Reply to Laura Tingle, ‘The High Road: What Australia Can Learn from New Zealand’
Quarterly Essay, April 2021
Visiting Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum in Wellington, our family stopped in front of a dramatic exhibition on the Treaty of Waitangi. “Where can we see Australia’s treaty?” one of my young sons innocently asked.Read more
2SM MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 20 APRIL 2021
SUBJECTS: Banks charging excessive credit card interest; Impact of Government’s delays to vaccination rollout.
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Andrew Leigh MP joins us each and every Tuesday. Morning, Andrew.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus. Great to be with you.
PAUL: Now, you've been quizzing bank chief executive officers, challenging them on why they have credit cards charging 20 percent interest when the RBA official rate sits, well, not much above zero.
LEIGH: That's right, Marcus. The RBA cash rate’s now 0.1 percent, and yet there's credit cards out there from some of the major banks that are charging 20 percent interest. They're charging 200 times the Reserve Bank cash rate.
We need taxpayer dollars to help economic reconstruction, not billionaires - Transcript, 2CC Canberra Live with Leon Delaney
2CC CANBERRA LIVE WITH LEON DELANEY
TUESDAY, 13 APRIL 2021
SUBJECTS: Economic reconstruction; JobKeeper rorts; vaccine delays; Scott Morrison’s cuts to the NDIS.
LEON DELANEY, HOST: Our federal MPs today met with local business leaders to talk about economic recovery following the long list of unfortunate events, I guess is one way of putting it: bushfires, hailstorms, and of course the pandemic. It has thrown the economy, not only around Australia but here in the ACT into a, well, near-cataclysmic event. The roundtable discussion could be the first step towards recognising the needs of Canberra's business community as many still struggle with the end of the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme. The roundtable was organised and coordinated by the Labor Member for Fenner, Andrew Leigh, who is on the phone. Good afternoon.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good afternoon, Leon. Great to be with you and your listeners.
DELANEY: Thanks for joining us today. So, obviously it's a good idea to listen to the constituents. Did they have a message for you?
LEIGH: Yes, we got a strong picture of the importance of the vibrancy of Canberra's business sector. I think a lot of people don't realise, but two-thirds of people in the ACT work for a private sector employer. The public sector in Canberra isn't the majority employer, they're a large minority employer, and so it's really important that our small businesses do well. We learned there's only 36 businesses in Canberra that employ more than 200 people, so it's not just a majority business town, but it's majority smaller business town, and keeping that vibrancy of the business sector is really vital.
Poorest Aussies finding it harder to own a home, and the Liberals want to make it worse - Transcript, 2SM with Marcus Paul
2SM MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 13 APRIL 2021
SUBJECTS: Housing affordability; superannuation; JobKeeper; Canberra Marathon.
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Now, on JobKeeper and all those payments, our #JobKeeperWarrior is Andrew Leigh MP. Good morning to you, Andrew.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES:: Good morning, Marcus. Great to be with you.
PAUL: Thank you, mate. I just want to, before we get into it, I just want to read you something. Aspiring homeowners now need a whopping six-figure deposit to purchase a property, according to a new study. Finders First Home Buyers Report 2021, which surveyed 1,028 first home buyers found 11 percent, Andrew, required more than a decade to scrape their deposit together. This staggering result followed new Australian Bureau of Stats data that showed the average deposit needed to secure a mortgage was — I hope you’re sitting down mate — $106,743. $106,743. That is an increase of 16 percent since January 2019. The report also found the average first home buyer put down 20 per cent of the purchase price as a deposit. But if you're saving for a decade, and you need on average $106,000 just to secure a property, does that not tell us that housing affordability is at an all-time low?
LEIGH: Sure does, Marcus, and home ownership is lowest it's been in a couple of generations. We've seen a drop right across the board, but particularly for 20- and 30-somethings. The poorest 20- or 30-somethings, 63 percent of them used to own their homes in the early 1980s. Now it's only 23 percent of that group owns their homes. The average house used to take six years to save for a deposit. Now, it takes 10 years to save for a deposit. So, we've got a real problem in terms of people being able to make it into the housing market.
More and more of our homes are owned by fewer and fewer people. Increasingly, people are being forced into lifetime renting.
2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 6 APRIL 2021
SUBJECTS: Rising house prices; the Church of Scientology’s tax-free status.
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Andrew, good morning. How are you, mate?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Terrific, Marcus. How are you?
PAUL: Good. I hope you had a nice Easter, got a little time off to relax with family.
LEIGH: Terrific time, yes. My wife and I had a date night in the city, away from the kids in the middle of Sydney. I went for a run past your office - you're in a beautiful little spot there on Pirrama Road.
PAUL: It’s not bad, is it? Not bad at all.
LEIGH: It’s fabulous. Checking out the harbour. So feeling particularly well, and I hope your listeners are the sameRead more
ABC RN DRIVE
MONDAY, 5 APRIL 2021
SUBJECTS: The Church of Scientology’s tax-free status; the health and economic costs of the Morrison Government’s slow vaccine rollout.
ELIZABETH KULAS, HOST: The Greens are calling for an investigation into the Church of Scientology's charitable status after media reports raised questions about its finances. An investigation by The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald found that the church has shifted tens of millions of dollars from offshore into its Australian operations, where it has tax-free status. Under Australian law, profits made by charities must be used for charitable purposes. Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities. Andrew, welcome.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: G’day, Elizabeth. Great to be with you.
