Supporting Universities

Speech - House of Representatives - 12 May 2021

Historically, education has been at the heart of nation-building. After World War II it was key reforms initiated by Labor governments that saw education levels rise and the creation of the Australian National University. In the early 1990s, it was the Keating government that saw a massive increase in the school completion rate. Yet in last night's budget there was no increase to research block grants and nothing of note for the universities, save for one million dollars to support industry PhDs and some additional flexibility for student visa holders. For the Australian National University, this means they've lost one in 10 staff and potentially stand to see the closure of their neuroscience department. 

As Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt has pointed out, the hit to universities' revenue could be in the billions of dollars. But the government can solve this. It needs to get vaccination and quarantine right; work with universities, not against them; set aside the culture wars; and invest in the productive capacity of the Australian economy. We need more investment in research rather than the mindless cuts that could see the Australian National University forced to close its neuroscience faculty. Labor will be on the side of universities. We call on the government to do the same.

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JobKeeper Waste, Transactional Politics and Curtin's Vision

Speech - Matter of Public Importance - House of Representatives - 12 May 2021

The Australian Club is an exclusive men's-only club in Sydney. Despite it being 2021, they still don't admit women as members. Last year, they doubled their surplus, thanks in part to $2 million from the government's JobKeeper program. Accent Group, the shoe seller, paid their CEO a million-dollar bonus, boosted their profits and delivered, through dividends, $11 million to billionaire Brett Blundy. They've gotten $45 million through JobKeeper, and they won't pay a cent of it back. The car dealer AP Eagers turned a $200 million profit. Their dividends will deliver $17 million to billionaire Nick Politis, but they won't return their $130 million in JobKeeper.

Then there's Best & Less. Their profits are up, but, because they're doing a sale, they've actually come clean with investors. They have said to investors that JobKeeper was a sugar hit, directly delivering more than $20 million to their budget bottom line. I imagine Best & Less are thinking, 'You only get one Morrison government in your lifetime, and we've had ours.'

Then there's Premier Investments. They may have received as much as $110 million in JobKeeper. They set a record profit and paid their CEO a $2.5 million bonus, more than most Australians earn in a lifetime. They paid a stonking dividend, of which billionaire Solomon Lew will get a sizable whack, and are refusing to repay the bulk of their JobKeeper.

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Government takes debt over $1 trillion with little to show for it

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
5AA MORNINGS WITH LEON BYNER

WEDNESDAY, 12 MAY 2021
 
SUBJECTS: Budget 2021
 
LEON BYNER, HOST: Now on the line I have a professor of ANU economics. He's got a lot to say on budgets. His name is Dr Andrew Leigh. Andrew, it's a pleasure to talk with you.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: It's a pleasure to talk with you as well, Leon.

 

BYNER: Now, tell me about your opinion of the budget delivered by Mr Frydenberg.

 

LEIGH: It's a very expensive budget. Debt goes to $1 trillion, from the party that printed those 'Back in Black' mugs a couple of years back, and there's so little to show for it, Leon. You don't have the investment in renewable energy, you don't have the investment in education, you don't have COVID vaccine rollout happening in time. Yet there's a real spendathon which is focused on the next election, and yet not focused on setting us up for the growth that we need in the decades to come.

 

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The Coalition have seen Australia's economy and society slip backwards

SPEECH TO THE FEDERATION CHAMBER

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA

WEDNESDAY, 12 MAY 2021

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

At the outset I commend Julian Hill, the member for Bruce, for bringing this important motion before the House. This motion that's before the House is grounded in the very careful analysis that the member for Bruce has done, going through the myriad of ways in which the Australian economy and society have slipped backwards under this coalition government. He has documented that real wages in Australia were 0.7 per cent lower in 2019 compared to 2013. And in last night's budget we saw the terrifying news that, at the end of the forward estimates, wages in real terms will be lower than they were at the beginning of the forward estimates.

 

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A Budget of half measures

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW 2CC, STEPHEN CENATIEMPO BREAKFAST SHOW

WEDNESDAY, 12 MAY 2021

 

SUBJECTS: Budget 2021

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO , HOST: We're joined now by Andrew Leigh, the Labor member for Fenner. He's also the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities. Andrew, I said to your leader, Anthony Albanese, early this morning that was a very Labor budget last night.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Well, if you want a real Labor Government you need to elect one, rather than having a government which for many years has been cutting aged care and has now decided it cares about aged care.

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Government spendathon is just about the election

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
ABC RADIO CANBERRA MORNINGS WITH ADAM SHIRLEY
WEDNESDAY, 12 MAY 2021
 
SUBJECT: Budget 2021.

 
ADAM SHIRLEY, HOST: Let's get the take of Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Labor Member for Fenner, Dr Andrew Leigh. He's with us now on ABC Radio Canberra. Dr Leigh, thank you for your time.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Pleasure, Adam. Great to be with you.

SHIRLEY: Lots more money for aged care, childcare and other vulnerable people in society. Do you endorse a number of these spending measures from the Government?

LEIGH: Adam, what this budget fails to do is to tackle some of the really big problems that exist in areas like aged care. We know that the Royal Commission recommended that there be 24/7 registered nurse cover in aged care homes and the budget fails to deliver it. We know that there is a crisis in family violence, but we're supposed to believe that the Government that axed the Family Court is now going to address it.

SHIRLEY: Well they've put over $1 billion towards domestic violence and support services, so is that not directly addressing some of these issues that have been raised?

LEIGH: Those additional expenditures should be welcomed, but don't forget that the axing of the Family Court was specifically recommended against by family violence groups. We know that the vaccination of the Australian population is critical to opening up the economy, and the Government's badly bungled the vaccine rollout and quarantine, which jeopardises sectors like international education, which you were speaking about before with Zed. We know that climate change is one of the core issues facing Australia, and yet the Government still won't even commit to net zero emissions by 2050, a target that every state and territory and every credible business group had already signed up to.

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Budget 2021: Big Dollars, Small Ambition

BUDGET 2021: BIG DOLLARS, SMALL AMBITION

CANBERRA BUSINESS CHAMBER AND INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTANTS BUDGET BREAKFAST

WEDNESDAY, 12 MAY 2021

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

It’s a pleasure to be speaking again to you at today’s budget breakfast. This is the eighth Liberal budget I’ve discussed at this breakfast. They’ve been quite a rollercoaster.

In 2014, the Liberals were going to introduce a Medicare co-payment, change pension indexation from wages to prices, and cut the CSIRO.

In subsequent years, budgets from Treasurer Scott Morrison saw billions ripped out of the ABC, hospitals, schools and aged care.

Last year, the budget’s centrepiece was the JobMaker program. Forecast to create 450,000 jobs, it fell just short. 449,000 jobs short, to be precise.

 

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Liberals need to offer more than promises they'll never deliver

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
2SM MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING

TUESDAY, 11 MAY 2021
 
SUBJECTS: Three tests for the Budget; Government’s failures on quarantine, vaccines, aged care, housing and ambition
 
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Look, it's a cash cow of a budget, and the jackpot will be in the billions of dollars. Certainly, austerity is dead, buried and cremated. Let's have a chat about it with Andrew Leigh MP. G'day, Andrew. How are you, mate?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Terrific, Marcus. How are you?

 

PAUL: Yeah, not bad. Now, you say the budget must meet three tests. What are they, first of all?

 

LEIGH: Well, first of all, I think it needs to fix the problems in our vaccine rollout and quarantine schemes. We know that's been bungled and we know it's key to opening up the economy. We were promised to be at the front of the queue but we're way down the back, and without vaccinating Australia things don't come back to normal.


Secondly, I think it's got to meet the test of fairness. We've got a childcare package announced which helps some families, but only a quarter as many as the package that Anthony Albanese announced last year in his budget reply. Fairness has to involve actually doing things. Last year's budget centrepiece, the JobMaker program, promised to help 450,000 people and ended up falling 449,000 short of that target.

 

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Liberals have Robodebt for the vulnerable, taxpayer-padded profits for private equity firms

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
6PR MORNINGS WITH LIAM BARTLETT

THURSDAY, 6 MAY 2021
 
SUBJECTS: JobKeeper rorts
 
LIAM BARTLETT, HOST: Now, the discount retailer Best&Less is in the frame. Best&Less had millions of dollars go to it with JobKeeper, and one of the politicians who have been calling on that particular group to give the money back is Andrew Leigh. Andrew is the Federal Labor MP, the Member for Fenner in the ACT. Andrew, good morning.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning Liam. Great to be with you and your listeners.

 

BARTLETT: And thank you for joining us. How much do you want Best&Lless to give back, Andrew?

 

LEIGH: $42.6 million, which is the amount that they received from taxpayers, despite seeing their profits go up last year. JobKeeper was designed to be a program that kept businesses afloat and kept people in work, not to pad the profits of private equity firms.

 

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The Liberals sent Robodebt after people who didn't owe anything, but let JobKeeper rorters hold onto millions

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
5AA MORNINGS WITH LEON BYNER
WEDNESDAY, 5 MAY 2021
 

SUBJECT: JobKeeper rorts.
 
LEON BYNER, HOST: There are some very smart cookies in the parliament. I know there are some that you'd probably think less of, but this bloke is not one of them. He's the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury, Dr Andrew Leigh, and he's got some very valuable information about JobKeeper payments, remember, which are designed to keep companies employing and in touch with their employees, and tax avoidance. Dr Leigh is on the line. Andrew, it's good to talk to you.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Great to be back with you, Leon.

BYNER: What have you got for us?

LEIGH: We now know that one dollar in five of JobKeeper went to firms whose profits increased in 2020 over 2019. Now that's pretty extraordinary. This is a scheme that was meant to help out firms whose revenues were cratering, and in fact a fifth of it, some $15-20 billion, was snaffled up by firms with growing profits. That means hundreds of dollars for each and every one of your listeners was wasted on firms that just didn't need it.

 

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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.