Interview with Kieran Gilbert – Sky News AM Agenda – Wednesday, 16 September 2015






SUBJECT/S: Malcolm Turnbull’s Mess; Prostate Cancer Awareness – the Big Aussie Barbie

KIERAN GILBERT: This is AM Agenda with me now Labor frontbencher Jason Clare. Your opposite number Mr Turnbull now the Prime Minister. I guess you are waiting to see who the Communications Minister will be next but certainly not a surprise to observers of politics given the last year or so.

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Whoever the next Communications Minister is they’ve got a big job on their hands because Malcolm Turnbull promised in Opposition that he’d build the NBN for $29.5 billion and that has blown out now to $56 billion. It’s doubled – it’s almost doubled in cost over the course of the last two years. So whoever he puts in the job is going to have to clean up Malcolm Turnbull’s Mess there.  

GILBERT: He argues that it’s because of the massive mess that was bequeathed him by the Labor Party.

CLARE: Of course he does. You’d expect Malcolm Turnbull to blame somebody else, but when you look at it, the reason that this has blown out is because he got his assumptions wrong in Opposition and because he’s found out in Government that it’s pretty hard to move from a first class fibre NBN to a second class copper network. It’s taken him longer than he expected to get an agreement with Telstra and the rollout of the fibre to the node in the street technology is a year behind schedule, as well as the rollout of the HFC version of the NBN is even further behind and that’s why the costs blowing out. 

GILBERT: Regardless, it is a high cost, I think the biggest infrastructure project in the nation’s history. So it’s inevitable to have some sort, isn’t it? 

CLARE: And probably the most important. My criticism of the NBN when we were in power is it was rolling out too slow, it’s still rolling out too slow. Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott said they’d do it within three years. They said that they would have 25 megabits per second to everybody by the end of next year. That’s now not going to happen. It’s going to take until 2020. And it’s doubled in cost. Joe Hockey has been heavily criticised because he doubled the deficit but remember this, Malcolm Turnbull has doubled the cost of the NBN and instead of getting fibre, people are getting a second rate NBN instead. 

GILBERT: You must be concerned, are you? In terms of the political prospects of the Government given the polls under Tony Abbott showed they were heading for defeat, with Malcolm Turnbull as leader are you a bit more nervous about that?

CLARE: It’s going to be a tougher contest, I think the polls, it’s early days, too early to tell what the contest is really going to be like. Ed Husic said that people are sort of breathing a sigh of relief that Tony Abbott is gone. I think that is right but I also suspect that people are going to be soon disappointed.

Yesterday looked like a case of attack of the body snatchers. It looked like Malcolm Turnbull but he sounded like Tony Abbott. He was uttering all the same things that Tony Abbott has said about climate change and about marriage as well. I hesitate to say this but today he might even tell us that he’s a monarchist. He might even knight Tony Abbott. He’s gone so far to the right just to get the job, Malcolm Turnbull looks like he’ll do and say anything just to be Prime Minister.    

GILBERT: Lets drill down on a few of those issues though because in terms of climate change, Hunt the Environment Minister is a very strong advocate for action on climate change. Their targets are credible on an international stage and their emissions reduction fund, their first auctions were successful. The argument that has been put to me very forcefully is that when you combine it with a significant renewable energy target and also the penalty mechanism for those that go above businesses usual emissions that you effectively have a carbon price.

CLARE: Two points here. Firstly you are assuming a significant renewable energy target. This Government wants to pull that back not increase it. It’s only Labor that is doing that.

GILBERT: That’s going to happen under this Prime Minister.

CLARE: On Malcolm Turnbull, you challenged Ed Husic earlier and said that Malcolm Turnbull is doing effectively what he did in Opposition. I have got to tell you, that’s wrong. This is a man, who when he was Opposition Leader argued for an Emissions Trading Scheme. When he was rolled by Tony Abbott he crossed the floor and voted with Labor for an Emissions Trading Scheme because he thought this policy, which he is now advocating was a dud. He wrote about it and said it was a dud.

GILBERT: That’s the point of that stage but as you know politics and issues aren’t static. They’ve since put this package together, he sees it works and supports it as a more effective measure than what had been proposed in Opposition. 

CLARE: The question has got to be asked why? Why? He’s made the decision to back it because he’s been forced to. 

GILBERT: Doesn’t he bring more credibility to it, given what we know is his record on this issue, that he believes it, supports action on it. If he says it’s working doesn’t that at least concede that he might have got the previous assessments wrong. 

CLARE: I think it reeks of hypocrisy. At least Tony Abbott only broke the promises that he made the night before the election. What Malcolm Turnbull is showing here is that he is prepared to break with principles he has held most of his adult life. All for one purpose – to be Prime Minister. You’ve seen it in the paper today, he’s wanted to be Prime Minister since he was 20 and he’s been prepared to break what he believes in on climate change as well as on marriage equality all to get the top job. 

GILBERT: Ok, can I finish just with a question about that badge you are wearing. It’s for a good cause, can you just explain to our viewers what this is all about?

CLARE: It’s Prostate Cancer Awareness Month this month. Nine men everyday in Australia die from prostate cancer. More Australians die from prostate cancer than breast cancer and there is not enough awareness of it or enough funding invested in it. So we are encouraging people right across Australia to run Big Aussie Barbies to promote awareness and raise money for research. I can’t think of a better way to get more politicians and journalists together than the smell of sausages and steaks so we are having a big barbecue here today at Parliament House to raise awareness and to tell men across Australia if they are in their forties and fifties than go to the doctor and get a check-up. If you are not a man in your forties or fifties but you know someone who is please tell people, tell men, to go to the doctor and get a check, doesn’t hurt and it might just save your life.            

GILBERT: Jason Clare thanks for that, appreciate it.

CLARE: Thanks Kieran.