Interview with Kieran Gilbert – AM Agenda – Wednesday, 12 October 2016


SUBJECT/S: US Election, Trade, Cyber Security.

KIERAN GILBERT: With me now I’ve got Labor front-bencher Jason Clare, and we saw the Opposition Leader yesterday really doubling down in terms of his language on Mr Trump. It’ll be a tough situation not just for Mr Shorten, but for a number of Liberals as well if Trump does win given their various comments.

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT, SHADOW MINISTER FOR RESOURCES AND NORTHERN AUSTRALIA: Trump’s a special case, what other Presidential candidate has been caught out on tape boasting about sexually assaulting women, which is effectively what he’s done. I think you can’t just let those sorts of remarks pass by. It’s not just Bill Shorten who’s condemned them. Malcolm Turnbull has done the same thing.

You’ve now got Republicans like Paul Ryan, every surviving Republican US President walking away from this bloke at a hundred miles an hour. I think the only Republican candidate for President still alive that is sticking by him is Bob Dole. I think that tells you everything about this bloke and why not just Bill Shorten, but people around the world are hoping he doesn’t win come November.

GILBERT: Well as you say Bill Shorten is hoping that and most of the Labor Party. But do you think that’s the feeling across the Australian community that people are keeping their fingers crossed in large part that Trump doesn’t get there?

CLARE: Can a toupee rise twice? It’s a two horse race anyone can win. I think that probably the biggest risk for Hillary is complacency that people think that she’s going to win in a landslide and don’t turn out to vote, or that Trump drops out of the race altogether and Pence is able to – I don’t know if it’s too late for him to get on the ticket – but that’s probably a big risk as well. Whoever wins the alliance remains strong, that’s the key point to make.

GILBERT: Well that’s the point you try and make but the fact is that if Trump does win for both sides my view is it’s going to be very, very tough. Obviously you won’t concede that. Let’s talk about one relationship that is strong, and that’s Singapore. The son of Lee Kuan Yew, the current Prime Minister, the first to address the Parliament today Lee Hsien Loong, and an expanded trade relationship you would welcome that?

CLARE: Absolutely. We’ve got a great and very strong relationship with Singapore that goes back a very long way. Anything that we can do to boost and bolster that trade relationship and defence cooperation – we’ll hear more about the ability for the Singapore military to train in Australia – anything that we can do on that front we welcome.

It sort of reminds me of the remarks of his father, almost forty years ago now where he said that if Australia didn’t reform we risk becoming the ‘poor white trash of Asia’. Those harsh but fair remarks helped to wake us out of that economic stupor we were in in the 70’s and drive the sort of big economic reforms that Hawke and Keating administered in their governments that make us the economy we are today.

GILBERT: And that expanded military relationship comes at a sensitive time in the region. We all know that increasing assertiveness of China in the South China Sea, but this is going to see the Singaporean military presence from 6,000 to 14,000, and incidentally going to be using military areas 10 times the size of Singapore. So there are obvious benefits to both sides in that.

CLARE: Singapore is a very small place. If you want to train it’s very hard to do it all in Singapore and that’s why this relationship has been in existence for such a long time. If we can build on that that’s a good thing, but ultimately the success of Australia, the success of Singapore in the region depends on peace and building a strong economic framework across the region where we all can prosper. And there’s no reason to believe that can’t be made possible.

GILBERT: You’re a former Home Affairs Minister, just finally one of the security issues relating to China again, Russia as well, that of cyber-security. Are our agencies up to the threat?

CLARE: Well this is one of those issues where both major parties are on the same side. It’s a big issue, a serious threat, one that will only get bigger and more problematic, I think, in the future.

When I was Home Affairs Minister I organised a meeting in the US of the five eyes Homeland Security Ministers, including Theresa May who was a Home Affairs Minister at the time. It’s one of those areas where we can only be successful if we work together, sharing information amongst other countries – like minded countries, but also working with Australian companies because they’re targets of this as well. Often people will say there are two types of companies: the ones that have been hacked and the ones that don’t know they’ve been hacked. If we’re serious about this we need to look at it at a military level but also at corporate Australia as well.

GILBERT: Jason Clare I appreciate your time. Thank you.

CLARE: Thank you.