Unemployment hits 12-year high - ABC NewsRadio

This morning I joined Marius Benson on ABC NewsRadio to talk about the worrying spike in unemployment in the latest ABS jobs figures. Here's the transcript:





SUBJECT/S: Unemployment figures; Abbott Government’s unfair budget.

MARIUS BENSON: Andrew Leigh, on the unemployment figures: the Employment Minister Eric Abetz expressed disappointment but said you can't blame the government for this rise in unemployment because the Budget is still substantially blocked in the Senate. He blames, obviously, Labor for that. 

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: These figures are extraordinarily bad for Australia. A 12-year high for unemployment and a nine-year low for the share of Australians in work. That's something that ought to deeply concern the government. The fact is Australia now has worse employment outcomes than in the Global Financial Crisis. The reason that we did well in the Global Financial Crisis was the swift actions of the Labor Government: taking on modest levels of debt in order to save hundreds of thousands of jobs. Part of the reason we're doing badly now is that we have a government which is trash-talking the economy, driving down business and consumer confidence, and firing people. I mean, in my own electorate in the ACT, we're seeing the firing of public servants which is adding to these unemployment numbers. 

BENSON: When you look at the numbers closely, the principal reason for the increase in the total is that the participation rate is up. So it's simply more people looking for work.

LEIGH: The economy isn't adding jobs as people are moving in to seek work. That ought to be a deep concern for the government. And governments ought to be concerned about their short-run and long-run policies. In the short run, in an environment where you've got the transition out of the mining boom, then you ought to have a government which is looking to create demand. This federal Budget has been doing anything but. It's taking away from those who have the highest propensity to spend - those who are at the bottom on the income spectrum - and it's cutting back on a range of government programs. And then in the long run, governments have to be investing in the productive capacity of the economy - in skills and infrastructure. And this again is a Budget that takes away from education, takes away from the National Broadband Network, takes away from urban rail. So it will hit the short- and the long-run jobs growth in the economy. 

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Who's the Moneyball star of the AFL? - Herald Sun

Today the Herald Sun features an extract from my book 'The Economics of Just About Everything', exploring the link between money and team performance in the AFL. Read on...

Who's the Moneyball star of the AFL? Herald Sun, 7 August 2014

Moneyball tells the true story of how Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) put together a great baseball team on a shoestring budget. The movie has two messages: first, money helps win games. Second, some sports teams spend their money more wisely than others. 

But how does Moneyball apply to the AFL? Money allows teams to buy better players (up to the salary cap), to hire better coaches and to buy experts like physiotherapists, masseurs and even statisticians. But do some AFL teams spend their cash more wisely than others?

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How to make the budget fairer - PVO NewsHour 5 August

Last night Peter van Onselen and I hashed out some ways the Abbott Government could make its rotten budget fairer. Here's the video and transcript:

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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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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.