HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 3 DECEMBER 2019
Recently the House Economics Committee had the pleasure of hearing from Rod Sims, the head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and his staff, to investigate a range of important issues surrounding competition and market dynamics within the Australian economy.
At the outset, as our report notes, there have been a number of worrying trends in the Australian economy, suggesting that it is becoming less dynamic. Sasan Bakhtiari has tracked the number of new start-up firms in Australia, going back to the beginning of the century. He finds that at the beginning of the century the Australian economy was creating new firms at a rate of about 15 per cent a year; now that's down to just nine per cent a year.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 2 DECEMBER 2019
The Christmas season can be hard on those who are down on their luck.
I thank organisations in Canberra who are doing their part to help the most disadvantaged in our community at this time. The Salvation Army in Scullin will be serving a Christmas lunch from 12.30, and St John's Care Reid will be serving its Christmas lunch from noon. St John's Care, UnitingCare Kippax and Canberra City Care are working together to make sure that they are helping as many people as they can during the Christmas season.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 2 DECEMBER 2019
Two and a half thousand years ago Pericles delivered a funeral oration, reading in part:
… for the Athens that I have celebrated is only what the heroism of these and their like have made her … none of these allowed either wealth with its prospect of future enjoyment to unnerve his spirit, or poverty with its hope of a day of freedom and riches to tempt him to shrink from danger … reckoning this to be the most glorious of hazards, they joyfully determined to accept the risk …
Thucydides quotes Pericles:
So died these men as became Athenians. You, their survivors, must determine to have as unfaltering a resolution in the field, though you may pray that it may have a happier issue.
In honouring those who have fallen in service of Australia, we follow in the footsteps of Pericles. The manner in which that is done fundamentally shapes the character of nations.Read more
SKY NEWS AM AGENDA
MONDAY, 2 DECEMBER 2019
SUBJECTS: Deloitte; multinational tax avoidance; Westpac; Morrison’s union bashing bill.
KIERAN GILBERT: Let’s return now to local politics. Joining us the Labor frontbencher, Andrew Leigh. Thanks so much for your time. Chris Richardson has done his Budget Monitor from Deloitte Access Economics, one of the most respected budget watchers in this place, in Australia. What are your thoughts on his judgments? Because some are reading it as a vindication of what the Prime Minister and the government have committed to, in terms of their fiscal restraint.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: I think that’d be a misreading of Chris Richardson's report. The Government's been claiming that the Australian economy's issues are all caused by people overseas, but indeed what Chris Richardson shows is that the iron ore price has supported the budget - iron ore numbers are better than the government anticipated in May - and also shows very clearly that wages are lacklustre and profits are going strongly. So there’s a real problem in the Australian economy with wages, that's flowing through to spending. That’s why we're seeing real problems in brick and mortar retail, why we're seeing new car sales down, why we're seeing households really doing it tough and so many retailers saying ‘this is the beginning of December, it's meant to be a big spending season, but with wages in the doldrums it may not be much good’.Read more
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
MONDAY, 2 DECEMBER 2019
SUBJECTS: Westpac; Deloitte; the Morrison Government dodging scrutiny; George Christensen; Ken Wyatt.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Deputy Chair of the House of Representatives Economics Committee. Starting at 8am this morning, the House Economics Committee will be hearing from APRA, the prudential regulator.
APRA has said that it has initiated its own inquiry into the Westpac scandal, in which we saw 23 million money laundering breaches. Labor will be seeking answers from APRA as to this investigation, and how they are exploring some of the critical issues around this Westpac breach. We need to make sure this breach never happens again. In particular, we need to learn the systematic lessons out of one Australia's worst money laundering scandals. I'm concerned by the fact that there have been reports that the compliance officer who reported the breach has been moved aside, and I'll be asking questions about how APRA is investigating that aspect of the story and also how whistleblowers are handled more broadly. This comes on top of the House Economic Committee hearings last Friday, in which Citibank appeared before the committee. Citibank has acknowledged they were the bank that was responsible for the vast majority of the 23 million transactions. It was money sent by Citibank, received by Westpac. And so in the House Economics Committee, we explored Citibank’s views as to this money laundering scandal, and how they are ensuring that they improve their processes around money transfer.Read more
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
WEDNESDAY, 27 NOVEMBER 2019
SUBJECTS: Labor to recall Westpac for questioning; wages growth stalling under the Coalition; interest rates; national security; Angus Taylor.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and the Deputy Chair of the House of Representatives Economics Committee. We’ve seen last week from Australia's oldest bank one of Australia's worst money laundering scandals. Westpac reported 23 million breaches of money laundering laws, an egregious blight on the financial sector.
