A MORE DYNAMIC ECONOMY
The Australian, 24 January 2022
Imagine a stock-trading Rip Van Winkle who went to sleep on Wall Street in the mid-1980s and just woke up today. When he looked at the biggest firms on the US market, he would be startled. In the mid-1980s, the largest US firms were IBM, Mobil, Exxon, Ford and General Motors. Today, they are Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook.
But if he’d gone to sleep on Bridge Street, Sydney, our stock trader might have wondered if he’d slept at all. In the mid-1980s, the largest Australian firms were Westpac, the Commonwealth Bank, NAB, ANZ and BHP. Today, they are Westpac, the Commonwealth Bank, NAB, BHP and CSL.
This isn’t just about firms, it’s about industries. A generation ago, the largest US firms included two oil companies and two car companies. Today, technology rules the roost. Yet in Australia, the same banks and the same mining company persist, with biotechnology firm CSL the only new entrant into the top five. Over the last generation, the biggest US businesses have been dethroned, and replaced by new firms from an entirely new sector. In Australia, it’s business as usual.Read more
2SM MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
MONDAY, 17 JANUARY 2022
SUBJECTS: Novak Djokovic; Scott Morrison’s failure to call out antivaxxers in his own Government; Rapid Antigen Test shortage and Scott Morrison’s failure to plan ahead; Deloitte downgrading Australia’s economic forecast.
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Time to catch up with Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities and federal Member for Fenner, Andrew Leigh. Good morning, Andrew. How are you, mate?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Terrific, Marcus. The better for being with you today.
PAUL: Thank you. I hope you’re well. You haven't contracted COVID yet, have you?
LEIGH: No. Our family’s been thankfully COVID free, but there's certainly a lot of about at the moment.
LEIGH: Running rampant through the community.
PAUL: Alright. Well, one of the big issues of course - it's hard to escape - Novak Djokovic. I guess the question needs to be asked, and maybe after the tournament itself has been run and won maybe Tennis Australia can pony up and answer some questions, but why was he ever given a visa in the first place?Read more
CHARITIES ARE SICK OF FIGHTING OFF ATTACKS BY MORRISON GOVERNMENT
The Guardian, 15 January 2022
One of the key steps in the autocrats’ playbook is to suffocate civil society. From Venezuela to Belarus, elected leaders who have overseen a democratic decline have harassed volunteers, shut down community groups, and curtailed charities. The last thing a strongman needs is a group of engaged community leaders telling people the truth.
Five years ago, international not-for-profit Civicus started tracking how countries treat civil society. When they began, Australia occupied the top ranking: “open”. That’s the rating enjoyed by Germany, Canada, Sweden, New Zealand and many other advanced countries.Read more
WHAT BOOKS OUR LEADERS SHOULD BE READING... AND WHY
The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 January 2022
Forced into teenage work to support his family, John Curtin made up for his lack of formal education with a lifetime of reading. As a young man, he would stay late at the Melbourne Public Library. As Curtin's great-grandson Toby Davidson notes, an hour each Sunday was reserved for reading poetry. When he became Prime Minister, Curtin’s deep inner life engendered respect across the political spectrum. He had read enough in foreign policy to know that Australia needed to reach out to the United States ‘free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom’. His reading of Keynes and Pigou shaped Curtin’s decision to introduce unemployment benefits and plan for a full-employment economy after World War II. Books shaped Curtin, and Curtin shaped Australia.
2021 has been a bumper year for books about big ideas. In fact, you might say there’s been a cabinet-full of books, in the sense that there’s something for every member of cabinet to devour.
For the industry minister, Kazuo Ishiguro’s science fiction novel Klara and the Sun explores a world of artificial intelligence and genetic engineering. Walter Isaacson’s The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race delves into what current CRISPR gene editing technologies can achieve. Like Isaacson’s previous biographies of Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs, the focus isn’t just on the outcomes, but on how extraordinary minds think differently. Reading their stories is a reminder that breakthroughs are more likely to happen when every child has the teachers, mentors and funding that empowered the world’s best innovators.Read more
TOO SLOW IN A FAST WORLD
Daily Telegraph, 4 January 2022
Sports stars are getting more remarkable every year. In 1950, no-one in history had run a four-minute mile. Now, there are more than a dozen high school students who have managed the feat. In 1950, the bench press world record was 181 kilograms. Now, it is 355 kilograms.
Today’s elite athletes have better equipment, better nutrition and better coaching than in past generations. Competitors start training at a younger age, and train harder than ever before.
