Speaking


Audio Recordings

For audio recordings of my speeches and conversations at events across the country, please see this podcast below. It's also available on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.




Written Speeches

Below you will find transcripts of doorstops, speeches and media interviews.

A Fair Go for Consumers and Small Business - Speech

Competition And Consumer Amendment (Fair Go For Consumers And Small Business) Bill 2024
Second Reading Speech
House of Representatives, Thursday 15 February 2024

One of the summer's box office hits is Wonka—the prequel to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Without giving too much away, it's the tale of how Willy Wonka takes on the chocolate cartel of Slugworth, Fickelgruber and Prodnose.

Between them, the cartel controls the chocolate market. Prices are kept high. Innovators are kept out. Big chocolate has the police in its pocket, and is willing to use every bitter trick to preserve its sweet control over the market.

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National Multicultural Festival - Speech

National Multicultural Festival
Constituency Statements, House of Representatives
Wednesday, 14th of February 2024 

Canberra's multicultural story goes back to the 1940s, when skilled migrants flocked to the capital region to work on the Snowy Mountains Scheme. When Canberra Week began in 1977, it starred Al Grassby, the godfather of Australian multiculturalism, and honoured the First Nations and migrant communities. The National Multicultural Festival began in 1996 and has become our city 's largest festival, drawing support from volunteers in the diplomatic corps.

This weekend Canberra will celebrate the National Multicultural Festival, the event made possible by the dedication of numerous communities. I want to acknowledge some of the unsung heroes today: Andrew Yan and Robert Feng from the Chinese showcase; Jo Chivers and Duncan Smith from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander showcase; Toa Takiari and Elena Sione from the Pacific Islander showcase; Deepak Raj Gupta from India in the City; Tracy Dennis from the European village; George Karkazis from Greek Glendi; Lauren Harvey from Contact Canberra; Gonzales Olmos from Latin American Quarters; Bianca Abreu from Latin American embassies; Trevlyn Gilmour and Alicia Doherty from the USA showcase; Brooke Thomas from the belly-dancing showcase; Charles Koker from the African village; Malcolm Buchanan from the Celtic Irish showcase; Jacqui Dillon and Mandy Scott from community languages; Franco Papandrea from the Italian community; Suren Deonarain from the festival parade; Helen Musa from City News; and Lee Donnelly from Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets.

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Cost Of Living Tax Cuts - Speech

Treasury Laws Amendment (Cost Of Living Tax Cuts) Bill 2024
Treasury Laws Amendment (Cost Of Living—Medicare Levy) Bill 2024
Second Reading Speech
House of Representatives, 14th of February 2024

More people working, more people earning more, more people keeping more of what they earn. That's what's happening with Labor's bigger, better, fairer tax cuts. These tax cuts are better for workers, better for women and better for labour supply. Despite all the hand-wringing from those opposite, in their guts, the Liberal and National parties will back these cuts. They'll do so because they know that 84 per cent of taxpayers will be better off. They know that the average taxpayer is getting double the tax cut under this plan.

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Using Artificial Intelligence For Economic Research: An Agricultural Odyssey

Using Artificial Intelligence For Economic Research: An Agricultural Odyssey

68th Annual Conference of the Australasian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society
Australian National University, Canberra
7 February 2024

I acknowledge the Ngunnawal people on whose lands we're meeting today and acknowledge all First Nations people present.

I am delighted to be here with you this morning to address the 68th Annual Conference of the Australasian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society. Founded in 1957, the Society has a long history of supporting economists and social scientists in Australasia to develop the knowledge and networks to tackle key challenges in applied economics, from agriculture to environment, to food, resources and agribusiness.

It's a pleasure to be back on the Australian National University campus for today’s conference. Not since 2010 have I been an economics professor, but I occasionally get to play one on stage. As you’ll soon see, I’ve leaned into that role today. Thank you for giving me the chance to crunch some data for your edification and entertainment. I haven’t written many economics papers that touch on agricultural issues, so I like to think that my teachers at James Ruse Agricultural High School would appreciate me finally putting my schooling to good use.

One of the pleasures of being an economist is analysing real-world problems. Yet the tools and techniques for conducting applied economic research are changing fast.
Today, I want to briefly discuss some of the opportunities and challenges that machine-learning algorithms present for applied economic research, and how those show up when we use them seeking to analyse the world. 
This is vital because how we conduct economic research will drive our responses to critical issues confronting the Australasian and global community, such as biosecurity, climate change, environmental degradation and energy system transitions.

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From Chance to Change: Leveraging Randomised Trials and Data Science for Policy Success - Speech

FROM CHANCE TO CHANGE: LEVERAGING RANDOMISED TRIALS AND DATA SCIENCE FOR POLICY SUCCESS

Human Technology Institute Shaping Our Future Symposium, University of Technology Sydney
Thursday, 1 February 2024

I acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and all First Nations people present today. Thank you for the opportunity to speak at the Human Technology Institute’s Shaping Our Future Symposium. I share the Institute’s goal of ‘building a future that applies human values to new technology’, and thank you for your willingness to partner and engage with Government as part of the myGov advisory group and on issues such as AI regulation.

Introduction

Each year thousands of patients miss their hospital appointments.

It costs money – contributes to backlogs and delays – and means that appointments cannot be allocated to others in need.

