2SM MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 12 OCTOBER 2021
SUBJECTS: JobKeeper; Glasgow summit; vaccination rates
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Well, Treasury are reporting JobKeeper was a great success, and any clawback requiring billionaires to pay back money they didn't need would simply encourage them to damage their own business. I mean, this utterly fails to understand how corporations work. Once again, it means ordinary people face harsher consequences than mega rich businesses. Our JobKeeper warrior is Andrew Leigh. Good morning, mate.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Morning, Marcus.
PAUL: Nice to talk to you, and again, congratulations on all the hard work you've done on this. Treasury confirms it knew the Government was paying our billions in JobKeeper to firms that, quote, 'may not need support', but they paid them anyway, and there's no need to claw that money back because that simply would be, you know, the politics of envy, Andrew.
LEIGH: Marcus, as you know, Labor called for JobKeeper. We wanted it to succeed and we celebrated every single job that was saved. JobKeeper didn't have to be run in a way that gave $58 million to OPSM, a big lick of which ended up in the pockets of their Italian billionaire owner, Leonardo Del Vecchio. It didn't have to give $6 million to Louis Vuitton, a big chunk of which ended up in the pockets of Bernard Arnault, their French billionaire owner. And JobKeeper didn't need to be run in a way in which some $14 billion - $1,400 for every Australian household - went to firms with rising revenues: and that's just in the first half of the program.
PAUL: Yeah, yep, and it goes on and on. Look, some have paid it back, which is good, and we applaud and appreciate that, but there are still many others that haven't, simply refused to, and probably, Andrew, some that we'll never see again.
LEIGH: That's right. Labor's not going to be forcing firms to repay, but we certainly welcome those that do. We've been putting pressure on firms such as Harvey Norman, which eventually did the right thing. Toyota, Iluka, Domino's have voluntarily repaid. I think it is important for these to look at their corporate social responsibility statements and see whether it's consistent with that, to be taking millions of dollars of taxpayer handouts at a time when other people are tightening their belts. The budget has real wages going backwards. We've seen many of these firms enjoying some of their best-ever profit years, thanks to support from the Australian taxpayer.
PAUL: What do you make about this? There's been a bit of a shift, if you like, from our biggest media organization, for a start: News Corp. Also, the Prime Minister is going to talk climate change with a number of his key ministers this week. Is this good news, or is it merely a bit of a smokescreen? Is it going to be nothing more than a gabfest, do you think, or will, finally, real action be undertaken by our government on climate change, Andrew?
LEIGH: Australia desperately needs a prime minister that will take climate change seriously. No other advanced country is as much risk from climate change. You've just got to look at bushfires, cyclones, extreme weather events, not to mention the potential loss of the Great Barrier Reef. If we act, then that's good for our economy, because we get those renewable jobs, but it also means we can go to these international meetings and encourage other nations to take action off the back of our work. Instead of leading, we're lagging, and the Prime Minister's decision not to go to these important climate change talks, again, will just make it harder for us to be taken seriously, make it harder to get the global action that our planet needs.
PAUL: Well, even Prince Charles, I see, has put the pressure on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to attend the upcoming Glasgow Climate Summit. Is he going to go, Andrew, or is he not?
LEIGH: He said he won't, Marcus, and that's a real pity for Australia. That means that he won't be there alongside Joe Biden, Boris Johnson and many other world leaders who will be talking about the commitments their countries have been making over many years. It's that steady action that makes a difference. We know if you're going on a diet or looking to get fit, you need to start early and keep up the action day to day. Scott Morrison is desperately trying to execute a U-turn. The bloke who was waving around lumps of coal in parliament and saying that electric vehicles will end the weekend is now trying to rebrand himself as some kind of a latter-day Greta Thunberg. I think Australians will see through that pretty quickly.
PAUL: All right, mate, I have to leave it there because we've got an important announcement to be made very soon by New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet, and the Treasurer, Matt Kean, about business support as we get out of the lockdowns here in Sydney, which, as you know, finally a bit of freedom, Andrew, for us here. How are you going in the ACT by the way? I know the vax rates are pretty high there, thanks to Andrew Barr and the Labor Government.
LEIGH: 98 per cent first dose, and well over 70 per cent double dose, so we're doing well here with the over-16 population, Marcus. Restrictions lift on Friday, and I know so many of my constituents can't wait for life to begin to return to normal.
PAUL: I bet. All right, Andrew, good to chat. Let's talk again next week.
LEIGH: Likewise, thanks.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra