Building a Stronger Civic Culture



On 28 March 2012, I spoke at the Sydney Battle of Big Thinking about some of the ideas in my book Disconnected, and how we can forge a stronger civic community in Australia.http://www.youtube.com/v/nsh-44Wb9rE?version=3&hl=en_GB
Add your reaction Share

Unemployment Benefits

An article in Fairfax papers today asks several MPs' view on raising unemployment benefits. Not surprisingly, it contains only a snippet of the conversation that I had with journalist Stephanie Peatling. So I thought it might be worth setting out my thoughts on the issue in more detail.

Unlike pensions, which are aimed at being ongoing for multiple years, unemployment benefits are designed to be a temporary payment. Nonetheless, I share the feeling of many of my colleagues that the current level of unemployment benefits are an extremely low amount to live on. If we doubled tax revenue, I’d raise unemployment benefits in a heartbeat. But tax revenue has actually fallen (from around 24% of GDP under Howard to 22% now). So anyone who proposes an expensive policy like significantly increasing unemployment benefits needs to identify which taxes they’d increase or which spending programs they’d cut. (And in the current parliament, how they'd get the change through both Houses.) For example, if you asked me ‘would you scrap an NDIS to raise unemployment benefits?’, I’d say no.

As an economist, I think about tradeoffs, which I’m starting to realise may be somewhat atypical in politics. Perhaps some people answer the question as ‘if the money was free and you didn’t have to lose any of your favourite programs, would you raise unemployment benefits?’. If that’s the question, count me in as a supporter too.

I’m also concerned about the social consequences of intergenerational poverty, since it does look like there may be adverse impacts of welfare dependence in families with children. This is something I’ve worried about quite a bit while since when I was an econ prof at ANU (see for example this paper, or this recent speech). So the JET scheme (which provides childcare to high-needs parents for 10 cents an hour) strikes me as important for the next generation. The ANU ‘Youth in Focus’ study has some valuable insights on the issues too (though the links to it are alas broken at present).
Add your reaction Share

Majura Parkway Construction Tender

We're calling for tenders to build the Majura Parkway, funded 50/50 by the federal and ACT governments. Media release below.
Anthony Albanese
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister


Andrew Leigh MP
Member for Fraser Katy Gallagher


ACT Chief Minister
Minister for Territory and Municipal Services


MAJURA PARKWAY: CONSTRUCTION TENDER CALLED

From 26 May construction companies interested in building the new Majura Parkway – the Territory’s largest ever road project – will have two months in which to submit their best bids under the tender process to be conducted by the ACT Government.

Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said following many months of community consultations and detailed design work it was now time to begin building this long-awaited piece of infrastructure.

“Assessed and recommended by Infrastructure Australia, this new road is expected to generate long term economic, social and environmental benefits worth almost $1 billion,” said Mr Albanese.

“All up, Federal Labor has increased annual infrastructure spending from $72 to $114 for every man, woman and child living in the nation’s capital. Over the next 12 months we will not only begin work on the Parkway but also complete the duplication of the Monaro Highway between Canberra Avenue and Newcastle Street.”

The Majura Parkway will be an 11.5 kilometre long dual carriageway, with its construction being jointly funded by the Gillard ($144 million) and Gallagher ($144 million) Labor governments.

ACT Chief Minister and Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Katy Gallagher, said the packages of work associated with the northern and southern sections of the project will be tendered together under a single contract.

“Qualified and experienced construction companies will have until Tuesday 31 July 2012 to submit their best bids,” the Chief Minister said.

“We are making an investment in Canberra’s future and once completed in 2016, the Majura Parkway will make it easier for Canberrans to get around the city.

“The Parkway’s final Forward Design took into account the feedback received from the public information sessions and stakeholder meetings conducted over recent months.

“A Development Application has now been submitted to the ACT’s Planning and Land Authority and approval by the National Capital Authority has been sought. Both processes are expected to be finalised in coming months.”

Andrew Leigh, Federal Member for Fraser, welcomed the co-operative efforts of the Gillard and Gallagher Labor governments. “Once constructed, the Majura Parkway will provide an important north-south transport link, directly connecting the Federal and Monaro Highways.”

“This will play a significant role in improving the main national and regional freight route, and the ACT will also benefit from additional capacity in its road network,” Mr Leigh said.

An industry briefing session will be held at 11 am on 5 June 2012 at Dame Pattie Menzies House in Dickson to further inform interested parties. For more information about the project, go to www.majuraparkway.act.gov.au.

Statement Ends 18 May 2012




















Anthony Albanese


Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister



Andrew Leigh MP


Member for Fraser



Katy Gallagher


ACT Chief Minister


Minister for Territory and Municipal Services





MAJURA PARKWAY: CONSTRUCTION TENDER CALLED



From 26 May construction companies interested in building the new Majura Parkway – the Territory’s largest ever road project – will have two months in which to submit their best bids under the tender process to be conducted by the ACT Government.



Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said following many months of community consultations and detailed design work it was now time to begin building this long-awaited piece of infrastructure.



“Assessed and recommended by Infrastructure Australia, this new road is expected to generate long term economic, social and environmental benefits worth almost $1 billion,” said Mr Albanese.



“All up, Federal Labor has increased annual infrastructure spending from $72 to $114 for every man, woman and child living in the nation’s capital.  Over the next 12 months we will not only begin work on the Parkway but also complete the duplication of the Monaro Highway between Canberra Avenue and Newcastle Street.”



The Majura Parkway will be an 11.5 kilometre long dual carriageway, with its construction being jointly funded by the Gillard ($144 million) and Gallagher ($144 million) Labor governments.



ACT Chief Minister and Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Katy Gallagher, said the packages of work associated with the northern and southern sections of the project will be tendered together under a single contract.



“Qualified and experienced construction companies will have until Tuesday 31 July 2012 to submit their best bids,” the Chief Minister said.



“We are making an investment in Canberra’s future and once completed in 2016, the Majura Parkway will make it easier for Canberrans to get around the city.



“The Parkway’s final Forward Design took into account the feedback received from the public information sessions and stakeholder meetings conducted over recent months.



“A Development Application has now been submitted to the ACT’s Planning and Land Authority and approval by the National Capital Authority has been sought.  Both processes are expected to be finalised in coming months.”



Andrew Leigh, Federal Member for Fraser, welcomed the co-operative efforts of the Gillard and Gallagher Labor governments. “Once constructed, the Majura Parkway will provide an important north-south transport link, directly connecting the Federal and Monaro Highways.”



“This will play a significant role in improving the main national and regional freight route, and the ACT will also benefit from additional capacity in its road network,” Mr Leigh said.



An industry briefing session will be held at 11 am on 5 June 2012 at Dame Pattie Menzies House in Dickson to further inform interested parties.  For more information about the project, go to www.majuraparkway.act.gov.au.



Statement Ends                       18 May 2012




Media Contacts


Mr Albanese:                                       Jeff Singleton                                    0410 476 890


Ms Gallagher:                          Scott Howard                                    0478 474 071


Mr Leigh:                                              Claire Daly                                         0422 197 654





Add your reaction Share

What Do We Eat After the Low-Hanging Fruit? A Brief Economic History of Australia, With Some Lessons for the Future



I spoke today at the McKell Institute in Sydney on Australian economic history, with some ideas for the future. The speech is below.


What Do We Eat After the Low-Hanging Fruit? A Brief Economic History of Australia, With Some Lessons for the Future*

Andrew Leigh MP
Federal Member for Fraser
www.andrewleigh.com

[email protected]

18 May 2012
McKell Institute, Sydney


In the Pacific Ocean, off the west coast of South America, sit the Galapagos Islands. Although they straddle the equator, the pattern of ocean currents have a cooling effect, making them an ideal breeding ground for tortoises, iguanas, penguins, finches, albatrosses, gulls, and pelicans.

Because the islands are volcanic, what’s striking about animal life on the Galapagos Islands is that all of it came originally by flying or floating nearly 1000 kilometres from Ecuador. And yet for the species that survived, life on the Galapagos Islands was perfect. Migrating birds lucky enough to be blown off course found an environment with few natural predators. Tortoises that floated here found beaches perfectly suited to their breeding environments. Life flourished.

Looking back across Australian economic history, I am often struck by the extent to which luck has similarly played a part in our success. Politicians are sometimes reluctant to talk about luck – preferring to focus on the things we can control than those we can’t. It is true that ‘chance favours the prepared mind’. But I think it’s still worth talking about the role that luck has played, if only to help understand what preparations we should be making. If we don’t do that, we’re like the Galapagos tortoise, which must have thought itself the luckiest species on earth, until British sailors discovered the islands in the late-eighteenth century, and ate them in their thousands.

Over the 2¼ centuries since European settlement, there have been half a dozen strokes of luck, each of which has tangibly boosted average living standards.[1] Let me take a moment to talk about them in turn.


Read more
Add your reaction Share

A BLOOMin' Good Exhibition

Canberra's paper of record has a terrific writeup of Gweneth's BLOOM exhibition. You can read it online here. The exhibition is on at the Gallery of Australian Design at Reconciliation Place until 9 June.
Add your reaction Share

On 2CC with Mark Parton

On 2CC this morning, I spoke with host Mark Parton and Liberal Senator Gary Humphries about the government's economic reforms, the importance of putting a price on carbon, and maintaining strong employment outcomes in the ACT. Here's a podcast.
Add your reaction Share

Dickson Community Forum

I enjoyed tonight's community forum at Dickson very much. Issues raised included human rights in China, development in Campbell, support for hearing-impaired people, support for mental illness, income taxes & intergenerational equity, government advertising, carbon pricing, minerals taxation, public sector jobs, superannuation, trust in government, and clean energy investment. In particular, I appreciated some of the people who were willing to share very personal stories about mental illness, disability support and human rights.

If you'd like to come along to a future mobile office or community forum, a full list of dates is here.
Add your reaction Share

Discussing the New ACT E-Waste Recycling Program

Add your reaction Share

Free National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme

Today I joined ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and Senator Don Farrell in opening the ACT's own National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme station. Technology is developing at such a rapid rate that what was state-of-the-art only a few years ago soon becomes obsolete, and now households can recycle their unwanted televisions and computers. See media release below:
Senator Don Farrell
Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water


Katy Gallagher MLA
ACT Chief Minister
Minister for Territory and Municipal Services


Gai Brodtmann MP
Member for Canberra


Andrew Leigh MP
Member for Fraser


15 May 2012

FREE TV AND COMPUTER RECYCLING SCHEME OPENS FOR BUSINESS IN THE ACT

Australia today celebrates a major milestone in waste management with the first services under the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme opening for business in the ACT.

Householders delivering unwanted TVs and computers to the Mugga Lane waste transfer station in Canberra this morning were greeted by Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water, Senator Don Farrell, and ACT Chief Minister and Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Katy Gallagher.

“This is an exciting first step for this important initiative, made possible by the Gillard Government’s landmark Product Stewardship legislation,” Senator Farrell said.

“People dropping off their unwanted televisions and computers for free here today, and in the future, can do so with the knowledge that these products will be recycled in an environmentally friendly way.

“Hazardous materials contained in these products, including lead, mercury and zinc, will be prevented from entering the environment through landfill. Valuable non-renewable resources, including gold and other precious metals will also be reclaimed for reuse.”

Services under the Scheme will be progressively rolled out across Australia, boosting television and computer recycling rates to 30 percent in 2012-13 and 80 per cent by 2021-22, providing a long-term solution to television and computer waste.

In the ACT, DHL Supply Chain (Australia) Pty Ltd is providing the free, ongoing recycling service, enabling households and small businesses to dispose of unwanted televisions, computers, and computer products such as printers, keyboards, mice and hard drives.

The scheme does not cover other electronic waste, such as mobile phones, which are already covered by the voluntary recycling scheme MobileMuster.

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said Canberra is at the forefront of innovation in recycling and waste management.

“I am delighted that the ACT is the first jurisdiction in the country to implement the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme,” the Chief Minister said.

“The new scheme gives Canberrans the opportunity to dispose of their televisions, computers and computer products, free of charge, in a way that greatly reduces the risk to the local environment by stopping these products going into landfill,” she said.

“It is also hoped the scheme will help alleviate some of the ongoing issues in the ACT around illegal dumping, especially around charity bins.

“It is likely the Mugga Lane and Mitchell Transfer Stations will be very busy in the first few weeks of the new scheme. The ACT Government encourages residents to consider holding their items for a while longer to avoid long queues, especially on weekends. The free e-waste recycling service is a permanent arrangement so there is no need to rush.”

Member for Canberra Gai Brodtmann said she expected the service to be well used.

“Canberrans are great recyclers and this new scheme will be a popular, quick and easy way for families and small businesses to dispose of their unwanted TVs and computers,” she said.

Member for Fraser, Dr Andrew Leigh, said technology is developing at such a rapid rate that what was state-of-the-art only a few years ago soon becomes obsolete.

“The faster our computers and televisions keep improving, the more important it is that we have a good recycling program for e-waste,” Dr Leigh said.

From today, the DHL Supply Chain services will operate from the Mugga Lane and Mitchell Transfer Stations, which are open from 7.30am to 5pm, seven days a week.

The National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme is funded and implemented by the television and computer industry and regulated by the Australia Government under the Product Stewardship Act 2011 and the Product Stewardship (Televisions and Computers) Regulation 2011.

Further information on the scheme can be found at www.environment.gov.au/settlements/waste/ewaste/index.html

Further information about the scheme in the ACT can be found at http://www.tams.act.gov.au
Add your reaction Share

Are you a Boer War descendant?

On 31 May 2012, it will be 110 years since the signing of the peace treaty in the Boer War. The National Boer War Association has asked me to let descendants know about the memorial (the picture shows an artist's rendering), and that special 'descendants' and 'in memory' medallions have been struck in honour of veterans.

Anyone who thinks they might be a descendant is encouraged to go to the Ancestor Search function on the Boer War Memorial website, or to contact the National Boer War Memorial Association.
Add your reaction Share

Stay in touch

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter

Search



Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.