THURSDAY, 10 FEBRUARY 2022
SUBJECTS: Religious discrimination bill; Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg’s JobKeeper mismanagement.
GRAEME GOODINGS, HOST: The lower house in Canberra last night sat, well, pretty much right through the night to pass the religious discrimination bill. It's been one of the most contentious pieces of legislation to go before Parliament in a long time. Five Liberals crossed the floor agreeing to amendments put forward by the opposition. The government ended up voting against its own bill. The legislation passed with the opposition supported by those dissenting Libs. The bill finally passed about 4.30 this morning. Joining me now the federal Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury, Andrew Leigh. Andrew, you’ve had a big night.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: It’s been an interesting night in the House of Reps, Graeme. It's not often the government loses a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives. And something I've never seen before, after losing a vote they then turned around and voted against their own bill. So you had the spectacle of the Prime Minister voting against a bill that his party had introduced. It was the most extraordinary ‘take your bat and ball and go home’ attempt that I've ever seen.
GOODINGS: It has drawn a lot of interest from around the nation. Did the opposition get what they wanted?
LEIGH: Not entirely. So what we would have liked to do is to put an anti-vilification measure in place, which would prohibit religious vilification. I spoke to that around 3am. We also wanted to make sure that there was protection against discrimination for older people receiving in-home care. We weren't able to secure sufficient support for that. But we were able to get support for an amendment which ensured that children in religious schools are protected from discrimination. And that's a very important measure.Read more
WEDNESDAY, 9 FEBRUARY 2022
SUBJECT: Religious Discrimination Bill.
TOM CONNELL, HOST: I did speak to one Labor MP inside this Caucus meeting just before this meeting began. I spoke to Labor’s Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury Andrew Leigh, and began by asking whether or not Labor intended to support the bill, whether he does intend to argue for supporting the bill as it stands.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Well, I’m about to go into the Caucus committee meeting where we’ll be discussing this. So I haven’t yet seen a copy of the revised bill, and certainly want to see what changes have been made by the government. I’ve got to say it’s extraordinary we’re in this place. This was a bill proposed by the Prime Minister back in December 2018. He said he'd do it before the 2019 election. We didn't see the bill in 2020, we didn't see it in early 2021, and then it emerged just in the last parliamentary sittings of last year. We then had a very rushed parliamentary committee process in that 71-day period, which included 12 religious holidays, and a lot of the country was on school holidays during that period. There just hasn't been the time to scrutinise this bill that I think the issue deserves.
CONNELL: So if that means there hasn't been that time, Labor shouldn't support it? Because it's coming to D Day, basically.
LEIGH: We need to take our time to get this right. As my colleague Stephen Jones said yesterday, Australia's a bloody diverse place. We need to ensure that we're getting it right for people of faith who feel that they're at risk of attack. I would like it if this bill had an anti-vilification provision – it doesn't have that. We need to make sure we're getting it right for LGBT+ kids. I spoke in Parliament last night about two of the cases of transgender students in my electorate, of parents whose account is of a child that did okay in their school but who are worried that this bill might make life more difficult for kids who are coming out or who are deciding that they've been born in the wrong gender. We need to ensure that we strike that balance.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 9 FEBRUARY 2022
When Malcolm Turnbull was leader of the Liberal Party he introduced a debt truck, taking aim at what he said was Labor potentially taking government debt to $315 billion. Well, now we have a Liberal government that is taking gross government debt over a trillion dollars. If they were honest about it, they'd be launching their own debt road train. Of course, debt can be justified, as every household with a mortgage knows. But the question is: what do you get for that investment? What's happened here in Australia is that we have intergenerational debt without an intergenerational dividend. The most egregious example of that is the waste that the Liberals allowed to occur through the JobKeeper scheme.
