PM playing footsie with extremists - Transcript, 2SM Radio





SUBJECTS: Vaccine mandates and Scott Morrison losing control of his Senators; Scott Morrison’s dog whistling double speak; Scott Morrison’s latest lies about his Hawaii holiday; Labor’s push for same job, same pay laws.

MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Andrew Leigh. Good morning, mate. How are you?


PAUL: Yeah, not bad. Well, that set the scene yesterday there in LEGO land in Canberra, Jacqui Lambie’s very passionate mandatory vaccine debate. Another day of fireworks expected in Parliament today. Let's dissect a little of what went on yesterday. Now obviously One Nation put this bill forward. Jacqui jumped up as we heard and had her say, and you know much I guess to the disgust of Pauline Hanson and others, including Matt Canavan and those who are fighting against these mandatory vaccines.

LEIGH: Five coalition members crossing the floor, and now George Christensen threatening to do the same, Marcus. It’s a government in disarray. Like you, I found Jacqui Lambie’s statements very persuasive, as did my Labor Senate colleagues who voted with the bulk of the government. This is a government that's lost control of its own backbench. It's not able to get on the same page on an issue as fundamental as vaccine mandates. You've got the Prime Minister looking to walk both sides of the street. He wants to take credit for the increase in vaccination rates across the nation, that have come partly as a result of vaccine mandates, and the decrease in spread that flows from having vaccine mandates in place. And yet he wants to play footsie with extremists and therefore won't come out and take a clear position on vaccine mandates.

PAUL: Just on the point, play footsie with extremists. Now, what I don't understand about Scott Morrison is the fact that he won't rein in people like George Christensen, won’t rein in people like Craig Kelly and others who he relies on to get votes in the House. Now, obviously, Craig Kelly was down there in Melbourne, you know, not far from where people were carrying on. You know, people were dressed up as Hitler, for goodness’ sake. I don't understand why the Prime Minister won't call Craig Kelly, for instance, out.

LEIGH: He's a man with very few core values and looks to make opportunity out of every instance that comes up. Of course, Craig Kelly wouldn't be in Parliament if it wasn't for Scott Morrison saving his preselection last election, and he’s somebody who Scott Morrison will do deals with any chance he gets. Scott Morrison is out there criticising vaccine mandates in hospitality in Queensland, despite the fact that in New South Wales, you've got a government which has exactly the same rules in place. The difference is that it's a Labor Government in Queensland and a Coalition Government in New South Wales. So he looks to make political opportunity wherever he can. But if you take the United States, they're using vaccine mandates right across a whole host of industries in a context in which they have a much stronger traditional resistance to federal mandates than we do. But they're doing so because they recognise that that's an important way of keeping a check on the pandemic. And there's many employers who just want the federal government to take a clear stance on this.

PAUL: So this is what I don't understand, Andrew. On the one hand, you're right, the Prime Minister is criticising some states over their stance on COVID-19 and their mandates and closure, etcetera. But at the end of the day, I don't know whether he really understands what's going on. I mean, he says that it's not compulsory and there are no mandates, but as we quite clearly heard from what Jacqui Lambie said - same with my own experience - of course there are mandates. If you're not vaccinated, then you can't work in aged care. You can't work in some sectors. You can't go into certain facilities. In Queensland, you won’t even be able to go to the footy next year, for goodness’ sake.

LEIGH: We've long had things like No Jab, No Pay for childhood vaccines. We've got requirements for flu vaccines for people working in aged care. And as Jacqui Lambie pointed out, it's akin to the police checks that are required for people working in a host of different industries. We want to keep people safe, Marcus. That what this is about at the end of the day. Ultimately, hopefully COVID will work its way through and the need for these mandates will go away. But right now, it's really about keeping people safe, saving lives, keeping people out of hospital.

PAUL: Let me play a little bit of audio from something else that happened yesterday, and then I'll get your response, Andrew.

SCOTT MORRISON: Mr Speaker, I can only speak to what I have said, Mr Speaker. And as the Leader of the Opposition will know because I texted him from the plane when I was going on that leave and told him where I was going and he was fully aware of where I was travelling with my family.

[audio of inaudible debate in Question Time]

SPEAKER TONY SMITH: Members on my left. The Member for Reid.

