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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
CHANGING THE WORLD, ONE COIN TOSS AT A TIME
Evidence and Implementation Summit, Melbourne
Wednesday, 11 October 2023
I acknowledge the people of the Kulin Nations as traditional custodians of the land and pay my respects to their Elders past and present. I commit myself to the implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which starts with voting Yes this Saturday.
I thank the Monash University, the National University of Singapore and the Centre for Evidence and Implementation for hosting today’s Summit. It’s terrific to see so many of you dedicated to closing the ‘know-do gap’– the gap between what we know and what we do.
The title of my presentation is ‘Changing the World, One Coin Toss at a Time’. I chose this title because the simple act of tossing a coin can help us get the evidence we need to address our most difficult problems. Heads, they receive the intervention. Tails, they’re in the control group. From there, we can establish a counterfactual and begin to evaluate what works and what doesn’t work.
Recently, at the National Press Club and the Australian Evaluation Society Conference, I’ve spoken about randomised trials, its origins in medicine and the need to embed evaluation in the work of government. I’ve spoken about social impact and how rigorous evidence can give us an accurate picture of program effectiveness. I’ve also spoken about how the increased availability of large, integrated administrative datasets can help us conduct evaluations more quickly and cheaply, making data and evaluation a match made in policy heaven. Today, I want to zoom out a little and discuss what best practice use of evidence looks like.Read more
How COVID Changed the World of Data
Australian National University School of Demography
6 October 2023
I acknowledge the Ngunnawal people as traditional custodians of the ACT and recognise all First Nations people present today.
I commit myself, as a member of the Albanese Government, to the implementation in full of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which starts with voting Yes on October 14.
Thank you to the Australian National University for hosting today’s Symposium and thank you for focusing your efforts on understanding the impact of the COVID pandemic on demography in Australia.
I want to preface my remarks by acknowledging the remarkable ability of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and other government agencies to rapidly shift their operational focus during the pandemic.
Demographers deserve credit for helping guide governments, policymakers and the community through the COVID pandemic.
Today, I will tell the data side of the story.
COVID might have shrunk our worlds to frequent Zoom calls in which we took it in turns to remind each other ‘You’re on mute’.
But COVID also opened up a whole new world of data.
In the space of just a couple of years, we have access to more timely and frequent updates, new sources of data and greater integration.
I welcome the opportunity to talk about this extraordinary legacy, the lessons learnt and how we can build on it.
Rocking the demographic boat
The COVID pandemic was not only a rapidly evolving health crisis but an economic crisis too – the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression (Kennedy 2022).
Restrictions to limit the spread of COVID saw a reduction in spending, business turnover, losses in jobs and hours worked, and supply chain disruptions (ABS 2022a).
By June 2023, the level of GDP is estimated to have suffered a cumulative loss of $116 billion compared to its pre-pandemic trajectory (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Australia’s GDP, actual and pre-COVID trajectory
Source: ABS 2023a and Treasury
The COVID pandemic rocked the demographic boat.
As shown in this chart, Australia’s population growth slowed to 0.1 per cent in 2020–21 – the lowest rate in more than 100 years (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Australia’s population growth and components of growth, historical and projected
Source: ABS 2023b and Treasury
Australia’s net overseas migration fell into negative territory for the first time since the end of WWII, with a net loss of 85,000 people in 2020–21 (ABS 2023c).
There was a larger than expected increase in deaths due to COVID and other causes – 10.9 per cent above what was expected in 2022 (ABS 2023d).
Births fluctuated in interesting ways. In the December 2020 quarter, nine months after the pandemic hit, births fell. We know that crises can make couples cautious about starting a family, and this drop likely reflected the uncertainty that many couples felt in the early months of the COVID lockdowns.
But then things turned around. In the March 2021 quarter – nine months after mid-2020, births hit an all-time high (ABS 2023c). We can’t be sure as to why this occurred, but it may be that couples felt a little less anxious about the future as the year unfolded. Lockdown boredom may also have been a factor. Border closures between states and territories reduced internal mobility. The number of interstate moves in the year to March 2021 was 30.2 per cent lower than in 2018-19 (ABS 2023c).
The pandemic also influenced where people wanted to live with an increase in net moves from urban areas towards suburban and regional areas (Figure 3) (Centre for Population 2020).
COVID doubled the net number of people moving to the regions.
You can see a break in the data series on this chart. It’s due to the pandemic’s impact on Medicare address information this series relied on, which I will get to later.
Figure 3. Net internal migration to regions outside capital cities, quarterly
Source: ABS 2023c and ABS 2021d
WHAT’S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN? EXISTENTIAL RISK AND EXTREME POLITICS
EAGxAustralia Conference, Effective Altruism Australia, Melbourne
Friday, 22 September 2023
I acknowledge the people of the Kulin Nations as traditional custodians of the land and pay my respects to their Elders past and present. I acknowledge any First Nations people and businesses represented here today. I commit myself to the implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which starts by voting Yes on October 14.
