Television Interview with Kieran Gilbert – Sky News – Monday 31 January 2022


SUBJECTS: Newspoll; China; NSW support package for businesses.

KIERAN GILBERT, HOST: Let’s go live to the Shadow Housing Minister Labor front bencher Jason Clare. Interesting parallel there from Mr Tehan comparing your old friend, the Prime Minister, with Raffa. Certainly, down a fairway and I don’t think we’ve got halfway to go, but either way, we’ve seen miracles happen federally before, haven’t we?

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINSITER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS: I think we’ve learned the hard way not to take national polls too seriously. If national polls were accurate, I’d be the trade minister at the moment, not Dan Tehan. We’ve got to win seats, not polls. That’s the cold hard fact here. But you don’t need a poll though to tell you that a lot of Australians are off this bloke, that they’re frustrated and angry with Scott Morrison. Summer is supposed to be the time where we get to stop, rest, hang out with our family, but for a lot of Aussies they didn’t get to do that, or at least they had to spend a lot of time in the blazing sun lining up for a PCR test or going from chemists to chemists to get a RAT test, or going to the shops and not being able to get meat and fruit and veggies. It makes sense to me that there are a lot of Aussies out there that are onto him, that are angry, that are fed up, and are showing it in this in this poll.
GILBERT: Is it true as well that, and I think you touched on it there, that so many of you and your colleagues have the trauma of your experience of the last election where everyone was saying you’re the favourites to be too complacent this time?
CLARE: Oh, you bet. Federal elections are hard to win. Labor has only won three from opposition since World War Two, and we learned the hard way at the last election that even if a national poll shows you’re in front, it doesn’t mean a thing. You’ve got to win seats, not polls. But I do think that there is a mood out there which is easy to pick up that people are angry. 
Aussies are pretty forgiving. If you make a mistake, most Australians will say, “look, I’ll give you that one. You’ve made a mistake but learn from it”. But I think what we’re seeing here is a pattern of behaviour. Andrew Clennell touched on that a moment ago, remember, and you can draw this right back to the bushfires. Scott Morrison was warned by former fire chiefs back then that he needed to prepare in the event of a major catastrophe with bushfires and get more aerial tankers and they gave him a list of things that needed to be done. He ignored them, and we had a disaster. The same thing happened last year with vaccines. He was warned that we needed to get more different types of vaccines. We warned him about that. He ignored that, and we had the disaster of lockdowns and all the nightmare that that brought to the east coast of Australia in New South Wales and Victoria last year. He was warned that we would need Rapid Antigen Tests when we opened the economy up, Kieran. He warned us himself back in August. Scott Morrison said we were going to need them, but he didn’t buy them and so we have the nightmare of what’s happened this summer. He doesn’t seem to learn. 
GILBERT: Clearly the Labor approach, Mr. Albanese’s approach, is small target, much smaller than Mr. Shorten put forward to the Australian people. One issue the Government’s been trying to wage Labor on in recent days is on the China relationship. How delicate must Labor treat this before it becomes an election issue?
CLARE: An election’s coming so surprise, surprise, the Liberal Party is going to try and run a scare campaign on China. They’ve been doing this since Menzies. The tennis is over, and Djokovic has gone home so they need some other form of distraction to take attention away from the disaster of what’s happened with Covid over the summer. So, they wheel out poor old Dan Tehan and David Littleproud, Dan and Dave, the wet lettuce twins of Australian politics to try and scare everybody about China. The truth of this mate is that China has changed, not Australia. And China’s position needs to change, not Australia’s, not the Liberal party’s or the Labor Party’s. Both parties are as one when it comes to China. We’ve supported the government when it comes to national security legislation. We’ve supported the action of the trade minister when it comes to the WTO as well. But it seems as the polls go south, and the government gets more desperate, you see more and more lies coming from people like Dan Tehan. We’ll just respond to those lies with facts. 
GILBERT: So, what do you say the suggestion that Mr. Albanese would allow some sanctions removed, but not all, in order to heal that relationship?
CLARE: Well, you asked the question at the Press Club, mate, you heard the answer. Anthony Albanese didn’t say that. That story was wrong. Anthony Albanese said that China’s position needs to change, not ours. And he said that very, very clearly. That’s why we support the actions that have been taken at the WTO. But, if you’re desperate, you’ll tell lies. That’s what this government is doing and if they want to keep telling lies, that’s fine but we’ll tell the truth. And the fact is, it’s this government that allowed an Australian port to be sold to the Chinese for 100 years. They’re the facts and the government needs to defend that.
GILBERT: The New South Wales Treasurer, Matt Keane, has had a crack at his fellow Liberal Josh Frydenberg and the Prime Minister for not supporting their JobSaver, or renewed JobSaver approach. But do you accept that there’ll be many voters and many viewers watching this today who will say that Josh Frydenberg and the Prime Minister are right, that you have to draw a line somewhere, when it comes to those fiscal supports federally?
CLARE: Most businesses, most people here in New South Wales don’t give a stuff where the support comes from, they just want it now. I think Andrew used the term ‘ghost town’ and he’s right, the CBD here in New South Wales in Sydney is quiet. It’s the same in the suburbs. A lot of people aren’t going out. They’re afraid to go out because they think that they’ll get Covid. There’s a lot of businesses that are struggling, not just because they don’t have customers, but because they don’t have staff, because staff are furloughed because they’ve come in contact with someone with Covid or they can’t get a Rapid Antigen Test to prove that they don’t have Covid. You’ve got to sheet a lot of this blame home to Scott Morrison. Remember I said a moment ago, he told us in August we’re going to need these when you open up. He saw it for himself when he was in Europe last year in a series of meetings in the UK. He knew that this was needed but didn’t buy any until January. It’s worse than incompetence, it’s neglect. And that’s what we’re feeling here in New South Wales. I’m sure it’s the same in Victoria and other parts of the country. So much for National Cabinet if you’ve got two Liberal governments that are fighting it out on national TV this morning. You’d think that if you had a Prime Minister worth his salt, he’d pick up the phone and talk to the Premier of New South Wales and try and work this out. Because as I said, if you’re a business that’s struggling because you don’t have customers or you don’t have staff here at the moment, you don’t care where the help comes from. You just wish you could get it. 
New South Wales Labor, Chris Minns the Opposition Leader here, he has been calling for this since the first week of January and now January is almost over, and finally we see some package of support. Now we know why it’s taken so long. Because the New South Wales Premier and the New South Wales Treasurer have been knocking on the door of the Prime Minister asking for help and he hasn’t answered, or he’s said no and they feel abandoned. Well, that’s how Australians felt during the bushfires. That’s how Australians felt during lockdown last year when they couldn’t get a vaccine. And that’s how Australians have felt over the last few weeks when they couldn’t get a rapid antigen test. Because Scott Morrison had let them down.
GILBERT: Jason Clare, I appreciate your time. I’ll talk to you soon.
CLARE: Good on you mate. Thanks very much.