Interview with Steve Chase – ABC Newsradio – Wednesday, 16 September 2015





SUBJECT/S: Liberal Leadership

STEVE CHASE: Jason Clare good afternoon. 


CHASE: One of Labor’s key phrases is that nothing has changed now that Malcolm Turnbull has taken over as Prime Minister. That’s patently not true is it? He’s certainly more popular than Bill Shorten so that’s a dramatic change.

CLARE: He looked a lot like Malcolm Turnbull in the Parliament today and yesterday but he sounded a lot like Tony Abbott. The same policies as Tony Abbott on climate change and on marriage equality and that’s the point that we were making. I fear that it looks like Malcolm Turnbull has sold his soul to get this job. He signed an agreement with the National Party for example that says that he won’t change his policies on these two areas. Areas where we know that Malcolm Turnbull has a fundamentally different view than the rest of his party.   

CHASE: Aren’t you selling the electorate short there? They are certainly more discerning than that. According to a Morgan Poll which I am sure you are familiar with, according to that SMS poll of about 1,200 voters, 7 out of 10 preferred Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister, Bill Shorten was favoured by just 24 percent.     

CLARE: Steve I think it is fair to say that the country is breathing a collective sigh of relief. The country was sick of Tony Abbott. They are glad that he is gone. They wish Malcolm Turnbull well but if he is going to be a Prime Minister that follows his Party rather than leads the country then people will quickly be disappointed by him.

CHASE: Well he has only been in power now one full day almost, you asked him questions today about marriage equality and climate change. I think on the issue of climate change he said basically we are actually just putting into place what we’ve decided in the Party’s room.  

CLARE: We only have to go back five or six years and remember that this was the issue that Malcolm Turnbull lost the leadership over, there was a large scale revolt and Malcolm Turnbull said I don’t want to lead a Party that is not as committed to climate change as I am. Then the Liberal Party came up with Direct Action and Malcolm Turnbull called it a farce and used other words I can’t use on radio.   

CHASE: A lot of water has gone under the bridge there, he is now the Prime Minister. Those were views he was expressing in a different capacity.   

CLARE: The thing that hasn’t changed is that the Liberal Party has implemented a policy that five years ago he disagreed with. What’s changed is he’s now advocating and supporting a policy that he voted against and argued against when he was Opposition Leader. That’s the thing that has changed. 

Steve to be fair I think that’s what the people of Australia are going to be a little bit worried about. Is this a man that did whatever it took to become Prime Minister, even selling out things that he has believed in for many, many years.    

CHASE: I’m sure in your career Jason Clare you have been in situations where you’ve sat in Cabinet, where you wouldn’t have necessarily agreed with a particular stance taken by your Cabinet but you backed it because you wanted to stay in Cabinet.

CLARE: That’s the nature of collective government, I agree with that but these are issues of principle that Malcolm Turnbull has defined himself by as a person over many, many years. When you think of Malcolm Turnbull you think of a person who is committed to real action on climate change. He voted with the Labor Party to establish an Emissions Trading Scheme. He’s crossed the floor and voted against the Liberal Party on that. 

You think of a man who is committed to marriage equality. You think of a man who is committed to a Republic. Now to become Prime Minister he has agreed to turn his back on most of those positions. He hasn’t told us he’s a monarchist yet, but on climate change and marriage equality he’s signed up to things that he said very publicly he disagrees with.     

CHASE: Now you in the Labor Party would probably know a little bit more about Malcolm Turnbull than most, you’ve shadowed him in the Communications portfolio for a couple of years, correct me if I’m wrong on that? 

CLARE: Yes, two years. 

CHASE: Now he must have been a formidable opponent for you?

CLARE: He is a formidable opponent but he made a lot of mistakes in the Communications portfolio. The big one was the promise he made before the election.

CHASE: He wouldn’t concede that.

CLARE: I think he would have to concede this and that is that he promised he’d build the second rate version of the NBN that this government is building for $29.5 billion. Two weeks ago he revealed it would cost $56 billion. It’s almost doubled in cost. Tony Abbott got a lot of criticism when he was Prime Minister for breaking promises and doubling the deficit, well Malcolm Turnbull broke this core promise on the NBN and doubled the cost of it. I hope he does a better job as Prime Minister than he did in Communications.    

CHASE: Jason Clare if the speculation is accurate, you will probably get to shadow Joe Hockey on the rebound. He is being earmarked as you know for the Communications portfolio we are told. Is he a target perhaps as Malcolm Turnbull? 

CLARE: Lets wait and see who it is. If it is Joe I wish him well. He will have to clean up this mess that Malcolm Turnbull has created by doubling the cost of the NBN. If it is Joe Hockey then he will also have to implement the half a billion dollars worth of cuts that he ordered to the ABC and to SBS.  

CHASE: Jason Clare we will leave it there, thank you. 

CLARE: Great, thanks Steve.