Universities deserve respect from Morrison Government - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 24 MARCH 2021

Since the start of this pandemic 17,000 university jobs have been lost as a result of the government's failure to support one of our most important sectors. We have seen the Australian National University forced to close its neuroscience institute named after John Eccles, the ANU's first Nobel laureate. We have seen Monash University cut its theatre studies and musicology programs. Macquarie University will have no Bachelor of Mathematical Sciences taught this year, nor will the Bachelor of Advanced Science, the Bachelor of Advanced Information Technology or the Master of Mechanical Engineering be taught. We have seen the Australian National University downgrade its art schools, Newcastle and La Trobe universities abolish their drama departments and the University of Tasmania cut courses, including arts and humanities. From nearly every university we've seen reductions in arts, languages, science and maths courses.

It didn't have to be this way. When JobKeeper was put in place the government deliberately changed the rules, no less than three times, to exclude public universities from JobKeeper support. Private universities were the only ones who received support. According to Universities Australia, this sector has lost an estimated $1.8 billion in revenue in 2020, compared to 2019, and a further $2 billion in 2021. There is a cumulative impact. A student who doesn't enrol in first year this year is lost in the second, third and fourth years.

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Misogynistic culture needs to change - Transcript, ABC Canberra Breakfast

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW

ABC CANBERRA BREAKFAST

THURSDAY, 25 MARCH 2021

SUBJECTS: Morrison Government’s JobKeeper waste; the need to change the culture of sexual harassment and entitlement in Parliament House.

LISH FEJER, HOST: JobKeeper is due to wind up the end of next week as the government shifts to a new system, but we're hearing a lot about JobKeeper that has been kept in companies’ pockets. Dr Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities, and federal Member for Fenner in the ACT. Good morning.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Lish. Great to be with you.

FEJER: And you. You spoke very strongly, you've spoken out in the past about this and the need to change it - to get big companies that are posting record profits over the Coronavirus year to have to hand it back. You spoke yesterday. What was the response?

LEIGH: An interesting attack from Solomon Lew, who got fairly personal in his response to me. I mean, I don't really like this stuff, Lish. I didn't get into politics in order to pick fights with people. But if I'm going to end up in a public stoush, then it might as well be with a billionaire asking him to return corporate welfare that in my view he didn't need.

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Premier Investments doesn't need corporate welfare - Transcript, ABC The Business

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
TV INTERVIEW

ABC THE BUSINESS

WEDNESDAY, 24 MARCH 2021
 
SUBJECT: JobKeeper waste.

ALICIA BARRY, HOST: Record pyjama sales and online shopping drove an 89 per cent surge in Premier Investments' half year profit. Solomon Lew's company owns a range of brands. The standout was Peter Alexander, and a 60 per cent jump in internet sales also helped. As did another $15 million top-up in JobKeeper payments, bringing the total JobKeeper received by Premier to $70 million. I spoke with Labor MP Andrew Leigh, who says Premier Investments doesn't need corporate welfare.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: JobKeeper was not a program designed to go to firms with rising profits. It was meant to keep battlers in jobs, not help billionaires buy their next yacht. Premier Investments should do the right thing and pay the money back. It didn't need JobKeeper support, and the right thing right now would be to return that money to the taxpayer for people who really do need support.

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It's time for territory rights - Transcript, ABC Canberra Drive

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW

ABC CANBERRA DRIVE

WEDNESDAY, 24 MARCH 2021
 
SUBJECT: Territory rights and voluntary assisted dying.

ANNA VIDOT, HOST: Interesting development this week on Australian states’ moves to allow people who are suffering under certain circumstances to be assisted to end their own lives. This is a decision the territories are currently not allowed to make for themselves, the ACT and Northern Territory both currently and quite steadily lobbying the federal government or Parliament really to change that. But this week, Tasmania became the third state to legalise voluntary assisted dying, joining Victoria and Western Australia. South Australia will consider doing the same later this year. It took a while for Tasmania to get to this point. It's the fourth time these laws have been considered over just over a decade, and this latest effort took about three years to get from inception to successful passage through Tasmania's upper house last night. The ACT and Northern Territory are blocked from even debating similar legislation in our legislative assemblies, because of a piece of Commonwealth legislation. The Federal Labor MP for Fenner Andrew Leigh is among those who want that to change, and he joins me this evening. Andrew Leigh, what do you make of the news overnight, first of all, that Tasmania has now joined Victoria and Western Australia to allow voluntary assisted dying?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: It's pretty remarkable, isn't it, Anna? I remember when there was one survey that looked at attitudes to euthanasia across the country. It found that the attitudes were coolest among Tasmanians. But now we've got half the states where voluntary assisted dying with safeguards is legal. As you mentioned, South Australia is looking into it. The Queensland Law Reform Commission is looking into it. It can't be that long until New South Wales makes moves in this direction. And yet, here in the ACT - the most progressive jurisdiction in Australia – we’re banned from even talking about it thanks to an anachronistic 24-year-old bill called the Andrews Bill, which prevents the territories from legislating on voluntary assisted dying.

