Interview with Kieran Gilbert – Sky News AM Agenda – Wednesday 4 June 2014






SUBJECT/S: Prime Minister’s trip to Indonesia and the United States.

KIERAN GILBERT: This is AM Agenda, thanks very much for your company. With me now is Labor frontbencher, Jason Clare. Mr Clare thanks for your time. When you look at the challenge ahead for the government on the Indonesian front it looks like things are getting back on track, the President has invited the Prime Minister to hold these talks today and this code of conduct should be established within weeks. So that is promising news.

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: It is an important trip for the Prime Minister and we wish him well, both the meeting with the Indonesian President but also the meeting with the US President and the commemoration of the D-Day landings as well.

Indonesia is our nearest neighbour, a population of a quarter of a billion people and one of the biggest economies in the world and we need to treat that relationship seriously. There needs to be a focus of Australian Government foreign policy. The Prime Minister said it would be. He said foreign policy would be Jakarta focused. I think any objective analysis would say that it hasn’t been well managed in the first nine months of this government. This meeting is an opportunity to help to turn that around.

GILBERT: Do you think though that might be a bit of collateral damage on top of the Snowdon leaks which were out of the government’s control? The Snowdon leaks were essentially from a period when Labor was in office but as I say it was out of anyone’s control really, but when it comes to border protection is this some collateral damage that is necessary to get a policy that works and it has worked?

CLARE: The challenge for governments all around the world is how you deal with events, events that are sometimes out of your control and I said at the time that I thought the Prime Minister should pick up the phone and talk to the President of Indonesia. That’s what next door neighbours, that’s what friends do, that’s what the US President did with the Chancellor of Germany. He didn’t do that. Another meeting was cancelled only recently. This is the time, now more than ever that the Prime Minister needs to fix this problem that’s emerged between our two countries.

GILBERT: When it comes to the United States the US President has made some significant steps this week in terms of climate change but our government has always said they will look what the international community does and act accordingly and the government does remain committed on the issue of climate change, delivering those targets which were bipartisan by 2020. So you might disagree with the way they are going about it but those broader commitments, those broader targets remain.

CLARE: It’s a meeting of political opposites in the oval office. You’ve got a President heading towards the end of his term looking to the future and a Prime Minister at the start of his term pedalling back towards the past. A President who believes in climate change, thinks it’s real. Our Prime Minister thinks it’s crap

But it’s not just in this area that there’s a big difference between the two leaders. You’ve got a President who wants to change the American health system, make it more like ours and a Prime Minister who wants to change our health system, Medicare and make it more like America’s. Very different people but the relationship between America and Australia is so strong, so important, it crosses political boundaries – I’m sure that it will be a good meeting.

GILBERT: When you say that the Prime Minister thinks climate change is crap, he’s rejected that on a number of occasions, certainly in the election campaign and beyond, spending significant amounts of money on their direct action plan to deal with this issue.

CLARE: Two and a half billion dollars, two and a half billion dollars which we say would be wasted money. There isn’t any expert who’s seriously looked at their Direct Action policy and thinks that’s the best way to tackle climate change. If they are talking about problems with the budget, fixing the budget, well there’s two and a half billion dollars that would be better spent elsewhere than their ridiculous climate change policy that won’t work.

GILBERT: Jason Clare thanks for your time.

CLARE: Thanks Kieran.