ABC NEWS TONIGHT
TUESDAY, 26 MARCH 2019
SUBJECTS: Scott Morrison’s lack of leadership on One Nation, gun reform.
ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: For more on this earlier I spoke to the Labor Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh. Andrew Leigh, what's your reaction to the revelation that One Nation sought millions of dollars of funding from America’s NRA?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: I don't think the Howard Government has many achievements, but one of them is clearly the National Firearms Agreement. Research by Christine Neill and I estimated that that saved around 200 lives a year and so it ought to be an achievement that every Liberal holds proud. They also ought to be standing against the National Rifle Association, an organisation that has lied about the impact of the National Firearms Agreement in 2000, causing Howard's Attorney-General Daryl Williams to correct the record. And yet we have One Nation now in bed with the National Rifle Association and Scott Morrison being unwilling to put them last. I'm here in Gladstone where the local member wants to put One Nation second. Labor will always put One Nation last. It is the position John Howard took and it is the position Scott Morrison should take if he is any kind of a Liberal.
GEOGHEGAN: So you are saying any reputable political party in Australia should be preferencing One Nation last?
LEIGH: One Nation is an extreme political party. They have referred to Islam as being a ‘disease’ against which Australia needs to be vaccinated. One of their senior staff members was suspended from the parliament last year. Another former One Nation Senator will face a bipartisan censure motion when the Senate resumes. The notion they've been soliciting foreign political donations from an extremist organisation like the National Rifle Association should be the last piece of evidence Scott Morrison needs in order to tell the Liberal and the National Parties they must put One Nation last.
GEOGHEGAN: How does this align with political donations legislation which was brought in late last year that prohibits donations from foreign sources to political parties in Australia, legislation supported by One Nation leader Pauline Hanson?
LEIGH: Pauline Hanson seems to be playing one game when she is in Parliament, another game when she is in the United States. Soliciting foreign political donations would not fit with the laws, as I understand them, to have been passed, and suggests that Pauline Hanson's support for those changes was simply a matter of convenience rather than actually believing we need to get foreign money out of politics. And not just any foreign money. Let's be clear about who the National Rifle Association is. This is an organisation that has campaigned against the ban on armour-piercing bullets, so-called ‘cop killer bullets’, that went ahead with the national convention in Colorado just days after the Columbine school shooting, that has consistently campaigned against any sensible firearms regulation. For One Nation to be soliciting donations from the organisation that lied about the National Firearms Agreement is an extraordinary revelation.
GEOGHEGAN: Are you comfortable with the way that this was revealed by Al Jazeera, in an undercover sting where they recorded conversations covertly?
LEIGH: That's a matter for Al Jazeera. As I understand it, they haven't broken the law but the law needs to apply to everyone, including media organisations. The fact remains, though, this is an issue for One Nation and for any party supporting One Nation. Right now, Scott Morrison wants tobe a supporter of One Nation unless he's going to put them last on all the tickets. Ken O'Dowd, the Member for Flynn, wants to put One Nation second. Labor takes the same position John Howard took: One Nation should be last across the country. It speaks volumes about the lack of authority in Scott Morrison's leadership, that he is not willing to follow the lead of his mentor John Howard in putting One Nation last.
GEOGHEGAN: And will Labor be looking to censure One Nation when Parliament returns?
LEIGH: We'll certainly be looking at One Nation's behaviour and how that comports with the ban on foreign political donations that the Parliament put in place. We need to get foreign money out of politics, not have parties over there in the United States soliciting foreign donations from an extreme organisation like the NRA.
GEOGHEGAN: Clearly One Nation still elicits a lot of support, particularly in Queensland. Would you expect that that would change given these revelations?
LEIGH: I think people are increasingly seeing through One Nation, recognising that their trick of division and fear and smear is part of a playbook that ought to be thrown out the window. What Australians want is a government which will govern in the centrist traditions of Labor, which will do something about stagnant wages and slow income growth, that'll actually help us make the transition to the renewables economy. One Nation's terrific at scandal - if only they were as good at actually coming up with decent public policies in the interests of all Australians.
GEOGHEGAN: Andrew Leigh, thanks for joining us.
LEIGH: Thanks, Andrew.
Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra.