GOVERNMENT SHOULD SUPPORT CHARITIES, NOT SILENCE THEM
The Australian, 18 April 2022
In the late nineteenth century, Alfred Nobel got to read his own obituary. His brother Ludvig had died, and a French newspaper mistakenly published an obituary that had been prepared for Alfred. Nobel might have hoped that it would laud the fact that he had invented dynamite. Instead, it proclaimed ‘the merchant of death is dead’. Nobel, who didn't have a wife or children, suddenly had a preview as to how history was going to remember him. But he had time to change that. In his will, he set up the Nobel Prizes, giving nine tenths of his wealth to establish what are now the most prestigious prizes in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, peace and economics.
Giving is a great legacy to provide to others. Giving during our lifetimes can also be a source of pleasure. A cross-national survey found that people who donated to charities tend to be happier than others who didn't. Another study found that people who had supported a charity had significantly better blood pressure readings.Read more
HONEY, I SHRANK THE GROCERIES
The New Daily, 2 April 2022
Freddo Frogs were reduced from 15g to 12g – but the price stayed the same. New varieties of Tim Tams mostly have nine biscuits in a pack, not the 11 biscuits you’ll find in the original pack. Many brewers have shrunk the size of their beers down from 375ml to 330ml, while some winemakers are selling 700ml bottles rather than the usual 750ml.
Dubbed ‘shrinkflation’ by US economist Pippa Malmgren, the term refers to a cunning trick that manufacturers like to pull: Selling us less product for the same price. In recent times, Maltesers fun-size bags have dropped in weight from 144g to 132g. Smiths chips have shrunk from 200g to 170g. A tube of Pringles has downsized from 165g to 134g.Read more
Bob Hawke: Demons and Destiny
The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, 29 March 2022
The first time I met Bob Hawke in person, he shook my hand and looked directly into my eyes. It felt like the two of us were in a bubble, cordoned off from the rest of the world. Hawke was 70 years old, and eight years out of the prime ministership, but he still had his famous animal magnetism. The only other time I’ve experienced this magic trick was when I shook hands with Bill Clinton.
Troy Bramston’s new biography of Bob Hawke captures the energy and achievements of Australia’s longest-serving Labor prime minister. Raised by parents who often told friends that their son would be prime minister, Hawke made his reputation by winning substantial wage rises for workers. It earned him the admiration of the union movement and the epithet “Mr Inflation” from the conservatives.Read more
PRO-GROWTH AND BUSINESS
The Australian, 1 April 2022
Labor’s credentials on social justice are well known. Ours is, after all, the party that was founded by workers in 1891, and whose achievements include the pension, Medicare and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
But Labor’s economic credentials are also an important part of our story. Trade liberalisation, floating the dollar, and competition reform are enduring achievements of my side of politics. We know that you can’t have a strong labour market without strong companies. Unlike left-wing extremists who criticise economic growth, we’re passionate pro-growth progressives.Read more
US LESSON IN WHY WORKERS NEED A BOOST IN REAL WAGES
The Australian, 16 March 2022
They call them “deaths of despair”. In the US, deaths from drug overdoses, suicide and alcoholic liver disease have been rising in the past decade. Well before the pandemic, American life expectancy was going backwards.
There are many causes of this American malaise, but a big one is the fact the economy simply hasn’t been delivering for working people. In the past 50 years, real wages for the typical American man have barely risen. Real incomes for the poorest households have gone backwards.Read more
AUSTRALIA'S LAWS MUST CHANGE TO CONTAIN PUTIN'S DIRTY MONEY
The Canberra Times, 12 March 2022
As advanced democracies tighten sanctions on Vladimir Putin, regulators are looking more closely at how the Russian President made his money. Some sources suggest that he may have $100 billion – others as much as $200 billion. That would put Putin’s wealth higher than the combined annual output of South Australia, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory.
One thing that we can be sure about is that Putin uses tax havens. In 2016, the leak of the Panama Papers revealed a complex web of transactions that Putin and his associates used to hide their assets, including helicopters, planes, a superyacht and a palace on the Black Sea. Tax havens like Panama helped conceal the true owners of these assets.Read more
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