Reply to Laura Tingle, ‘The High Road: What Australia Can Learn from New Zealand’
Quarterly Essay, April 2021
Visiting Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum in Wellington, our family stopped in front of a dramatic exhibition on the Treaty of Waitangi. “Where can we see Australia’s treaty?” one of my young sons innocently asked.Read more
2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 6 APRIL 2021
SUBJECTS: Rising house prices; the Church of Scientology’s tax-free status.
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Andrew, good morning. How are you, mate?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Terrific, Marcus. How are you?
PAUL: Good. I hope you had a nice Easter, got a little time off to relax with family.
LEIGH: Terrific time, yes. My wife and I had a date night in the city, away from the kids in the middle of Sydney. I went for a run past your office - you're in a beautiful little spot there on Pirrama Road.
PAUL: It’s not bad, is it? Not bad at all.
LEIGH: It’s fabulous. Checking out the harbour. So feeling particularly well, and I hope your listeners are the sameRead more
ABC RN DRIVE
MONDAY, 5 APRIL 2021
SUBJECTS: The Church of Scientology’s tax-free status; the health and economic costs of the Morrison Government’s slow vaccine rollout.
ELIZABETH KULAS, HOST: The Greens are calling for an investigation into the Church of Scientology's charitable status after media reports raised questions about its finances. An investigation by The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald found that the church has shifted tens of millions of dollars from offshore into its Australian operations, where it has tax-free status. Under Australian law, profits made by charities must be used for charitable purposes. Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities. Andrew, welcome.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: G’day, Elizabeth. Great to be with you.
KULAS: So Andrew, do you support the Greens’ push to have the charities and not for profits commission investigate the Church of Scientology?
LEIGH: I certainly think it'd be appropriate for the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission to put some energy into making sure that the Church of Scientology is delivering public benefit in Australia. We know that prima facie someone who's operating a religion is assumed to be delivering public benefit to Australia. But the Church of Scientology is quite unusual now in that it has less than 1700 adherents, according to the last census, and more than $170 million in assets. So that means that for every adherent, they've got more than $100,000 in assets. And they also seem to have attracted significant amounts of assets from offshore towards Australia, as other countries have cracked down on the tax status of the Church of Scientology. The tax concessions that are provided here in Australia aren't provided on the assumption that they're going to be for the benefit of overseas parts of religious organisations.Read more
2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 30 MARCH 2021
SUBJECTS: JobKeeper; Vaccine rollout; Scott Morrison’s reshuffle; the need to reduce sexual harassment and change the culture in Parliament House.
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: I just want to say this though before I go to my next guest on the program. Because the fact that we've needlessly sprayed billions of dollars on firms with many with rising profits, each job saved by JobKeeper has cost - are you ready it? - $118,000. And in most cases, that's just for half a year. It didn't have to be this way. Andrew Leigh MP joins us. Andrew, good morning. How are you, mate?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Great, Marcus. Terrific to be with you.
PAUL: You’ve obviously crunched the numbers on this. So each job saved by JobKeeper cost what? $118,000? How does that work out?
LEIGH: That's the government's own figures on what JobKeeper cost, divided by the number of jobs that they think it saved. And as you say, Marcus, $118,000 for a half year job seems kind of expensive. The fact is that JobKeeper was important for a lot of industries. If you're looking at areas like travel or the arts, it's been an absolute lifeline. But because so much of it went to billionaire shareholders and millionaire CEOs, it drove up the total cost of the program, and the cost per job ends up being almost twice the average wage.Read more
JASON CLARE MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR REGIONAL SERVICES, TERRITORIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT
MEMBER FOR BLAXLAND
STEPHEN JONES MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES AND SUPERANNUATION
MEMBER FOR WHITLAM
ANDREW LEIGH MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES
MEMBER FOR FENNER
APRA CONFIRMS GOVT PUMPING UP HOUSE PRICES
Allowing people to raid their superannuation to buy a home would drive up house prices and bank profits, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority has conceded.
In response to questioning by the Deputy Chair of the House Economics Committee Andrew Leigh today, APRA Chair Wayne Byres concedes that the Liberals’ thought bubble of allowing people to access their super would also decrease affordability for first home buyers who didn’t opt in:Read more
BILLIONAIREKEEPER: THE GROSS MISMANAGEMENT OF JOBKEEPER IN THE PANDEMIC
The Canberra Times, March 29 2021
A pair, a twin, a double. The number two has been dubbed by mathematicians ‘the oddest prime’. It’s a quirky number, and it’s the only number you need to understand some really odd things that have been happening in the economy lately.
Let’s start with billionaires. According to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index, Australia’s billionaires have had a remarkable twelve months. Since COVID hit, the typical Aussie billionaire has seen his or her wealth almost double. That’s right - double. If you’re an Australian billionaire who started the pandemic with $1 billion, you’re now most of the way to $2 billion.
