Interview with Laura Jayes – Sky News PM Agenda – Wednesday 12 November 2014






SUBJECT/S: ABC and SBS cuts; Free Trade Agreement; Renewable Energy Target.

LAURA JAYES: Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare joins me now, Jason thanks so much for joining me.


JAYES: I want to ask you first about these reports about cuts to the SBS and ABC, perhaps in the order of around $300 to $500 million dollars between them. Is that what you were expecting and how damaging will that be to these broadcasters do you think?

CLARE: There is no other way to say it, Tony Abbott is a liar. The night before the election he promised no cuts to the ABC and no cuts to SBS. So that’s what we were expecting. We were expecting him to keep his promise, but instead now it looks like something in the order of half a billion dollars’ worth of cuts.

Malcolm Turnbull has also said that this would all be back office cuts but now we are hearing that this will lead to hundreds of sackings and lots of shows being cut as well.

So this is an issue of trust, the Prime Minister promised he wouldn’t do it and just like he’s done on health, on education, on petrol taxes and pensions and now potentially the GST, he’s lied to the Australian people.

JAYES: Broken promises aside, the SBS and ABC do have room to tighten their belts a little, would you at least accept that?

CLARE: All organisations do, public or private, any organisation can be more efficient the job is to find those efficiencies and reinvest them in new shows, new products for the Australian people. That’s what we did when we were in Government. Use that money to create things like ABC3 and iView. The Prime Minister here said there would be no cuts. What I am saying is find efficiencies in the ABC and SBS and use that to invest in more shows for the Australian people.

JAYES: What do you think viewers will see a difference in the ABC or SBS, anything? Or will this be mainly backroom efficiencies?

CLARE: This is the point. The Government said this is all back of house, what I’m hearing is that’s not the case at all and when these cuts are formally announced we’ll find out that hundreds of people are going to get the sack and lots of shows that lots of people watch and enjoy and rely upon every day for useful information are going to get the cut, and when they get the cut I think a lot of people are going to be pretty angry with this Government.

JAYES: The Chinese FTA, the Free Trade Agreement, has been in the works for some time, more than a decade. Simon Crean did take the lead on negotiation for Labor in the previous Government. Why wasn’t Labor able to sign this deal?

CLARE: Think about this Laura, over the last few weeks we’ve been reflecting on the legacy of Gough Whitlam, the man who opened up Australia’s relationship with China. Back then Australia’s two-way trade with China was less than $100 million, now it’s more than $100 billion every year and set to get even bigger. That’s why this agreement is so important. They take time, like all Free Trade Agreements, almost all of them, they’re the work of Labor and Liberal Governments over time, working to finalise them. When this is finalised, invariably it’s going to be good for Australia as well, but we’ll need to see the detail to confirm that.


JAYES: We return now to Jason Clare, and Jason I want to ask you a final question about the Renewable Energy Target, Labor appears to have dealt themselves out of relevance in negotiations here, no longer negotiating with the Government on this after three weeks. Why has that decision been made and isn’t this the worst case scenario, resulting in uncertainty for this industry going forward?

CLARE: Worst case scenario is that the Government implements its proposal. If the Government makes the changes to the Renewable Energy Target that it wants to, it will kill the industry dead and it will mean jobs will go offshore.

We’ve said that we are willing to compromise here and we’ve sat down with the Government but what’s been obvious from those discussions is that the Government is not willing to compromise. We are not willing to sign up to a deal which is going to kill of renewable energy in Australia. It’s not good for Australia and we’ve said that to the Government. They need to be willing to compromise.

JAYES: Jason Clare thanks so much for joining us on AM Agenda.

CLARE: Thanks Laura.