Interview with Laura Jayes – Sky News – Tuesday, 30 August 2016







LAURA JAYES: Joining me now is the Shadow Trade Minister Jason Clare, congratulations on your new portfolio we haven’t spoken to you since that appointment, but let’s talk about the Omnibus bill first will Labor support it, and when will we know?

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT, SHADOW MINISTER FOR RESOURCES AND NORTHERN AUSTRALIA: The bill has now been provided to the Opposition, I think it gets introduced into the Parliament tomorrow, it’s a big bill, 600 pages, we’ll use the time between now and the next sitting week, when the bill will be debated to run the ruler over everything, but we’ll be constructive. We’ve made the point that the Government has got challenges here, the deficit’s tripled under their watch, you’ve got a AAA credit rating under threat. We made a number of commitments during the election and we want to use this time, between now and the next sitting week, to check that everything the Government has said is in this bill is actually in the bill.

JAYES: If that is on the face of it what is in these bills –

CLARE: Remember last week we got asked to tick it off before we’d seen it. We now know that last week the Government said there were 21 measures worth I think $6.5 billion in the bill. The bill has now been provided to us and there’s 24 measures worth $6.1 billion, so I think it’s legitimate for the Opposition last week to say we need to see it.

JAYES: Well Scott Morrison did argue this morning that’s because of when these bills were actually meant to come into effect, so there’s timing issues there.

CLARE: Sure, and we’ll be constructive. But I think it’s legitimate for an Opposition to say let’s have a good look at it, run the ruler over all of it, and to be fair we’ve said in addition to this bill which constitutes over $6 billion worth of savings, we’ve said if you want to go further here’s another package of measures worth over $8 billion which will provide you more savings. In addition to that the superannuation reforms that the Government wants to bring in to place, we’ve got problems with that due to retrospectivity. You can do it in a different way and save more money for the budget. So that’s an example of an Opposition being constructive. 

JAYES: There will not be any problems with some of the Caucus members when it comes to the climate change bills here, the savings out of ARENA, do you anticipate there might be some back and forth in Caucus over that?

CLARE: We’ll have to look at it all, measure it up against what we committed to before the election and that’s a task for the Shadow Treasurer, the Shadow Finance Minister, to go through over the course of the next week.

JAYES: What about the same-sex marriage plebiscite, because we saw Bill Shorten announce this afternoon that Labor will push on with a Private Members Bill. Now this is a stunt isn’t it                                                                             

CLARE: Not at all, it’s the quickest, best way to do it. If the Government decides to proceed with introducing legislation to the Parliament to push a plebiscite look at what cross-benchers have said in the Upper House. It seems unlikely that it would pass. You only have to look at what gay and lesbian advocates have been saying in the media to understand the reticence of the Labor Party to go down a differentpath. 

JAYES: What I have been hearing from same-sex marriage advocates is that not all of them are against the plebiscite. We see another Essential poll this afternoon that shows that the majority of people do want to see same-sex marriage but there is a lot of support in the community for this to be sorted out via a plebiscite. We’ve just had an election, why is Labor ignoring all those indications?

CLARE: Overwhelming support in the community, I hear what you’re saying, that’s true, a lot of support for plebiscite in the community generally, but in the gay and lesbian community you’ll hear a little different story. 

JAYES: Where’s the evidence for that? That’s anecdotal –                                                                                 

CLARE: Well talk to a number of my colleagues who have consulted the community, that’s the feedback they’re getting. It’s easy for us siting back as heterosexual married people to say what’s the big deal? But if you’re hearing from the gay and lesbian community, the LGBTI community, that they’re that concerned about this that they’d rather wait, then I think it is legitimate to think again.

I don’t want to be melodramatic, but someone in a conversation I had recently said if it’s a choice between a number of hundred people getting married in the next few years, or someone potentially taking their life, then I’d rather wait. Sounds melodramatic I know, but that’s something that’s been put to me.

JAYES: There’s also those in the same-sex community who believe that Bill Shorten is playing politics on this issue because it suits his political agenda, so what do you say to them, who have been waiting perhaps decades for this? And now they’re going to have to wait potentially a few more years.                                                                                                                                                                                       

CLARE: Labor has been advocating for this for a very, very long time. I know the first time we had a vote in the Parliament on this and I was sitting on the yes side, right next to Bill Shorten, who was sitting with me in that vote, when we were in the minority. So he’s had firm views on this for a long time.

On the plebiscite itself I think the people arguing for this in the Liberal Party are made up from two different groups. There’s one group who doesn’t want to see a change to the law and they see a plebiscite as a way of stalling progress there, and there’s another group in the Liberal Party who privately support changing the law but are worried about how their electorates will react. Now my argument to them as somebody when it was first voted upon a number of years ago, who represents an electorate where it’s not very popular, is have the courage of your convictions and be prepared to vote your conscience.

JAYES: Okay, it is a very tough issue indeed. But where just two months after an election, a very long one you’d agree . Does Labor recognise Malcolm Turnbull has a mandate for anything?

CLARE: Malcolm Turnbull has a mandate to govern, he doesn’t have a mandate for all of the different things that he took to the election, given the simple fact that he’s gone from 90 members in the House of Representatives down to 76, a bare majority of one. If he wants to be successful as Prime Minister and if this Government wants to be successful, they genuinely need to reach across the aisle. They need to work with Labor or they need to try and herd 9 votes out of 11 for every bill they put to the Parliament. 

We have demonstrated good faith and said we’ll be constructive with you on the Omnibus Bill, we demonstrated good faith in the last Parliament on lots of bills, including national security, but it’s in Malcolm Turnbull’s interest if he wants to be successful to reach across the aisle and work with us, just like he did on the China Free Trade Agreement in the last Parliament – use that perhaps as a template for the legislative program he’s got now. 

JAYES: Nice segue to your portfolio as Shadow Trade Minister, what do you think the priorities for this term are, I know Steve Ciobo is working on an agreement with Indonesia, there’s  the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that has a very small window of opportunity of passing through the lame duck sitting of Congress, there’s the Indian free trade agreement that seems like it’s going to be difficult to strike. What is the priority in your mind?

CLARE: Well I think Indonesia is a good place to start, I think it’s right of the Minister to make his first visit to Indonesia. Indonesia is our next door neighbour, it’s an economy which is growing. By the end of this decade, or soon into the next decade, it will be bigger than Australia and it’s strategically important to Australia. So putting focus there is important, we’re underdone when it comes to trade with Indonesia. 

On the TPP it looks increasingly unlikely that were going to see the United States ratify that. It’s important to keep in mind if the United States doesn’t ratify the TPP then it’s dead, because unless the United States ratifies it, the agreement itself amongst all the 11 other nations doesn’t get ratified, doesn’t get established.

JAYES: It’s all very messy at the moment, and there’s also the UK and the EU to come as well in the wake of Brexit. But Jason Clare we’re going to have to leave it there, we’ll have to get you back for a longer conversation about your portfolio areas. Good luck tomorrow I should be saying that to all members of the House. Jason Clare thank you.

CLARE: Thanks Laura.