MEDIA RELEASE - Govt shows contempt for regional Australia with ATO office closures

Today I issued a joint media release with Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Julie Collins, critical of the Government's decision to close ten regional ATO sites:


The closure of 10 regional Australian Tax Office sites across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania shows the National Party is truly the junior and ineffective partner in the Coalition.

The ATO has confirmed it is closing offices in Toowoomba, Rockhampton, Mackay, Cairns, Port Macquarie, Grafton, Orange, Sale, Bendigo, and Launceston.


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Talking politics, porkies and the federal budget - ABC RN Drive

Last night, I spoke with Radio National Drive presenter Waleed Aly and the Liberal's Josh Frydenberg for a discussion about the unfairnes of the budget, the Abbott Government's guttered science policy and the future of Peppa Pig on our ABC. Here's the full transcript:



SUBJECT / S: Federal Budget and Inequality; Age Pension; Superannuation; Incoherent science policy and cuts to the CSIRO; Higher education; Cuts to the ABC.

WALEED ALY: It's a fortnight since Joe Hockey delivered his first budget. One key measure of that, the debt levy has passed the House of Representatives. It will also pass the Senate because Labor has confirmed it will not oppose that levy. Other budget measures though has continued criticism, even from the Liberal Party's own backbench. One backbencher in particular has criticised cuts to science funding and just the way that the whole science policy has been structured at the moment. So let's discuss budget debate, I'm delighted to welcome back to the program, Josh Frydenberg, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and his sparring partner, Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh. Gentlemen, welcome back.

JOSH FRYDENBERG: Nice to be with you.

ALY: I want to start with the public perception of the budget gents. Seven out of ten voters don't believe that the burden of cuts is being spread evenly and fairly across the population according to the latest polling. Josh, who do you blame? Do you blame the people or do you blame yourself for your sales job?


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Minister Andrews fakes consultation over charities commission repeal

I issued this media release today, highlighting the shallow consultations Social Services Minister, Kevin Andrews, has had with the charities and not for profits sector about fundamental changes to the way the sector is regulated.

Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews, has given a false impression of his engagement with a range of charities, not for profits and sector experts about what replaces Australia’s world-class, one-stop shop for charities, the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC).

In response to a question on notice asking for details of who has been involved in consultations about what might replace the ACNC, the Minister lists 31 people representing 23 organisations.  

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Don't Hit The Big Spenders

Today, the Australian Financial Review published my opinion piece on economic growth. 

Since the industrial revolution, modern economies have been in a perpetual state of transition. Indeed, economist Paul Collier once likened economic growth to ‘running across ice floes’.

But sometimes the transitions are particularly fragile. Right now, risks to global growth include potential disruption to European gas supplies, fragility in the Chinese shadow banking sector, and the possibility that structural reform in Japan will falter. Domestically, there is significant uncertainty about how much mining capital expenditure will drop.

So what should a responsible government do in uncertain times? Earlier this month, the OECD’s Economic Outlook recommended that ‘heavy front loading of fiscal consolidation should be avoided’.

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Speaker Bronwyn Bishop's role questioned - Breaking Politics

Claims that Bronwyn Bishop hosted a Liberal Party fundraiser in her Parliament House Speaker's suite was one of several topics discussed this morning in my usual Monday slot with Fairfax Breaking Politics. Here's the full transcript. 


MONDAY, 26 MAY 2014

SUBJECT / S: Federal Budget negotiations; Speaker Bronwyn Bishop and Liberal Party fundraising; Refugee resettlement and the mental health of asylum seekers.

CHRIS HAMMER: Joining me now in the studio is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh, Labor Member for Fraser here in the ACT, and Andrew Laming, the Liberal Member for Bowman in Queensland. Good morning gentlemen. 


HAMMER: Andrew Laming, is it time to start compromising on the Federal Budget? Christine Milne and Nick Xenophon say they haven’t even been approached by the Government as yet?

ANDREW LAMING: Well there is no time line on when you approach the Greens, but clearly politics is a game of compromise. It’s more important to win over the Australian people that the budget as a package is the right thing for the long term. I would be silly to say that there won’t ever be a compromise but that’s something for the treasurer and the leadership group but right now the package gets us back on track by 2017-18, something that could never have been conceived under the previous Labor government.

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A budget for billionaires, not battlers

Today, the politics and business e-newsletter, Inside Canberra, published by latest opinion piece on the Federal Budget:

Whether you ask parents, pensioners or conservative premiers, it’s pretty clear that the Coalition’s first budget is deeply unpopular. Part of the reason for this is that it breaks promises faster than a child snapping up kindling. So much for no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no cuts to pensions, no cuts to the ABC, and no new taxes. Broken too are the pledge not to cut more than 12,000 public servants, and the promise not to make further cuts to foreign aid. It now appears that when Mr Abbott was sermonising about the need for politicians to keep their word, he wasn’t talking about himself.

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Senate hearing into ACNC Repeal Bill

I held a doorstop this morning at Parliament House drawing attention to today's Senate Committee hearing into the ACNC Repeal Bill (1) and the adverse consquences for charities and not for profits if the Bill was passed.

FRIDAY, 23 MAY 2014

SUBJECT / S: Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission; Inequality and the Federal Budget; Falling Consumer Confidence.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Thank you for coming everyone. I thought I would say a few words ahead of the Senate Committee's inquiry into the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission. 

The ACNC was established by Labor after an exhaustive process. Inquiries had been held going back to the 1990s about the need for an independent voice for charities. The charities commission protects charities because they have a regulator than understands their needs and protects donors who have the confidence that when someone comes knocking at their door, that they are not a scammer. But the Coalition for reasons that can only be regarded as ideology, wants to scrap the ACNC. 


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Voters won't forgive or forget betrayal

I submitted this piece for today's Daily Telegraph, outlining the betrayals in the Federal Budget:

Budgets are like plumbing. If everything works as it should, then no-one takes much notice. But get it wrong, and things start to smell bad fast.

Today, it isn’t just Labor supporters who are noticing the whiff. Since the budget was handed down, everyone from pensioners to conservative premiers, students to business leaders have criticised aspects of the 2014 budget.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Last year, Tony Abbott suggested that his government would cut the deficit, treat all Australians fairly, and keep his promises.

Yet on the current evidence, he’s failing on all three counts.


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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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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.