Talking about gun control on ABC RN Breakkie

This morning I spoke with Radio National Breakfast program business editor, Sheryle Bagwell, about US President Barack Obama's praise for Australia's gun control laws introduced in 1996 following the Port Arthur massacre.

During an online forum, Obama cited the success of Australia's 'very tough' gun buy-back program in controlling gun violence.

Here's the link to the interview on the RN Breakfast website.

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Joe Hockey and the 47 per cent

Treasurer Joe Hockey and the 47 per cent, Fairfax Online, 13 June 2014

You know Joe Hockey is in trouble when he starts sounding like Mitt Romney. As the multi-millionaire Republican presidential candidate hit the skids in 2012, he gave a speech to a $50,000-a-head fundraiser in which he claimed that 47 percent of Americans ‘are dependent upon government’ and ‘believe they are victims’.

This week, Mr Hockey stepped into the same desperate territory, bemoaning that ‘over half of Australian households receive a taxpayer funded payment from the government’. We must, he said, ‘discourage the leaners’. In effect, Mr Hockey is arguing that half the Australian population are leaners, not lifters.

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Talking politics and the economy on Capital Hill

This afternoon I spoke with Capital Hill host, Lyndal Curtis, about the unfairness of the Federal Budget and the prospect of more punitive welfare measures under the Coalition. Here's the transcript: 



SUBJECT / S: Joe Hockey’s remarks on leaners; Federal budget and inequality; Welfare and means-testing; Tax reform.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The welfare reform report is not out yet but already the shape of what the government is looking at is becoming clearer. A medium to long-term plan to drastically wind back the number of payments and use what is happening in New Zealand to deliver better targeted help. It comes at a time that the Treasurer has been warning that the system delivers too much, to too many people. Part of the broader conversation he started when he declared the age of entitlement over and started speaking about people who can afford to do so, standing on their own two feet, without the need for government support. Labor has already condemned the action that the government has already taken on payments in the Budget. The Assistance Shadow Treasurer Andrew Leigh joins me now. Andrew Leigh welcome to Capital Hill.


CURTIS: Do you believe that the current welfare system as Joe Hockey says makes payments too broadly available to too many people?

LEIGH: Absolutely not. And it’s not just me saying that. It’s what you see when you look at the international evidence. When you compare Australia to other countries, we're a relatively low-taxing, low-spending nation. Down the end of the spectrum where we would see the US and Mexico, not up the Scandinavian end of the spectrum.

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Are half of Australians ‘leaners’?

This morning I spoke to NewsRadio about Treasurer Joe Hockey's speech last night in which he rejected criticism his budget is unfair, saying the government must "reward the lifters and discourage the leaners". Here's the transcript:




SUBJECT / S: Joe Hockey’s Sydney Institute speech; Federal Budget and Inequality


PRESENTER: The Treasurer has launched a new defence of the Budget, rejecting claims that it is unfair and hits the needy hardest. Mr Hockey says that the Budget aims to cut the overall cost of welfare so those most in need can be protected, but he says that it is not the Government’s role to achieve equality through the tax and welfare system. For a Labor response to the Treasurer, Marius Benson is speaking to Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer.

MARIUS BENSON: Andrew Leigh the Treasurer says that the welfare situation, the cost of welfare at the moment is unsustainable. As things stand, the average Australian tax payer is working for a month just to pay the welfare for other Australians. 

SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER, ANDREW LEIGH: Mr Hockey seems to have missed the fact that Australia is much closer down the US and Mexican end of the spectrum than the Swedish or Scandinavian end of the spectrum. Australian tax as a share of national income is relatively low. We have a lean and efficient welfare state and he has just delivered a budget which is massively redistributive from the worst off to the best off in the community.




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Dear NRA: My country is proof that reducing guns reduces deaths

This article on Australia's gun buyback program was syndicated by Zocalo, and appeared in various outlets, including Time magazine and the Huffington Post.


 Dear NRA: My Country Is Proof That Reducing Guns Reduces Deaths 

Sometimes a tragedy is so awful that it changes the national debate. The 1996 Dunblane school shooting in Scotland, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, and the 2011 Norwegian gun massacre all prompted an outpouring of anguish and a demand for changes in law.

In Australia, that moment was the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, in which a gunman killed 35 people at a tourist attraction in Tasmania. To put the size of the death toll into perspective, the United States population is 14 times larger than Australia, so the impact of the Port Arthur massacre on Australia would be like a U.S. shooting that cost more than 400 lives.

