The Economics of Just About Everything on The Drum - 4 August

Last night I joined the panel on ABC's The Drum to talk about how economics can help us make better sense of the world around us (and my new book 'The Economics of Just About Everything). Here's the interview:

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Don't sack Treasury mums

Despite the Abbott Government's promise before the election that there would be no forced redundancies in the Australian Public Service, there are reports today that The Treasury has launched a 'spill and fill' process that will lead to up to 40 forced sackings. Here's my comments in response:



The Abbott Government has broken yet another of its pre-election promises, with news that staff at The Treasury are being forced to take part in a ‘spill and fill’ process that will result in up to 40 forced redundancies.

Before the last election, Tony Abbott promised that any jobs lost in the Australian Public Service would go through ‘natural attrition’, and stated:

“I really want to stress that we are not talking about forced redundancies, we are talking about not replacing everyone who leaves, that’s all.” 

Tony Abbott, 11 October 2012

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Stop the 'spill and fill' at Treasury - 2CC Breakfast

This morning I spoke with Mark Parton on 2CC's Breakfast program about the government's moves to force up to 40 Treasury workers to accept involuntary redundancies. Here's the transcript:





SUBJECT/S: Forced redundancies at The Treasury

MARK PARTON: The Canberra Times is reporting this morning that The Treasury is forcing nearly all of its staff – including newly-recruited graduates and women on maternity leave – to reapply for their jobs. They've gone with this so-called 'spill and fill' to dismiss about 40 staff, with the central agency conceding that its voluntary redundancy process has run out of steam. We always thought that would be the case!

Andrew Leigh is the Federal Member for Fraser and he's on the line right now, morning Andrew.


PARTON: There was always talk about this being done naturally, but the plans of this government – and indeed, it must be said, the plans of you blokes when you were in power – there was always going to be a point where the voluntary stuff just didn't cut it.

LEIGH: Mark, we were always clear before the election that there wouldn't be forced redundancies, as were the Liberal Party. It was their pledge beforehand, and when we said there was going to be more than 12,000 jobs cut and that we'd see forced redundancies, they called us liars. But frankly this is another broken promise from Mr Abbott, who is now making all the Treasury staff re-apply for their jobs. Including women on maternity leave, new graduates who have just been hired - it's a pretty shocking way to treat some of Australia's best economic minds.

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The Abbott Government's punitive Work for the Dole scheme - Sky AM Agenda

This morning I talked with David Lipson and Alan Tudge about the Abbott Government's harsh new Work for the Dole requirements (and also snuck in a plug for my new book, The Economics of Just About Everything!). Here's the transcript:



MONDAY, 28 JULY 2014


SUBJECT/S: MH17; Work for the Dole; Joe Hockey’s unfair budget.

DAVID LIPSON: Joining me now to discuss the day’s issues, Alan Tudge from the Liberals and Andrew Leigh joining me here in the Canberra studio from the ALP. Thank you both for joining us. First you, Alan Tudge, on this mission in Ukraine - a reminder if any was needed of the dangers posed to those Australian Federal Police and others going to the site with this heavy shelling cancelling, or at least delaying, the operation.

ALAN TUDGE, PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE PRIME MINISTER: I think that’s right, David. I think the word though is delaying rather than cancelling. We have an absolute determination to ensure that the remains can be secured and identified and returned back to Australia. But we want to get in there, we had hoped to get in there last night our time and will be monitoring the situation very closely. When it is safe to do so the team led by the Netherlands, including Australian Federal Police, will be going in there to monitor the site, secure the remains and bring them home.

LIPSON: Andrew Leigh, the cooperation of the rebels is crucial to this mission, and as such, we've seen the Prime Minister appropriately temper his language towards them compared to the descriptions we used about a week ago. Are you satisfied that everything is being done to minimise the risk for our police and others? 

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Absolutely, David. This is fully supported by the opposition. I think Alan spoke well in speaking about the importance of securing the remains there. One of the victims was in my own electorate, a memorial service was held for her last week and it just brings home to me how important it is for all of those families to secure the victims’ remains and secure that crash site, absolutely vital.

