2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 16 MARCH 2021
SUBJECTS: March For Justice and the Prime Minister’s insufficient response; the right for all women to feel safe and respected in the workplace; the Morrison Government’s inaction on the Respect@Work recommendations; the Morrison Government withdrawing support for workers too soon.
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Andrew Leigh, good morning to you, mate.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus. Great to be with you.
PAUL: Thank you, you too. Let's talk first about the Women's March. What did you make of yesterday?
LEIGH: It was a real moment in history, Marcus. Over 5,000 people gathered outside Parliament House and just to walk among the marchers was to feel that you were part of a real moment in history. I think the Prime Minister doesn't quite understand what's going on, when he meets such an extraordinarily powerful upswelling of passion, emotion and reason with a little response when he said in Parliament ‘not far from here, such matters even now are being met with bullets’. You know, it’s just-
PAUL: Well, I’ve got that-
LEIGH: That the march for women ought to be glad that they're not being shot. It's just a bizarre and small response-
PAUL: Well, who’s writing his stuff, Andrew? I mean, let's have a listen again.
SCOTT MORRISON: Today, here and in many cities across our country-
PAUL: It starts off okay.
MORRISON: Women and men gathered together in rallies, both large and small, to call for change and to act against violence directed towards women. It is good and right, Mr Speaker, that so many are able to gather here in this way, whether in our capital or elsewhere, and to do so peacefully, to express their concerns and their very genuine and real frustrations. This is a vibrant liberal democracy, Mr Speaker. Not far from here, such marches even now are being met with bullets, but not here in this country, Mr Speaker.
PAUL: Oh, okay. Well, you were there in the chamber yesterday, you would have heard this live. I can hear the audible ‘urgh’ in the background. He doesn't get it.
LEIGH: He really doesn't, Marcus. He’s too small for the moment that we're facing. He's got too small of an imagination for what the country can be. The ambition for gender equality is an ambition for a better Australia, one in which we lift up men and women alike, and so everybody gets to live out their possibilities. And getting rid of gendered violence is something that is good for all Australians. The government has had Kate Jenkins’ Respect@Work report sitting on its desk for a year, and it hasn't gone ahead and implemented the reforms. That's one of the things that the marchers were calling for. They want an independent inquiry into the allegations against Christian Porter, just as the government put in place an independent inquiry into decades-old allegations about Julia Gillard’s kitchen renovations. It's possible to build a better world, but Scott Morrison just doesn't seem able to rise above the narrow masculine world in which he's operated in order to form a more inclusive Australia.
PAUL: Alright. Sydney workers are set to be one of the hardest hit when JobKeeper benefits end. You say the government is rolling out vaccines too slowly and ending JobKeeper too quickly, with the pandemic relief scheme set to finish in a fortnight, Andrew.
LEIGH: Marcus, last year we had the Treasurer telling us that the state government lockdowns were costing the economy $4 billion a week. Now at the same time as the tardy vaccine rollout is slowing the reopening the economy, we don't hear anything from the government about the economic cost of that. Not to mention the economic cost of cutting off JobKeeper. New figures suggest that 6,400 businesses in the Sydney CBD are still receiving JobKeeper. So at the very same time that the government's allowing JobKeeper to go to billionaire shareholders and millionaire CEOs, they're taking it away from firms that are relying on it in order to get their doors open. Jeff Borland from the University of Melbourne reckons that the number of jobs lost when JobKeeper ends could be as high as 250,000. That's a massive hit to the economy, and we know from past recessions that withdrawing support too early just prolongs the downturn.
PAUL: Yep. Well, they say that Sydney's western suburbs in particular and the central business district will be the hardest hit when almost 350,000 workers and 124,000 NSW businesses are cut off from JobKeeper at the end of the month. That is around $345 million a fortnight in federal government support being ripped out of the NSW economy when the wage subsidy finishes on March 28. I mean, that's according to analysis of the latest Treasury data. So that's their own figures.
LEIGH: That’s right. And if we had a faster vaccine rollout, then you might hope that the economy would kick into gear. But our vaccine rollout, as you know Marcus, is one of the slowest in the world. The Prime Minister was promising that there’d be 4 million Australians vaccinated by the end of the month – we’re nowhere near on track to that. Whereas you look at Britain or the United States, they're getting towards vaccinating half the population. Israel vaccinated about three quarters of the population. We could do a whole lot better than this, if the government had placed a higher priority on getting the vaccine deals in place a year ago, as other countries were doing. But they've just sat on their hands. You know, when the virus came along, the Coalition was taking the role of appeasers. They didn't take it on ferociously. They've been arguing for policies which have, in the case of Western Australia, been resoundingly rejected - the idea that Western Australia shouldn't have closed down its borders in order to keep people safe. The Australian people need a vaccine rollout that is faster, both for our health but also for the strength of the economy.
PAUL: Good to have you on, Andrew. We'll talk again next week. Thank you.
LEIGH: Great to chat, Marcus. Thank you.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.