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.Read more
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.Read more
CAN AMERICA LIVE UP TO THE AMERICAN DREAM?
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.Read more
2023 AUSTRALIAN IMPACT INVESTING AWARDS
Australian Impact Investment Awards, Sydney
Thursday 30 November 2023
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.Read more
COMPETITION AND BUSINESS DYNAMICS
Australia Financial Review CFO Live Summit, Melbourne
Tuesday 28 November 2023
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.
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.Read more
IS SOCIAL MEDIA WORSENING YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH?
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.
‘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.Read more
Ten Lessons for Economic Policymakers
Economic Society of Australia Annual Dinner 2023
Commonwealth Club, Canberra
Wednesday, 1 November 2023
Introduction: The Power of Ideas
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more