Doorstop Interview – Canberra – Thursday 13 February 2020


SUBJECTS: Bushfire recovery; meetings of politicians.
JASON CLARE: I wanted to tell you this morning about a pub in Nelligen, about 130 odd kilometres away from here in Canberra called the Steampacket Hotel. This pub is Paul Parker’s local watering hole.  You probably remember Paul Parker. He’s the bloke who became famous a couple of weeks ago when he drove his RFS truck up to a Channel 7 camera man and gave the Prime Minister both barrels. I can’t repeat here what he said but I think you remember the footage.
Over the last few weeks people have been coming into the Steampacket Hotel and putting cash on the bar for Paul Parker. In fact people have been dialling in from as far away as Queensland and transferring money to put on the tab for Paul Parker. I’m told Paul Parker is the sort of bloke who isn’t just using this money to have a drink himself. He’s passing it around to his mates and the locals in Nelligen at the pub.
Now if that’s not the ultimate pub test I don’t know what is. People are angry. They’re angry with the Prime Minister and they’re angry with this Government. They’re angry that the Prime Minister went missing in the teeth of the bushfire crisis. They’re angry with the excuses that he gave afterwards about why he wasn’t around. All this stuff about he didn’t hold a hose. Some bloke told me the other day Winston Churchill didn’t fly spitfires in the Battle of Britain, but he didn’t go skiing in Switzerland while the fight was on. Even more importantly than that they’re angry that it’s taking so long to provide any help.
I got an email yesterday from the publican of the Steampacket Hotel telling me about the problems he’s got. I just spoke to him on the phone and he told me – you know this is a family business, him, his wife, his mum, a couple of workers – the business is struggling. Ever since November 26 when the caravan park across the road got evacuated and the fires came, there hasn’t been any customers. They’ve put off some workers. When you don’t have customers coming in the door, the business is struggling. He’s having problems getting grants, can’t get them. He told me that loans won’t help, he doesn’t need more debt.
This is the problem. It’s not just this pub, it’s pubs and businesses right across the country in bushfire areas that have been flogged to death by these fires. They need help. Talk about what’s important that we work on in this building, that is it.
JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).
CLARE: I don’t think there’s anything unusual about a bunch of colleagues getting together for a feed in Canberra. What’s unusual is what’s going on in the Nats at the moment. There’s a pub brawl going on there. We saw this week a bunch of Nats cross the floor and vote with the Labor Party against their own side. That’s unusual.
I was watching the tellie before I came down here. There’s talk about a breakaway group quitting the Nats and forming their own party. That’s extraordinary. 
JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).
CLARE: Look I’m not interested in Joel Fitzgibbon, I’m interested in Joel Alvey. He’s the publican at this pub in Nelligan who’s struggling. He can’t pay his workers, got no customers, needs help and no one’s listening.
Leadership is not about yelling abuse across the dispatch box. It’s about listening. Listening to blokes like Joel Alvey. They need help, they need a lot of bloody help, and the people in this building should be listening to him.
JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).
CLARE: We need to focus not on internals here, we’ve got to focus on Joel Alvey and blokes like him out there. Thanks very much.