2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 2 NOVEMBER 2021
SUBJECTS: COP26 and climate change; Scott Morrison accused of lying to the French President; Scott Morrison’s proposed voter suppression laws.
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Scott Morrison, our Prime Minister, has addressed the COP26 summit in Scotland. He says Australia is on track to reach net zero emissions by 2050. He says science and technology will help us reach the target.
SCOTT MORRISON: Driving down the cost of technology and enabling it to be adopted at scale is at the core of the Australian way to reach our target of net zero emissions by 2050, that we are committing to at this COP26.
PAUL: 'It's the Australian way' - wrapping himself, of course, in the Australian flag, being all patriotic. Do you buy it? Andrew Leigh, good morning.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus. How are you?
PAUL: Yeah, good. Do you buy it?
LEIGH: No, not in the least. This government is a government that has been fearmongering on climate change for the last eight years; which came to office on a pledge to undo action on climate change; which has said that electric vehicles will end the weekend and that a big battery is as useful as a big banana; and brandished lumps of coal in parliament. Now, forced to front up in front of world leaders, Scott Morrison has put together a brochure which is basically a combination of Labor commitments and hopes that new technologies that don't currently exist will get us there. It's a wing and a prayer, not a plan. He doesn't have any serious commitment to tackling climate change, as demonstrated by the fact that Barnaby Joyce - the man currently Acting Prime Minister in Australia - doesn't even support net zero by 2050. This is the Joyce-Morrison Government when it comes to climate change.
PAUL: All right. Well, we know yesterday there was a bit of a barney that may have diplomatic repercussions. What did you make of the whole Emmanuel Macron - Scott Morrison scenario yesterday?
LEIGH: The fact the French President called our Prime Minister a liar is extraordinary. We've had moments where people have compared Scott Morrison to Donald Trump and I once thought that's a bit unfair, but increasingly now he is starting to look pretty Trumpian. He's a bloke that just can't be trusted to be straight with people. We know that he said we're going to be front of the queue for the vaccine rollout. Malcolm Turnbull knows that he backstabbed him. Remember the lies around ‘Shanghai Sam’ and Brian Houston? They just keep on coming with Scott Morrison. So you've now got Emmanuel Macron saying very clearly that he was lied to by Scott Morrison, and Joe Biden clearly pretty disappointed about the dissembling that went on and calling the arrangement ‘clumsy’. This is not an issue of distrust in Australia. Emmanuel Macron was very clear in that clip you played a little earlier there, Marcus, that his beef is not with Australia. His beef is with Scott Morrison, a man who cannot be trusted to be straight. He's increasingly a risk to Australia's international reputation.
PAUL: All right. Well, I mean, for his part, the Prime Minister says he's, quote, 'not going to cop sledging of Australia'. So he's making it an Australian issue rather than a personal one. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has insisted he will not accept sledging of Australia over this torn up $90 billion submarine deal with France. It comes after Mr Macron's comments, you know, 'I don't think he lied. I know he lied.' Of course, ScoMo doesn't agree with suggestions along that line of thought. The PM yesterday told reporters in Rome, when asked if Mr Macron's claim was true, he basically said no and then he had a crack at some reporters for daring asking him the question. Then he cut short his own press conference and took off.
LEIGH: This is classic gaslighting from the Prime Minister. He says he won't accept sledging of Australia, but there's no sledging of Australia. There is a direct criticism from a major world leader that Scott Morrison lied. You saw it again yesterday. He's making up stuff about journalists taking selfies with Emmanuel Macron, where the journalists themselves had to say, 'no, this isn't right'. The Prime Minister's constant willingness to dissemble, his unwillingness to tell the truth has him looking very much like Donald Trump, a world leader who according to Washington Post truth tracker made more than one mistruth a day during his time in office. We've got to remember, Marcus, this isn't any country we're talking about. France is an Indo Pacific power, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, a major player in the European Union, and we have a deep history with our two countries. There are 45,000 Australian soldiers buried in France. This is a nation with whom we should have strong and warm relations, and without Scott Morrison in charge we would.
PAUL: You say that it's Trumpian-like. Certainly, arguing with reporters, that's kind of Trumpian. I mean, the only thing he hasn't brought out is the, you know, fake news line. Here's the exchange, which I found extraordinary, with journalists in Rome yesterday.
JOURNALIST: President Macron told a couple of us around the corner that you didn't tell him the truth on the subs deal. In fact he said that you might have lied. Is that true?
JOURNALIST: He said that what happened was detrimental to your reputation. What do you say to that?
MORRISON: I'll always stand up for Australia's interests.
JOURNALIST: He’s also accused you, he said he doesn’t think you lied to him – he knows you lied to him.
MORRISON: I don't agree with that.
JOURNALIST: Has he not told you that to your face? You saw him today. You saw him yesterday. He just said to a camera ‘I don't think’ you lied to him. He knows you lied to him.
