Indigenous Economic Development Inquiry - Sub Deadline Extended

If you're planning to make a submission to our House of Reps inquiry into Indigenous Economic Development in Queensland, you now have an additional three weeks.

Extension for submissions to the inquiry into Indigenous economic development in Queensland

The House of Representatives Economics Committee is continuing its inquiry into Indigenous economic development in Queensland and review of the Wild Rivers (Environmental Management) Bill 2010.

The Committee is examining the full range of issues affecting Indigenous economic development in Queensland including the operation of environmental and industry regulation.

“The Committee is, of course, well aware of the natural disaster that has befallen Queensland. Our thoughts go out to the communities that have been affected by these unprecedented floods” said the Chair of the Committee, Craig Thomson (Member for Dobell, NSW).

Given Queensland’s current circumstances, and that many involved in this inquiry are suffering hardship, the Committee has extended the closing date for submissions.

Submissions were due by Friday 28 January 2011, but this is now extended until Friday 18 February. Further extensions beyond this date can be negotiated with the Committee secretariat.

Further public hearings are now expected to be held in Queensland during the week beginning 7 March 2011. The Committee strongly encourages those who wish to participate in hearings to contact the Committee secretariat to register their interest. The secretariat will also be happy to provide further information about the inquiry and the submission and hearings process.

Submissions addressing the terms of reference should be emailed to [email protected] or sent to:

The Committee Secretary

House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics

PO Box 6021

Parliament House

Canberra ACT 2600

Further details about the inquiry, including the terms of reference and advice on how to make a submission, can be obtained from the committee’s website at

For further information: please contact the Committee secretariat on (02) 6277 4587 or email [email protected]
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Strengthening the Not-for-Profit sector

Media Release - 21 January 2011

Andrew Leigh, Federal Member for Fraser

Strengthening the not-for-profit sector

Federal Member for Fraser, Andrew Leigh, has welcomed the release of a consultation paper on the design of a new national regulator for the not‑for‑profit sector.

“This is part of the government’s commitment to strengthening the 600,000 or so not-for-profits and community organisations throughout Australia,” said Andrew Leigh.

“It’s about making it easier for not-for-profits to do what they do best – help people.

“We want to reduce red-tape and streamline processes so that the sector can spend more time servicing the needs of our most disadvantaged and vulnerable citizens.

“We want to hear from the sector on their ideas about delivering smarter regulation that reduces the compliance burden while improving transparency and accountability.

“This is the start of the process to deliver a “one-stop shop” regulator and the feedback from the sector while help determine its role, function and design,” concluded Andrew Leigh.

The consultation paper was today released by the Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten and Minister for Social Inclusion Tanya Plibersek.

In releasing the paper Mr Shorten and Ms Plibersek said Treasury will use the consultation paper to seek the views of stakeholders on the goals of national regulation, the scope of national regulation, and the functions and form of a national regulator.

Submissions in response to the paper close on February 25, 2011.  The consultation paper is available on the Treasury website at

MEDIA CONTACT: Shobaz Kandola: 6247 4396
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Age of the Infovore

From Tyler Cowen's The Age of the Infovore, a book about autism, information and economics:
What's next? We could benefit in further ways by adopting a better and deeper understanding of human neurodiversity. We could have a more practical understanding of the limits of formal education. We could be more skeptical about story-based reasoning and superficially appealing narratives; we also could become more resistant to obnoxious advertising and less bent on senseless revenge. We could understand better how a different mind can be an entertaining mind and perhaps a heroic mind. We could treat minorities, including autistic people, better. We could appreciate new and different forms of music and art, or at least we could be more tolerant of diverging aesthetic tastes. We could become better citizens, more cosmopolitan, more objective about our culture and nation, and better able to appreciate the benefits of the rule of law.

Tyler is also the author of Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist, which I greatly enjoyed.
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Flood Appeal

Gai Brodtmann and I have called on Canberrans to assist flood victims.
Canberrans called to dig deep for flood victims

Member for Canberra, Gai Brodtmann and Member for Fraser, Andrew Leigh today called on Canberrans to stand by the victims of the horrific Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australian floods.

“Canberrans have the highest rate of volunteering in the country, and we are generous contributors to our community and the nation,” said Ms Brodtmann.

“We received overwhelming support from all around the country during the bushfires that raged through the ACT eight years ago.

“I urge Canberrans to volunteer or donate what they can to help the victims of the floods,” said Ms Brodtmann.

The Gillard Government is working closely with the Queensland Government to ensure that Australian Defence Force resources are on call to aid search and rescue efforts in the State.

