Interview with Linda Mottram 702 ABC Radio – Friday 8 August 2014






SUBJECT/S: Australia’s unemployment at 12-year high; Abbott Government’s unfair budget; Bankstown; Data Retention.

LINDA MOTTRAM: Just if I could start with what Sarkis had to say there – the youth unemployment issue, you guys were in government for a long time so you must know it inside out. What more can be done to fund the kind of work that they are doing, that coalface work?

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Unemployment is almost double the national average here in Bankstown. So when it’s going up across the country, it’s even worse here.

Youth unemployment is very, very high. There are things we can do long term like make sure more kids finish school because our school completion rates here are lower than the national average and with more and more jobs needing TAFE qualifications and uni qualifications we’ve got to make sure that not just the total national average of people finishing school goes up but that it goes up in parts of the country like Bankstown. Otherwise we are going to entrench disadvantage here.

In the short-term we have got to provide more resources for Sarkis and Mary and the team at Bankstown Multicultural Youth Service. We gave them an extra $170,000 when we were in government just to put in a disability lift and a hot water system and that money got ripped out by this Government. So they are the sort of silly things taking us backwards.

We also allocated more money for the local PCYC and Father Chris Riley’s Youth Off the Streets and the Government has taken that money away. So that’s counterproductive because the work that Sarkis does is on the street on a Thursday or a Friday night, kids that have sometimes dropped out of school and could potentially go the wrong way and if they’ve got extra resources they can help direct those kids back to school or into a job.

MOTTRAM: Jason Clare is here, just happened to be wondering past in the rain in Bankstown here. He’s the local Federal Member for Blaxland. More broadly this area is vibrant, it has those issues that need dealing with but the vibrancy is evident even at this time of the morning when people are opening up their shops.

CLARE: Absolutely.

MOTTRAM: How cohesive is the community?

CLARE: This is a terrific place to live. A bad reputation. If you are listening on the radio and you’ve never been to Bankstown you’d think why would I go there but if you live here you never want to leave. It is true.

MOTTRAM: The smell of that Vietnamese restaurant around the corner makes me want to stay.

CLARE: You bet. There are parts of Sydney on a Saturday afternoon or a Sunday where there is no one there, no one shopping. Bankstown is always busy. I heard you talk to Thang before about Cabramatta, it’s exactly the same. There are always people out and shopping and people living together. I tell the kids at the schools when I talk to kids about multiculturalism that Australia is a little bit like a fruit salad. We all like apples and oranges and watermelons, but they are even better when they are mixed together and that’s what Bankstown is like.

MOTTRAM: But we do face challenges. Thang was very optimistic about the ability of food and shared food to conquer all of those things, let’s hope he is right because there are serious points of tension in our communities at the moment and I’ve noticed even in the comments we get on the show, the texts, the calls we get, flair ups over very specific issues, like Ukraine, like the Middle East. That’s fragile isn’t it in our communities?

CLARE: Absolutely, we’ve got people from all around the world that live in Bankstown and when you come and make Australia your home you don’t forget about what’s happening on the other side of the world. When you see a plane being shot down in the Ukraine, you care about it. When you see your family and friends being shot at in the Middle East, you care about it.

One of the people that died on that plane that was shot down comes from just down the road here, so it’s not just an issue we are seeing on the TV, it affects us very personally here in Bankstown.

MOTTRAM: If I could just ask you about a federal political issue as Shadow Minister for Communications, what are your thoughts on the mandatory retention of data policy that the Government has revealed [inaudible]?

CLARE: This is the $64 million question isn’t it. Don’t ask George Brandis is probably the best thing I can say.

MOTTRAM: Malcolm Turnbull is making the case very strongly this morning, and it is similar to the policy [inaudible].

CLARE: To be fair Malcolm should have been brought in earlier. He learnt about this by looking at the Tele this week, he should have been in the original discussions about it. He gets it. He understands it. George Brandis obviously doesn’t.

MOTTRAM: So is it the right thing to do?

CLARE: It’s important that our law enforcement agencies and national security agencies have got the right powers. There are real challenges here and this data is extremely important both for our police as well as our intelligence agencies in the work they do. We took the view when we were in government though that we have got to be very careful here to protect privacy, make sure that any powers that law enforcement agencies do get are properly oversighted and it doesn’t include people’s browsing behaviour on the internet. Earlier this week the Prime Minister suggested that it would, so did George Brandis. Malcolm Turnbull has ruled that out today, I think that’s a good thing.

MOTTRAM: We’ve seen that the United States the amount of excess beyond the legal limits, activity go on. Why should Australians trust anyone in Government on that privacy question?

CLARE: That’s why transparency and oversight are critical. If law enforcement agencies abuse or misuse their powers then they lose them. And if they are subject to independent oversight by organisations such as the National Security Legislation Monitor, Bret Walker for example, who tests this and provides advice to the Government on whether the powers are needed or not then that helps to provide a level of surety to the general public that if the laws are misused then they will be lost.

MOTTRAM: Bret Walker was saying on interviews on the ABC earlier this week actually that there were recommendations he’d made, I think while you were still in government that hadn’t been taken up, this government similarly. Did you make errors in that regard?

CLARE: He and I think Anthony Whealy made the same point about certain provisions in the law that haven’t been used. That should be taken out of the law and I think you talked to Phil Boulton about that only a couple of weeks ago as well. So that’s an outstanding issue for the Government to consider. What we need more advice from the Government about is why they are intending to take those provisions further rather than repeal them.

MOTTRAM: Jason Clare thanks for dropping in today.

CLARE: Thank you very much for coming to Bankstown.

MOTTRAM: We are more than happy because we know we are going to get a good lunch out of this in the end. Any advice on where we should – no, no, no you can’t favour anybody.

CLARE: Well you can’t go wrong going to Bankstown.

MOTTRAM: Well done. Thanks very much Jason Clare

CLARE: Thank you.