2SM MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 5 OCTOBER 2021
SUBJECTS: Political leadership; Federal anti-corruption commission; ministerial standards; Gladys Berejiklian; Glasgow summit; Pandora Papers.
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Good morning to you, Andrew.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus.
PAUL: All right, well, Mick reckons Kristina Keneally might oust Albo. I can't see it happening. I can see him perhaps becoming the next prime minister, with Kristina Keneally on the front bench, perhaps.
LEIGH: Absolutely. Anthony Albanese is somebody of great integrity with the full support of the party. We know the next election is going to be a tight-fought one, as they always are, but I'm really confident that our positive policies are going to stand in stark contrast to the chaos, the dysfunction and the rorts that we've seen from the Morrison Government over recent years.
PAUL: Dom Perrottet should be announced as the new premier of New South Wales this morning. Some thoughts on that?
LEIGH: A lot of attention focusses, Marcus, on his socially conservative views, but I think a little bit less on his opposition to locking down Sydney in a timely fashion back in July. You've just got to ask yourself what would the COVID outbreak in Sydney have looked like if Dom Perrottet had gotten his way and Sydney had taken not a week to lock down but a month? That's a sort of Trumpian approach to the virus, letting it rip through the community in a way that would have quickly overwhelmed our hospitals and could have claimed many more lives. Politics is about judgment. I think in that key moment Dom Perrottet's judgment was badly missing. Public stoushes with Kerry Chant just illustrates how out of step he is with the approach taken by every premier and chief minister in Australia, who've worked carefully and collaboratively with health officials.
PAUL: All right. Now, the downfall of Gladys Berejiklian - obviously, there are no tested allegations as yet. They're before the Independent Commission Against Corruption. We need to allow that process to take place from the 18th of this month, but you say many federal ministers wouldn’t still have their jobs if Australia had a federal ICAC. Is that what you're saying?
LEIGH: Well, you've certainly got to ask yourself. Angus Taylor with the Watergate scandal and Grassgate, the allegation his office forged a document to discredit Clover Moore, Bridget McKenzie with SportsRorts, Peter Dutton's intervention to give visas to European au pairs, Barnaby Joyce's involvement in the Watergate affair, and Paul Fletcher's fast-tracking of a grant to Foxtel with no competitive tendering. That's just a handful of the scandals that a federal ICAC would surely be looking into.
PAUL: Barnaby Joyce calls the Independent Commission Against Corruption nothing more than a witch hunt, saying that it unfairly basically accuses people of being guilty before being found otherwise. He's not a fan of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the Deputy Prime Minister.
LEIGH: I can understand why very few Liberals would be. You think about the way in which Alan Tudge managed the $660 million carparks fund, or the way in which Michael Sukkar got his office to do branch stacking. There are a lot of misdeeds among this mob, and an Independent Commission Against Corruption at the federal level would be looking into all of that. Scott Morrison promised one more than 1,000 days ago and yet still hasn't delivered. The reason he hasn't delivered is he knows that the people who'd be in its sights are his very own ministers.
PAUL: I've come across some emails that I will pass on to you. It's broken last night. Nothing in the mainstream about it and I wouldn't hold my breath, but there are new allegations in relation to the Prime Minister's Office. I've got a couple of emails here that have been passed on to me by Jordan Shanks, emails that have been sent to the Prime Minister in relation to the code of conduct. A staffer, a former staffer, alleges misconduct and sexual advances by a married man who was very high up within the echelons of the prime ministerial staff. I'll send that through to you. It looks quite serious. There have allegedly been threats made to this whistleblower, to herself and also to her family. She says the Liberal Party's yet to take any disciplinary action. The emails have been redacted at this stage, but I suspect there might be something more to this, Andrew.
LEIGH: Marcus, I'm very happy to take it up. Look, I just want to make a broader point, too, which is that federal politics for too long hasn't taken these issues seriously. That has changed. We have appropriate complaints procedures in place. We've got better training around handling of sexual harassment. I just went through that training last week, and I think all my federal colleagues will as well. There is a place in federal politics for people who are more softly spoken. We need more women working in federal politics. These sorts of stories, I would hate it if there were talented young women listening to your show who were put off from a career in federal politics because of these sorts of allegations. We are cleaning up this sort of misconduct, and I want to make sure that we don't take away from getting a more diverse staff pool in place.
PAUL: Alright, well, as I say, I'll forward them on to you, but I find it very interesting. Now, there've been some suggestions that the former premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, could consider a federal career, perhaps even run for the seat of Warringah, although I'm told that it's probably way too early to even discuss that at this point in time. Can you see that perhaps happening?
LEIGH: She's got to work her way through the Independent Commission Against Corruption issues first. They are reasonably serious charges, so I'd like to see how that pans out. I think Zali Steggall's doing a beaut job there, shining a light on climate change and a government that's refusing to engage with the rest of the world and looking like leaving us a bit of a pariah when this Glagow meeting comes up at the end of the month.
PAUL: Is he going, or we don't know yet?
LEIGH: Looks like he isn't, despite the fact that other world leaders are calling on him to go there. We know it's going to be an important meeting. We know that other countries will be represented by their heads of state, and that at a time when Scott Morrison wants to be taken seriously on the world stage, really he should be Glasgow. His predecessor will be there.
PAUL: Alright, I'm hearing more and more about the Pandora Papers and tax havens. What's this all about?
LEIGH: Well, it's another leak of information from one of the world's tax havens, again showing the tax havens are not just a place to hide from taxes, but also a hidey-hole for a lot of illegality. We've known for years that North Korea uses tax havens to hide the proceeds of sale of nuclear technology and drugs and counterfeiting and forced labour. Al Qaeda used tax havens. Narcotics kingpins, such as Rafael Caro Quintero in Mexico, has used tax havens. One estimate says that $4 in every $5 in a tax haven is there in breach of other countries' laws. For Australia, there's probably $100 billion of assets sitting in tax havens, and they're not the average workers assets. A study found that half of the money sitting in tax havens was owned by the richest one-ten thousandth of the world's population. This really is the super-rich doing a super job of avoiding taxes.
PAUL: All right. Good to have you on Andrew, appreciate it.
LEIGH: Thank you, Marcus.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra