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.

Sri Chinmoy Peace Run - Speech

Sri Chinmoy Peace Run
House of Representatives, 9 March 2023

Since 1987 more than seven million people worldwide have held the Sri Chinmoy peace torch, including Pope Francis, Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Bob Hawke and John Howard. The 2023 Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run started in Brisbane and came to Canberra today. As ACT patron of the peace run, I was pleased to welcome the team to Parliament House, along with members and senators from across the parliament.

The team carrying the torch in relay has included Abhijatri Robinson (South Africa); Annabel Hepworth (Australia); Ashadeep Volkhardt (Australia); Bayarkhuu Batbayar (Mongolia); Fatima Caal Caal (Guatemala); Gabriel Quintana (Guatemala); Gesiane Nascimento (Brazil); Grahak Cunningham (Australia); Harashita Sunaoshi (Japan); Harita Davies (New Zealand), a three-time finisher of the world's longest race, the Sri Chinmoy 3,100-mile race; Joe Ward (Australia); Liana Tibaquira (Colombia); Mirabel Gonzalez Lopez (Guatemala); Narantuya Batsaikhan, Mongolia; Paramananda (Indonesia); Prachar Stegemann (Australia); Salil Wilson (Australia), global CEO of the peace run; Sarankhuu Jargal (Mongolia); Shasti Aston (Australia); Stacey Marsh (New Zealand), the national coordinator of the peace run for Australia; Susan Marshall (New Zealand), women's winner of this year's Sri Chinmoy 3,100-mile race. Plus thousands more Australian school students and members of community groups and clubs, along with citizens from all walks of life who have held, walked or run with the peace torch.

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Economic Dynamism - Speech

House of Representatives, 8 March 2023

We on this side of the House are concerned with ensuring that Australia has a more dynamic economy. We are committed to action on climate change, as embodied in schedule 2 to the bill, which enacts sustainability standards, implementing the Australian government's election commitment to ensure a standardised, internationally aligned reporting of climate related plans, risks and opportunities by large businesses.

The government is committed to ensuring that Australia has a more dynamic economy. Over recent decades, we've seen an increase in market concentration and an increase in mark-ups, the gap between costs and prices. We've seen a fall in the startup rate and a decline in the share of Australians starting a new job. It's very clear that the Australian economy is becoming less dynamic. After the lousiest decade of productivity growth in Australia's postwar history, it is vital that we look at the benefits that could be garnered from competition reform. In the 1990s Australia saw a productivity surge, and a good part of that had to do with the reforms to competition initiated by Fred Hilmer and Paul Keating at the beginning of that decade. Those Hilmer-Keating competition reforms garnered some $5,000 a year in benefits for the typical Australian household.

We need to consider today whether competition reform can help deliver a more dynamic economy. Since coming to government, the Albanese government has increased the penalties for anticompetitive conduct. We have banned unfair contract terms. We've received an important report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission into digital platform services. And we are currently consulting on platform-specific regulation and a ban on unfair trading practices. Around the world, we can see the thinking on competition shifting. The Biden White House has quite a different approach to competition issues than the Obama White House did. There is a greater awareness that big is not necessarily beautiful and that large firms can affect the entire ecosystem. The impact of monopsony power, the way in which large firms can squeeze their suppliers, is coming into sharp focus. Take Apple, for example. Apple is able to occupy a dominant position in the smartphone market, charging more to consumers than it would be able to do if it had a smaller market share. But Apple can also squeeze its suppliers. There's only one way of getting an app onto the Apple app store, and that is by going through Apple. That's why the typical cost of an in-app purchase is 30 per cent. So monopsony power can hurt suppliers, just as monopoly power hurts consumers.

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Better Together - Speech, Sydney

Better Together
CPA Australia, Sydney
Wednesday, 1 March 2023

Thanks very much, Wayne [Stokes], for the generous introduction. Thanks to all of you who have come here in person. In the slightly post-COVID age we’re in, it’s lovely to be in a room with other human beings, and that’s a theme that I’ll be touching on a little bit today. Welcome also to those who are joining virtually.

