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.

Fundraising needs to be fixed - Speech, Parliament House

KEYNOTE ADDRESS – AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY

PHILANTHROPY MEETS PARLIAMENT SUMMIT 2019

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA

WEDNESDAY, 18 SEPTEMBER 2019

[Acknowledgements omitted]

The obituary was blunt: ‘Sir Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people than ever before, died yesterday’. There was just one problem - Alfred Nobel was very much alive. It was his brother Ludwig who had died. So Alfred Nobel had a rare opportunity to see how the world thought of his life. He had no wife, no children - just an obituary sitting in front of him, which read ‘The Merchant of Death is dead’. Nobel had made his fortune by inventing dynamite, which revolutionized not just the mining and construction industries, but also the armaments sector. When he read his premature obituary, he was 54 years old.

In his remaining years, Nobel focused on philanthropy. His will set aside 94 per cent of his estate to establish the Nobel Prizes. Today that gift is worth more than half a billion Australian dollars. The Nobel Prizes in Chemistry, Literature, Peace, Physics, Medicine and Economics are considered the most prestigious prizes in their fields.

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Vale, Joe Isaac - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 17 SEPTEMBER 2019

We have just learned that Joe Isaac, one of the pre-eminent post-war economists in Australia's history has passed away. His work is highly relevant to the issues we're discussing today. I want to take a moment to pay tribute to the late, great Joe Isaac.

He was born on 11 March in 1922 in Penang. His family moved to Java soon after he was born and his early education was in Dutch. His family was evacuated to Perth at the time of the Japanese invasion. He then went on to study at Queen's College, where my grandfather Keith Leigh and Max Corden also got their education. He went on to do his PhD at the London School of Economics, where he studied with Coase, Hayek, Tawney, Laksi and his supervisor, Phelps Brown.

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Reforming Australian superannuation - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 12 SEPTEMBER 2019

It's a pleasure to follow the members for Whitlam and Kingsford Smith in discussing the important bill before the House—the Treasury Laws Amendment (Putting Members’ Interests First) Bill 2019. About 12 million Australians hold insurance - for life, total and permanent disability, and income protection - through their superannuation funds. Total premiums, according to the Productivity Commission, are around $9 billion. It's worth noting that not all of that money appears to be well spent. The best example of that is that the Productivity Commission estimates that, of that $9 billion, $1.9 billion is for unintended duplicate policies.

The Productivity Commission's report points out that current settings are more a function of history than of considered policy design. It notes that many members benefit from lower costs and the ready access of default group insurance in superannuation but that problems remain. The Productivity Commission points out that insurance accounts for one-third of the complaints made on superannuation.

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Crime and Incarceration Rates - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 12 SEPTEMBER 2019

Twelve-year-old Indigenous boy Dujuan Hoosan has just appealed to members of the United Nations Human Rights Council to reduce Australian incarceration, pointing out that Indigenous-led education and an emphasis on languages are key to keeping Indigenous young people out of jail.

Australia is entering a second convict age, with the highest share of the population incarcerated than at any time since 1899. Since 1985, the incarceration rate has gone up 130 per cent. Now 0.22 per cent of Australian adults are behind bars. Among Indigenous Australians, the incarceration rate is 2.5 per cent. Almost one in four Indigenous men born in the 1970s will go to jail during their lifetime. A higher share of Indigenous Australians are now incarcerated than African Americans.

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Launch of Parliamentary Friends of Social Science - Speech, Parliament House

LAUNCH OF PARLIAMENTARY FRIENDS OF SOCIAL SCIENCE

PARLIAMENT HOUSE

TUESDAY, 10 SEPTEMBER 2019

As a professor-turned-politician, today's event is exactly the kind of thing that I hoped I might be able to participate in when I made the jump from the ANU to the Parliament. I was at the time somewhat chuffed to be a fellow of one of the academies, until I realised that when he sat in parliament, Barry Jones was a fellow of all four national academies.

[laughter]

It does put things in perspective.

But today, and Social Science Week more broadly, I think of as making politics more porous by ensuring that we're a country that draws more deeply upon the resources of the social sciences. Whether it's psychology or political science, anthropology and sociology... even economics!

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Time for Territorians to get proper democracy - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 9 SEPTEMBER 2019

Last month, Kerry Robertson became the first Victorian to use the state's Voluntary Assisted Dying Act.

After nine years of cancer slowly spreading through her body, she died peacefully, surrounded by family who described her death as empowered. Dignified. Perfect.

It was the death that Kerry chose, something she had the right to do under Victorian law.

The same cannot be said here in the ACT.

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The Government has no plan for right now - Transcript, Sky News First Edition

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
TV INTERVIEW
SKY NEWS FIRST EDITION

MONDAY, 9 SEPTEMBER 2019

Subjects: Cashless welfare card, mandatory drug testing for social security recipients, drug testing for politicians, the economy struggling under the government, the Morrison Government’s lack of plan for productivity.

LAURA JAYES: Let's go live now to Canberra. Joining me is Labor MP Andrew Leigh. Thanks so much for your time. Let's start on the cashless welfare card. Evidence has showed that it is working in some of these communities. Do you dispute that?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Laura, all the evidence that I've read suggests that this card won't create a single additional job, and there's concerns that it has adverse impacts on financial management and Aboriginal peoples’ sense of autonomy. When it’s rolled out on a compulsory basis, which is where Labor has our chief concerns, this seems to have more adverse impacts than positive benefits.

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Australia needs to step up on climate change - Transcript, 3AW Mornings

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
3AW MORNINGS
THURSDAY, 5 SEPTEMBER 2019

Subjects: Climate strikes, the Morrison Government’s inaction on climate change; the economy floundering under a floundering government.

NEIL MITCHELL: On the line is the Labor Member for Fenner, he’s a former assistant shadow treasurer. Some say the smartest man in the Parliament. He’s a professor of economics at the ANU - Dr Andrew Leigh, morning.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Neil. How are you?

MITCHELL:  I'm okay. So do you think - you’re the teacher in a sense, is it a smart thing for kids to go on strike?

LEIGH: Well, as you say Neil, I've spent painfully long in education. I barely missed a day of school and then went touniversity for another ten years. But not all learning happens in formal institutions, and I think getting together to campaign for an issue bigger than yourself is pretty important. We often talk about Generation Z as being self-centred, yet they’re anything but. It's an altruistic movement which is focused on dealing with the central challenge that the planet faces right now. And that's why it's gotten support from thousands of scientists, from firms like Atlassian and from many of those who've been carefully watching the climate debate, watching the planet warm and seeing Australia's emissions just going up and up under the Morrison Government.

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Treasurer playing blame game instead of taking action - Transcript, 2GB Money News

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
2GB MONEY NEWS
WEDNESDAY, 4 SEPTEMBER 2019

Subject: National Accounts; The economy floundering under a floundering Government; Labor’s positive policies to take back control of the economy.

JOHN STANLEY: We've got problems with wage, we've got problems with inflation, we've got problems with jobs. So is it good enough for the government to just say ‘well look, we should wait to see the tax cuts flow through, we should wait till the September quarter’ or should there be action being taken right now? Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury from the Labor Party. He joins us now. Good evening to you.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY: G’day, John. Great to be with you.

STANLEY: I'm assuming your answer is going to be that they need to be doing more.

LEIGH: I think that'd be the answer of every serious economist, John. I mean, we’ve had this per capita recession. So on a per person basis, the economy had been shrinking, not growing, and that's gone on for the longest period since the early 1980s recession.

STANLEY: Can you just explain that per capita recession for us?

LEIGH: The figure you talked about before is the total size of the pie. But if you look at the slice that each person has, that’s been shrinking rather than growing. The economy is growing because we're adding more people, not because individuals are getting better off.

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Incarceration becoming almost normal life event - Transcript, 2SER The Daily

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
2SER THE DAILY
THURSDAY, 29 AUGUST 2019

Subject: New research on Australia’s incarceration rates.

HOST: Now with much talk about Closing the Gap, into the well-being of our First Australians, a new report into Indigenous incarceration suggests as a nation that the number of Australians incarcerated has radically increased over the last three decades. Now on the line we have the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury, Dr Andrew Leigh, whose report discusses the drivers behind the sharp increase in Indigenous people being placed behind bars and what can be done to rectify this issue. Welcome to the show.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY: Thanks, Stephen. Great to be with you.

HOST: Now this report you've authored suggests that currently 2.5 per cent of Indigenous Australians are incarcerated, which is a higher share than among other disadvantaged comparable ethnic groups like African-Americans. Now if crime rates are substantially dropping among developing nations, what accounts for this rapid increase in the amount of First Australians being imprisoned?

LEIGH: It is worth just pausing on that figure, isn't it? Two and half per cent means that if you count up 40 Indigenous Australians adults, one of them will be behind bars today. It’s even worse over in Western Australia, where the indigenous incarceration rate is over 4 per cent, meaning that one out of every 25 Indigenous Australian adults are incarcerated now. Over a lifetime, that means that more than a quarter of Indigenous men end up spending time behind bars. Incarceration is becoming an almost normal life event. Among the factors driving it are that police are more likely to press charges, and courts are more likely to convict. The sentences tend to be longer, and while awaiting trial people are more likely to be behind bars rather than out on bail.

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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.