Matthew Lesh

Adjunct Fellow

In 2019 Matthew took up his current position of Head of Research at the Adam Smith Institute in London, while continuing his affiliation with the IPA as an Adjunct Fellow.

Before moving to London, Matthew was a Research Fellow at the IPA (2016-2018) researching freedom of speech at Australian universities (inaugurating the Free Speech on Campus Audit), entrepreneurship and changing political values, as well as managing for a time Generation Liberty, the IPA's youth outreach project. In 2018, Matthew’s first book was published, Democracy in a Divided Australia, which examined Australia’s political tribes and the capture of policymaking by a new elite, while charting a path forward for a divided nation.

His writing has appeared extensively in the Australian and international media outlets, including The Australian, Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun, Australian Financial Review, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Canberra Times, Brisbane Times, The Spectator Australia, The Huffington Post, ABC Opinion, Crikey, The Punch, Online Opinion, Spiked, CapX, and BrexitCentral. He also appears regularly on radio and television and has provided expert evidence to Australian Senate committees.

Matthew graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons), majoring in politics and international studies, and history. He subsequently completed a Masters in Public Policy and Administration at the London School of Economics. Matthew graduated from LSE with a Distinction and received the Peter Self Prize for Best Overall Result and the Joint Peter Self Prize for Best Dissertation.

Matthew has also worked for state and federal parliamentarians, in digital communications, and founded a mobile app development start-up.

IPA Welcomes Free Speech Review, Time For Universities To Act
9 April 2019

IPA Welcomes Free Speech Review, Time For Universities To Act

The free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs has welcomed the Government’s independent review into university freedom of speech undertaken by the Hon Mr Robert French AC, former Chief Justice of the High Court Chief of Australia. “The review was instigated following concerns raised by the IPA, academics, students, and even some university chancellors, about the state of
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Universities Want To Have Their Cake – And Censor It
18 December 2018

Universities Want To Have Their Cake – And Censor It

Universities have entered a bargain with the devil. Universities accept significant state direction in exchange for privileges and funding. Universities are a regulated oligopoly. They have a range of privileges, including the exclusive power to award degrees, barriers to entry for competitors, and generous funding. Higher education-related government expenditure reached $13.86 billion in 2017–18, a figure that has grown substantially
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Free Speech on Campus Audit 2018
10 December 2018

Free Speech on Campus Audit 2018

The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA)’s Free Speech on Campus Audit 2018 is the third systematic analysis of over 190 policies and actions at Australia’s 42 universities. The Audit rates each university’s support for free speech by analysing policies and actions that limit the diversity of ideas on campus. The failure to protect freedom of expression is seriously imperilling the
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Free Speech in Decline: IPA Free Speech On Campus Audit 2018
10 December 2018

Free Speech in Decline: IPA Free Speech On Campus Audit 2018

Free expression at Australian universities is slipping even further, according to the Institute of Public Affairs’ Free Speech on Campus Audit 2018. The audit analyses over 190 policies and actions at Australia’s 42 universities. The total Hostility Score across all institutions, which measures the number of policies and actions that limit free speech, has increased by 82 per cent between
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A Chance For Universities To Think Again
15 November 2018

A Chance For Universities To Think Again

Free speech is fundamental to what it means to be a university. It is fundamental to undertaking researc­h and ensuring students can grow intellectually. The government’s announcement that former chief justice Robert French will lead an inquiry into freedom of speech at universities is welcome and important. Australia’s universities should embrace the opportunity to ­review and improve their policies and
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IPA Welcomes Robert French-Led Free Speech On Campus Inquiry
14 November 2018

IPA Welcomes Robert French-Led Free Speech On Campus Inquiry

Free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs has welcomed the Government’s announcement that former Chief Justice of Australia Robert French will review freedom of speech at universities. “Australia’s universities are failing to live up to their moral and legal duty to safeguard free expression,” said Matthew Lesh, Research Fellow with the IPA. “The French review is an important
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UTAS Risk To Freedom Of Expression And Human Rights
7 November 2018

UTAS Risk To Freedom Of Expression And Human Rights

The University of Tasmania’s draft behaviour policy is a serious threat to freedom of expression and basic legal rights. The bedrock of university life is the ability to freely explore ideas. It is only through the process of claim and counter-claim that it is possible to separate good ideas from bad and discover the truth. Across the Anglosphere, from American
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IPA welcomes university regulator’s commitment to free intellectual inquiry, calls for specific guidance note
26 October 2018

IPA welcomes university regulator’s commitment to free intellectual inquiry, calls for specific guidance note

Australia’s higher education regulator has committed to investigating university policies which limit freedom of speech that were revealed by research from free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs. Last night in Senate Estimates, Professor Nick Saunders AO, the Chief Commissioner of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), expressed strong support for free intellectual inquiry during questioning
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IPA submission to the University of Tasmania’s Draft University Behaviour Policy and Procedure
19 October 2018

IPA submission to the University of Tasmania’s Draft University Behaviour Policy and Procedure

This submission responds to the University of Tasmania’s Draft University Behaviour Policy and Procedure. This submission raises concern that the proposed policy seriously threatens freedom of expression and infringes legal rights. The University of Tasmania is currently one of Australia’s highest ranked universities on freedom of speech in the IPA’s Free Speech on Campus Audit 2017. The University is one of few
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Sexual Assault Too Serious A Crime For A Campus Verdict
19 October 2018

Sexual Assault Too Serious A Crime For A Campus Verdict

A basic legal right is that if you are accused of something as serious as sexual assault, the case against you must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Australia’s universities are stripping away this basic legal right by determining such cases at the much lower threshold of the “balance of probabilities”. In August, the University of Sydney established a policy that
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