The problem is the policies, not the leader - 2CC

It's always good to speak with 2CC's Mark Parton about the news of the day - here's the transcript from today's chat:





SUBJECT/S: Abbott Government’s unfair policy agenda; Multinational profit shifting; Benefits of the sharing economy

MARK PARTON: Andrew Leigh is the Federal Member for Fraser and there's a couple of things we wanted to catch up with him about. He's on the line now, g'day Andrew.


PARTON: Excellent. I think maybe you need to lay off the Prime Minister. I think maybe you need to tone it down, give him some space because I'm worried for you guys, Andrew, that if enough Liberal people believe that they're not a hope in Hades of winning the election with him there, that they will dump him in ALP fashion, a la Rudd and Gillard. But he may be your best asset, maybe you should leave him be?

LEIGH: Well Mark, I'm much more concerned about the set of policies than who's occupying that chair. Let's face it: if the Coalition makes a shift to Scott Morrison or Julie Bishop or Malcolm Turnbull, they're still going to have a set of policies that take from the most vulnerable to give to the most affluent.

PARTON: But Andrew, in reality you know that if there was a shift of leadership, unless it was to Scott Morrison – and wow, god help 'em then – the whole voter mood would change in terms of their perception of the Coalition. Because that's what happens, isn't it?

LEIGH: I'm not sure that's right, Mark. If there was a change in the fundamental philosophy of the Government, then that would be true. But so long as you've got a government that wants to make university degrees more expensive, wants to stop people going to the doctor and thinks that it's okay to put young people out in the streets for six months if they lose their job, then that's going to be a government that is out of touch with Australian values, no matter who is at the helm.

PARTON: As was the case with your mob, I reckon when push comes to shove it's going to get down to one very simple question for the Liberal Party, and it will be: can we win the election with Tony as Prime Minister? And the answer is probably no.

LEIGH: You'd have to say that right now they make the Addams Family look like the Brady Bunch. This is a set of people who seem far more concerned with themselves than with the interests of our country, and are unable to recognise that naming Prince Philip as a knight is something of a throwback to 19th century Australia when we doffed our hat to superiors in Britain. They're lacking that sense of understanding that Australians are a proud people with some great achievers, and that have a natural role in the Asian region rather than needing to always kowtow to the British. 

PARTON: You'd rather Morrison than Bishop, wouldn't you?

LEIGH: I'm very relaxed about who the Liberal Party choose to lead them, that's a decision for them.

PARTON: You'd rather Morrison than Bishop though, Andrew, c'mon? I mean surely he's easier for you to knock down? 

LEIGH: Ultimately I can say good and bad things about anyone in the Parliament, Mark. I don't see these things in black and white. Every individual has terrific qualities about them and has weaknesses. But what I'm concerned about is this set of policies which are harming Canberra so badly. They said 12,000 public service jobs, now 16,500 jobs are being cut. That's the reason why we've had the biggest unemployment rise anywhere in the country. 

PARTON: Okay. Now, people make money in the 21st century in interesting ways and there's a few of them who are finding ways to not pay tax on that money. I know it's something that you've highlighted in recent days?

LEIGH: That's right. I gave a speech in Sydney the other night at the McKell Institute about the issue of multinational profit shifting, in which very large firms are managing to move profits to low-tax or no-tax jurisdictions and governments haven't been quick enough to go after them. I was critical of the Abbott Government's decision to give over $1 billion back to multinationals, but also wanted to put some constructive ideas on the table. Some positive ideas of the direction Labor would go in order to make sure that our tax base is fair. Mark, it's not just about companies versus individuals. It's different kinds of companies – those who are doing the right thing, playing by the rules, and those who aren't. A local Canberra company doesn't necessarily have an offshoot in a tax haven that it can move its profits to, so why should it pay a higher rate of tax than some folks down the road with clever accountants?

PARTON: Do you think there's a future for Uber, this pretend taxi service?

LEIGH: I do. It's hard to imagine that there isn't given its $40 billion market capitalisation. I think that, having used Uber before, it's a promising service. But we need to do a lot more in order to make sure we get the regulatory settings right. We need to make sure that we've got the same sort of standards on passenger and driver safety, that we sort out some of the challenges around insurance, and that we make sure we bring the taxi industry with us. I mean, taxis have been a terrific service to Australia and the important role that taxi drivers play in making sure that thousands of Australians get home safely every night is something that can't be forgotten.

PARTON: Andrew, thank you for coming on this morning. 

LEIGH: It's a pleasure, Mark.


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