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Andrew Leigh, Labor Party for the House of Reps Fraser, Candidate Questionnaire, Election ’13

By Barcham 26 August 2013 42

Andrew

Labor’s Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh has gotten back to us with some answers for you, and a book plug.

Candidates, the readers of RiotACT are your voters and they have questions for you! If you’d like to answer those questions and prove you care what your voters think then email us at contact@the-riotact.com.

You can find the questions here.


UPDATE: Andrew Leigh would like it noted that he submitted these questions on Friday the 23rd. In the time between him submitting his answers and us publishing them Labor made its high speed rail announcement, which is not discussed in Andrew’s answer for obvious reasons.


1. What are your views on euthanasia?

Having seen friends of my family attempt in vain to find a way that their loved ones could die with dignity, I have come to support the principle that a person living with a terminal illness and intolerable pain should have the choice to die with dignity. This can only be done with proper safeguards, but the example from the (now-overturned) Northern Territory laws, and from other countries, shows that this is not an insurmountable problem.
You will know that the Federal Parliament’s jurisdiction is limited to whether or not the ACT and the NT are allowed to make laws permitting euthanasia. When the matter of voluntary euthanasia has previously come before Parliament, it has been dealt with as a conscience vote. This remains Labor Party policy, recognising that people of goodwill can have different positions on the issue.


2. Do you support a High Speed Rail Link between Sydney/Canberra/Melbourne?

Yes in principle, but I am aware that it would be very expensive. As you know, Federal Labor commissioned an extensive study on a High Speed Rail link between between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, with spur lines to Canberra and the Gold Coast.

We could consider building one section first – and because of the natural geography, it would make sense for this to be the Canberra to Sydney leg. It would highlight the advantage of getting from one city to another in a fraction of the time. That’s a real benefit for workers making the commute. But we’d also need to consider the impact on Canberra because there isn’t yet agreement on whether the line should finish at the city or the airport. Moreover, we don’t want our city to be a dormitory suburb or outpost of Sydney or Melbourne. Together with Canberra’s planners we need to give some thought to the social and cultural effects of a high speed rail link and the impact on our quality of life.

In the meantime, we are advancing the project through consultation with community stakeholders. A high speed rail unit has been established in the Department of Infrastructure and Transport. Staff have been working with local councils along the preferred route, with community groups, Regional Development Australia committees and industry organisations. An early task is to address the complex issue of environmental impact.


3. Are you comfortable with the distribution of wealth in modern day Australia?

First off, I’d like to thank my mum for writing a question that allows me to plug my latest book.

Excessive inequality diminishes all of us. As I noted in Battlers and Billionaires: The Story of Inequality in Australia, wages for the top ten per cent have grown 59% since the mid-1970s, while wages for the bottom tenth have only grown 15%. Too much inequality strains the social fabric, threatening to split us into ‘two Australias’. I don’t think that’s a healthy outcome for anyone, and I don’t think it’s consistent with our social traditions. Ours is a nation where most of us don’t like tipping, where we tend to sit in the front seat of the taxi, and where we’ve had previous central bank governors called ‘Nugget’ and ‘Nobby’. And yet the economic reality is increasingly coming adrift from our egalitarian ethos.

The question is what do we want to do about that? In Battlers and Billionaires, I argue that we need to encourage economic growth, preserve a means-tested social safety net, ensure disadvantaged children get a great education, and prize our egalitarian spirit. So it makes me proud to be representing a party whose paid parental leave scheme doesn’t give more to rich families – unlike the Green-Liberal proposal, which will increase inequality.

Federal Labor came up with the Better Schools plan, which gives more to disadvantaged students. And we built DisabilityCare, which provides a vital social insurance pillar to some of the neediest Australians. Our party is the party of egalitarianism. I’m proud of our record getting thousands more students into university. Many of them are the first in their family to go to uni. It underlines what we know – that education is the best pathway to reduce poverty.


4. Recent polling (Auspoll) shows housing affordability to be a critical issue for a majority of Australians, with 84% of respondents saying it was important to them or their families, putting housing affordability ahead of issues such as education, border security, the NBN and NDIS.

The same poll also revealed that 84% of respondents also believe that Australia is not performing well on housing affordability.

Australian Governments are failing badly on this issue of critical importance to Australians.
What would you do to improve housing affordability?

Housing affordability has two strands: making is easier for people to buy their own home and reducing the risk of homelessness for people on low incomes.
On the first score, Federal Labor has made an unprecedented investment in housing that rents below the market rate. For example, the multi-billion National Rental Affordability Scheme has seen federal investment in 1 in 20 of the new houses built in recent years. These homes must rent for at least a 20% discount below market rates. You’ll find NRAS homes throughout the Fraser electorate, from Acton to Bruce to Crace.

I’m also a strong supporter of the ACT government’s push to release more land and reduce stamp duty. Katy Gallagher and Andrew Barr deserve great credit for seeing off a ferocious scare campaign at the last election, and continuing with tax reform that’s fairer and more efficient.

Second, to reduce homelessness I’d embrace more partnerships with the not-for-profit and welfare sectors and the construction sector to increase social housing. I’d want to see more of a focus on solutions beyond finding emergency shelter and short term housing options during a crisis. More can be done to ensure that people don’t boomerang back.

We need to have more wrap-around social support and services that transition people from crisis accommodation into something long term and stable. That’s why I’m delighted to see the development of Common Ground in Gungahlin. It’s an innovative model that has delivered promising results for people who have suffered from chronic homelessness.

It’s worth noting that there is a dumb way to reduce house prices in Canberra, and that’s to axe thousands of public servants. This would cause the economy to slump, and house prices would likely fall. There’s nothing smart about that approach, but it’s the one the Liberals are pursuing.


5. To me the NBN seems like a great idea, can you tell me why you think it’s ace/a dumb idea.

Have you ever met anyone who would rather drive a Morris Minor over a Porsche? We’re talking about speed and reliability into the future.
The NBN is more than just a great idea – it’s a great piece of nation building infrastructure that will serve us for generations to come. And it’s happening right now.

I was doorknocking in Amaroo recently when one resident told me he’d just gotten it hooked up, and he was enjoying using it to have better conversations with relatives overseas. Others talked about the health and education benefits. No-one came up to me and said “the real problem with the National Broadband Network is they’ve brought the fibre all the way to my home, and I wish they’d stopped it in the cabinet down the street”.

Labor’s investment in fibre to each home is an investment in our economic future. By the time today’s year 7 students finish high school their household’s internet needs may well have increased six-fold. We can’t even imagine how fibre to the home will empower people in decades to come. We know that in the area of health and wellbeing, the technology will bring ‘virtual’ medical and allied health professionals into regional, rural and remote communities to benefit people.


6. Do you think cyclists should be registered?!

It’s an ACT Government responsibility, but I’m yet to be persuaded. At the moment, cyclists merely need to be sober, helmeted, and obey the road rules. As a keen cyclist myself, and someone who’s keen to see more people cycling in Canberra, I would worry that registration might deter casual cyclists.


7. What is your position on gay marriage?

I support same-sex marriage. It is a matter of justice. My Labor colleagues in the ACT feel the same.

If re-elected a Rudd-Labor Government would bring the matter before the Parliament within 100 days.

I’ve spoken on five occasions on same-sex marriage:

Speaking in favour of same-sex marriage at the ALP ACT conference (30 July 2011)
Reporting back to parliament on the views of my constituents (24 August 2011)
Speaking in favour of same-sex marriage to parliament (13 February 2012)
Telling parliament some of the personal stories from my electors that have led me to favour same-sex marriage (18 June 2012)
Talking to parliament about the philosophical basis for supporting same-sex marriage (27 May 2013)


8. Would you be willing to cross the floor on matters of strong personal conscience or of significant concern for your electorate?

Federal Labor allows MPs and Senators a conscience votes on issues such as euthanasia and marriage equality. Unfortunately, the Liberal Party didn’t give its members the same freedom when the issue of same-sex marriage came before parliament last year.


9. What are your views on the NSA collecting private information of Australian citizens and corporations, of the Australian government’s participation in similar programmes, and of the apparent silence of Australian politicians on the matter?

I can understand that Canberrans might be concerned about claims that agents at the National Security Agency in the USA can monitor anyone’s personal information and internet activity.

However, Australia’s intelligence agencies operate under a strong legal framework to protect Australians at all times, including when dealing with information from outside Australia. Interception and access to telecommunications in Australia is undertaken strictly in accordance with the law and we are also confident that our close allies similarly understand and respect our legal framework.


10. We hear so much negativity about the opposition when election time rolls around– what three things do you consider to be positive about any of your opponents and why?

I do my best to acknowledge good work by parliamentarians regardless of their political stripes. To take a few examples, I’ve praised Joe Hockey’s speeches on Syria, and did a terrific forum with students at Harrison School with my friend Liberal MP Andrew Laming. I enjoy the company of Greens Senator Larissa Waters and Nationals Senator Fiona Nash. On radio, I enjoy jousting with Liberals Malcolm Turnbull and Arthur Sinodinos. Indeed, Arthur and I held a very genial economics debate at Uni Pub in Civic recently. He’s delightful company and razor sharp, and I hope the Liberal Party puts him at the centre of their economic team in the future.

[Photo by Richard Tuffin]

What’s Your opinion?


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42 Responses to
Andrew Leigh, Labor Party for the House of Reps Fraser, Candidate Questionnaire, Election ’13
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Jim Jones 11:06 am 30 Aug 13

johnboy said :

Darkfalz we all get you’re a liberal fanboy.

Now can you try debating like a reasonable human being if you want to convince anyone?

Leave him alone JB.

He’s so repulsively representing the vilest, most obnoxious aspects of ‘Liberal’ ideology that it actually works against them.

It’s also hilarious.

Jim Jones 10:50 am 30 Aug 13

Darkfalz said :

Andrew Leigh wants us to vote for Kevin Rudd, someone he couldn’t vote for himself even knowing he’d lose his parliamentary secretary role and any hope of a ministry.

I wish Leigh would relocate his office so I wouldn’t have to walk past it every day on the way to work.

Wait … you have a job?

Darkfalz 10:48 am 30 Aug 13

Apparently, Labor have “built” DisabilityCare. Done, paid for, implemented. That was quick. Thanks Andrew.

“wages for the top ten per cent have grown 59% since the mid-1970s, while wages for the bottom tenth have only grown 15%.”

When I look at that I tend to think entrepreneurs have gotten better at what they do and taken higher risks, and the ranks of those who coast through or drop out of school and are then satisfied with government handouts or a minimum wage job + lots of government concessions are growing.

Of course, many of those at the top got rich by providing good value products and services those at the bottom (as just explained, a growing demographic) want, as well as those in between. This is part of the reason so many are perfectly comfortable to eke out a living. Is there anything inherently wrong with that? I suppose if food and entertainment cost a fortune, people would work harder. Ironic?

    johnboy 10:55 am 30 Aug 13

    Darkfalz we all get you’re a liberal fanboy.

    Now can you try debating like a reasonable human being if you want to convince anyone?

Darkfalz 10:31 am 30 Aug 13

c_c™ said :

who is turning into a perpetual candidate

We’re a small city with a lot of public servants and two universities. Margin wise there are technically safer seats in the country but conservatives are never winning lower house seats here, so it’s not exactly like she can help it.

Darkfalz 10:22 am 30 Aug 13

Andrew Leigh wants us to vote for Kevin Rudd, someone he couldn’t vote for himself even knowing he’d lose his parliamentary secretary role and any hope of a ministry.

I wish Leigh would relocate his office so I wouldn’t have to walk past it every day on the way to work.

housebound 9:51 am 30 Aug 13

johnboy said :

Who needs warrants when you have section 282 requests?

Terrorism Act?

farout 9:05 am 30 Aug 13

neanderthalsis said :

8. Would you be willing to cross the floor on matters of strong personal conscience or of significant concern for your electorate?

Federal Labor allows MPs and Senators a conscience votes on issues such as euthanasia and marriage equality. Unfortunately, the Liberal Party didn’t give its members the same freedom when the issue of same-sex marriage came before parliament last year.

The question was would you cross the floor, not did the Libs allow a conscience vote.

Agree, your response to Question 8 is an evasive and misleading answer. Your party claims that the Libs will destroy the ACT community by cutting APS numbers, however what did you do over the last 3 years of ever increasing Efficiency Dividends on the Public Service imposed by your Labor Government? Did you stand up for your electorate or did you toe the Party Line?

davo101 1:35 pm 27 Aug 13

p1 said :

On the subject of crossing the floor, and party rules – it is an area where I think that political parties have too much power over their own members.

