Interview with Laura Jayes – Sky News – Tuesday 18 February 2020


SUBJECTS: Holden departure; Emissions reduction targets; Paul Parker.
LAURA JAYES, HOST: Labor frontbench Jason Clare joins us. Jason Clare are you as angry as the PM at Holden?
JASON CLARE: I’m just sad. I think most Australians are sad. We grew up as kids in the back of Holdens. Well Holdens or Fords, in my case a Holden. We’ve just seen this slow sad death over the last few years. This is an Aussie icon now lost forever. As Australian as meat pies or, at least it was. Back in 2013, the Government drove the company out of town. Goaded them to leave. We lost three thousand jobs then. Now we are going to lose another couple of hundred jobs. And lose that iconic brand forever.
JAYES: Joe Hockey dared Holden to leave in 2013, seven years down the track can you still really blame him?
CLARE: I blame the Liberal Government for what they did back then.  Think about this. Germany, Japan, the United States, all of those developed  countries that have got an established car industry support those industries. It creates jobs, it helps to provide the foundation of a manufacturing base. I don’t think the Government got it then. Remember back then the exchange rate was over a dollar. It is now at 67 cents. Imagine how different things might be today if Joe Hockey, Tony Abbott, Scott Morrison and all the Liberals hadn’t taken that decision back then. But I also blame the company. I think GM has let Australians down. We see the result of that today – the loss of the brand and the loss of all those jobs.
JAYES: But we are simply not buying Holdens. How can you blame the Government, and GM is just making a commercial decision for survival isn’t it?
CLARE: The money we put into that company is about R&D and I do blame the company for not adapting to reality. The fact is that there has been a drop in car sales here in Australia because they weren’t making the cars that Aussies wanted. Holden was provided with support to help develop an electric Commodore. They said they’d do it then they dropped it. I blame the Government. But I also think GM over in the US didn’t do the hard work in helping to make sure that this company remains strong in Australia.
JAYES: Are these skills transferable? We’ve heard some of the right noises out of Ford this morning that they may be able to take on some of the staff that Holden will have to let go by the end of the year. When we were talking about the submarine project when that was done under the previous Government there was talk about those skills being transferable in the manufacturing sector. Is that still the case?
CLARE: Well I hope so. I hope that the men and women that are working for Holden today, can get jobs in the auto industry working for Ford or Toyota or whoever else. Or can get jobs in the aeronautical industry. I know a lot of the suppliers that used to provide parts for companies like Holden have been able to transfer into the aeronautical industry. Or get jobs on the submarine projects. But it is going to take a lot of work by Government to make sure that the people in this industry have got the skills they need to get those new jobs. Otherwise there is a real risk that a lot of people will never have a full time job again.
JAYES: A few other things. Looking at the 2050 target of net zero emissions. This is something that eighty one countries have adopted. The Prime Minister is now talking about a technology target, that makes sense doesn’t it.
CLARE: It’s part of the solution. The government has got to get serious about doing something to make sure that we do reduce our emissions. At the moment it’s going to take us about 200 years to hit the same target that the Poms say they’ll get in 30 years. If the government is willing to invest more here to help reduce emissions that’s a good thing. The problem that besets the government though is that half the people in the Liberal Party and the National Party in the Parliament think climate change is something that happens when you go to Hawaii for a holiday. Now unless they start listening to some of the people in the party who know this is real we’re never going to cut emissions by the amount that we need to.

JAYES: Well the AWU for example says bipartisanship is needed on nuclear. Is Labor happy to take the lead on that? That’s being called for by one of the biggest unions this morning.

CLARE: We’ve said consistently that we think that’s not the solution. The cost is too high. There’s big opportunities in renewables. The cost of renewables is going down significantly and has over the last 10 years. We can reduce our emissions by more than we are at the moment just takes a little bit of political will.

JAYES: Just quickly last week you gave a speech about Paul Parker. He’s the RFS volunteer that used some choice language. He says he was sacked by the RFS. The RFS says he wasn’t. What’s the truth?

CLARE: When you’re told don’t come back to work then I think it’s fair enough that you assume that you’ve been told you’re not wanted. Paul said what I think most Australians were thinking. He just used a bit more colourful language. Which is why the pub that he drinks at has been inundated over the last few weeks with people putting money on the bar or people ringing in from as far away as Queensland or I think New Zealand to put money on the bar for him. That’s why I called it the ultimate pub test.
People are angry. They felt abandoned during the fires because the PM went away and then he made excuses and now it’s taken so long to get support out. For example only one Australian company has been successful in getting a loan so far out of the Government.
Paul Parker has become a symbol about how Australia felt during the fires. The pub he drinks at Laura, the Steampacket hotel they emailed me after I made that speech and I rang them and they said that they’ve got problems as well because the caravan park across the road had to be evacuated four times. Three times due to fire and then last week for the floods. They’ve got no customers. They’re struggling. They’re not sure if they can keep up their repayments and Joel the publican said ‘Look I don’t need loans. I’ve got enough debt. I need grants’. They’re angry when they see the rorting of grants with the sport rorts scandal. They just want a little bit of extra help.
So whether it’s Paul Parker talking about how frustrated he was on the fire ground or whether it’s Joel and the Steampacket Hotel who needs some support or all businesses across Australia hit by fires need help, these people have become a symbol of this summer. The human toll. The business toll. The community toll. They need more help and they feel like the government had abandoned them.
JAYES: Jason Clare thanks for your time. See you soon.
CLARE: Thanks Laura.