HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 19 OCTOBER 2021
I commend the member for Moreton for bringing forward this vital motion on the value of reading. Time will not permit me to mention all of the books that have touched me during this year, but I want to use the little time I have to give a short rundown of some of them. At the outset I want to give a shout-out to some Canberra region authors: Marion Halligan—hard to ignore—a great writer; crime writer Chris Hammer; historical writer Robyn Cadwallader; the new suspense writer Peter Papathanasiou, who has written a terrific book called The Stoning; and Omar Musa, a spoken-word poet and modern novelist.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 18 OCTOBER 2021
Around Easter, Catholic church members often hold a walk in support of refugees. Yet as St Vincent de Paul head Toby O’Connor has pointed out, under the government's latest attack on charities if some of those people were blocking a public area and if they failed to move on under direction then any charity that is associated with that march could be disqualified. The most anti-charity government in Australian history is attempting to silence charitable advocacy in measures that the Reverend Tim Costello has compared to Putin's Russia and which Australian Council for International Development CEO Mark Purcell has likened to the Burmese junta.
This new measure would give charities commissioner, Gary Johns - who once compared Indigenous women to 'cash cows' - new powers to deregister charities. It's so extreme that a unanimous Senate committee report, chaired by Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, has recommended that parliament disallow the proposed regulation. Opponents of this latest attack on charities include ANTaR; the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services; the Australian Institute of Company Directors; Anglicare; and UnitingCare.Read more
5AA MORNINGS WITH LEON BYNER
THURSDAY, 14 OCTOBER 2021
LEON BYNER, HOST: I want to talk about JobKeeper. Now, nobody argues that it was a good scheme in principle, but it did spend an enormous amount of money. Now, we are told, initially, that $27 billion was what was spent and didn't need to be, when it turned out to be $40 billion. One of the people who I think in the parliament is one of the most qualified, and frankly, he's one of the cleverest in our Parliament today: he's got a PhD in public policy at Harvard; he's a Master in public administration at Harvard; he's a Bachelor of Law and a Bachelor of Arts, so he's no slouch. I'm talking about a very capable politician. His name is Andrew Leigh. He's the Member for Fenner, in the lower house, the House of Reps, and he's with me now. Good to talk to you, Andrew.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Always great to talk with you, Leon. Thanks for the generous words.
BYNER: Well, they're only the truth, and the people need to know that there are good people out there well-qualified to look after their interests. So, how did we discover this disparity from $27 billion to 40 billion? How did that happen?
LEIGH: Well, these are new figures from the Parliamentary Budget Office, and there's a blizzard of numbers coming around there, Leon, but the numbers you've talked about are those firms that didn't meet the forecast downturn. Another figure, which is perhaps even more stark, is that $20 billion went to firms whose revenues increased. A scheme that was designed for firms that had falling revenue actually ended up padding the pockets of firms who were having a better year during the pandemic than they had in 2019.Read more
2SM MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 12 OCTOBER 2021
SUBJECTS: JobKeeper; Glasgow summit; vaccination rates
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Well, Treasury are reporting JobKeeper was a great success, and any clawback requiring billionaires to pay back money they didn't need would simply encourage them to damage their own business. I mean, this utterly fails to understand how corporations work. Once again, it means ordinary people face harsher consequences than mega rich businesses. Our JobKeeper warrior is Andrew Leigh. Good morning, mate.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Morning, Marcus.
PAUL: Nice to talk to you, and again, congratulations on all the hard work you've done on this. Treasury confirms it knew the Government was paying our billions in JobKeeper to firms that, quote, 'may not need support', but they paid them anyway, and there's no need to claw that money back because that simply would be, you know, the politics of envy, Andrew.
LEIGH: Marcus, as you know, Labor called for JobKeeper. We wanted it to succeed and we celebrated every single job that was saved. JobKeeper didn't have to be run in a way that gave $58 million to OPSM, a big lick of which ended up in the pockets of their Italian billionaire owner, Leonardo Del Vecchio. It didn't have to give $6 million to Louis Vuitton, a big chunk of which ended up in the pockets of Bernard Arnault, their French billionaire owner. And JobKeeper didn't need to be run in a way in which some $14 billion - $1,400 for every Australian household - went to firms with rising revenues: and that's just in the first half of the program.Read more
Frydenberg gave $1,400 from every household to firms with rising revenue - Transcript, ABC News Breakfast
ABC NEWS BREAKFAST
TUESDAY, 12 OCTOBER 2021
SUBJECTS: JobKeeper; IBAC
MADELEINE MORRIS, FINANCE PRESENTER: Federal Treasury has released a comprehensive analysis of JobKeeper, and the big headline is that $27 billion went to companies that either didn't meet the required 30 per cent loss of turnover or actually made money in its first six months. Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. He joins us now from Canberra. Andrew Leigh, thanks for joining us. You've been very across JobKeeper since its implementation. Now that we have these final numbers, what does it tell you about the program?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Madeleine, you never want to entirely trust someone who's marking their own homework, but even on these numbers it shows that JobKeeper - a program that Labor called for, that was designed to save jobs - ended up delivering huge dividends to firms that had rising revenues. Firms such as Louis Vuitton, which got $6 million from the Australian taxpayer, much of which ended up in the pockets of their French billionaire owner. Firms such as OPSM, that got $58 million from the Australian taxpayer, a good lick of which ended up in the pockets of their Italian billionaire owner. A program that should have been saving the jobs of battlers ended up lining the pockets of billionaires: billions of dollars going to firms whose revenues were rising. The $27 billion you mentioned is just in the first six months of the scheme, and it's just a portion of that. More than half of the money was going out the door to firms that didn't meet the forecast downturn test.Read more
SKY NEWS LIVE BUSINESS WEEKEND
SUNDAY, 10 OCTOBER 2021
SUBJECTS: Reserve Bank of Australia; house prices; interest rates
ROSS GREENWOOD, HOST: Andrew, thank you so much for your time. Those policy differences between Australia and New Zealand seem to justify your calls for this review into the Reserve Bank. Is that the way you see it?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: The Reserve Bank could benefit from a review. I don't think this is about beating up on the institution, but about making it better in the interest of all Australians. Inflation has been below the target band for most of the last five years, and the Reserve Bank's own forecasts have it being below that. I've been calling in the House Economics Committee for the Reserve Bank to do more to cut rates in the first instance, but now, with rates close to zero, it'd be appropriate for them to be also looking at whether they could do more in the quantitative easing space. One of the big debates, though, as you know, Ross, is over what's going on with global inflation. There's those who say that this is a permanent change, and others who say that it's more temporary. I'm pretty much in the temporary camp. I think the inflation we're seeing globally is largely a result of supply shortages around things such as microchips, and is unlikely to be baked in, so I think the Reserve Bank's certainly doing the right thing to keep rates on hold.Read more
2CC CANBERRA LIVE WITH LEON DELANEY
THURSDAY, 7 OCTOBER 2021
SUBJECTS: JobKeeper; pandemic support for businesses.
LEON DELANEY, HOST: I saw that the Deputy Leader of the Federal Labor Party, Richard Marles, made a promise that businesses will not be required to pay back JobKeeper money, even if they received it unnecessarily. Now, the context of this, of course, is that for quite some time, a number of people have been calling for businesses that received the money but did not need it to give it back. Indeed, some have given it back, but not all of them. Leading that charge was our very own local Member for Fenner, Dr Andrew Leigh, who's on the phone now. Good afternoon.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good afternoon, Leon. Great to be with you and your listeners.
DELANEY: Has your party just thrown you under the bus?
LEIGH: Not in the least, Leon. We've always said that firms that didn't need JobKeeper should pay it back. We've never said that they must. We've always been absolutely clear that Labor wouldn't retrospectively try and unscramble this egg. That doesn't change the fact that Josh Frydenberg has presided over the greatest waste of taxpayer money in Australian history. He took JobKeeper, a really important program to save jobs, and then saw $13 billion - about $1,300 for every household in Australia - go to firms with rising earnings. That extraordinary waste is something that Labor will continue to pursue. We will continue to ask firms that didn’t need it to pay the money back. But in the face of a Liberal scare campaign that was suggesting we're somehow going to do something retrospective, it was important for Richard to point out that we weren't going to retrospectively require it.Read more
5AA MORNINGS WITH LEON BYNER
WEDNESDAY, 6 OCTOBER 2021
LEON BYNER, HOST: I want to talk about JobKeeper and multinationals, because the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, was warned that last July 1,000 JobKeeper applicants with more than $250 million in turnover had booked revenue significantly divergent from forecasts of a downturn. In other words, they were doing much better. We should be helping people that need help, not helping people to make their profits greater. Let's talk with Dr Andrew Leigh. Andrew, thanks for coming on today.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Thank you, Leon.
