Doorstop Interview with Amanda Rishworth and Sally Sitou – Sydney – Wednesday 27 April 2022






SUBJECTS: Labor’s plan for childcare, Cost of Living, Housing, Australian Housing Future Fund, Climate Change, Debates, Kristina Keneally, Labor’s plan to raise wages, Aged care workers, Multinational tax, Solomon Islands.
SALLY SITOU, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR REID: Hi, everyone, I’m so grateful to be here at Papillio with Tori and the team, it’s an amazing center here. And as a mum of a little one, I know that our early educators got us through the pandemic. I relied on them so much for just getting us all through – keeping us sane. And I just want to express my sincere thanks to all our early educators and childcare centers around Australia. So thank you also to Amanda Rishworth and Jason for being here today.

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS: Well G’day, everybody. Thanks for coming along. It’s great to be here with the super Sally Sitou and the amazing Amanda Rishworth. The cost of everything is going up, except people’s wages. And childcare is a classic example of that. We’ve got one of the most expensive childcare systems in the world. For the average Australian family that’s got a kid at childcare, it’s costing them about $750 more now than it was a year ago. We can fix that. We can do something about that to help Australian families that are struggling to pay the bills, that are struggling to make ends meet. And our childcare policy is an example of that. For an average Australian family that’s got a combined income of say $100,000, our policy will mean on average they’ll save up to $1,600 a year. That’ll make a big difference for their family budget. It’ll be a big help, a real help for Australians who need it, who are struggling to pay the bills. Australians need more than just a one-off payment for one more vote. They need permanent help, and policies like this that will help more Australians get back into the workforce, cut the cost of childcare, and help to make sure that kids get a better education are just the thing that Australians need for a better future. 

And while I’m at it, housing is another good example of that. The cost of housing is through the roof. It’s harder to buy a house today than ever before. It’s also harder to rent than ever before. There’s more than 2 million Aussies who are renting at the moment. And the average cost of rent is now two grand more this year than it was 12 months ago. And what is Scott Morrison’s response to that? He says if you’re struggling to rent, buy a house. You know, this bloke is so out of touch you’d need the Hubble telescope to find him. Australians are struggling to pay the rent. A lot of Aussies who are renting, don’t have 500 bucks in the bank if the washing machine breaks down – let alone enough money for a deposit. We need to do more to help Aussies to buy a home. But we’ve got to do a lot more than that. There are more Australians who are homeless today than ever before. And that’s why Labor has a plan – a $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund – that will build more housing, more affordable housing for the people who need it like frontline workers. Amanda, the childcare workers we met today are a classic example of that. When we think of frontline workers, you often think of nurses and cleaners and bus drivers. Childcare workers were on the frontline of the pandemic as well. We need to build more affordable housing for frontline workers so they can live closer to where they work. And we need to build more housing for people who don’t have a roof over their head at all at the moment. A classic example: mums and kids fleeing domestic violence. The biggest group of Aussies who are homeless at the moment, many of whom fleeing domestic violence. Last year 10,000 mums and kids were turned away from refuges because there wasn’t a bed. What do you think that means? That means they slept in the car, they sleep on a friend’s lounge or they go back to where the violence was happening. Only Labor has a plan to build more affordable housing and more social housing to make a real difference here. Scott Morrison has said that he will do zero. And that’s one of the big differences in this election. I’ll get Amanda to talk a bit about childcare and then we’ll take a few questions.

AMANDA RISHWORTH, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: Thanks, Jason. And thanks, it’s great to be here with Sally. Early education and care is the area that we can build to make our country better. Not only does it give little children the best start to life if we invest in early education and care, but we also can help Australian families with the cost of living by investing in early education and care. And, of course, we can get more people back to work – particularly women. Our policy, Labor’s policy when it comes to early education and care will lift the subsidy across the board for 96% of families. We know families are doing it tough with the cost of childcare. The cost of childcare keeps just going up and up and up. It is only Labor that has a plan that will reduce those costs, helping Australian families and investing in early education that we need. We need to do this as a long-term measure to deliver long-term prosperity to this country. On the other hand, you have Scott Morrison, who is refusing to lift a finger for Australian families when it comes to the cost of childcare. He only tinkers around the edge and doesn’t make the type of long-term reforms that’s needed. Only a vote for Labor at the next election will see the cost of childcare go down and families get relief in this area that they so desperately need.

