Interview with Kim Landers – ABC Radio National – Tuesday, 17 January 2017




JOURNALIST: Jason Clare is Labor’s Trade Spokesman and he joins me on the line. Jason Clare good morning.


JOURNALIST: Will Labor vote against the TPP when the Government puts the legislation to ratify it before Parliament?

CLARE: Well if the Government introduces legislation then that will go to Shadow Cabinet and we’ll make a decision then but Kim the important point here is the TPP is dead. It’s dead because Donald Trump has killed it. The way this agreement works is unless the United States ratifies the TPP, there is no TPP. There is no agreement.

JOURNALIST: So if it’s dead why doesn’t Labor say that it’s going to vote against it?

CLARE: Well the real question here is why is Malcolm Turnbull distracting the Parliament by introducing legislation to implement a dead agreement. This is the silliest thing that I’ve heard of since the knighting of Prince Phillip. I don’t know what it is about this time of year and Prime Ministers.

JOURNALIST: What are your concerns about the TPP?

CLARE: My view is different to some of the people in that package, I think that the agreement has merit. It has modest economic benefits for Australia, it’s strategically important because it brings together the countries of the Pacific rim. There are concerns with elements of it, in particular the fact that it removes labour market testing for about six countries which means businesses can bring into Australia workers from six countries without first checking if there’s an Australian that can do the job. But the most important point here is that this agreement is dead. The government should be focused on trying to sign Australia up to real trade agreements that create real jobs, not dead ones that don’t.

JOURNALIST: Is this going to be like the China free trade deal where Labor had a lot of concerns, expressed those concerns but after a few amendments ended up voting for it?

CLARE: The difference here is the China free trade agreement, when the legislation went through, created a real deal which has now created new jobs and new business opportunities. If this legislation goes through it won’t create one new job or one new business because passing this legislation won’t ratify the TPP. It won’t make the TPP come into effect. The only way to do that is if Donald Trump changes his mind and if Malcolm Turnbull is so deluded that he thinks that he can get Donald Trump to change his mind then we’ve got lots of lots of trouble. Malcolm Turnbull couldn’t convince Australia to become a republic I don’t think he’s going to convince Donald Trump to change his mind.

JOURNALIST: Well the Trump Administration has been sending conflicting signals. The Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson told his confirmation hearing last week that he didn’t oppose the TPP so isn’t there a chance that Donald Trump might change his mind, might soften his stance?

CLARE: Kim, Donald Trump has said that the TPP is the equivalent of the rape of his country. There is no chance on earth that Donald Trump is going to change his mind here. So if Malcolm Turnbull is serious about trying to create jobs and economic opportunity for Australians, he should look at other trade agreements that are real that are possible. Not ones that are dead and can’t ever be set up.

JOURNALIST: So if you’re so certain that this deal is dead because of Donald Trump’s stance, why not say to the government, look we’re going to vote against it? To send a signal to the government to not even bother perhaps to proceed with this vote?

CLARE: Well what we’re saying, what we said yesterday and what I’m saying today is that this is a waste of time. There is no point wasting the Parliament’s time and tax-payers money debating legislation which is not going to create an extra job because nothing we do here in Australia is going to make the TPP come into effect.

JOURNALIST: Pauline Hanson has tweeted that it seems like Bill Shorten has been reading One Nation policies again so is Labor taking sides with One Nation and Donald Trump?

CLARE: This is common sense, this is simply common sense. Nothing we do here in Australia is going to make this agreement come into effect. I think what this is, is just a distraction. The government doesn’t have an agenda, doesn’t have a plan to create jobs and to turn around the negative economic growth of last year and so they want the Parliament to debate legislation which really is going to have no impact at all because the only way to get this agreement off the ground is if Donald Trump changes his mind.

JOURNALIST: Is this a shift away from Labor’s support for free trade because Malcolm Turnbull is saying that Bob Hawke and Paul Keating would be ashamed about this sort of populism.

CLARE: Again this is nonsense, nonsense. We support good trade agreements that create jobs, not dead ones that don’t. The fact is the Labor Party has a very strong record on trade. The big tariff cuts that not only Paul Keating and Bob Hawke but also Gough Whitlam put in place are responsible for helping to create the open economy which has created more jobs and businesses in Australia. Frankly the trade agreements that the Liberal Party have signed up to pale in comparison to them. So we’ve got the runs on the board and Malcolm Turnbull, instead of trying to get us to debate legislation which won’t have any impact at all, should actually be signing Australia up to some agreements with countries like Indonesia, India, the UK and Europe.

JOURNALIST: If I can turn to another matter now about the furore about ministerial expenses, and the expenses politicians in fact. Would federal Labor back a federal independent commission against corruption, an ICAC?

CLARE: Well we’ve got a corruption watchdog at a federal level at the moment and it looks at organisations like the Federal Police and the Crime Commission. When I was the Minister for Justice I expanded that to cover Customs and parts of Immigration and Agriculture. I think that there is an argument that that should be expanded more broadly and given all the rorting and dodginess…

JOURNALIST: To politicians as well?

CLARE: Well that’s part of it. The expenses is part of it as well as political donations. Bill Shorten said there’s a Senate Committee to look at this. We’ve got an open mind and importantly this shouldn’t be one side of politics arguing for this, both major parties should look at this and there should be a bi-partisan approach to try and address the concerns that Australians obviously have about the rorting and dodginess we’ve seen from this Turnbull Government over the last few weeks.

JOURNALIST: Jason Clare thank you very much for speaking with AM.

CLARE: Thanks Kim.