SKY NEWS FIRST EDITION
TUESDAY, 13 OCTOBER 2020
SUBJECTS: Gladys Berejiklian; Federal ICAC; HomeBuilder; NewsPoll.
PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Joining me now live in Sydney is Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Jason Clare. Jason, good to see you. Thanks for joining us. First of all, you would have seen all those stunning developments out of the ICAC here in Sydney yesterday, should Gladys Berejiklian step aside?
JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS: Pete, I think it ultimately depends on what the ICAC finds and what her own colleagues, her own Liberal colleagues, think. It was certainly a pretty extraordinary day in Australian politics, even by New South Wales political standards. It’s pretty hard to believe that the Premier didn’t know the scam that this bloke was up to. Ultimately, it’ll be up to the ICAC to decide whether they believe the Premier was acting in a way that was wilfully blind to all of that.
STEFANOVIC: That was going to be what I was going to ask you, the fact that she was saying ‘I don’t need to know that’. Is that in itself kind of turning a blind eye to alleged corruption?
CLARE: These are the questions that will be on the mind of the ICAC Commissioner, was the Premier by saying ‘I don’t need to know that’ purposely acting in a way so that she didn’t know what this bloke was up to any more than she already did. Was she acting in a way that was wilfully blind, should she have referred this to ICAC before ICAC came knocking at her door, and has she breached her own ministerial guidelines? These are all very serious questions that are yet to be answered.
STEFANOVIC: There are so many results that come out of ICAC, isn’t there? And it just goes to show what might happen if there was a federal ICAC. Do you believe that there’s got to be one in place?
CLARE: The shorter answer to that is yes. The only reason that we know about this corrupt politician Daryl McGuire is because we’ve got an ICAC here in New South Wales. If it wasn’t for the ICAC none of this would be being exposed right now. And anybody that doesn’t think there’s corruption in Canberra really isn’t looking. Pete, I’ve seen it with my own eyes. When I was Minister for Home Affairs, one of the first things I was briefed on was a corruption scandal that was happening at Sydney Airport: Customs officials that were using the power vested in them to get drugs into the country. Now we managed to catch them and weed that out through a corruption watchdog that exists targeting the Federal Police and Customs. I expanded that body but I’ve got to tell you, that’s not enough, either. We need a corruption watchdog that’s right across the board that covers every agency, every department and politicians. And the Government said that they will do it. They promised it almost two years ago and ever since then, we’ve had crickets. Since then we’ve had the sports rort scandal, we’ve had the air-rort scandal, the block of land worth three million bucks that got purchased for $30 million, and still nothing in terms of setting up a federal national integrity commission. Worse than that, in the Budget last week, the other body that helped to find out about sports rorts and about air-rort got its own budget cut. The National Audit Office had its budget cut last week. Now that’s just plainly not good enough. We need a corruption watchdog in Canberra and we needed urgently.
STEFANOVIC: Just about a week on from the Budget Jason, Michael Sukkar, he’s going to be visiting the McDonald Jones home site today to discuss the Morrison Government’s housing initiatives and meet with First Home Loan Deposit Scheme and HomeBuilder recipients. The Government does say that some 10,000 maybe even more, have taken up that program so far. Seems like a fairly solid number. Do you see it that way?
CLARE: It’s a scheme which is too small to help everybody in the home building industry. It’s about a tenth of the size of the scheme that we set up during the GFC and the Prime Minister saying that this is a crisis 45 times as bad as the GFC. It’s too small, it’s rolling out too slowly. The HomeBuilder Scheme was announced back in June. So far, according to the latest statistics, only 123 Aussies have actually been paid a cent. It’s too restrictive. You can’t get access to the grant unless you buy a block of land and a house worth less than $750,000 and I got to tell you in Sydney, that’s not too easy. You can’t get the money unless you do a renovation worth more than $150,000 and I’ve got to tell you that’s a pretty expensive dunny. The other part of the sheme which is a problem is the timeframe is too short. You’ve got to have your application in by New Year’s Eve and I’ve got to tell you Pete, for the 3,000-odd people who had their homes burn down over Christmas, it’s all but impossible for them to get their application in because of delays with insurance, with planning approvals, delays with debris clearing, the real trauma they’ve been through and I’m sure everybody watching here would agree if anybody deserves a grant from the government to rebuild their home, it’s those bushfire victims. That’s why I’m telling the Government to fix this bungled scheme, extend it out to help people, they should have done that in the Budget last week. Hopefully they’ll get their act together and do that shortly.
STEFANOVIC: Anthony Albanese seems to be going backwards according NewsPoll this week. Jason, do you worry that he’s not cutting through?
CLARE: Mate, we’re not focused on polls. I think the last election told us we shouldn’t be focused on polls, we should be focused on people. I’m focused on the next two months not what happens down the track. What I’m worried about is that the next six months are going to be harder than the last six months for the Australian people. Over the last six months, we’ve been locked down, our lives have been turned upside down. But the Budget tells us a few things: it tells us that over the next six months, unemployment is going to go up another 140-160,000 people are going to lose their jobs by Christmas, but the support that government provides is going to go down – JobKeeper’s going down, JobSeeker’s going down, people might be back to 40 bucks a day come Christmas, and at the same time, people have to start paying their mortgages again, even if they don’t have a job, that freeze has ended and for a lot of people who’ve been able to defer their rent or part of it over the course of the last six months, that day of reckoning has now come and people are being told pay your rent, plus all the bills you owe me. So life is going to be pretty tough for a lot of Aussies out there. And it’s up to us as politicians to be focused on them not polls.
STEFANOVIC: Jason Clare, as always appreciate your time this morning. Thanks for joining us.
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