Radio Interview with Sabra Lane – ABC AM – Thursday 19 May 2022


SUBJECTS: Labor’s marginal seat blitz; Media reports on Metricon; Labor’s election costings.

SABRA LANE, HOST: I’m joined by Jason Clare, the Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness. He’s also Labor’s campaign spokesman. Good morning and welcome.
LANE: Jason Clare, you’re part of this marginal seat blitz. Is this a sign of confidence or is Labor desperate to catch up in these 20 Coalition seats?
CLARE: I think what it shows is this election is going to be really close. There will only be a couple of seats that will make all the difference, a couple of thousand votes across the country that will determine who wins the election on Saturday, that’ll determine whether Australia can look forward to a better future or whether we’ll have another decade of drift and decay under this incompetent government.
LANE: The polls are showing the undecideds are falling slightly more the government’s way than Labor’s way. How nervous are you about that? Does Labor have a break glass option?
CLARE: I think a lot of Australians have had a gutful of Scott Morrison and this government. I think that they’re sick of the lies and the rorts of the scandals and the incompetence. I think a lot of Australians would hate to think that they wake up Sunday morning rollover and see Scott Morrison. They’re looking for something better, they’re yearning for something better. What Labor is offering is something better: policies to make childcare cheaper, to strengthen Medicare, to fix the aged care crisis, to make it easier for Australians to see a doctor, to be able to buy a home, to make more things here in Australia and set up a national anti-corruption commission. And I think those two things, the fact that Australians have had a gutful of Scott Morrison, and that we have sensible, practical, real plans to build a better future for Australians will make all the difference.
LANE: Anthony Albanese says if Labor wins, you’ll get himself and Penny Wong sworn in on Sunday or Monday so they can immediately travel to the Quad meeting in Japan. Isn’t it odd for only two ministers to be sworn in, and then both leave the country? Who will be left running the country?
CLARE: First, Sabra, I’d make the point the focus is on the next two days. We’ll spend every waking moment trying to win the trust and support and the votes of the Australian people. If we do win, there is a lot to do and we’ll hit the ground running. The first of those things is that important meeting in Japan with the US president as well as the leaders of Japan, and India. Those administrative matters, if we are fortunate enough to form government over the weekend, they’ll be worked out and discussed with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. But before we get there, we’ve got to win the election.
LANE: Metricon talking about that, your Shadow Housing Minister, come Sunday, if you are the Housing Minister, Metricon, one of Australia’s largest home builders, appears to be in great difficulty right now. There are rumors swirling about its future. If you are Minister Sunday, what would you do?
CLARE: Well, I’ve already had discussions with the industry this morning about this. This is very serious. This is a big and important company that employs thousands of Australians. One of the challenges they’ve got, which is not unique to Metricon but a lot of other Australian builders have, is a cost and cashflow crunch, happening at the moment, exacerbated by an increase in material costs for the construction of housing, as well as skill shortages. We’ve seen over the course of the last few months a stabilization in material costs. But what’s getting worse, what’s really biting for companies like Metricon and others at the moment, is the area of skill shortages, whether it’s skilled workers on site or whether it’s labourers. This is something that everyone I speak to in this sector is really worried about. It’s one of the reasons why we’ve said we’d implement (interrupted)
LANE: Sorry, that’s something that you can’t fix by clicking your fingers and suddenly there being a workforce available.
CLARE: You do need to take steps like the one we’re proposing, which is free TAFE places in areas of skill shortage. Our childcare policy, which predominantly will assist women working part time to come back into the workforce, is an example of where you’ve got thousands and thousands of skilled workers that could come back into the workforce working full time rather than part time to fill some of those skill gaps that exist right across the economy. But you’re right. This is not something that you can click your fingers and fix. But it takes a serious government that says we understand there are challenges here and we’re prepared to tackle them. I think what Australians are looking for is a government made up of serious people that are focused on tackling the serious issues, not people clowning around tackling eight year old kids on soccer field.
LANE: Labor often talks about improving standards and politics. Why have you left it then for the remaining 48 hours of this campaign to explain how all your policies are going to be paid for?
CLARE: Well, Jim and Katie will outline that a little later today, Sabra. What that’ll show are responsible investments in important policies that will grow the economy.
LANE: Let’s get to the nub of that question, though. Why have you left it so late? You talk about lifting standards yet, when it comes to leading by example, again, you’re leaving it to the last 48 hours?
CLARE: Well, I’m not going to take lectures on transparency or integrity from the Liberal Party, the party that have done everything they can over the last three years to stop a national anti-corruption commission. That’s their record.
LANE: Some voters are asking these questions. Why are you leaving it to the last minute?
CLARE: Well, it’s standard approach that government’s and opposition’s have done which is to announce their costings for each individual policy as they’re released, and we’ve done that, and release them in full at the end of the campaign. So that’s what we’re doing today. And all of that detail will be out there then, and it’ll show the costs of those investments, whether it’s in childcare, whether it’s in cheaper energy that will provide through our Powering Australia policy, or those TAFE places that I talked about a moment ago. What they’ll also show, Sabra, is that they will cost a fraction of what this government has wasted and rorted over almost a decade in office. You know this is true, this mob have made an art form of treating taxpayers’ money like it’s Liberal Party money. They’ve thrown out so much pork, that stray dogs follow this mob home from work every day.
LANE: Just quickly, if unemployment drops to the threes, do they deserve credit for this today?
CLARE: Whatever the number is, and we’ll wait and see what it is, I think you know that this doesn’t tell the full story. When you’ve got half a million Australians working three jobs or more, that tells you the type of crisis that we’ve got out there in suburbs and in regions across the country. People don’t work three jobs because they want to, they do it because they have to, because they can’t get full time work and because they’re not paid enough.
LANE: I’m sorry, Mr. Clare, we’re out of time. I’m really sorry about that.
CLARE: And this government is out of time as well, Sabra.
LANE: Jason Clare, thank you very much for joining am this morning.