2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 30 MARCH 2021
SUBJECTS: JobKeeper; Vaccine rollout; Scott Morrison’s reshuffle; the need to reduce sexual harassment and change the culture in Parliament House.
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: I just want to say this though before I go to my next guest on the program. Because the fact that we've needlessly sprayed billions of dollars on firms with many with rising profits, each job saved by JobKeeper has cost - are you ready it? - $118,000. And in most cases, that's just for half a year. It didn't have to be this way. Andrew Leigh MP joins us. Andrew, good morning. How are you, mate?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Great, Marcus. Terrific to be with you.
PAUL: You’ve obviously crunched the numbers on this. So each job saved by JobKeeper cost what? $118,000? How does that work out?
LEIGH: That's the government's own figures on what JobKeeper cost, divided by the number of jobs that they think it saved. And as you say, Marcus, $118,000 for a half year job seems kind of expensive. The fact is that JobKeeper was important for a lot of industries. If you're looking at areas like travel or the arts, it's been an absolute lifeline. But because so much of it went to billionaire shareholders and millionaire CEOs, it drove up the total cost of the program, and the cost per job ends up being almost twice the average wage.
PAUL: Alright. Look again, we know that this money is gone now. We can only look to the future. What do you make of this three day lockdown in Brisbane? I spoken to Margy Osmond and others from the tourism sector. They are concerned. They really are, it's another kick in the teeth.
LEIGH: We know from experiences right across the world, Marcus, that the main thing is to get a quick lockdown in place. The severity of measures matters much less than putting them in place immediately. So I hope it's just three days and certainly understand the concerns that Queensland businesses have, the prospect that a third of them are close to hitting the wall. But it does make you wonder when the government says that we're ‘not in a race’ for vaccination. I think it absolutely ought to be treated as a race. The government ought to be sprinting on this. We're well behind most other countries. We’re about 90th in the world in vaccine rollouts per capita. They’re also behind their own projections. You know, they said there'd be 4 million people vaccinated by the end of the month, and they're about three and a half million short on that.
PAUL: Alright. Now, you've singled out Stuart Robert for a bit of criticism in the last 24 hours. Why? Aren’t you with Stuart Robert?
LEIGH: Stuart Robert seems to be a man who is followed by scandal. He of course had to step down from the Turnbull ministry, and then he had his $38,000 internet bill and all manner of other scandals. But he's not the only scandal-prone minister to have been promoted. We now have an Attorney General who spent $300,000 of taxpayer funded lawyers to protect her reputation and then end up hiding behind a whiteboard. Peter Dutton is now the sixth defence minister in eight years, posing real challenges for what is a really important portfolio. And rather than having substantive change on issues of gender equality, we've instead got quick fixes by our Prime Minister, who's fundamentally transactional, who sees issues on a day to day basis rather than stepping up to the leadership that Australia demands.
PAUL: So you weren't impressed with this new ‘prime minister for women’, Marise Payne?
LEIGH: I'm not sure what that makes Scott Morrison. He’s now the Prime Minister of blokes, apparently. Yesterday, we might have woken up to Scott Morrison as the Prime Minister for all of us. Again, it's just another spin line desperately hoping that it'll make the issue go away, rather than dealing with the substantive questions. Kate Jenkins’s Respect@Work report hasn't been implemented. We don't have an independent inquiry into the allegations against Christian Porter. Morrison won’t commit to domestic violence leave or a women's budget statement, and he won't put in place quotas in the Liberal Party in order to see the share of women rising rather than falling as it has been in some recent years.
PAUL: What about Andrew Laming? $210,000 is what he'll be paid to see out his time in federal parliament. I've made the comment earlier this morning that I believe he should go. The Prime Minister was yesterday quizzed by journalists and then did the bolt, as he deflected yet another question on this issue. I mean, it's hypocritical I think we've got the PM talking about, you know, how he's listening and all of these values and he's got the the new prime minister or the new Minister for Women in place, and there are new portfolios for women, yet in his government we still have a bloke that thinks it's appropriate to take pictures of women's underwear.
LEIGH: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, this is one of those issues where men need to be standing up to lead. We had a panel in Parliament House last week, got a bunch of experts in on sexual harassment and one of them made the point that it's the role of men to look at our own behaviour, to challenge misbehaviour when we see it by other blokes, and also to advocate better policies. That's work that needs to be done by us as parliamentarians, but it's also important in workplaces right across Australia. It's really, really critical that we deal with the issue of sexual harassment at a time when two out of five women say they've been sexually harassed at work in the last five years. And you know, what's going on in Parliament House is not normal. You know, the Prime Minister has lied to Parliament over these questions. Coalition staffers have engaged in some pretty lurid sex acts. There's been revelations of a sex worker being brought into Parliament House for a former minister, and the Prime Minister's invented allegations of sexual harassment by News Limited. This is not the behaviour of a well functioning government.
PAUL: Alright. But why then will Labor give Andrew Laming and those who are still indisposed, if you like, on mental health leave or other medical leave - why does Labor give them a pair? This is what I don't understand, Andrew. It’s all very well, with respect, for you to come on here and that's fine and you know I love speaking to you, but I get a little frustrated. I do. Why does the government get a pair for these recalcitrant MPs?
LEIGH: It’s a very practical consideration right now, Marcus, which is that the entire Parliament isn't allowed to sit in the parliamentary room, based on ACT Health social distancing guidelines. We can only have about 60 people on each side, rather than the usual 75 on each side. So by definition, there's 30 people who aren't there for any given vote.
PAUL: Alright, okay. Thank you, mate. Thanks for coming on, I appreciate it.
LEIGH: Thanks, Marcus. Take care.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.