Yet while today’s sporting stars are faster, higher and stronger than ever before, the same cannot be said for the Australian economy. Even before COVID hit, economic growth had slowed. Wage growth was tepid. Construction and business investment were languishing.Read more
CLIMATE CHANGE AND CANBERRA
The Canberra Times, 30 December 2021
They’re only a few dozen kilometres apart, but there’s a remarkable difference between the conversation about climate change in schools in my electorate, and from conservative Liberal and Nationals in Parliament House. Canberra’s school students know that Australia needs to take stronger action on climate. They’re excited about renewables. They love electric vehicles. The tinfoil hat brigade in the Coalition party room want to use taxpayer money to fund new coal fired power stations that the private sector won’t touch with a barge pole. They fearmonger about renewables. They claim that electric vehicles will end the weekend.
Sadly, Australia’s most progressive jurisdiction has one of the most conservative senators in the federal parliament. When Zed Seselja isn’t voting against territory rights, he’s peddling baseless fear campaigns about the dangers of climate action. Zed is a walking example of why Australia recently ranked last for climate policy among 64 countries in the Climate Change Performance Index – worse than Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Brazil.Read more
WHAT’S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN? TACKLING EXISTENTIAL RISK
Lowy Institute Interpreter blog, 23 December 2021
What would happen if you decided to cross the road without checking the traffic? Odds are that you’d survive unscathed. But do it enough times and you’re likely to come a cropper.
As a species, humanity is now playing with technological innovations that pose a small but real risk of ending our existence. Tens of thousands of nuclear weapons pointed at major cities. Biotechnology that could allow the creation of deadly pathogens. Computer technology that could create a machine that is smarter than us and doesn’t share our goals. And all the while climate change could lead to unstoppable feedback loops.
As a teenager, I joined Palm Sunday anti-nuclear rallies. As an adult, I’ve been a strong advocate of climate change action. But when I entered parliament in 2010, the issue of existential risk didn’t loom large on my radar. My priority was people’s quality of life, not the end of life itself.Read more
WHY HAS NO PERSON OF COLOUR EVER SERVED ON THE HIGH COURT?
The AFR, 22 December 2021
In 120 years, no judge of colour has ever been appointed to the High Court of Australia. Asian Australians comprise 10 percent of the Australian population. Yet across all courts, the Asian Australian Lawyers Association estimates that only 1 percent of Australian judges are Asian-Australian.
When it comes to gender, the figures aren’t much better. Across federal and state courts, only 39 percent of judges are women. This is despite the fact that women comprise amajority of lawyers, and a majority of the population as a whole. The share of Australians with a non-Anglo background is high and rising. Yet if you go into any courtroom in the country, it’s most likely that you’ll see a white bloke on the bench.Read more
TUESDAY, 14 DECEMBER 2021
SUBJECTS: Scott Morrison’s inaction costing charities millions; Cost of food at Parliament House.
TONY PILKINGTON, HOST: Joining me on the program right now is Dr Andrew Leigh, who's the federal Shadow Assistant Minister for Charities. God, that's a mouthful. By the time you actually do the introductions, it’ll be time to go. Andrew, good morning and welcome to Adelaide.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Thanks, Tony. Great to be with you.
PILKINGTON: Now. Tell us sir, you say that charities because of the colossal amount of bookwork that they've got to go through - something like, I can't believe this, well I can because of the red tape. You say there are seven sets of forms that can take charities weeks and weeks to complete before they can actually launch an advertising campaign to get some money, so charitable donations and especially at this time of the year. What's this all about?
LEIGH: Tony, when we were kids, charities that wanted to raise money would typically go door to door. So charitable fundraising laws are written in the pre internet age, and it's done state and territory one at a time. But that means that if you're a charity that wants to raise money over the internet nationwide, you have to register in seven different jurisdictions. And that can take a staff member up to a week of charity time to do all of that paperwork. That's time they're not spending helping the vulnerable, focusing on the environment, looking after their parishioners. So as a result of this outdated patchwork of laws, charities are being cost over a million dollars a month. It's a sensible thing to get fixed. A bipartisan Senate report came down in 2018, and yet the Morrison Government's done absolutely nothing. Charities are going into another Christmas season with those outdated laws still in place.Read more
2SM MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 14 DECEMBER 2021
SUBJECTS: The ACT’s world leading vaccination rate; Scott Morrison’s failures on vaccines and quarantine; Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg’s failures on the economy; MYEFO; What’s the Worst That Could Happen; Migration.
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Andrew Leigh for the last time this year, until next year 2022. Let's chat to Andrew Leigh about a little federal politics. Morning, mate.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Morning, mate. How are you?
PAUL: All right. You've been on your run this morning?
LEIGH: Absolutely. Beautiful day out in Canberra today.
PAUL: What is it there? Is it 98 or 99 per cent fully vaxxed?
LEIGH: So our big risk was we go over 100 per cent, Marcus-
LEIGH: We're working off 2016 Census numbers, so we weren’t sure precisely how many adults we have. But yes, it’s almost universal among over 12s, which is really, really good to see. I think this reflects the kind of community mindedness of many Canberrans - the willingness to get vaccinated not just for yourself, but for your community too.Read more