ABC MELBOURNE MORNINGS
MONDAY, 13 DECEMBER 2021
SUBJECTS: ‘What's the Worst That Could Happen? Existential Risk and Extreme Politics’; Populism and anti-vaccination protests; taxation; climate change; the federal election.
VIRGINIA TRIOLI, HOST: Dr Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Minister, of course, for Treasury, and the Federal Labor MP for Fenner. He joins us now. Andrew Leigh, good to talk. Good morning.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Virginia. Great to be here.
TRIOLI: It's not an easy sell this, talking about the existential threats to humanity and how we've got a one in six chance of being wiped out. I mean, it's not a nice sunny Monday morning chat, Andrew Leigh.
LEIGH: Disaster movies do surprisingly well. I think The Matrix will rate well when it opens. The Terminator, Waterworld, Blade Runner 2049, Contagion - you know, we're interested in these things as entertainment. What I'm trying to do in this book is to segue that into actually taking steps to make sure that we avert catastrophe. You know, if it's true that we're got a one in six chance of humanity being wiped out in the next century, that means you're 15 times as likely to die from catastrophic risk as you are from a car accident. So we should be taking pretty seriously.Read more
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
SATURDAY, 11 DECEMBER 2021
SUBJECTS: MYEFO preview; Scott Morrison’s slogans on migration; Labor’s plans to increase job opportunities and university places; border closures; inflation.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Thanks everyone for coming along today. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. While good governments take the blame on their own shoulders and pass the credit on to others, Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg are just the opposite. The moment the Australian economy is struggling, they're nowhere to be seen. They're racing for a headline the moment there's any chance of an uptick. At the start of this year, Australia had the slowest vaccine rollout in the advanced world. And in the September quarter, partly as a result of that, we reported the worst quarterly growth performance in the advanced world. The third worst number on record for Australia. And that number was bad partly as a result of the government’s failures on vaccines and quarantine. Now inevitably after such an appalling growth figure, the Australian economy will rebound. Eventually, it has to come back and the credit for that will go to the Australian people, not to the Morrison Government. The Morrison Government is a bit like a guy who digs a really deep hole, and then wants people to pat him on the back as he starts to make his way out of it. The fact is that the Australian economy is struggling. Right now we've got real wages going backwards. We've got housing affordability at historic lows, and we have many Australians feeling that their pay packet just isn't keeping up with the cost of living.Read more
2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 7 DECEMBER 2021
SUBJECTS: Gladys Berejiklian; Labor’s Powering Australia plan; Labor’s plan for education and training; Fish and chips prices; George Christensen and Alex Jones.
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Andrew Leigh, good morning.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus.
PAUL: Look, I'm just gauging some of the response this morning - both online, on air, messages to my program - but I'm looking elsewhere as well, and I think Scott Morrison is going to find himself in trouble over this. Because even you know on the Herald sites, the Telegraph and others – the Tele is quite telling if, I can say, the News Corp rag - because even online people are having a crack at Scott Morrison as well.
LEIGH: Well there’s the fundamental principle of separation of powers, which says that parliamentarians shouldn't be involved in what the police and what the judiciary do. So Scott Morrison's attacks on ICAC, I think speak volumes about his willingness to interfere in that process. Parliamentarians should be letting that process run its course. As you said, Gladys Berejiklian has been called as a witness to ICAC, and based on that she chose to step down as New South Wales Premier. I think it's interesting that Scott Morrison makes the decision now that somebody who's stepped down because they're appearing before ICAC as a witness is somebody he's very keen to get as a candidate running for him in the next election.Read more
ABC NEWS RADIO
THURSDAY, 2 DECEMBER 2021
SUBJECT: The Morrison Government continuing to attack Australia’s charities.
GLEN BARTHOLOMEW, HOST: Andrew Leigh, a Labor MP, has been very vocal in speaking out against this bill and he joins us now. Good afternoon.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good afternoon, Glen. Great to be with you.
BARTHOLOMEW: To be clear, remind us why you and the Labor Party had opposed the government's original political campaigners bill and what would it mean for charities and single issue groups?
LEIGH: If Labor done nothing yesterday, then we would now have voter ID requirements at elections and the threshold for disclosing as a political campaigner would have been brought right down to $100,000-
BARTHOLOMEW: Explain to people just what this political campaigners bill involves?
LEIGH: Sure. So third party entities are required to register as political campaigners if they have electoral expenditure above a certain threshold. That's currently half a million dollars. The government wanted to bring it down to $100,000, and Labor took the view that it was better to have it brought down to $250,000 rather than just have the government’s changes go through unamended. We've been fighting strongly for charities over the last eight years, fighting against a war on charities on all fronts. We had a good win last week, defeating the government’s attempt to make it easier to deregister charities for events like simply trespassing or blocking a footpath. On this one, we would have liked to seen the government defeated with its attempt to put more paperwork burden onto charities. But when we couldn't defeat it, we took the approach of trying to at least reduce its worst aspects on charities.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 1 DECEMBER 2021
Ensuring the integrity of our election systems is a bipartisan objective. We know that there have been attempts to hack into election systems. The Economist magazine discusses the way in which this particularly affects the United States, in the context in which voting machines are used. Even when those voting machines are air-gapped—that is, not connected to the internet—there is a risk of malicious actors loading malware onto them and then managing to bypass logic and accuracy tests. There is also a risk of attacks which target voter lists, attempting to change voter lists and, therefore, undermine confidence in democracy. We've seen attempts to influence elections electronically in other ways, as well. A Russian news agency with close ties to the Putin government launched a so-called ‘news’ website called USA Really, which published a stream of articles favourable to former President Trump. Those attempts worked alongside attempts to influence the last three US elections by foreign actors using social media platforms.
