Television Interview with Peter Stefanovic – Sky News – Thursday 11 June 2020


SUBJECTS: Homebuilder; State borders; China; Protests.
PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Now we’re joined by the Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Jason Clare. Jason, good morning to you. Thanks for being with us this morning. So first of all on to the Homebuilder Scheme that was announced last week. So far, the Government says there has been 16,500 registrations for the scheme so far. What do you think of that take up?
JASON CLARE: Well, no one’s applied yet. You go on the website, you can’t even formally apply. All you can do is register your interest. Now I asked a question in the parliament yesterday, I said how many renovations can people do under this scheme? How many do you expect to be done, and the Treasurer said only 7000. Remember Pete, last week on the front page of The Australian “Renovation Rescue for Tradie Jobs”? Turns out it’s only 7000 renovations they expect to happen, but the Government says this is going to create work for a million tradies. It’s all rubbish. It’s more Scotty Scam than Scotty Cam.
STEFANOVIC: Well, the Government says it sometime is needed to get the systems in place for the states to administer those payments. So should they be afforded some time and the 16 and a half thousand? Yes, registrations, but doesn’t that seem like an interesting uptake?
CLARE: Well they better hurry up. Remember this scheme ends on the 31st of December. I’ve been saying for weeks on this program and elsewhere that this industry is about to go off a cliff. We’re told that instead of 160,000 homes built in the next 12 months, it’ll drop to 100,000. Instead of building a guardrail at the top of the cliff, what they’ve done is put a Tontine mattress at the bottom. It’ll save a few jobs, it’ll help to create a bit more work, but nowhere near enough. Remember Pete, this scheme the Government’s announced is one 10th of the size of the scheme we put in place to save the jobs of tradies in the housing construction industry during the GFC. That stopped a recession. We’re already in a recession and the industry is in worse shape and you’ve got a smaller solution to a bigger problem.
STEFANOVIC: Onto the border debate. Jason it’s certainly heating up at the moment, and will do more so tomorrow, I think. But what is your position? Should the states open up their borders?
CLARE: Well, I think this should be discussed at National Cabinet. Surely you should have the Premiers and the Prime Minister around the table sorting this out, rather than throwing barbs at each other in the media. This looks too much like what we’re seeing happen in the United States where you’ve got the President attacking Governors, using Twitter calling on people to protest to raise restrictions. We’re better than that. We’ve been able to sort out tough problems around the table through National Cabinet. And we should be using that forum to sort this out now, rather than attacking each other in the parliament or in the media.
STEFANOVIC: Well, there is discussions about opening up the borders. It’s been unsuccessful so far, but the conversations are continuing. Now you’ve got talk about a trans-Tasman travel bubble that may eventually include Pacific nations as well, up to four of them at least. But this OECD report last night, it suggests that if there is a second wave that there could be a $25 billion hit on our economy, how much could something like that affect our thinking at the moment?
CLARE: A second wave would be devastating. Both in health terms, the risk of more people dying, but in economic terms, the risk of more people joining that ever-increasing unemployment queue. That’s why we’ve got to listen carefully to the health experts, make sure that we follow the medical advice. One of the things we’ve done right in the last few months is listen to the health experts. And we need to keep doing that. I think most Australians want to see borders open. I’ve got relatives around the country I haven’t been able to see. I know a good friend of mine who hasn’t been able to see sick mum, because of border restrictions. But you’ve got to follow the advice. Make sure we get this right.

We’re in a recession already. That means that a lot of people have lost their jobs. And this OECD report says more people are going to lose their jobs over the course of the next few months. That means more pain. You can’t really understand how bad it is, the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you lose your job, unless it’s happened to you. It happened to my dad in the last recession. We’ve got to make sure we make the right calls in the weeks and months ahead to make sure that this recession is no longer or no deeper than it has to be.
STEFANOVIC: There was an interesting phrase that the Prime Minister use this morning, Jason. It falls under the stoush that’s taking place between China and Australia at the moment, the latest being that they’re warning their students not to come here for university purposes. He said, “I’m never going to trade our values in response to coercion.” That might be the first time that the Prime Minister has used that term at the moment. What are your thoughts on that stoush and that particular comment?
CLARE: Well, there’s no doubt that the relationship between China and Australia is not in good shape at the moment. We are a safe place to visit, a safe place to live in, a great place to visit if you’re a tourist. But the fact that you’ve got the Chinese Government recommending to people not to come here, either to study or for a holiday, tells you the relationship’s not in great shape. What I ask the Government to do is to pick up the phone, and hopefully someone will answer to try and sort out these problems. Part of the problem we’ve got here at the moment is we can’t find the Foreign Minister of Australia. She’s harder to find than Jimmy Hoffa at the moment. Not on TV, and by the sound of it, not doing enough to try and sort this mess out with China. The sooner we do it, the better. The better for trade, the better for tourism, the better for universities, the better for all of those farmers and other industries that rely on trade with China to create jobs here in Australia.
STEFANOVIC: And just finally, Jason, 20 seconds. Should this protest go ahead tomorrow night? Black Lives Matter protest is scheduled for Town Hall in Sydney again despite warnings not to do, so what’s your thoughts?
CLARE: I was worried about the protests on the weekend, I’m worried about this too. I’m worried about that second wave we talked about. But I’m also worried that the debate we’re having here where we’re demonising people who do protest runs the risk of creating a greater rift between black and white Australians. You and I can’t understand what it’s like to be an Indigenous Australian. But I’ll tell you what, if you’re a young black man in Australia at the moment, you’re more likely to end up in gaol than university.  People march when they don’t feel like they’re being heard. So again, I’d call on the Prime Minister, get together with indigenous leaders and develop a plan to try and sort this problem out.
STEFANOVIC: Alright, a few issues for us to get through there. Jason Clare, appreciate your time. Thanks for joining us.
CLARE: Good on you, Pete. Thanks