PROJECT TETRIS ADDS TO UNCERTAINTY FOR IMMIGRATION
News this week that the Abbott Government is looking to fill over 30,000 square metres of vacant public service office space through ‘Project Tetris’ has only increased concern that the Department of Immigration will be moved out of Belconnen.
Parliament’s Public Works Committee has been told the Commonwealth plans to fill this space by moving agencies between premises and delaying new leases.
The leases on four of the office buildings in Immigration’s current complex at Belconnen expire in February 2016. Since putting the tender out for new facilities in October last year, the Abbott Government has resolutely refused to say whether it will keep the department in the spot it has occupied since the 1970s.
THE WRONG EFFECT (TEST) IS TO INCREASE PRICES
Joint Media Release with Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen
Australian businesses and consumers should be concerned by the news that the Abbott Government is rushing its response to the Harper report and announcing an effects test in section 46 of the Competition and Consumer Act.
After weeks of lurching from news report to news report about the former Speaker’s travel entitlement abuses, the Prime Minister seems intent not only on making crazy economic policy, but making it on the run.
Families are already facing huge cost of living pressures as a result of this Government’s Budget cuts - and Tony Abbott is set to announce economic policy that will see Australians pay even higher prices at the checkout.
Today, Tony Abbott needs to answer a very simple question: how much will food and grocery prices increase as a result of this new red tape?
BUSINESS LEADERS HAVE THEIR SAY ON TASMANIA’S FUTURE
Joint Media Release with Julie Collins MP
Federal Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh today joined Labor’s Tasmania Taskforce to discuss the state’s economic future with locals and business leaders.
“Tony Abbott’s first two budgets cut support to Tasmanians and widened the gap between those on high incomes and those doing it tough”, Dr Leigh said.
“We have a Federal Government who has slashed $2.1 billion from health and education in Tasmania while Liberal Premier Will Hodgman looks on silently from the sidelines.
STILL NO NEWS OR PLAN FOR IMMIGRATION AT BELCONNEN
As the wait for news about the Department of Immigration’s future in Belconnen stretches into its 45th week, it is becoming increasingly clear the Abbott Government actually has no idea what to do with the department.
This week I received correspondence from Minister Peter Dutton linking Immigration’s future to the Abbott Government’s wider review of long-term public service accommodation requirements in Canberra. This suggests that eight months after the tender for new offices closed, the Government is still unable to commit to keeping Immigration in Belconnen.
Putting fairness first means protecting tax transparency, Business Spectator, 24 July 2015
What do the Watergate affair, Project Wickenby and Jeffrey Wigand’s revelations about Big Tobacco have in common? They are all instances where increased transparency identified dodgy dealings and put an end to practices that weren’t in the public interest.
Transparency can also keep people on the straight and narrow by letting them know in advance that their actions will be scrutinised. That’s why companies must register the names of their directors with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, and why politicians like me have to provide public reports on our financial interests.
The last Labor Government saw that transparency empowered citizens, so we created the MyChild, MyHospitals and MySchool websites. For the same reason, we also introduced laws requiring the Australian Tax Office to publish information about the income and tax paid by companies earning more than $100 million. There has been growing concern in the past few years that some big firms aren’t paying their fair share of tax; improving transparency is one way to tackle this.
There are only around 2,000 companies in Australia that currently earn enough to be included in this reporting when the tax office releases the data later this year. But right now the Abbott Government is trying to exclude over 800 of them from the rules so that they can continue keeping their tax affairs secret.
SKY AM AGENDA
MONDAY, 27 JULY 2015
SUBJECT/S: Marriage equality; refugee policy; emissions trading scheme.
KIERAN GILBERT: The Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh, is my guest, to look at the various elements of this ALP conference. Andrew Leigh, first of all on the same-sex issue, wrapped up yesterday afternoon, a compromise deal with a binding vote now on the Labor platform. This is not really what Bill Shorten had hoped for.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Kieran, I think this is about how to get same-sex marriage done. Bill Shorten supports same-sex marriage, as does Tanya Plibersek and the vast majority of the Labor Party. We put it in our platform in 2011 and the question now is how to best marshal the numbers in the Parliament for a change which according to the polls has between two-thirds and three-quarters support of the Australian people. Tony Abbott just needs to give MPs and Senators a conscience vote.
GILBERT: So you're calling for him to give a conscience vote, just as you go to a binding vote, or at least plan one?
LEIGH: Kieran that question goes to exactly the considerations at play here. We'd like to see this done and in practical terms the best way to get this done is for Tony Abbott to unshackle his MPs and allow them to vote their conscience. So we're keeping open our conscience vote for this Parliament and next but if we can't get it done that way then the conscience vote will lapse.Read more
MONDAY, 27 JULY 2015
SUBJECT: ALP National conference, same-sex marriage, China Free Trade Agreement
MARIUS BENSON: Andrew Leigh, good morning.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning Marius. How are you?
