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.

Let's Get Together? Reforming Merger Laws to Revitalise Productivity - Speech

COMPETITION AND BUSINESS DYNAMICS
Australia Financial Review CFO Live Summit, Melbourne
Tuesday 28 November 2023

Acknowledgements

I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet, the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation.

I pay my respects to the Elders past and present, and acknowledge any First Nations Australians with us today.

Introduction

Australia thrives on competition.

It is most obvious in our love of sports – even unexpected wins like the One Day Cricket World Cup – but it goes deeper than that.

You can’t have a fair go without competition.

Especially when we’re feeling the pinch of the cost-of-living pressures.

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Is Social Media Worsening Youth Mental Health - Speech

IS SOCIAL MEDIA WORSENING YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH?

SPEECH

LIFELINE AUSTRALIA ANNUAL MEMBERS FORUM

SYDNEY, 24 NOVEMBER 2023

Thank you very much for that generous introduction. Chris Siorokos and I have known one another for 32 years, and he doesn’t look like he’s aged a day since we first met. As well as having the gift of eternal youth, Chris is a man of remarkable intellect, generosity and purpose. You are fortunate to have him as your Executive Director.

We’re meeting on the traditional lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. I acknowledge their Elders, past and present and acknowledge any First Nations people present.

It is a real honour to be speaking to the Lifeline Australia Annual Members Forum in this year, the 60th anniversary of Lifeline. My grandfather, Keith Leigh was a Methodist minister, a bit like Alan Walker, who founded Lifeline back in 1963. I never had the chance to meet my paternal grandfather, but that ethos of service was one that I was very aware of growing up. The story of Alan Walker's founding Lifeline is remarkable. Lifeline Australia took its first telephone call within a minute of the telephone lines opening. It took 100 calls on the first day and it now routinely takes over 1000 calls a day. You've been an inspiration to similar organisations around the world ever since you were profiled in Time magazine back in 1964. Your introduction of a text messaging service and online platforms are absolutely vital. You have saved many Australian lives and brought meaning to many more.

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140 Years of Community Building - Speech

‘Salvation Army: 140 Years of Social Mission in Australia’

Grand Hyatt, Melbourne
8 November 2023

The Origin of the Salvos in Australia

I acknowledge the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, and recognise all First Nations people present today.

The Salvation Army has been marching alongside Australians for over 140 years.

The Salvos have been with us through some of our toughest times and greatest milestones.

You were among the first to reach Darwin on Boxing Day 1974 after Cyclone Tracy hit. In 1977 you were supporting people affected by the Granville train disaster. In 2019 and 2020, the Salvos were dispersing funds and supporting thousands affected by the Black Summer bushfires.

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Ten Lessons for Economic Policymakers - Speech

Ten Lessons for Economic Policymakers

Economic Society of Australia Annual Dinner 2023
Commonwealth Club, Canberra

Wednesday, 1 November 2023

Introduction: The Power of Ideas

[Acknowledgements omitted]

John Maynard Keynes once wrote ‘The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else.’

In academia and parliament, I've certainly found that to be true. Economics is surprisingly powerful as a tool for public policy. Those of you who are established in your careers will know well the power that economics has had in terms of shaping Australia's trajectory.

Last month, we lost Max Corden, one of Australia's great economists, and somebody who, after fleeing the Nazis in 1939, became one of the great Australian pioneers of openness. Max's work on tariff reform was used by the Tariff Board, the predecessor to what is now the Productivity Commission, to make the case for Gough Whitlam’s 1973 tariff cut, in which all tariffs were cut overnight by 25%.

Max's story was one of coming to Australia, being welcomed here and becoming a great advocate for openness. He knew my grandfather, Keith Leigh, who died two years before I was born, and would tell me about how the two of them spoke of world events at Melbourne University in the 1950s and 1960s. That intellectual curiosity and global outlook reflects the very best of Australian academia and the economics profession.

You may have heard Thomas Carlyle’s put-down of economists as being ‘the dismal science’. Perhaps you know that the reason that Carlyle described our discipline as the dismal science was that we had what was in his mind the ‘dismal’ view that all human beings – whatever their skin colour – should be regarded as equal.

In that light, I proudly wear the badge of the ‘dismal science’. It is a reminder that economics has its origins in the notion of human equality; the principle that one person's wellbeing is as valuable to society as another's.

Max Corden was also a remarkably generous soul in terms of the time he spent with others. He always seemed to have time to ask junior researchers about their work. When I visited Melbourne University in 2006, I loved the chance to engage with Max, to chat with somebody who had worked on the world stage on issues of trade liberalisation.

My speech tonight proposes ten lessons for economics policymakers. When I refer to economic policymakers, I’m drawing a broad net. I'm including people who have made a contribution in consulting, those who have worked in the public service, those who are working in journalism, and those who contribute to the public debate. I'm thinking of the policy conversation writ large, not simply some narrow slice of it.

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Strategies for Strengthening Democracy - Speech

STRATEGIES FOR STRENGTHENING DEMOCRACY

ANU Crawford Leadership Forum
Australian National University, Canberra

I acknowledge the Ngunnawal people on whose lands we meet, and pay respects to all First Nations people present today.

