Television Interview with Peter Stefanovic – Sky News – Thursday 24 March 2022


SUBJECTS: Economy; Kimberley Kitching.

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Joining me now is the Shadow Minister of Housing Jason Clare. Jason, good morning to you. First to a couple of figures. We are in selling season, of course. The Budget is next week but the Treasurer has outlined a bunch of sweeteners. He’s going to use the Federal Budget to promise an increase in real wages in the coming financial year, so it’s going to be bumped up his forecast from two point seven five to three per cent. Can the switch be flicked after poor growth for so long?

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS: Well, I think Australians are right to be cynical. We’ve heard all of this before. Over the last decade, the government has promised that wages will go up 55 times and they’ve been wrong 52 times. Back in 2017, Scott Morrison said that “the next train to leave the station is wages”. Well, that was five years ago, and the train hasn’t moved. And even if this forecast is right, what we’re told is wages will increase by three per cent, but inflation will rise by three and a half per cent. Now, that means that people still go backwards. They’ve still got less money at the end of the day to pay the bills. And with things like childcare, rent, and petrol all going through the roof, it means that Aussies are finding it harder and harder to pay the bills and make ends meet. And now, after almost a decade in government with less than 50 days before Australians start to vote, Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg are trying to pretend that they understand this and care about Australians who are struggling to pay those bills. I think most Aussies are pretty smart. They know that if Scott Morrison really cared about them, he would have done something about this long before 50 days before people start to vote. 

STEFANOVIC: He points to the jobs market, though, which is heading towards a phenomenal figure. We’re looking at the threes quite possibly by the end of this year. But are the two related? Are good jobs figures and a higher wage related?

CLARE: Well, let’s see what that outcome is on wages. As I said, forecasts have been made before and they have failed to live up to expectations. You’d expect unemployment to go down with all of the stimulus in the economy, with the borders being locked down locking out workers from overseas for some time. But at the same time as unemployment is going down, you’ve still got almost a million Aussies working two jobs. That should tell you something. That people are still struggling to pay the bills and needing to find an extra job to make ends meet and with petrol going up, with rent going up, now with food going up, it’s becoming harder and harder for Australians to pay those bills.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, we just had an item about Kimberley Kitching’s replacement down in Victoria. When it comes to those claims of bullying though, do you believe the response from Anthony Albanese and even Richard Marles has been sufficient?

CLARE: Let’s take the politics out of this for a minute, Peter. Someone’s died and this has been a really sad and difficult time for everybody that knew and loved Kimberley. It’s been a difficult time for her family but also for the extended Labor family and out of respect for her, some of the claims that have been made weren’t refuted over the course of the last week or so. But it is clear that we’ve had an independent complaints process now for three or four years. No complaint was made through that process. No complaint was made to Anthony as Leader or to Richard as Deputy Leader about bullying.

STEFANOVIC: There was one complaint though. 

CLARE: There was one complaint made to Richard verbally about not being on the tactics committee or being removed from the tactics committee. Kimberley wasn’t alone in that regard. Others have been taken off tactics committee over the last few years. Anthony’s had that experience in the past, Joel Fitzgibbon was taken off the tactics committee over the last few years, so was Chris Bowen as well. So, it’s something which happens to a number of people in the party.

STEFANOVIC: The problem is, though, that so many point to a double standard here. Anthony Albanese, Labor, we’ve spoken about this several times on the show, called for swift response when Liberal Party members were engulfed in so-called women’s issues at the time. Is this a double standard?

CLARE: No, it is not. In short, no, it is not. No party is perfect. You’ve heard me tell you that on this program. 

STEFANOVIC: (inaudible) moral high ground here.

CLARE: No, of course you can’t. Of course, you can’t. But I’ll tell you what, people like Penny Wong, Kristina Keneally and Katy Gallagher. They’re part of the solution here, not part of the problem. These are people of substance and decency. You know that, I know that, anybody that has had the experience of working with them or hearing them on this program, know that. These are people who are making the Parliament a better place for just being there, and the work that they do, and of that, I don’t think anybody could deny.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, Jason Clare. We’re out of time. Appreciate it though. We’ll talk to you soon.