ABC NEWS RADIO
THURSDAY, 28 MARCH 2019
SUBJECTS: Scott Morrison’s lack of leadership on One Nation, gun reform.
SANDY ALOISI: Labor MP Andrew Leigh is co-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Gun Control. His legal mentor Zoe Hall and her boyfriend Glenn Pears were killed in the Port Arthur massacre. And Andrew Leigh says Pauline Hanson's apparent insinuations are disgusting.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Like many Australians, I was touched by the Port Arthur massacre. I’d been a junior lawyer working in a Sydney law firm, where my mentor Zoe Hall worked - just a wonderful, vivacious, smart lawyer who was one of the victims of that awful atrocity. I've met with Walter Mikac, who lost not only his wife Nanette, but also his two daughters Alannah and Madeline. So it's frankly just disgusting to me that anyone would suggest that this is some kind of a hoax. It was an awful, awful tragedy in which wonderful Australians died.
MATT O’NEIL: These conspiracy theories about Port Arthur pop up every now and then. What do you think drives them?
LEIGH: I have no idea. I mean at its core, it's got to be a lack of fellow-feeling for the rest of us, for the understanding of the harms that were done on that day. You know, I remember when Walter Mikac addressed 3000 people in The Domain just shortly after the massacre. And he said he’d lost the entire reason for his existence. His incredible strength in rebuilding and being such an inspiration to others is extraordinary. But I think we do need to remember the victims of that tragedy. All public leaders have a responsibility to stick to the facts and also to honour the victims of that awful tragedy.
O’NEIL: And why is it so damaging? Why are these conspiracy theories so damaging?
LEIGH: I think they're painful to anyone who suffered loss as a result of these tragedies, but they're also just frankly so silly. They somehow pretend that we don't lose people to gun deaths and they minimise all gun deaths. When I did research on the impact of the gun buyback on firearms and suicides, one of the results that my co-author Christine Neill and I found was that the number of lives saved from averted suicides was high er than the number of lives saved from homicides. Suicide is a quiet killer through Australia. But the gun buyback, by taking two-thirds of a million guns out of circulation, massively reduced Australia's gun suicide rate. We're a better nation as a result.
O’NEIL: I will say that Pauline Hanson in 2001 said and I quote ‘we do not support any conspiracy theories regarding Port Arthur or gunman Martin Bryant. We do believe that he has been convicted of this and he's been charged over it and that he is guilty of the offence and the crime committed at Port Arthur’. Those are Pauline Hanson's own words - how should they be seen in this context?
LEIGH: I don't know which is worse, believing in conspiracy theory or pretending to believe a conspiracy theory for political convenience. The fact is One Nation has just put themselves further and further outside the Australian political mainstream. They're a party that no serious party of government should be engaging in, should be conniving with, and yet still Scott Morrison is refusing to put them last on how to votes, as John Howard did. John Howard, who put in place the gun buyback after Port Arthur - a vital achievement that saved around 200 lives a year and continues to save Australians lives. If Scott Morrison was a strong leader, he would follow the example of John Howard and put One Nation last where they belong - in every contest with every candidate, Liberal or National.
ALOISI: That’s Labor MP Andrew Leigh, co-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Gun Control, speaking to ABC News Radio's Matt O'Neil.
Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra.