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.

Moving Embassy To Jerusalem Could Spark Peace Process
17 October 2018

Moving Embassy To Jerusalem Could Spark Peace Process

The Morrison government’s announcement that it will now consider recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is a welcome reiteration of our liberal democratic values in foreign policy. Australia’s embassy is currently in Tel Aviv, which is a fine city – it is a modern cosmopolitan commercial and cultural hub with beautiful beaches and fabulous night life. But it is not Israel’s
Read
New Book Uncovers The Emerging Divide In Australian Society
11 October 2018

New Book Uncovers The Emerging Divide In Australian Society

A new book by Institute of Public Affairs Research Fellow, Matthew Lesh, exposes the new divide, which is driving Australia’s political instability and public frustrations. Democracy in a Divided Australia is the first empirically grounded investigation of Australia’s political tribes, the capture of policymaking by a new elite and charting of a path forward in a divided nation. The book
Read
The Great Divide Driving Voter Disgust
8 October 2018

The Great Divide Driving Voter Disgust

Australians are frustrated, disengaged and pessimistic. There is widespread and growing dislike of politicians, the political process and lacklustre policy outcomes. Australians think that the system is being stacked against them, their communities, families and potential for human flourishing. “Public satisfaction with our democratic processes and public trust in the politicians we elect are at some of the lowest levels
Read
Evidence Based Policy Research Project
5 October 2018

Evidence Based Policy Research Project

The Evidence Based Policy Research Project commissioned free-market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, and progressive think tank Per Capita Australia, to analyse 20 public policies using the ten criteria of the Wiltshire test for good policy making. This research project was commissioned ‘to coax more evidence-based policy decisions by all tiers of Government by reviewing and rating 20
Read
Two Ideas Of A University – Speech By Matthew Lesh
4 October 2018

Two Ideas Of A University – Speech By Matthew Lesh

Two Ideas of a University Speech by Matthew Lesh, Research Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs, to the University Chancellors Council’s Conference on University Governance, Adelaide, Australia, 4 October 2018 Thank you very much for the invitation to address this august gathering. In particular, I pay my tribute to Peter Shergold who graciously organised this session in the spirit
Read
Universities Have A Duty To Protect Free Speech
28 September 2018

Universities Have A Duty To Protect Free Speech

Australia’s universities are public institutions with a corresponding legal responsibility to uphold free expression. This point was made by former High Court chief justice Robert French last week in his Austin Asche oration for Charles Darwin University and the Australian Academy of Law. French outlined the possibility that universities are covered by the constitutional freedom of political communication. “To the
Read
As Unis Stifle Free Speech, We Need A Law To Stop The Rot
28 September 2018

As Unis Stifle Free Speech, We Need A Law To Stop The Rot

The federal government needs to introduce US-style campus free-speech legislation to safeguard free intellectual inquiry and open debate at Australia’s universities. We are in the midst of a campus free-speech crisis. Universities have cancelled speakers, censored academics and charged special security fees for conservative speakers. This month a police riot squad was called to the University of Sydney in response
Read
University of Sydney Encourages Censorious Heckler’s Veto
25 September 2018

University of Sydney Encourages Censorious Heckler’s Veto

The University of Sydney is encouraging censorship by charging security fees to student event organisers, according to free market think tank the Institute Public Affairs. University of Sydney vice-chancellor Michael Spence wrote in The Australian today that event organisers should pay for additional security for controversial speakers – justifying the $475 charged to the Sydney University Liberal Club to host
Read
Is Safetyism Destroying a Generation?
3 September 2018

Is Safetyism Destroying a Generation?

In recent years behaviours on university campuses have created widespread unease. Safe spaces, trigger warnings, and speech codes. Demands for speakers to be disinvited. Words construed asviolence and liberalism described as ‘white supremacy’. Students walking on eggshells, too scared to speak their minds. Controversial speakers violently rebuked – from conservative provocateurs such as Milo Yiannopoulos to serious sociologists such as Charles Murray, to left-leaning academics such
Read
Tim Soutphommasane and the Exacerbation of Race Politics
16 August 2018

Tim Soutphommasane and the Exacerbation of Race Politics

In his final speech as Race Discrimination Commissioner, Tim Soutphommasane declared that “race politics is back” and asserted that the “biggest threats to racial harmony … come from within our parliaments and from sections of our media.” But I would argue that Soutphommasane has overlooked his own contribution to racial discord. The political left’s obsession with identity politics undermines the critical
Read