Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development

On Wednesday, I spoke in parliament about the terrific Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development program (if you want to be an AYAD, click here).
Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development
12 October 2011

On 28 September I had the pleasure of farewelling the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development on behalf of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. It was the second time I have done this, and it was an honour I greatly enjoyed. By coincidence, that morning I had opened the Thailand Update conference, the 21st conference of its kind, run by Peter Warr. It is a conference that aims to deepen academic relations between Australia and Thailand.

Among the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development were people going to Cambodia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and East Timor. I was there with the Cambodian ambassador Mr. Chum Sounry and both of us were impressed by the high calibre of people going overseas. I told the youth ambassadors about the late Herb Feith, Australia's first international volunteer, and the extraordinary role he played in taking the best of Australia to the developing countries that surround us.
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Women in Business

I spoke in Parliament on Wednesday about the ACT Telstra Business Women's Awards.
Telstra Business Women's Awards
12 October 2011

I was recently privileged to attend the Telstra Business Women's Awards, which recognise outstanding women and their contribution to the business community. Past winners include some of Australia's most talented business leaders, whose career paths and individual achievements continue to inspire businesspeople around the country. It is often tough being a woman in business or in other leadership roles. In her book Delusions of Gender, Cordelia Fine tells the story of botanist Jeanne Baret and mathematician Sophie Germain, who around the turn of the 19th century were forced to pretend to be men in order to excel in the world of science. Thankfully, those kinds of games are no longer necessary. But it is still true that it is tougher to be a woman in business than it is to be a man.

I want to acknowledge the Telstra ACT Business Woman of the Year, Robyn Walker, from the Department of Defence. The Commonwealth Bank Business Owner Award went to Karen Nicholas from Learning Options in Manuka. The Hudson Private and Corporate Sector Award went to Janine Yokom from Westpac in Belconnen. Janine has an extraordinary life story. A back injury forced her to close her nail technician business. That opened a new opportunity for her to become leader of a team that is now recognised as one of the best performing among its peers. Joining Westpac as a bank teller in 1997, she was appointed local bank branch manager for the Belconnen area in 2006.

I also want to acknowledge White Pages Community and Government Award winner Robyn Walker; Nokia Business Innovation Award winner Barbara Reid from the ACT government Health Directorate in Woden; and Marie Claire Young Business Women’s Award winner Julie McKay from UN Women Australia. Julie's work with UN Women reminds us that so many of the challenges that talented women face around the world are bigger still than they are in Australia: the 'missing girls' that have been documented in so many developing countries; the awful discrimination that many women suffer and violence that women face in war zones from the Congo to Afghanistan. Of course, one of the main reasons that Australia is in Afghanistan is to ensure that young women in Afghanistan have the opportunities that are rightfully theirs.

In closing, let me pay tribute to the government's decision to remove gender discrimination in our armed forces and to acknowledge that, in deciding who goes into combat operations, ability rather than gender will be the sole requirement.

Thanks to Terese Corkish for putting me onto Fine's fine book, which I'd thoroughly recommend.
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Hawke Review of the NCA

A new review of the National Capital Authority is out today. Simon Crean's media release is below.

Regional Australia Minister Simon Crean today released the report on the independent review into the role and responsibilities of the National Capital Authority (NCA).

The review, completed by Dr Allan Hawke AC, examines the Federal Government’s responsibilities in the national capital and considers reforms to planning, the NCA’s sustainability and future administrative arrangement.

Mr Crean said Dr Hawke’s report provides advice to the Federal Government on how to find the right balance for planning responsibilities between the Commonwealth and the ACT Government.

“Canberra is a place of symbolic importance to the Australian people and the Federal Government has a role to play to preserve and enhance that national interest,” Mr Crean said.

“Dr Hawke’s report provides important advice on how we can achieve this in the lead-up to the Centenary of Canberra in 2013.”