JOURNALIST: Can I ask about the safeguard mechanism and reducing that threshold over time. We’re all wondering, how does that not amount to a carbon tax? Can you just explain – I think a lot of people out there are a bit confused.

CLARE: This goes to show just how desperate the Liberal Party have got now: they’re now saying that something that Tony Abbott created is a carbon tax. Tony Abbott apparently created a carbon tax. If you believe that I’ve got a Harbour Bridge, I’d like to sell you. So the great conspiracy now in this election campaign, is that apparently Tony Abbott ten years ago created a carbon tax. Forget ‘man didn’t land on the moon’, apparently now, Tony Abbott created a carbon tax. And not only that: had the vision to do it almost a decade ago, and now planted it just now in the teeth of an election campaign. 

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

CLARE: It is absolute rubbish. Well, is it the government now? This is the government’s policy, set up by Tony Abbott, implemented by Scott Morrison, same companies under us as under them. Most of them are represented by the Business Council of Australia, and the Business Council of Australia, Sarah, have given us recommendations how to make it work better. And we’re going to do just that. I guess the important thing here is have a look at the motivations of the Liberal Party here. They are all over the shop at the moment. You’ve got Matt Canavan now saying that they’re not going to do anything – tear up net zero. We’re in the middle of an election campaign and you’ve got the government at war with itself over climate change. I reckon – just give me one more second – I reckon most people who are watching at the moment have had a gut full of this. They’re sick of politicians fighting about climate change. They just have to look out the window to know it’s real. As long as I’ve been in parliament, and Scott Morrison and I were elected on the same day, we’ve been fighting about this. Australians know it’s real, they just want us to do something about it. And for most of the last decade, the scare campaign on this has been ‘if you do something about it, then suddenly people are going to lose their jobs and electricity bills are going to go up’. Well then now the reverse is true. If you do something about it, then power bills will go down and will create more jobs for Aussies. And that’s the essence of what this campaign is about. The Labor Party will act where the Liberal Party won’t. We’ll create more jobs and cut your power bills. The problem this government’s got is it’s trapped in the past. Half the Liberal Party, most of the National Party, think climate change is what happens when you go to Hawaii for a holiday. It’s time they got real. It’s time they understand that every time they open their mouth and tell the truth on this about what they really think, they’re losing votes for Josh Frydenberg in Kooyong and Dave Sharma in Wentworth.

JOURNALIST: Just segueing to the debate, Anthony Albanese in the past has said that he would accept a debate anytime anywhere. The Prime Minister has accepted Channel Nine’s offer of a debate on the eighth of May. Will Anthony Albanese accept that offer as well?

CLARE: I see Channel Seven looking intently there.  ‘Hang on, hang on, whose debate is this?’ Look, I hope there’s lots of debates. I don’t know if it’s Channel Nine or Channel Seven or the ABC. I know the Prime Minister doesn’t like the ABC very much but Speersy’s probably watching hoping he gets a crack as well. Aussies want to see the match up. Albo has been out with COVID, he’ll be back for the second half. He can’t wait to hit the field. I think, when you see that match up, you’ll see something very clearly: Scott Morrison who’s run out of puff, and Anthony Albanese who has a plan to build a better future for all Australians.

JOURNALIST: So will Anthony Albanese commit to the debate? 

CLARE: I hope there’s lots of debates. I honestly do. I suspect the two campaigns are working that out now. It’s a pity that we don’t have a system that’s been set up, an independent system, to make sure that this is all done in advance. Seems pretty crazy to me that we’re still working it out over the course of the campaign. But that’s by the by. There’ll be debates. The head to head will happen. You’ll see the Prime Minister’s that Australia desperately needs, and that’s Anthony Albanese.

JOURNALIST: Jason, we’re here in the seat of Reid – a little bit further West and South is the seat of Fowler, where Kristina Keneally is trying to keep that seat. Do you think it’s fair for the voters in Fowler to have a candidate who doesn’t seem to be spending much time the electorate? She’s going to Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, she’s not spending much time…

CLARE: I saw your front page. And I’ve got to tell you, much of that is rubbish. Kristina lives in the electorate, works in the electorate. Have a look at her social media, see what she’s doing in the electorate. And while we’re at it, I’ve just got to make this point: the Liberal Party want to make something of this, have a look in your own backyard. Here’s a hot tip for you: Scott Morrison doesn’t come from the Shire. 

JOURNALIST: What exactly is Labor going to do to raise wages? It’s not like you’d have a magic pen to raise wages. 

CLARE: We’ve made a couple of points about some basic simple things you can do. If you’re a gig worker, you should be paid the minimum wage. That’s not the case at the moment. If you’ve got two people working on the same production line, one’s a permanent worker and the other one is a contractor, they’re often paid different amounts. That’s not fair. We’ll fix that without with our Same Work, Same Pay policy. What we’ve also said is this: if you get business and unions and the government together, you can create the reforms that will grow wages. Have a look at what Bob Hawke did in 1983. He won the election, called an economic summit, got business and unions together, created the reforms that created the economy we’ve got today. You know, the Liberal Party rave on about their economic management, it’s the Labor Party that created the economy we’ve got today – hang on a second – floating the dollar, universal superannuation, cutting trade tariffs, making big reforms to the way in which we operate the labour market, product markets, financial markets. That summit helped to create the reforms to create the economy we’ve got today. And what Albo has said is we’d set up a full employment summit to help to make sure that we’re driving employment, but we’re also driving wages as well.

JOURNALIST: Mr Clare, just in terms of Labor’s aged care policy, Mr. Albanese said that overseas health workers will need to be brought in as a stopgap measure. But Mr. Marles on Friday, I think, said Labor wouldn’t change the skilled migration cap. So which is it?

CLARE: They’re not inconsistent. It’s a mixture of both. Albo made the point the other day, whether it’s nurses or whether it’s carers in aged care, 80% are working part time. 80% are working part time. So there are a lot of Aussies that are working in childcare at the moment who want to work more. We need to make sure that they can, and part of our policy will help to make that happen. We need to skill up more Australians to work in aged care. That’s what our TAFE plan is about – free TAFE in areas of skill shortage. It’s also about creating more spots at university to train more nurses. And part of it is going to involve people coming through skilled visas – always have always will. 

JOURNALIST: But the migration cap won’t go up? 

CLARE: No we’re not saying the cap, but it’s part of it already. It’s part of it already. Okay, might take one or two more questions.
JOURNALIST: On Kristina Keneally, you said she works in Fowler. She’s the candidate there, she’s not in the electorate. What is it exactly, the work she is doing in Fowler?

CLARE: Long bow there, James. She’s campaigning. She’s campaigning to earn the support and the trust and the votes of the people of that electorate. She was at Cabravale Diggers on ANZAC Day, a place I know well, where I’ve had too many beers over the course of my life. And she was there on ANZAC Day honoring the memory of the diggers. Go to Cabravale Park. Have a look at the shrine there. You’ll see that many years ago there were a lot of Aussies from Canley Vale, Cabramatta, Fairfield, who fought and died for Australia who came from that area, a place that I’m proud to call home as a Cabramatta Kid. And she was there doing that important work. 

JOURNALIST: What do you make of the Coalition’s argument that Labor’s multinational tax amounts to a mining tax?

CLARE: Again, does it really even deserve an answer? Just rubbish from a desperate government trying to cling on to power with nothing else to say, except trying to rave on with some desperate scare campaign.

JOURNALIST: Just on national security, Labor has been quite critical of the government’s language and saying it’s all talk it’s not doing anything when it comes to things like the threat in the region. The government yesterday – Scott Morrison was asked if we would join America and sailing 12 nautical miles from the disputed features in the South China Sea. He didn’t commit to that. No action there.

CLARE: He didn’t, is that what you’re saying?

JOURNALIST: Will Labor – is that something you guys would consider?

CLARE: Australia currently doesn’t do those freedom of navigation exercises at the moment. Any decision that Australia makes on that should be, appropriately, the subject of any discussion at a national security level, not at a press conference. Let me make the general point, though, because you’ve taken us back to the debate we had yesterday about Solomon Islands. This government has tried to bodgy up some sort of fake khaki election, to try to camouflage for their own incompetence on everything else: whether it’s childcare, whether it’s housing, whether it’s anything. It turns out they’re incompetent at that as well. They spent five and a half billion dollars on a submarine that doesn’t exist. They let the Port of Darwin be sold to the Chinese government. And now you’ve got this in the Solomon Islands, where the Chinese Communist Party has set up a foothold less than 2000 kilometers from the Australian mainland. Scott Morrison dropped the ball on this and Aussies are less safe today than they were a couple of weeks ago because of his stuff ups. This is on his watch, and he needs to do something about it.