Sri Chinmoy Peace Run
House of Representatives, 9 March 2023
Since 1987 more than seven million people worldwide have held the Sri Chinmoy peace torch, including Pope Francis, Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Bob Hawke and John Howard. The 2023 Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run started in Brisbane and came to Canberra today. As ACT patron of the peace run, I was pleased to welcome the team to Parliament House, along with members and senators from across the parliament.
The team carrying the torch in relay has included Abhijatri Robinson (South Africa); Annabel Hepworth (Australia); Ashadeep Volkhardt (Australia); Bayarkhuu Batbayar (Mongolia); Fatima Caal Caal (Guatemala); Gabriel Quintana (Guatemala); Gesiane Nascimento (Brazil); Grahak Cunningham (Australia); Harashita Sunaoshi (Japan); Harita Davies (New Zealand), a three-time finisher of the world's longest race, the Sri Chinmoy 3,100-mile race; Joe Ward (Australia); Liana Tibaquira (Colombia); Mirabel Gonzalez Lopez (Guatemala); Narantuya Batsaikhan, Mongolia; Paramananda (Indonesia); Prachar Stegemann (Australia); Salil Wilson (Australia), global CEO of the peace run; Sarankhuu Jargal (Mongolia); Shasti Aston (Australia); Stacey Marsh (New Zealand), the national coordinator of the peace run for Australia; Susan Marshall (New Zealand), women's winner of this year's Sri Chinmoy 3,100-mile race. Plus thousands more Australian school students and members of community groups and clubs, along with citizens from all walks of life who have held, walked or run with the peace torch.Read more
House of Representatives, 8 March 2023
We on this side of the House are concerned with ensuring that Australia has a more dynamic economy. We are committed to action on climate change, as embodied in schedule 2 to the bill, which enacts sustainability standards, implementing the Australian government's election commitment to ensure a standardised, internationally aligned reporting of climate related plans, risks and opportunities by large businesses.
The government is committed to ensuring that Australia has a more dynamic economy. Over recent decades, we've seen an increase in market concentration and an increase in mark-ups, the gap between costs and prices. We've seen a fall in the startup rate and a decline in the share of Australians starting a new job. It's very clear that the Australian economy is becoming less dynamic. After the lousiest decade of productivity growth in Australia's postwar history, it is vital that we look at the benefits that could be garnered from competition reform. In the 1990s Australia saw a productivity surge, and a good part of that had to do with the reforms to competition initiated by Fred Hilmer and Paul Keating at the beginning of that decade. Those Hilmer-Keating competition reforms garnered some $5,000 a year in benefits for the typical Australian household.
We need to consider today whether competition reform can help deliver a more dynamic economy. Since coming to government, the Albanese government has increased the penalties for anticompetitive conduct. We have banned unfair contract terms. We've received an important report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission into digital platform services. And we are currently consulting on platform-specific regulation and a ban on unfair trading practices. Around the world, we can see the thinking on competition shifting. The Biden White House has quite a different approach to competition issues than the Obama White House did. There is a greater awareness that big is not necessarily beautiful and that large firms can affect the entire ecosystem. The impact of monopsony power, the way in which large firms can squeeze their suppliers, is coming into sharp focus. Take Apple, for example. Apple is able to occupy a dominant position in the smartphone market, charging more to consumers than it would be able to do if it had a smaller market share. But Apple can also squeeze its suppliers. There's only one way of getting an app onto the Apple app store, and that is by going through Apple. That's why the typical cost of an in-app purchase is 30 per cent. So monopsony power can hurt suppliers, just as monopoly power hurts consumers.Read more
CPA Australia, Sydney
Wednesday, 1 March 2023
Thanks very much, Wayne [Stokes], for the generous introduction. Thanks to all of you who have come here in person. In the slightly post-COVID age we’re in, it’s lovely to be in a room with other human beings, and that’s a theme that I’ll be touching on a little bit today. Welcome also to those who are joining virtually.
