THURSDAY, 20 SEPTEMBER 2018
SUBJECT: Launch of the Parliamentary Friends of Gun Control, TPP, Clive Palmer, strawberries.
TIM SHAW, HOST: I really want to commend the work of Dr Andrew Leigh and John Alexander. These are two federal representatives, one for Labor, one for the Liberal Coalition. But the bipartisanship that goes on in our parliament, we don't talk about it enough. Gai Brodtman has done incredible work with the women of the parliament on serious issues such as endometriosis. And so too John Alexander and Dr Andrew Leigh, they’re co-chairs of the Parliamentary Friends of Gun Control. They’ll be joined today by Walter Mikac, the founding patron of the Alannah and Madeline Foundation. You remember Mr Mikac, he lost his wife and two beautiful daughters in the horror of the Port Arthur massacre. They're meeting today in the Senate courtyard at the launch of the Australian Gun Safety Alliance. And this is such an important conversation to have and I'm pleased to have with Dr Andrew Leigh. Dr Leigh, welcome back to 2CC Breakfast.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSIATNT TREASURER: Thanks, Tim. Great to be with you.
SHAW: Why are you so passionate about this issue?
LEIGH: I have a personal connection to the Port Arthur massacre. When I was 24 years old, I was working at a Sydney law firm and each of us were assigned a mentor. Mine was a 28 year old woman by the name of Zoe Hall, who was the most wonderful, generous, caring mentor. She was tragically one of the final victims of the Port Arthur massacre while she was taking a holiday down in Tasmania. Now, it’s generally known we had a gun massacre a year in the decade leading up to it and none afterwards. But when I became an economics professor, I researched the impact so the gun buyback on firearm homicides and suicides with my co-author Christine Neill. We ended up finding out that the impact was huge, about 200 lives saved every year since then. This means over 4000 Australians walking around who would otherwise have been victims of gun deaths if we hadn’t had the buyback and the licensing and registration changes that followed Port Arthur.
SHAW: And the power of this policy - a difficult time for the likes of John Howard, Tim Fischer. There was even pushback for your then leader Kim Beazley. The bipartisanship and the strength and unity that was shown by those leaders and we continued on now. This is such an important thing. What is your message to Canberrans - and particularly the support of Walter Mikac, he’s the founding patron of the Alannah and Madeline Foundation and like you he lost so dear to him his wife and his two daughters. You'll be joined today by Lesley Podesta, the CEO of Alannah and Madeline Foundation - what's your message to Canberrans about the pressure that some of these minor parties like the Shooters and Fishers, Andrew Leigh? They want to push back on restrictions, don't they?
LEIGH: I’m inspired by Walter. The scale of his loss is almost unimaginable, to lose your two children aged three and six and his wife Nanette in this horrendous tragedy. To then disappear into grief as would have been entirely understandable. But Walter used the opportunity to build a better Australia and to make sure that we had a world in which we didn't see people dying of gun deaths at the rate that they do in the United States. We’ve got to remember the changes we made through the National Firearms Agreement. There are people voting in their second election now who were born after the Port Arthur massacre. So it's important to remind the next generation the value of the changes that were made and, as you put it so beautifully Tim, to recognise the bipartisanship then can be echoed now.
SHAW: Absolutely and I commend you and John Alexander on this. Just a quick one on the TPP 11, your leader Bill Shorten said ‘look we're going to support this measure, it's important that we get this locked away, but we're not totally happy about these worker etc’. Would you expect that with the passing of TPP11 that the Australian Labor Party if elected will modify that to include tougher restrictions relating to foreign workers in Australia?
LEIGH: It's certainly not the way in which we would have done the deal. Negotiations commenced under Simon Crean, but it's a deal which doesn't contain enough worker protections, which includes clauses that Labor hasn’t supported. Jacinda Ardern has shown that it's possible to bring about changes through the process of side letters rather than going back to the negotiating table. That’s a process we’d pursue if we were fortunate enough to win government.
SHAW: Very good news. You’ve got to get your hard hat out – Clive Palmer is running candidates in all ACT seats. Clive Palmer United Australia Party running for the seat of Fenner, are you worried, Dr Leigh?
LEIGH: I've never taken any election for granted, but I think Clive’s main priority ought to be making sure that his former workers get all of their benefits they’re entitled to. Cleaning up his business mess ought to be his priority number one right now.
SHAW: The Small Business Minister Senator Michaelia Cash is coming in to eat strawberries with me tomorrow in studio. Have you brought any strawberries, Dr Leigh?
LEIGH: We’ve bought plenty of strawberries, Tim. My three boys love them – we just slice them up. I hope many Canberrans are taking that simple advice. Buy them and chop them up first.
SHAW: You betcha. Well done to you again and John Alexander and those MPs right across the parliament that are supporting this important work today - the Parliamentary Friends of Gun Control - and for those who want to support the work of the Alannah and Madeleine Foundation please go to amf.org.au I know you'll give Mr Mikac a very warm welcome to Canberra and from our listeners through you we welcome him and your work on this great initiative. Thanks so much for your time.
LEIGH: Thanks so much.
Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra.