COMPETITION AND BUSINESS DYNAMICS
Australia Financial Review CFO Live Summit, Melbourne
Tuesday 28 November 2023
I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet, the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation.
I pay my respects to the Elders past and present, and acknowledge any First Nations Australians with us today.
Australia thrives on competition.
It is most obvious in our love of sports – even unexpected wins like the One Day Cricket World Cup – but it goes deeper than that.
You can’t have a fair go without competition.
Especially when we’re feeling the pinch of the cost-of-living pressures.Read more
ABC RADIO MELBOURNE DRIVE WITH ALI MOORE
MONDAY, 27 NOVEMBER 2023
SUBJECTS: Reform of the RBA; Appointment of a new Deputy Governor of the RBA; Dismissal of Mike Pezzullo.
ALI MOORE: You'll know that review into the Bank's operations that happened earlier this year and it's led to legislation that's now being introduced to Federal Parliament. The legislation is going to create a new board that's going to have the sole job of setting interest rates and the reforms are also going to remove a little known mechanism that allows the government to overrule the Reserve Bank. Also, the Government has announced today the new Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank, a central banker who is going to come from the UK. Andrew Leigh is Assistant Minister for competition, Charities and Treasury. Andrew Leigh welcome to Drive.
ASSISTANT MINSTER FOR CHARITIES, COMPETITION, TREASURY AND EMPLOYMENT ANDREW LEIGH: Thanks, Ali. Great to be with you and your listeners.Read more
AUSTRALIANS URGED TO GIVE GENEROUSLY
Tuesday 28 November is ‘Giving Tuesday’. Created eleven years ago, Giving Tuesday follows the shopping day ‘Black Friday’. Where Black Friday encourages spending, Giving Tuesday encourages generosity.
Right now, many charities are feeling squeezed. In some cases, donors and volunteer support has fallen, while demand for help has risen. The end of the year is a time when some charities, including food relief and crisis support organisations, are at their busiest.Read more
IS SOCIAL MEDIA WORSENING YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH?
LIFELINE AUSTRALIA ANNUAL MEMBERS FORUM
SYDNEY, 24 NOVEMBER 2023
Thank you very much for that generous introduction. Chris Siorokos and I have known one another for 32 years, and he doesn’t look like he’s aged a day since we first met. As well as having the gift of eternal youth, Chris is a man of remarkable intellect, generosity and purpose. You are fortunate to have him as your Executive Director.
We’re meeting on the traditional lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. I acknowledge their Elders, past and present and acknowledge any First Nations people present.
It is a real honour to be speaking to the Lifeline Australia Annual Members Forum in this year, the 60th anniversary of Lifeline. My grandfather, Keith Leigh was a Methodist minister, a bit like Alan Walker, who founded Lifeline back in 1963. I never had the chance to meet my paternal grandfather, but that ethos of service was one that I was very aware of growing up. The story of Alan Walker's founding Lifeline is remarkable. Lifeline Australia took its first telephone call within a minute of the telephone lines opening. It took 100 calls on the first day and it now routinely takes over 1000 calls a day. You've been an inspiration to similar organisations around the world ever since you were profiled in Time magazine back in 1964. Your introduction of a text messaging service and online platforms are absolutely vital. You have saved many Australian lives and brought meaning to many more.
CHARITY IS AT THE HEART OF AUSTRALIA
Across the world, democracy is under pressure. According to one set of experts, the world entered a ‘democratic recession' in 2016 and is yet to recover. Russia, Peru, Turkey and Myanmar are among the nations whose democracy scores have slumped.
While democracy is down, populism is up. According to a recent study, populism is at an all-time high, with more than 25 per cent of nations now governed by populists. Populists tend to erode democratic institutions and undermine economic growth. Fifteen years after populists take power, income per person is 10 per cent lower than it would otherwise have been.
Worst yet, populists make catastrophic risks more likely. Confronting dangers such as nuclear war, bioterrorism, climate change and rogue AI requires mobilising our intellectual powers, strengthening institutions, cooperating internationally and remaining calm. Yet by definition, populists are anti-intellectual, anti-institutional anti-international and anti-calm.
ABC THE MONEY WITH RICHARD AEDY
THURSDAY, 23 NOVEMBER 2023
SUBJECTS: Merger reform.
RICHARD AEDY: Let's start with competition. For consumers, here isn't enough of it. In 17 industries, we have more market concentration than America does. And in a few it's very, very obvious. Four big banks, two big supermarkets, two big airlines. Part of the reason for this is mergers and the way that they've been regulated. The Government wants to change that and has just put out a consultation paper. The Minister for Competition is Andrew Leigh. Minister, thanks for joining us. What is wrong with our merger control regime at the moment?
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES, COMPETITION, TREASURY AND EMPLOYMENT ANDREW LEIGH: Richard, we've seen a big increase in market concentration and a big increase in markups. We've had the lousiest decade of productivity growth in the postwar era, and many people think that that might be because our markets aren't dynamic enough. Pretty much wherever you turn, from banking to baby food to beer, Australian consumers only have a couple of choices. And in that environment where large firms are ruling the roost, I think it's important for us to take a careful look at our merger laws.Read more
SKY AFTERNOONS WITH KIERAN GILBERT
THURSDAY, 23 NOVEMBER 2023
SUBJECTS: Inflation; Capacity Investment Mechanism; Consultations on merger reform.
KIERAN GILBERT: Joining me live in the studio is the assistant Minister for competition, Charities and Treasury. And the assistant Minister for employment, Andrew Leigh. Thanks for your time.