Some have been coy about this, others less so. A year ago, Gerry Harvey told 60 Minutes ‘Why are we so scared about getting this virus? There’s nothing to be scared of.’ Harvey Norman’s air purifier sales had doubled, he said, while freezer sales were up fourfold. ‘We've got enough sales people, enough customers and we're doing really good business’. By the end of the year, 1.8 million had died from COVID, and Harvey Norman had enjoyed its most profitable year ever.Read more
ABC AFTERNOON BRIEFING
THURSDAY, 25 MARCH 2021
SUBJECTS: Indigenous deaths in custody; the need to change the culture of sexual harassment and entitlement in Parliament House.
PATRICIA KARVELAS, HOST: Time now for my political panel. Liberal MP Jason Falinski and Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities Andrew Leigh, welcome to both of you.
JASON FALINKSI: Thanks, Patricia.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: G’day, PK. Great to be with you.
KARVELAS: I want to start on that actually, because I feel like there’s not enough emphasis on these issues. Andrew Leigh, why don't we see the kind of outrage, a minute of silence, a sort of emergency response at the national level when we have another black death in custody?
LEIGH: It really is a crisis, PK. More than 500 Indigenous deaths in custody since that report came down 30 years ago. I published research last year looking into Indigenous incarceration, which tracked the significant increase in the incarceration rate since the report came down. I'm working with the researchers at Deakin University to organise a conference in October in Parliament House on that Royal Commission Report and on precisely what needs to be done. It ought to be a larger feature of the Closing the Gap Statement. We ought to have justice targets as part of that because we know that incarceration is too high for Indigenous Australians, who are the most incarcerated people on earth.Read more
ABC MELBOURNE MORNINGS
FRIDAY, 26 MARCH 2021
SUBJECT: Morrison Government’s JobKeeper waste.
VIRGINIA TRIOLI, HOST: Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. Andrew Leigh, good morning. You've been hearing all the stories there, real life stories of Melburnians.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Absolutely, Virginia. Bruce, Lindy and Hugo’s stories are just some of those from many people across Australia who are on JobKeeper right now and who face losing their jobs when the program ends. Melbourne University’s Jeff Borland says the number of job losses could be anywhere from 150,000 to 250,000. And I heard Josh Frydenberg in your program yesterday, saying that he thought the job losses would be hidden in the unemployment statistics - that you wouldn't see it because there might be some job gains somewhere else that would offset it. But that's cold comfort to people like Bruce, Lindy and Hugo, who could be facing the unemployment queue.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 24 MARCH 2021
Since the start of this pandemic 17,000 university jobs have been lost as a result of the government's failure to support one of our most important sectors. We have seen the Australian National University forced to close its neuroscience institute named after John Eccles, the ANU's first Nobel laureate. We have seen Monash University cut its theatre studies and musicology programs. Macquarie University will have no Bachelor of Mathematical Sciences taught this year, nor will the Bachelor of Advanced Science, the Bachelor of Advanced Information Technology or the Master of Mechanical Engineering be taught. We have seen the Australian National University downgrade its art schools, Newcastle and La Trobe universities abolish their drama departments and the University of Tasmania cut courses, including arts and humanities. From nearly every university we've seen reductions in arts, languages, science and maths courses.
It didn't have to be this way. When JobKeeper was put in place the government deliberately changed the rules, no less than three times, to exclude public universities from JobKeeper support. Private universities were the only ones who received support. According to Universities Australia, this sector has lost an estimated $1.8 billion in revenue in 2020, compared to 2019, and a further $2 billion in 2021. There is a cumulative impact. A student who doesn't enrol in first year this year is lost in the second, third and fourth years.Read more
ABC CANBERRA BREAKFAST
THURSDAY, 25 MARCH 2021
SUBJECTS: Morrison Government’s JobKeeper waste; the need to change the culture of sexual harassment and entitlement in Parliament House.
LISH FEJER, HOST: JobKeeper is due to wind up the end of next week as the government shifts to a new system, but we're hearing a lot about JobKeeper that has been kept in companies’ pockets. Dr Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities, and federal Member for Fenner in the ACT. Good morning.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Lish. Great to be with you.
FEJER: And you. You spoke very strongly, you've spoken out in the past about this and the need to change it - to get big companies that are posting record profits over the Coronavirus year to have to hand it back. You spoke yesterday. What was the response?
LEIGH: An interesting attack from Solomon Lew, who got fairly personal in his response to me. I mean, I don't really like this stuff, Lish. I didn't get into politics in order to pick fights with people. But if I'm going to end up in a public stoush, then it might as well be with a billionaire asking him to return corporate welfare that in my view he didn't need.Read more