As Wayne did, I acknowledge that we’re meeting on the traditional lands of the Gadigal people, pay my respects to elders past and present, acknowledge any Indigenous people present and commit myself as a member of the Albanese Government to the implementation in full of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
I just finished reading Katherine Rundell’s biography of John Donne. It’s called Super‑Infinite, a title that comes from the way in which Donne’s great focus was on the things that transcend us. When we think about John Donne, we think of that wonderful line, "no man is an island". Of course, a little gendered for his age, but still a powerful reminder of the importance of focusing on those activities that bring us together.
Indeed, it’s hard to point to many achievements of humanity, whether it is creating a great invention, winning a war or building a city, which have been done by a single person alone. Most of the achievements of which humanity can point back are collective achievements. They're achievements of "we", not achievements of "me". And yet over recent decades, Australia has shifted starkly from being a nation more of we to a nation more of me. I want to start by just taking you a couple of metrics for that.
The first is when we look at the number of organisations per person in Australia, that figure has dwindled. We can go to the Directory of Australian Associations, started in the late 1970s, which tracks the number of organisations in Australia, and we see from that a decline in the number of organisations per person. If you wanted to join an organisation in Australia today, there are simply fewer to choose from per person than there were in the late 1970s.Read more
SKY NEWS AFTERNOON AGENDA WITH KIERAN GILBERT
TUESDAY, 7 MARCH 2023
SUBJECTS: Interest rates; Impact and causes of inflation; Government’s response to cost of living.
KIERAN GILBERT (HOST): Let's get back to the issue of the rate rise today, the 10th consecutive rate rise at an RBA board meeting. The Assistant Minister for Treasury, Andrew Lee, joins me now. Is there any hope from the RBA statement that this might be the last, or at least close to it?
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES AND TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: I would have hoped so Kieran but if you look at the end of the RBA statement, they do say that further tightening is likely. So that's unfortunately troubling news for many households. If you look at the impact of the typical mortgage holder over the course of this rate rise cycle, which started just before the election, somebody on a typical mortgage will have seen their monthly repayments go up $658. This increase on its own pushes up repayments for that typical mortgage holder by $51 a month. So it's a significant impost on the Australian household.Read more
ABC RADIO NATIONAL DRIVE WITH ANDY PARK
THURSDAY, 2 MARCH 2023
SUBJECTS: How Uncompetitive markets hurt workers; Non-compete clauses in employment contracts; Superannuation tax breaks worth more than the full-rate aged pension
ANDY PARK (HOST): The cost of living is rising, interest rates are going up, groceries are getting more expensive, and it's getting harder to travel with the rising price of airfares. None of this is news to you, but in recent weeks we have heard stories of people who are really struggling, which are in stark contrast to some of the eye boggling profits from some of Australia's largest companies and their reporting. So what can we do? What should we do to ease the pressure on the average Australian household? Andrew Leigh is the Assistant Minister for Competition, he joins me now on RN Drive. Good day, Andrew
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES AND TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: Great to be with you.
PARK: You've spoken about market concentration allowing companies to lift profits excessively and keep wages low. Are Australian consumers and workers being rorted here?
LEIGH: We certainly know that excess monopoly power is bad for consumers. It drives up prices and drives down choice. It means that firms don't do as much research and development and you don't get the sort of innovation that you'd expect in a highly competitive economy. But what I'm increasingly concerned about now is that market concentration might also hurt workers too. The classic extreme is a company town where you've only got one choice as to who to work with. In that situation, you have the employer exerting a sort of power over the workers that a monopoly exerts over consumers. And this monopsony power, the power that employers have over workers, seems to be prevalent in a lot of parts of Australia, particularly regional Australia. That might be a reason why we haven't seen the sort of real wage growth we would have hoped over the last decade.Read more
How Uncompetitive Markets Hurt Workers
Maurice Blackburn, Melbourne
Thursday, 2 March 2023
I acknowledge the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung and Bunurong Boon Wurrung peoples of the Eastern Kulin.
