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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Corporate welfare doesn't pass pub test - Transcript, 6PR Perth Live

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

6PR PERTH LIVE WITH OLIVER PETERSON

THURSDAY, 18 MARCH 2021

SUBJECT: Morrison Government’s JobKeeper waste exposed.

OLIVER PETERSON, HOST: More than 30 ASX listed companies have recorded higher profits in the last six months of last year than the previous year. That's after they received hundreds of millions of dollars in JobKeeper subsidies. On the line, joining me live from Canberra this afternoon in Parliament House is Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. Andrew, good afternoon.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good afternoon, Oly. Great to be with you and your listeners.

PETERSON: You've been naming and shaming these companies which have profited from JobKeeper. Now we've got one fifth of the companies listed on the ASX, it turns out, grew their earnings through the pandemic with thanks to JobKeeper. That doesn't seem to pass the pub test, Andrew?

LEIGH: It certainly doesn't, does it? JobKeeper was meant to be helping out firms that would otherwise have hit the skids. And yet it has gone - a huge amount of it - has gone to firms whose profits were rising. You think of firms like Harvey Norman that had their best ever profit year in 2020. Those firms didn't need taxpayer handouts. Good luck to them on their profitability, but the idea that JobKeeper - a program designed to keep battlers in work - should be funding billionaires buying their next racehorse is just an abomination.

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Australia can't afford corporate welfare - Transcript, 2CC Drive

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

2CC CANBERRA LIVE WITH LEON DELANEY

THURSDAY, 18 MARCH 2021

SUBJECTS: Morrison Government’s JobKeeper waste exposed; the Morrison Government withdrawing support too soon for those who need it; unemployment rate.

LEON DELANEY, HOST: I'll bet you're very pleased you're not in the Senate, Andrew Leigh. Good afternoon.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good afternoon, Leon. Yes, always pleased. Every day, I get out of bed in the morning and I'm pleased I'm not in the Senate. It's a delight to be in the people's house.

DELANEY: Indeed. What do you make of that motion that was passed by the Senate? Is it bigoted, as the Greens senator suggested, or is it just a merely a reflection of common sense?

LEIGH: Leon, we've just had some massive rallies across Australia over the issue of sexual harassment, which we know affects two-fifths of women. We've had a woman allegedly raped within 50 metres of the Prime Minister's office. The idea that motions like this are what the Senate should be debating seems utterly ludicrous to me. Let's focus on the big issues.

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Frydenberg defends taxpayer-funded executive bonuses - Media Release

FRYDENBERG DEFENDS TAXPAYER-FUNDED EXECUTIVE BONUSES

In Question Time today, I asked the Morrison Government “how much of the taxpayer money used to fund JobKeeper has been spent on executive bonuses?”

Rather than condemn the misuse of JobKeeper to fund million-dollar bonuses for millionaire CEOs, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg defended the practice, saying “decisions by businesses about remuneration are matters for them”.

This bizarre defence of BonusKeeper is at odds with the many who have criticised the practice of firms paying executive bonuses after receiving JobKeeper, including:

  • The Australian Taxation Office
  • The Business Council of Australia
  • The Council of Small Business of Australia
  • Former Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett
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Billions wasted where it wasn't needed - Transcript, 5AA Mornings

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

5AA MORNINGS

THURSDAY, 18 MARCH 2021

SUBJECT: Morrison Government’s JobKeeper waste exposed.

LEON BYNER, HOST: I'm going to talk to a bloke who is a former professor of economics at the Australian National University, and he's got some very interesting data about JobKeeper. I'm talking about the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury, Dr Andrew Leigh. Andrew, thanks for joining us today.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Always a pleasure, Leon.

BYNER: Now, you've uncovered that one fifth of JobKeeper payments made to major listed companies in the second half of last year went to firms who grew their profits during the pandemic. Just explain this.

LEIGH: That’s right, Leon. So JobKeeper could be claimed based on a forecast downturn, but not all firms who said their profits were going to go down actually saw them fall. And this new report from Ownership Matters highlighted that for listed companies, a fifth of the money went to firms that very clearly didn't need it, that had a better 2020 than 2019. You think of firms like Harvey Norman or Premier Investments, which owns Just Jeans and Smiggle - these retailers saw a bonanza profit in 2020. They didn't need money, but they got it anyway. And if these findings are replicated right across the JobKeeper recipients, that would be somewhere between $10 and $20 billion going to firms with rising profits.

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Where did our JobKeeper cash go? - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 18 MARCH 2021

The Morrison government's thrown a shroud of secrecy over the JobKeeper program, but a new report finds that half of the public companies that got JobKeeper saw their earnings go up, not down. One-fifth of the JobKeeper dollars went to firms that were more profitable than before the pandemic.

This is waste on a colossal scale.

The report suggests that $10 billion to $20 billion in JobKeeper payments may have gone to firms with rising profits—firms that never needed it, firms that gave it to billionaire shareholders and millionaire CEOs.

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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.