2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 6 OCTOBER 2020
SUBJECTS: Budget Day; Proposed tax cuts; the need to prioritise jobs and education; Scotty from marketing earning his nickname; Reserve Bank meeting.
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury, was a professor of economics from the Australian National University and was a principal advisor at Australian Treasury from 2008 through to 2010. And he joins us on the program. Andrew, good morning, mate.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus. Great to be with you.
PAUL: All right. Look, there's a lot of numbers, figures, all sorts of things being thrown into the mix. But how do you view tonight's announcement by the Treasurer?
LEIGH: I think your point before Marcus about ‘this isn't Scott Morrison's money’, this is money that is going to be paid for by future generations of Australians, is really the salient one. We've got debt going to a trillion dollars, we're going to remember that all this spending is borrowed spending and so it needs to do maximum good in getting the economy going. It's only stimulus when it’s spent, so giving tax cuts that end up being saved isn’t going to create jobs. The priorities have got to be to create jobs and to build back better through the recovery.Read more
2CC CANBERRA LIVE
TUESDAY, 29 SEPTEMBER 2020
SUBJECTS: Reconnected; Deliberative democracy and mitochondrial donation reform; the precarious nature of a casualised workforce and the mental health of Australian workers.
LEON DELANEY, HOST: 26 to five on 2CC Canberra Live until six o'clock. You can join this circus anytime you like, 6255 1206. I guess I’m the ringmaster. My next guest is - I don't know - the lion tamer, I guess. Time to welcome to the program to celebrate the news of his brand new book, the Federal Member for Fenner in the ACT, Andrew Leigh. Good afternoon.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good afternoon, Leon. Better a lion tamer than a lion, I suppose?
DELANEY: Well, I don't know exactly. I'm not entirely convinced on that one. But just be thankful I didn't say, you know, clown.
LEIGH: Exactly. Small mercies.Read more
SKY NEWS FIRST EDITION
TUESDAY, 29 SEPTEMBER 2020
SUBJECTS: The Morrison Government’s woeful track record on technology; the need to invest in education; Terminals/MUA dispute; Reconnected.
PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Let's go to Canberra now. Joining us live is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury, Andrew Leigh. Andrew, good to see you. First of all, let's get your reaction to this announcement coming up today from the Prime Minister.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: We've clearly seen rapid uptake in technology. We're probably at 2010 when it comes to globalisation, but at 2030 when it comes to technological uptake. What I worry about from this government though is their track record. You’ve just got to look back at the census fail and the robodebt disaster to worry about the government's ability to really get it right when it comes to technology. Rationalising business registers is something that Parliament passed previously, getting a director identification number is something that should have been done years ago. So some of these measures are reannouncements, to the extent that they’re fresh we’ll obviously look through them carefully. But the best way of getting Australians engaged with technology is to expand education, and right now you're not seeing that with universities. You're not seeing an expansion of universities, which should take place at an economic moment like this.Read more
2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 29 SEPTEMBER 2020
SUBJECTS: Cuts to JobKeeper and JobSeeker; Morrison Stagnation turns into Morrison Recession; the need to invest in education; firms treating JobKeeper like BonusKeeper.
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Let's speak to Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury now on this issue, at 12 and a half minutes after seven. Andrew, good morning to you, mate.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus. It's great to be with you.
PAUL: Yeah. Nice to speak to you again. I spoke to Katy Gallagher yesterday and like Katy, you and I go back to Canberra days. How are things?
LEIGH: Canberra’s going well. We’re heading into the ACT election on October 17, and the place is starting to warm up. Spring has sprung. I was out running at 5.30 this morning with the light up and the kookaburras going and the beautiful bush. It's a great place.Read more
SKY NEWS FIRST EDITION
THURSDAY, 24 SEPTEMBER 2020
SUBJECTS: Westpac’s record fine; Insolvency and government inaction on dodgy companies’ phoenixing activities; Paul Keating and the RBA; JobSeeker and the need to support our unemployed.
PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Joining me now is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury, Andrew Leigh. Andrew, thanks for joining us this morning. Let's get your take on this breaking news from Westpac. It's agreed to pay $1.3 billion.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Yes, I pushed Peter King the CEO of Westpac in the House Economics hearings a couple of weeks ago as to why Westpac had only put aside $900 million to cover the fine. I was pretty sceptical at the time that that was going to be enough, given that the regulator was asking for $1.5 billion and given that the Commonwealth Bank's breaches - which didn't see them lose their chair or the CEO, didn't involve the sorts of extraordinary misconduct that Westpac was engaged in - cost the Commonwealth Bank $700 million. I see now Westpac hadn't put enough aside and indeed the fine is much closer to what the regulator was calling for than what Westpac had provisioned. That’s appropriate, given the misconduct.Read more
2CC CANBERRA DRIVE
TUESDAY, 22 SEPTEMBER 2020
SUBJECTS: JobKeeper and JobSeeker; Cuts to universities and job losses in Canberra; the Morrison Government’s lack of long term planning; the need to support unemployed Australians and maintain a liveable rate of JobSeeker.
LEON DELANEY, HOST: The battle over whether or not to reduce employment subsidies continues, although that reduction is due to take effect from the beginning of next week. New analysis shows that the ACT will lose almost $17 million a week when the payments are reduced next week. The JobKeeper rate is due to fall by $300 a fortnight from the start of next week for full time employees, by $750 a fortnight for part time employees, and further reduced again in January, Joining me now, Member for Fenner, Dr Andrew Leigh. Good afternoon.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good afternoon, Leon. How are you?
DELANEY: Very well, thanks. Thanks for joining us today. JobKeeper - well, we've said all along it was a jolly good idea. It's done a great thing in keeping the economy supported. It could have been a little better, there were some cracks through which some people fell. But now of course the crunch time has come. We're about to see it start being wound back. There's been a lot of argument and discussion in recent times about whether or not now is the time to do this, but that's what's happening. What do you see will be the fallout when this proceeds next week?
LEIGH: It'll be twofold, Leon. First of all, we're going to have a range of people not getting the support that they used to have, either because their firms aren't eligible or because their amount of assistance is being scaled back from $750 a week to $600 a week. But we're then also going to see the spill over impact to the community, because JobKeeper money is going to people who are living paycheque to paycheque, and so it's all getting spent. It’s all going back into retail, into hospitality, into paying the rent. And so we're going to see millions of dollars ripped out of the ACT economy when JobKeeper gets cut at the end of the month.Read more
6PR PERTH LIVE
TUESDAY, 22 SEPTEMBER 2020
SUBJECTS: JobSeeker; Companies treating JobKeeper like BonusKeeper; October Budget; the Morrison Government’s lack of long term planning.
OLIVER PETERSON, HOST: Andrew Leigh, good afternoon.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good afternoon, Olly.
PETERSON: It looks like more than 3000 people have found a loophole with JobKeeper. They’re claiming unemployment benefits because the asset test was waived. Seems a bit odd, Andrew.
LEIGH: It certainly does, Olly, and the government could have dealt with this anytime in the last six months with just the stroke of a pen. The thing about the JobKeeper and JobSeeker changes is that the government had extraordinary discretion to be able to close this loophole, and seems to have chosen not to.
PETERSON: We're talking about people who may have assets such as cars, perhaps holiday homes, totalling more than a million dollars. Should they have to pay this back?
LEIGH: I think it’s a question for the government. They're the ones that chose not to close the loophole, they're the ones that have chosen to allow JobSeeker to be used in this way. So really, it's up to them how they deal with an issue that shouldn't have gotten to this stage.
PETERSON: They're going to be closing that loophole this Friday as the JobKeeper program is having a few nips and tucks, for want of a better term. The asset test will return later this week. So it's estimated 30,000 people will be affected by the asset limits. Is that some sort of acknowledgement or confession, do you think Andrew, from the government that this loophole should have been closed when the program was created?
LEIGH: Olly, I think it made sense at the time the changes were made [in March] that we relaxed the asset limit somewhat. The problem was that the government allowed it to go completely and then didn't keep an eye on who was actually claiming. We do need to make sure that the support’s available for people who need it. I know that the sudden snapback in JobKeeper and JobSeeker is going to take a lot of money out of local communities. One thing about the payments given to those who are earning very little is that they go straight back into the economy. So they're out there supporting retail, supporting hospitality, supporting childcare. And as that money gets taken out of communities, we can expect a follow on effect on the economy.Read more
ABC NEWS RADIO
FRIDAY, 18 SEPTEMBER 2020
SUBJECTS: Australian universities facing job losses after missing out on JobKeeper; Companies treating JobKeeper like BonusKeeper; Charities facing a perfect storm.