As Wayne did, I acknowledge that we’re meeting on the traditional lands of the Gadigal people, pay my respects to elders past and present, acknowledge any Indigenous people present and commit myself as a member of the Albanese Government to the implementation in full of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

I just finished reading Katherine Rundell’s biography of John Donne. It’s called Super‑Infinite, a title that comes from the way in which Donne’s great focus was on the things that transcend us. When we think about John Donne, we think of that wonderful line, "no man is an island". Of course, a little gendered for his age, but still a powerful reminder of the importance of focusing on those activities that bring us together.

Indeed, it’s hard to point to many achievements of humanity, whether it is creating a great invention, winning a war or building a city, which have been done by a single person alone. Most of the achievements of which humanity can point back are collective achievements. They're achievements of "we", not achievements of "me". And yet over recent decades, Australia has shifted starkly from being a nation more of we to a nation more of me. I want to start by just taking you a couple of metrics for that.

The first is when we look at the number of organisations per person in Australia, that figure has dwindled. We can go to the Directory of Australian Associations, started in the late 1970s, which tracks the number of organisations in Australia, and we see from that a decline in the number of organisations per person. If you wanted to join an organisation in Australia today, there are simply fewer to choose from per person than there were in the late 1970s.

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How Uncompetitive Markets Hurt Workers - Speech, Melbourne

How Uncompetitive Markets Hurt Workers
Maurice Blackburn, Melbourne
Thursday, 2 March 2023

I acknowledge the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung and Bunurong Boon Wurrung peoples of the Eastern Kulin.

I pay my respects to their Elders, extend that respect to other First Nations people present, and commit myself, as a part of the Albanese Government, to the implementation in full of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Special thanks to Per Capita and Maurice Blackburn for hosting today’s event.

Company Towns

Sixteen Tons was written by Merle Travis in 1946.

It’s been covered many times, most famously by Johnny Cash.

It’s about a real group of coal miners who lived and worked in a company town in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. The chorus goes:

You load 16 tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
St. Peter, don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store (Travis 1946)

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ABC Canberra Breakfast with Adam Shirley - Transcript


SUBJECTS: Workplace giving; Consultations on 2026 Census topics.

ADAM SHIRLEY (HOST): Do you give, I mean in a financial sense, to a given charity? I don’t know whether it’s Vinnies, whether it’s the Salvos, Red Cross, Hands Across Canberra, Thinking Locally, Communities At Work; there are so many different not-for-profits that need extra funds to support those who are in need. Well, a new workplace giving program is being started by Vinnies Canberra, it’s a monthly set up of donations that come straight out of your account. There are other Canberra workplace giving programs, I am sure, and I’d like to hear about one you might be involved with.

Well, someone who oversees giving and also the charity sector more broadly is Dr Andrew Leigh, Federal Member for Fenner and Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury. Dr Leigh, thanks for your time today.


SHIRLEY: How important are these workplace-giving programs in our cost-of-living/inflation–ridden times?

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Radovan Leovic 1927-2023

House of Representatives, 16 February 2023

Radovan Leovic was born in Yugoslavia in 1927. He yearned to escape and as a teenager decided that if only he could be selected to represent Yugoslavia in the European Games he'd be able to get out. But he wasn't quite good enough, so he did something else. He got hold of a national team uniform, travelled to the north of the country, where the games were held and, wearing a national uniform, cycled with the peloton over the border, where he escaped and ultimately made his way as a refugee to Australia.

He became a regular in the Canberra triathlon scene, receiving the Legend of the Sport Award from Triathlon ACT just last year, at the age of 95. As recently as 2018 he was running, cycling or swimming every day and said he was 'all the time warm and all the time ready to race'. My friend Alex Gosman said of Rad: 'I can remember Rad always being one of the last to leave after a race as he stayed around to help pack up. Rad always gave 100 per cent, never complained, and had a smile and a hello for everyone.' Triathlon is an extraordinarily competitive sport, but triathletes are generous to one another, and Rad was the epitome of a sport that combines endurance and generosity to fellow competitors.

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Ann Harding 1958-2023

House of Representatives, 16 February 2023

Ann Harding founded NATSEM, the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, in 1993—over a fish-and-chip shop. She later settled into an $11 million state-of-the-art building on campus, and her legacy lives on in the name of the Ann Harding Conference Centre. Ann worked on microsimulation and was made a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia in 1996 and the inaugural president and co-founder of the International Microsimulation Association. She served as the president of the ACT branch of the Economic Society of Australia and authored or co-authored over 300 books, chapters, articles, papers and commissioned reports.

