At the Canberra Multicultural Festival

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Do you have to drink each time you mention the Beveridge Curve?

I copped some gentle flack yesterday for asking the RBA Governor about the Beveridge Curve. Here's an illustration of the data that concerned me (thanks to Scott Kompo-Harms at the Parliamentary Library for compiling it).

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Australian Youth Forum for 2011

A brief speech in Parliament on youth engagement.
Australian Youth Forum, 10 February 2011

I was pleased today to attend the launch of the Youth Forum’s Youth Engagement Steering Committee, which is going to advise the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth, Mr Peter Garrett, about a range of important issues in education. I was delighted to have the opportunity at that event to meet Ms Tahlia Azaria, a successful member of the AYF steering committee in 2010, who will lead the steering committee in 2011 as chair.

I would like to pay particular tribute to two members of that youth steering committee from my electorate, Anthony Antioch and Mitchell Wall, two very impressive young men who I am sure will bring to bear a youth perspective on some of the critical issues that young Australians feel it is important to speak about.

I think young Australians often feel too shut out of our political process, that they do not have enough opportunities to have their voices heard in the corridors of power. The Youth Engagement Steering Committee is a way of addressing that, of bringing a breath of fresh air into our political process and ensuring that young Australians have a voice at the highest level of power.
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Politics and Parenthood

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Why helping Indonesia is in our National Interest

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Leadership for People with a Disability

A new national program provides leadership skills for people with a disability. I hope that local Canberra groups will apply.

Media Release - Helping leaders for tomorrow

Andrew Leigh, Federal Member for Fraser, is encouraging organisations in Canberra to help boost leadership skills of people with a disability.

Leaders for Tomorrow is a new national program designed to help people with disability become leaders in business, the community and government through mentoring and leadership development.

“This is one part of the Gillard Government’s $11 million package to support people with a disability and carers in our community,” said Andrew Leigh.

“The Leaders for Tomorrow package allows local organisations to help people with a disability partner up with mentors.

“It’s about overcoming barriers to education and work and skilling up the leaders of tomorrow.

“I hope many organisations in Canberra take up this opportunity.

“The successful applicants will develop individual leadership development plans for all participants in the Leaders for Tomorrow program. This may include goal setting, team building, governance, communication, implementing change and problem-solving.

“I congratulate Senator Jan McLucas, the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, and the Gillard Government in helping people with a disability,” concluded Andrew Leigh.

The program is expected to provide about 200 people with disability with up to 12 months intensive leadership support, including a mentorship program where people work with mentors in their field of interest.

The accessibility package is being delivered under the National Disability Strategy and also includes the $5 million Accessible Communities Program, which is currently open to local governments to make their communities more accessible for people with disability through minor infrastructure upgrades.

Eligibility criteria and application forms for the Leaders for Tomorrow are available at, by calling 1800 668 689 or sending an email to [email protected]

Applications close on 11 March 2011.
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Big Ideas Competition

I'm running a 'Big Ideas' competition for young people living or studying on the north side of Canberra (the Fraser electorate). Entries should:
* Be a video no more than 3 minutes in length;

* Describe an issue, what should be done in response, and why.

The competition will be open for entries until Friday 12 May and will be run with three separate levels: primary (K-6), secondary (7-10) and youth (year 11 until age 24).

Topics can include anything from reducing crime to improving sports participation, urban transport to water use, foreign aid to alleviating homelessness, boosting business start-ups to fostering artistic creativity in Canberra.

The judges are: Danielle Cronin (Canberra Times), Kieran Gilbert (Sky), Peter Martin (Age), Samantha Maiden (The Australian), Mark Simkin (ABC), Sarah Wiley (2GB), Annabel Crabb (ABC), Mark Davis (SMH), and Laura Tingle (AFR).

If you know any young Fraser residents with bright ideas, please encourage them to enter the competition.

For more details, click on the 'Big Ideas' tab at the top of this page.
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Schooling in Indonesia

I gave a brief speech today in Parliament on Australia's aid program, and particularly its funding for education in Indonesia.
Schooling in Indonesia, 9 February 2011

In the late-1970s, I attended primary school in Banda Aceh. I was there because my father was working on an AusAID project to improve education in Indonesia. At the same time, Indonesian education was improving me. As the only white child in my class, I came to appreciate perspectives and cultures quite different from my own. The power of stories and songs, an understanding of geography and history – these things stay with me still.

For Indonesia, as for Australia, education is the best anti-poverty tool we’ve developed. A wealth of evidence now shows that education raises wages and increases participation in the democratic process. Better educated citizens are healthier, and their children receive many of these benefits too.

Yet while Australia has for decades been a partner in improving the Indonesian education system, that bipartisan consensus now threatens to crack. Fuelled by some of the most reactionary groups in Australia, a campaign has been afoot to say that when floods hit Australia, we should stop assisting others. This kind of inward-looking approach will directly harm thousands of Indonesian children. But it will also harm our national interest, which is in engagement, not autarky.

Our nation is not so poor - in finances or national spirit - that we must choose between rebuilding the damage done by the floods and being a good neighbour.
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In praise of public servants

Kevin Rudd has a terrific piece in today's Drum. A few quotes:
It’s fair to say we in politics don’t stop often enough to say thank you to public servants in public forums. This is a criticism that could be equally directed at either side of the political spectrum, and would be a fair comment. ...

Our Embassy in Cairo, staffed with fewer than 10 Australians on a regular basis, has swelled to over 40 staff helping stranded Australians get back home to safety.

More than 30 members of the public service heard the call that the Government was looking for more staff to assist in a deteriorating security environment and said “yes, I will go”.  ...

Tricia, a regional consular officer based in Dubai, answered the call. She was one of the first on the ground. She worked tirelessly all week until being detained while scoping routes to ensure Australians could travel safely along them. And what did she do after being released? Went straight back to work including living at the airport three days straight helping Australians onto flights. This work is truly appreciated and brought home to me when I met just a few of these rescued Australians on their way home from Egypt.

Tricia’s efforts are just one example of brilliant efforts by brilliant members of our foreign service. Efforts worth commending, but efforts replicated across the public service on a daily basis. ...

Every day, be it those on the front line at Centrelink, our customs and border protection staff, or those working on the policy ideas that will solve the challenges that Australia faces, we should be proud that in Australia we do have a world class public service.
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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.