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Ex-US ambassador to share ideas on democracy at AFoI

Former United States ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich is one of the latest keynote speakers announced for next month’s Adelaide Festival of Ideas, where he will speak about “democracy’s new challenge”.

Jeffrey Bleich at the National Press Club in Canberra in 2013, when he delivered his farewell speech as ambassador. Photo: AAP

Jeffrey Bleich at the National Press Club in Canberra in 2013, when he delivered his farewell speech as ambassador. Photo: AAP

Bleich, who was ambassador from 2009 to 2013 and also served as special counsel to President Barack Obama in the White House, now works in Silicon Valley and was last year named one of the US’s 500 most influential lawyers.

Flinders University vice-chancellor Colin Stirling said Bleich would deliver the university’s annual Investigator Lecture as part of the Festival of Ideas “at a pivotal time in the US presidential race”.

Other keynote speakers announced today ahead of the full program reveal next week include QC Robyn Layton, who will deliver the 2016 Dame Roma Mitchell Oration on the current state of human rights in Australia; and innovator and entrepreneur Mark Pesce, who will speak on the topic of “smart money”.

Former politician, writer and lawyer Barry Jones will deliver the 2016 Don Dunstan Oration, sharing ideas for how Australia’s leaders “can climb out of the current political abyss”.

Festival of Ideas founder and chairman Greg Mackie said the vice-chancellors of South Australia’s three universities were all supporting the rebooted festival, which will take place from October 21-23 as part of the SA Government’s Open State event.

US environmental advocate Erin Brockovich will also address the festival, which is being dedicated to writer and broadcaster Phillip Adams.

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