Some 15 per cent of outpatient appointments at St Vincent’s Hospital – just down the road in Darlinghurst – use to be missed each year, despite patients being sent reminders.

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Game Changer Harnessing Microdata for a Fairer Competition Landscape - Speech


GAME CHANGER: HARNESSING MICRODATA FOR A FAIRER COMPETITION LANDSCAPE

Chifley Research Centre, Melbourne
Tuesday, 30 January 2024

I acknowledge the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, traditional custodians of the land on which we meet and pay my respects to all First Nations people here today.

In the minds of many, Ben Chifley is remembered for leading the nation through the end of the Second World War and its aftermath. But he was also the last person to combine the jobs of Prime Minister and Treasurer. Having served as John Curtin’s Treasurer from 1941 to 1945, Chifley kept the Treasury portfolio when he became Prime Minister, serving in both roles from 1945 to 1949. Indeed, Chifley said that he thought he would be remembered as Treasurer and not as Prime Minister (Beazley 2000).  According to a journalist of the era, Chifley’s interests ‘were almost exclusively economic and financial’ (Holt 1969).

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Backing Charities and Building Community - Speech

Backing Charities and Building Community

Statement on Matters of Significance, House of Representatives
Thursday, 7 December 2023

Modern Australia could not function without charities. Charities improve our natural environment. Charities assist people living in poverty overseas. Charities organise sporting events. Charities run arts festivals. Charities help settle new migrants. Charities assist when natural disasters strike. And over the coming weeks, charities will be there for vulnerable families, handing out hampers to put food on the table and gifts to go under the tree.

The charity and non-profit sector comprises over one-tenth of employment and nearly one-tenth of national income. It is larger than the agricultural and financial sectors combined. From parkrun to Clean Up Australia, Vinnies to Girl Guides Australia, millions of people volunteer in their local communities.

Yet despite the social value of charities, the Coalition’s nine years in office was a rolling war on the charity sector. They came to office pledging to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, and would have done so if they thought they could get it through the Senate. When they couldn’t abolish it, they appointed Gary Johns to run the charities commission, a charities critic with extremist views about Indigenous people.

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Condolence Motion on the passing of Peta Murphy - Speech

REMEMBERING PETA MURPHY 
Condolence Motion, House of Representatives,
Wednesday, 6 December 2023

I first met Peta Jan Murphy in 1999. She was working as Duncan Kerr's justice and arts adviser. I was working as Peter Cook's trade adviser. We were pretty excited at that point. Labor was running strong, and we thought in 1999 that it was near the end of Labor's time in opposition. Little did we know that Labor's 11 long years in opposition were just beginning.

There weren't a lot of us policy advisors—as I recall, there were about 25 of us—and we used to get together to talk about ideas. We were idealistic, wanting to make a difference, and we were bonded, as you often are in the crucible of opposition. We felt very mature at the time, although Peta and I were in our mid-twenties, half the age that I am and that she was. It is funny to think that you've known somebody for half a lifetime. Neither of us stayed as Labor advisers for very long in that period, but both of us stayed in touch, and it was such a pleasure in 2016 to have the chance to work with Peta again. She had returned from a stellar career at the Victorian Bar and was serving as Brendan O'Connor's chief of staff.

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Can America Live Up To The American Dream? - Speech

 

CAN AMERICA LIVE UP TO THE AMERICAN DREAM?

SPEECH 

AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, CANBERRA

WEDNESDAY 6 DECEMBER 2023

I acknowledge the Ngunnawal people on whose lands we're meeting today and acknowledge all First Nations people present.

I am honoured to have this invitation to address the members of the American Chamber of Commerce today. Founded in 1961, AmCham has a proud history of fostering stronger ties between our two countries. Fundamentally, commerce comes down to the interpersonal links between people. Your organisation is in good hands with CEO April Palmerlee, who not only has a strong commitment to the bilateral relationship, but also comes to the role with an impressive history of distance running. April has run ultramarathons in multiple countries, and organised running events: perfect training for getting business leaders to run towards a shared goal.

My focus today is on how the United States can live up to the American Dream. The best of America is on our screens and in our pockets. Hollywood, Silicon Valley and New York produce movies, devices and pharmaceuticals that are used the world over. Yet compared with other advanced countries, the United States ranks low on democracy and social mobility and high on inequality (Isaacs 2016; OECD 2023).  

Like many families, the influence of the United States can be seen in mine. My father, Michael Leigh, graduated from the University of Melbourne with an interest in southeast Asia. He was encouraged to undertake his PhD at Cornell University, where he wrote about government and business links in Malaysia. My Australian-born mother joined him, and they were married at Cornell’s chapel in 1967. They were in the United States in 1968, the year that Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated, and saw the racial reckoning shape life on the Cornell campus and beyond.

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2023 Australian Impact Investing Awards - Speech

2023 AUSTRALIAN IMPACT INVESTING AWARDS

Australian Impact Investment Awards, Sydney
Thursday 30 November 2023

Introduction 

Thank you for inviting me to speak to you and join in celebrating the Australian Impact Investing Awards. 

As you all know, your work today through impact investing creates vital opportunities to improve the lives of those who are disadvantaged in our community.

For this, I commend you, and congratulate today’s award recipients.

Recently, the Australian Government partnered with the New South Wales Government to trial an innovative homelessness intervention, called Foyer Central. 

This trial aims to provide accommodation and support services to young people exiting out of home care, or at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness in Sydney.

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.