never billionaires - Transcript, ABC NewsRadio
TUESDAY, 10 AUGUST 2021
SUBJECT: The Government’s JobKeeper failings.
GLEN BARTHOLOMEW, HOST: Well, now to reports the Federal Government has sent thousands of people Centrelink debt letters claiming they were overpaid due to JobKeeper. According to a report in The Guardian, the Government sent more than 11,000 people Centrelink debt letters worth around are claiming rather that they were overpaid $32 million. All the while resisting frequent calls to reclaim money from the businesses who received the wage subsidy, but then went on to make a profit. Meanwhile, in Parliament yesterday, the Opposition suddenly dropped support for an amendment to the Government's new business payments which would have required companies to reveal how much money they received from the JobKeeper wage subsidy. Labor MP Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. He's led the charge on this. He says sending debt letters to Centrelink recipients smacks of a double standard.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: I'm disappointed, Glenn, but I'm not surprised. This is the Government that invented Robodebt, and which has gone soft on big firms getting JobKeeper despite rising earnings. How many of those firms have been asked by Scott Morrison to repay? Absolutely zero. But now we've got more than 11,000 people who've received JobKeeper who are getting debt collection letters from Centrelink. From the Government that wanted to put disability support recipients on to the automatic assessments, it's sadly no surprise.Read more
MONDAY, 9 AUGUST 2021
SUBJECTS: The Government’s JobKeeper failures.
CARRIE BICKMORE, HOST: Labor MP Andrew Leigh has been naming and shaming companies that profited off JobKeeper and he joins us now. Andrew, you've been pushing for transparency and accountability for big businesses receiving JobKeeper or other government support. Why did Labor back down?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Carrie, we need to make sure we prioritize support for people in lockdown right now. There's no way Labor was going to hold up money going out the door for people who are suffering under the weight of lockdown. No-one's been stronger on transparency around JobKeeper than me. It was a great program poorly implemented. Around 15 per cent of the money seems to have gone to firms whose earnings went up rather than down, like Best & Less, Harvey Norman, Premier Investments and Accent Group. Some of them used it to pay executive bonuses. We need to know more about this scheme, because it wasn't Liberal Party money they were spending, it was taxpayer money.Read more
ABC RADIO MELBOURNE MORNINGS WITH VIRGINIA TRIOLI
MONDAY, 9 AUGUST 2021
SUBJECTS: The Government’s JobKeeper failings
VIRGINIA TRIOLI, HOST: A quick update to a story that we covered off a few weeks ago now, and that was the payment of JobKeeper to a number of high-profile and less well-known companies that still enjoyed rising profits during that time, and so therefore, basically, were just able to put JobKeeper in the bank. It didn't just involve high-profile companies like Harvey Norman and Best & Less but many others as well. Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities has been really banging the drum on this, but it seems that his own party might be letting him down in this regard. Andrew Leigh, good morning to you.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Virginia. How are you?
TRIOLI: I'm well, thank you. Because an amendment's been introduced by the independent Senator Rex Patrick which would require all companies then to disclose, there'll be a transparency amendment so we'd know what they received, if they then went on to enjoy rising profits, but looks like looks like your party is backing down from supporting that amendment. Is that right?Read more
ABC RADIO CANBERRA MORNINGS WITH ADAM SHIRLEY
MONDAY, 9 AUGUST 2021
SUBJECTS: The Government’s failings on JobKeeper.
SHIRLEY, HOST: Andrew Leigh, Deputy Chair of the Standing Committee on Economics and Federal Member for Fenner, good morning to you and thank you very much for your time on ABC Radio Canberra.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Pleasure, Adam. Always great to be with you.
SHIRLEY: So this is a key question, depending on what happens in the Senate today: how disappointed in your Senate Labor colleagues would you be if they let big businesses be quiet about the JobKeeper money they've received and kept?
LEIGH: Adam, for a party of government this is an issue that comes up frequently. We want transparency, and we want to make sure this support goes straight out the door to help the businesses that need it. Unfortunately, it looks as though the Government isn't going to come to the party on transparency. The question for us is whether we then hold up this bill which provides support to New South Wales businesses. Our judgement is that it's important to provide that support, although it's late and inadequate, not only for those businesses that are in lockdown, but of course for Canberra, because Canberra is hurting too. If you talk to people in the tourism sector, newsagents, hospitality, this is a real hit on our economy as well. We need to make sure this support is provided.Read more
VACCINE INCENTIVES WORK, AND MR MORRISON KNOWS IT
The Canberra Times, 9 August 2021
Just 16 per cent of Australians are vaccinated against COVID-19 - the second-lowest rate in the OECD group of advanced countries. According to the Grattan Institute's modelling, Australia needs to vaccinate 80 per cent of the population (or 90 percent of adults, if children are unvaccinated) before life can return to normal. The Morrison government's modelling sets a slightly lower target, with Phase C of its plan (which lifts all restrictions on outbound travel) taking effect when 80 per cent of adults are vaccinated.Read more
ABC RADIO CANBERRA DRIVE WITH ANNA VIDOT
TUESDAY, 3 AUGUST 2021
SUBJECTS: Labor’s $300 vaccine incentive.
ANNA VIDOT, HOST: One of the long-standing members of the ALP's representatives here in Canberra, of course, is Andrew Leigh, who's on the line with me this afternoon. Andrew Leigh, good evening to you.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good evening, Anna. Great to be with you.
VIDOT: Where did this idea for a $300 cash incentive come from?
LEIGH: Well, it's an idea that a lot of people have proposed. Joe Biden has been talking about it. A range of other countries have moved on it. There's some useful research that's just come out in the last couple of weeks from a team at Oxford University which has shown a big bump up in vaccine acceptance following cash payments. Of course, it's what we do with childhood vaccines. The No Jab, No Pay scheme ensures that people only get those family payments conditional on having six childhood vaccines. What was bizarre to me was hearing Scott Morrison say free beer is a great way of incentivising people to get the vaccine but $300 is a terrible idea.Read more
TUESDAY, 3 AUGUST 2021
SUBJECTS: Labor’s $300 vaccination incentive
TOM CONNELL, HOST: Welcome back. If you're thinking about getting a vaccine, Labor wants you to get $300 if you do it by 1 December. It's a headline-grabbing policy. Labor MP Andrew Leigh joins me for more. It's getting the headlines. What is it actually based on, though? Who's come up with this policy?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Well, Tom, there's been a range of people who've recommended vaccine incentives. A new study out of Oxford found a 50 per cent uptake increase associated with cash payments and found they're more effective than lotteries in terms of incentivising people to get the jab.Read more