It was Labor that called for a royal commission into the financial services, and it's Labor that's today calling for Westpac to front the House of Representatives Economics Committee. We can't wait for the next hearings next year when Westpac is scheduled to come before us. Westpac should come before the House Economics Committee at the earliest opportunity. This scandal has already seen Westpac’s CEO and Chair step down, but it's important that we look at this from an institutional standpoint. It's important we get to the bottom of what Westpac did wrong, how the child exploitation financing occurred, how the money moved, and how this was allowed to recur 23 million times - almost one breach for every Australian.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 26 NOVEMBER 2019
The Australian Research Council plays a crucial role in allocating research funding in Australia. As a former professor at the Australian National University, I was the successful recipient of two Linkage Program grants and two Discovery Project grants, and I put many hours into reviewing proposals put forward for Australian Research Council funding. I can attest to the House that this is a common practice for academics. Contestable research funding is an important part of our system, and Australian researchers rely on the independent scrutiny of the Australian Research Council.
Researchers recognise that the peer review process is extraordinarily rigorous and give it greater respect than other methods of handing out research funding, such as the more ad hoc approach employed by the Medical Research Future Fund as well as other funding systems which have more ministerial meddling in them.Read more
ABC RADIO SYDNEY
TUESDAY, 26 NOVEMBER 2019
SUBJECTS: Innovation + Equality; Westpac.
WENDY HARMER: We have a text here saying ‘more good news stories please’. Maybe we've got one, maybe we can put Andrew Leigh under the category of a good news story. He's a Federal Labor MP, co-author of a new book, Innovation + Equality: how to create a future that is more Star Trek than Terminator.
ROBBIE BUCK: Well we hope it's a good news story, but is it going to be a good news story? That's the big question. Good morning, Andrew.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Morning, Robbie. I think it's a good news story, but I'm not sure it's as good news as kids playing in gardens.
HARMER: [laughter] Well, we'll do our best.Read more
MONDAY, 25 NOVEMBER 2019
SUBJECTS: Innovation + Equality; 2019 election; disconnected communities; China; the need for a more ethnically diverse Parliament.
JEREMY CORDEAUX: I've got Andrew Leigh on the line. He's a politician, he's with the Labor Party. He's the Deputy Chair of the Standing Committee on Economics, which sounds awfully dry but having spoken to him before, I can tell you he's not awfully dry - he's a lot of fun. Andrew, how are you?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Terrifically well, Jeremy. The better for chatting with you.
CORDEAUX: Happy Christmas.
LEIGH: And to you. You got big plans for the season?
CORDEAUX: No. I think probably, I think we go on holidays two weeks from today, something like that. No, I'm just going to fall over the line and just go home and play in the garden.
LEIGH: That sounds like the rest of Australia.
CORDEAUX: [laughter] Well, the worst thing is to make plans because the moment you start making plans, they won't happen. Everything will change right there in front of you. It's not it's not worth it.
LEIGH: There is some great economic research that suggests that much of the pleasure of holidays comes not from having them, but from anticipating them. So our family always tries to plan our holidays as far in advance as we can, so we can have that anticipation effect.
CORDEAUX: But Andrew, isn't that about everything in life? Isn't the anticipation, the pre savouring of something, far more interesting than the actual meal?Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 25 NOVEMBER 2019
That this House:
(1) recognises that:
(a) Australia's incarceration rate has now risen to 0.22 percent, the highest level since Federation;
(b) rates of homicide, robbery, car theft and assaults have fallen considerably since the mid-1980s, while the imprisonment rate has more than doubled;
(c) the direct cost of prisons is almost $5 billion per year; and
(d) there is a significant indirect cost of prisons, including the impact on the 77,000 children who have an incarcerated parent, adverse effects on the physical and mental wellbeing of inmates, and high rates of homelessness and joblessness among ex-prisoners;Read more