ABC NEWS BREAKFAST
THURSDAY, 12 MAY 2022
SUBJECTS: Labor’s plan to boost productivity; Increasing wages; Leaders’ debate; Australians fed up with Scott Morrison; Lockdowns; Election polling; National Anti-Corruption Commission; Where’s Alan Tudge; Prime Minister’s ‘loose unit’ comments.
LISA MILLAR, HOST: For his take Labor’s Jason Clare joins me now from Sydney. Good morning. That must have been the result Labor would have been looking for last night, a win for Anthony Albanese from the undecided audience.
JASON CLARE, LABOR CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON: Good morning to you Lisa. We’ve had three debates now, everything from a cage fight to a tea party, and Albo’s won all three. I think the reason for that, you can hear it from what people were saying in the pubs after the debate on Channel 7, they made the point that Albo was talking from the heart and talking about our plans to fix the real problems that are out there. All you heard from Scott Morrison was rehearsed excuses. And I think Australians are sick of that.
MILLAR: So it’s game over for the Morrison Government you think?
CLARE: Well, look, I know there’s polls out there at the moment, I’d say be sceptical of them. We’ve learned the hard way that polls aren’t always right. If you get in a time machine, and go back at least to three years ago, you’ll remember we were all wrong then. But I do think that people are fed up to the back teeth with Scott Morrison and his Government. They’re sick of the lies and the rorts and the incompetence. I hear it at prepoll, people are voting already. And people are coming up to me and saying, why did he go to Hawaii when the country was on fire? Why were we locked down so long and people are angry, particularly in my neck of the woods in Western Sydney that we were locked down so hard, and so long? A big part of that was because we didn’t order enough vaccines, Scott Morrison was too slow to act there. Too slow on the bushfires, too slow on vaccines, too slow on floods, too slow when it came to taking action to stop the Chinese signing that agreement on the Solomon Islands as well, and too slow on the economy, and that’s why Australians are suffering at the moment.
MILLAR: You go back to 2019 well, that was when Scott Morrison also claimed the benefits of miracles and he got it across the line, and the Labor Party was regarded as pretty cocky at that point as well, because they were believing the polls. So are you prepared for another blow?
CLARE: I think we’ve learned the hard way haven’t we, that you don’t listen to the polls. We’ve got to win seats, not polls. But I do think that Australians have worked this bloke out. You know, they gave him a chance three years ago and we’ve worked out, I think Australians have worked out, that this bloke just makes up excuses, never takes responsibility, always blames other people, doesn’t do the job. You know, how many times have you heard Scott Morrison say it’s not my job. Last night, he refused again to commit to setting up a National Anti-Corruption Commission, at least after everything that’s happened, all of the evidence of the rorts and corruption and misuse of taxpayer’s money. He still refuses to act there. We got that question about Alan Tudge last night, now here’s a minister who was Minister for Education, half a million bucks of taxpayers’ money has now been paid in compensation to his former staffer, and we find out last night that if they win in nine days’ time, he’ll be back as the Education Minister. The bloke is in hiding at the moment. You know, Scooby Doo would struggle to find him. But if they win in nine days’ time, Scott Morrison says, well, he’s back and he’s Education Minister. They’re treating the Australian people with contempt.
MILLAR: Okay. I want to talk to you about wages, because it’s certainly dominated the debate yesterday. The Treasury spokesperson, Jim Chalmers, said that the view was clear. It’s not really clear. Can you tell me if a Labor Government would be putting a 5.1% rate wage rise, the minimum wage, as a recommendation in a formal submission to the Fair Work Commission?
CLARE: We’re saying we would put in a submission in government, and we don’t want Australians to go backwards. Remember what this is all about Lisa, you’re talking about Aussies on the lowest incomes, 20 bucks an hour, and saying that we don’t want them to go backwards. We want their wages to keep up with the cost of living. Now, what does that mean? That means an extra dollar an hour. A dollar an hour–
MILLAR: Yeah, but you’re not actually saying—
CLARE: $20 an hour to $21– I think I just did.
MILLAR: Whether that’s going to go into the submission. You’re asking people to vote for you and Anthony Albanese said absolutely 5.1%. Will it be part of a formal submission?
CLARE: I think I just did.
MILLAR: No you didn’t actually.
CLARE: I think I just did.
MILLAR: Okay well let me ask–
CLARE: I said we would put in a submission. Okay, go ahead, I don’t want to interrupt you.
MILLAR: Okay. Well, just so we can be super clear. No, no, no, I just think we need to be super clear about this, whether 5.1% will be the figure in a formal submission to the Fair Work Commission.
CLARE: What Albo said last night, what Jim said I think to Fran yesterday, is that if we win the election, we’ll put in a submission and the basis of that submission is we don’t want Aussies going backwards. You know, when you’ve got inflation at 5.1%? Do we really want Aussies on the lowest incomes to go backwards? It’s not surprising that the Labor Party is saying that we don’t want Aussies to go backwards. But Scott Morrison’s saying that he’d be very happy if that happens. And while all of that’s happening, Lisa, while we’re having this debate, you’ve got Liberal MPs saying that politicians should get a pay rise. The only people in this country that the Libs ever think should get a pay rise are politicians, that shows just how out of touch this mob is.
MILLAR: Well, are the economists and the experts who say 3.5% is the absolute maximum you could go without damaging the economy all wrong then?
CLARE: The secret sauce here is productivity. If you want to get wages growing, and make sure that you don’t have an effect on inflation, you’ve got to get productivity moving. And that’s why a big part of this election are our policies to boost productivity. The investment in childcare will make a massive difference, you’ve got tens of thousands of Australians at the moment, who are sitting at home today looking after the kids, because it will cost them money to go to work. If you reduce the cost of childcare thousands and thousands of Australians, in particular women, who are working two and a half days a week, will work four or five, they’re skilled up, they don’t need to be trained, they’ve got the skills, they want to go back to work, but it’s not worth their while to do it at the moment. A policy like that boosts female participation in the workforce, but it also boosts productivity. So does cutting the cost of electricity, so does building infrastructure, so does free TAFE in areas where we’ve got skill shortages. If you get productivity moving, that’s the secret sauce that enables us to get real wage growth without having an impact on inflation.
MILLAR: Hey, Jason Clare, final question. The Prime Minister described the Leader of the Opposition as a loose unit. There’s been a lot of conjecture this morning if that’s an actual criticism or a compliment. How is Anthony Albanese taking it?
CLARE: Look my response to that was, it shows a Prime Minister who’s getting pretty desperate, isn’t he? All he’s got left is sledges. He was asked a question in this debate last night, say something nice about Anthony Albanese. He couldn’t even do that without putting in a sledge. This has got all the hallmarks of a tryhard Trump, got nothing left, no policies, all he’s got left is excuses and sledges. I think Australians expect better than that, they want better than that, they’re yearning for something better than that, and that’s what we’re offering the Australian people at this election.
MILLAR: All right, thanks very much Jason Clare for joining us this morning.
CLARE: Good on you. Thanks, Lisa.
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