MORRISON: That’s not true.
JOURNALIST: What are you going to do to repair the relationship? Because he said, it was pretty clear that you need to do something to repair the relationship.
MORRISON: We’ve begun that process.
JOURNALIST: He obviously doesn't feel that way.
MORRISON: Well, it will be some time I think to go down this process. But we've begun it, we've spoken several times over the last couple of days. I'm sure we'll speak a bit more before I head back to Australia. But let me be very clear - the decision I've taken as prime minister, that my government has taken, was in Australia's national interest. I don't resile from it for one second. These decisions are difficult.
PAUL: Yeah. So in other words, he's wrapped himself in the Australian flag and has kind of a deflected any personal criticism of himself to reflect all of us Australians to obviously garner a little bit more support, I think Andrew.
LEIGH: Emmanuel Macron doesn't think Australians are liars. He thinks Scott Morrison is a liar. And let's remember how we got into this, Marcus. Scott Morrison decided to sign a deal to buy conventional submarines from France a couple of years ago. Then he changed his mind and decided he wanted to buy nuclear submarines from the Americans. During that period, submarine technology did not undergo some seismic change. The government changed its mind. This is a Coalition agreement broken by a Coalition Government and done in the most clumsy way. Your advice to any teenager would be don't break up with somebody by text, but Scott Morrison is the kind of guy who not only breaks up by text but then lies about it afterwards and pretends he didn't.
PAUL: Do we have any idea on what this will cost the Australian public? I mean, that's always my concern. This deal was done by an outgoing MP in Christopher Pyne to shore up jobs in his home state of South Australia - more pork barrelling and all the rest of it if you want to, you know, be as cynical as me about it. But, you know, what will the cost be? That's what I want to know. And that's what I think Australian taxpayers should be most concerned about.
LEIGH: Well, we know that at a minimum it's in the billions, but it could be tens of billions of dollars. And if you translate that into a household sense, it's at least hundreds of dollars for each of us. It could be thousands of dollars for each of us. The fact is that we didn't need to be here. Scott Morrison could have worked out that the best thing for Australia was to buy nuclear submarines from the outset, then we wouldn't have had this diplomatic stoush. We wouldn't have had the problems going on with the trade deal with the European Union. Don't forget immediately after this snafu, the French asked the trade negotiations to be put on ice, not unreasonably. They felt that they had been stabbed in the back, as their foreign minister put it, and were very quick to call off the trade negotiations. So it had impacts on our ability to get our products into their markets.
PAUL: All right. What about releasing texts? We know that that's something the Prime Minister and his PMO are pretty good at. They will run the protection with their journalists from, say, News Corp. And now he has released texts, texts between him and the French President Emmanuel Macron, which effectively shows that the President himself was aware that the deal was in trouble. I mean, is that something diplomatically you should do? Or is that going to just cause further harm?
LEIGH: It's completely unprecedented. Clearly the Prime Minister is in damage control, attempting to do everything you can to salvage his reputation. But just like we've seen the standing of the United States in countries around the world go up markedly when they moved from Donald Trump to Joe Biden, similarly the thing that Australia needs to salvage its international reputation is to get rid of Scott Morrison. Without Scott Morrison in charge, Australia could immediately restore its relationship with France. As simple as that.
PAUL: Okay, finally, voter ID. Now when I first heard about this, I thought well maybe this is a good idea to crack down on voter fraud, particularly in those seats that are marginal and you know whereby in some cases people win that seat by the barest of votes - you know, sometimes less than 100 votes. But I noticed there's been push back by yourself and the Greens - so Labor and the Greens and others - on the ID situation regarding voting at the next election. Why are you so dead set against it?
LEIGH: Marcus, you’ve come at it exactly the right way. We want to balance two things. We want election integrity, but we also want as many people as possible to participate. So you want to look at the balance of harms - you want to look at how big the problem is right now and what problems voter ID might cause. And the fact is when you ask the election commissioner - the bloke who runs our elections - how big an issue is multiple voting, he says the problem is ‘vanishingly small’. Those people who voted multiple times last election were mostly elderly or with mental health issues, and were doing it by mistake. The number of people prosecuted: zero. And yet if you have voter ID, we know that that's going to disenfranchise older people who don't have a driver's license, people who are homeless, young people who might just carry a mobile phone and not have a driver's license electronically. So all of those people will get to the ballot box and be turned away. There'll be long lines. And you can imagine on a busy day and suddenly you leave the purse in the car, you get to the front of the line and you're told that you can't vote-
PAUL: So the concern is there'll be less people voting if we have to show ID, is that right?
LEIGH: That’s right, yeah. And again, this is straight out of the playbook of Donald Trump. The US Republicans under Trump have been trying for many years to introduce voter ID laws, because they know that that helps conservatives.
PAUL: Okay. Andrew, good to chat. Thank you, mate. Appreciate it, as always.
LEIGH: Thank you, Marcus.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra