666 ABC CANBERRA
TUESDAY, 15 SEPTEMBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: Liberal leadership.
PHILIP CLARK: Andrew Leigh is the Labor Member for Fraser, he joins me this morning. Andrew, good morning.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning, Philp.
CLARK: Big day yesterday! Politics is exciting I know but did this take you by surprise?
LEIGH: It was pretty extraordinary, yes. As Malcolm Turnbull once put it during another leadership change of this kind, one of the most shocking events any of us have ever witnessed in politics.
CLARK: Yes, well. It's something of a mixed blessing for Labor. There's a lot of talk around Mr Turnbull's popularity and the plain fact is in poll terms, he is much more popular than Mr Abbott. That translates into electoral difficulty for Labor, doesn't it?
LEIGH: Philip, what ultimately matters is what is good for Australia. And if we can have a more sensible conversation about the future then I think that's terrific. Bill Shorten has been talking a lot about the need for jobs that transition beyond the investment phase of the mining boom. Investments in science, technology, engineering and maths are dealing with innovation, and we also need to make sure that we have policies to tackle the growing challenge of inequality. We're up for a policy-focused conversation, the question is whether Malcolm Turnbull is willing or able to move beyond the bad policies that have brought the Liberal Party to this point.
CLARK: That's all well and good and even granting that that is so. But the truth is that Mr Turnbull is, in political terms, a more formidable opponent for you isn't he?
LEIGH: Look, Malcolm Turnbull is a good speaker, I once quipped to him that he should have the permanent role of Parliamentary eulogist. I think no one delivers a better eulogy in the Parliament than Malcolm, including for Labor members at times. But when it comes to the actual policies, Philip, politics is an extreme sport. Malcolm Turnbull has said that he agrees with all of the measures in the past two budgets, that includes things like the GP co-payment, the $100,000 degrees, the six month wait for Newstart, the cuts to the pension, health and education. On the issue of climate change, people are hoping for a greener Prime Ministership but I expect they will be disappointed because Malcolm Turnbull has been clear that he supports Direct Action. On same sex marriage he's been clear that he supports the strange notion of a plebiscite rather than having the Parliament decide the issue as has happened in most other places.
CLARK: Yes, but still. There’ll be a keen eye on the polls I’m sure, to see whether Mr Turnbull's popularity does translate into an improved standing for the Coalition in the published polls where they have been behind now for 18 months. I'm sure you'll be clicking early and often to have a look yourself, wouldn't you?
LEIGH: Philip, you know my view on the opinion polls. I think I have been on the record for over a decade saying we should spend less time focusing on horse race opinion polls and more time –
CLARK: You don't believe that and neither do I.
LEIGH: I certainly believe that Philip, you can go back to my writings –
CLARK: You're telling me that a politician like yourself, any politician today, doesn’t take any notice of opinion polls? That's just not true.
LEIGH: My first paper looking at the inaccuracy of opinion polls was published in 2002, and just about every interview I have done as a politician on the polls, I've said we should spend less time focusing on the polls and less time on the horse race. My new book, The Luck of Politics, contains a significant section talking about how the polls are a poor predictor of who is going to win the election. You should never question my critique of the polls, I doubt you'll find a Parliamentarian in Australia who is more critical of horse race opinion polls than me.
CLARK: Alright Andrew Leigh, good to talk.
LEIGH: Likewise, Philip.
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