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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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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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.