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Time to pay it back - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 24 MARCH 2021

A year ago billionaire Solomon Lew reportedly cried as he spoke on the phone to the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, urging him to create JobKeeper. Lew's firm, Premier Investments—which owns Just Jeans, Jay Jays and Smiggle—qualified for over $45 million in JobKeeper support from taxpayers.

Today Premier Investments announced a record profit, almost twice what it was making before the pandemic.

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Time to restore democratic freedoms to the ACT - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 24 MARCH 2021

Last night, Tasmania's parliament passed voluntary assisted dying laws, a bill introduced by Independent legislative councillor Mike Gaffney. The vote was not close. It passed the Legislative Council unanimously, and, in the lower house, 16 MPs voted in favour of it and six against. This follows Victoria and Western Australia passing voluntary assisted dying laws.

The Palaszczuk government promised before the last election that it would introduce voluntary assisted dying laws in Queensland, and the Queensland Law Reform Commission is currently exploring the issue. This stands in stark contrast to the situation in 1997 when the Andrews bill was passed by the Parliament of Australia, preventing the territories from legislating on euthanasia. We are now at a stage where three out of six states have passed voluntary assisted dying laws, and yet the territories are even forbidden from even debating the topic. This makes no sense whatsoever.

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Australia needs action, not accusations - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 23 MARCH 2021

The issue of sexual harassment has been roiling this building and has a significant economic cost. It is also an issue about which the government could be doing much more. So, I intend to use my opportunity today in this appropriations debate to discuss the issue of sexual harassment and what can be done to reduce it in Australia.

Australian women are angry. We saw this from the March 4 Justice. We've seen it from so many women who've written to parliamentarians, calling for Australia to do better. This is a moment at which Australia needs leadership, and we didn't get that leadership this morning. We've seen advisers being shown the door. Last week an adviser to the member for Deakin was dismissed after being accused in the Tasmanian parliament of using a sexist slur—which I won't deign to repeat here. We've also had the dismissal today of another coalition staffer, who was engaged in abominable behaviour. And we still have the questions as to what the Prime Minister knew about the alleged rape in a minister's office two years ago.

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Bad behaviour in Parliament shouldn't be tolerated - Transcript, 2SM with Marcus Paul

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW

2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING

TUESDAY, 23 MARCH 2021

SUBJECTS: The need to change the culture of sexual harassment and entitlement in Parliament House; Support for a Royal Commission into veterans’ suicide; JobKeeper.

MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Andrew Leigh is our #JobKeeperWarrior. He joins us each Tuesday on the program. G’day, Andrew.

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

PAUL: Well, thank you, mate. Now a couple of things I wanted to touch on. An awful story emerged in the press overnight in relation to, well, a bit of hanky panky going on there in the Parliament. Stuff that really should be outside of federal parliament. I'm going to be honest with you mate, I think Australians are getting a bit sick and tired of hearing of all of this rubbish. Parliament is a building that should be, as far as I'm concerned and I think most Australians would agree, it's building that needs to be set aside for lawmaking rather than extracurricular activities. I mean, what do you make of this news overnight?

LEIGH: More Animal House than Parliament House, isn't it, Marcus? It does remind you that there are people out there who forget what a privilege it is to serve the public, whether that's in elected office or working for a Member of Parliament. There are people who would give their eye teeth for that chance, and every day we go into to do those jobs we should see them as a privilege. But some of these guys seem to reckon that they’re born to rule, that they've got a right to treat the place abominably. It's just awful behaviour, it shouldn't be tolerated in any side of politics.

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Australia needs royal commission into veteran suicides - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 22 MARCH 2021

I shan't detain the House long. But I did want to add my voice to the many who've spoken in favour of a royal commission into the issue of veteran suicides.

The number of veterans who have written to me on this issue is astonishing. A man who wrote to me on Saturday night said:

'As a veteran who served 30 years and did tours of Somalia, Afghanistan, two in Iraq, one in East Timor and one in Timor-Leste, I would like to thank the Senate for voting to have a royal commission into veteran and serving ADF member suicides. I have suffered from PTSD since 1994 and recently it became the catalyst for my medical retirement from the workforce. I implore my local federal members and the Senate to vote for a royal commission.'

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Women need to see themselves in Parliament - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 22 MARCH 2021

Today I was joined in my office by Sharmini Caldwell, who's taking place in Jasiri Australia's Girls Takeover Parliament, a program encouraging young women to engage with politics.

After similar takeovers in previous years, nine out of 10 participants left wanting to pursue a career in politics. But this month, founder Caitlin Figueiredo surveyed those same participants again, and she found that, right now, only one in 10 would consider running for office.

That survey result echoed what happened when Australian of the Year Grace Tame was asked at the National Press Club if she would run for politics. Her response was, 'Noooooo.'

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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.