ANDREW LEIGH MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES
MEMBER FOR FENNER
CANDIDATE FOR BANKS
MORRISON GOVERNMENT FAILING AUSTRALIANS WITH UNDERPERFORMING ECONOMY
Stagnating wages and rising cost of living are forcing Australians to seek help from services like Oatley’s Allawah Care.
The volunteer-run service provides food and clothing to people in need, many using it as a “top up” to ease pressures on the household budget as underemployment and price hikes start to bite.
The hardworking people behind Allawah Care are doing vital work, but Australians should not have to be reliant on such services to make ends meet.Read more
Fascist flags, QAnon and extremist ties: the many faces of ‘freedom’ protesters - Op Ed, The RiotACT
FASCIST FLAGS, QANON AND EXTREMIST TIES: THE MANY FACES OF ‘FREEDOM’ PROTESTERS
The RiotACT, 23 February 2022
Over recent weeks, far-right antivax protests have cropped up in Canada, Britain, France and New Zealand. But never have these protests come to a city with a higher vaccination rate than Canberra, where unvaccinated adults are as rare as UFO sightings.
They have a right to peacefully protest, but those of us who believe in science also have a right to point out that vaccines save lives and conspiracy theories can kill. Since the Morrison Government belatedly began rolling out COVID vaccines in Australia, these free vaccines have protected thousands of Australians from hospitalisation and death. COVID vaccines work. Ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine and Vitamin C do not.Read more
HONEST AUSTRALIANS PAY THE PRICE FOR COALITION’S REFUSAL TO COME DOWN HARD ON TAX RORTS AND SCAMS
At its peak, the Stawell tyre dump held nine million tyres, making it one of the biggest tyre dumps in the world. After being inactive for more than a decade, the state Environmental Protection Authority finally stepped in and cleaned it up, recycling more than one million tyres, weighing around 10,000 tonnes.
Yet when they looked for someone to pay the bill, the government found that ownership of the dump had been transferred to an internet marketing company based in the tax haven of Panama. Asked about the sale, the former owner admitted ‘I have never been to Panama and can't speak or understand any Spanish’. When the case went to court, Justice Karin Emerton called the sale of the site ‘outrageous’, suggesting that ‘It's open to infer that shifting assets between two companies, to a shelf company in Panama, is a device being used to avoid obligations under the fire preventions notice’.Read more
OUTDATED COMPETITION POLICY HURTS CONSUMERS
The Australian, 7 February 2022
I’ve never forgotten the woman who told me ‘there’s always more month than money’. She reflected the quiet frustration of so many people – hardworking, ethical and decent – who feel that prices are rising, while wages are flatlining.
Since the pandemic began, some prices have surged. Since December 2019, the price of beef has risen 17 percent. Furniture is up 11 percent. Car prices are up 10 percent. Childcare costs are up 9 percent. Late last year, fuel was selling for more than $2 a litre at many petrol stations. Yet in the Morrison Government’s last budget, real wages were forecast to fall.
Supply pressures account for a considerable portion of the rise in prices. But it doesn’t help that many industries in Australia are dominated by a handful of big firms. As Rod Sims, the outgoing head of the competition watchdog, has noted, market power in Australia seems to be growing.Read more
A MORE DYNAMIC ECONOMY
The Australian, 24 January 2022
Imagine a stock-trading Rip Van Winkle who went to sleep on Wall Street in the mid-1980s and just woke up today. When he looked at the biggest firms on the US market, he would be startled. In the mid-1980s, the largest US firms were IBM, Mobil, Exxon, Ford and General Motors. Today, they are Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook.
But if he’d gone to sleep on Bridge Street, Sydney, our stock trader might have wondered if he’d slept at all. In the mid-1980s, the largest Australian firms were Westpac, the Commonwealth Bank, NAB, ANZ and BHP. Today, they are Westpac, the Commonwealth Bank, NAB, BHP and CSL.
This isn’t just about firms, it’s about industries. A generation ago, the largest US firms included two oil companies and two car companies. Today, technology rules the roost. Yet in Australia, the same banks and the same mining company persist, with biotechnology firm CSL the only new entrant into the top five. Over the last generation, the biggest US businesses have been dethroned, and replaced by new firms from an entirely new sector. In Australia, it’s business as usual.Read more
CHARITIES ARE SICK OF FIGHTING OFF ATTACKS BY MORRISON GOVERNMENT
The Guardian, 15 January 2022
One of the key steps in the autocrats’ playbook is to suffocate civil society. From Venezuela to Belarus, elected leaders who have overseen a democratic decline have harassed volunteers, shut down community groups, and curtailed charities. The last thing a strongman needs is a group of engaged community leaders telling people the truth.
Five years ago, international not-for-profit Civicus started tracking how countries treat civil society. When they began, Australia occupied the top ranking: “open”. That’s the rating enjoyed by Germany, Canada, Sweden, New Zealand and many other advanced countries.Read more
WHAT BOOKS OUR LEADERS SHOULD BE READING... AND WHY
The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 January 2022
Forced into teenage work to support his family, John Curtin made up for his lack of formal education with a lifetime of reading. As a young man, he would stay late at the Melbourne Public Library. As Curtin's great-grandson Toby Davidson notes, an hour each Sunday was reserved for reading poetry. When he became Prime Minister, Curtin’s deep inner life engendered respect across the political spectrum. He had read enough in foreign policy to know that Australia needed to reach out to the United States ‘free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom’. His reading of Keynes and Pigou shaped Curtin’s decision to introduce unemployment benefits and plan for a full-employment economy after World War II. Books shaped Curtin, and Curtin shaped Australia.
2021 has been a bumper year for books about big ideas. In fact, you might say there’s been a cabinet-full of books, in the sense that there’s something for every member of cabinet to devour.
For the industry minister, Kazuo Ishiguro’s science fiction novel Klara and the Sun explores a world of artificial intelligence and genetic engineering. Walter Isaacson’s The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race delves into what current CRISPR gene editing technologies can achieve. Like Isaacson’s previous biographies of Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs, the focus isn’t just on the outcomes, but on how extraordinary minds think differently. Reading their stories is a reminder that breakthroughs are more likely to happen when every child has the teachers, mentors and funding that empowered the world’s best innovators.Read more
TOO SLOW IN A FAST WORLD
Daily Telegraph, 4 January 2022
Sports stars are getting more remarkable every year. In 1950, no-one in history had run a four-minute mile. Now, there are more than a dozen high school students who have managed the feat. In 1950, the bench press world record was 181 kilograms. Now, it is 355 kilograms.
Today’s elite athletes have better equipment, better nutrition and better coaching than in past generations. Competitors start training at a younger age, and train harder than ever before.
Yet while today’s sporting stars are faster, higher and stronger than ever before, the same cannot be said for the Australian economy. Even before COVID hit, economic growth had slowed. Wage growth was tepid. Construction and business investment were languishing.Read more
CLIMATE CHANGE AND CANBERRA
The Canberra Times, 30 December 2021
They’re only a few dozen kilometres apart, but there’s a remarkable difference between the conversation about climate change in schools in my electorate, and from conservative Liberal and Nationals in Parliament House. Canberra’s school students know that Australia needs to take stronger action on climate. They’re excited about renewables. They love electric vehicles. The tinfoil hat brigade in the Coalition party room want to use taxpayer money to fund new coal fired power stations that the private sector won’t touch with a barge pole. They fearmonger about renewables. They claim that electric vehicles will end the weekend.
Sadly, Australia’s most progressive jurisdiction has one of the most conservative senators in the federal parliament. When Zed Seselja isn’t voting against territory rights, he’s peddling baseless fear campaigns about the dangers of climate action. Zed is a walking example of why Australia recently ranked last for climate policy among 64 countries in the Climate Change Performance Index – worse than Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Brazil.Read more
WHAT’S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN? TACKLING EXISTENTIAL RISK
Lowy Institute Interpreter blog, 23 December 2021
What would happen if you decided to cross the road without checking the traffic? Odds are that you’d survive unscathed. But do it enough times and you’re likely to come a cropper.
As a species, humanity is now playing with technological innovations that pose a small but real risk of ending our existence. Tens of thousands of nuclear weapons pointed at major cities. Biotechnology that could allow the creation of deadly pathogens. Computer technology that could create a machine that is smarter than us and doesn’t share our goals. And all the while climate change could lead to unstoppable feedback loops.
As a teenager, I joined Palm Sunday anti-nuclear rallies. As an adult, I’ve been a strong advocate of climate change action. But when I entered parliament in 2010, the issue of existential risk didn’t loom large on my radar. My priority was people’s quality of life, not the end of life itself.Read more