MONDAY, 3 DECEMBER 2018
SUBJECTS: World leaders’ game of guess who at the G20, Malcolm Turnbull’s call for an early election, trade, inequality, encryption legislation.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning. My name is Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and federal Member for Fenner. This weekend Scott Morrison was in Argentina, where Donald Trump was asking the questions so many Australians are asking: “where is Malcolm Trumble? What have you done with him? Why did you change the government?” Angela Merkel, like many Australians, is puzzled as to who Scott Morrison is. Like many Australians, having to consult their own cheat sheets in order to work out what the Liberal Party has done. Because unlike Scott Morrison, Malcolm Turnbull actually faced an election. And indeed when he first entered parliament, unlike Scott Morrison, Malcolm Turnbull fairly won a contested preselection.
As we've seen over the course of the last few days, the Liberal Party is far more interested in finding themselves than fighting for the interests of everyday Australians. We saw this as a government that was willing to let respected member Jane Prentice miss out on preselection in Queensland. We saw Ann Sudmalis undermined. We saw the Liberals unable to provide a modicum of decency to Julia Banks after she decided she wasn't going to run again. In the wake of all that, we had Kelly O’Dwyer describing her own party as “homophobic, anti-women, climate change deniers”. Pretty much on cue, we've now had Scott Morrison stepping in to try and save a climate change denier, attempting to save the preselection of Craig Kelly. You can understand why Scott Morrison might be tempted to take this course of action. After all, in 2007, when he ran for preselection in Cook, he got just eight votes - one tenth of the number that the eventual democratic winner of that preselection got. It was only when the Liberal Party's state executive in New South Wales stepped in to intervene that Scott Morrison managed to get preselected for Cook. So it’s no wonder that he's now trying to do that for another bloke in his own state.
The fact is the prime minister has described this government as a muppet show, the former prime minister has described it as divided and dysfunctional, and the Australian people want an election. Malcolm Turnbull wanted that election to be on 2 March. Many Australians would like it to be earlier still. This is a government that needs to be put out of its misery. This is an opposition in waiting. While Labor has been doing the hard policy work, preparing for the chance to form government, we've seen the Liberal Party doing nothing more than fighting among themselves and bickering among the diminishing spoils, struggling over the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Meanwhile it's Labor that’s been concerned about big policy challenges. What came out of the G20 over the weekend simply isn't going to address the significant challenges of a trade war. The promise, a bilateral pledge to buy more products is ultimately – as has been pointed out by Adam Triggs this morning – going to leave the US trade deficit unchanged. In an environment in which many experts are warning about the risk of a looming global recession, Australia needs to be working more actively on multilateral diplomacy, needs to be engaging with likeminded countries in order to ensure that we have reform the world trading system. Labor has a strong record in the past - through the Cairns Group, through the last successful WTO round, through our work with APEC - on multilateral trade reform. Labor is also concerned about inequality. We had report over the weekend suggesting that two thirds of the wealth gains over the course of this century have gone to the most affluent Australians. Labor is concerned about keeping Australians safe. We have been working constructively through the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security to make sure that we keep Australians safe. This is a committee that is scrutinised 15 bills, made 300 changes. Labor is concerned, as any Australian would be if they read the submissions to this inquiry, that this is a draft bill that could make Australians less safe. We know that weakening encryption could provide back doors for cyber criminals and terrorists. The Law Council of Australia has urged that this process not be rushed. For Scott Morrison to be playing partisan politics on the issue of national security is deeply disappointing.
Happy to take questions. Thank you.
Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.