The report’s recommendations include:

  • Simplifying the planning system and better recognising the role of the ACT Government;

  • Options to enable the NCA to operate under existing resources;

  • Developing a five-year plan of information and education activities; and

  • Reinforcing the NCAs recent improvements in public accountability and refines its role in fostering awareness of Canberra as the national capital.

Mr Crean said the Federal Government was now considering the recommendations and will respond by the end of the year.

“I would like to thank Dr Hawke for his work, and those members of the public who provided submissions either to the Joint Standing Committee inquiries or directly to Dr Hawke,” Mr Crean said.

The Report ‘Canberra a Capital Place: Report of the Independent Review of the National Capital Authority’ draws on work already produced by various taskforces and committees. It is available at
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There's nothing like Australia

Do you have a favourite holiday destination? Tourism Australia wants Australians to upload a photo of their favourite holiday destination onto, and explain in 25 words or less why there is (wait for it) nothing like Australia. You can also nominate up to five people for your ‘Holiday Dream Team’. There are 16 Australian holidays up for grabs for the winner and five friends, with three winners announced each week.

There are still a couple of weeks left to enter so you should check out and enter. Terms and conditions are on the website.

Incidentally, when the same competition was run last year there were close to 30 000 photo entries. They were used to build an online interactive map of Australia, allowing tourists to search thousands of options for their next domestic holiday as recommended by other Australians.
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Memorials Hearings Continue

The National Capital committee is continuing hearings into the process for selecting new memorials. Here are details of our Friday hearings, which are open to the public, and broadcast live via the parliamentary website.

National Memorials Ordinance under scrutiny

The Parliament’s National Capital and External Territories Committee will be holding a public hearing on Friday 14 October, from 10.45am to 4pm, as part of its inquiry into the National Memorials Ordinance 1928.

The public hearing will be held in Committee Room 2S3, Parliament House Canberra.

Appearing before the Committee will be;

  • National Capital Authority (Submission 30)

  • Department of Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government (Submission 38)

  • Professor Janette Hartz-Karp, Curtin University

  • ACT Government

  • Returned and Services League (Submission 22)

  • Australian War Memorial (Submission 36)

Committee Chair Senator Louise Pratt said that the hearing would allow the Committee to examine the future of the National Memorials Ordinance from the point of view of government, planners and key stakeholders, complementing earlier evidence looking at the issue from the community, environment and heritage perspectives.

The participation of Professor Hartz-Karp will allow the Committee to look at innovative forms of public participation in memorials approvals, a key element of the inquiry. “National memorials are the common property of all Australians. Public participation in the conception, design and location of national memorials is critical,” Senator Pratt said.
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A Big Day for Climate Change

The House of Representatives today passed the government’s Clean Energy Future package. Under this package, there will for the first time be a price on carbon pollution, starting on 1 July 2012. All revenue from the scheme will go to assist households, help businesses and expand renewables.

Scientists tell us that climate change is real, and economists tell us that the most effective way of tackling it is through a market-based mechanism. Over the past year, I’ve spoken on the science of climate change, the strengths of a market-based mechanism, carbon farming, and the clean energy legislation. I’ve also busted a few myths about pricing carbon. Locally, I’ve run three community forums on climate change, and spoken with many Canberrans at my mobile offices.

The climate change legislation now goes to the Senate, where the government’s previous attempts to put a price on carbon pollution were blocked in 2009 by the Liberal Party, the National Party and the Greens Party. This time, I’m pleased that the Senate looks set to back the plan, and get cracking on making Australia a low-carbon economy. This is good environmental policy, strong employment policy and terrific economic policy.
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Land, land everywhere, but not a block to buy

A new RBA paper by Mariano Kulish, Anthony Richards and Christian Gillitzer has some fascinating figures on housing. For example, did you know that the vast bulk of new housing has been created in the outer burbs?

Or that for their population, the density of Australian cities is much closer to North America than Europe?

All this, and much more, here.
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More affordable rental homes for North Canberra

I was happy to announce today additional funding under the National Rental Affordability Scheme for rental homes in north Canberra.
More affordable rental homes in North Canberra

Residents in North Canberra will have access to more affordable rental accommodation under the Gillard Government's National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS).

Andrew Leigh, Member for Fraser, welcomed the announcement of successful applications for NRAS round four which will deliver over 200 projects to build more than 17,000 properties for low to moderate income households to rent below market rate.

"I know the cost of rent is a real pressure for families and students in Canberra”, Andrew Leigh said.

“That’s why the Gillard Government is investing in addressing housing affordability to increase the supply of affordable rental properties. It’s important to ensure that there are affordable accommodation options for families as well as students so that living and studying in Canberra remains an attractive option.

“I am very pleased to welcome investment in these three projects. Community Housing Canberra, the United Vietnamese Buddhist Congregation and the University of Canberra have all successfully applied for funding for a range of different dwellings. Together, these projects will see the construction of more than 1500 dwellings around Canberra’s north side.

“These projects are three of many developments across the nation that will help to play a part in addressing housing affordability under NRAS.

“Before Labor came to office there were no programs aimed at improving the availability of affordable rental properties.

“I lobbied my Federal colleagues on these projects because many of my constituents have told me about their problems finding affordable rental accommodation. It’s exciting to see so many projects in Canberra’s north supported by NRAS” said Andrew Leigh.

The National Rental Affordability Scheme is about increasing supply of new affordable rental housing, reducing rental costs for low and moderate income households and encouraging investment and innovative affordable housing.

It also provides a welcome boost to the domestic construction industry where conditions remain soft due to the lingering impacts of the Global Financial Crisis and the withdrawal of stimulus.

“We provided support to domestic construction when the worst of the Global Financial Crisis hit and initiatives like NRAS continue to provide an ongoing pipeline of work for the sector” said Andrew Leigh.

NRAS offers financial incentives to the business sector and community organisations to build and rent homes to low and moderate income households.

The Gillard Government has committed to support 50,000 NRAS properties, with up to 35,000 dwellings across the country by 30 June 2014, and the remaining 15,000 by 30 June 2016.

The National Rental Affordability Scheme complements other Gillard Government initiatives to improve the community's access to affordable housing, including the $450 million Housing Affordability Fund and the $100 million Building Better Regional Cities program.
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Steve Jobs

I'm participating in the government's Jobs Forum today (backing up after two very interesting days at the Tax Forum), but I can't let the chance go by to say something about the tragic passing of Steve Jobs. If there was a Nobel prize for innovation, Steve would've won it. His massive impact on the face of computing can be seen in the New York Times' graphic of some of the 317 Apple patents that list him as one of the inventors.

Even if you don't use a Mac, an iPhone or an iPad, your life has probably become better thanks to Steve Jobs, since many of his ideas diffused across to Apple's competitors. It seems appropriate that I'm typing this on an iPad, a machine that I couldn't imagine myself using when I first read about it, and one that I now can't imagine doing without (when I can prise it away from my four year-old).

Steve's last big announcement, iCloud, strikes me as something that's likely to be just as groundbreaking. His death at 56 has doubtless robbed the world of more ideas, but he created more than any other tech inventor of his generation. Steve, RIP.
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Mapping the Northside

In conjunction with Belconnen Arts Centre, I'm running a project called 'Mapping the Northside'. We'll be officially launching on 18 October, but here's a sneak preview.
Tuesday 18 October – Thursday 17 November

What’s your favourite place? Andrew Leigh MP and Belconnen Arts Centre join to create a giant sized interactive map of the Federal electorate of Fraser on the northside of Canberra. Everyone is welcome to contribute and note their most meaningful places onto the map. This may be accompanied by a story, a photo, a poem, an artwork or performance work! Surprise us please!
More information > 6173 3300 (Belconnen Arts Centre) or 6247 4396 (Andrew Leigh MP)
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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.