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.Read more
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.Read more
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.'Read more
Market Power And Markups: Malign Markers For The Australian Macroeconomy
The Sydney Institute, Sydney
Wednesday, 7 December 2022
I acknowledge the Gadigal people, traditional custodians of the land on which we gather today, and pay my respects to their Elders past and present.
I’d also like to acknowledge the Sydney Institute and its long-standing commitment to encouraging big conversations about big issues.
In 2012, I spoke here about why inequality matters, and what we should do about it (Leigh 2012).
Returning a decade later, I’m even more convinced that market power is a critical part of Australia’s economic story.Read more
10th Anniversary Of The ACNC
Canberra Via Video Link
Friday, 2 December 2022
Today is an auspicious day. Not only are we celebrating the 50th anniversary of the election of the Whitlam Government, but we also mark the tenth anniversary of Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. The ACNC was born of a vision that charities needed a one stop shop. That just as businesses had ASIC, so too, there should be a single regulator for the charities and not-for-profit sector.
I particularly want to thank Deborah Jenkins for your work stepping in as interim commissioner, Anna Longley, who has also served in the role, and to acknowledge Sue Woodward, who will soon take up the reins running the Charities Commission.
What does a ten-year anniversary mean? Well, as it happens, my youngest son is ten years old, so I have a bit of a sense as to what he does now that he couldn't do a decade ago. He's become more thoughtful, he's become wiser, he's become funnier. He is, in short, making a much greater contribution to the world than he did a decade ago.Read more
Fifty Years On, Whitlam's Government Is Still Worth Celebrating
Canberra, National Press Club
Friday, 2 December 2022
When Prime Minister William McMahon set the date for the 1972 election as December 2, Whitlam noted that it was the anniversary of the 1805 Battle of Austerlitz, when Napoleon defeated the Russian and Austrian armies. It was, he said, ‘a date on which a crushing defeat was administered to a coalition - another ramshackle, reactionary coalition’.
Whitlam was a reformer, but he valued tradition, and knew his history. Visiting Australia in 1974, Gore Vidal was struck to meet a Prime Minister who took issue with the historical accuracy of Vidal’s novel about the Roman Emperor, Julian.
It was, Vidal later noted, ‘an unusual experiment for Australia to choose as its Prime Minister its most intelligent man’. As Julia Gillard noted in her 2011 Whitlam oration, Whitlam – like his near namesake Whitman – could well have said ‘I am large, I contain multitudes.’
Scott Prasser and David Clune’s edited book ‘The Whitlam Era’ also contains multitudes – bringing together more than a dozen respected commentators to provide a critical analysis of the Whitlam Government, half a century today from its election.Read more
Health Inequalities In The Covid Pandemic: Evidence From Australia
Wednesday, 23 November 2022
I acknowledge the Ngunnawal people, Traditional Custodians of the land on which we gather today, pay my respects to their Elders past and present, and commit myself to the full implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
It is my pleasure to be invited to talk at the Australian Population Association's 2022 Conference, and an honour to be giving the W.D. Borrie Lecture.
Appropriations Bill 2022
House of Representatives
22 November 2022
I am pleased to rise to speak on the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023, a bill which reflects on the contributions of the Albanese government in taking action on climate change; beginning to make some of the much-needed investments into housing; and recognising the importance of fixing up parts of our education system that are not working as well as they can. This is a budget which deals with some of the rorts and mismanagement that have been locked in under nine lost years of coalition government. It is a budget which makes an investment in Australians' future.
I want to talk about much of that, but I want to anchor it in the aspirations, interests and commitments of some young Canberrans. I want to do so through an interesting initiative, the Raise Our Voice Australia initiative. Raise Our Voice is a volunteer-run organisation that seeks to amplify diverse young, female, trans and non-binary voices to actively lead conversations in politics and in domestic and foreign policy. They've asked me to amplify the voices of young people from Fenner by reading their words in this parliament. So I'm going to begin my speech today with speeches from four young Australians, beginning with Amelie Toogood, nine years old. Amelie says as follows:Read more
Warren Hogan Memorial Lecture: Economic Dynamism: A Global Perspective
University Of Sydney, School Of Economics
Wednesday, 2 November 2022
I acknowledge the Gadigal people, Traditional Custodians of the land on which we gather today, and pay my respects to their Elders past and present.
Thank you to the Sydney University School of Economics for hosting today.
I have fond memories of my first-year economics class in Merewether in 1991.
In the seat next to me was my friend Justin Wolfers – now a professor at the University of Michigan, and co-author of a major first-year textbook.
Last month, I gave a talk to Justin’s Economics 101 class at the University of Michigan, reflecting on the power of economics in public policy.
It's a lesson our first-year Sydney University lecturer embodied.
In 1991, he was just another dashing macroeconomics lecturer, but Yanis Varoufakis would go on to enter the Hellenic Parliament, and serve as one of the most significant finance ministers in Greek history, attempting to help navigate his country’s economy through the 2015 debt crisis.
He had quite the influence on his students – my parliamentary colleague Chris Bowen, who delivered the 2019 Lecture, is another student of this era (Bowen 2019).
At that time, the School of Economics was a mere 69-year-old whippersnapper.
It’s hard to believe it celebrated 100 years in July.
Congratulations to Garry Barrett for your leadership of the school, as well as your pioneering microeconometric research, especially on inequality.Read more
KATIE WOOLF: Joining me on the line right now to tell us about a bit of a town hall meeting that happened a little earlier this morning is Andrew Leigh, the Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and also Treasury. Good morning to you Minister.
DR ANDREW LEIGH: Good morning, Katie. Great to be with you.
WOOLF: Yeah, good to have you on the show. Tell us a little bit more about this meeting that took place earlier this morning.
LEIGH: Luke Gosling and I got together with NT charities this morning to talk about some of the big challenges facing the sector. Over the last generation, we've seen a drop in the share of Australians joining community organisations, donating money, participating in sporting activities, or volunteering their time. So what we wanted to do is to get together some of those remarkable NT charities to talk about how we turn this around. We had people there from religious organisations, animal welfare organisations, disability support organisations, and it was really valuable sharing the ideas and getting a sense of what we can do to build a more reconnected Australia.