Interview with Kieran Gilbert – Sky News AM Agenda – Wednesday 17 February 2016


SUBJECT/S: Negative gearing; NBN; Malcolm Turnbull

KIERAN GILBERT: I am joined by the Shadow Communications Minister, Jason Clare. Jason Clare thanks for your time. Looking at these speech notes from Scott Morrison ahead of his address at the Press Club a lot of the messages are in line with the opinion piece written by the former Prime Minister Paul Keating recently, in the sense that expenditure has got to be below revenue, not push revenue through higher taxes above expenditure. This is the whole message that Keating had, we need to trim our own spending, the world has trimmed us now we got to trim our own spending. It’s consistent with what Mr Keating had said.

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: It’s consistent with what we’ve said – we’ve said there is a spending problem with the budget, but there is also a revenue problem. The key issue is always where do you cut, and when this Government has tried to cut it’s always hit people on lower incomes. It’s always gone to things like GP taxes or pushing up the cost of university degrees.

The Government has been in power now for two and a half years and it’s got a pretty poor record. The deficit has gone up not down, debts gone up not down, unemployment’s up, economic growth is down. This Prime Minister has been in power for six months – and he hasn’t done anything. I think most people would struggle to name five things that this Prime Minister has done. The pressure is on – they’ve got to come up with some serious policy ideas to match the Opposition. We’re the ones who are pushing the policy agenda, not this Government.

GILBERT: Isn’t it easier for an Opposition though Mr Clare, as you know as a former Minister yourself, that Opposition’s can put out ideas here and there, thought bubbles, policies but the Government has got to bring them all together and articulate an integrated plan on, not just tax reform but the whole budget?

CLARE: Kieran this Prime Minister has the benefit of the whole public service to help him put together serious policies for the nation. The Opposition doesn’t have that advantage, we’ve got the assistance of the Parliamentary Budget Office to make sure that all of our policies are properly costed.

Unlike many Opposition’s in the past we are doing the hard, serious work, coming up with big bold policy ideas and this Government all it does is talk.

If waffling was an Olympic sport Malcolm Turnbull would win gold in Rio. All he does is talk. He could talk under water with a mouth full of marbles. The people of Australia need more than talk from this Prime Minister, they need him to make some bloody decisions, not talk and that’s all he does.

GILBERT: There would be a few other people on the podium, just quietly, from this particular place if it was an Olympic sport.

CLARE: Isn’t that the point Kieran. Isn’t that the point people are sick of the talking, they want action and this government is not delivering.

GILBERT: On the issue of negative gearing though, are you sure that you’ve got the balance right on this? By going negative gearing and capital gains tax as well, isn’t this overcooking it? This is the argument from Saul Eslake and Chris Richardson, they say if you did one or the other that would be sufficient in terms of reining in the concessions when it comes to investment property.

CLARE: Think about it, when you or I were at school the cost of the average home was a about three times average income, now it’s six times average income and a lot of people watching this program would have kids in their twenties or thirties that are still at home, stuck at home because they can’t afford to buy a house. Finally there is a party with the guts to do something about this and the policies that we’ve put in place are saying if you want to invest in property then go for it but we want you to invest in new apartments and new homes because that will create more jobs, it will create more homes for people to live in and as well it will give first home buyers the chance to buy their first home instead of compete against investors.

GILBERT: As a Member from Western Sydney you would be reading this infrastructure Australia report very closely and the argument that Mark Birrell is saying, the Chairman, is that we have to look at things like more direct road user payments, things of that sort, also taking on more debt to build infrastructure. These things don’t look to be considered by anyone in politics right now, when he’s saying this could be the reality into the future if we want the sort of infrastructure for the growing population.

CLARE: As a Member of Parliament for Western Sydney I know the problems of congestion very well, coming into this interview means you are stuck in traffic all morning and people do that every single day. This Government has got a pretty poor record on infrastructure. It’s spending less than it promised on infrastructure and where it does build infrastructure, like the NBN, we get a second rate version of it.

Malcolm Turnbull promised he could build the NBN for example for $29 billion, that’s blown out to $56 billion. He said everyone would have the NBN this year. That has now blown out to 2020. He said that the cost of fixing Telstra’s old copper to make his NBN work would cost $55 million that’s blown out by a 1000 per cent Kieran, out to $600 odd million. And one final point, where they are starting to switch on the copper NBN in the Hunter and the Central Coast it’s not working properly. So this Government has made a mess of the NBN and they’ve got a poor record on infrastructure.

GILBERT: We are out of time unfortunately, Jason Clare appreciate it. Thanks for your time this morning.

CLARE: Thanks Kieran.