It is a pleasure to be joining a distinguished panel, led by Professor Janine O’Flynn, and speaking alongside Dr Jeni Whalan and Ms Padma Raman.

It is only fitting that the organisers chose to hold this forum on Halloween, because the issues we face are ghoulish.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index, the world entered a ‘democratic recession’ in 2016, and is yet to recover. Russia, Peru, Turkey and Myanmar are among the nations whose democracy scores have slumped. Pollster Afrobarometer reports that the share of Africans who prefer democracy to any other form of government has fallen from 75 percent in 2012 to 66 percent.

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Multinational Tax Fairness - Speech

MULTINATIONAL TAX FAIRNESS

The Australia Institute, 2023 Revenue Summit
Parliament House, Canberra

I acknowledge the Ngunnawal people, the traditional owners of these lands, and recognise all First Nations people present today. 

My thanks to the Australia Institute for hosting the 2023 Revenue Summit. It’s a pleasure to be back with you in person, having spoken at last year’s Revenue Summit.

In the 1976 movie ‘All the President’s Men’, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward meets his secret source – Deep Throat – in a dark underground carpark.

Woodward is investigating a break-in at the Democrat National Committee headquarters in the Watergate building in Washington DC. It’s a story that will lead to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

‘Just follow the money,’ Deep Throat tells the journalist before merging back into the shadows.

It’s a simple but sound principle.

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The Case to Double Philanthrophic Giving - Speech

THE CASE TO DOUBLE PHILANTHROPIC GIVING

Philanthropy Australia: Philanthropy Meets Parliament
Parliament House, Canberra

Tuesday, 24 October 2023

I acknowledge the Ngunnawal people the Traditional Custodians of the land we are meeting on, and pay my respects to all First Nations people present.

As a Canberra, I'd like to welcome you here to the nation's capital, to the bush capital and to the social capital of Australia. Canberra does strikingly well on a range of social capital metrics. And I hope while you're in town, you'll have a chance to get out and about and enjoy some of that Canberra community spirit.

I’ve been asked today to talk about the case for double giving. One way to start is to think about what Australia would look like without charities and not-for-profits.

What if there were no charities or not-for-profits in Australia? Immediately many people who are disadvantaged, who are homeless or struggling with family violence would have nowhere to turn to. Aged care centres and childcare centres would close down. We'd see an immediate collapse of the arts: music, dance and theatre.

Suddenly, on a Saturday morning, a whole lot of parents would be wondering what to do with their kids, because there wouldn't be those sporting activities that are being run by Australia's charities. Our local environment would be worse off without the community groups that support local bush regeneration projects. Medical research would be slowed. In the case that disaster struck, Australia would be less resilient without charities and not-for-profits.

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Helping Households - Speech

HELPING HOUSEHOLDS

Matter of Public Importance
House of Representatives, 18 October 2023

Today's matter of public importance is on the cost of living, and I could take the House through some of the statistics that reflect what the Albanese government is doing to tackle the effect in Australia of the global cost-of-living crisis. But instead I want to start by talking about some of the stories of ordinary Australians whose lives have benefited from cost-of-living measures that the Albanese government has put into place.

Our cheaper childcare measures were welcomed by Blanca Ramirez, a woman in Canberra whose daughter, Paloma, is at daycare. As a result of the increase to the childcare subsidy, Blanca has moved to working four days a week. That ensures that her productivity is up, that their household budget is improved and that Paloma has a little bit more support. As Blanca puts it, 'I can run around and I'm not like dead tired after work.' There are 1.2 million families across Australia benefiting from Labor's cheaper childcare measures.

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Israel and Hamas - Speech

Statement on Israel and Hamas
Federation Chamber, 17th October 2023

On the weekend, Hamas terrorists committed mass murder on a shocking scale. People at a music festival were gunned down. Babies were killed in their beds. Defenceless elderly people were murdered. Over 100 hostages were taken into Gaza. The scale of the attack was so large that it was the greatest loss of life among Jewish people since the Holocaust. This is a murderous, barbarous terrorist group whose objective was not just to kill Jewish people but to kill the peace process itself. Hamas has as its goal the destruction of the Israeli state. It wants to ensure that the peace process is derailed.

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Non-compete Clauses: Prevalence, Impact, and Policy Implications - Speech

NON-COMPETE CLAUSES: PREVALENCE, IMPACT, AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS

Joint Treasury – e61 Institute Webinar, Sydney

Wednesday, 18 October 2023

I acknowledge that I am attending this webinar from the lands of the Ngunnawal People who are the traditional owners and custodians of the Canberra region. I also acknowledge the traditional custodians of the various lands across Australia on which others in this webinar are joining from, and any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people participating in this webinar.

Thank you Dan for your introduction. In opening today’s webinar, I want to thank the excellent line up of speakers and welcome our international guests. I also want to acknowledge Australia’s e61 Institute for jointly hosting this event with Treasury. E61 has done a great job shining a light on the prevalence of non-compete clauses which has really kick started the debate here in Australia.

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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.