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Breaking Politics - Monday 28 July

This morning I spoke with Fairfax Media's Breaking Politics program about the government's harsh new Work for the Dole requirements and the inequality in Joe Hockey's budget. You can watch the full conversation here:




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The urgent case for a diverse nation - The Australian

My latest opinion piece in The Australian looks at how increased diversity in our community can enrich Australians socially, culturally and economically. Here's the details:

Urgent case for a diverse nation, The Australian, 24 July 2014

PROGRESSIVES are often most comfortable making a political or moral case for diversity: that it is a necessary corollary of liberalism in a multi-ethnic societ­y or, more optimistically, a social good in itself.

This is no longer enough. Our ideas must expand beyond platit­udes about multiculturalism giving us good places to eat. We need to recognise the real economic and social benefits that flow from diversity and acknowledge the challenges so we can find ways to maintain cohesive societies in the face of these.

To see the positive impact of diversity, go to Silicon Valley. Half of all start-up teams include a first-generation migrant, from Russian-born Sergey Brin at Google to Hungarian-born Andy Grove at Intel.

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The need for a carbon price and financial advice reforms - Sky PM Agenda

Tonight I joined Sky PM Agenda host David Speers and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer Steven Ciobo to discuss the need for a carbon price, the federal budget and the Abbott government's reforms to financial advice.





SUBJECT/S: Carbon price repeal, Budget, Changes to Financial Advice, Senate.

David Speers: You’re watching PM Agenda, good to have you with us, let’s bring in our panellists this afternoon. We're joined by the Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer Steve Ciobo, welcome to you both.

Andrew Leigh, Shadow Assistant Treasurer: Thanks David.

Speers: Let’s start on the Carbon Tax, a lot of people, not just me I'm sure, are wondering when is this finally going to be voted on in the Senate? Um, we know where you stand, we know where you stand, we know where I think everybody stands.

Steven Ciobo, Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer: We know where the Australian people stand, David.

Speers: Well, when is there going to be a vote?

Leigh: The great thing about Parliament which really surprised me before I came in David is the disconnect between the House of Reps and the Senate. I spend far more time with Steve's beautiful face then I do with my Labor Senate colleagues. So the Senate is a beast unto itself, and this Senate seems to be even more unusual.

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Tax office staff blow the whistle on hit to revenue

There are worrying reports in today's Canberra Times that compliance functions at the Tax Office will be severely affected by the loss of 3,000 staff. Here's my comments in response:



There is fresh evidence that the Abbott Government’s cuts to the Australian Tax Office will cost the Budget far more than they will save, with outgoing tax staff admitting that revenue collection risks being ‘gutted’ by a loss of skilled, specialist staff.

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Banking and financial reforms must put consumers first - ABC News Radio

Today I chatted with ABC News Radio's Marius Benson about the importance of getting banking and financial sector reform right for Australian consumers. Here's the transcript:



ABC News Radio


SUBJECT/S:         Australia’s banking and financial system; changes to Future of Financial Advice laws

MARIUS BENSON: The future of Australia's banking and financial system could become clearer today with the release of a report by former banker David Murray. That system is dominated by the big four banks and there's been criticism that their record profits of recent years have been underwritten by taxpayer-backed guarantees, but the public hasn't benefited from their success. The Murray Report will also look at the financial advice industry as the government moves ahead with its plans for changes to its Future of Financial Advice laws. For a Labor view on changes in the Australian financial world, I’m speaking to the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh.

Andrew Leigh, good morning.

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ATO staff cuts mean millions in tax dodges

The Abbott Government is cutting thousands of staff from the Australian Taxation Office in the name of budget 'savings'. But there are real concerns these cuts will actually cost Australia millions more than they save through lost revenue.



The Abbott Government’s deep staff cuts at the Australian Tax Office (ATO) will result in a hit to the federal budget, with new evidence revealing every dollar cut from spending on staff will sacrifice up to $6 in unpaid tax.

The ATO shed 900 staff in the 2013-2014 financial year and will lose a further 2,100 staff by the end of October as part of the government’s drive for savings.

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.