Doorstop Interview – Sydney – Monday 18 April 2022


SUBJECTS: Alan Tudge; Border Protection; Medicare; National Anti-Corruption Commission; Katherine Deves.
JASON CLARE, LABOR CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON: Yesterday, Scott Morrison forgot where he was.
And he didn’t miss it by this much, he missed it by this much.

He thought he was back in Parliament, calling journalists “Mr Speaker”, when in fact, he was in Paramatta 280 kilometres away. But Scott Morrison should hopefully know where this place is. Because this is where Scott Morrison stacks all his mates and gives them government jobs on the eve of the election. 

This is where the Administrative Appeals Tribunal is based, and ten minutes to midnight, just before the government called the election, they announced a whole bunch more former Liberal MPs would get jobs in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, or extended their term. 

And this should tell you everything you need to know about the character of this government. 10 minutes to midnight, and what do they do? Put their hand in your pocket to put money into the pockets of their mates. It’s like somebody that books a hotel room. And they don’t just steal the conditioner and the shampoo. They steal the TV, and the lounge, and the bed and anything else they can put their hands on. 

It’s week two of this election, and it’s also week two of the Alan Tudge cover up. The second week of this election and the Prime Minister is still ducking and weaving and refusing to answer questions about what Alan Tudge did that meant that a former employee of his, was paid $500,000. Half a million dollars of taxpayer’s money in compensation. If Alan Tudge did nothing wrong, why was half a million dollars of taxpayer’s money paid in compensation? And if he did do something wrong, why is he still in cabinet? And just on that point, if these WhatsApp messages that have been revealed are genuine, then Alan Tudge has broken Scott Morrison’s Ministerial Standards, it is as simple as that. It’s against the law to lie to national security agencies. And it’s also against the law to encourage somebody to lie to national security agencies. 

And it’s also against Scott Morrison’s Ministerial Standards. This is what Scott Morrisons’ Ministerial Standards say at 5.2. Ministers must not encourage or induce other public officials, including public servants, by their directions or conduct in office, to breach the law. And I will read that again, 5.2 of Scott Morrison’s Ministerial Standards, ministers must not encourage or induce other public officials, including public servants, by their decisions, directions or conduct in office, to breach the law. Now if these WhatsApp messages are genuine, that’s what’s happening. Alan Tudge has encouraged, in these WhatsApp messages, his former employee to not tell the truth to the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency. 

It’s black and white. And so, if these WhatsApp messages are genuine Scott Morrison should sack Alan Tudge today. And at the very least, he should refer this back to Vivienne Thom, who never looked at this in her initial investigation. And while he’s at it, he should also refer this to the Australian Federal Police for investigation.

And just finally on Medicare, the fact, that Scott Morrison yesterday announced that his new Health Minister, if he wins this election, will be somebody who has argued that you should have to pay a tax to go to the doctor, says it all about the Liberal Party and why you cannot trust them on Medicare. At four elections in a row, the Liberal Party has promised to scrap Medicare. And when they realised that the Australian people wouldn’t cop that, they’ve taken the alternative route of trying to weaken it. That’s why in the bush, it’s hard to find a doctor. And in the city, the cost of seeing a doctor has gone through the roof. And now you have Scott Morrison promising that if he wins the election, his health minister will be somebody who has argued that you should pay a tax to go to the doctor. Who has said that bulk billing is not sustainable, and that the credit card is maxed out. They’re her words and that was at a time where government debt was a third of what it is today. A third. That should tell you everything you need to know. That you cannot trust the Liberal Party when it comes to Medicare. Happy to take some questions.

REPORTER: Anne Ruston said yesterday, quote, our government has been clear we are not cutting Medicare, how much clearer can she be?

CLARE: Well, you just can never trust the Liberal Party when it comes to Medicare, they’re not for it, the Australian people know it. In the past, they’ve tried to scrap it. Now they’re trying to weaken it. And in interview after interview today on TV and radio, where Anne Ruston was asked to confirm that they won’t go down this path again. She refused to rule it out.

REPORTER: Are you not just running a scare campaign? Just like in previous elections?

CLARE: This is the truth. In the last term of Parliament, they’ve made 900 cuts and changes to Medicare. This mob have form, the Australian people know it. The Australian people know two things. One, the Labor Party is the party of Medicare, set up by Bob Hawke, set up by the Labor Party. It’s one of the great and lasting legacies of Labor. Australians know that when they get crook, they can reach into their pocket, pull out that green card, and it will look after them. It’s the Medicare card, not the credit card that will look after them. But they also know this, that the Liberal Party have never liked Medicare. They’re always going after it, and now that you’ve got a person who could potentially become the Health Minister of Australia, who is saying that the credit card is maxed out and we can’t afford bulk billing in the future. At a time where debt was a third of what it is now, should tell you everything that you need to know about the Liberal Party, about this Minister, and why you can’t trust them on Medicare.

REPORTER: Labor MPs have claimed that the coalition want to put pensioners on cashless debit cards. Where is the proof of this?

CLARE: Again, have a look at Anne Ruston’s comments where she said that she wants to expand this universally, have a look at Scott Morrison’s comments back from 2019 or 2020, where he said he’d like to see this cashless welfare card expanded across the board.  Again, the Liberal Party have form here. Look at what they say in the last two years, don’t look at what they say on the eve of an election and you’ll see what their real motivation is. Whenever the Liberal Party get a chance, they’ll always come after you on this and just look at the words that they’ve said. Anne Ruston and Scott Morrison.

REPORTER: They have categorically rejected it, though. So, are you comfortable that some of your colleagues are still making this claim on social media?

