SUNDAY, 6 FEBRUARY 2022
SUBJECTS: Trust and texts; Camilla as Queen Consort; Australia as a Republic.
SHARRI MARKSON, HOST: Welcome back. Let's bring in the political panel, Labor MP Andrew Leigh and Liberal MP Jason Falinksi. Great to have you with us. I don't want to have to talk about this again. But let's go to this political story that’s set to dominate Canberra this week, unless something else breaks. The prime minister today dismissed the text messages that are undoubtedly distracting from his campaign. Jason, what I want to know is have you ever sent a text message criticising the Prime Minister?
JASON FALINKSI: So Sharri, let me tell you that never - not a single time in my life – have I ever sent a critical text message about anyone to anyone else. It's never happened.
MARKSON: That's because you're on Confide all the time, or Signal, the disappearing message apps. Andrew-
FALINSKI: I’ve never had those.
MARKSON: You’ve never had those. Andrew, reports say that Labor's research indicates it's looking, it thinks, Labor thinks it's going to win 80 seats, or the research shows the party's ahead in 80 seats. Are you predicting you’ll win, you know, a landslide? Not a minority government?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Sharri, we've only won from opposition three times since World War II. So we're not at all complacent about this. But let's be honest, this isn't a good government. It's a bad cage fight. You've got Emmanuel Macron, Malcolm Turnbull, Gladys Berejiklian and now Barnaby Joyce questioning the honesty and integrity of the prime minister. And it's very clear now that those who are closest to Scott Morrison don't trust him. And when you've lost the trust of Australians, I think you've lost the ability to govern effectively. Just imagine if there was a CEO of a major Australian organisation whose predecessor and deputy said that they were a liar. Their position would be untenable with shareholders, and that's the position that Scott Morrison finds himself in now.
MARKSON: Jason, your side has written Labor's attack lines for them.
FALINSKI: Look, Sharri, it's a completely unfortunate situation. I think what Andrew was saying is unfair. Emmanuel Macron had other ulterior motives to say what he said. Barnaby Joyce was obviously very frustrated at the time when he wrote what he wrote. And, you know, we still don't know who this person was who wrote this mysterious text message and you've got Gladys Berejiklian all but denying it. So I think it's unfair what Andrew’s saying, but go back to what I said which is do we want to go through the phones of the Labor caucus and find out what some of his members think of the, what some of the members of Labor caucus think of Anthony Albanese. And really-
MARKSON: Yeah, we just need to get hold of, we just need to get hold of Bill Shorten’s phone for that. Now-
FALINSKI: I can think of other people too.
MARKSON: Now let's look at Queen Camilla. Queen Elizabeth has marked 70 years since her accession to the throne, and to celebrate the year of her Platinum Jubilee, she's used the occasion to give her blessing to Camilla to be called queen - a title once destined for Diana. In a letter, the Queen wrote ‘and when in the fullness of time my son Charles becomes king, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me and it is my sincere wish that when the time comes Camilla will be known as Queen Consort, as she continues her own loyal service’. Andrew, do you think the public will support Charles and Camilla in the same way they have the Queen, or do you think when the time comes of the Queen's passing this will embolden the Republic campaign?
LEIGH: Sharri, I'm just not that interested in a debate over which septuagenarian takes over when the nonagenarian passes on. I'd really love it if we could have every Australian kid believe that they could one day be the head of state, rather than the current system that says that the head of state must be white, Anglican and British. It's just such an anachronism. We have this extraordinary Indigenous history, and yet, no Indigenous Australian can ever be our head of state. So it's another reminder, and hopefully Jason agrees, the vastness of the importance of an Australian Republic - that step up that would mean so much for our national identity. There's no way if we were building the kind of the system right now that we would decide to have a Brit as head of state.
MARKSON: Well, what do you think Jason? The Queen has provided us with stability in, you know, the one certainty is uncertainty. She does provide us with stability in this uncertain world, and the monarchy is part of our history as well. What do you think?
FALINSKI: You're absolutely right that Her Majesty has served both her nation and the Commonwealth admirably and, like Andrew I'm sure, I wish both Charles and Camilla – I’m not on a first name basis with either, of course – all the best when in due course they take over from Her Majesty. But Andrew is right. It is anachronistic that our head of state doesn't live in our country, that she lives thousands of miles away. When England plays Australia in rugby or cricket, our head of state is unfortunately conflicted. We don't have the full-throated support of our institutions. And symbolism matters in the future of our country, and Australia is in the Asia Pacific. It is important that we realise that, it is important that we recognise that we have an incredibly important role to play in this region in the years ahead, and that that is best played with signals that unify us as a nation and stand out to other people in this region as a beacon of hope and freedom in what will be a very dynamic and dangerous future.
MARKSON: They you go. Jason Falinski, Andrew Leigh, thank you very much for your time.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.