Doorstop Interview – Sydney – Thursday 17 March 2022


SUBJECT/S: Floods; Kimberly Kitching.

JASON CLARE MP: We woke this morning to news that $1.4 billion worth of help for flood victims has been delayed because Scott Morrison still hasn’t signed the paperwork. Back during the bushfires, Gladys Berejiklian told us that Scott Morrison always puts politics ahead of people. And it seems she’s been proven right again today. It’s been more than two weeks now since the floods. It’s been more than two weeks since thousands and thousands of Aussies had their lives washed away. Since people lost their homes, their cars, everything. And today we find out that help is being held up because Scott Morrison hasn’t signed the paperwork. We know Scott Morrison doesn’t hold a hose. The least he can do is hold a pen. My message today to Scott Morrison is this: hurry up. Hurry up. The people of the north coast of New South Wales feel abandoned by you and by your Government. They desperately need help. I was there earlier this week, talking to pensioners in caravan parks in Chinderah. People who aren’t rich, who don’t have much. They own the caravan. They own the car. Both of them were destroyed in these floods, and they’re depending upon you to do your job. They’re depending upon you to provide them with a little bit of help to get back on their feet. 

Now on that point, last week, Scott Morrison went to Lismore and promised extra disaster payments for the people who had their lives washed away in that part of the North Coast of New South Wales. But that support did not extend to Ballina or the Tweed or the Byron Shire. It didn’t extend to those pensioners in those caravan parks in Chinderah. And now more than a week later, they’re still waiting. They’re still waiting to find out if they’re going to get that little bit of extra help to get their lives back together. I was at Mullumbimby on Tuesday, at the Recovery Center there, seeing people lining up to get food vouchers from the Salvos, because they’re that desperate to get food in their bellies and to get their lives back together. They’re the sort of people that are missing out on these payments. No wonder they feel abandoned. No wonder they feel like they’re being treated like second class citizens. 

Don’t just take my word for it. It’s not just the Labor Party that saying this. It’s people in the Liberal Party and the National Party that are saying this as well. Last night, we had a New South Wales Liberal Member of Parliament quit because of this. Catherine Cusack, Member of the Legislative Council, said “the idea that being a flood victim in a National Party held seat makes you more worthy than a flood victim who was in the Richmond electorate is probably the most unethical approach I’ve ever seen”. 

Then this morning, we had Geoff Provest, who is the New South Wales State MP for the Tweed, say this, “to be excluded like this is deplorable. Disgusting. I’m really disgusted with the Prime Minister and his office for the way he is handling this. I’d even go out on a limb and say I would struggle to vote for him, because what I’ve seen is a failure of the Federal Government to listen, and more importantly to deliver”. 

A couple of weeks ago, we found out what Liberal and National Party MPs thought of the Prime Minister through leaked text messages. Now, they’re coming out in the open and telling us what they really think of this Prime Minister, and what they’re saying is what the people on the North Coast of New South Wales are saying. They’re angry, they’re fed up, they feel abandoned. All they want is a helping hand and this Prime Minister, once again, has failed to deliver. So once again, Prime Minister, my message to you is this: hurry up. Pick up a pen, sign off these payments to people who desperately it. You were too slow to come to the rescue when people needed to be helped by helicopter and were helped by swift rescue boats, and you’re too slow to come to the rescue now when people need help to get back on their feet. Happy to take some questions. 

JOURNALIST:  Are you aware of any complaints Kimberley Kitching made to either the Labor Party or an external agency about allegations?

CLARE: The short answer to that is no. But can I say, can I ask everybody to show a little bit of sensitivity here. Kimberley’s funeral is next Monday. The Labor Party, the Labor family has lost part of its family. Kimberley’s immediate family is in mourning at the moment. We’ve lost a friend, somebody that we deeply respected and admired. And her funeral is on Monday. So I just asked everybody to respect that. And just show a little bit of sensitivity please.

JOURNALIST: But why won’t Labor investigate these claims from within your own party? 

CLARE: Well look, some of those things are disputed. Now is not the time to make comment on that. I think once again, let me just make the point. Kimberley’s funeral is on Monday. Let’s show a little bit of sensitivity here.

JOURNALIST: But doesn’t this undermine Labors call for a reform of workplace culture if Labor is refusing to investigate these allegations? 

CLARE:  I’ve been a member of the Labor Party caucus now for 14 years and it’s full of wonderful people and a fantastic culture. As Anthony made the point yesterday, we’ve got 100 per cent confidence in our team. 

JOURNALIST: Then why won’t you investigate?

CLARE: Well, once again, let me make the point I made a moment ago, show a bit of sensitivity and a bit of respect. Kimberley passed away last week, we’re still in shock. We are still in mourning. Her family is in mourning. 

JOURNALIST: Can you rule that investigation out down the track? 

CLARE: As Anthony has said, we’ve got 100 per cent confidence in our team. 

JOURNALIST: But can you rule out investigation down the track? 

CLARE: Well, as Anthony has said, we’ve got 100 per cent confidence in our team.

JOURNALIST:  I’m not asking about confidence, I’m asking whether this could be investigated down the track.

CLARE: I just refer you to the answers that Anthony gave yesterday on that.

JOURNALIST: Were you aware that she was under stress? 

CLARE: The short answer to that is no. I wasn’t a close friend of Kimberley. Let’s just all be very, very careful here. We’re talking about a person. We’re not talking about politics. I just urge everybody here, let’s let’s keep the politics out of this.

JOURNALIST: Former Labor MP, Michael Danby, he said that was nothing short of bullying. What’s your (inaudible) 

CLARE: Look, I can’t comment on that. I saw no evidence of that. 

JOURNALIST: Do you think she should have an apology to her family?

CLARE: Again, I saw no evidence of that. Her family, a grieving family, have lost the person that was everything in their lives. They’re planning a funeral at the moment. I think they deserve a bit of privacy, a bit of respect, and a little bit of sensitivity from all of us. 

JOURNALIST: Some of these claims are coming from within your own party.

CLARE: The point I’d make is those claims are disputed by others. We’re on the eve of a funeral. 

JOURNALIST:  So, what’s the resolution here, that this claim says you shouldn’t have any investigation?

CLARE: Well, they have been disputed, and Anthony has made the point we have 100 per cent confidence in our team.