Interview with Michael Rowland – ABC News Breakfast – Tuesday 18 November 2014






SUBJECT/S: Cuts to the ABC; Tony Abbott’s broken promises; Newspoll.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: The Shadow Communications spokesman Jason Clare joins us now from Sydney. Jason Clare good morning to you. Based on your understanding of the ABC budget can that fifty million dollars a year be achieved without any cuts to programs?

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: The short answer to that question is no. There are two points here. First is this is a broken promise. Tony Abbott said the night before the election there would be no cuts to the ABC. It’s now obvious he lied and there will be cuts to the ABC.

The second point is this, Malcolm Turnbull has promised that this would just be back of house. That’s not going to be the case. This is going to lead to the sacking of hundreds of people at the ABC and the loss of terrific programs.

ROWLAND: What do you say to the Government’s argument that every organisation, every Government body has to play its role in achieving those attempts to wind back the Budget deficit it inherited from Labor?

CLARE: The point I would make is this – every organisation can be more efficient whether it’s a Government department or a private company. But you should find efficiencies inside the ABC and use that money to create new programs and new services. That’s what we did when we were in Government. That helped to create ABC 24 and ABC online. This Government is not doing that, they are cutting the guts out of the ABC. They are doing it in spite of the fact that they said before the election that they wouldn’t do it.

ROWLAND: Malcolm Turnbull on QandA last night was saying that those remarks by Tony Abbott on election eve in 2013 didn’t really amount to a broken promise?

CLARE: I don’t think anyone would believe that. They were weasel words. I thought Malcolm was better than that. Tony Abbott said no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no changes to the pension, no new taxes, no cuts to the ABC and no cuts to SBS. He has now broken all of those. The extraordinary thing here is Julia Gillard was crucified for breaking one promise. Tony Abbott is a serial offender. He has broken almost every promise he made before the election and what this shows is you can’t trust him and I think the Australian people will judge him poorly because of it.

ROWLAND: The ABC’s ‘Media Watch’ program last night revealed that amongst those programs now to be axed include the Friday night local State and Territory-based ‘7:30’ editions. If that is the case, Jason Clare, what impact would that be on coverage and scrutiny of local politicians?

CLARE: It means less. We have got State elections coming up in NSW, State elections in Queensland, anybody that watches those programs knows the extraordinary work they do to cover State and local politics. That will all be gone and that’s the consequence of Tony Abbott breaking the promise he made before the last election, the night before the election, that there would be no cuts to the ABC.

ROWLAND: Now while I’ve got you to a couple of political stories, you would have seen the news poll in The Australian showing a 3 point jump in Labor’s primary vote to 39 per cent, with the Government’s down to 36 per cent. A 10 point lead now for Labor in the two-party preferred stakes. What do you put that down to?

CLARE: I will leave that to others to judge, but when you stand up before an election and promise all these things and then you go out and break more promises than most people have had hot dinners, people are going to lose respect for you. One of the first attributes a Prime Minister needs is to be trusted and respected. When you break all of these promises, whether it’s cuts to the ABC or new taxes to go to the doctor or increasing the cost to go to university or cutting the pension, then a lot of people are going to be very unhappy, and they are.

ROWLAND: There are two weeks to go in this parliamentary sitting year. Has the Labor Party got any intention of trying to negotiate with the Government offering to compromise on some of those outstanding budget issues?

CLARE: We have worked co-operatively with the Government on a number of areas but there are a couple of areas where the Labor Party is never going to allow the Government to jack up the cost of a university degree or make people pay $7 to go to the doctor. We created Medicare, we built it up and we will protect it in the Parliament. We won’t let this Government tear it down or make it more expensive for people to go to university.

ROWLAND: Jason Clare in Sydney, thanks for your time.

CLARE: Thanks, Michael.