The $89 billion JobKeeper scheme was needed for firms that were struggling. Many firms held onto staff who would otherwise have lost their jobs. But too much JobKeeper was sprayed around as if the recipients were those players in the game where a person's in a booth having to catch as many banknotes as they can in 30 seconds. We've had money going out the door to car dealers and to retailers whose revenues were going through the roof. We've had French, South African and Italian billionaires who've benefited from Australia's JobKeeper scheme. We've had JobKeeper going to the Australian Club, the men's-only club in Sydney that recently voted two to one to continue to exclude women as members. They picked up $2 million in JobKeeper while increasing their surplus.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 8 FEBRUARY 2022
In 1964 a man called Michael delivered a sermon in Ivanhoe Methodist Church. He was a young, bookish bloke, a runner, who had just returned from Borneo. In the congregation was a woman who was training to be a teacher, Barbara. She had just returned from Papua New Guinea, and so they got chatting. He offered to drive her home. She lived almost within sight of the church and said, 'Yes, a lift home would be lovely.' And so my parents fell in love. I literally wouldn't be standing here today were it not for the Ivanhoe Methodist Church. One of my role models is my grandfather Keith Leigh, a Methodist minister who tragically died in 1970, doing a fundraising run up Mount Wellington in Hobart to raise money for overseas aid.
And one of the things I've loved since becoming a federal member of parliament is engaging with the many faith communities here in the ACT. We've got the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture—the other ACCC, you might say. There's the Sikh temple and Sikh groups who, through Turbans 4 Australia, distributed meals to people under lockdown. It was one of the great examples of the Sikh community's willingness to give back to the community. The Hindu Temple and Cultural Centre, in Florey, has a great following in the local community. Gungahlin Mosque has many parishioners and regularly serves food and welcomes people in. Through its open day, it welcomes Muslims and non-Muslims alike to the mosque. Kippax Uniting Church distribute a huge number of hampers every year, to the extent that I once quipped with them that they're really a large social service organisation with a small faith community attached to the side. The Baha'i community, the Buddhist community, the Canberra Quakers, the Anglicans, the Catholics, the Pentecostals and the evangelicals all help to form a rich tapestry of the Canberra community. They strengthen community through their volunteering and their donations.Read more
MONDAY, 7 FEBRUARY 2022
SUBJECTS: JobKeeper incompetence; Liberal rorting; Government debt.
LIAM BARTLETT, HOST: The really important numbers today are JobKeeper. I want to talk about JobKeeper and WA schools. Now as I promised this morning, I can reveal to you on the morning program that there were in fact 46 private schools that received a total of $115 million in Western Australia. We have crunched the numbers, not one of them have or has suffered a 30 per cent decline in revenue. That was the qualifying criteria for the program. Not one, not one of those 46 schools. $115 million they picked up. In fact 20 schools, 20 of those 46 that got $31 million, increased their revenue in 2020. 20 of the schools dropped between zero to 10 per cent, and some of that was a result of passing on fee cuts. Passing on fee cuts. So some of the wealthy citizens who sent their children to those schools effectively got a taxpayer subsidy. Thanks for coming. Only one school in the entire program lost more than 15 per cent in revenue. And not one of these schools has done anything dodgy. Of course, the rules were so loose they legally qualified on the basis of a temporary downturn or a forecast that never happened, that never played out. And consequently of course, thanks to Josh Frydenberg, they're not required to pay it back. Don't have to pay it back. Legally they can just keep it. Every single one of these elite private schools that got JobKeeper made a profit. 