Interview with Peter Stefanovic – Sky News – Tuesday 14 April 2020


SUBJECTS: Ruby Princess; Unemployment.

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Joining me now is Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness Jason Clare. Jason good morning to you. Thanks so much for joining us. Before we get on to the economy, I just want to get your thoughts on the Ruby Princess first of all, there’s just sort of developments after developments. Today we’re learning that it started in the kitchen and they continued to serve meals, after warnings were already given on board. I mean, how do you wrap your head around everything that’s going on, on what has been called ‘the disembarkle’?

JASON CLARE: Look it’s a disaster. 1 in 10 people who have got the virus in Australia are linked back to that cruise ship. 1 in 3 people who have died from the virus in Australia are linked back to that cruise ship. You’ve got 1000 doctors and nurses and kitchen hands in the hospital system in northwest Tasmania that are in effective lockdown now, because no one was checked when they got off that cruise ship. You’ve got 5000 people in Tassie who are in quarantine. If I was in Tasmania at the moment I’d be bloody angry because there’s been a massive failure of border protection here. It just goes to show if you don’t check people when they get off a cruise ship, then it can cause all sorts of mayhem. We’re witnessing that in Tasmania right now. 

STEFANOVIC: Yeah. We had Jacquie Lambie on the show a short time ago. She has got great concerns about the future ahead for Tasmania. The places being locked down. The businesses are falling one after the other very quickly. I mean, one of the problems too Jason is that no one’s owning up to it. I mean, there is an investigation that is taking place at the moment, would you support a Royal Commission? 

CLARE: It’s got to be some sort of independent inquiry, whether it’s a Royal Commission or the independent inquiry that the NSW Government is talking about, we’ve got to get to the bottom of this. Failure is an orphan here. We’ve got half a dozen different organisations at a state or a federal level that should have pulled their finger out and stopped people and check their temperatures when they got off that ship. They didn’t do it. As a result, people are dying and people are getting sick. The government beats its chest and says how good they are at border protection. Well, they did a bad job here. As a result, we’re seeing bad results. As I said, 1 in 10 people who have got the virus are linked back to that ship, and 1 in 3 people who have died are linked back to that ship. We need an independent inquiry to work out what happened and who’s responsible and heads should roll to be honest.

STEFANOVIC: Yeah, I mean, I think that’s probably what the public would expect to and perhaps, do you think that’s why no one wants to own up to it Jason, because whoever is responsible will surely have to lose their job.

CLARE: Yes you’d think so, but tough. We’ve got to get to the bottom of this. It’s causing an outbreak of the virus in northwest Tasmania. It’s causing an outbreak in other parts of the country as well. All because there was a massive stuff up and it’s not good enough to say it wasn’t me or it’s their fault. People hate the blame game. An independent inquiry that gets to the bottom of it works out who’s stuffed up where. It has to happen and it has to happen soon.

STEFANOVIC: Just on the Treasury forecast this morning, 10% is the unemployment rate. It could have been worse is what they’re saying it may well eventually get worse down the track. But what are your thoughts on those figures?

CLARE: Well, I think that’s right, it would have been much higher without the job keeper payment. That’s why we argued for a job subsidy. I’m glad the government has agreed to implement that. We could get it even lower if the job subsidy applied to short term casual workers. Josh Frydenberg could still do that with a stroke of a pen. He could apply that subsidy to short term casuals, and that would reduce the unemployment rate even lower. 

Remember, these aren’t just numbers, these are people. Back in the 90s when we went into recession I remember my old man lost his job, along with hundreds of thousands of other people. He was lucky he got another full time job, but a lot of people never got a full time job again. This idea that there’s a snap back and everything is back to the way it was – like Samantha from Bewitched wiggling her nose and suddenly the past hasn’t happened – is a bit naive. For a lot of people, they won’t get a full time job again, or if they do, they’re going to be in a lot more debt, have less superannuation, the house is worth less, they’re going to work longer before they can go into retirement. The economic hangover, of all of this is going to be with us for a long, long time to come. That’s why that job subsidy is important and we could potentially extend it to other workers to help them get through. I think most people would agree it’s better to keep people linked to their job, then on the Centrelink queue, and that’s what that’s all about.

STEFANOVIC: Jason Clare I really appreciate your time this morning.