NATSEM did critical work in policy. Ann was constantly serving on academic and government boards, including the Treasury and the departments of social security, health, housing, and community services. I remember meeting Ann for the first time in the 1998-99 discussions over the introduction of a goods and services tax. I was then working for the late Senator Peter Cook. As I brought her upstairs for the hearings she said to me, 'You know, you Labor people will come to like this tax, because it'll allow you to spend what you need on health and education.' Ann always had a ready wit and a generosity of spirit and helped many in NATSEM, including yourself, Deputy Speaker Payne. She was generous to me as a young economist, too.

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Parliamentary Standards

House of Representatives, 9 February 2023

I first worked in this building in 1988 doing work experience for the then member for Fraser, John Langmore. I came back to work as a staffer for the late Senator Peter Cook from 1998 to 2000 and I've had the privilege of serving in this place as a member, first for Fraser and then for Fenner, since 2010. So I've seen the culture in the parliament evolve. I've seen it change from a building which was almost entirely a parliament of men to now being much more gender diverse. I've seen it become a little more caring and I've seen the rise of the #MeToo movement, that very welcome rally that said it was about time that we had gender equity in this country.

But other things haven't changed. This still remains one of the very few workplaces in Australia where it's considered acceptable to shout insults at your co-workers while they are trying to do their jobs. It still remains a place in which there are highly personal attacks made on people for political reasons, and the rise of anonymous social media has worsened that particular cesspool. We've seen pile-ons which have challenged the mental health of many. Just think about the impact on former Senator Nick Sherry from the partisan attacks which caused him to attempt to take his life. Many who have been in the eye of the storm during the 12 years that I've been in this parliament have spoken to me about the way in which that affects their mental health.

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Will Steffen

House of Representatives, 8 February 2023

I rise to speak about one of Australia's greatest climate scientists, the late Professor Will Steffen who died at the end of January aged 75. Will Steffen was born in Norfolk, Nebraska, and trained as a chemist at the University of Missouri before getting his PhD at the University of Florida in 1975. He came to Australia with his wife, Carrie, in the late 1970s after a detour working for the Peace Corps in rural Fiji. He did a post-doc at ANU and then joined the CSIRO as an editor and information officer.

He quickly became one of the leaders in the emerging field of geosphere-biosphere analysis. He helped to bring together disparate fields of ecology, biology, oceanography and climate research into a larger study of earth system science. He moved to Stockholm from 1998 to 2004 as executive director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme and then, when he returned to Australia, quickly became an adviser to the federal government on issues of climate. He became director of the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society and the inaugural director of the ANU Climate Change Institute.

Australians came to know him best as a foundation member of the Australian Climate Commission, which was dissolved, as he put it, within what seemed like hours of the election of the Abbott government in 2013. In response, Will Steffen and his fellow commissioners Tim Flannery, Lesley Hughes and Amanda McKenzie launched a crowdfunding campaign, raising more than $1 million in a single week, enabling them to set up the Climate Council.

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Ten Ways Labor is Addressing the Cost of Living Challenges Facing Australian Households

Cost of Living
Matter of Public Importance
House of Representatives
7 February 2023

What chutzpah from those opposite to come in and talk to this parliament about the cost of living. Those opposite, who spent nearly a decade in office as a government whose ‘deliberate design feature’ was to place downward pressures on the wages of Australians. Those opposite, who in government ran a rolling energy crisis, with 22 failed energy policies driving upward pressure on bills. Those opposite, who hid power price rises from the Australian people until after the election. Those opposite, whose budgets included sports rorts, car park rorts, Leppington Triangle—who ran a veritable rortocracy. They put so much ill-considered money into the system as to have an adverse impact on the decisions of the Reserve Bank.

Since we've come to office we've seen 234,000 jobs created—the best record of an incoming government since records began. We've seen the strongest wage growth in the period since we've come to office that has been seen in Australia in a decade. I have to say that the chutzpah is pretty extraordinary, given that the mover of this matter of public importance himself said, when interest rates began to rise when his government was in office, that the rise had to happen. The member for Deakin said, 'I think households are in a position where they've prepared for this.' That cash rate, he said, 'wasn't going to last forever.'

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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.