Liberals only do right thing when it solves political problem for them - Transcript, 2SM Mornings



SUBJECTS: Biloela family; Scott Morrison out of step with G7 on climate action; Liberals attack on charities; Importance of a UK trade deal that works.

MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Right now, Andrew Leigh. Good morning to you, Andrew.


PAUL: Thank you, mate. Did you enjoy - do you get a long weekend in Canberra?

LEIGH: We do indeed, yeah. A lovely big chunk of time with our three little boys, so that was fabulous.

PAUL: All right, now, we know that things are looking a lot brighter for the Biloela family, this Tamil asylum seeking family. They're expected to be released from detention on Christmas Island more than two years after their removal from the remote Queensland town. Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is expected to announce the result of a ministerial review of the family's case imminently, with sources confirming it was likely to be positive. After a years-long campaign, the family could be released as early as today, after a decision on their bid to remain in Biloela was expected to be finalized, finally.

LEIGH: Just extraordinary isn't it, Marcus. The Government has finally made the right decision, but only after spending millions of dollars and putting this family through years of heartache. This is a family that was deeply loved by the Biloela community. The dad worked in the abattoir and supermarket, volunteered on the weekend at Vinnies. The mum volunteered at the local hospital, and the two little girls were born in Australia. It took one of them getting terribly sick, spending two weeks with a high fever and finally being taken to Perth Hospital, and then Barnaby Joyce, Katie Allan, Trent Zimmerman, Tony Abbott, all speaking out for this to become a political problem for Scott Morrison. He's done the right thing, not because it is the right thing, but because it solves a political problem.

PAUL: All right, speaking of political problems, the Prime Minister, you say, is sticking out like a lump of coal with his climate stance at the G7. Mathias Cormann, he gets it apparently, but of course he would because they're paying his bills. I just find it amazing, Andrew, how a man like Mathias Cormann can do such an about face on things like climate policy and his beliefs in climate change, because obviously there's a buck in it for him.

LEIGH: Who knows what Mathias Cormann believes, but he's certainly saying something which is in line with every other advanced country, which are committed to net zero emissions by 2050, not just because it's good for the planet, but because it's good for their economy.

PAUL: Yeah, but my point was - sorry to interrupt you, mate - my point was he was with the Morrison Government that is clearly, clearly, let's be honest here, they do not follow the lead of advanced countries when it comes to climate change. They are pro-coal, they are just miles and miles behind progressive thinking, Mathias Cormann was a part of this thought pattern and now he's done a complete 360. I find it ridiculous, to be honest.

LEIGH: Yeah, it is a strange decision by Mathias Cormann. I'll leave it to him to explain that, but certainly you're right, the Government is out there on the extreme fringes along with Saudi Arabia and Jair Bolsinaro's Brazil. We're a country which is not acting on dangerous climate change, despite the fact that we have so much to lose from unchecked climate change in the Great Barrier Reef and extreme weather events, and so much to gain from acting on climate change in terms of all those new, good jobs in renewables. This is a great opportunity for Australia to become an energy superpower. We ought to be grabbing that with both hands, and if we don't, the G7 on the weekend are very clear that they've made an in-principle decision to introduce carbon border tariffs. That means countries without good climate policies could face tariffs on our emissions. That will hurt our exporters.

PAUL: Just as you and I chat, some breaking news: the Treasurer has confirmed the family will stay in Australia, and the Tamil family will be reunited in Perth. So, Josh Frydenberg has confirmed this morning, just a short while ago, speaking on The Today Show, the family will stay in Australia. So, there we go, some breaking news as it happens this morning. What about this: the attempts to deregister charities, Andrew, that arrange political protests.

LEIGH: This has been a bit of a sleeper issue, Marcus, but it's a huge one for many religious charities. At the moment, if a charity breaks the law they can be deregistered. That's as it should be, and over the last few years we've had 2 out of the 59,000 charities kicked out because of that. The Government wants to go further now and say that any charity involved in a summary offence can be de-registered. A summary offence could be something like blocking the footpath or trespassing or not closing a gate. Naturally Anglicare, Baptistcare, Unitingcare are up in arms. Tim Costello's comparing it to Vladimir Putin's Russia. There's a real sense that if this goes ahead then charitable activism could be on the chopping block, that the Morrison Government is really just trying to stop charities having any involvement with activism, because if a charity so much as puts an event on its Facebook page that then ended up with someone blocking the footpath that charity could be deregistered. This is crazy stuff that the Government is pushing ahead with, driven by an ideological agenda to attack charities, rather than working with them at a time of need.

PAUL: Just back to the Prime Minister and what's happening at the G7, well, on the sidelines,  you need to remember Australia isn't part of the G7, we're there as a guest, along with a couple of other countries, but the PM is wrapping up talks with Boris Johnson. Trade is the name of the game there. We do need to facilitate a trade agreement with the UK. They're coming out of Brexit, of course, and our issue with China isn't getting better day by day, so the proposition that Australian and UK trade arrangements are put in place I think has merit.

LEIGH: Absolutely, and it's interesting to see, too, other countries not only saying that they want to maintain a strong commercial relationship with Britain but also standing up for the Northern Ireland peace agreement, which Boris Johnson has been pretty reckless in handling. It's really important that peace agreement holds for the sake of the whole world. I hope the Government are able to conclude a free trade agreement with Britain and I hope it has more impact on our bilateral relationship than the free trade agreement they concluded with China, which they were touting a couple of years ago and now can't even get the telephone calls returned.

PAUL: Alright, good to have you on Andrew. We'll talk next week.

LEIGH: Real pleasure, Marcus. Thank you.

PAUL: Enjoy your short week.


Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.