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Lateline Friday Political Forum - 6 June 2014

I joined ABC Lateline host Emma Alberici and Liberal MP Josh Frydenberg for a wide ranging discussion on Liberal Party leadership tensions, the Budget deficit, Arthur Sinodinos, East Jerusalem and the approach of Clive Palmer and critical role of his Palmer United Party in the new Senate. Here's the full transcript:



EMMA ALBERICI: To discuss the week that began with tensions between the Prime Minister and his communications Minister and ended with debate over Israel.

I was joined a short time ago from Melbourne by Josh Frydenberg, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and from Parliament House in Canberra, by Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer. Gentlemen, good evening.


JOSH FRYDENBERG: Nice to be with you Emma.

ALBERICI: Now the events of the past week with Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones suggesting that Malcolm Turnbull is trying to destabilise Tony Abbott's leadership. Mr Turnbull himself said people might come to the conclusion that this was a coordinated campaign against them. What do you think, Josh Frydenberg, is behind these attacks on Mr Turnbull by the PM's good friends in the media?

FRYDENBERG: Look firstly, can I say about Malcolm Turnbull. He's extremely talented, he's extremely passionate and he's extremely experienced and we're very lucky to have Malcolm Turnbull in our team. His main job, his main focus is about fixing up Labor's mess that they left with the NBN.

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MEDIA RELEASE - Has Anyone Seen Kevin Andrews?

Today I issued a media release off the back of surprising evidence given at this week's Senate Estimates, showing once again the contempt the Social Services Minister has for the charities and the not for profit sector.






Has Anyone Seen Kevin Andrews?

Minister Kevin Andrews has not met with the head of the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission for eight months, Senate Estimates has revealed.

ACNC Commissioner, Susan Pascoe, confirmed before Senate Estimates, “We are not in regular contact with the Minister.” The last time Minister Andrews met with the ACNC was in November 2013.

Minister Andrews has legislative responsibility for the ACNC – a national agency aimed at making charities and not for profits stronger, accountable and more visible.

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MEDIA RELEASE - ABS cuts an attack on evidence-based policy

Today I issued a media release expressing concern that the Australian Bureau of Statistics will be releasing a lot fewer statistics as a result of cuts in the federal budget.







Cuts to ABS another salvo in the Abbott Government’s war on facts

The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ ability to survey and measure the impact of policies is being deliberately undermined by the Abbott Government.

The ABS today confirmed further reductions to its statistical program – hitting social and environmental surveys - as a result of a $50m cut to its budget over three years.


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Wherefore art thou cost-benefit analysis?

This morning on 2CC Breakfast I responded to Malcolm Turnbull's Shakespearean prose and praise for yours truly during Question Time in Parliament yesterday.

Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh during Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday.

Photo: Alex Ellinghausen


5 JUNE 2014

SUBJECT / S: Turnbull’s thespian turn.

MARK PARTON: We played a little bit earlier Malcolm Turnbull's spray against Andrew in the parliament yesterday. It was amazing. 

MALCOM TURNBULL: "I say this with respect to the honourable member Madame speaker, I come not to embarrass the member for Fraser, but to praise him. For, for I am very concerned as we all are that the Conrovian nonsense that he is forced to spew out occasionally nowadays will live after him, but the wisdom and economic rationality will be buried in his bones unless we, unless we, unless we draw people’s attention to it. And you know Madame speaker you can imagine the thought reform that the member for Fraser has had to have, you can imagine the Conrovian electrodes going on to him as they give him another jolt to stop him being rational."


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DOORSTOP - ACT budget takes a Commonwealth whack, Minister Morrison contradicts Hockey on PEFO

This morning I held a doostop interview on the federal budget working against the ACT, concern both the ATO and ASIC will be less proactive because of budget funding cuts and Scott Morrison's acknowledgment that PEFO is the benchmark to judge spending and debt.



SUBJECT / S: Scott Morrison’s PEFO revelation; ACT Government budget hit by Federal cuts; ASIC’s corporate surveillance work and the ATO’s capacity undermined by budget cuts; Indonesia.

SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER, ANDREW LEIGH: Good morning everyone. I'm Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer. Yesterday in Question Time we saw a rare outbreak of truth telling from Scott Morrison, who made clear what everyone has known since Peter Costello put in place the Charter of Budget Honesty. The Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Outlook is the state of the books when a government takes over. It's yardstick against which all decisions have to be measured. Measured against that it's very clear that this Budget has increased the deficit; increased it this year, next year and over the forward estimates. And it's done so because the government has lost tens of billions of dollars of revenue by aiming to scrap the carbon price and increased spending by tens of billions of dollars on a parental leave scheme. 

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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.