On April 21, IPA Executive Director Scott Hargreaves discussed The Voice to Parliament on Credlin.
Below is a transcript of the interview.
It’s been a busy end to the business week. And joining me now to talk about the news is James Ashby, chief of staff to Pauline Hanson, and Scott Hargreaves, the executive director of the Institute of Public Affairs. Scott, James, welcome. There’s plenty to get through. Let’s kick it off with the RBA.
The biggest overhaul since the early 1990s, and the Treasurer seems to be receiving the universal praise. Scott, let me turn to you. I’m one of the cynics about this. Do you share my cynicism about the RBA’s overhaul? Can we balance these two contradictory monetary goals?
I think you’re right to be cynical, Corey. There has been a round of applause, but where were these people when Philip Lowe was leading that period of ultra-low interest rates, followed by a program of ridiculous stimulus in the economy that we’re all paying for now?The same people that are throwing Philip Lowe under the bus are the same ones who were egging on exactly those policies at the time. Perhaps they spot opportunities to be one of the new members of these one or both of the boards that are actually being established.
The trouble with using monetary policy, as you say, to try and achieve multiple objectives is that it’s meant to stimulate investment, and what we’ve seen is that investment has stalled in this country. It’s cratered over the last couple of years because of the red tape, the expansion in the size of government, and no amount of mucking around by the RBA is going to get investment going in this country until we rediscover a commitment to letting the private enterprise sector get on with it.
I agree with that. And speaking of mucking around, James, renegade Green turned independent Senator, Lidia Thorpe, she lashed out at the PM yesterday, furious at being told that she needed to get some help. Now, James, I’m not one to always defend Anthony Albanese, but I don’t think that makes him a racist or a colonizer. Did you or anyone watching Andrew Bolt’s show last night… Finish me on this, Lydia’s antics are alienating her friends and family except for the NAIDOC chair, Stacie Piper, who’s a friend of hers, who was out with her at that strip club in the early morning and she’s lashed out saying that harsh and untrue stories being published. James, Lidia is the gift that keeps on giving, lashing out at the PM, abusing patrons at a strip club, still silenced from the Greens. I mean, what’s her performance in the Senate like? How many questions can I give you?
Well, well, the Prime Minister is the one out there advocating for more voices like Lidia Thorpe in our Parliament. And when you wish for something like this, that’s what you’re going to get.
Look, while I take objection to everything that Lidia Thorpe has done over the last months or since effectively being elected as a member of the Greens, with the help of Labor, of course, with their preferences, Lidia has never ever lied to the Australian people in the sense of what she wants for Aboriginal people in this country. She wants Australians to pay a rent tax to indigenous people of this nation. She wants two other mechanisms implemented as well, following the Voice. In fact, she wants them before the Voice. That’s truth-telling. And of course, she wants sovereignty handed back to the Aboriginals.
Now, just because we don’t agree with her, Anthony Albanese has come out and basically called her crazy. I think if Anthony Albanese had his way, he would have lobotomized her by this time this week if he could have. But the reality is he does not want her part of the Aboriginal chorus, that is, saying they want the Voice to Parliament. In fact, he finds her damaging to his campaign. So, the best way to do away with her is to say she’s crazy.
Her father admitted in the interview yesterday with Andrew Bolt, “She’s not crazy. She’s a strong woman.” She’s driven, ideologically different to you and I, and I would guess to the majority of Australians, but I would say Anthony Albanese has got what he wished for. He’s going to have to put up with her for five years and if he doesn’t like her, stop taking her vote on the floor of Parliament. If you think she’s crazy, don’t let her vote with your policies.
Yeah, there’s the challenge because of course, Labor insisted that others, the Liberals not accept votes and various other things in times past, but Thorpe’s behavior is unbecoming of a Senator. I think we can all agree on that. But you’re right, she does speak the truth about what she wants.
All right, I’m going to be joined by Chris Merritt later in the program to discuss the Solicitor-General’s advice that was released today on The Voice, but Scott, a new Roy Morgan survey released today is bad news for the Yes vote. The poll shows only 46% of respondents plan to vote Yes. 39% plan to vote No. 15% are unsure. Now, you reckon at this stage of the referendum, Scott, they’d be wanting the Yes vote to be increasing, not sinking. Do you reckon people are waking up to the reality of the Voice?
