Let’s not go down the wormhole of birtherism - Transcript, Sky News AM Agenda

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TV INTERVIEW

SKY NEWS AM AGENDA

MONDAY, 4 SEPTEMBER 2017

SUBJECTS: Newspoll; Citizenship.

KIEREN GILBERT: Let’s go to Andrew Leigh. It’s interesting, as David said, the gap in the points – I know you don’t like to talk polls week to week, but Mr Shorten’s position initially on the statues and that drama about the history wars doesn’t seem to have hit the mark in terms of popular opinion at least.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Kieran, you’re right. We don’t want to draw significant conclusions from statistically insignificant movements in polls. But certainly on the substance of the question, Bill Shorten’s been very clear that our Indigenous history needs to be recognised. We’re not talking about taking down statues – we’re simply recognising that at the time when many of these statues were put up, we had less of a proper appreciation of what a great thing it is to share this nation with a people whose continuing link to the land-

GILBERT: 48 per cent of Labor voters believe that the statues should remain as they are.

LEIGH: We’re not talking about taking them down. This is quite different from the discussion on Confederate statues in the United States, where people are actually talking about taking them down and putting them into museums. This is about some people proposing an additional plaque be placed on the statue. I think we can be pretty relaxed about that.

GILBERT: You would have seen Tony Abbott this morning, he showed up at Parliament House with his letter where he renounced his British citizenship back in the early 1990s. He says it’s an easy thing to do, why isn’t Bill Shorten doing the same thing on this day, the start of a parliamentary week where the focus will be so much on this issue of citizenship.

LEIGH: Kieran, this is a bit like a guy who confesses to fraud and then turns around and says ‘now you’d better give a lie detector test to all of my neighbours to make sure they haven’t committed fraud too’. Barnaby Joyce, Fiona Nash have said that they weren’t sole Australian citizens, as the Constitution demands.  Now they’re going around trying to distract attention from that with their finger pointing. The idea that Barnaby Joyce-

GILBERT: It’s so easy for Tony Abbott to show up and show his evidence. Why doesn’t Bill Shorten do the same? As far as the pub test goes, it’s pretty reasonable.

LEIGH: Labor’s got rigorous checks which we’ve applied to all of our people. It’s the Coalition that has ministers that have actually admitted to having been in breach of the Constitution, to have been dual citizens at the relevant time.

GILBERT: Is the reason that the, the question is why isn’t Bill Shorten releasing, showing his letter? Because if he had it, you would assume he would show it. If not, for wanting to protect either one of his colleagues or there’s no letter?

LEIGH: Kieran, let’s not go down the wormhole of birtherism a la the United States and the crazy search for Barack Obama’s longform birth certificate. Labor has done nothing wrong. The Coalition has and they’ve admitted it. Now they want a guy who was admittedly a dual citizen to be the Acting Prime Minister of Australia. That’s not a good thing for the administration of the nation.

GILBERT: Well, it’s not if Labor kicks up a stink. If you get on with the Parliament as Nick Xenophon argues you should - Nick Xenophon is saying his legal advice is the same as Barnaby Joyce’s and he’s going to get on with representing the people that elected him. Why should you not at least just get on with it until the High Court makes a ruling?

LEIGH: Nick Xenophon is not a Minister of the Crown and is certainly not looking like being the Acting Prime Minister. We had Constitutional law expert George Williams speaking about the concerns over the validity of the decisions made by ministers whose election is in doubt. Given the Constitution only allows for an unelected person to serve as a Minister for a few months, Barnaby Joyce is clearly beyond that. So then it’s a question as to whether the proper decisions of the ministry – and they might be decisions that are bipartisan – could be challenged by outside actors because Barnaby Joyce has put his own career ahead of the proper administration of government.

GILBERT: Dr Leigh, appreciate your time as always. Thanks for that.

LEIGH: Thanks, Kieran.

ENDS


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