Interview with Kieran Gilbert – AM Agenda – Monday 9 April 2018




SUBJECTS: Newspoll, trade war

KEIRAN GILBERT: Joining me live now is the Shadow Trade Minister Jason Clare. I wanted to ask you about something that’s been resonating on the markets a bit, the trade row between the US and China in a moment but first on the Newspoll. You’ve heard all the commentary. From a Labor perspective how do you see this because obviously a win today is one thing but really the Prime Minister is right when he says that the poll that counts is about, May next year?

JASON CLARE: Well I guess what I’d say is that the Australian people have had a gutful of all of this. Over the last 12 months the government has been focused on everything but them. We’ve had the dual citizenship debacle and bounced after Christmas into the Barnaby Joyce sex scandal and now this. This is right over the front page of every newspaper in the country and the reason it’s on the front page is because this is the test that Turnbull set to get rid of Tony Abbott. Now it’s come around like a boomerang and sconed him in the back of the head.

From my point of view what’s important isn’t what Malcolm Turnbull said two and a half years ago it’s what he’s done since. The steaming example of that is last year’s budget where he gave a tax cut to millionaires and he increased taxes on nurses and other people on modest incomes. That was when I think the Australian people said that this bloke doesn’t get it. He’s out of touch. He’s just another multimillionaire only interested in helping other millionaires and he doesn’t really understand the pressures that ordinary people are facing.

GILBERT: Well if all of that’s true and it’s not the best catalogue of performance really as you’ve put it this morning and if you are right and that’s true, why aren’t you further ahead? 52 – 48 isn’t that far in front.

CLARE: Well politics is a two horse race. Every federal election is close and the next one is going to be close as well but the big difference between the two parties is Labor is united, and the Liberals and Nationals aren’t. You saw that again just a moment ago. You asked Julie Bishop if she’d put her hand up or if she’d rule out putting her hand up to be Prime Minister and she refused to do that twice. You’ve got Tony Abbott on TV this morning saying we should make sure there’s no instability but he makes himself available for a press conference. This just reminds the Australian people about the fighting and the back-stabbing going on inside the Liberal Party while on the other side of politics the Labor Party is doing the hard yards putting together the policies that the Australian people want. Policies to make sure that our hospitals are better, that our education system is better and that our tax system is fairer. Policies that we’re preparing to take to the next election.

GILBERT: Yeah. It’s a two horse race but if one of the horses is struggling as much as you say, why is Labor’s primary vote not higher? You’re down a further two points today. I know we’re marking 30 Newspolls for Turnbull but still have you taken a hit because of that dividend tax change that you announced? Is that what you see showing up this morning?

CLARE: No I don’t and I don’t think that’s what we saw out of the last Newspoll either. I’d just make this point – you’ve got the Labor Party that’s united, you’ve got the Liberal Party at each other’s own throats. You’ve got Bill Shorten that is putting together bold courageous policies. The sort of policies this country needs to set us up for the future and the Liberal Party all over the shop. The other thing I’d say is that you’ve got Bill Shorten as Leader of the Labor Party who understands the problems and the challenges that working people are going through and you’ve got a Prime Minister like Malcolm Turnbull, we saw out yesterday kayaking on Sydney Harbour, who wouldn’t know a working class person if he fell over them on the street.

GILBERT: Onto that other issue I mentioned off the back of the markets and the numbers, what’s your view on where this is at? Donald Trump believes that the Chinese will compromise. You’d certainly hope there’s some sort of compromise because at the moment it’s spiralling out of control from all appearances but not from his view.

CLARE: I’d hope so. I’m an optimist. I’ve got to think that these two titans, these two giant countries are going to reach a deal because if they don’t, if this escalates from tit-for-tat tariff increases into a genuine trade war, then both countries will suffer but more than that, the whole world will suffer. We’re talking about two countries that make up almost half of the world’s combined GDP. If they get involved in a trade war then for Australia it means the dollar will drop, it means the price of our commodities will drop, mining and construction in particular will suffer and most importantly thousands and thousands of jobs will be lost. I think there’s a role that Australia and the Australian Government can play here. I made a speech about this last week and I said we’re respected by both China and the United States and if Malcolm Turnbull has got the time today he should pick up the phone, talk to Beijing and talk to Washington, and encourage the two countries just to take a step back from the dangerous brinkmanship we’re seeing at the moment and do a deal. Do a deal for all our sake.

GILBERT: Well I think all of our viewers would agree that there’s some sort of deal done before it gets any worse. Jason Clare thank you for that I appreciate it.


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