2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 7 DECEMBER 2021
SUBJECTS: Gladys Berejiklian; Labor’s Powering Australia plan; Labor’s plan for education and training; Fish and chips prices; George Christensen and Alex Jones.
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Andrew Leigh, good morning.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus.
PAUL: Look, I'm just gauging some of the response this morning - both online, on air, messages to my program - but I'm looking elsewhere as well, and I think Scott Morrison is going to find himself in trouble over this. Because even you know on the Herald sites, the Telegraph and others – the Tele is quite telling if, I can say, the News Corp rag - because even online people are having a crack at Scott Morrison as well.
LEIGH: Well there’s the fundamental principle of separation of powers, which says that parliamentarians shouldn't be involved in what the police and what the judiciary do. So Scott Morrison's attacks on ICAC, I think speak volumes about his willingness to interfere in that process. Parliamentarians should be letting that process run its course. As you said, Gladys Berejiklian has been called as a witness to ICAC, and based on that she chose to step down as New South Wales Premier. I think it's interesting that Scott Morrison makes the decision now that somebody who's stepped down because they're appearing before ICAC as a witness is somebody he's very keen to get as a candidate running for him in the next election.
PAUL: And there's little doubt in my mind that if Gladys Berejiklian ran for Warringah, she still remains popular enough to win that seat. My concern is if that happened, and she ran and she won and then ICAC had an adverse finding against her, she may have to stand down again. And that would lead to another costly by-election.
LEIGH: It doesn't seem strange, doesn't it? You've taken the position that you need to stand down from the New South Wales Parliament, but you can stand up for the Federal Parliament? You would have thought that if Scott Morrison was fair dinkum about an integrity commission, that he might see this as a red line. There's also the fact of what Gladys Berejiklian would have to say on climate change. Her own government took a 50 per cent target by 2030 to the New South Wales people. If she was a federal candidate, she’d have to be standing up alongside Scott Morrison saying that Labor's 43 per cent target would be disastrous.
PAUL: Look, I don’t know. Also, former prime minister - and this is probably unsurprising to your side of politics - but former Prime Minister Scott Morrison is also endorsing Gladys for a run at Warringah. His old seat. It’s almost unbelievable
LEIGH: It is, it is. You meant to say Tony Abbott there, didn’t you?
PAUL: Didn’t I say Tony? What did I say?
LEIGH: You said Scott Morrison-
PAUL: Oh, I’m sorry-
LEIGH: It’s as if you were in an endless loop, which is frankly Marcus what parliament has felt like likely.
LEIGH: But yes, no great surprise that Tony Abbott’s saying the same thing.
PAUL: [laughter] Sorry about that. I thought I said former prime minister. Anyway, you're right. I think we all need a break from it all, to be honest, Andrew.
LEIGH: It's been a crazy year, Marcus. I couldn't believe that last week of Parliament, in which the government lost both its Education Minister and its Health Minister. You know, the idea that this government would get better if they were given a fourth term by the Australian people, a second decade in office, is just fanciful. They've run out of that sense of energy and ambition that good government needs. And meanwhile, you've seen Anthony Albanese stepping in to fill the gap. You had him on your program yesterday, talking about Labor's very carefully costed climate policy, which isn't just great for the environment, but is of course great for jobs and investment at the same time. We don't have to make a choice between looking after the environment and the economy. The RepuTex modelling says we can clearly do both, with billions of dollars of investments, tens of thousands of direct jobs, hundreds of thousands of indirect jobs.
PAUL: Some of the critics suggesting that this so called saving, that the policy that Anthony spoke about over the weekend and yesterday on this program, some people are questioning that modelling that you bring up and they say, ‘well, how can it be so, we've been promised all of this before by all sides of politics’. Cheaper power prices - when our assets in New South Wales in particular were flogged off by governments, that is the selling of the poles and the wires, we were told, ‘well, we get cheaper electricity prices’. Last time I checked, I’m paying more, Andrew.
LEIGH: You’re absolutely right to ask, Marcus. Labor doesn't just have the modelling, but what's the intuitive explanation for it? And it is that renewables, once installed, are producing electricity at a much lower marginal cost. So under our modelling, we go to 82 per cent renewables in the grid and that then drives down power prices. And when power is cheaper, firms can afford to employ more people. So we get this virtuous cycle in which Australia is moving towards becoming a clean energy superpower, households pay $275 less for their power bills by 2025, but industry is then able to put on many more people. That's great for manufacturing, for services, for heavy industry. There's a whole range of industries that will do remarkably well out of Labor’s policy.
