Interview with Laura Jayes – Sky News – Wednesday 21 September 2016





SUBJECT/S: Immigration Poll, Trade, Trans-Pacific Partnership.

LAURA JAYES: Joining me now is the Shadow Trade Minister Jason Clare, Jason Clare thanks so much for your time. You would have seen this poll today and the commentary around it – 40 percent of Labor voters also apparently supported this ban on Muslim immigration. What’s your sense of this? Why do you think so many voters feel that way?

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT, SHADOW MINISTER FOR RESOURCES AND NORTHERN AUSTRALIA: Think about it, if the only thing you see or hear about Muslims is Islamic terrorism, people blowing things up on the streets of New York or New Jersey, or people committing acts of terror in Paris or anywhere else around the world then of course you’re going to be terrified. You’re going to be afraid. I think you see some of that reflected in these polls. Of course, that doesn’t represent mainstream Muslim Australians.

The point was made earlier today, I think it’s a valid point made, with every wave of migration whether it was the Italians, the Greeks or the Vietnamese community – which I know well because I grew up in Cabramatta – there’s always been I guess a part of the community that’s felt unsafe felt like the new Australians weren’t integrating weren’t settling in.

JAYES: Can I just quickly ask you about the Cabramatta experience, was it as visceral around the Vietnamese? Was there that concern?                                                                              

CLARE: We forget this very quickly but I remember the influx of heroin in Cabramatta, the drug gangs like the 5T, the drug houses and people very concerned that that community wasn’t fitting in. When I was at Canley Vale High School the stereotypical Vietnamese kid was considered to be a drug dealer now that seems a world away today where the typical Vietnamese Australian’s considered to be a doctor, pharmacist or an engineer. They’re a shining light, a great example of this community integrating into Australia.

JAYES: You’re in the seat of Blaxland in Western Sydney, which is a multicultural electorate, do we need to be fair here Jason Clare and say yes, there are some sections of the Muslim community that do want to see Sharia Law, that do want to live under strict Islamic rule and don’t make an effort to integrate? Is that perhaps a lived experience of those in Western Sydney in particular and similar areas around Australia?

CLARE: Not everyone’s the same and there’s going to be different people who’ve got different views about how they want to live their life. But 99.9 percent of Muslim Australians are good hardworking people who are very glad to be here and want to raise their family in safety, get a great job and live a great life. Laura, we’ve got to do one of these shows from Bankstown and talk to more of these people.

JAYES: We’ll take you up on that.

CLARE: I think part of the challenge here and it’s a challenge for politicians and it’s also a challenge for the media is the only time we hear about Muslims is when something terrible, some sort type of terrorist event has happened and that doesn’t tell the full story. I saw that with Cabramatta and everybody considered a drug dealer, and John Howard saying Asian immigration was too high. We look back at that now and see what a remarkable job the Vietnamese community has done integrating into Australian society. Muslim Australians have a bit of a bigger challenge because of what’s happening overseas. But they can do it as well.

JAYES: But how do we get to that stage where we think of the Muslim community like we now do the Vietnamese? Is it just the passage of time?

CLARE: Part of its time, but nothing happens just in an evolutionary sense. It’s hard work, it’s people putting their head down and working together to make sure that people feel like they belong. One of the things I’m most concerned about were some of the things Pauline Hanson said, and to be fair things that Tony Abbott has said in the past, where they’ve used language that make people feel like they don’t belong. That makes the job of police harder, it’s more likely to lead a young person who doesn’t know whether they should be thinking the sort of thoughts that ISIS is telling them over the internet or not. That sort of language tells them this country doesn’t love you, you don’t belong there, you should head overseas or do something extremely evil here in Australia.

I said last week in an interview with Kieran Gilbert, if Pauline Hanson is legitimately concerned about some of these issues – and I’m sure she is – she should sit down and talk to the federal police because they’ll tell her some of the things she’s saying are going to make the job of police harder. It’s going to mean people inside the Muslim community are less likely to come forward and help out and as Malcom Turnbull said only a couple of days ago, some of the things that are being said here are doing the work of ISIS for them because  they’re repeating that message, telling young people who are easily influenced by these malevolent forces overseas that you don’t belong, they don’t love you, you’re not really an Australian.  

JAYES: If I could move on and get you to put your Shadow Trade Minister hat on, I note that you’ve been a lot more optimistic about getting the Trans-Pacific Partnership through, or that passing through Congress. Steve Ciobo, and indeed the Prime Minister, has said that they think the only chance is in this lame duck session, but you think there’s another opportunity?

CLARE: I don’t know if I’m optimistic. I think it’s unlikely that it’ll get through the lame duck session. I think there’s probably more chance of Brad and Angelina getting back together than the TPP getting through the lame duck session. But the point I made today is that if that doesn’t happen then inevitably there’s going to be questions asked by the countries of the Asia Pacific region about what’s next? Now that might mean that focus shifts to another trade agreement, there’s one in the making called the RCEP that involves China and doesn’t involve the United States. Or the next President of the United States might say look we are creating a vacuum here in this important growing part of the world if weren’t not part of a trade agreement. I’m thinking particularly here about a Clinton Presidency, there might be an attempt by the next administration to repechage the TPP and try and renegotiate it on different terms.

JAYES: Perhaps, but Jason Clare aren’t you doing something quite dangerous here, because with the United States one of the biggest sticking points in the TPP has been biologics and this has been one of the big difficult negotiating areas between Australia and the United States. By saying what you’re saying this evening aren’t you flagging to the US that if it doesn’t get thorough by the end of the year in the lame duck sitting period there might be a degree of renegotiation that could go on? 

CLARE: In defence of the Government, the former Minister and the current Minister they’re not for making any changes to what’s been agreed to on biologics. And nor should they.

JAYES: And Labor wouldn’t be open to that either? 

CLARE: Absolutely not ,we wouldn’t be signing up for increasing healthcare costs for Australians. All I’m doing Laura, is stating what I think is common sense, if it doesn’t get through the lame duck a future US Administration can either put the TPP down and do nothing or they can try and renegotiate it. If that renegotiation were to occur sometime next year or the year after, I don’t think either the current Australian Government, or certainly a Labor Government, would be for opening up the decisions that have been made on biologics. We wouldn’t want healthcare costs to be any greater in Australia. 

JAYES: And just quickly if the TPP is eventually killed off altogether, do you fear there could be a vacuum left that China might fill and the United States will lose that opportunity to have strong economic influence in the region?

CLARE: Well I think this goes to the question of the ‘pivot’ or the ‘rebalance’ that the Obama Administration have made the focus of their foreign policy in this region. It’s not just about moving more warships into the Pacific. It’s also about soft power, increasing their diplomatic effort in Asia and increasing their economic power and the TPP is at the centre of that. That’s why I think that the US is not going to turn away from this if the TPP isn’t ratified. Because if the TPP isn’t ratified in the lame duck session there’ll be a lot of countries  in Asia that are disappointed, some that will be angry that it hasn’t been ratified by the US. So I expect that one of two things will happen, either China will take the lead with the RCEP or the United States will look for a different form of agreement. Ultimately what I think potentially will happen here is that there will be a multilateral trade agreement signed up not just by a dozen countries, but potentially more than 20 countries, the countries that make up APEC. APEC is talking now about an Asia Pacific wide free trade agreement. The question in my mind is which of these types of trade deals, TPP or RCEP, forms the foundation stone of that agreement.

JAYES: Jason Clare we are going to have to leave it there, we’ll work on that show in Bankstown. Thanks for your time.

CLARE: Okay, that’ll be great, Thanks.