BYNER: You've talked about this for a while. We still don't seem to have changed our way we do business in this space have we?
LEIGH: No, the Government's way too soft on multinationals, Leon, just as they're way too hard on social security recipients. At the very same time they're allowing some of these huge multinationals to get away with receiving JobKeeper the payments they didn't need, they're going after South Australian families for childcare debt. It's the double standard you see from this Government. JobKeeper was a good idea. It was important to save jobs. But it was badly bungled by the Morrison Government, that allowed some $13 billion to go to firms whose revenues went up last year rather than down.Read more
2SM MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 5 OCTOBER 2021
SUBJECTS: Political leadership; Federal anti-corruption commission; ministerial standards; Gladys Berejiklian; Glasgow summit; Pandora Papers.
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Good morning to you, Andrew.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus.
PAUL: All right, well, Mick reckons Kristina Keneally might oust Albo. I can't see it happening. I can see him perhaps becoming the next prime minister, with Kristina Keneally on the front bench, perhaps.
LEIGH: Absolutely. Anthony Albanese is somebody of great integrity with the full support of the party. We know the next election is going to be a tight-fought one, as they always are, but I'm really confident that our positive policies are going to stand in stark contrast to the chaos, the dysfunction and the rorts that we've seen from the Morrison Government over recent years.Read more
ALAN JONES - SKY NEWS LIVE
WEDNESDAY, 29 SEPTEMBER 2021
ALAN JONES, HOST: We're back with Andrew Leigh, who was formerly a professor of economics at ANU. He has a PhD in public policy from Harvard. He graduated from the University of Sydney with first class honours in arts and law. He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences, and a past recipient of the Young Economist Award, a prize given every two years by the Economic Society of Australia to the best economist under 40. Andrew Leigh is currently 49. He's married, with three sons. He's a prolific author, and I've spoken to him before because he's a keen marathon runner and we talked about honouring Peter Norman, the great Australian athlete who won the silver medal for the 200 metres in Mexico City in 1968, but because he supported the two black Americans, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who were protesting the injustice to black Americans, Peter Norman was never selected for Australia again. Well, that's by the way, I think, of interesting background.
Andrew Leigh has applied a very clinical mind to these JobKeeper payments. You will recall they were, rightly, made to businesses who would otherwise have to lay off staff due to the economic impact of Coronavirus. The total cost, he estimates, around $90 billion - 90 thousand million dollars. To receive the payment, businesses and not-for-profit organizations had to demonstrate or forecast a particular shortfall in revenue. So if you were a business with a turnover over $1 billion, you qualified if the revenue shortfall was 50 per cent, under $1 million 30 per cent, and not-for-profits 15 per cent. That is, if there was a shortfall in revenue as a response to the government response to Coronavirus. Now, as you know, I've always described that response as disproportionate, but Andrew Leigh is now arguing that $13 billion - 13 thousand million dollars - according to an analysis by the Parliamentary Budget Office went to firms which increase their revenue, firms which increased their turnover, and that the Government also gave money to profitable overseas-owned companies leading, he argues, to tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars going to offshore owners. Ludwig von Mises asks 'are we to be an agent of reform, or the chronicler of decline?'
Andrew Leigh joins me. Andrew, thank you for your time, and congratulations on an extraordinary career to date of remarkable scholarship. What reform is needed here? I mean, you're not opposed to wealthy people, but you're saying that the Government poured tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars into the pockets of some of Australia's wealthiest people.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: JobKeeper was a necessary scheme and it saved jobs, but the problem, Alan, as you've so articulately pointed out there, is that too much of it went to firms with rising revenues. It was a good idea but badly implemented, and that $13 billion amounts to $1,300 for every household in Australia. I expect most Australian households could think of better things to do with $1,300.Read more