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Archive for March 2011

Clean Environment, Dirty Politics

I’m speaking this afternoon at an ANU conference on climate change.

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Consistency isn’t everything, but it’s astonishing to see how far some members of the Liberal Party have shifted from their commitment to market-based approaches to deal with climate change. So I gave a speech last week that drew together some (very recent) statements by Liberal Party members on the topic.

Continue reading ‘Weathervanes’ »

Community Roundtable

I spoke in parliament last week about a roundtable that I organised with some of the community leaders in my electorate.

Continue reading ‘Community Roundtable’ »

A Super System

I spoke in parliament last week about the government’s Stronger, Fairer, Simpler superannuation reforms, and the importance of making sure our superannuation policies are equitable as well as efficient.

Continue reading ‘A Super System’ »

AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

I spoke in parliament last week about tackling some of the worst diseases that afflict people in developing nations, including Tuberculosis.

Continue reading ‘AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’ »


I spoke in parliament last week about Labor’s reforms on executive remuneration.

Continue reading ‘CEO Pay’ »

Ken Henry and Ian Chubb

I spoke in Parliament last week about the extraordinary contributions to public life of two great Canberrans – Ken Henry and Ian Chubb.

Continue reading ‘Ken Henry and Ian Chubb’ »

Poddies for Labor

I appeared on Late Night Live with Phillip Adams in Sydney last night, discussing the future of the ALP with Rodney Cavalier, John Falkner and Deirdre Grusovin. If the topic piques your interest, you can podcast the main program and a subsequent half-hour of Q&A. A transcript of the main program is also available.

The segment will also be televised on ABC24 at some point. I’ll post the link when I have it.

Labor Pains

My opinion piece today is on NSW Labor. Full text below.

There have also been some interesting reflections recently by former NSW Premier Bob Carr and Luke Foley MLC.

Continue reading ‘Labor Pains’ »

SkyNews AM Agenda

Canberra’s Biggest Baby Shower

Federal Member for Fraser, Andrew Leigh, has declared Canberra’s inaugural Welcoming the Babies to our Community Ceremony a success with 50 babies welcomed on Sunday at Stage 88 in Commonwealth Park.

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American Grace

Bowling Alone author Robert Putnam (for whom I worked when at Harvard, eventually inspiring me to write its Australian version Disconnected) has a new book out on religion. It’s called American Grace. He’ll be speaking in Canberra on 5 April and Sydney on 14 April. Click the links for more details.

Chatting about Big Ideas at Harrison School

Big Ideas

Revenge of the Nerds: Improving Australia’s Education System

Here’s the speech that I gave last night to kick off my community meeting in Gungahlin.

Revenge of the Nerds: Improving Australia’s Education System
Gungahlin Lakes Club, 16 March 2011

In a book titled Outliers: The Story of Success, writer Malcolm Gladwell discusses the way that extraordinarily successful people came to get where they are. Gladwell’s aim is to dig deeper than the legend of brilliance, and discover what lies underneath. His most interesting story concerns Bill Gates. Now, you probably think you know the story of Gates: smart geek drops out of Harvard, starts his own computer company, and becomes a squillionaire. But how many of you know about Gates’ high school experience?

Continue reading ‘Revenge of the Nerds: Improving Australia’s Education System’ »

ABC 24 with Jamie Briggs

Territory Rights

Skynews AM Agenda

It’s Hard to Build a Road with Clean Hands

My AFR op-ed today is on corruption and foreign aid.

Aid Prone to Corruption, Australian Financial Review, 15 March 2011

A cruel fact about the world is that corruption and poverty tend to go together. This presents a dilemma for donors: do we guarantee our dollars never go astray, or do we focus on countries and programs where the need is greatest? An aid program that offers technical advice to Korea is less corruption-prone than one that uses local contractors to build pit latrines in Cambodia. But if we care about reducing the number of sick children in the world, toilet-building in poor nations is likely to have more impact than providing advice to middle-income countries.

Continue reading ‘It’s Hard to Build a Road with Clean Hands’ »

Territory Rights


The submission which Gai Brodtmann and I made to the Senate inquiry considering changes to the ACT Self-Government Act to strengthen territory rights.

Submission to Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee

Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Amendment (Disallowance and Amendment Power of the Commonwealth) Bill 2010

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Welcoming the Babies – Two Weeks to Go!

If you haven’t yet registered your baby for ‘Welcoming the Babies’, there’s still time. Details below.

Welcoming the Babies

I’m hosting a community event for parents and carers of children aged 18 months or younger. This will be a chance to meet other parents, find out about community services for new parents, and enjoy a morning out with the whole extended family. All attendees will receive a Baby Pack including community information and a formal certificate.

Date: Sunday, 27 March 2011

Continue reading ‘Welcoming the Babies – Two Weeks to Go!’ »

Trivial Pursuit – A Response

In the latest Quarterly Essay, I have a response to George Megalogenis’s contribution.