The bill before the House, the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Assurance of Senate Counting) Bill 2021, provides some measures that will ensure that Australia's first-rate electoral system is protected. It provides for the Electoral Commissioner to arrange for an independent body accredited by the Australian Signals Directorate to conduct a security risk assessment of the Australian Electoral Commission's computer system and provide a report to the AEC, which the AEC will then publish on its on its website. This is critical for Australia, given that our electoral system has long been regarded as best in the world.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 1 DECEMBER 2021
This week, Barbados declared itself a republic, putting in place as president Sandra Mason. It's 55 years since Barbados became independent from Britain, and this republic is the culmination of a two-decade process. Barbados, of course, will still compete in the Commonwealth Games. It will still be a country with British traditions. But it it'll stand proudly on its own two feet as a republic, and with Rihanna as its national hero.
A bit over two decades ago, Australia also considered becoming a republic, with 45 per cent of Australians and 63 per cent of Canberrans voting yes. When that vote was defeated, Australians were assured that there would be another vote coming along sometime soon. But, in two decades, one hasn't come along, and it's likely to be a full generation between republican votes. In that time, we've seen the revelation of the palace letters, making it very clear that Buckingham Palace was consulted and forewarned about Governor-General Sir John Kerr's likely decision to dismiss the Whitlam government, provided advice about how the Governor-General's reserve powers might be exercised and that Sir John Kerr even war-gamed possible scenarios with the palace and Prince Charles in which he himself might be dismissed as Governor-General.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 30 NOVEMBER 2021
This year many are celebrating Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights. Yet something very dark is happening in the anti-vaccination and anti-lockdown protests. Extremists are exposing vaccine-hesitant audiences to anti-Semitic propaganda on a wide scale. Jewish news outlet Plus61J reported that over 100,000 users now follow Australian anti-vaccination pages that promote anti-Semitic bigotry. In Melbourne, recent anti-vax protests were attended by several prominent neo-Nazis and addressed by a speaker who once decried the influence of Australian Jews in media and business. The organising page of the Adelaide anti-vaccination rally claimed, 'Satanic Jews run the health industry.'
The member for Hughes has reposted from a neo-Nazi page that described Hitler as a ‘hero’. The member for Dawson was advertised as a speaker at an anti-lockdown protest alongside an activist who termed Israel 'an occultist testing hub'. Yet they won't acknowledge the many anti-Semites in their midst.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 29 NOVEMBER 2021
It is rare that we have an opportunity in this place to cast a conscience vote. It occurs about once every term of parliament, the most recent being the marriage equality vote. In an era in which Australians are increasingly becoming disconnected from politicians, in which the levels of trust in government are waning, I chose to use this conscience vote as an opportunity to engage in a deliberative democracy exercise in the electorate of Fenner.
I acknowledge the member for McMahon, who alerted me to the fact that this bill, the Mitochondrial Donation Law Reform (Maeve's Law) Bill 2021, was to come before the House, and, as a result of that conversation, I collaborated with the University of Canberra's Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance and the Institute for Democratic Engagement and Accountability at Ohio State University to put in place a series of town hall meetings, one online and one face to face, with randomly selected constituents in Fenner to flesh out the issues around mitochondrial donation and to inform my decision.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 29 NOVEMBER 2021
Belconnen Tennis Club was just one of hundreds of sporting clubs across Australia whose application under the sports grants program was highly rated by the department yet was not funded by the minister. Of the almost 700 programs in this hundred-million-dollar allocation, almost half, according to the Auditor-General, fell below the cut-off from the department.
Today, we've had an analysis by the Australia Institute researchers Hannah Melville-Rea, Robyn Seth-Purdie and Bill Browne of some $3.9 billion across seven grants programs. It finds that funding clearly favoured coalition seats, with marginal coalition seats receiving $184 a person while safe Labor seats received $39 a person. In terms of the national grants programs, they identified 13 seats that received zero funding, including my own electorate of Fenner. It's no surprise that a majority of those 13 seats are Labor seats.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 29 NOVEMBER 2021
The Corporations Amendment (Meetings and Documents) Bill 2021 is a bill relating to meetings and documents. I hope the House might indulge me for a moment in speaking about a great Australian historian who produced more documents than pretty much anyone else in the business. A week ago Australia lost Stuart Macintyre, someone who was one of our great national storytellers. He was a fellow of the Academy of the Humanities and of the Academy of the Social Sciences, where he served at its president. He served as the Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne and published a spate of deeply researched books, including The Reds, The History Wars, Winners and Losers and Australia's Boldest Experiment. As Janet McCalman noted in an article about him for the Conversation:
He was assiduous. He always answered letters and later, emails, immediately. He was a close and constructive critic of his students' work and a dedicated supervisor.