Television Interview with Peter Stefanovic – Sky News – Tuesday 2 March 2021


SUBJECTS: Aged Care Royal Commission Report; Housing affordability; Liberal Backbench Super Bad idea.
PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Welcome back to first edition. Thank you for your company this morning. Joining me live now is Jason Clare, the Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Regional Services, Territories and Local Government. Jason, good to see you. Thanks for joining us this morning. Rebuilding the aged care system; can it be achieved, and can it be done within five years?
JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS: It has to be. The time for excuses is now over, Pete. We’ve got the evidence, we’ve got the report, got the recommendations, now is the time to act. We’ve got a report here that just lays it bare in all its horror. People effectively being starved to death or dying in pain. The statistic that stood out for me was something like one in five people are being physically or sexually abused in aged care. Just think about that, up to one in five people being physically or sexually abused in aged care. If that’s not a crisis, I don’t know what it is. We’ve got the report, we’ve now got to implement it. If we don’t, frankly, if we don’t, the next generation of politicians are going to end up apologising for our failure to act.
STEFANOVIC: It’s the successive governments that have failed here, Jason. That goes to show how complex the system is, and that’s why a lot of people would believe now that if you can fix it within five years, well, that’s just a pipe dream.
CLARE: Listen to what Ian said in his response to you just a moment ago. He said, “if there’s enough political will, you can do anything”, and we proved that in COVID. Yes, it’s hard. But this is important. You’ve got millions of Australians at the moment looking at this report, hearing about it on TV right now thinking, “I’m going to end up in aged care in the next 10 or 20 years and this place looks like a prison, looks like a horror show”. I know from my own experience, I’ve got family in aged care, that there are great aged care centres, that the workers who work in aged care do a terrific job, but there are some awful places as well. This is about extra funding, but it’s not just that. Read the report, you see there’s a cascading list of recommendations that deal with a whole bunch of things. If we’re going to get this right, we’ve got to implement all of them to make sure that we give the care that older Australians need now and are going to need in the future when more and more Australians are going to need home care and residential aged care.
STEFANOVIC: We all have a stake in this eventually. Does Labor support a one per cent levy?
CLARE: Let’s wait and see what the Government comes up with in the Budget. We definitely need a substantial increase in investment if we’re going to fix this problem. How the Government does that is up to them. Let’s wait and see what they recommend in the Budget.
STEFANOVIC: There are concerns, and Ian Henschke just pointed this out, when it comes to the levy or whether it’s an increase to the Medicare levy, that it’s going to get swallowed up in administration from various companies so nothing will actually be achieved by that anyway. Would you share those concerns?
CLARE: I was listening to someone on the radio this morning, they made the point that under the existing funding you’ve got some aged care centres that provide fantastic care and other aged care centres that provide horrific conditions and terrible care. That’s why I make the point that money’s part of it, but it’s not the entire solution. You’ve got to have accountability. You’ve got to make sure that people are providing the right level of care and they’re accountable for the services they provide. Only if you do all of that, are you going to make sure that the money is not swallowed up and just goes to corporate profits and that people actually get the sort of care that they need, that they don’t end up starving to death or dying in pain or getting, even worse, what we saw in the report people can physically and sexually abused in their dying days. Can you think of anything worse? 
STEFANOVIC: No, there wouldn’t be but we’re going to have to pay for this somehow and what other ways is there that, you would think, deserves some attention and deserve some merit? If not a one per cent levy or an increase to the Medicare levy, what else could it be?
CLARE: I’m not going to anticipate what the Government has in mind. They are in government, they’ve said that they’re going to put forward a solution in the Budget in May, they’ll be looking at this right now. So they should. This has got to be a top priority. If we don’t do this now, we will rue the day and, as I said, in 20 years’ time, there will be another bunch of politicians apologising for us and our failure to act.
STEFANOVIC: Big story emerging when it comes to housing, and has been doing so for quite a while I should add, Jason. House prices have just had the sharpest rise, monthly rise, would you believe, in 17 years? Every capital city saw gains. What would Labor do to address that?
CLARE: Well Pete, anyone who tells you there’s a silver bullet that fixes housing affordability is just lying to you. There’s no simple one-off solution. But as long as wages are growing like this, and house prices are growing like that, things are just going to get harder and harder. I tell you what we won’t do, and that is what some of the people in the Liberal Party backbench have been suggesting, and that is that you should rip out money from superannuation and put that into a house. All that would do is make this situation even worse. It would just put fuel on the fire.
There was a report came out on Friday that said that if people could take $40,000 out of their super to buy a house, it would increase house prices in places like Sydney by 130-odd thousand dollars. In other words, it would make you $90,000 worse off. So we won’t be doing that. I think that blew that argument out of the water. You don’t make housing more affordable by making it more expensive, and that’s what an idea like that would do. 
There are good ideas out there though, and the NSW Liberal Government is talking about getting rid of stamp duty. I think it’s a good idea. I’d like to see other governments around the country look at that as well and I’d like to see the Federal Government help them do it, help coordinate the implementation of a policy like that around the country. Think about it, if the average home in Sydney is over a million bucks, and you got rid of stamp duty, then you’d be saving something like 40 or 50 thousand dollars. That would make a genuine difference.
STEFANOVIC: Has Labor officially binned Bill Shorten’s negative gearing and capital gains tax policies?
CLARE: What we’ve said, Pete, and gosh, you know this, I know this, we got flogged at the last election. We’ve made it clear we’re not taking the same policies to the next election that we took to the last election. We’ve going to set out a whole series of policies for the next election on helping people to buy a home, helping people to rent and helping homeless Aussies to put a roof over their head. We’ll set out our housing policy in detail well before the next election, but it’s got to be about all three of those things and I hope that the Libs do this as well. We’ve got to look at what government can do to make it easier to buy a home, make it easier to rent, and to put a roof over the head of more Aussies that don’t even have a home at all.
STEFANOVIC: Yeah, the housing affordability is now worse than what it was back in 2019. Is there an argument that maybe now is a better time for those policies?
CLARE: But the problem still exists, and this is what we’re talking about here. The problem still exists. If anything, it’s getting worse. But there are other ways to solve it and what I’m saying is both parties need to look at what are the things we can do to make it easier for someone to buy a home. There’s no one way to do it. Anybody who tells you that one policy will fix it is lying to you. But government should be looking at things like land supply, planning policies, wages, immigration. Think about this: Gladys Berejiklian called for a pause to immigration a couple of years ago. We’re in a pause right now. The argument was, “give us time to release land, build the infrastructure we need for a booming population like Sydney”. I think a lot of people will be asking “are we doing that now while immigration is paused?” because when it comes back in two or three years’ time, that’ll have an effect on housing prices as well and people will be saying “the roads are clogged, the trains are full, housing prices are unaffordable. What did the Government do now when immigration was paused?”. All of these things we should be looking at: wages, immigration, planning, but also have a think about stamp duty because that’ll make a difference as well. 
STEFANOVIC: Okay, Jason Clare, as always, appreciate your time. Talk to you again soon.
CLARE: Thanks, mate.