46 schools in WA, $115 million dollars in welfare. Let's put that in context. I mean the amount gifted to 46 private schools who didn't need it would be enough to buy 33 million rapid antigen tests, enough to buy 70 for each school children in Western Australia – for each and every school job in WA. No strings attached to the money, of course. It could have been used to build boat sheds or extend their wellness centres. Who knows? We know it was used to give fee discounts, as I said. Some of the schools involved of course sit on an Aladdin's cave of tens of millions of dollars stashed away in their foundations, but the figures are truly eye watering. I can go through, I've got a huge list here. I won't bore you with all the details. Schools like St. Mark's Anglican Community School, $7.1 million. John Septimus Roe, $6.8 million in JobKeeper. St. Mary's got $6.1 million in JobKeeper. Georgiana Molloy, $3.9 million. Perth College, $3.7 million. Bunbury Cathedral Grammar, $2.8 million. Tranby College, $2.5 million. Court Grammar School, $2.3 million. Frederick Irwin, $1.6 million. St. George's Anglican Grammar School, $1.2 million. St Stephen’s School, $6.3 million. The list goes on. Peter Moyes, $4.9 million. Let's have a summary of some of the really truly elite schools, the schools that are always in the news in that way, right at the top of the totem pole. I've picked out five for you here. Scotch College, Christ Church Grammar, Presbyterian Ladies’ College – PLC - Guildford Grammar and St Hilda's. Five schools whose net assets $447,000,000. Four of those schools have another $120 million stashed away in foundations. So they got plenty of comfort. There's plenty of cushion there. Between those five schools – Scotch, Christchurch, PLC, Guildford and St Hilda's - five schools, between them they got $28.5 million in JobKeeper - even though the income dropped collectively by only $6.1 million, primarily because of fee discounts. So their collective profits between those five schools rose by $30 million. That means they banked the lot. Nice big fat checks from Treasury using my money, your money, and they banked a lot. Five of the most elite schools in Western Australia. Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities for the ALP. He joins us from Canberra. Andrew, good morning.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Liam. Great to be with you.Read more
SUNDAY, 6 FEBRUARY 2022
SUBJECTS: Trust and texts; Camilla as Queen Consort; Australia as a Republic.
SHARRI MARKSON, HOST: Welcome back. Let's bring in the political panel, Labor MP Andrew Leigh and Liberal MP Jason Falinksi. Great to have you with us. I don't want to have to talk about this again. But let's go to this political story that’s set to dominate Canberra this week, unless something else breaks. The prime minister today dismissed the text messages that are undoubtedly distracting from his campaign. Jason, what I want to know is have you ever sent a text message criticising the Prime Minister?
JASON FALINKSI: So Sharri, let me tell you that never - not a single time in my life – have I ever sent a critical text message about anyone to anyone else. It's never happened.
MARKSON: That's because you're on Confide all the time, or Signal, the disappearing message apps. Andrew-
FALINSKI: I’ve never had those.Read more
OUTDATED COMPETITION POLICY HURTS CONSUMERS
The Australian, 7 February 2022
I’ve never forgotten the woman who told me ‘there’s always more month than money’. She reflected the quiet frustration of so many people – hardworking, ethical and decent – who feel that prices are rising, while wages are flatlining.
Since the pandemic began, some prices have surged. Since December 2019, the price of beef has risen 17 percent. Furniture is up 11 percent. Car prices are up 10 percent. Childcare costs are up 9 percent. Late last year, fuel was selling for more than $2 a litre at many petrol stations. Yet in the Morrison Government’s last budget, real wages were forecast to fall.
Supply pressures account for a considerable portion of the rise in prices. But it doesn’t help that many industries in Australia are dominated by a handful of big firms. As Rod Sims, the outgoing head of the competition watchdog, has noted, market power in Australia seems to be growing.Read more
WEDNESDAY, 2 FEBRUARY 2022
SUBJECTS: Cost of living; Labor’s plans to help get wages moving; the Reserve Bank’s decision on rates; Labor’s plans to make multinationals pay their fair share.