CLARE: I make this point you can’t trust Scott Morrison on anything. He promised a Religious Discrimination Act, what’s happened to that? He promised an independent anti-corruption commission and now he has walked away from that at 100 miles an hour. He promised no cuts to Medicare. I told you – 900 cuts and changes to Medicare. You cannot trust a word Scott Morrison says. He said we were at the front of the queue when it comes to vaccines. We learned the hard way that that was a bold-faced lie.

REPORTER: Why has Anthony Albanese had to twice clarify comments about Labor’s border protection policies. Shouldn’t these be front of mind?

CLARE: I think what Australians are seeing, and haven’t seen in a long time, is a bit of honesty. Where a leader of this country comes out and says, look, I just want to clarify this so it’s absolutely clear what our position is. Contrast that with Scott Morrison, who never admits he makes a mistake, always blames somebody else and never takes responsibility for anything. I think Aussies respect the fact that we’ve got a leader in Anthony Albanese, who is a good and honest man. We’re asking for a bit of honesty, a bit of truth. Bring a bit of trust and integrity back to Australian politics. We’ve got a clear choice in this election, between Honest Albo and Sneaky Scott. That’s the truth here and I think Australians are seeing that now.

REPORTER: But in terms of Mr Albanese’s comments on border protection, it has happened twice, first on offshore processing, and then on temporary protection visas. Is Mr Albanese across the details?

CLARE: Of course he is, of course he is and let me make this point. Aussies want their politicians to be honest and upfront. Remember at the start of this election, Scott Morrison, the biggest lie he’s told so far is that he’s upfront with the Australian people. He said ‘I’m upfront’. And then for the last week or so, there’s been this cover-up on Alan Tudge. And have a look at Scott Morrison’s first week. He made a jobs announcement at a place that is sending jobs offshore to Vietnam. He’s promised to bring his old industrial relations laws back, which threaten to cut people’s wages and conditions. He’s got a civil war raging inside his own party, again, on who the candidate should be for Warringah. If you want to look at what’s going on in this election campaign, have a look at the stuff ups happening on Scott Morrison’s watch. He doesn’t even know whether he’s in Parramatta or in Parliament.

REPORTER: If elected, will you raise the property cap on the Home Guarantee Scheme, as has been announced, by the Coalition?

CLARE: This has been a long time coming. I’ve been calling on the government to lift the cap here for ages. The fact is, the cost of housing in Australia is through the roof. It’s increased right across the country by 25 per cent in the last 12 months. And that’s why I’ve been calling on the government to do this for ages. When we announced our policy to help regional Aussies buy a home only a couple of weeks ago, I said the caps are too low, and they need to be lifted. And if we do, if we do win the election, if we’re fortunate enough to win the support of the Australian people – what I’ve said is, we would immediately review these caps, and lift them, to make sure they’re set at the levels they need to be to make it easier for young Aussies to buy their first home.

REPORTER: Would you match the caps proposed by the Coalition?

CLARE: We’ll match them. We might even lift them further than that, if necessary, to make sure the scheme works as it should.

REPORTER: Won’t this make prices more expensive for people buying a home?

CLARE: No, no, there’s been an assessment of that scheme. It didn’t find that that’s had that impact. Whether it’s 10,000, or 50,000 places, here is a small proportion of the sum, 600,000 odd homes that are bought and sold every year. What these schemes do, and that’s why Labor backs them, that’s why we’ve called for the government to expand them, because it puts young Australians who are first homebuyers on an even playing field. It means that when you’re bidding for a home, you don’t end up having to pay mortgage insurance on top of the cost of buying a home. Mortgage insurance can be $20,000 or $30,000 on top of the price of the home, and if you could get rid of that that’s a good thing. That’s why Labor has a policy to expand this scheme. And I’m glad that the government has picked up our idea.

REPORTER: You have spoken this morning about character of MPs, why isn’t Labor calling to Katherine Deves to be disendorsed, are you worried some of your candidates might have damaging comments out there?

CLARE: So last time I checked, Katherine Deves is not a member of the Labor Party. She’s not our candidate, never would be. And now this is a problem for the Liberal Party. This is a captain’s pick from Scott Morrison. On the one side of this civil war in the Liberal Party, you’ve got Tony Abbott, and Scott Morrison digging in. On the other side, you’ve got the Liberal treasurer of New South Wales, Matt Kean, saying that she should be disendorsed. And then you’ve got the Foreign Minister of Australia Marise Payne, refusing to endorse her. I reckon, the real question today is what does Josh Frydenberg think of Katherine Deves?  What does Tim Wilson think of Katherine Deves? What does Dave Sharma think of Katherine Deves? I suspect they will be very, very frightened at the moment about some of the things Katherine Deves has said, and what it means for Liberal voters in those once blue-ribbon Liberal seats who are now considering voting for one of those teal independents rather than them. And it’s not just this, in a lot of these seats like Wentworth here in Sydney, and Goldstein in Victoria, or even in Higgins in Victoria, you’ve got a lot of people saying ‘I’m sick of the corruption, I’m sick of the rorts, I’m sick of the lies that we see out of Canberra. I want a National Anti-Corruption Commission” and what’s clear over the last few days is that will never happen under Scott Morrison. It will only happen if there’s a change of government. So, whether it’s Katie Allen in Higgins, whether it’s Tim Wilson in Goldstein, whether it’s Dave Sharma in Wentworth, if you live in one of those seats, and you want a bit of integrity back into politics and you want a National Anti-Corruption Commission. The only way that’s going to happen is if you vote these Liberals out.

REPORTER: But from your perspective, should she be disendorsed? 

CLARE: I’ll repeat what Albo said yesterday, we would never have endorsed her in the first place. Thanks very much.