Doorstop – Canberra






SUBJECTS: Liberal leadership

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Politics is a bloody and brutal game and we saw more evidence of that last night. It’s hard not to feel sorry for Tony Abbott. All of us suffer disappointments and disasters in our life but few of us get knifed publically on live television – and that’s what happened to Tony Abbott last night.

Can I take this opportunity to recognise his service as a Member of Parliament for over twenty years and my thoughts are also with his wife and his family at this moment.    

Can I also congratulate Malcolm Turnbull, but also remind him of his words uttered not so long ago about the knifing of a Prime Minister. This is what Malcolm Turnbull said:

The betrayal of you as leader of your party was one of the most shocking events I have ever witnessed. I think it would be one of the most shocking events any of us have ever witnessed in politics—the scale of it …discarded like another course on a lazy Susan in a Vietnamese restaurant—the cruelty of it was extraordinary!

Malcolm Turnbull has now committed exactly the same crime. The hypocrisy of this is extraordinary. Malcolm Turnbull whether he likes it or not has blood on his hands today. He has knifed a first term Prime Minister, which shows that he has learnt nothing. He has shown that he has learnt absolutely nothing. We made the same mistake and paid a very high price for this and so will Malcolm Turnbull. We all know how this movie ends. First they knife the Prime Minister, then follow the leaks, and then the Australian people kick you out. That’s what’s going to happen here. 

Can I also make this point about Malcolm Turnbull’s time as Communications Minister. Malcolm Turnbull was a failure as Communications Minister. His one big job was to build the NBN in three years for twenty-nine and a half billion dollars. That’s what he promised in Opposition. That he would build the National Broadband Network in three years for twenty-nine and a half billion dollars. In fact, what happened the cost of it has blown out by one hundred percent and the time that it will take to build has blown out by one hundred percent.

So yesterday Malcolm Turnbull claimed his right to be Prime Minister based on his economic credentials. When we find out that this is the man who as Minister for Communications is responsible for a one hundred percent blow out, doubling the cost of his second rate version of the NBN. Malcolm Turnbull has done as bad a job on building the NBN as Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey have done with the budget.

Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: The Coalition has been using that against you, the fact that two Labor leaders were deposed. Are you not relieved at least that that argument has been neutralized now? They can’t use that as an attack.          

CLARE: This just shows that the Liberal Party has learnt nothing. The Australian people have made it very clear what they think when political parties knife first term Prime Ministers. They throw you out. They hate this. They’ve made the decision, very clearly at the last election that if you knife a Prime Minister then they will judge you very harshly. We’ve learnt that lesson. It’s obvious that Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal Party haven’t.

JOURNALIST: How worried are you about Labor’s prospects at the next election?

CLARE: Two things here. Tony Abbott sets a low bar. He was a hopeless Prime Minister. He was the worst Prime Minister since Billy McMahon. By any fair assessment this was a right wing experiment gone wrong. But Malcolm Turnbull’s problem is that he’s arrogant and he’s out of touch. In fairness to him, it’s hard to be in touch with the needs of working people when you are a multimillionaire that lives in a pink mansion on Sydney Harbour. That’s his problem. Last time he was leader of his party people read this bloke pretty clearly and realised that he was an arrogant, out of touch multimillionaire and they will make the same judgment.         

JOURNALIST: Kevin Rudd was a multimillionaire, was he completely out of touch as well?

CLARE: He represented an area where there were battlers, where there were people doing it tough and so he met with them every day as a local Member of Parliament. It’s very different when your job as a local member allows you to live on Sydney Harbour in a pink mansion. It means that you can be in a position where you don’t get to see the needs or working people up close, and that’s Malcolm Turnbull.      

JOURNALIST: Malcolm Turnbull is more popular with the Australian electorate, surely there are some Labor MP’s who are waking up this morning quite concerned that leading into the next election your chances have now been [inaudible].

CLARE: The big take out for me out of yesterday was Malcolm Turnbull’s constant refrain to style. He thinks that the solution to this is four word slogans rather than three word slogans. What he was saying yesterday is, if I can just explain the problems better the people of Australia will just accept it. That’s not the problem. The problem is substance, not style.

The reason that people were so angry with Tony Abbott and his government wasn’t just because of the cheap three word slogans. It’s because unemployment is up, because the debt is up, because deficit is up, because taxes are up, and Malcolm Turnbull comes out and says I should be Prime Minister because I ‘ve got a better style.

What I fear here is that Australia last night switched from a second rate John Howard to a second rate Andrew Peacock – all feathers and no meat.

JOURNALIST: Can you guarantee that if polling in the next few months suggests that Malcolm Turnbull does have an unassailable lead over Bill Shorten, Bill Shorten’ s position is safe leading to the election?

CLARE: We learnt that lesson in government. One of the good things that we did in government was change our rules to make sure that this sort of nonsense that happened last night in the Liberal Party won’t happen in the Labor Party.

JOURNALIST: How will Bill Shorten boost his [inaudible]?

CLARE: Let me say this about Bill Shorten and it’s not said enough. This is a man, who when he was a Parliamentary Secretary in the last government created the National Disability Insurance Scheme – a scheme that in years from now will be looked back on as important as Medicare.  

If Bill shorten can do that in a junior role, just imagine what he can do as Prime Minister. 

JOURNALIST: Is this what we can expect from Labor on the Malcolm Turnbull Prime Ministership, you seem to be early on playing the class warfare card?

CLARE: To win the next election we need to show the Australian people that we’ve got a plan for the future and that’s what we’ll be focused on doing. Malcolm Turnbull demonstrated last night that it’s not about the plan, it’s about the style and the spin. That’s not the approach we are going to take. We are going to win the support and respect of the Australian people by putting in place the plans that are going to set Australia up for the future.

Thanks very much.


MEDIA CONTACT: Ryan Hamilton 02 6277 4904