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES, COMPETITION AND TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: Pleasure, Kieran.
GILBERT: Lots to talk about today. Let's start with Julia's report there on the comments by the RBA Governor on homegrown inflation. We're above comparable nations now internationally. Are you hoping that, like the US, like Europe, ours will track down over coming months? That's the hope is it? The anticipation?
LEIGH: That's what we're anticipating, Kieran, and that's certainly what we're seeing. Australian inflation peaked lower and later than other countries, so it makes sense that its trajectory will take a little longer to come back into the target band. Based on forecasts, both the Reserve Bank and Treasury have inflation returning to the target band. Inflation is pernicious. It damages savings, it decreases the incentive to invest. The Reserve Bank even says it can worsen inequality. So, it's important that we get inflation back under control. And on Michele Bullock’s speech, her comments also reflect the very strong employment performance we've seen. We’ve now had 20 months in a row with unemployment below 4%, and of course, 17 of those 20 months have been under this Labor government.Read more
2CC DRIVE WITH LEON DELANEY
MONDAY, 20 NOVEMBER 2023
SUBJECTS: Merger reforms; Government’s cost-of-living measures; independence of Reserve Bank; Stage 3 tax cuts; multinational taxation.
LEON DELANEY: The Federal Government is considering some major changes to the rules around mergers and acquisitions. To tell us why, Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities, Employment, this, that and everything else, as well as our local Member for Fenner, Andrew Leigh. Good afternoon.
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES, COMPETITION AND TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: Good afternoon, Leon. Great to be with you.
DELANEY: Mergers and acquisitions. It sounds like something that, you know, the fellow on Wall Street, Gordon Gekko, might be excited about, but why is this important to ordinary everyday Australians?
LEIGH: Ultimately, Leon, mergers goes to cost‑of‑living. If you get big firms getting together, and they end up driving up prices, then that's bad for consumers. It can also be a risk to productivity if you've got mergers that aren't good for growth.
Obviously most mergers will pass the test, but over recent years, we've seen quite a few other jurisdictions – the US, UK, Canada and European Union – all review or amend their mergers rules. And an environment in which we've seen increasing market concentration and increasing mark‑ups, Jim Chalmers and I are concerned that we need to review our merger laws to make sure they're getting a good deal for Australian consumers, and the economy at large.Read more
Saturday, 18 November 2023
SUBJECTS: Cost-of-living; Labour force figures; Energy efficiency measures for ACT public housing.
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES, TREASURY AND EMPLOYMENT ANDREW LEIGH: Thank you for coming along to Ainslie Village today. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities, Treasury and Employment. I should say at the outset that we're holding this press conference in the afternoon rather than the morning, because I was running an ultramarathon this morning, part of the Stromlo Running Festival, which is a terrific running participation event here in the ACT, with hundreds of people participating in this great community festival.Read more
FROM ÉROS TO AGÁPE: 75 YEARS OF RELATIONSHIPS AUSTRALIA
75th Anniversary of Relationships Australia Dinner
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Tuesday, 14 November 2023
Thank you Nick [Tebbey] for the generous introduction. I acknowledge the Ngunnawal people and all First Nations people present tonight. I recognise former senator and High Commissioner George Brandis, and my parliamentary colleague Amanda Rishworth. I'm your appetizer. Amanda is main course. So her comments will be much deeper and more substantive than mine.
My thanks to Nick Tebbey and Lyn Littlefield for inviting me to speak today. It is exciting to be speaking at the 75th anniversary of Relationships Australia. I loved looking through the 75th anniversary brochure, which outlines how Relationships Australia emerged from the Melbourne Marriage Guidance Council, and notes that the council ‘was the first attempt at making a scientific approach to one of the world’s greatest problems – the problem of marital relationships’.
For those of us who are married, ‘the problem of marital relationships’ is a beautiful phrase that encapsulates the joy and the challenge of marriage. As an economist, I think of a good relationship as less like mining, and more like manufacturing. The idea of mining is that you simply find ‘the one’ and live happily ever after. But as The Whitlams put it, ‘She was one in a million. So there's five more just in New South Wales.’ Regarding relationships as manufacturing reminds us that relationships require ongoing work, as the two of you evolve together.
My parents, Barbara and Michael, who were married in 1967, talk about themselves as being two quite different people today than they were when they when they first got married 56 years ago. They’ve told me about the joy and the challenges of developing their relationship, as the two of them have grown.
One of the most poignant stories of marriage is that of Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court. Her husband, John Jay O'Connor, was also a prominent jurist, and suffered from Alzheimer's disease, which played a part in Sandra Day O’Connor’s decision to retire from the Supreme Court. In his later years, John Jay O’Connor lived in an Alzheimer’s care facility in Phoenix. It came to a point where John Jay O'Connor entirely forgot who Sandra Day O'Connor was. He decided that instead, there was a woman in the home who he was had fallen in love with. In his final days, he would want only to hold the hands of the hand of his new love. Rather than disavowing him, Sandra Day O'Connor would sit there with him, holding his other hand. That for me reflects some of the majesty and the beauty that a lifelong relationship can encompass.
What I love about Relationships Australia is that you have evolved from your origins as marriage guidance counsellors to encapsulate a broader view of relationships. Just as Australia has become more diverse in our acceptance of same sex marriage and in understanding of the diversity of families. As a nation, we now recognise that marriage is just one way of forming connections. There are many Australians who maintain happy relationships outside of marriage.