I think they are waking up, Corey, and I’m sure the Yes campaigner is a little bit worried, but it’s not just that drift you might expect as a referendum approaches. What I think is it’s the whole strategy that the Prime Minister and those around him have pursued of avoiding debate, of refusing to talk about the Voice on its merits, sprinkling pixie dust. Just trying to tell Australians that it’s something to do with reconciliation and something to do with closing the gap. Don’t you worry about the details.
I think what we’re finding is the limits of that strategy because when Australians do find out what the Voice is about, they won’t vote for it, and I think that’s what’s actually shifting the votes. So, it really calls into question the whole strategy that the Prime Minister has tried to pursue to get the Yes vote over the line.
Yeah, the danger is in the detail, and the more we talk about it, the worse it gets for the Yes case.
Okay. This is a pot of gold that’s been propping up the nation’s university sector, foreign students. Now, we’ve got a surge in enrollments and Glyn Davis is a former Melbourne University Chance Vice-Chancellor, now top public servant, has argued it may be beneficial for some students to be taught in foreign languages or degrees. Some degrees were taught in a different language.
James, this is a rubbish idea. I’m going to say that straight off. Surely we can’t go down this path. We’re already thinking, I think we’re already got diploma mills churning out foreign students who can barely speak English in many instances, but why would we want to teach degrees in foreign languages?
Exactly right, Corey. Our universities barely scrape into the top 30 in the global stage. I think the best we’ve got is the Canberra University at number 30, and then we’ve got a couple of extras in the top 50.
Well, I’m sorry. I don’t understand why foreign students want to come to Australia for their education anyway. It would appear we’re not at the top ranks and they’ve got to pay double the rate of Aussie students. Look, let’s face it, the only reason people are coming into this country for their university degree is so that they come in through the backdoor for immigration. It entitles them to buy a house if they’re a student in this country. That should be stopped straight away. It entitles them to then stay on for jobs if they obviously are successful.
I can’t tell you how many taxi drivers I’ve encountered in Canberra and across Brisbane, mainly of Chinese and Indian descent. I’ve said to them, “Oh, you did university here?” “Yeah, studied accountancy.” “Why aren’t you using it?” “No, it’s a backdoor, I’m afraid.” And look, I’ve got no problems with people coming to this country, but at the moment, we don’t have enough housing for people in Australia, as it is. Look after our own first. I keep saying that till I’m blue in the face. That’s a One Nation policy we’ve said for 28 years.
But the reality is no, we should just continue teaching in English. If you can’t keep up with it, sorry, don’t come here for your education.
Hear, hear. This is the greatest immigration rort in the country and politicians refuse to do anything about it.
Another bad thing that’s happened is this data breach last year. Optus was hacked. It impacted millions of customers around Australia. Now, there’s a class action lawsuit in the Federal Court on behalf of 100,000 victims. Scott, since Optus, we’ve seen Medibank, the Latitude hack most recently. Should we be expecting more of class actions, lawsuits, and are they a good thing or not?
Well, if it forces company boards to lift their game, then it’s a good thing. There’s no doubt there’s bad actors out there. Cybersecurity’s a real risk. It’s time for company boards to focus on the knitting, to stop the preening, worrying about their brands, worried about virtue signaling out of the boardroom and get the basics right. This is super-important. I normally don’t like the Slater & Gordons of the world, but if it forces a bit of accountability into boardrooms and they get back to doing what they’re meant to be doing to run their business, well, maybe that would actually be a good thing, Corey.
Yeah. Maybe. I’ll tell you what I do think is a good thing, but James, I’m interested in your view. The revelation the Prime Minister is now going to attend that NATO summit he previously declined, he’s going in July. He says he’s got a busy schedule over the next couple of months, blah, blah, blah. But ultimately, this is about national security. Do you think it’s the right move?
No, short answer. Look, NATO, most people at home wouldn’t even know what NATO is. It’s Northern American Alliance with some European nations. What’s our place in that group? You’re obliged as a country who participates in NATO to go and defend other countries that may come under attack. Do we really want to sacrifice Australian troops, when we don’t have enough as it is, to a war over in Europe, unnecessarily? No. I think Albanese should spend more time in Alice Springs than heading overseas to deal with NATO issues.
This transcript with Scott Hargreaves talking on Credlin from 21 April 2023 has been edited for clarity.