2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 30 NOVEMBER 2021
SUBJECTS: Scott Morrison hiding from scrutiny and from doing his job; Real wages falling on Scott Morrison’s watch as petrol prices and housing skyrocket; Social media reform and Scott Morrison’s inaction on misinformation within his own party.
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Every Tuesday we catch up with the Federal Member for Fenner. It is Andrew Leigh. Good morning, Andrew.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus.
PAUL: Nice to chat. Now it's becoming highly likely that we will have a budget before the next election, that was always going to be the case.
LEIGH: Yes, but the parliamentary sitting schedule next year is remarkably thin, Marcus. It looks like they've got a budget scheduled at the end of March and right through the first three months of the next year, they've got just ten sitting days-
PAUL: Ten for the House of Reps and five for the Senate. Am I right?
LEIGH: It's just extraordinary. Scott Morrison is paid to be the nation's number one parliamentarian, but he doesn't seem to want to turn up to do his job. He's the top parliamentarian in the country and he's constantly trashing parliament. Constantly saying, ‘this is a Canberra bubble, no one worries about what happens here’. And frankly, if he doesn't want the job, he should hand over to somebody who is keen and capable to do it. This is the government which, you know, ought to be called the ‘gonna’ government: they're gonna do this, they're gonna do that, gonna put in place a national integrity commission, gonna do something about social media. But what actually have they done? I mean, their achievements are preciously thin. That's why they don't want to sit next year because all that happens when they’ve got Parliament sitting is you've got Liberals attacking Nationals and Nationals attacking Nationals.
PAUL: Alright. Well, Adrian sent me a note this morning for our discussion, ‘federal government not sitting’. Good morning, Marcus and Andrew. ScoMo can’t use the pandemic as a reason for not sitting. Parliament went before the pandemic, he had Parliament sit less then throughout the pandemic. He goes on to say this government has tried to stay away from scrutiny. Just look at the sitting days over the past few years of the Morrison Government. This year, 67 days. Last year, 58 days. In 2019, 45 days, and he's done a comparison to his predecessors. You go back to 2018, there were 65 days. 2017, 64. And even back in 2014, 2015, when they were 75 and 76 days respectively. That's a lot more than 67 or 45.
LEIGH: Absolutely. And what you got to remember is that if there's an election in May, then the scheduled April and May sittings wouldn't be held. So you'd effectively end up not with 10 days for the first quarter of the year, you'd end up with 10 days for the first half of the year. And as Tony Burke pointed out in Parliament yesterday, that is actually enough for the Morrison Government's legislative agenda. It's the classic Seinfeld government - the government about nothing, which has no legislative agenda. But Australia has so many big challenges facing us, Marcus, and you're talking about them every day on your show. Just talking about the challenge of dams there. We've spoken about climate change, the NBN. You know, Australians need their parliament to be active, to be sitting, to be debating, to be holding the government to account. And this is a government which is tired and worn out after eight long years in power. Frankly, what it needs is a spell on the opposition benches to figure out what it stands for and to get its mojo back.
PAUL: Alright. Well, they say that Scott Morrison will be the first prime minister to have completed a full parliamentary term since John Howard a decade and a half ago now. I have to say since then, there were a number of reforms under the Gillard Government and the Rudd Government, but in particular Julia Gillard. Even with a hung parliament, she still managed to get a number of reforms across the line. I mean, what will be the legacy of this current government? I think you've already answered that question.
LEIGH: He'll try to claim that it's the government that got us through the pandemic-
PAUL: Is that true though? Is that fair
LEIGH: Others will point out that we have the slowest vaccine rollout in the advanced world, and that Australia's economy was struggling before the pandemic and continues to struggle afterwards. The Morrison Government's done nothing about the challenge of household costs, the cost of living and wages. Now we’ve got wages going backwards by $700 this year, cost of living going up by $900. We've seen record petrol prices under this government, house prices going through the roof. Now the time taken to save the deposit for a house used to be five years at the start of the millennium. Now it's ten years, pushing homeownership out of reach for so many young Australians. Many Australians would just feel life’s gotten harder under the Morrison Government, not easier.
PAUL: Alright. I made this point earlier in relation to the proposal, if you like, to pull trolls into account and those that make comments on social media, etc. I just find this a little hypocritical considering Scott Morrison is not demanding that misinformation, if you like, and trolling - I'll put it that way - of the pandemic and the response by people he relies on for votes - you know, Craig Kelly, I'm looking at you, George Christensen, looking at you. He's not pulling them into line, but he wants to pull everyday Australians into line.
LEIGH: Absolutely. He needs to immediately pull into line people spreading vaccine misinformation. But he doesn’t, because he knows that his government relies on their votes. And those people themselves also need to pull some of their extreme elements into line. I'll be standing up in the House today to speak about the way in which anti-Semites have infiltrated the anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination movement, and yet haven't been condemned by people like Christensen and Kelly. But Scott Morrison needs to be speaking out against misinformation in his own ranks. We need to consider these proposals around social media very carefully. No one likes being attacked anonymously online, but we also need to remember the role that movements like the MeToo movement have played and ensure that people are able to speak truth to power.
PAUL: Alright. Good to chat, Andrew. Thank you.
LEIGH: Thanks, Marcus.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.