Television Interview with Farziah Ibrahim – ABC Weekend Breakfast – Saturday 16 April 2022

SUBJECTS: Federal election; Anti-Corruption Commission
HOST:Let’s take a look back at some of Labor’s policies now with Labor MP, Jason Clare, who joins us now. Great to have you on the show. All right, well, the latest thing coming out of the Labor Party on the campaign trail is that Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has now promised to fast track by the end of the year, this National Integrity Commission if he is voted into office. Now, it does indicate that Labor has a different model to the Coalition that’s ready to be implemented soon. How different is it?
JASON CLARE, LABOR CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON:It’s different in a number of important key ways. A federal Anti-Corruption Commission needs to be able to hold public hearings. Scott Morrison doesn’t want that to be able to happen. That doesn’t pass the pub test. I think most Australians would think if a Royal Commission can hold public hearings, so should an Anti-Corruption Commission investigating corrupt politicians. An Anti-Corruption Commission also needs to be able to commence its own investigations. Under the model that Scott Morrison was proposing, it can only commence an investigation if it’s ticked off by Cabinet. Now, that’s the sort of thing you’d expect in some sort of authoritarian regime overseas. If you don’t think corruption is real in Canberra, you’re not looking for it. There’s plenty of evidence of it, you just have to look at Scott Morrison’s own front bench. You’ll see all the evidence there. There’s more smoking guns on his front bench than you’d find in a Clint Eastwood movie. The problem is Scott Morrison doesn’t want a real watchdog with teeth. That’s why he abandoned it this week. And if you really want to clean up corruption in Canberra, there’s only one party now that you could vote for in this election and that’s Labor.
HOST:And will the Labor’s Anti-Corruption body have the power to look at past cases of alleged corruption?
CLARE:Absolutely, and so it should. Think about all the scandals that we’ve seen from this Government, whether it’s the rorting of $100 million of taxpayer’s money, with sports rorts, or the allocation of money for car parks at railway stations that don’t exist. It needs to have the ability to go back and look at the rorting of taxpayer’s money by this Government. That’s what other corruption Commissions can do and that’s what Scott Morrison’s worried about. That’s why he doesn’t want this to happen. There’s a big difference between the two parties when it comes to weeding out corruption in Canberra. Scott Morrison doesn’t want it to happen. We do. If something is rotten, you throw it in the bin, and this government is rotten. It’s rotten to the core. People know that in those blue-ribbon seats that the Liberal Party have held for generations; seats like Wentworth that Dave Sharma holds or the seat that Tim Wilson holds in Victoria, and you’ve got teal independents arguing that we need to restore trust and integrity to government and set up a commission like this. Well, only Labor will do it. Now, what’s very clear is, for the voters in those electorates, if you want to see a national Anti-Corruption Commission, the only way to do it is to throw those Liberal members out of Parliament.
HOST:Okay, how concerned are you if and when Labor’s own anti-corruption body is established, how concerned are you if this independent body starts looking at allegations against Labor itself?
CLARE:Well it needs to look across the board. I’m not afraid of any of that. The best Anti-Corruption Commission’s make sure that there’s integrity in politics full stop. Doesn’t matter if it’s Labor or Liberal. The people watching this program today want a bit of trust and integrity brought back to politics. We’ve got these Commission’s across the state. They’ve helped to prevent corruption and weed it out where they find it, regardless of who the politicians are or what their political stripe is. We need it in Canberra as well. I’ve got to tell you, Fauziah, when I was the Minister for Home Affairs, I saw corruption with my own eyes. I saw the corruption that was happening at Sydney Airport with baggage handlers bringing drugs into the country. The work we did there with a smaller Anti-Corruption Commission targeted on federal police, helped us to weed that out. But it’s obvious it needs to be bigger. I expanded the role that it played when I was in Government. But we need an Anti-Corruption Commission now that’s right across the board looking at all public servants and looking at the politicians that make the decisions in Canberra.
HOST:Jason Clare, I saw a picture of you in today’s papers sitting next to Anthony Albanese at a church service yesterday. Have you spoken to him about the public gaffes that he’s made over the last week? How is he sitting with it? How’s he performing under pressure?
CLARE:Oh, look, a little bit of perspective here, Fauziah. Albo forgot a number. Scott Morrison forgot to order enough vaccines. I think what Australians saw this week was it was an honest leader and I think Aussies are craving that after years and years of having a leader of this country that refuses to take responsibility for anything. They saw a big difference this week. At the other side of politics this week, remember we had the revelation that half a million bucks of taxpayers money has been paid to a former Liberal staffer because of something that Scott Morrison’s Education Minister did wrong. And Scott Morrison’s response to that was, ‘it’s my job to know about this’. He’s covering that up. Alan Tudge is in hiding at the moment hoping that they can skate through this election and he can get back into Cabinet at the end of it. That’s not good enough. So you’ve got you’ve got the Labor Party saying, ‘Look, if you make a mistake, you’re honest, you own it, you take responsibility for it’. I think that’s what Aussies want. On the other hand, you’ve got Scott Morrison saying, ‘I don’t want an Anti-Corruption Commission because it might find out that my own team is up to no good, and I’m not going to tell you about half a million dollars that we’ve paid to taxpayers’. You also had the revelation this week about a whole bunch of Liberals being appointed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal just before the election was called and their terms extended. This Government is a bit like someone who books a hotel room and they don’t just steal the shampoo and the conditioner or the bathrobe. They’re stealing the TV and the lounge on the way out, they’re taking the bed. That’s what this Government is up to as well as leaving us a trillion dollars in debt.
HOST:Well, surely, you must look back on, and some Labor candidates must look back on the first weekend the Opposition Leader’s performance in the first week of campaigning, and maybe feel a little bit nervous over the public gaffes and over the, you know, the fact that Anthony Albanese does seem a little bit nervous, a little bit unsure about some of the policies that he’s been asked about in public. Do you think he could be a liability to Labor candidates?
CLARE:No, no. Fauziah, politics is not a pop quiz. Leadership is not a pop quiz. It’s not a game between journalists and opposition about what question you can ask. Leadership is about understanding the big challenges in our community and coming up with ideas to fix them. That’s what Albo’s proposing. Making childcare cheaper, fixing aged care, strengthening Medicare, making it easier to buy a home, setting up an Anti-Corruption Commission to weed out corruption in Canberra. If you want to talk about the week that was, have a look at Scott Morrison’s week covering up half a million dollars in taxpayers money paid out to a Liberal staffer because one of his Ministers did something wrong, abandoning a long held promise to set up an anti-corruption commission. Not just that, he had a Senator who had to resign for being a dual citizen and today you’ve got the New South Wales Liberal Treasurer saying that the Liberal candidate for Warringah should be disendorsed because she’s a bigot.
HOST:And Labor MP Jason Clare, it is fantastic having you on weekend breakfast.