PAUL: Alright. Well, Anthony, yourself and others in the opposition will have a few months to sell that. We’ll go to an early budget - there's no doubt about that, I think probably in March - and then a five or six week campaign into the next federal election.
LEIGH: It does look like Scott Morrison’s determined to string this out as long as possible, which is a shame for Australia. Labor is ready to govern. We have clear plans, not just in climate, but also in education. We've announced hundreds of thousands of new TAFE places, tens of thousands of new university places, which are absolutely essential if we're to build back better after the COVID pandemic. Now Australia's got to learn those lessons of COVID, make sure we have more secure jobs and that we've got a kind of economy which allows people to raise a family and pay a mortgage without the stress that so many people have been feeling those last few years.
PAUL: Next time you're speaking with Albo can you ask him about the skyrocketing price of canola oil? Because the cost of fish and chips is tipped to rise because the price of a prominent cooking oil used to fry the family favourite has skyrocketed. Andrew, we can't have this in 2022. We can't have an increased cost in fish and chips at the local takeaway. That's one of the big issues-
PAUL: Strong international demand for canola oil and tight global production have seen Australian canola prices reach historic highs this season. While our farmers are enjoying the golden opportunity, the foodservice industry says the rising cost of the key ingredient is making it tough for some fast food outlets to make a profit. So they jack up their prices and I'm paying more for my hot chippies. It's just it's not good enough.
LEIGH: It is a fascinating example, Marcus-
LEIGH: Because there's something really going on around the economy right now. There are these little bottlenecks for particular things. You've seen it for particular chips that go into cars, and now we're seeing it for oil that goes into chips. There are certain products which have just been held up, and that then kicks into the supply chain. So a lot of this inflation you're seeing in America – America has had this 6 per cent inflation, almost unbelievable - and a lot of that is just in a handful of products where there are bottlenecks. Things such as airline tickets and cars, whose prices have gone through the roof. Canola oil is a little example of what's going on.
PAUL: It’s up 70 per cent in just a few months. Come on!
LEIGH: Absolutely. It is remarkable-
PAUL: Oh my goodness, the chips!
LEIGH: My reckoning is that a lot of the inflation we're seeing is going to be transitory. Speaking to the Reserve Bank Governor, his strong view is that this is going to be transitory. We haven't yet seen the wage pickup – indeed, real wages are going backwards at the moment. So until we start to see that healthy wage growth, I think we ought to regard this as being a bit of a flash in the pan if you like.
PAUL: Oh, very good. A flash in the frying pan. Before I let you go, Barnaby Joyce - apparently his office is quote unquote unavailable for comments. He's travelling in Britain, is our deputy prime minister. Well, no one at the moment is keeping an eye on George Christiansen. He's urged viewers of a far right American conspiracy theorist’s online show to hold rallies outside Australian embassies abroad to protect against Coronavirus restrictions. I mean, this bloke is one stroke away from QAnon, isn't he?
LEIGH: He's certainly seems to be. Once you’re playing footsies with Alex Jones, one of the great conspiracy theorists of the age, you've really got to worry about what George Christensen is doing. And Barnaby Joyce still seems to have an inability to really recognise he’s the deputy prime minister. He said after the Glasgow meetings that the Nationals hadn't signed up to net zero by 2050, as though they're not in coalition with the government. And now he's often in Britain, on some private enterprise. I think Australians just want him to do his day job, to focus on the needs of Australians, the pressures households are facing and the importance of tackling climate change.
PAUL: Alright. Maybe the Prime Minister today, rather than endorsing a former New South Wales premier under an ICAC cloud, maybe Scott Morrison might have a crack at George Christensen. Somebody needs to reel this bloke in, he’s a danger.
LEIGH: You can be sure if it was somebody on the left of politics, Scott Morrison would be out there quick as a flash having a go at them, saying that they ought to be denounced. But when it's George Christensen or it’s Craig Kelly, people like that seem to get a free pass from the Prime Minister. He misled people on whether Alex Antic was vaccinated. The Prime Minister will say anything, do anything in order to get him through the end of the day. He never comes down hard on his own side.
PAUL: Not much longer to put up with this rot. Alright, Thank you, Andrew.
LEIGH: Thanks so much, Marcus. Take care.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra