This budget is Robin Hood in reverse

Today, The Mercury published my opinion piece on the Federal Budget:

James Kelly of Berriedale has been unemployed for more than four years since graduating from Year 12. He’s been actively looking for work in retail. “I didn’t expect it would be this hard to get a job. It’s a bit demoralising ... I’d much rather not be on benefits but unfortunately I don’t have too many other options.”

James has a Certificate II in retail. But as most Tasmanians know, it’s tough if you’re young and unemployed across the state.

In Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s first Federal Budget, people like James will be hit even harder. In effect, they will be punished just because life’s dice has rolled against them.  



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A budget that punishes the unemployed and low income - Discussion on Radio National Drive

Yesterday I spoke about the federal budget with ABC Radio National Drive host Waleed Aly and the Liberal's Josh Frydenberg. Here's the full transcript:



SUBJECT/S:  Tony Abbott’s Budget of broken promises; manufactured debt crisis and debt levy; fuel excise indexation; budget impact of losing mining tax and carbon price; premiers angry about cuts to schools and hospitals funding

HOST WALEED ALY: What do you make of the Budget? The Prime Minister said it’s tough and fair. The Opposition leader Bill Shorten says it is full of broken promises and bad news. Joining me now to thrash this out is Josh Frydenberg, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, and Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh. To both of you, thank you very much for joining us.


JOSH FRYDENBERG: Good to be with you.

ALY: I might start with Josh, with this whole idea, the overarching aim of this, the overarching promise was to get the Budget back into shape. We had a fiscal crisis, a budget crisis, yet at the end of all this, the deficit has been reduced by $4.1 billion for the next year, which is not really crisis proportions. What happened to the crisis? 

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Discussing the federal budget and impact on Canberra - ABC 666



SUBJECT/S:  Budget:  Australian Public Service cuts bigger than promised and impact on ACT; Zed Seselja; Infrastructure spending ignores public transport; State schools and hospitals budgets slashed and prospect of a rise in the GST


HOST GENEVIEVE JACOBS: Let’s do some excavation on what the budget means for the Territory’s economy. The Member for Fraser, Andrew Leigh, is on the line. Andrew Leigh, good morning to you.

SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER, ANDREW LEIGH: Good morning Genevieve. How are you?

JACOBS: I'm well. Now there's a lot of heavy lifting here according to the Treasurer. Does Canberra end up with the hernia?

LEIGH: I think we do Genevieve. I mean we were the place that was targeted the most by the Coalition's pre-election promises and I think the place that was most entitled to think that was as bad as it was going to get, that when Zed Seselja said there would be 12,000 public service job cuts that there actually would be 12,000 job cuts, not 16,500.


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Media Release - Abbott breaks promises, Seselja makes excuses

Andrew Leigh, Gai Brodtmann and Senator Kate Lundy have condemned the Abbott Government’s first budget as an attack on Canberra that Liberal Senator Zed Seselja has failed to stop.

The Abbott Government will cut 16,500 jobs from the Australian Public Service, with over 7000 of those jobs slated to go in the next financial year.

This is an even bigger cut than the Coalition promised. It demonstrates that Senator Seselja is a limp defender of Canberra.  


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Hockey's left us with broken eggs but not an omelette in sight - Published in The Guardian

In her terrific book Dirt Cheap, the late Elisabeth Wynhausen decided to take leave from her journalism job and try life as a low-wage worker. In one job, Wynhausen moved to a country town and worked packing eggs. She earned near minimum wage in a job that started at 6am, left her body aching at the end of the day, and where the smell from the nearby chook sheds was constant. Three weeks in, the manager, a millionaire several times over, came to tell the workers they were losing their jobs.

I thought of Wynhausen's story again last night as I looked at the budget papers.


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A budget for cigar-chomping plutocrats - Breaking Politics transcript

MONDAY, 12 MAY 2014

SUBJECT/S:  Budget to axe or privatise Commonwealth agencies; Deficit levy.

CHRIS HAMMER: Well, the federal budget is now just one day away and you have to wonder what's left to announce, so comprehensively has features of it been leaked during the past week or more. Joining me to discuss it is Andrew Leigh, the member for Fraser here in the ACT, the Labor member.  


HAMMER: Also Shadow Assistant Treasurer. So a big week for you. And from Brisbane, Andrew Laming, the Federal Member for Bowman. Andrew Leigh to you first, the stories in the papers today are about cutting or merging government agencies and depending on which paper you believe, somewhere between 50 and 70 government agencies are going to be either abolished or merged. If that's delivering the same services with greater efficiencies, surely that's something to be supported. 

LEIGH: That's a big ‘if’ Chris. We look at the Preventative Health Agency, an agency which is investing and making sure that we reduce of rates of obesity, rates of smoking – including cigar smoking – and other preventable health conditions. We look at Indigenous Business Australia which is aiming to increase the number of entrepreneurs in the Indigenous community. These are just some of the agencies that are on the chopping block with no clear plans to replace them. Then there's the expert agencies. [This is] a government that thinks it doesn't need experts to provide advice on climate change. Now we've seen the National Water Commission being cut into and corporate advisory groups which provide vital advice to governments on markets. You just let it all rip, guided only by your big business donors and your gut. Good governments take advice from great experts and they draw-in a wide range of views which is why these bodies were established.

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Federal cuts to hurt South Australian charities

Minister for Business Services and Consumers Gail Gago today called on the Abbott Government to abandon its plans to axe the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).

Ms Gago today joined Federal Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh and Uniting Communities Chief Executive Simon Schrapel to highlight the potential of the ACNC to cut red tape and support the work of local charities.

“Charities need a nationally consistent approach, which is why the ACNC is so important,” she said.

“The charities commission strengthens organisations that work with some of our most vulnerable citizens.


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Abbott Government intends to scrap it but SA should support the charities commission

Six years ago, as he was taking on the job of Anglicare CEO, former premier Lynn Arnold said that the job of the charity should be ‘‘to empower and leave alive the spirit of aspiration in people’’.

It’s a simple line that perfectly sums up the valuable work being done in not-for-profits across Australia.

Lynn Arnold may be an exceptional leader, but his decision to devote a significant stage of his post-political career to charitable work shows something that is common in South Australians – a commitment to a vibrant community sector.

To ensure that this sector remains strong, Federal Labor in 2012 established the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission.

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Shoppers at risk of paying twice as much for groceries

Federal Labor urges the Abbott Government to act on new research claiming supermarkets are not complying with a national unit pricing code and are therefore hurting consumers.

It’s up to the Government to verify the research and enforce unit pricing so consumers can get the benefit of competition.

Unit pricing involves retailers providing a price per unit measurement on the price tag, for example – dollars per kilogram – in addition to the sale price.

Under the code, unit pricing information must be prominent and legible, in close proximity to the selling price and unambiguous. 

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Senate inquiry shows lack of support for regressive ACNC repeal



No support for Government’s regressive ACNC repeal

Public submissions to the Senate inquiry into the abolition of the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC) have been clear in sending a message to the Abbott Government not to scrap the Commission.

In March, the Senate referred the ACNC (Repeal) (No. 1) Bill 2014 to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee for inquiry and report. Submissions closed on Friday with a range of organisations including The Shepherd Centre, Australian Women’s Health Network and Associated Christian Schools having their say about the important role the Commission has played for the sector.

Organisations have labelled the repeal legislation a backward step and criticized the lack of consultation with the sector about the changes.

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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.