Careful what you wish for. We may end up with a system like the US where party discipline is so lax that everything has to be heavily greased with enough pork to get it through Congress.

peterh 1:32 pm 27 Aug 13

“Have you ever met anyone who would rather drive a Morris Minor over a Porsche? We’re talking about speed and reliability into the future.”

How come the NBN cannot be rolled out in entire cities in one go, instead of the current piecemeal approach? if you live in gungahlin, you drive Porsches. if you live in south canberra, enjoy the speed the Morris Minor gives you. It is better than nothing, apparently.

(apart from an amusing NBN available section in Farrer that makes no sense)

Jamey 1:22 pm 27 Aug 13

The legal framework for the NSA to spy on us and give the info to our spy agencies? The Defence Department and Foreign Affairs Department have to ask their relevant minister for a warrant to receive it. That’s all. ASIO has to ask the Attorney-General for a warrant to spy on us. Of 300,000 interceptions that ASIO made in 2011-2012 only about 2,700 resulted in prosecutions.

A lot of politicians seem to need to reattend an introductory politics lecture to understand the concept and meaning of “separation of powers”.

It was a shame the Wikileaks party imploded. One of their policies was to amend the telecommunications interception act to require these executive agencies to get a warrant from a judicial officer, rather than their own boss. One thing is for sure, don’t count on Labor or Liberal to protect your privacy.

Spitfire3 12:52 pm 27 Aug 13

Another alternative to the vehicular NBN analogy:

Instead of buying an Airbus A380 to move millions of people between Australian cities and other cities throughout the world, the coalition has decided to retrofit a regular bus with a jet engine and some wings it found at the dump.

Also, “austridge” <<– word of the day

p1 12:25 pm 27 Aug 13

harvyk1 said :

Also I think he has provided the first real opinion as to why cyclists shouldn’t be registered, so far cycling lobbies main argument is “but we already pay rego on cars we’re not using” which is total and utter BS, but making the point about the casual cyclists who may only ride a few times a year, I have to admit I never thought of that aspect. Admittedly whenever I think of cyclist I think of the lycra bridge.

This is the only thing I always think of. There must be million of bikes in this country. How big will the fine be for an unlicensed five year old riding an unregistered on be?

On the subject of crossing the floor, and party rules – it is an area where I think that political parties have too much power over their own members.

Grrrr 11:31 am 27 Aug 13

“we are also confident that our close allies similarly understand and respect our legal framework.”

I must say, this is very hard to believe given that Australian companies like Telstra/Reach have been railroaded into giving direct intercept access to the NSA (admittedly via infrastructure on US soil, though who knows what other arrangements are in place locally..)

poetix 11:21 am 27 Aug 13

Roundhead89 said :

….

I’m surprised you with your head stuck in the sand like an austridge.

Austridge sounds like a housing estate in a less desirable area.

Grimm 11:19 am 27 Aug 13

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd said :

Such a tiny lil brain. So easily influenced by the likes of Hadley and Jones. So pathetic.

I’m interested in the future progress of the country, call a politician out on a complete lie, and expect the Government to protect its citizens from foreign spying, rather than worry about my next $900 handout that I don’t need, and that’s a bad thing?

You’re really a special little guy…

watto23 10:56 am 27 Aug 13

Not a fan of the vehicle analogies for the NBN. I prefer to think of it as having a freeway to your suburb and then dirt roads to your house. Sometimes the dirt roads get into such a poor condition or get flooded they can’t be used or need repairing.

    johnboy 11:00 am 27 Aug 13

    If you bought a house on a dirt road you should think about what sort of car you drive 😉

Grrrr 10:10 am 27 Aug 13

Holden Caulfield said :

You needn’t have the flashiest brand new 991 model, there’s a Porsche for all tastes, if not budgets. You may prefer a 1960s 356 cabrio, for example.

Or you could get the “Liberal NBN” Porsche, the 924 … Old and underpowered.

Roundhead89 9:50 am 27 Aug 13

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd said :

Deckard said :

johnboy said :

CNG i’ll ask you to do better than accuse those you disagree with of listening to talkback.

It’s just as lazy as what you’re accusing others of.

The funny thing is that over on the mental illness/murder thread he carries on exactly like a talkback radio listener.

I only listen to nerdy podcasts!

I’m surprised you can hear anything with your head stuck in the sand like an austridge.

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