Interview with Kieran Gilbert – Sky News AM Agenda – Wednesday 22 July 2015



SUBJECT/S: Renewable Energy; GST; Bronwyn Bishop; the passing of Don Randall

KIERAN GILBERT: This is AM Agenda thanks for your company this morning, with me now the Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare. Mr Clare thanks for your time. First of all, this plan Bill Shorten’s confirmed to Sky News, it was reported to the SMH and Mark Kenny earlier as well, and this relates to this ambitious energy plan. The fifty percent of renewables by 2030, can it be done?

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Of course it can be done. Under the current renewable energy target we are going to exceed the targets that have been set in the past. We need to increase the amount of energy produced through renewable sources. This is an area of significant difference between the major parties. Labor thinks we need to invest more in renewable energy. Tony Abbott and the Liberals think we don’t, he actually thinks we should reduce the amount of investment in renewable energy. Most Australians get this, most Australians think that renewable energy is the future and you will hear more about that from Bill Shorten and Mark Butler in just over an hour’s time.

GILBERT: What sort of impact though? Are you concerned about the impact on traditional industries by expediting the increase of renewables in the economy as quickly as that, in 15 years?

CLARE: Not if you do it properly. Not if you work with all industries. Not if you set a target and implementation plan to do that and that’s what Labor will do. You’ll hear more about that in the next hour and more about that over the course of the weekend at the Labor Party Conference.

GILBERT: Indeed. Ged Kearney from the ACTU, she says yes there will be an impact and that the transition has to be managed carefully. That probably there will be less of those jobs down the track in terms of the traditional work sectors.

CLARE: I think what Ged is saying is what I’m saying, you need a transition plan and that’s exactly what we will put in place as part of this under a Labor Government. The important point is this, most Australians get it, we need to invest more in renewable energy not less. This is an important part of the future, it’s an important part of tackling climate change.

Labor will invest more in renewable energy. The Liberal Party don’t get it. They think we should be reducing the amount of investment in renewable energy and that’s head in the sand stuff. It’s as out of date as knighting Prince Philip, it’s as out of touch as getting a helicopter from Melbourne to Geelong and that’s why the Liberal Party are out of touch with the Australian population on this issue.

GILBERT: Mr Shorten says Labor won’t be intimidated by ridiculous scare campaigns but then he’s gone on to reiterate, let me make this clear Labor will not introduce a carbon tax. It looks like he is clearly spooked by recent history on it.

CLARE: I think history proves that the Australian people don’t want a carbon tax. There won’t be a carbon tax under a future Labor Government. Australians do want renewable energy and they want us to increase the amount of renewable energy that we produce as a country, solar energy, wind energy et cetera. This is where the Liberal Party don’t get it. Australians want more of this not less and Tony Abbott is boasting about reducing the amount of renewable energy being produced in Australia. As I said before it just goes to show he’s out of touch on this issue as well as a lot of others.

GILBERT: Jay Weatherill and Andrew Barr, the South Australian Premier and ACT Chief Minister are both open to the prospect of an increase in the GST if there is parallel compensation, appropriate compensation for low to middle income earners. Should Federal Labor be more open to this? More, I guess, at least open to considering the prospect of changing the Goods and Services Tax given comparative studies of our GST rate with other developed nations shows that we are very, very low compared to other like economies around the world.

CLARE: Kieran remember what this is all about, Tony Abbott obviously wants to increase the GST he just doesn’t have the guts to say it himself, he wants state premiers to come with the begging bowl looking for money whether it’s through a GST or something else. He ripped $80 billion out of health and education and if you’re a state premier desperately trying to fund hospitals and schools you’ll look for anyway to do that.

Labor’s view at a federal level is this, that there are fairer ways to do this than increasing the GST. There was a report, came out last week that looked at the federal budget and how it affected electorates across the country and it looked at the ten suburbs hardest hit in Australia – five of those suburbs are in my electorate, one of the poorest electorates in the country, hardest hit by Tony Abbott’s budget and his policies. A GST going up from ten to fifteen percent would just make that worse and that’s why Labor is saying tax reform is needed but it shouldn’t be a tax that hits poor people, there are fairer ways to do this including tax reform to superannuation and multinational corporations.

GILBERT: But that’s not going to cut it is, it in terms of the broader reform that’s necessary? And if you have the billions coming in through an increase in the rate of the GST and that pays for compensation at the lower end, why is that not acceptable to Labor? Given we saw a comparable situation with the GST, a regressive tax, but you made up for it with compensation.

CLARE: I’ll believe it when I see it when they say that it would compensate poor people. There’s a report in Fairfax today Kieran, I think in the Sydney Morning Herald as well as the Financial Review that says that if you do it in this way you don’t actually get the funds to fund health and education or at least you don’t get to the point you need to anyway. So there are problems with that as well. Superannuation reform, multinational tax reform won’t give you the funds in their entirety, but it’s a start and when Labor says here’s some tax ideas what’s Tony Abbott’s response, instead or seriously looking at them he’s just rejected them out of hand.

GILBERT: Now you alluded to the Speaker’s choppergate issue before, she’s now re-payed the money, the Prime Minister has said she is on probation – she’s still copping it over some of the expenses that she has publically declared now. The criticism continues even on expenses that she has been very open about, is it time to call an end to this and say ok she’s paid it back, she’s on probation, lets move on?

CLARE: Well my view is that she should resign, there are Liberal Members of Parliament telling me privately she should resign. She is a terrible distraction for Tony Abbott and their agenda. At the very least she should stand aside, that’s what Tony Abbott demanded when a previous Speaker broke the rules when it came to entitlements. Tony Abbott said they should stand aside while there is an investigation. That’s the same test he applied a couple of years ago he should apply now. If he fails to do that it shows hypocrisy, it shows he’s out of touch. The only two people in this country who think Bronwyn Bishop shouldn’t resign are Bronwyn Bishop and Tony Abbott.

GILBERT: I want to finish on a sad note, the death of Don Randall, quite a shock to have a Member of Parliament die so suddenly.

CLARE: It’s very, very sad. Can I pass on my condolences to his wife and his kids, family and friends. Don was a good bloke, respected by politicians on both sides of Parliament, a straight shooter he told you what he thought, sometimes you didn’t agree with it but you always as people have sad today and last night, you always knew what Don thought and at sixty-two it’s a reminder of just how short life is. Too young to die. Vale Don Randall.

GILBERT: Indeed. Jason Clare thanks so much for that and our commiserations to his wife and two children as well.