Interview with Kieran Gilbert – Sky News AM Agenda – Wednesday 3 December 2014






SUBJECT/S: Christopher Pyne and Higher Education chaos; Cyberbullying; Phillip Hughes; Kieran Gilbert’s 40th birthday.

KIERAN GILBERT: With me on the program now is the Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare. Mr Clare lets start on higher education reforms, Labor has had a win here but Christopher Pyne, as you’ve heard is optimistic, he’s confident that over the summer he will be able to drag this back and get the reforms through.

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: It was a bad end, to a bad year for a bad government and it shows this Government’s got a tin ear. Wouldn’t you use this as an opportunity to drop this bad policy and put it in the bin instead of wanting to bring it back? This is bad policy, it just means people pay more to go to university and it’s bad politics. This is as popular as a snake in a sleeping bag. Shouldn’t they use this opportunity to try and erase this bad idea and tell the general public that it never happened in the first place?

GILBERT: Aren’t you worried about the standards though at Australian universities, because that’s the key argument that underpins Christopher Pyne’s reform, that they want world class universities, hence you need to free up the revenue stream for them?

CLARE: Of course you do, we want world class universities and we’ve got them. We also want young Australian’s to finish school and go onto TAFE and get a trade or go onto university and get a degree. The problem we’ve got at the moment is that not enough young Australian’s are doing that. We don’t have all the skills we need to take advantage of the opportunities that the twenty-first century offers us and if you make university degrees more expensive then you are just going to discourage people from going to university in the first place. It’s why this is a bad idea.

GILBERT: Even though there is not a dollar paid up front?

CLARE: It doesn’t matter people are still making a decision about whether they go to university or not based on the debt that they are going to have to pay back over the next few decades.

GILBERT: I’ll put what I put to Christine Milne, and this is what Christopher Pyne argues is that in the UK they’ve deregulated the fees and there’s been no drop off. In fact more people from less well-off areas are going to university.

CLARE: You are going to end up with a two-tier university system where people from poorer backgrounds go to universities with cheaper degrees and people that are wealthier go to universities that charge more. That’s not the sort of country Australia is, we don’t want an American style university system.

GILBERT: In the communications space, Paul Fletcher’s announced this crack down on social media companies if they don’t deal with the issue of bullying, I think it was a fine of tens of thousands of dollars. Have you seen that initiative and what would be your reaction to it?

CLARE: We’ve seen the draft bill, the Parliamentary Secretary has briefed us on the details of it, and we said we’d look closely at it. No one wants their children being bullied by other people, whether it’s in the playground or whether it’s on the internet. The challenge here is whether it will work or not because it is such a hard area to regulate. We’ve said to the Government that we will look closely at this and work constructively with them.

GILBERT: And just finally I know you’ve played a lot of cricket over your days, like the rest of the country today will be mourning the loss of Phillip Hughes as we look up to the Macksville I know the Opposition leader and Prime Minister will both be there for it.

CLARE: I am still, after all this time, trying to come to terms with this, trying to find words to explain this incredible tragedy. It feels like a nightmare that people don’t wake up from. At one-thirty today this is going to become very, very real for all Australians.

GILBERT: Indeed and I guess the test series ahead will be a tribute to him. It will go ahead, that will obviously be the focus of the whole summer.

CLARE: And one of the most touching and beautiful things in the last few days has been people putting out their cricket bats right across Australia. It’s a wonderful Aussie thing to do.

GILBERT: And Michael Clarke – the captain.

CLARE: Hasn’t he shown what a man he is and why he is the Australian captain.

GILBERT: Really, so impressive, and a difficult time for him and the whole team. Jason Clare thank you very much for that, appreciate it.

CLARE: Thanks mate and happy birthday for this Saturday.

GILBERT: Thank you very much, notching up the milestones.