Interview with Kieran Gilbert – AM Agenda – Wednesday 1 February 2017




KIERAN GILBERT: I’m joined by Labor frontbencher Jason Clare. You have heard some of the concerns here from the regional community, Mr Clare, your thoughts on the issue of energy security, which the Prime Minister is also going to be making a focus on today. He says that the Government and the Coalition is the party of energy security and prices, Labor – the opposite.

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT, SHADOW MINISTER FOR RESOURCES AND NORTHERN AUSTRALIA: Malcom Turnbull has no credibility on this, simply because in the past he has argued the exact opposite. And his own advisers: the CSIRO, the Chief Scientist, the Energy Markets Commission, have all told him that if you implement an electricity intensity scheme, electricity prices will be lower than what he is proposing to do – in the order of $15 billion dollars. So energy prices will be cheaper if you do what Labor is proposing to do, rather than the path Malcom Turnbull is taking which frankly is nothing. The people of Hazelwood, the people of Australia generally, need better from Malcom Turnbull than just a shrill scare campaign from somebody who used to argue the exact opposite when he was Opposition Leader.

GILBERT: I want to ask you some other questions now, some issues of the day, one out of the White House this morning. Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, confirming that under the US deal that they have locked in that they will be taking 1150 asylum seekers from Manus Island and Nauru. That is a significant win for the Government on that significant issue, isn’t it?

CLARE: That’s a good thing. We have argued in favour of that, supported it when it was first announced a couple of months ago. The fact that it is locked in is a good thing. We want to see people off Nauru and off Manus Island and refugees being integrated into a developed country like the United States. So, if that’s locked, that’s terrific.

GILBERT: What does that say about the Turnbull approach to Donald Trump? He is taking him constructively, not issuing any public criticism, as your leader has done – describing the immigration ban, for example, as appalling. Should you be taking a more constructive approach to the US administration? Whether you like it or you don’t you are going to have to deal with them if you are in office.

CLARE: The United States is our closest ally, our best friend in the world. When you’re best friends, when you have a close relationship, like we do with the US, you have to be able to tell your mates when you think they are wrong. This is a case where it would have been very simple for Malcom Turnbull to just say, look we don’t agree with this approach, it’s not the sort of approach we would adopt in Australia. To be frank, some of his own Ministers have said that – Steve Ciobo said that on the weekend on Sky.

The fact that Malcom Turnbull couldn’t say that just shows weakness, and that has been reflected in some of the commentary. Just one extra point Kieran, this latest argument of Malcom Turnbull – that I’ll say these things privately but not publicly, also doesn’t stand the test that he has applied to himself in the past. When Indonesia decided to execute two Australians recently, Malcolm Turnbull took the approach of lecturing the Indonesians very publicly on Q&A. So he has taken a different approach in past, to the approach he is taking now. 

GILBERT: Now at the press club today he is going to be arguing that company tax cuts will be a benefit to average workers, that Labor in the past has supported this argument, that basically company tax is also a tax on jobs and salaries.

CLARE: Kieran I saw the stories in the paper today. If Malcolm Turnbull’s best argument here is that you’ll get $2 a day in 10 years’ time, then I think he is buggered, this is sunk. Because you’ve got families right now struggling to pay to get their kids back to school this week, and his argument is if we past this legislation you’ll get an extra $2 a day by the time your kids are about to finish school. Not enough to even buy a pen.

If you want to increase wages and increase jobs, I’ll tell you the way to do that, and that is to make sure people have better skills and more qualifications. That’ll make sure people get a lot more than just an extra $2 a day in 10 years’ time.

GILBERT: Jason Clare we’re out of time. Shadow Trade Minister we’ll talk to you soon. A quick break. AM agenda here from Morwell at the Hazelwood Power Station, after the break.