WEDNESDAY, 22 AUGUST 2018
SUBJECT: Liberal Party leadership and policy paralysis.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning everyone. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Federal Member for Fenner. I don't often agree with Eric Abetz, but Eric Abetz was on the radio this morning saying that this isn't just about personalities, it's about policy. I think that's fundamentally right. The biggest environmental issue facing the planet is climate change and the Liberal Party is riven about it. One of the biggest issues facing Australian households is energy prices and the Liberal Party again doesn't know what to do.
The powerful and rising Tea Party faction within the Liberal Party is destroying consensus, destroying strong mainstream politics. The Liberal Party no longer knows whether it's a liberal or a conservative party. Only a spell in opposition will allow them to sort that out. Whether they chose Malcolm Turnbull or Peter Dutton or Scott Morrison or Julie Bishop, the fact remains that the Liberal Party is a party disunified, an opposition in exile. They are a party that is unable to make the big decisions that Australians need.
If they choose Peter Dutton, they’ll be choosing a man who was voted the worst health Minister in 40 years by Australia’s doctors, somebody who introduced the GP tax, who cut hospital funding, who cut funding for anti-smoking programs. This is somebody who was the only frontbencher to have boycotted the apology to the Stolen Generations and a man who comes from the extreme wing of the Liberal Party. The lurch to the far right might settle the internals in the Liberal party room, but it will do nothing to settle power bills for Australian households. I’d say too as the Shadow Minister for Charities and Not-for-Profits, if Michael Sukkar’s resignation is accepted, the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission will end up with its sixth minister in just five years. That says everything about the government’s attitude to charities.
[interruption as Liberal backbencher arrives]
Happy to take questions.
REPORTER: Would you rather face Prime Minister Peter Dutton or Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the next election?
LEIGH: Labor’s totally relaxed as to who we face at the next election. For five years we’ve been united behind Bill Shorten, introducing more positive polices than any opposition in living memory. We’re ready for government because we’ve done the hard work and we’re a unified team. No other questions? Thanks very much everyone.
Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra