Interview with ABC Weekend Breakfast – Saturday 30 November 2019





Taylor; Ensuring Integrity Bill; Melanoma Awareness


It’s time now for our Saturday pollie panel in a week of a surprise defeat of
the government’s flagship union crackdown legislation.

HOST: Joining us to discuss this and more are the Shadow Minister for Housing Labor’s
Jason Clare and Nationals’ Senator Perin Davey who’s in Wodonga. Thanks both of
you for joining us this morning. So with this Ensuring Integrity Bill, Perin I
might start with you. The Government seemed to be caught a bit off guard by the
lack of support for this bill and Jacqui Lambie said that she’d warned the
Government that their numbers were falling back a bit and that she said that
they were a bit too cocky to come to her for her vote. What’s your response to


SENATOR PERIN DAVEY: Well you know we had eleven hours of debate in the Senate on this Bill and then
a further four hours discussing amendments. We had negotiated amendments with
the crossbenchers in good faith and we debated those amendments. We got the
amendments through that had been asked for us and then to have the turnaround
by Pauline Hanson at the eleventh hour effectively. Yes it was a surprise to us
because we had had those good faith negotiations. We gave her all the
amendments she wanted. So it’s really now up to Pauline to explain why. What
changed in her mind to make her vote against this bill.


HOST: Well some were suggesting that that was Pauline Hanson trying to send a message
to the Government to say that her vote counts. Would you say that she was
trying to do that?


DAVEY: Some say that but also if you look at the media this morning some are also
saying that this is all about the Queensland election and a deal that has been
done with the CFMMEU but it is entirely up to Pauline to outline why she
changed her mind. Why she made us sit through four hours of amendment debates
for amendments that she had no intention of then passing the final bill.


HOST: I don’t think it’s clear. We don’t know whether or not she had no intention
ever. We don’t know what the time line of her thinking was about this. Jason if
I could just bring you in here. I mean one of the concerns about the
legislation. Obviously Labor opposes the legislation. But one of the concerns
that crossbenchers and One Nation have expressed is that it could be more
targeted. It could be just going against John Setka. It could be just trying to
address the scandal that we know exists in one corner of the union movement
without casting a broad brush against the entire union movement. Would Labor
consider it if it were more targeted or are you saying no to any kind of reform
of the unions?


JASON CLARE: At the same time that you’ve got Westpac accused of what, twenty three million
breaches of the law, and the Government saying they weren’t going to do
anything about that, you’ve got them trying to ram this legislation through the
Parliament which would’ve meant in some circumstances you could have three
breaches when it comes to paperwork and a union could get shut down. I think
what Pauline Hanson was saying was what most Australians would be thinking – is
that that’s all a bit over the top. You know you could have a situation where
you have nurses at a hospital handing out pamphlets to patients about nurse to
patient ratios and if that’s not approved industrial action, then that could
shut down the Nurses Union. This gives you an idea about just how over the top
this legislation was.


HOST: I understand that and obviously we’ll get Senator Davey’s thoughts about
whether or not there is a certain hypocrisy in the Government’s position
towards white collar misdeeds and blue collar misdeeds. But I just want to get
your thoughts about, are you saying that the whole John Setka issue is not
something that you would consider addressing in more targeted legislation?


CLARE: We would always look at legislation on its merits but I think the important
point I’d make is that unions play an important role in our society. They play
an important role in making sure that people don’t get ripped off and that they
get paid properly. We’ve seen too many examples of that from restaurants and
celebrity chefs in the last few months. They play an important role in making
sure that people are safe at work. We just heard a story there about someone
who died just around the corner from here at a worksite. Unions play an
important role in our society. I think the Liberal Party’s view is that they’re
just another organisation to attack if they want to attack the Labor Party and
through the Labor Party to be able to attack ordinary Australian workers.


HOST: Senator does the Government unfairly target unions?


DAVEY: Let me make it clear this Bill was not about unions. This Bill would apply to
both unions and other registered organisations industry bodies. It would have
applied equally across the board. I absolutely agree that unions have a very
important role to play in our workplace. They do fabulous work ensuring our workplace
health and safety regime is rolled out appropriately and ensuring our workers
get paid. However sometimes they take industrial action that has a cost and it
has a cost to our infrastructure industries our building industries and we just
want to make sure that through this Bill people act in good faith. And when
there are repeated breaches of the law, and that was an important amendment
that was made, where there are repeated breaches of the law action can be
taken. And just on the Westpac issue there are things happening there. And we
have corporate laws in place that apply to corporations and Westpac has now
taken action. The CEO has stood down rightly so. So it’s a bit of a stretch to
say that there is nothing that can happen to Westpac. There is action.


HOST: But Senator it’s a bit of a stretch that doomed your Party’s legislation, the
Government’s legislation, because it’s a bit of a stretch that Pauline Hanson
is the one who’s citing. She says and I quote: “What I pick up from the public
is a crystal clear view that this government and past governments have one rule
for white collar crime and a much harsher rule for blue collar crime.”


DAVEY: Well I don’t agree with her assertion at all. This Bill is about registering
union officials or unions that breach the law. It’s as simple as that.


HOST: Jason Clare the Government has vowed to reintroduce this Bill. Is Labor
confident that the result will be the same?


CLARE: Well look you never really know. The Senate’s a bit like that box of chocolates
from Forrest Gump. You never know what you’re going to get. I’ve seen some
pretty stupid things in politics over my years, but what Christian Porter did
yesterday which is just do a press conference and attack Pauline Hanson for not
doing what he wanted and vote for this legislation and then think that he can
get her to change her mind and vote for it, is pretty stupid. It all goes to
the character of this Government. When they don’t get their way they throw
their toys out of the cot. You know the mask has been taken off this week and
you’ve seen the true nature of this Government. They won’t answer questions in
Parliament. They won’t stand down a minister who is under investigation by the
police and they get angry when Pauline Hanson on a very rare occasion doesn’t
vote for them. You know my three year old son throws fewer tantrums than this


HOST: Well you flagged our second topic there. The Government has been questioned
hard on the issue of Angus Taylor this week. This is regarding the potential
doctoring of documents that Angus Taylor used to accuse the Sydney Lord Mayor
Clover Moore of excessive travel expenditure. There’s now a New South Wales
Police investigation over this. Senator Davey do you think it was appropriate
for the Prime Minister to call the New South Wales Police Commissioner Mick
Fuller directly about this investigation? 


DAVEY: Absolutely. My understanding and the Prime Minister told the House of
Representatives that he was going to make that phone call so it was no surprise.
He made a phone call to find out what was going on because sometimes you can’t
just rely on media reports. You actually have to find out and go to the source
directly just to find out what’s going on. That’s what the Prime Minister did
and then he came back to the House of Representatives and he told the House of
Representatives that he had made the call. So there was nothing, no hidden
agendas whatsoever. He was he was just making calls to find out what was going


HOST: Is there anything wrong with that Jason? I mean obviously you can put the most
negative possible partisan spin on it and say that a Prime Minister shouldn’t
be interfering in the police investigations at a state level. But on the other
hand if you want to figure out whether or not it’s prudent to stand down one of
your ministers why not go to the source who knows the most about the


CLARE: Sure, but it’s how you do it. I was the Minister for Home Affairs for the best
part of two years and I never rang the Federal Police Commissioner to ask about
an investigation, certainly not an investigation that involved another
politician. This is a schoolboy error. Everybody knows that this is not the way
you do it. If you want that information you get the head of the Prime Minister’s
Department to ring the head of the Premier’s Department. Why? Because there
needs to be a separation here. You can’t have the Prime Minister ring the
Police Commissioner saying what are you investigating and why. Now we hear that
they got into the substance of the investigation. It just creates the
perception of interference and perception is enough here to create a problem.


HOST: Senator the Prime Minister obviously does carry a lot of weight, a lot of
influence. Why was it him that made the call and not a member from his office?


DAVEY: Well that would that would be a question for the Prime Minister himself.


HOST: Do you think that would have been more appropriate?


DAVEY: My understanding is the Prime Minister knows the Commissioner. He told the
House he was going to do it. There was no subterfuge in this. He was very open
about his intentions and then he was very open about the result of the call.


HOST: But do you think that’s appropriate?


DAVEY: I see no hidden agenda. I don’t have a problem with it whatsoever. The Prime
Minister making a phone call to find out what’s going on, I think it is


HOST: Jason it seems like the attack line for the Government or the defence that the
Prime Minister is pushing out is that Labor does this as well and he’s not
wrong there is he? It might sound like a bit of an I know you are you said you
are but what am I defence but this is not the first Prime Minister to not stand
down a minister for being investigated by the police.


CLARE: This is just a mess. It’s a mess of their own making. You know Angus Taylor is
supposed to be a Rhodes Scholar…

HOST: Well he’s not supposed to be, he is.


CLARE: He is, right, and he’s written a letter saying that ten councillors at Sydney
Council spent $14 million on domestic travel. Now to do that every single one
of them would have had to have flown from Sydney to Perth and back, business
class, every single day last year. It’s just you know, a kid in primary school
would have worked out the maths of that just didn’t make sense.


Politicians make mistakes. What he should have just said is look I’m sorry I
made a mistake and people would have cut him a bit of slack. But if you cover
it up – it’s the cover up that kills you. By going on and lying in the Parliament
and saying that there was a different version of this on a website. That’s what
triggered the police investigation and now it’s got the Prime Minister in
trouble for making the phone call to the Police Commissioner.


HOST: Senator Davey just finally on this issue. Do you think that Angus Taylor should
stand aside from his ongoing role while this police investigation runs its


DAVEY: Look I think that we should… Angus Taylor is a good minister. He’s got a very
important job to do. We don’t want to unnecessarily destabilise the ministry
and I think we should just let the police do their job, investigate the issue
and find out what happened.

HOST: Jason just finally you took leave from Parliament a couple of months ago for a
concerning mole that you found. We’re glad to see that you’re back in good
health. But it’s been a bit of a wakeup call for you.


CLARE: Yeah just after the election I found a mole on my leg that I thought was
changing colour. I’d taken a photo of it a couple of years ago and noticed it
had a black dot in the middle and I got a bit paranoid. I sort of felt
something was wrong and so I went to the doctor and she said look, let’s cut it
out. Turned out it was a malignant melanoma. I was very lucky that it was an
early stage melanoma. They cut it out. I’ve got a mark on my leg that looks
like a shark’s bitten me. But I’m very, very lucky that I got it early.

HOST: And so a wakeup call before summer hits.

CLARE: Yeah. So I guess for people  watching today – check the moles on your
body. Please take a photo of moles if you think that there’s a mole that might
be changing colour and go and see the doctor and get a skin check, because
melanomas kill more than 1,500 Australians every year. Every half an hour in
Australia someone gets told they’ve got a malignant melanoma and every five
hours someone dies from this. It’s a cancer that hits more Australians per
capita than anyone else in the world. So please look after yourself and check
your skin.


HOST: You can also go to a GP and you can schedule an annual check-up where they can
look at the melanomas and your moles. Also don’t forget under your hair. Just
get a loved one to take a look under your hair because if you don’t wear a hat
all the time that can be a place.


CLARE: Yeah and the soles of your feet are really important and you’re back. You can’t
see your back. You’ve got to ask your loved ones to help you to check your


HOST: Jason Clare and also Senator Perin Davey we really appreciate you joining us
this morning thanks very much.