SKY NEWS AGENDA
MONDAY, 22 OCTOBER 2018
SUBJECTS: The Coalition loss in Wentworth, New Zealand resettlement offer, Kevin Rudd.
KIERAN GILBERT: Let's bring in now the shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh and Andrew it has been a long time coming, this apology, and of course I guess the process started under Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: It's a really important moment, Kieran, for the survivors to be told ‘we believe you’ and to hopefully begin that process of healing. But we will be judged not just by our words, but also on our actions, and it is vital that we implement the findings of the Royal Commission in full.
LAURA JAYES: Andrew Leigh, can I ask you about the results out of Wentworth now? Are there any lessons for Labor here because I note that your primary vote was only around the 9,000 mark - the Greens were only 2,000 behind.
LEIGH: Labor voters were following the strategy that Scott Morrison outlined for them in his press conferences the week before the by-election. He said it was important that Labor didn't come third because that'd give Kerryn Phelps the best chance of winning. Labor voters heard that message and many of them would have put Kerryn Phelps ahead of Tim Murray in order to make sure that the conservatives for the first time since Federation didn't hold this seat.
GILBERT: Is that a bit rich for Labor to be saying there needs to be an election when for a number of years, as you well know him as a member of parliament at the time, that the government - the then Gillard Government - served in the minority with less seats than what the Coalition has now.
LEIGH: I don't think anyone imagines that Scott Morrison has an ounce of the political and interpersonal skills that Julia Gillard exhibited through that period of minority government. Scott Morrison's principal speech style seems to be ‘angry dad’. He's the dog who caught the car. The guy always wanted to be prime minister but now he's got there he turns out to be an advertising executive with a new slogan for every day but no vision about how to govern the country. He said himself that this result would mean ‘economic instability’. He said himself that the government was a ‘Muppet Show’. Based on Scott Morrison's own words, we should be going to an election.
JAYES: With a 10 per cent primary vote in Wentworth though, Andrew Leigh, and Dr Kerryn Phelps making it clear that she's not in support of your dividend imputation policy - the retirees tax, some have called it - is it giving Labor any cause to rethink that particular policy?
LEIGH: Laura, this is a policy which is unique to Australia. No other country in the world provides these refundable tax concessions in a way in which Australia does-
JAYES: Is that a no?
LEIGH: It’s a huge cost to the budget. We won't be revising it. It's a policy which we have worked through very carefully with the experts, which we've ensured if you're a pensioner you're not affected. This is a policy which fits with our overall philosophy of closing tax loopholes. My old public finance Professor Martin Feldstein was a Republican, but a big fan of tax reform through closing tax loopholes. A lot of that philosophy you'll see in the Labor approach to closing loopholes around capital gains concessions, negative gearing, trusts and this dividend imputation change.
GILBERT: Is it also appropriate to have policies that suit the times? When you announced your negative gearing policy, for example, it was a booming property market in the two major cities at least of this country. It's a very different scenario today, isn't it?
LEIGH: Kieran, in the 1980s, houses cost twice average incomes. Now they’re five times average income-
GILBERT: So you want to get it back to twice?
LEIGH: What we have-
GILBERT: Twice the average income, is that the sort of reduction of in price and house value that you want?
LEIGH: What we're doing with this policy, Kieran, is making sure that we rebalance the market away from investors and towards first home buyers. First time buyers are being beaten out at auctions around the country and this is about recalibrating our tax policies so we're not giving so much more tax largesse to those buying their 10th house than those buying their first. It's not about smoothing the up and down the cycle, that'll be inevitable. It's about a long term recalibration in the interest of getting our home ownership back up – it’s now a 60 year low and among the lowest in the OECD.
JAYES: Will there be a compromise on the legislation that's before Parliament at the moment that’s about getting people off Nauru, children in particular, to go to New Zealand? Is Labor looking at that legislation, relooking at it this week?
LEIGH: Laura, we've been arguing for years that the government’s mad not to take up the New Zealand offer to resettle people off Manus and Nauru. We've got the Australian Medical Association now talking about the serious harm being done to kids in Nauru and it's really important that those medical professionals are listened to. But the government's approach of saying that anyone who goes to New Zealand could never come to Australia is not one that I think New Zealand is likely to cop - Winston Peters has spoken against it. And it's not an idea that accords with common sense. Just imagine a refugee went from Nauru to New Zealand and became a Member of Parliament and was then told they could never come to Australia? That’d be bizarre.
GILBERT: But security sources within the - not politicians but those involved in dealing with this issue say that the people smugglers are looking at this very closely and that any softening in terms of having a pathway will be exploited. You don't concede that, because that's the advice that the government is receiving.
LEIGH: Let's go back to what the Howard Government did when it resettled many of the people who were on Nauru under the Howard Government to Australia and to New Zealand. Now there was no such arrangement put in place among those who went from Nauru to New Zealand under the Howard Government. It's not clear to me why you put that in place now. Imagine some one of those refugees have a dying relative in Australia and were told they could never come to Australia. It just doesn't make sense.
JAYES: Andrew Leigh, it looks like you’re in the box seat to win next election. Are you a shoo-in now?
LEIGH: We would never take anything for granted, Laura. If we were taking things for granted, we wouldn't have produced more positive policies than any opposition in the last generation. We're doing that hard work because we believe we've got it earn the trust of the Australian people. Not everyone will love every one of our policies but no one can possibly argue that Bill Shorten, Tanya Plibersek, Chris Bowen and the economic team haven't produced the most comprehensive suite of economic policies that any opposition in living memory…
GILBERT: Shadow Assistant Treasurer-
JAYES: Kevin Rudd might have something to say personally about some of those individuals that you mentioned, reopening the ruminations within the Labor Party today. What would your advice to Kevin Rudd be?
LEIGH: These issues are political history. We're getting on with the job of preparing for government.
GILBERT: Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh, thank you. We’ll talk to you soon.
LEIGH: Thanks Laura, thanks Kieran.
Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra