Young people on Canberr’a northside urged to apply to help them be creative young stars
Andrew Leigh, Member for Fraser, today urged students and young people in Fraser to apply to share in $23,500 to help them develop their talents and chase their dreams by taking part in creative, cultural, academic and community activities.
My op-ed in the Canberra Times points out that since Tony Abbott was Health Minister, the federal Health Department has grown more slowly than the Australian population. Yet he now claims not to know what it does, and is threatening savage cuts.
Liberals’ unhealthy dose of purging threatens, Canberra Times, 19 June 2013
Recently, I was chatting to a public servant who works at the federal Department of Health and Ageing – working on ways of reducing smoking, encouraging better nutrition, and decreasing obesity rates.
The conversation turned to this year’s election, and what it meant for our jobs. As a politician, I know that every three years I’m up for a job interview with a 130,000 person panel. But it turned out that this person felt much the same. They’re concerned that their job turns on the election result.
I spoke in parliament today about the passing of distinguished Australian economist Helen Hughes.
Helen Hughes, 17 June 2013
Economists have a tradition of paying tribute to colleagues of a different ideological view. Friedrich Hayek said of John Maynard Keynes, ‘He was the one really great man I ever knew, and for whom I had unbounded admiration. The world will be a very much poorer place without him.’
Larry Summers said of Milton Friedman, ‘He and I probably never voted the same way in any election. …. Nonetheless, like many others I feel that I have lost a hero, a man whose success demonstrates that great ideas convincingly advanced can change the lives of people around the world.’
I am far from that league, but it is in that same spirit that I rise to acknowledge the free-market economist Helen Hughes, who died on Saturday aged 85. Born in Prague, Professor Hughes emigrated to Australia in 1939. Educated in Melbourne, she did her PhD at the London School of Economics and then worked at the World Bank in Washington DC.
Opening Remarks at the Australia Day National Conference
Old Parliament House
13 June 2013
Thank you very much Andrew [Gill], for that wonderful welcome to this historic building. This really is a place where you think, ‘if only the walls could talk’.
I’d like to of course acknowledge we’re meeting on the traditional lands of the Ngunnawal people and pay my respects to their elders past and present. I want to acknowledge Aunty Agnes Shea and Tom Calma who are here today.
I want to also acknowledge Adam Gilchrist. I don’t know if Ita Buttrose is here but I certainly did see Ian Frazer before.
Welcome, everyone, to Canberra. I have the privilege of representing the north half of Canberra in Federal parliament and I really reckon this is the best city in Australia.
My SMH op-ed today is on the importance of increasing the share of honours given to women.
Why we need more female nominees, Sydney Morning Herald, 10 June 2013
One of the great privileges of being a parliamentarian is that you get to meet so many remarkable people. In the past fortnight, I’ve chatted with an Indigenous elder who’s passionate about early childhood education, and a community leader who’s working to boost volunteering rates. I’ve talked with a young entrepreneur building her start-up, and a painter who is creating stunningly beautiful work. In a job like this, it’s impossible not to be an optimist about Australia’s future.
This is why the biannual Order of Australia awards – granted on Australia Day and on the Queen’s Birthday – provides a welcomed opportunity to officially recognise some of the achievements and services we see from extraordinary Australians. The awards are overseen by the Governor-General, and, as part of a nineteen member Council for the Order of Australia, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister represents the Australian Government in the recommendation process.
My Chronicle column this week looked at the benefits for all Canberra school students from signing up to the national schools agreement.
Funding Allows ACT Schools to Flourish, The Chronicle, 4 June 2013
When surgeons are talking about the path to understanding a new procedure, they use a simple maxim: “see one, do one, teach one”. It sums up the fact that you haven’t really understood a topic deeply until you’re able to teach it to someone else.
Whether it’s bricklaying or algebra, teaching is hard. We remember things best when we’ve done them ourselves , rather the simply being told the answer. And yet until we’ve done a task right, we often don’t know what it feels like. If you’ve ever tried to teach a child to ride a bike, you’ll know the delicate balance between risk and safety.
Our schools today teach some extraordinary stuff. A student who has mastered the Australian Curriculum knows more about maths, chemistry and geography than anyone alive just a few centuries ago.
I spoke in parliament tonight about the death of Mr Yunupingu.
Mr Yunupingu, 4 June 2013
It is my pleasure to follow the eloquent words of the member for Fremantle. In 2008, 17 years after he first sang of ‘hearing about it on the radio and seeing it on the television’, Mr Yunupingu reflected on the Hawke government’s promise for a treaty for Indigenous Australians. ‘I am still waiting for that treaty to come along for my grandsons,’ he said. ‘Even if it is not there in the days that I am living, it might come in the days that I am not living.’
Mr Yunupingu’s optimism rings with particular poignancy in light of his passing this weekend. At only 56, his days on this earth were too few. Pushing Indigenous Australian issues to the forefront of the national psyche in a fashion that blended the political with pop culture was a momentous achievement. His influence extended internationally. He drew global attention to the ongoing mistreatment and inequality within Australia, while always encouraging a positive and inclusive attitude. Few of us could forget Yothu Yindi’s performance at the 2000 Sydney Olympics closing ceremony, bracketing, as it did, the role that Cathy Freeman played in the opening ceremony and with her victory in the 400 metres. During a period in Australian history where the government was reluctant to say sorry, thousands of voices sang along to Treaty, showing the world that non-Indigenous Australians wanted a better future with our Indigenous brothers and sisters.
I spoke today on the Matter of Public Importance debate, moved by Malcolm Turnbull.
Matter of Public Importance – National Broadband Network, 4 June 2013
I appreciate the member for Wentworth providing us with a chance to set the record straight on what has been a disgraceful fear campaign by the coalition.
As with any major national project there are important conversations that policymakers need to have about what we want to achieve and how best to set about achieving it. So I want to speak first about why Australia needs the National Broadband Network—a fibre-to-the-home network—and then discuss the issues of asbestos that the honourable member has raised and how the government is responding to those.
The simple fact is that in a 21st century developed country, access to the internet is a form of basic infrastructure. It is to our generation as the water and electricity networks were to generations before. The member for Wentworth knows this; he has great knowledge of the information technology industry—certainly unlike his leader, who has confessed ‘I’m no tech-head’.
Chris Manchester, Wendy Tuckerman, Michael Pilbrow, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Rowena Abbey, Geoff Kettle & John Shaw
I spoke in parliament yesterday about the need to make the Barton Highway safer, ahead of a meeting the PM had with mayors and Labor candidate for Hume Michael Pilbrow.
Barton Highway, 3 June 2013
Last week there was a head-on crash on the Barton Highway, between Yass and Murrumbateman. The drivers of both cars were hospitalised with critical injuries, and the single-carriageway highway was closed in both directions for several hours.
Thankfully, this incident did not claim any lives; unlike a similar head-on collision in February this year in which one of the motorists, an ACT resident, was tragically killed.
The Barton Highway is a part of the national highway system and a key link between Canberra and the national grid, and it is unacceptable that it remains so dangerous. The risks are only going to increase as traffic volumes build, because the Yass valley area is one of the fastest growing regions in New South Wales. For example, Murrumbateman has grown from having a population of around 350 in 1984 to some 3,000 today.
My op-ed in today’s AFR looks at the prospects for jumpstarting Japan’s ailing economy.
Three Arrows on Their Way, Australian Financial Review, 4 June 2013
In the mid-1930s, John Maynard Keynes coined the phrase ‘animal spirits’ to sum up the impact of a country’s mood on its economic environment. When nations get stuck in a funk, it’s hard to escape. Conversely, when growth gets going, exuberance builds on exuberance (sometimes to the point of creating a bubble). Either way, the sentiments of consumers and businesses can build on one another.
For Japan, the post-war decades are a story of astonishing transformation, as the country transformed itself from a developing to a developed country. By the 1980s, airport bookshelves were filled with tomes about the virtues of the Japanese economic model, with titles like Trading Places: How we are Giving Our Future to Japan and How to Reclaim It and Blindside: WhyJapan Is Still on Track to Overtake the U.S. by the Year 2000.
But the past twenty years have been a story of malaise. Hard as it is to believe, the Japanese economy – in nominal terms – is almost exactly the same size as it was twenty years ago. The deflation trap has proved devilishly hard to escape, and net government debt is now more than 140 percent of GDP, the highest in the OECD (Australia’s debt share is one of the lowest).
I spoke in parliament today about Coalition costings, and the importance of parliament expressing its confidence in Treasury officials.
Confidence in Treasury, 3 June 2013
Too often the crucial work of our nation’s public servants goes unnoticed and goes unthanked. As the member for Fraser I am pleased to say that many of these hardworking public servants are my constituents. I myself have been seconded to Treasury and have seen firsthand the hard work of those public servants. We on this side of the House believe in a frank and fearless Public Service in the great Westminster tradition. Those opposite would prefer to have a flaccid and fearful Public Service. That is their ideal of public service.
I spoke in parliament today about a bill that will ensure post-election audits, and hopefully encourage the Coalition to let their policies out of hiding.
Parliamentary Budget Office, 28 May 2013
Although this is a topic that I feel very strongly about, there is a large number of bills before the House so I will speak briefly today. The Parliamentary Budget Office was established on the recommendation of a joint select committee of parliament including support from all parties. The aim of the PBO is to ensure that elections are fought around values, so that there are two well-costed sets of policies which face the Australian people. The alternative to the Parliamentary Budget Office is what we saw in the 2010 election where the coalition avoided the Charter of Budget Honesty, a charter set up by Peter Costello, and then went to the election offering policies which instead had been so-called ‘audited’ by a private accounting firm. That accounting firm was later fined for professional misconduct because they had not conducted an audit. We had the farce of the member for North Sydney claiming that they had only conducted a small ‘a’ audit. Unfortunately, audit only has a small ‘a’. The coalition were, needless to say, embarrassed by this, embarrassed by the $11 billion hole in their costings which Treasury exposed. We saw some deeply disappointing scenes in here when members of the opposition criticised former Treasury secretary Ken Henry for doing his job and simply scrutinising coalition costings.