Response to George Megalogenis’s Quarterly Essay, “Trivial Pursuit: Leadership and the End of the Reform Era” (Nov 2010)

Psychologists have a theory they call the fundamental attribution error: the tendency for humans to overplay the role of individuals, and underplay the role of circumstances. On the field, sports broadcasters love to speak about players who are ‘on a roll’, when they’re merely observing Lady Luck. In business, chief executives who govern during a boom tend to be overpaid, because their company is just surfing the wave like everyone else. And in politics, observers love to tell stories that focus on the role of players, rather than events.

Continue reading ‘Trivial Pursuit – A Response’ »

Roll Up, Roll Up

I spoke in parliament this week about the Royal Canberra Show.

Royal Canberra Show
2 March 2011

Last weekend I took the family to the territory’s one and only Royal Canberra Show. The show puts on display the best produce and livestock that the ACT and surrounding areas have on offer. Bolstered by the best growing season many producers ever seen, there was a diverse showcase of farm animals and agricultural and horticultural produce. As a boy who attended an agricultural high school, I greatly enjoyed watching the working dogs, seeing the cattle classing and checking out the fresh produce. We also witnessed the V6 HiLux team crash two utes in front of us, prompting my four-year-old to turn to me and say, ‘Daddy, was that meant to happen?’

Continue reading ‘Roll Up, Roll Up’ »

Expanding Opportunity

I spoke in parliament this week about school funding.

Schools Assistance Amendment (Financial Assistance) Bill 2011
3 March 2011

Education is the best anti-poverty vaccine we have yet invented. It provides the foundations from which Australians can build a life of their choosing. Education lights a spark which can see a child from Cape York not just go on to university and become a leader in her community but also become Young Australian of the Year, as Tania Major did a couple of years ago. A great education means that a child from Ilfracombe can become the first female member of the Queensland bar and our first female Governor-General. This great building, this national parliament, is a showcase of the opportunities which education provides to children from all corners of the nation. So many members of the House acknowledged in their first speeches that they would not be here today were it not for a great education. I remember hearing time after time those stories of where a particular teacher or a certain educational opportunity had made the difference in someone’s life.

Continue reading ‘Expanding Opportunity’ »

Better Health Care

I spoke in Parliament this week about the government’s health reform agenda.

Health Insurance Amendment (Compliance) Bill 2010
2 March 2011

Medicare is a central component of Australia’s universal healthcare system. It is a system that provides affordable treatment for Australians by the dedicated health professionals in our public health system. Introduced in 1975 by the Whitlam government, Medibank—as it was then—allowed for the subsidisation of medical treatment in public hospitals that has made health care more accessible and affordable and has added to the quality of the lives of Australians over the last 35 years. I want to place on record the role played in creating Medibank by Dick Klugman, member for Prospect from 1969 to 1990, who passed away just recently, on 21 February. In 1984, Medibank was renamed Medicare by the Hawke government, who returned it to the original model to reflect the great traditions of equity, fairness and dignity for all Australians—which are characterised by us in the Labor Party. The Health Insurance Amendment (Compliance) Bill 2010 adds to the history of responsible Labor governments by balancing the public interests of confidentiality and privacy with ensuring that public funds are spent appropriately and responsibly.

Continue reading ‘Better Health Care’ »

Peter Gomes

Former Harvard Minister Peter Gomes has passed away, aged just 68. A thundering voice for tolerance and thoughtfulness, his books and sermons will be greatly missed. A New York Times obituary discusses parts of his career, but somehow doesn’t capture his sense of humour. I remember sitting in his Easter Sermon (2003, I think), when he said:

Ladies and gentlemen, I have some good news and some bad news.

The good news is that this church has all the money it needs to do its good works throughout the community – to look after the vulnerable, and to strengthen our congregation.

The bad news is that most of that money currently resides in your pockets.

The collection plates will now circulate.

What I’m Reading

Canberrans Nominate Black Spots

Canberrans have responded strongly to Federal Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh’s call to ‘dob in a Black Spot’. Since nominations were called two weeks ago, 21 intersections or corners have been nominated as potentially dangerous locations.

  Continue reading ‘Canberrans Nominate Black Spots’ »

Me and Mitch Fifield on Sky 28 Feb 2011

Carbon Pricing

My AFR op-ed today is on carbon pricing, and the Liberals’ volte-face on market mechanisms.

Liberate the True Liberals, Australian Financial Review, 1 March 2011

In 1989, when US President George HW Bush proposed the use of market-based mechanisms to deal with acid rain, electricity generators warned that costs would skyrocket. Today, the program is universally regarded as a success, achieving its emissions targets at around one-third of the projected costs.

Continue reading ‘Carbon Pricing’ »