Television Interview with Peter Stefanovic – Sky News – Tuesday 1 February 2022


SUBJECTS: Aged care; Scott Morrison’s Press Club Speech; Interest rates.

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: The Prime Minister is going to be addressing the National Press Club later on today. And he will promise $209 million in cash bonuses for aged care workers. They’ll be getting two bonuses, $200 each. So, joining us live now is the Shadow Minister for Housing, Jason Clare. Jason, good to see you. So, you’ve got these two bonus payments that are coming. The second one quite timely around the time of the election it’s expected. What’s your response to that this morning?

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINSITER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS: I think you just hit the nail on the head. Aged care workers deserve every dollar that they get but have a look at the scheduling of these payments. The first one is this month, and the second one is in May. Now, what happens in May? That’s right, there’s a federal election. Come on, mate, give me a break. This is is so bloody cynical. They’re going to give aged care workers a bonus payment the week before an election. If Scott Morrison and the Liberals, after being in power for nine years really cared about aged care workers, they wouldn’t wait until a week before an election to do this. They’d have a plan to provide them with support after the election as well but that’s not what we see here. It’s a payment a week before an election. I think that tells you everything you need to know about this cynical, hopeless, incompetent government.
STEFANOVIC: But you don’t begrudge the bonuses being paid?
CLARE: Not at all. Aged care workers work their guts out. They’re working harder today than ever before. As Gerard Hayes told you a moment ago, because so many have been furloughed, they’re working double shifts at the moment. Something like 20,000 aged care workers and residents have got Covid right now so it means they’re working even harder than ever before. But it also means that a lot of aged care residents aren’t getting the sort of care they need right now because there aren’t enough workers. I think Gerard made the point to you that some people are going without a shower for two or three days.
This government deserves to be thrown out just for the neglect that it’s responsible for in aged care, whether it’s the maggots in wounds, whether it’s the sexual assaults, whether it’s people being left to sit in their soiled clothes for more than a day, or whether it’s the deaths – one in three people who’ve died of Covid since the start of January, have died in aged care – and in the face of all of that, when the Minister for Aged Care was asked to attend a committee and explain what’s going on here, he went to the cricket instead. Howzat? This bloke deserves to get thrown out. And the Government deserves to get thrown out in May when the election is due.
STEFANOVIC: Rather than those bonus payments, the Union wants just across the board for the base pay rate to be increased. Is that something that you would like to see happen if you win the election? Would you want to do that?
CLARE: We’ll set out our aged care policy between now and the election. That policy will set up a plan for aged care for the long-term future, not just one payment a week before an election.
With these sorts of speeches that the Prime Minister makes at the start of an election year or the start of every year at the Press Club, they often get a lot of attention. People focus on what the Prime Minister says and then suddenly they forget all about what the Prime Minister said in these Press Club speeches, but sometimes, it pays to go back and have a look at what the Prime Minister says. This is what he said at the Press Club in the same speech at the start of last year. He said, ‘we have wisely planned for the unexpected’. ‘We have wisely planned for the unexpected’. Well, that’s rubbish. If they had wisely planned for the unexpected last year, we wouldn’t have had the calamity with vaccines, we wouldn’t have had the nightmare with a lack of rapid antigen tests this year.
This is a Prime Minister who is great at making speeches and he will make another one today, but he’s hopeless at delivery. He will make a whole bunch more promises today, whether it’s in aged care or whether it’s in universities, but unless he’s planning on buying one of those neuralyzers from Men in Black to try and wipe peoples’ memories, then Aussies aren’t going to forget all the lies and the incompetence and the rorts, the bushfires, the vaccine stuff up, the RAT stuff up, and they won’t be fooled by a payment to aged care workers a couple of days before an election.
STEFANOVIC: Just a final one here, Jason. The RBA is expected to lay the groundwork for a rate rise today, at least one of them. The Government does point out that it is independent of that but what do you fear is coming with a rate rise and overall affordability and cost of limit living?
CLARE: The Government’s right to say that. Any politician, Labor, Liberal, or any other party, should give you the same answer, which is that the Reserve Bank is independent of government. They’ll make a decision about when rates go up or down. But rates are at emergency levels at the moment and whoever wins the next election, it is expected that rates will eventually go up. Now, when rates go up, that will mean, for a lot of Aussies who stretch themselves to get a mortgage, then it’s going to be tougher to pay a mortgage in the future. Of course, that’s all going to happen at a time where other things are going up: childcare costs are going up, the cost of petrol is going up. The only thing that’s not going up at the moment is wages. That’s why Aussies are struggling at the moment. That’s why this decision is so important today.
STEFANOVIC: So, if you win government in a few months’ time, will you have to increase taxes for at least high-income earners to ease the burden on those who don’t earn as much?
CLARE: No, what we’ve said is that we’re looking at tax changes in the area of multinational tax, but what we want to do is reduce the tax burden on Aussies.
STEFANOVIC: The Government is already doing that.
CLARE: There’s more that they can do mate, and our policies will make childcare cheaper. They’ll make the cost of electricity cheaper. They’re the sorts of practical things we can do. We can also take steps to help to increase real wages. Real wages have gone backwards under this government. A proper investment in infrastructure and skills, getting employers and workers together in an economic summit, like the sort of summit that Hawke and Keating set up back in the 80s, can help drive the sort of productivity improvements that’ll get wages going again.
STEFANOVIC: Okay, Jason Clare. We’re out of time but appreciate your time. Thank you. We’ll talk to you soon.