This morning, in my usual slot with host Tim Lester in the Fairfax Breaking Politics studio, I discussed some of the stories making news today including the stark difference in approach between Tony Abbott and Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron over alleged human rights abuses in Sri Lanka. Here’s the full transcript:
MONDAY, 18 NOVEMBER 2013
Subjects: Sri Lanka and human rights, child care review, shopper dockets, debt ceiling, role of the Speaker of the House of Representatives
TIM LESTER: The approach of two conservative leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Sri Lanka could not have been more marked. Britain’s David Cameron visited some disaffected families in one part of the country, also upset the government by calling for a war-crimes enquiry. Australia’s Tony Abbott, well he gave the Government a couple of patrol boats to help with asylum seekers and seemed only to praise them. Which leader was right? Well, to discuss that issue and others, we’re joined on Mondays in [the] Breaking Politics studio by Andrew Leigh, Labor MP here in Canberra. Andrew, thank you for coming in.
ANDREW LEIGH: A pleasure Tim.
LESTER: Who was right in their approach to Sri Lanka, Britain’s David Cameron or our Tony Abbott?
LEIGH: I think when we go overseas Tim, we do a little part of the exercise of telling the rest of the world what Australia is – what we stand for. Through each of our statement and our actions we convey Australian values and to have Mr Abbott in Sri Lanka saying of torture, ‘I accept that sometimes in difficult circumstances difficult things happen’ was to me pretty troubling. That attitude seemed to contradict what I would have seen as a long standing principle going right back through Labor and conservative prime ministers of Australia that we would never accept that there are any difficult circumstances in which torture was acceptable. David Cameron conveyed his country’s values to the world. Mr Abbott, I think, took a domestic political agenda that was smaller than the big-hearted country he represents.