FIONA MARTIN: Thank you, Mr Speaker. My question-

SMITH: Members on my left.

MARTIN: My question-

[inaudible debate continues]

SMITH: The Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister. The Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition.

PAUL: Alright, so that's effectively what led to this blue. Prime Minister Scott Morrison sensationally claimed he secretly told Labor leader Anthony Albanese that he was going to Hawaii during the devastating bushfires in late 2019, only to have Albo reject the claim as a lie. The furore over the PM’s controversial beach holiday as bushfires burned across Australia exploded in Question Time yesterday when Mr Morrison was asked to explain why his office had fibbed about the trip to journalists at the time. Of course, Labor MP Fiona Phillips asked the question ‘when my electorate was burning, the Prime Minister's office told journalists he was not on holiday in Hawaii. Why did the Prime Minister's office say that when it wasn't true?’ Obviously, Scott Morrison in a quite angry response said he could only speak to what he said. He basically said that he texted Anthony Albanese to advise him that he was going on a trip away and that he'd be on annual leave. But the thing is, he didn't tell him where he was going. Now Albo, I think, played this very well yesterday. He obviously respects the Prime Minister's privacy and the right to have a trip away or to take annual leave, if that is the case. But I think obviously Albo was right to rise shortly after Question Time to claim that he was misrepresented, Andrew.

LEIGH: Absolutely, Marcus. What the Prime Minister said was that he was going on leave. He did not say where he was going, and to claim otherwise in Question Time yesterday was simply a lie. It's a bit like somebody who is asked where are they going and they reply ‘out’. That's not an answer as to where you're going, and the Prime Minister seemed to think that saying he was going on leave was the same as saying he was going to Hawaii. He's just a bloke who can't be straight with the truth. He told us the vaccine rollout wasn't a race and then said he hadn't said it. He said he didn't say ‘Shanghai Sam’, which he did. He ridiculed electric vehicles, then claimed he hadn't. He got caught by Emmanuel Macron, and then falsely pretended the criticism had been of Australia. He's always ducking and weaving. He’s somebody who's - I think back, there's a lovely old essay by a philosopher called Harry Frankfurt, which says that there's people who tell truth and there's people who lie and then there's people who engage in BS, who just are reckless about the truth. And Harry Frankfurt says a thing about a BS artist is they really don't care. They’ll peddle anything that suits their situation. Even a liar cares about the truth more than the BS artist.

PAUL: Labor has introduced private member's bill in Parliament aimed at ensuring workers are paid the same for doing the same jobs. The bill, as we know Andrew, would ensure labour hire operators wouldn't be able to offer cut price workforces and employees doing the same work for employers will receive equal pay. Here's what the ACTU Secretary Sally McManus had to say about it.

SALLY MCMANUS: What’s happened is a whole lot of companies have outsourced labour hire, and then people get paid less and they don't have any job security. And the reason why employers use labour hires for that reason, so they can cut costs. So this would be a bill that would ensure that all workers get paid the same for doing the same job, which should be really, really fantastic if it was passed.

PAUL: Well, it will make a difference, Andrew, for people in insecure work.

LEIGH: It certainly would, Marcus. At a time in which we've got real wages going backwards on the government's forecasts, it's just a simple notion that someone who's doing the same job at the same mine or factory or construction site or abattoir or shop should get the same pay. And there's reasonable uses for labour hire, but it's not reasonable to be using labour hire to cut job security and undercut wages. We see this in the in the mining industry, but also increasingly we see it in meatworks, construction, hospitality, even aged care. So we do need to make sure that we get wages going in this country because that's going to be fundamental to the recovery. And part of that is ensuring that people who do the same job get the same pay.

PAUL: Alright, Andrew. Good to chat, mate. Thank you. We'll talk to you again next week. It'll be - two weeks of Parliament to go, is that right? This week and next week?

LEIGH: Two weeks of Parliament and then if there is an early election next year, then this will be it. Yes. The election of a new speaker today, which will be another interesting one to watch for.

PAUL: Who is your tip?

LEIGH: Look, I've heard that Andrew Wallace may be in line for the job, but it's going to be a matter for the Coalition party room.

PAUL: Alright, mate. Good to have you on. We’ll chat again next week. Thank you.

LEIGH: Likewise.


Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.