Interview with Patricia Karvelas – Sky News – Sunday, 19 May 2016


SUNDAY, 19 MAY 2016

SUBJECT/S: Labor Launch; NBN

PATRICIA KARVELAS, HOST: Joining us tonight is the Oppositions Communications spokesperson Jason Clare. He was at the launch today. Welcome to the program.


KARVELAS: Will Labor win? Bill shorten says you will.

CLARE: I am not Nostradamus and I wouldn’t be so arrogant to do what Malcolm Turnbull did last week and just say that we will win. What Bill Shorten said today is that we can win and I think we deserve to win because this has been a bad government, a divided government over the last three years. We are a united opposition with better policies. We’ve got more than 100 policies. You’d struggle to name more than one policy that Malcolm Turnbull has, a $50 billion tax cut for multinational businesses and that was only his third plan. His first plan was a GST, his second plan was to give States the right to levy their own income taxes. Plan ‘C’ was this idea of a $50 billion tax cut. I don’t think it’s good enough to rely just upon that and argue the case that you should be re-elected on that basis.

KARVELAS: Lets go to some of these scare campaigns because I am seeing them on both sides and I think kind of equal numbers actually, everyone is trying to scare the pants off the electorate. Let’s see if the electorate is too smart and can see through some of these scare campaigns on both sides. We’ll start with your Medicare scare campaign. Medicare isn’t about to be privatised is it?

CLARE: You might trust Malcolm Turnbull on this Patricia, but I certainly don’t. The Labor Party created Medicare and ever since we created it under Bob Hawke the Liberal Party has tried to tear it down. In the 84 election, in the 87 election, the 1990 and 1993 elections, the Liberal Party always went to those elections promising to tear Medicare down. When Tony Abbott was elected three years ago on the promise that there would be remember ‘no cuts to health’ he subsequently tried to introduce a tax for people to go to the doctor of something like $7. Now through the freezing of the GP rebate, which Malcolm Turnbull has imposed until the end of this decade, the GP’s themselves are saying that that would mean that many doctors will end up charging patients $20 to go to the doctor. It’s something that the AMA opposes. It’s something that his own Health Minister says is a bad idea and she would like to reverse. So you’ve already got that, this first attack on Medicare through undermining bulk billing, forcing more people to pay to go to the doctor. Then you’ve got the freeze on pathology, x-rays, mammograms, MRI’s that will force a lot of people to pay hundreds of dollars for those types of tests and now this third tranche, this PWC analysis and PC work on Medicare itself I think that should strike fear into the hearts of many people. They know the Liberal Party’s record on Medicare, you wouldn’t trust them as far as you can throw them on this.

KARVELAS: The Prime Minister though has ruled out handing the payment system to the private sector today. That’s crystal clear now, he said he won’t do it. So how can you argue again on that central argument. Even the other things you just raised they are not privatisation, you might say some of them are fee hikes arguably but they are not privatisation.

CLARE: It’s broader than privatisation though Patricia, it is the undermining the essence of Medicare. Most people when they put their hand in their purse or in their wallet they will find a green card. That green card, that Medicare card is what makes this country so great. It means if you’re crook you can go to the doctor and you are going to be looked after whether you are wealthy or whether you are poor. What I am saying is, broader than this attempt to privatise Medicare it is the fundamental undermining of this system, which I am so against, which the Labor Party is so against and which most Australians would be very angry about. This is what they are trying to do, The AMA is against it, but in addition to that his own Health Minister has said she would like to reverse these cuts as well but she can’t get it through the Treasurer, the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister.  

KARVELAS: Today you had a new promise to give small businesses an additional $20,000 a year tax deduction for taking on new employees, people under 25, people over 55 or parents returning to employment after parental leave.

CLARE: That’s right.

KARVELAS: Is that your entire job creation strategy? It’s a pretty lean policy, what is it? 30,000 jobs.

CLARE: It’s not Patricia.

KARVELAS: It’s not a mass job strategy.