KULAS: So Andrew, do you support the Greens’ push to have the charities and not for profits commission investigate the Church of Scientology?
LEIGH: I certainly think it'd be appropriate for the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission to put some energy into making sure that the Church of Scientology is delivering public benefit in Australia. We know that prima facie someone who's operating a religion is assumed to be delivering public benefit to Australia. But the Church of Scientology is quite unusual now in that it has less than 1700 adherents, according to the last census, and more than $170 million in assets. So that means that for every adherent, they've got more than $100,000 in assets. And they also seem to have attracted significant amounts of assets from offshore towards Australia, as other countries have cracked down on the tax status of the Church of Scientology. The tax concessions that are provided here in Australia aren't provided on the assumption that they're going to be for the benefit of overseas parts of religious organisations.Read more
2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 30 MARCH 2021
SUBJECTS: JobKeeper; Vaccine rollout; Scott Morrison’s reshuffle; the need to reduce sexual harassment and change the culture in Parliament House.
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: I just want to say this though before I go to my next guest on the program. Because the fact that we've needlessly sprayed billions of dollars on firms with many with rising profits, each job saved by JobKeeper has cost - are you ready it? - $118,000. And in most cases, that's just for half a year. It didn't have to be this way. Andrew Leigh MP joins us. Andrew, good morning. How are you, mate?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Great, Marcus. Terrific to be with you.
PAUL: You’ve obviously crunched the numbers on this. So each job saved by JobKeeper cost what? $118,000? How does that work out?
LEIGH: That's the government's own figures on what JobKeeper cost, divided by the number of jobs that they think it saved. And as you say, Marcus, $118,000 for a half year job seems kind of expensive. The fact is that JobKeeper was important for a lot of industries. If you're looking at areas like travel or the arts, it's been an absolute lifeline. But because so much of it went to billionaire shareholders and millionaire CEOs, it drove up the total cost of the program, and the cost per job ends up being almost twice the average wage.Read more
BILLIONAIREKEEPER: THE GROSS MISMANAGEMENT OF JOBKEEPER IN THE PANDEMIC
The Canberra Times, March 29 2021
A pair, a twin, a double. The number two has been dubbed by mathematicians ‘the oddest prime’. It’s a quirky number, and it’s the only number you need to understand some really odd things that have been happening in the economy lately.
Let’s start with billionaires. According to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index, Australia’s billionaires have had a remarkable twelve months. Since COVID hit, the typical Aussie billionaire has seen his or her wealth almost double. That’s right - double. If you’re an Australian billionaire who started the pandemic with $1 billion, you’re now most of the way to $2 billion.
Some have been coy about this, others less so. A year ago, Gerry Harvey told 60 Minutes ‘Why are we so scared about getting this virus? There’s nothing to be scared of.’ Harvey Norman’s air purifier sales had doubled, he said, while freezer sales were up fourfold. ‘We've got enough sales people, enough customers and we're doing really good business’. By the end of the year, 1.8 million had died from COVID, and Harvey Norman had enjoyed its most profitable year ever.Read more
ABC AFTERNOON BRIEFING
THURSDAY, 25 MARCH 2021
SUBJECTS: Indigenous deaths in custody; the need to change the culture of sexual harassment and entitlement in Parliament House.
PATRICIA KARVELAS, HOST: Time now for my political panel. Liberal MP Jason Falinski and Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities Andrew Leigh, welcome to both of you.
JASON FALINKSI: Thanks, Patricia.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: G’day, PK. Great to be with you.
KARVELAS: I want to start on that actually, because I feel like there’s not enough emphasis on these issues. Andrew Leigh, why don't we see the kind of outrage, a minute of silence, a sort of emergency response at the national level when we have another black death in custody?
LEIGH: It really is a crisis, PK. More than 500 Indigenous deaths in custody since that report came down 30 years ago. I published research last year looking into Indigenous incarceration, which tracked the significant increase in the incarceration rate since the report came down. I'm working with the researchers at Deakin University to organise a conference in October in Parliament House on that Royal Commission Report and on precisely what needs to be done. It ought to be a larger feature of the Closing the Gap Statement. We ought to have justice targets as part of that because we know that incarceration is too high for Indigenous Australians, who are the most incarcerated people on earth.Read more
ABC MELBOURNE MORNINGS
FRIDAY, 26 MARCH 2021
SUBJECT: Morrison Government’s JobKeeper waste.
VIRGINIA TRIOLI, HOST: Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. Andrew Leigh, good morning. You've been hearing all the stories there, real life stories of Melburnians.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Absolutely, Virginia. Bruce, Lindy and Hugo’s stories are just some of those from many people across Australia who are on JobKeeper right now and who face losing their jobs when the program ends. Melbourne University’s Jeff Borland says the number of job losses could be anywhere from 150,000 to 250,000. And I heard Josh Frydenberg in your program yesterday, saying that he thought the job losses would be hidden in the unemployment statistics - that you wouldn't see it because there might be some job gains somewhere else that would offset it. But that's cold comfort to people like Bruce, Lindy and Hugo, who could be facing the unemployment queue.Read more