Interview with Kieran Gilbert – Sky News AM Agenda – Wednesday 18 August 2015






SUBJECT/S: Australian cricket legend Adam Gilchrist; Tony Abbott’s royal commission;Environmental laws

KIERAN GILBERT: With me now, I’ve got Labor Frontbencher, Jason Clare. Jason Clare in to bat after Adam Gilchrist, a tough act to follow but what do you make of that role? I know you’ve met him whilst he’s been in Canberra, that sports-led diplomacy with the University of Wollongong, it’s a good initiative.

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Yeah, it’s a fantastic initiative. Adam originally intended to study Education at the University of Wollongong before he got the opportunity to play cricket at a high level and he would have made a great school teacher but he made an even better wicket keeper/batsman for Australia and I got to meet him for the first time last night. He’s a hero of mine and it’s a privilege to have him here in the Parliament and have him do that great work for a great university. 

GILBERT: Let’s look at the politics of the day now. The Government putting out the outcomes already of this Royal Commission in terms of charges being laid, individuals being referred for further examination to the authorities. I know that Labor is trying to distract from this Royal Commission through the oversight of Dyson Heydon but really, surely, you would support accountability being received here for those responsible for wrong doing within the union movement, we’re talking not just about one or two.

CLARE: Absolutely. If people break the law or if law enforcement believes that people have broken the law, then they should be charged and appear before a court. They should feel the full force of the law. I think that you can make that argument and at the same time say that it’s important that a Judge or a Royal Commissioner must be independent and must be seen to be independent and that’s the problem here. It’s not just the Labor Party that is saying there’s a perception of bias because of the Royal Commissioner’s decision to attend a Liberal Party event. There are a lot of commentators across the board who are saying that there’s a big problem here, there is a perception of bias and on that basis the Royal Commissioner should stand down.

GILBERT: Okay but my question is, do you still want to see an effective outcome here, so another jurist replace Heydon, and then have recommendations and substantial action taken? 

CLARE: We’ve said from the get-go that we need to have serious action taken where people break the law. It could be done through a police taskforce, by the actions of law enforcement. The Government has chosen to do that through a Royal Commission. Where there’s evidence that people have broken the law, they should face the full force of the law. I think that that is an argument which is sound, but by the same token we’ve got a problem here with a Royal Commissioner making the decision to attend a Liberal Party event.

I saw on Sky yesterday David Speers was interviewing Peter Hartcher and Paul Kelly, both very distinguished members of the Press Gallery, both formed the view that there was a perception of bias here because of that decision and that on that basis, the Royal Commissioner should stand down.

GILBERT: And finally, on the issue of the environmental laws and interventions by third parties, should those sorts of protests, legal action that we’ve seen from some green groups, just quickly, your thoughts on that. The Government is trying to block them from stopping big resources projects.

CLARE: Well this seems like a pretty simple fix. It seems that Greg Hunt or his department made a mistake. The courts said they made a mistake and they’ve got to go back and fix that, that’s what should happen. These laws were put in place by John Howard, who’s never been seen to be a great environmentalist. They’ve worked very effectively for the last 15 years, and Philip Ruddock, the Attorney-General at the time has come out yesterday saying there’s no need for these laws so it looks like a government looking for a fight, looking for a distraction rather than meaningful reform.

GILBERT: Jason Clare, appreciate your time.