CLARE: You want to see our jobs strategy, lets go through it one by one. The innovation plan that Malcolm Turnbull announced late last year is effectively a cut and paste of policies Bill Shorten, Ed Husic and I announced last year. When it comes to tax cuts for business we say we support a tax cut for small business with revenue less than $2 million, but we are not prepared to support Malcolm Turnbull’s tax cuts for big businesses. If you really want to make a difference and you really want to create more jobs you need to invest in education and you need to invest in infrastructure. That’s why we say we will fully fund Gonski measures, as well as that, in the area of infrastructure we’ll build a first rate version of the NBN, not the slower second rate copper version of the NBN that Malcolm Turnbull is building. You want to create jobs, fast broadband creates jobs.

KARVELAS: On that point, this is obviously your policy area, do you think Australians will really buy you can get more with the same amount of money? That’s what you are arguing in your policy and it kind of defies every basic economic principle. It just defies logic. The assumptions you based it on are also not based on what NBN Co claims is actually going on.

CLARE: Our policy that we announced this week is based on information, publically available information from NBN Co. Let me explain how it’s funded because it’s a big project worth $56 – $57 billion. Half of that or a bit more, $29.5 billion is funding from the Australian taxpayer and under our policy, as well as under the Liberal Party’s policy that investment is the same, $29.5 billion. The rest of the funding, something in the order of $26 -$27 billion is private sector investment in the NBN Company.

What we have said is we can roll out fibre-to-the-home to up to 2 million more homes and businesses. The capital cost of doing that is higher, it’s about $3.4 billion higher but the operating cost of running that system is lower than running a copper based NBN because you don’t have the cost of maintaining, fixing and upgrading the old Telstra copper. You also don’t have the cost that comes with the electricity bill of running those 30,000 nodes that Malcolm Turnbull wants to build around the country.

The other part of this Patricia that I am sure you will appreciate is that the internal rate of return is different as well. By building a network in this way the internal rate of return is higher, which means more revenue back to the Australian taxpayer. What’s often forgotten with the NBN is that this makes money for the Australian taxpayer over time.

KARVELAS: One of the men alleged to have leaked damaging information about the National Broadband Network that led to those police raids during the election campaign has been revealed as a Labor Party member. The Weekend Australian has learnt that one of the suspected leakers of the commercial-in-confidence information had been moonlighting as an official at the Sydney ALP branch. Can you tell me more about this? Can you confirm if this is the case?

CLARE: Patricia this is an investigation that is ongoing by the Australian Federal Police, I am sure you’d appreciate that it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment on an investigation that’s currently underway. I’d make the general point that this is a $56 – $57 billion public infrastructure project and the Australian people have a right to know what is going on with it. The information that has been revealed out of NBN Co shows the mistakes that Malcolm Turnbull has made here. The cost of building a copper NBN is triple what he said it would be. That the cost of fixing the old copper has blown out by a thousand percent and that the company is not meeting all of the internal targets that it set for itself.

It comes on top of all of the information we are getting that where they are rolling out this copper version of the NBN it’s not working properly. Where they are switching it on  in places like the Hunter, the Central Coast or in Bundaberg  it’s working ok in the morning and then when people  come home from school or from work we’re finding that speeds are dropping to slower than ADSL. Slower than they’ve got before. Some of the people that Malcolm Turnbull and Mitch Fifield have appointed to the board of the NBN themselves have said that they think his is the wrong approach. One of them said fibre-to-the-node ‘sucks’. The other one has said this is an area where they want to see change.

KARVELAS: Jason Clare many thanks for joining me tonight and I hope you survive the next two weeks. The Prime Minister has the flu, you never know what can happen. Take care.

CLARE: Only two weeks to go, Bill Shorten seems to be getting stronger and fitter as the campaign goes on. He’s looking older and tired. Two weeks to go.

KARVELAS: He’s got the flu you’re being unkind.

CLARE: He called a winter election.

KARVELAS: He did, thank you very much.