TOM CONNELL, HOST: One of the big moments yesterday at the National Press Club was the Prime Minister being asked about a host of everyday items. Was it just a journalism gotcha, a typical Canberra bubble question? Did it show the PM is out of touch with the cost of living? It might depend, of course, on your political viewpoint on all of that, but it's become a talking point regardless. For more on this I'm joined by Labor's Shadow Assistant Minister for the Treasury, Andrew Leigh. Thanks for your time. Look, you're a deep thinking politician. I'm not being in the pejorative here, you're probably quite a sort of highbrow politician. What did you make of this question asked of the Prime Minister?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Well, it's not the most important issue in politics, Tom. But I was surprised that the Prime Minister couldn't even name the price of petrol, given that it's gone over two bucks for the first time on his watch and is now in many places sitting around $1.70. It illustrated to many people that this is a prime minister who hasn't noticed that prices are rising for many people faster than their pay packets. He's just brought down a budget which has real wages forecast to fall, and yet we've got prices of housing, childcare, basic essential items going through the roof. It's just not good enough for Scott Morrison to be saying that things are fine and dandy when so many households feel like there's always more month than money, and feeling that the squeeze that the Morrison Government is putting on their household finances is more than they can bear.Read more
TUESDAY, 1 FEBRUARY 2022
SUBJECTS: Labor’s plans to make multinationals pay their fair share; Tax policies.
LIAM BARTLETT, HOST: We're joined this morning by Andrew Leigh. Andrew is the federal Labor Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities, and will have a lot to do with this sort of tax policy during the campaign. How are you this morning, Andrew?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: I'm terrific, Liam. How are you?
BARTLETT: I'm okay. Now, let's get to the bottom of this. What does your leader mean by that reference, the issue of multinationals?
LEIGH: Well, Anthony's concerned that at the moment two-fifths of multinational profits are booked through tax havens, places like the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands. And that means that if you're a regular Aussie business competing against a multinational, then you're doing it with one hand tied behind your back. Because multinationals are making use of the same sort of hidey holes that are being used by terrorists and kidnappers and drug runners. Tax havens have become a cancer on the global tax system, and so Anthony Albanese is determined to do something about that - not only to ensure that we get more revenue into the government coffers, but also because it's not fair on regular Australian firms to be going up against multinational tax dodgers.Read more
ABC RADIO MELBOURNE
TUESDAY, 1 FEBRUARY 2022
SUBJECTS: Labor’s plans to make multinationals pay their fair share; the Liberals’ track record of inaction; the RBA meeting on rates and household budgets; Aged Care; billions in JobKeeper funds going to firms with rising revenue.
VIRGINIA TRIOLI, HOST: I'm always happy to talk to you, Andrew Leigh. Good morning.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Virginia. Great to be with you.
TRIOLI: Because the government is saying that Anthony Albanese is failing to rule out higher taxes, and he's going to one particular point about that, which is about the taxing on multinationals. And that actually is an area where you as opposition and government do want to see multinationals paying more taxes than they have right now. But when it comes to general taxation, and perhaps any threat of future taxation on general PAYG employees in this country, is Anthony Albanese clear? Will there be no new taxes on them?
LEIGH: We've been clear on that, that we're not going to be pursuing the measures on individual taxpayers we took to the last election. But we've got to do more on multinational taxation, Virginia. We've got two-fifths of multinational profits currently booked through tax havens. We've got some $100 billion of Australian moguls’ money sitting in tax havens - places like the Bahamas and Panama, where there are very low tax rates and where on one estimate four-fifths of the money is there in breach of other country's tax laws. Now, these aren't just tax avoidance mechanisms. These are also the places where terrorists, kidnappers, drug kingpins store their money. We have to crack down on tax havens, because they’re a cancer on the global tax system. I've found it remarkable that yesterday two of your Victorian ministers, Michael Sukkar and Jane Hume, put out a press release criticising Anthony Albanese for wanting to do more on multinational taxation. In Victoria, we had the incident a couple of years ago of the Stawell tyre dump being transferred to a company in Panama in order to avoid their clean-up obligations. Some 9 million tyres sitting at that dump and the attempt of the owners was to shift its ownership off to Panama, to a tax haven, and thereby avoid their liabilities. And it's that sort of problem that Labor wants to address.Read more