I pay my respects to their Elders, extend that respect to other First Nations people present, and commit myself, as a part of the Albanese Government, to the implementation in full of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
Special thanks to Per Capita and Maurice Blackburn for hosting today’s event.
Sixteen Tons was written by Merle Travis in 1946.
It’s been covered many times, most famously by Johnny Cash.
It’s about a real group of coal miners who lived and worked in a company town in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. The chorus goes:
You load 16 tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
St. Peter, don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store (Travis 1946)
ABC NEWS RADIO WITH GLEN BARTHOLOMEW
TUESDAY, 28 FEBRUARY 2023
SUBJECTS: Changes to superannuation; Need for more competition; Consultations on 2026 Census topics.
GLEN BARTHOLOMEW (HOST): The Federal Government will cap superannuation tax concessions in a move it says will hit about 80,000 Australians. The changes will impact people with super balances of $3 million or more and will come into effect from the middle of 2025. At the moment, earnings from superannuation are taxed at up to 15 per cent, but that will increase to 30 per cent for those people. There will be no change for Australians with superannuation balances of less than $3 million. Dr. Andrew Leigh is the Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury in the Albanese government and joins us now. Thanks for your time.
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES AND TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: Real pleasure, Glen. Great to be with you.
BARTHOLOMEW: Explain why this change is necessary.
LEIGH: Well, if we continue the way we're going, superannuation tax breaks will cost more than the pension by 2050. Superannuation is meant to deliver a dignified retirement, not to be a tax-preferred inheritance vehicle. And yet there's 17 Australians with more than $100 million in superannuation. Think of it this way. Someone with $100 million in superannuation earning a 5 per cent return is getting a tax break, in the order of one and a half million dollars a year. Now, if Peter Dutton wants to stand up for those people, then he's welcome to do so. But our focus is making these reforms is to ensure that superannuation is sustainable.Read more
I'm looking for a full-time office manager to join my team, working out of my electorate office in Gungahlin. Women and people from racial or ethnic groups that are traditionally underrepresented in politics are especially encouraged to apply.
This position will involve lots of community engagement and local problem solving. In a typical day, you might be helping someone at the front counter with a Centrelink problem, coordinating a 5000-letter mailout, planning a campaign on local issues, and arranging an online community forum. Below, there’s some dot-points that will give you a better sense of what our office does.
ABC CANBERRA BREAKFAST WITH ADAM SHIRLEY
WEDNESDAY, 28 FEBRUARY 2023
SUBJECTS: Workplace giving; Consultations on 2026 Census topics.
ADAM SHIRLEY (HOST): Do you give, I mean in a financial sense, to a given charity? I don’t know whether it’s Vinnies, whether it’s the Salvos, Red Cross, Hands Across Canberra, Thinking Locally, Communities At Work; there are so many different not-for-profits that need extra funds to support those who are in need. Well, a new workplace giving program is being started by Vinnies Canberra, it’s a monthly set up of donations that come straight out of your account. There are other Canberra workplace giving programs, I am sure, and I’d like to hear about one you might be involved with.
Well, someone who oversees giving and also the charity sector more broadly is Dr Andrew Leigh, Federal Member for Fenner and Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury. Dr Leigh, thanks for your time today.
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES AND TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: Pleasure, Adam. Always great to be with you.
SHIRLEY: How important are these workplace-giving programs in our cost-of-living/inflation–ridden times?Read more
WHAT SHOULD THE 2026 CENSUS ASK ABOUT?
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has today opened the first phase of public consultations on topics for the 2026 Census of Population and Housing.
These consultations are the first stage of a review the ABS conducts after each Census. This presents an opportunity for the community to provide feedback on information needs that are presently not met by the Census, and to have input on topics that should be added.
The feedback from this process will help to inform the ABS’s recommendations to the Australian Government on the topics that could be included in the 2026 Census.Read more