Interview ABC The World Today – Monday, 24 January 2017



HOST: The Labor Party says that the Government’s plan to ratify the TPP makes no sense without the US onboard. But speaking earlier to Julia Holman, Labor’s Trade spokesperson Jason Clare refused to say if his Party would vote against the deal.

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT, SHADOW MINISTER FOR RESOURCES AND NORTHERN AUSTRALIA: The problem with what the Government wants to do here is the TPP is dead. What I’ve been saying, what Bill Shorten’s been saying is we’ve got unemployment going up in Australia and we’ve got economic growth going backwards. We need the Government to focus on real trade agreements, that’ll create real jobs, like agreements with Indonesia and India, not focusing on implementing legislation to implement a dead agreement that won’t create one single job here in Australia.

JULIA HOLMAN: But what is the harm in voting for the TPP, even if it doesn’t come into effect?

CLARE: Well you introduce legislation to change the law, this legislation would be to cut tariffs. If this legislation passed it wouldn’t cut one tariff or create one job, because it would only come into effect if Donald Trump changed his mind. Now Malcolm Turnbull all of last week said that he thinks he can change Donald Trump’s mind. I think the events of the last 48 hours show that Malcolm Turnbull’s deluded on that matter.

HOLMAN: What will Labor do though if it does come to a vote in the Senate on the TPP? Will you oppose it?

CLARE: If they bring in legislation then it will go through our shadow cabinet process and we’ll make a decision then.

HOLMAN: As Labor’s Trade representative though within shadow cabinet what would you advise the shadow cabinet to do on this topic? Would you advise them to vote for the TPP if it comes to it?

CLARE: Nice try, but I don’t reveal conversations inside shadow cabinet, just as Malcolm Turnbull wouldn’t advise what he says inside the cabinet.

HOLMAN: Is Donald Trump’s position on the TPP somewhat of a convenience for Labor as the unions for instance are opposed to the deal and there are some within your base who don’t want the TPP to be passed?

CLARE: I’ve got a different view to those people I’ve said consistently that I think the TPP has merit, it would have provided modest economic benefits for Australia. There are also problems with it as well. One of the big problems with TPP was that Australia signed away the right to require companies to check if there are Australians who could do jobs first before they bring in workers from six different countries from around the world.

HOLDMAN: There are 11 countries that want the TPP to go into effect; do you think that the Government should prioritise making an agreement amongst those 11 countries?

CLARE: Well the short answer to that question is we just don’t know, and the Government doesn’t know either.

The Trade Minister last year said that without America the benefits to Australia would be substantially less. But I asked the Government for any economic modelling they’ve done on what an agreement without America might look like and they’ve come back and said they haven’t done any. So we don’t know how many jobs it would create or how it would improve economic growth in Australia. Given that the Government now at least admits that they expected Donald Trump to kill off the TPP I think it shows laziness that they haven’t even bothered to check whether an alternate agreement might be good for Australia.

HOST: That’s Labor’s Jason Clare speaking to our political reporter Julia Holman in Canberra.