Second Reading Speech
House of Representatives, 14 November 2023
Short-sighted employers would like to have highly-paid customers and low-paid workers. Wise employers recognise that their employees and their customers are ultimately the same pool of people and that paying workers well sustains strong demand within the economy.
Labor is strongly committed to ending the flatlining of wages that we saw under those nine long coalition years, a period in which productivity growth was appalling, in which wage growth was sluggish and in which household income growth languished. Under the period of the coalition government, Australians had a government for whom keeping wages low was a 'deliberate design feature' of their 'economic architecture'. These were the words of the former finance minister.
When we came to office, we set about changing that. Over our first year in office, our government saw more jobs created in the Australian economy than were created in any first year of a new government. In fact, more were created in our first year than were created in the first term of any former government. We have unemployment sitting below four per cent—full employment by anyone's definition. Since the monthly unemployment series began in 1978, there have been only 19 months in which unemployment has been below four per cent. Sixteen of those 19 months have been under this government. Of the half-a-million jobs created since we came to office, some 85 per cent have been full time. The gender pay gap has fallen to its lowest level ever. The number of days lost to industrial action has fallen sharply.
We understand that there are many employers in Australia who are keen to ensure that we don't have a race to the bottom in standards. Australia's comparative advantage in the world will not be that we have the lowest-paid workers in the world. If companies want to find the place where labour is the very cheapest, they're going to find other countries than Australia. What Australia's economy will do well is to ensure that we have workers who are well-trained and are able to use new technologies, such as generative artificial intelligence, in an environment in which firms are competing based on the best product and service that they're offering, not based on a race to the bottom.Read more
Matter of Public Importance
House of Representatives, Wednesday 24 May 2023
We've long known that conservatives love the past, but it's becoming increasingly clear that they're not just fans of steam trains and rotary-dial phones. In fact, they're drawing their inspiration from the 50-year-old Monty Python TV series. It has to be said that the shadow Treasurer is very close to a Monty Python character at times. There's an irony to this man making claims about inflation, given that he has made a specialty of inflating certain claims or, as he might say, 'Well done, Angus.' We all remember that time he made inflated claims about Clover Moore using a dodgy doctored document.Read more
House of Representatives
28 September 2022
In 1951, Frank McEncroe, a boilermaker from Bendigo, invented the Chiko Roll. He'd been impressed by chicken rolls that were sold at Richmond games, but he decided that it wasn't an item that you could hold in one hand. And the genius of the Chiko Roll, Deputy Speaker Chesters, as you'll know so well, is that it is an item which is so deep fried that you can hold it in one hand without it collapsing. It doesn't, in fact, contain any chicken, so his initial name of the 'chicken roll' was changed to the 'Chiko Roll'. It's largely cabbage, barley and a little bit of beef, but it is also the genesis of the foreign investment scheme in Australia.
The remarkable story told by David Uren in his book Takeover on foreign investment goes to 1972, when some 40 million Chiko Rolls were being sold annually in Australia and the US conglomerate IT&T made a bid to buy the company. The notion of an iconic Aussie product such as the Chiko Roll being sold to the Americans caused a backlash in the press and in parliament. As one commentator noted:
The cabinet meeting over the Chiko Roll … was the beginning of the regulation of foreign investment in Australia.
Foreign investment remains critical to Australia's prosperity. Our sugar production industry was kickstarted in 1855 by Colonial Sugar Refinery, now known as CSR. When Schweppes opened a bottling facility in 1877, that was a spur to Australian manufacturing. When Kodak set up its first film plant in 1908, when Heinz began canning baked beans in 1935 and when 3M started producing in 1951, those foreign investments provided not only capital but know-how to the Australian economy. Australia benefits from defence firms such as Lockheed Martin, from investments in quantum computing and from investments in important infrastructure projects. Indeed, infrastructure expenditure in Australia would be smaller if it were not for foreign investment.
This bill deals with both immigration and foreign investment, and it's apt that it does so, because there's a tie between the two. To the extent that migration impacts on wages, it does so as a result of lowering the ratio of capital to labour. Conversely, when we take in foreign investment, we increase the ratio of capital to labour. The capital-to-labour ratio really matters. It's one of the reasons why wages in Australia, at the end of the 1800s, were among the highest in the world. So, for those of us who care about sustaining well-paid jobs in Australia, foreign investment plays a part in that. And foreign investment and migration can go together, ensuring that the ratio of capital to labour remains unchanged. If we didn't have foreign investments, then production, employment and household income in Australia would all be lower.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 23 AUGUST 2021
Zaki Haidari is a Hazara refugee from Afghanistan. A decade ago, the Taliban took away his father, Mahram. Zaki has not seen his dad since. The Taliban beheaded Zaki's brother, Ali, at a checkpoint when they discovered that Ali was carrying a student identification card.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
WEDNESDAY, 11 AUGUST 2021
I rise in continuation on the Treasury Laws Amendment (2021 Measures No. 2) Bill 2021. Mr Speaker, if you hear the Morrison government speak about charities, you'd think there is an outbreak of lawlessness among Australia's charities, yet the facts speak otherwise. Over the past 3½ years, the charities commissioner has deregistered just two of the nation's 59,000 charities for breaking the law in pursuit of activist goals. That means the annual chance of a charity being deregistered for illegal activism is about 10 in a million, which is about the same as the chance that a typical Australian will commit a murder. But facts have never stood in the way of the Liberals' crackdown on charitable activism.
Their latest proposal would go further than the current law, extending the ability of the charities commissioner to deregister a charity for a summary offence or because the charities commissioner anticipates that the organisation will commit a summary offence.
A summary offence might include blocking a footpath, trespassing or even failing to close a gate on a private property, and deregistration can occur because a charity promotes an event—for example, hands out flyers about it or simply puts it on their Facebook page.Read more
Time parliament gave territories back their power to legislate on euthanasia - Speech, House of Representatives
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 24 MAY 2021
*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***
That this House:
(1) notes that:
(a) the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997 (known as the Andrews Bill) amended the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988 and the Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act 1978 to deprive these two legislative assemblies of the power to make laws relating to euthanasia;
(b) the Government of Prime Minister Howard justified this at the time as a constraint on young jurisdictions that were seen to be moving ahead of the broader public mood;
(c) when the Andrews Bill curtailed the right of territories to make laws relating to euthanasia, no other state or territory legislature had conducted a debate on similar laws;
(d) polls of public attitudes to doctor-led voluntary assisted dying suggest that support was in the high sixties in the 1980s, in the mid to high seventies in the 1990s, and in the low eighties in the past two decades;
(e) in recent years all state legislatures have debated legislation around voluntary assisted dying, with Victoria and Western Australia legalising voluntary assisted dying, and New South Wales and South Australia rejecting legalisation, while Queensland and Tasmania have processes ongoing;
(f) the anachronistic Andrews Bill means that a quarter of a century since it was passed, 700,000 Australians who live in the Northern Territory or the Australian Capital Territory are still unable to participate in a democratic process to resolve community approaches to euthanasia;
(g) repealing the Andrews Bill would return to territories legal powers that are held by other Australian jurisdictions; and
(h) restoring territory rights does not direct that either territory legislature should consider legislating on euthanasia, it merely allows them to do so if their properly elected representatives decide it appropriate;
(2) acknowledges that:
(a) in each of the last two terms of parliament the Government has blocked debate on private Members' bills that would restore territory rights; and
(b) while senators have debated and voted on related legislation, members of the House of Representatives have been prevented from expressing their views on this issue; and
(3) calls on the Government to:
(a) explain why, in 2021, two mature legislative jurisdictions are still singled out as unworthy of legislative self-determination;
(b) commit to introduce legislation into the House of Representatives that would grant territorians legislative equality with Australians in other jurisdictions; and
(c) restore the right of territories to determine their own laws on euthanasia.
Yesterday I met with Katarina Knowles, who lost her father, Nebojsa Pavkovic, to Parkinson's disease.
TAX PIRATES AND TAX FAIRNESS
DEVPOLICY CENTRE, CRAWFORD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY
AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY
12 APRIL 2019
I acknowledge the Ngunnawal people, on whose lands we’re meeting today, and pay my respects to their elders past and present.
It is common for forms of serial fiction such as comic books, or film or television franchises, to have a new start of that universe – often called a ‘reboot’.
On occasion, when discarding the previous continuity or plotlines, the rebooting producers will change the tone of the text, perhaps favouring a gritty, realistic tone.Read more
AUSTRALIA DESERVES A BETTER, FAIRER BUDGET
INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTANTS BUDGET BREAKFAST
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, 3 APRIL 2019
Thank you for inviting me along to what is now my sixth of these post-budget breakfasts. I acknowledge the traditional owners, the Ngunnawal people, on whose lands we meet today and pay my respects to their elders past and present. I thank host Leigh Sales and my counterpart Zed Seselja, the Institute of Public Accountants and Canberra Business Chamber. I started speaking at these breakfasts in 2014. Since that time, we've had three prime ministers, three treasurers. My opposing number today is the sixth person against whom I’ve squared off.
At the outset, I want to say something about where the overall economy is going, because we can get too focused on the fiscal situation and not think enough about the global and national economic context.
If you take global bond yields as a reasonable economic forecasting tool, you'd be pretty worried. They're negative in Germany, they're massively down in the US, the UK and Canada. The OECD last month downgraded its growth forecasts. In the US, fiscal stimulus is now fading. Just to listen to today's news, you've got the collapse of the Brexit talks again and suggestions that the US might pull out of NATO. China raises a range of challenges, including debt and political stability.Read more
ANU CLIMATE UPDATE
AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, 8 FEBRUARY 2019
It’s not easy keeping up with the bad news about climate change.
Last summer – the summer of 2017-2018 – was Australia’s second-hottest since record-keeping began. And after that summer was over, the records continued to fall. April 8th 2018 was the hottest April day ever recorded in Australia. That record lasted for exactly a day, until it was broken on April 9th. In August, 100% of NSW was declared to be in drought. September 2018 was the driest Australian September on record. In ten of the state’s local government areas, day one of the summer fire season was declared in winter, for the first time ever. December 2018 was our hottest recorded December.Read more
THE COALITION’S WAR ON CHARITIES
48TH NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY, ADELAIDE
Over the last five years, the Liberals have been waging a war on charities. They have attempted to shut down the charities commission, the body supported by four out of five charities. When they couldn't get that legislation through parliament, they decided to appoint as its head Gary Johns. Now Gary Johns is somebody who's attacked the Indigenous charity Recognise, he’s criticised BeyondBlue, he’s described Indigenous women as “cash cows”. Putting Gary Johns in charge of the charities commission is like putting Ned Kelly in charge of bank security. It’s like putting Bronwyn Bishop in charge of transport for politicians.
Meanwhile, Labor’s been working with the charitable sector. We see a vibrant role for charities in supporting better public policy. We don’t just believe that environmental charities should be planting trees, we believe they should be talking about deforestation. We don’t just believe that social justice charities should be serving a soup kitchen, we believe they can play a role in talking about poverty.Read more