SKY AM AGENDA
MONDAY, 31 OCTOBER 2016
SUBJECT/S: Asylum seeker resettlement; front page of The Australian – CFMEU officials.
KIERAN GILBERT: This is AM Agenda with me now is the Shadow Assistant Treasure Andrew Leigh. Dr Leigh thanks very much for your time. First of all, the asylum seeker permanent ban. The Government has basically said it’s insuring that any pathway or hope of a pathway to Australia is blocked. What's Labor's position on that?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Kieran, the key for the 800-odd people who are on Manus and the 800-odd people on Nauru is third country resettlement. This bill won’t resettle a single refugee, it won't save a single dollar from the budget, it won’t create a single job for Australians. It's just another step in the steady metamorphosis of Malcolm Turnbull into Tony Abbott.
GILBERT: Do you get the feeling that they are trying to wedge Labor on this issue because it is obviously one of great sensitivity? We saw in your city of Canberra on the weekend a huge rally in support of refugees and we know that there is a big cohort within the Labor party that believe already that Labor has gone too far to the Government position on this issue?
LEIGH: We'll look at the legislation when the Government actually produces it Kieran. But frankly what this looks like is a Government that's trying to distract from their many failures. The spat between George Brandis that's seen the Solicitor General step down, the use of dodgy data last week by Christian Porter and the ongoing inability of Malcom Turnbull to focus on long term issues for the good of the country.
GILBERT: The Minister in relation to one of the things you alluded to, third party resettlement, seems to have again ruled out New Zealand. He was asked about that again on the ABC this morning. Is it still your view that New Zealand is not an option for resettlement and he says that people smugglers market New Zealand in the same way as they do Australia in terms of support services, health, welfare, accommodation, that deal doesn't work he says. So it looks like despite the fact that they're shutting down the visa option for Australia down the track it's not even going to open up New Zealand as a prospect either?
LEIGH: Kieran the Government just needs to get on and do third country resettlement. We've got the PNG Supreme Court in April having said that the Manus detention centre was unconstitutional and we've got ongoing reports from Nauru about extreme mental and physical harm to the detainees there. It's not surprising because the Government has dropped the ball on third country settlement. These refugees are in great anguish. Labor supports any actions the Government can take to resettle these refugees safely.
GILBERT: Last question relates to the front page of The Australian today, this video that's been unveiled online. In relation to two union officials in WA who say they want to take ownership of the Labor Party. Not a good look for you, two CFMEU officials saying that they are going to exert influence over the party and if they don't like the politician that's in there, they'll get rid of them.
LEIGH: Kieran it's no secret that the Labor Party is a party that was set up by the trade unions and which has constantly fought for more jobs and better paid jobs. Of course there will be people in the Labor Party that want to exert more influence, that's the nature of a political party. But within our party it's people who are fighting for the rights of workers. Within the Liberal Party, it's lobbyists and within the National Party it's tobacco donors. I think we're in a pretty good position.
GILBERT: Andrew Leigh, I appreciate your time this morning.
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