Television Interview with Peter Stefanovic – Sky News – Thursday 28 May 2020


SUBJECTS: Industrial Relations; Superannuation; Housing; NRL.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Well joining me now is Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness Jason Clare. Jason, good morning to you. Thanks for joining us. Can IR reform be achieved? There’s plenty of horse trading that’s going to be going on in the coming weeks and months. Will Labor play ball?

JASON CLARE: Of course we will. What do we want out of this? We want more jobs, we want workers to be better paid and we want more secure work. I think most Aussies would agree that’s what we should aim for. That’s what we should be able to do.

I think it should be the norm that governments sit down and work with unions. The reason this is big news, the reason it’s on the front page of the papers, is because over the last seven years the government’s refused to talk to unions. They spent $50 million on a Royal Commission trying to put a stake through their heart. Now, that’s not the way to get results. If they’re going to bring unions and business together to the table and try to work this out, that’s a good thing.

STEFANOVIC: The problem that has been identified is that the system is so confusing. You’ve got 121 different Enterprising Bargaining Agreements. Even, you know, Sally McManus thinks the better off overall test is difficult. 5 hoops for employers and 16 for workers to jump through. So, do you think the better off overall test, for example, should be abolished or made less rigorous?

CLARE: If you can simplify the process then that’s terrific. I think what Sally was talking about is where you’ve got unions and business agree that workers are better off overall, then you’ve got to go through another process that takes even longer than that. The bottom line here is that we don’t want to see workers paid less and we don’t want to make it easier for workers to be sacked.
If the outcome of all of this is reforms that are designed to pay people less and make it easier for workers to be sacked, then we’re not going to support that. But if there’s something here that’s going to create more jobs and pay people more, provide more secure work for casual workers, that’s a good thing.

STEFANOVIC: What about increasing the ability of casuals to request permanent employment?
CLARE: Well you know, it’s a fact Pete that over the last few years, you’ve got more and more people who are working on a casual basis. Some like to do it, some don’t. Some people are called casuals but they’re effectively working part time. So, if there can be some reforms here that provide more security for people, then that fundamentally is a good thing.

STEFANOVIC: There are some in the labour movement, Jason, that want to secure an increase in the super guaranteed at 12 percent. Are you one of them?

CLARE: Well that’s already legislated in. That’s on track to happen unless the government tries to stop that.

STEFANOVIC: But do you think that’s under threat? Do you fear that’s under threat in all of this?

CLARE: Oh boy I hope not. We wouldn’t support that. It’s already been stalled twice, once by John Howard and the second time by Tony Abbott. If you’re 65 and watching this now and about to retire, you’ve probably got about 60 to 100 grand less in your superannuation today, because that increase in super to 12 percent has been delayed twice. I’m not going to support it being delayed anymore.

STEFANOVIC: You put housing construction in the spotlight. I mean we had the HIA at our show last week as a matter of fact, to say that 500,000 workers could be out of a job in the sector by the end of the year. Is that overly dramatic talk? Or do you think that might be spot on?

CLARE: I hope it’s not that big, but all of the reports indicate that we’ve got a problem. The report that came out yesterday showed housing construction’s been on the slide now for years. The housing industry say that work’s about to go off a cliff. Remember Pete, you’ve got a million people who work in the home building industry. They’re saying that the number of homes to be built this year would drop from 160,000 to 100,000. Now, if that’s right, we’re talking about thousands and thousands of tradies losing their jobs. Lots of small mum and dad businesses hitting the wall.

That’s why it was five weeks ago today I called for the government to act on this. They’ve been moving at a tortoise pace, but hopefully, hopefully the government’s going to do something here to save those jobs and save those businesses.

STEFANOVIC: Well the government argues though that JobKeeper and JobSeeker is part of the system that’s in place to protect those workers though.

CLARE: JobKeeper ends in September. All of the analysis shows that this industry is going to hit the wall in October, November and December, so, it’s not going to be there to save them. That’s why the government needs to put some money in, put some incentives in here, to keep tradies building houses. Otherwise you’re going to have tradies building a longer line out the back of Centrelink.

STEFANOVIC: Just finally Jason, the NRL kicks off tonight. Just before I get your tip, what’s your thoughts?

CLARE: I thought you were going to go straight for the tip! It’s got to be the Eels doesn’t it?

STEFANOVIC: Well I mean, I want to set up what you think the results going to be, but first of all your thoughts on the resumption of sport?

CLARE: It’s great for the morale of the Australian people. It’s great to have footy back. I’m sure people south of the border will be looking forward to the AFL being back as well. It’s great to have a little bit of normality back in our lives and footy is a big part of it.

STEFANOVIC: And Broncos for the win?

CLARE: No. Hey look, the mighty Eels have been undefeated all season. It’s May and we still haven’t lost a match. And we’ll still be undefeated after tonight.

STEFANOVIC: Well good luck, good luck with that. Jason Clare, good to get your thoughts. We’ll chat to you again soon.