BENSON: I'm well. There was a lot of harmony at the end of the three days in fact throughout the weekend conference but there's plenty of reports of simmering tensions and divisions simply being papered over, is that the larger truth?
LEIGH: Marius, it ran the way in which a Labor Party conference should. I was the official conference spokesperson and I couldn't be prouder in the way delegates conducted themselves over the weekend. You would have been rightly horrified if there was no disagreement over anything because fundamentally Labor is Australia's party of ideas. And what the weekend showed is that unity doesn't require conformity. You can have a respectful debate over aspects of asylum seeker policy, over questions around same-sex marriage, over free trade - as great Labor Party conferences have had in the past. But fundamentally the things that unite Labor; our values of egalitarianism, opportunity and responsibility, remain extremely strong.Read more
RADIO NATIONAL DRIVE
MONDAY, 20 JULY 2015
SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s plan to raise the GST; Bronwyn Bishop.
PATRICIA KARVELAS: Andrew Leigh is Labor's Shadow Assistant Treasurer and he's with me now. Andrew, welcome to the program.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Thanks Patricia, good to be with you.
KARVELAS: State Labor leaders are not all singing from the same song sheet: you've got Jay Wetherill not ruling anything out, the ACT Chief Minister saying he'd accept a broadening of the GST base now, and Chris Bowen and Bill Shorten now saying no. Why won't you engage in a discussion at the federal level?
LEIGH: Patricia, we're happy to engage in a conversation, but it's really important that we do that based on the evidence we have on the equity and efficiency of the GST. Normally when you're looking at tax reform, you look at things like simplicity, equity and efficiency. If you look at the efficiency of the GST – in other words, the amount of economic activity that is destroyed for every dollar you raise – the Government's latest tax discussion paper says it is just as inefficient a tax as the income tax. It's much less equitable though. The income tax is paid disproportionately by those further up the distribution and the GST hits those down the bottom.
936 ABC HOBART
MONDAY, 20 JULY 2015
SUBJECT/S: Point to Pinnacle run for World Vision
RICK GODDARD: Here's another invitation for you and it's quite a chilling one in itself. A bloke whose grandfather died doing something and he'd like you to come and do the same thing in his name, it's quite an amazing Tasmanian story actually. Andrew Leigh is Labor Member for Fraser for the ACT but his grandad was a Methodist Minister in Tasmania. Hello Andrew.
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER, ANDREW LEIGH: G'day, Rick. How are you?
GODDARD: What was your grandad doing running up the mountain in the ‘70s?
LEIGH: Well the Methodist Church got together for the first time in Hobart in 1970 and my grandfather was a very enthusiastic runner. He ran 50 miles on his 50th birthday and organised 24-hour runathons. So he thought a lovely way of recognising the Methodist Church getting together in Hobart would be to do a run to raise money for overseas aid and run up Mount Wellington. Cascade Brewery were one of the sponsors, nicely ironic considering the Methodists’ view on alcohol, but he unfortunately didn't make it to the top. There was one of those freak snow storms and he passed away in October 1970.
666 ABC CANBERRA
FRIDAY, 17 JULY 2015
SUBJECT/S: Greek economic situation; Chinese stock market; ANZUS treaty; ALP National Conference; climate change; Tony Abbott’s Royal Commission.
CHRIS COLEMAN: Andrew Leigh is the Member for Fraser, and he is also the official party spokesman for the ALP's National Conference next week. He's also an economist so he's a good bloke to speak to about a number of things. Let's start on the economic front, Andrew Leigh – good morning.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning Chris, it's lovely to be with you in your final half hour. I feel a bit like someone who sees a band just before they finish their tour.
COLEMAN: You're far too kind. While I've been here, one of the things we've talked about on numerous occasions, and it's been in just about every news bulletin, is Greece. Where are we at with Greece? And now there's been another attempt at resolution to the problems in Greece, how is that going to affect Australia?
LEIGH: The forecasts are still about a 50 per cent chance of Greece exiting the Eurozone. The challenge is making sure the package that was agreed earlier in the week passes the Greek parliament. It's a tough package indeed for the Greek people to swallow. I've been a little disappointed through the process of this that the IMF and the European Central Bank didn't act earlier. We know that if there's defaults, we're talking about $340 billion Euros of debt and that's going to have significant impacts on the rest of the Eurozone. That confidence contagion could flow through to Australia. So it would have been good to see the IMF and the ECB taking earlier action. Fingers crossed they manage to sort this out because a Grexit would be messy for Greece and potentially cause problems for countries like Italy, Portugal and Spain - not this year but in years to come.