Television Interview with Michael Rowland – ABC News Breakfast – Friday 20 May 2022

FRIDAY, 20 MAY 2022

SUBJECTS: Voting; costings; Labor’s plan for a better future; JobKeeper; Scott Morrison’s lack of empathy; election campaign; zingers.
MICHAEL ROWLAND, HOST: Let’s bring in now Labor’s campaign spokesman Jason Clare. Mr Clare. Good morning to you. Does Labor welcome this rapid change to regulations?

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS: We’re glad to hear it. Michael, this is ridiculous. The idea that potentially 200,000 Australians who got COVID last weekend could have missed out on voting this weekend just because of a regulation. This could be fixed with a stroke of a pen. I suspect the only reason that the government is acting now is because of the media pressure put on them this morning. So good on the media for highlighting this issue. If it wasn’t for the media, potentially 200,000 Aussies could have missed out on casting their vote tomorrow.

ROWLAND: Okay, so those voters can now, ideally by the end of the day, cast their votes over the phone. Let’s go to the last 24 hours. You may have heard the Prime Minister on the show earlier, saying that essentially you may not have to like him, but he argues he is the best person to manage finances for the next three years, arguing the Labor Party certainly cannot. You had the costings yesterday showing deficits $8.4 billion greater than the Coalition over the next three years if Labor wins. Is that a hard economic sell for the ALP in this final day?

CLARE: What that is, is an investment in cutting the cost of childcare so mums and dads can work more and earn more. What it does is cut the cost of electricity. It also funds free TAFE place, 465,000 of them in skill shortage areas. I think Australians understand that we need to invest to build the productivity of Australia. That’s what those investments do. Compare and contrast that with the government. That number you just gave Michael, is a third of what this government blew on JobKeeper payments to companies like Harvey Norman and others that made a bigger profit during the pandemic. We’re investing $5.5 billion in child care to make it cheaper so more mums and dads can work more. They spent the same amount of money on a submarine contract that they ended up ripping up. So if you want to talk about economic management, there it is in a nutshell. We’re investing in helping mums and dads to work more by cutting the cost of childcare, and they poured $5.5 billion against the wall on a submarine contract that they ended up ripping up and we don’t have one sub to show for it. 

ROWLAND: Okay, speaking of economic management, the Labor Party has made a lot of political capital out of going after the government over those JobKeeper payments, the $20 billion that went to companies that either increased their profits, or they didn’t lose money. So why won’t a Labor Government commit to drawing back that money, pouring back that money if you take power?

CLARE: Well, that horse has bolted, mate. That should have happened years ago, and the government make excuses and say they couldn’t have done that. I think it was a story on 730 that made the point last night they could have put a provision in that legislation when they passed it to claw that money back if companies like Harvey Norman or some private schools were making a fortune out of it. The fact that this government didn’t do it just shows what poor economic managers they are. And it’s not just that, you know, the other example is they’ve spent $50 billion on a copper version of the NBN. They bought enough copper to wrap around the world one and a half times. Now they’re having to pull that copper out and put fibre in. We’re not going to take lectures on economic management from Scott Morrison, the idea that they’re good economic managers is a bad joke.

ROWLAND: Okay, so we’re in the final day, what is going to be the Labor Party’s, Anthony Albanese’s, key focus in these final hours?

CLARE: We’re not going to leave anything on the field. Albo is going to be in four states through the course of the day. Tomorrow’s a really big day, and Australians have the chance to choose a better government. You just interviewed Scott Morrison, you made the point this bloke is toxic and you can see it everywhere you go. It’s not just those teal seats he can’t go to. There are hundreds and hundreds of pre poll polling booths across the country. Not one of them has a Scott Morrison poster put up by the Liberal Party. Now that should tell you something, that this bloke is political kryptonite wherever he goes. Australians want to get rid of Scott Morrison. They’re yearning for something better. But you can’t just yearn for it. You can’t just hope for it. You’ve got to vote for it, and that’s what we’re asking Australians to do tomorrow. You just asked Scott Morrison about him being more empathetic. He’s empathetic without the ‘em’. He won’t bring the Biloela family home, back to Biloela. He doesn’t think that Australians on the minimum wage deserve one extra dollar. This is the bloke who forced a handshake on people in Cobargo after the bushfires. It’s the same bloke who told tens of thousands of women who marched for justice, that in other countries, people would end up being shot. He doesn’t have an ounce of empathy in him. He won’t change. If they win this election, this government will just get worse. Think about it, Michael, if they get home tomorrow, what sort of messages are the Australian people sending to this government? That all the rorts, the waste, the lies, the scandals, incompetence, that’s all acceptable, and that’s the message that Australia would send if this mob crawls back home tomorrow.

ROWLAND: Okay, being Prime Minister is a very big job. At the same time your boss, Anthony Albanese, on this very show yesterday, seemed to forget the borders were open. Do you worry that will give voters in this critical final 24, 48 hours some pause for thought, and they may think, hang on, is this guy really not up to the job of being Prime Minister?

CLARE: I think what Australians have seen over the last six weeks is Albo is an honest bloke. He doesn’t treat politics like it’s a game. He didn’t make up his own nickname. He’s a bloke who will take responsibility, not shirk it. He’s not the sort of bloke will say ‘it’s not my job’. And most importantly, he’ll bring the country together. I think Australians have had a gut full of this sort of rip and divide and trying to pull Australians apart and create a wedge on every issue. That’s not Albo’s style. As a minister, he’s always brought business and unions together to create better outcomes, and that’s what he will do if he’s given the privilege of becoming Prime Minister after the election tomorrow.

ROWLAND: Well, Jason Clare, the campaign is just about over. Thank you for stepping up on our show fairly regularly over the last six weeks. You’ve made something of a name of yourself, the king of the zingers, over the last six weeks. If it all goes badly for the Labor party tomorrow. Do you have leadership ambitions?

CLARE: No, I don’t. Actually, someone said to me the other day, “more zingers than a KFC.” But my kids have seen more of me on TV than they have at home so they’ll be very, very happy when tomorrow’s over that they can see more of dad. 

ROWLAND: Do you have that baton in your knapsack there? Would you like to be leader at some stage? 

CLARE: No, I’ve never had that ambition. My ambition is, fingers crossed, hopefully tomorrow, I’ll be able to be part of an Albanese Labor Government, building a better future for all Australians. 

ROWLAND: Jason Clare. We’ll leave it there. Thanks for your time. 

CLARE: Thank you.