“Concessional interest rate loans of up to $250,000 and freight subsidies of up to $5,000 have been extended to 23 shires and councils as well as a range of emergency payments available to people affected by the floods,” said Dr Leigh.

“Australians naturally rally together in times of need and adversity. The flood victims in Queensland need our support,” they said.

Secure donations to the Premier’s Flood Appeal can be made online at or by credit card on 1800 219 028. Donations can also be made to St Vincent De Paul, the RSPCA, the Salvation Army and the Red Cross.
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Mile-High Economists

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What I'm Reading

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Smart Giving

My AFR op-ed today looks at how we can use the Christmas season to help those in need.

Choose a Gift That Matters, Australian Financial Review, 21 December 2010

With four days to go before Christmas, Australians everywhere are renewing our annual love affair with perfumed bath salts, tie sets and reindeer earrings.

But this season, why not break the family mould, and turn up with something that’s really going to turn heads around the barbie? In the name of aunt Phyllis, you can buy a chicken that will provide eggs to a family in Papua New Guinea. In honour of cousin Susie, you could pay a school teacher in a Ugandan refugee camp.

For dad, how about a pack of thermal blankets to assist kids sleeping rough in Kalgoorlie? And surely nothing would please grandpa more than knowing that his gift helped cover travel costs for a volunteer to provide business skills to Indigenous people in Wadeye?

As the average household grows increasingly affluent, more families than ever before have the opportunity to use Christmas as a chance to focus on people who are less fortunate. Yet my own analysis of charitable giving statistics suggests that the share of Australians who donate to charity has stayed fairly constant since the late-1970s. Economic growth creates the potential for us to become a more munificent nation – but rising incomes do not automatically translate into greater generosity.

Thanks to the internet, giving wisely is easier than ever before. Donate to a street-corner charity worker, and a good chunk of your money may go into paying their salary. But contribute online, and your hard-earned is more likely to get to where it’s needed. For quirky donation-gifts, it’s hard to beat which claims to have the largest registry in the southern hemisphere.

Locally, many charities are still running appeals for money and gifts for needy Australians. In my electorate, Gordon Ramsay of Kippax UnitingCare told me the story last week of a single mother with 3 children under the age of 10, who had lost all her children’s presents when floodwaters lapped around the base of her Christmas tree. When told that the charity could provide some new gifts, tears of relief rolled down her face.

But if you don’t have personal experience with a charity, how can you ensure that your gift goes where it will do the most good? Unfortunately, there are large disparities in effectiveness across charities, from those that rigorously focus their efforts on the neediest to organisations that aim to enrich their founders.

As Nicholas Kristof recently pointed out in the New York Times, rating charities is no easy business. A charity with a low ratio of administrative costs to total spending may be efficient – or it could just be underpaying its staff. A more useful guide is the share of the budget spent on fundraising. For example, the American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP) suggests that charities should not spend more than $25 to raise $100 in public support. The Institute also considers charities’ willingness to operate transparently, and marks down philanthropic bodies that hold excessive assets. In the most egregious cases, the AIP gives charities a grade of ‘F’.

Another major player in the US,, looks at trends over time. Charities that are growing are marked up. Those that run a consistent deficit are rated down.  Like the AIP, CharityNavigator focuses primarily on a charity’s organisational effectiveness.

However, because charities can be streamlined but misguided, my favourite US charity-rating agency is, which looks for evidence of program effectiveness and regular evaluation. GiveWell’s top-rated international charities are Village Reach and Stop TB (both global health charities), while its preferred US charities are the Nurse Family Partnership (early childhood intervention) and KIPP (school education).

If I could have a Christmas wish for the Australian philanthropic sector, it would be to see the development of our own charity-rating bodies that matched the depth and rigour of their US counterparts. Looking at the existing guides and websites that compile information about the Australian charitable sector, I get the sense that our raters need to be willing to ruffle a few more feathers in their search for the golden egg.

Yet don’t let the search for the perfect put you off doing good this season. There’s an outdoor toilet in Pakistan just waiting to be built in the name of uncle Albert. Just wait until you see the look on his face when he learns you’ve bought it for him.

Andrew Leigh is the federal member for Fraser, and the author of Disconnected (UNSW Press, 2010).
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New skate park in Belconnen

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Debating Simon Birmingham on ABC24 (13 Dec)

(And if you'd prefer the 'Simon Says' version, there's a transcript of his half of the interview on his website.)
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What I'm reading

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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.