Interview with Kieran Gilbert – Sky News AM Agenda – Wednesday 28 May 2014






SUBJECT/S: The Abbott Government’s Budget of Broken Promises; Racial Discrimination Act

KIERAN GILBERT: This is AM Agenda, thanks for your company. Coming up Mick Gooda on National Reconciliation Week, first I’m joined by Labor frontbencher Jason Clare to discuss the budget and other matters. A lot to talk about in budget area, business has had a gutful of politics, this is the AFR reporting this this morning that they are worried that it’s already undermining business confidence. Does Labor have to take some of the blame here, accept some of the accountability for the disagreements?

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Kieran they would say that, they helped write the budget. I spent a lot of time last week in the streets of my electorate talking to voters and I didn’t have one person say to me that we should support the tax when you to go to the doctor or the increase tax on petrol or that we should be reducing the increase in the pension. No one has said that to me and over the last few years a lot of people have come up to me and given me a piece of their mind about why we should support different Liberal Party policies. There’s no one out there who thinks this budget is a good budget because it’s an unfair budget.

GILBERT: Does Labor need to strike a balance here, between making the points that you’re making on the policies you disagree with but also enabling the government to make some substantial savings given you recognise there is a medium to longer term challenge as you put it?

CLARE: We’ve made it very clear that we are not going to do what Tony Abbott did and say no to everything.

GILBERT: $40 billion in cuts and revenue, that’s a lot.

CLARE: We’ve said, as a matter of principle, we are not going to help the Liberal Party demolish Medicare, we are not going to help the Liberal Party introduce a US style university system either and we are not going to attack pensioners.

When you dig into the budget Kieran you see that for a single mum on $55,000 a year with a couple of kids, for her she has to put one dollar in. The equivalent for somebody on half a million dollars a year they put in twenty cents. So she puts in a dollar, someone on half a million dollars puts in twenty cents. That’s not fair and that’s why we are saying to Joe Hockey, go back to the drawing board and come up with some better ideas.

GILBERT: He’s not going to be doing that. He says he won’t flinch and he’s urging his backbench to rally behind the budget. The other point that Scott Morrison made last night on Sky News was that this is a long game. It very much is and we are at the start of it aren’t we? This is the time you have tough budgets, at the start of the electoral cycle.

CLARE: He says don’t flinch. This is the sort of advice a doctor gives you before a prostate examination and this is the sort of budget that this is. It’s a bad budget because it’s hurting working class people, the sick and the poor. If Scott Morrison thinks that people are going to forget about this, I think he’s wrong. Political reputations are like concrete, once they set they’re hard to change and people have made up their mind about Tony Abbott because of this budget and they’ve made up their mind that he’s a liar, that he’s somebody that can’t be trusted.

GILBERT: He’s saying and he’s made the point, I don’t profess to know their strategy but I guess their argument is that by the third year of the electoral cycle and the budget cycle that things are starting to come good in the economy, that they might have room tax cuts and by then they’ll get credit for the tough decisions now.

CLARE: I heard what Ed Husic said a couple of moments ago, he’s right. The days when you can get away with lying to people in the first year of an electoral term and think you can get away with it on Election Day, they’ve long gone. People have got long memories, they remember if they are lied to and they’ve been lied to on education, health, pensions, on taxes, on the ABC, SBS, on everything.

GILBERT: On one final issue I want to ask you about the Government’s, the Fairfax papers reporting that the Government’s preparing to water down changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. I’ll put to you what I put to Ed Husic a bit earlier in the program and that is, rather than cowardly doesn’t this reflect on an Attorney-General and a Government willing to listen and to adopt changes where necessary.

CLARE: I was talking to someone about this yesterday and they said that when George Brandis finishes being Attorney-General he should get a job at the UN because in one move he’s managed to get the Christians, the Jews, the Muslims, the Buddhist, Chinese, Vietnamese, Venezuelans, people from Africa, Middle East all together on one thing – they all hate this policy. 90 per cent of people disagree with this, more people dislike this policy than dislike the budget and what they should do is scrap the whole thing.

George Brandis needs one of those devises that Tommy Lee Jones had in Men in Black and just try and swipe the memory of the Australian people and hope that they forget that the Liberal Party ever tried to impose this.

GILBERT: The point is that he’s being reasonable isn’t he? He’s put it out for consultation, they’re listening and they are going to come back with the changes and the Cabinet Submission within a month.

CLARE: The test of that is whether they drop it all together because overwhelmingly those submissions will say bad idea. Australians don’t think that you should be able to harass or offend or intimidate somebody based on the colour of their skin and this is hurting the Liberal Party I can tell you and the best thing they can do, I don’t want to give them any advice, but the best thing they can do is drop this bad idea.

GILBERT: Jason Clare thanks for your time.

CLARE: Thanks Kieran.