Interview with Kieran Gilbert – Sky News AM Agenda – Wednesday 10 June 2015




SUBJECT/S: Joe Hockey’s out of touch comments; Trade Union Royal Commission; Budget.

KIERAN GILBERT: With me now Labor frontbencher Jason Clare. Jason Clare thanks for your time. A fellow Western Sydney MP, Craig Laundy this morning rejects any suggestion that it was a gaff from Joe Hockey that he was simply stating the obvious that when people go to seek credit from a bank they need to show where the money is coming from.

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Nice try by Craig, but it’s a stupid comment. Most people know it’s a stupid comment and the big problem for Joe Hockey is it’s not the first. Last year as we know he said poor people don’t drive cars and this just reminds people about Joe Hockey’s bad judgment.

The reality is that the great Australian dream is out of the reach for many Australians. The reality is that the price of the average home in Sydney is now close to nine hundred thousand dollars and the median income is about fifty-seven thousand dollars. So for a lot of Australians out there, that are working really hard, struggling to save up enough money to get a mortgage, that are on about fifty-seven thousand dollars, being told by Joe Hockey just to go and become a merchant banker or corporate lawyer or get more money seems very out of touch and seems like a bloke who really doesn’t understand what life is like in the real world.

GILBERT: Do we need more nuance in our political debate when you have a broader news conference where he talks about the complexity of this problem, about the supply issue, about what the Government is doing on foreign investment and yet we are all focused on one or two lines out of that particular news conference. Do we need a bit more context in what he’s saying here?

CLARE: I think the problem is it’s not the first. If it was a one off then you could forgive it, but this is the same person who said that poor people don’t drive cars. I’m also critical of what Joe Hockey said when the Reserve Bank cut the cash rate a couple of weeks ago, where he said just go out there and borrow.

I represent an area in Western Sydney, where when interest rates were at record highs, not record highs but at very high levels about seven years ago we had people losing their homes at three families a day. The banks were foreclosing because people couldn’t repay their mortgages. I am worried that people are borrowing now more than they can afford to repay when interest rates go back up. So to have a Treasurer go out there and tell people to borrow I think is very irresponsible because there will be a lot of people out there I fear, and Ed Husic made this point earlier today, that may not be able to repay their mortgage when interest rates go back up.

GILBERT: On another issue, the Victorian MP Cesar Melham, successor to Bill Shorten at the AWU has quit his post as the Chief Government Whip in the Upper House in Victoria. This is not a good look is it out of the Royal Commission into the union movement, particularly given how close this individual was to your leader.

CLARE: I make the simple point Kieran that serious allegations have been made, they have been denied I understand and the investigation is being conducted by the Royal Commission. I make the general point that we need to take a zero tolerance approach to corruption and as I’ve said to you on this program many times before, if somebody has broken the law, if somebody has acted corruptly, I don’t care whether they are a Labor politician or a Liberal politician, a union leader or a business leader you throw the book at them. It’s as simple as that.

GILBERT: The problem is, again a union figure, you’re meant to be representing the least well off and if this is proven to be true, as you say they are only allegations at this stage, it would be a very unfortunate thing not just for the workers concerned but politically for your leader given as I say how close he is to this particular MP.

CLARE: Kieran let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Some allegations have been made, they have been denied and it is the subject of an investigation.

GILBERT: Lets finish up now on the Budget talks, I put this to Ed Husic before but to get your take on it, Labor being a bit more constructive on elements, the impasse on the Budget is this recognition that you could well in the next election so you can’t be that negative all the time, you might have to balance the books or at least try to.

CLARE: I think Australians want out major political parties to be constructive. They want our major parties to work together, and where we can work together in the interest of the country we have to and so we are looking at the propositions that the Government has put forward in detail, methodically going through them.

There were some terrible things the Government proposed last year like cutting the pension for all Australian pensioners and increasing the cost of going to university and introducing a tax to go to the doctor. The Labor Party said there is no way in the world we can support those bad ideas but we will look seriously at this proposition. That’s what I think Australians would want us to do.

If I could give some advice to the Government it’s what they should do, looking at our proposals about multinational corporation taxation changes as well as changes to superannuation concessions. Just rejecting those out of hand is not what the Australian people want. They want us to look at these ideas seriously.

GILBERT: Mr Clare thanks for your time, we will chat to you soon.