Interview with Kieran Gilbert – AM Agenda – Wednesday, 01 March 2017


WEDNESAY, 01 MARCH 2017                             

SUBJECT/S: Racial Discrimination Act, Penalty Rates, Indonesia Free Trade Agreement

KIERAN GILBERT: With me on the program now the Shadow Trade Minister, Jason Clare. On 18 C Ed Husic says it’s more about internal fights within the Coalition but isn’t it a genuine discussion on free speech as well.

JASON CLARE: The Government’s been distracted on this and obsessing about it for four years now rather than doing their job. Scott Morrison’s right this doesn’t create a job all it does is expose the division in the Liberal Party. They’re obsessed with this issue about whether it should be legal to harass or intimidate or offend people based on the colour of their skin. It shows how divided the Government is, but also shows how out of touch they are.

GILBERT: Can’t they through this process though come up with a compromise that does streamline, improve the Human Rights Commission processes for example?

CLARE: Sure, you can always improve the process, but what we should never do is change the law to make it legal to harass or offend or intimidate someone based on the colour of their skin. This is what Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott, the whole show in the Liberal Party and the National Party have been obsessed about for four years instead of focusing on creating jobs in this country and it in part explains why the people have turned off this bad government .

GILBERT: The advocates of change or some of them say that taking offense is entirely a subjective emotion, what do you say to that?

CLARE: What do they want to say today, that they can’t say now? I represent a community that’s very, very multicultural that I don’t think would be too happy about changing the law to make it legal to offend them, to harass them or intimidate them based upon the colour of their skin. If the Government wants to continue doing this then they’re just going to go down and down in the polls. If Malcolm Turnbull has any courage he’ll put a pin in this today and say this is over, let’s focus on the real things that matter in Australia, let’s focus on jobs and rather than this frolic of the Liberal Party.

GILBERT: Your seat in Western Sydney also has a high rate of youth unemployment. The argument with this Fair Work Commission ruling is that it will create more hours, more jobs for young people on the weekend for example.

CLARE: I know how important penalty rates are, I worked at Sizzler Carramar in my electorate and it helped get me through university and pay the bills. I suspect what’s going to happen here is it’ll mean that people will work more hours for less pay.

Do we really want to be the sort of country that says the solution to unemployment is to cut everyone’s pay? Should we cut your pay in half and we can have another presenter here? Is that the approach? I don’t think so. To understand how big this is – I think this is the first time since the Great Depression that the industrial relations commission has actually cut the award minimum wage, if it isn’t its very, very rare. People are going to be worse off.

GILBERT: Not since 1904

CLARE: Well if it happened since then it must be rare. WorkChoices which exploded across the country, more than a million people had their pay cut. It eventually forced John Howard to cave in and say he’d introduce a change to the law so no one would be worse off. People will be worse off here – $77 a week if you work on a Sunday. Potentially thousands of dollars a year worse off. Up to 700,000 people. Malcolm Turnbull is eventually going to have to cave in here otherwise he’s going to leave people worse off.

GILBERT: Last issue I want to ask you about is the Indonesia trade negotiations. You’d welcome that? This is a totally underdone economic relationship given this huge nation on our doorstep.

CLARE: Absolutely, and I’ve said that I welcome the fact that the Government is focused on a free trade agreement with Indonesia. It’s our next door neighbour, a country with 250 million people potentially the fourth biggest economy in the world by the middle of this century and it is massively underdone at the moment. I am hopeful that the Government is going to deliver a first class trade agreement by the end of the year.

GILBERT: Mr Clare thanks for your time.