Television Interview with Peter Stefanovic – Sky News – Tuesday 15 March 2022


SUBJECTS: Housing crisis on the North Coast; fuel excise; cost of living; Labor’s election commitments; Government rorts. 
PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Coalition MPs are divided over how to best address the rising cost of living in this month’s Federal Budget ahead of the election. Some are calling for an extension of tax cuts for low- and middle-income earners. Others wants a reduction to the 44.2 cents a litre fuel excise. It follows calls from three Liberal premiers Dominic Perrottet, Stephen Marshall, and Peter Gutwein from Tasmania, to cut the excise. While seeking to address rising inflation, Prime Minister Scott Morrison hasn’t weighed in on the debate ahead of the Budget, which is just around the corner. Joining me live now is the Shadow Housing Minister Jason Clare, he’s coming to us live from Chinderah this morning, and I tell you what, cost of living doesn’t get much more expensive for those who’ve been caught up in the area around you, Jason.
JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS: You bet. This place has been smashed. You can see it from what’s behind me. The water has gone but you can still smell it and there’s still a lot of cleaning up to do. For a lot of people, they don’t even have a home at the moment. Rent across the country has gone up by about two grand for the average family over the last 12 months, but up here on the North Coast, it’s gone up by about three or four in some places, even five grand a year. So, they feel the cost of living pressures up more than almost anywhere else in the country. Now that’s made worse by the fact that there’s about 2000 homes that have been obliterated or are unliveable, so you’ve got a homelessness crisis here on top of all of that.
STEFANOVIC: Okay, so how does this change or affect your thinking when it comes to housing, particularly if you win in a couple of months’ time. Does this shift your focus?
CLARE: I’ve been saying now for years we’ve got a housing crisis right across the country. It’s harder to buy than ever before and harder to rent than ever before, and there are more homeless Aussies today than ever before. What was a crisis here on the North Coast is now an emergency. We’ve said, Pete, that if we in the election, we’ll set up a $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund to build social housing and affordable housing right across the country. If we win the election, we will prioritise housing in this part of Australia, because they desperately need it. 
I was at a caravan park just around the corner from where I am here at the moment, Pete, yesterday, full of pensioners in their 70s in their 80s. They had to rescue themselves because no one came to rescue them when the floods hit. They’ve lost their cars. They’ve lost their caravans. Check out the photos I just put on Twitter, there’s not even a floor in the caravan even anymore. It’s just dirt. They’ve lost everything. They’ve been given 1000 bucks by the Government and down the road, people have been given $3,000. Scott Morrison had to hide to come here last week and said, “Look, we can’t give you $3,000 because we don’t have the data”. My message to Scott Morrison is come here. Have a look. You don’t need to wait for a spreadsheet from the local council. It’s pretty bloody obvious. The least the people in this neck of the woods deserve is the same financial support that you provided down the road last week.
STEFANOVIC: Just a couple of tax questions here, Jason. Would you like to see the fuel excise cut?
CLARE: We’ve got less than 50 days until people start to vote and the Government has suddenly realised that people are struggling to pay the bills. This didn’t just happen when Russia started bombing Ukraine. Petrol’s been going up now for the last year. For the average family with the average car, they’re paying 1000 bucks more now than they were last year on petrol. But it’s not just that. Childcare has jumped by 800 bucks a year, and as I said a minute ago, rent has jumped by 2000 bucks for year. That’s the biggest bill that 2 million Aussies pay every week and now suddenly you’ve got the Government working out that people are struggling 50 days before people start to vote. If we win the election, we’ve got plans to cut the cost of childcare, cut the cost of electricity, and as I said, build more affordable housing. And we’ve got more plans that will set out in the election campaign. This Government, like everything, just ignores the obvious until it’s too late whether it’s on vaccine, whether it’s on bushfires, or now when it’s on the cost of living pressures that people are facing every day.
STEFANOVIC: When it comes to fuel, though, I mean, it’s set by global markets. If you did want to pull back on fuel excise, if you win in a few months’ time, it would be your job to unwind that, right? So, is that really a headache that you want?
CLARE: No, you’re right. World Markets affect all of this. But think about this, if Scott Morrison hadn’t given $20 billion to Harvey Norman and other companies that increased their profits during the pandemic, he could cut the cost of petrol by more than 40 cents a litre for the next two years. But he can’t do that, because he gave $20 billion to Harvey Norman and other companies that made a profit during the pandemic. That says it all.
STEFANOVIC: Simon Birmingham he was on the program a little earlier and accused Labor of hypocrisy for targeting marginal seats with some $750 million. This comes two years after the National Audit Office slammed the Coalition for doing the same thing. So, is Labor just as bad, Jason?
CLARE: I’m not going to take lectures from the same party that promised $65 million for carparks in Josh Frydenberg’s electorate at the last election and is now promising to scrap three of them. Simon Birmingham knows he’s got $2.4 billion worth of money that’s been found to be rotted by the Audit Office, that he still hasn’t announced what he’s going to spend the money on and he’s promising to spend it in this election. I tell you what we won’t do: we won’t set up colour coded spreadsheets like the Liberal Party does. We’ll make commitments based on the advice of local governments and state governments and all the commitments that we make, we’ll make sure that the Department of Infrastructure reviews them on their merits. The Liberal Party won’t do that. Then, on top of that, one more thing, we’ll set up a National Anti-Corruption Commission. I tell you what, after three years of promising it, Scott Morrison is still dragging his feet. There’s only one party that will set up a National Anti-Corruption Commission if they win the election and that’s the Labor Party.
STEFANOVIC: Okay, Jason Clare. We’re out of time but appreciate your time. I’ll talk to you soon.