GLEN BARTHOLOMEW, HOST: The ABC is revealed one of America's top universities, with revenue of 16 and a half billion Australian dollars, has received the JobKeeper payment at its Sydney campus. New York University is an elite institution with outposts all over the world, but staff at its Sydney campus were apparently able to access Australia's taxpayer funded JobKeeper program. Its eligibility could infuriate Australian universities, who missed out and where job losses have exceeded 11,000 with more to come. Federal Labor MP Andrew Leigh is the Deputy Chair of the House of Representatives Economics Committee. He recently asked why many corporations in receipt of millions of dollars in JobKeeper payments seem to be passing it on to their executives in the form of large bonuses, while the taxpayers cover their wage cost. Andrew Leigh, good morning.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: G’day, Glen. Great to be with you.
BARTHOLOMEW: First, reaction to this news that a New York University was eligible for this taxpayer assistance.
LEIGH: Look, I don’t begrudge NYU getting it. I don’t begrudge a private Australian university - Bond University - getting it. But it is pretty extraordinary, isn't it, that the government's changed the rules three times to prevent public universities from accessing JobKeeper. We're now seeing 11,000 job losses. Universities Australia say it might go to 21,000 losses. And all this at a time in which young people are facing the worst labour market in decades, when we should be opening up university places. Now the smart thing to do during a downturn is to provide young people with a chance to study. We ought to be expanding universities, not contracting them.Read more
FAIRNESS IS ANOTHER CASUALTY
The Herald Sun and Courier Mail, 15 September 2020
When coronavirus hit, the Australian Government followed other nations in implementing JobKeeper, the most expensive program in Australian history. It’s also the most effective. Labour economists estimate that JobKeeper saved 700,000 to 900,000 jobs.
To keep the connection between firms and workers, JobKeeper was paid to companies. Most firms did the right thing with the money. But not everyone. IDP Education and Star Casino used JobKeeper to pay executive bonuses. Harvey Norman and Crown Casino paid out massive dividends, benefiting billionaire shareholders.
It ain’t fair. JobKeeper was meant to save the jobs of battlers, not line the pockets of billionaires. If your firm is getting taxpayer assistance, the boss shouldn’t be getting a bonus, and shareholders shouldn’t be getting a stonking dividend.
Some rewarded the top and penalised the bottom.Read more
2GB MONEY NEWS
THURSDAY, 10 SEPTEMBER 2020
SUBJECT: JobKeeper, BonusKeeper, DividendKeeper
BROOKE CORTE, HOST: Dr Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. Welcome to Money News, Andrew Leigh. Do you reckon it passes the sniff test?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: I don't, Brooke, and very few people I've spoken to think it does. We had the head of the Business Council Jennifer Westacott out on Sunday, saying that she didn't think that firms receiving government subsidies through JobKeeper should be paying the executives a bonus. It's just one of those basic principles, that if you have to put your hand out to the taxpayer to ask for assistance in order to hold onto your staff, then you shouldn't be paying executive bonuses to those at the very top of the organisation. Yet we've seen some of those firms which are paying bonuses of over a million dollars, despite being in receipt of taxpayer assistance.
CORTE: The BCA as you said, I saw that too, they’ve called it out. Jennifer Westacott. It's tricky though, isn't it? The companies haven't done anything wrong. They met the eligibility requirements for JobKeeper.
LEIGH: Just because something's legal doesn't mean it's morally the right thing to do. People need to recognise that in a crisis like this, we need to pull together. There's a great Australian egalitarian tradition. We're a nation that does prize the notion of working together, and most firms did do the right thing. The purpose for JobKeeper was not to keep billionaires in champagne - it was to keep battlers in jobs. It's called JobKeeper. It's not called BonusKeeper. It's not called DividendKeeper. The fact is if you've got enough money to be paying bonuses, then you should think about doing what the New Zealand company Mainfreight did. They actually went back to the New Zealand government and said ‘we're eligible for the wage subsidy payment, but we don't need it - spend the money on others who need it. Spend the money on people who are living pay cheque to pay cheque, who are worried about how they're going to feed their family’. This is the worst economic downturn in nearly a century, and we don't need to be paying million-dollar bonuses to people on multimillion dollar salaries.Read more