Much of what we focus on in politics centres on immediate challenges. This week, I’ve participated in discussions about competition policy and randomised trials, community-building and economic dynamism. These are important issues for Australia’s future.
But the EAGxAustralia conference provides an opportunity to think about existential risk – about dangers not only to our way of life, but to our lives themselves.
In a busy life, it’s easy to confuse the improbable with the impossible.
What would happen if you decided to cross the road without checking the traffic? Odds are that you’d survive unscathed. But do it enough times and you’re likely to come a cropper.
That’s where catastrophic risk comes in.Read more
START UPS, UPSTARTS AND COMPETITION
International Small Business Summit, Melbourne
Friday, 22 September 2023
I acknowledge the people of the Kulin Nations as traditional custodians of the land and pay my respects to their Elders past and present. I acknowledge any First Nations people and businesses represented here today. I commit myself, as a member of the Albanese Government, to the implementation in full of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, including voting Yes for a Voice to Parliament.
Thank you to the Small Business Association of Australia for hosting today’s summit. It comes at a time when our government is providing around one million small businesses with direct energy bill relief.
We’re also putting in place the Small Business Energy Incentive to help businesses with annual turnover of less than $50 million save on their energy bills.
We’re improving small business cash flow by halving the rate of increase of quarterly tax instalments for GST and income tax.
And we’re making it easier for small businesses with an annual turnover of less than $10 million to invest and grow through the $20,000 instant asset write-off.
Under the leadership of Small Business Minister Julie Collins and Treasurer Jim Chalmers, the Albanese Government is tackling cost pressures now and we’re laying the foundations for growth in the decades to come. Competition policy is central to both of those goals and that’s my focus for today.Read more
COMPETITION AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
McKell Institute, Sydney
Wednesday, 20 September 2023
I acknowledge the Gadigal people, traditional custodians of the land on which we gather today. I pay my respects to their Elders, extend that respect to other First Nations people present today, and commit myself, as a member of the Albanese Government, to the implementation in full of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which starts with voting Yes on October 14.
It’s always a pleasure to address the McKell Institute. New South Wales Premier William McKell not only taught my party that it was possible to win back-to-back elections; he also provided a model for how to govern in turbulent times. McKell became premier in 1941 – the year of Pearl Harbour – and governed until 1947 – through the end of the war and into the peace. Like Prime Ministers Curtin and Chifley, Premier McKell saw an opportunity to rebuild a nation that was stronger after the war than before. My thanks to McKell Institute CEO Ed Cavanough and your team for hosting today’s event.
In 1955, a group of mathematicians sent a funding proposal to the Rockefeller Foundation. They were seeking support for a summer of brainstorming at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Their goal was to carry out a two-month, ten-person study of artificial intelligence ‘to find how to make machines use language, form abstractions and concepts, solve kinds of problems now reserved for humans, and improve themselves.’ Lacking no modesty, the application said ‘We think that a significant advance can be made in one or more of these problems if a carefully selected group of scientists work on it together for a summer’ (McCarthy et al 1955).
The Dartmouth Workshop was held in 1956. It did not solve the problems of artificial intelligence over two months. But it did mark the first use of the term ‘artificial intelligence’, and the attendees at this seminal event are considered the founders of AI research.
In the coming decades, researchers encountered several ‘AI winters’. Among the many challenges that programmers encountered was the difficulty of word-sense disambiguation. Put simply – to translate a sentence a machine needs to have some idea of the subject or it made mistakes. One possibly apocryphal example arises from an attempt to train an AI to translate from English to Russian. Given the English saying ‘the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak’, the early AI model translated it literally into Russian as ‘the vodka is good but the meat is rotten.’
Those early researchers weren’t just held back by the processing power of their machines. They were also working on a model of AI that was based on giving a computer a series of rules that it would follow in sequence. The problem is that humans don’t learn how to speak by following rules. Instead, we learn by listening to others. By trying and failing. Over and over.
Classical symbolic AI is dubbed GOFAI, or Good Old-Fashioned AI. Generative AI – which trains computers by providing them with vast numbers of examples – succeeds where good old-fashioned AI failed by using neural networks. Those networks need vast amounts of data. And in recent years, they have made vast breakthroughs.Read more
Water Amendment (Restoring Our Rivers) Bill 2023
Second Reading Speech
House of Representatives, 13th September 2023
Cast your mind back to the last drought, some three years ago, when the Darling River stopped flowing for more than 400 days, when farming communities were brought to their knees, desperate for water, when millions of native fish died and gruesome environmental images were broadcast across the world. Last month the Minister for the Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek, struck a deal with basin state and territory governments in order to deliver the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. This historic agreement reflected the policy that Labor took to the last election to deliver the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in full. For me, as an ACT representative, this is important. The ACT is one of the signatory governments. I note that the minister who's responsible, Shane Rattenbury, has talked about the importance of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to the ACT.Read more