Television Interview with Matt Shirvington – Sunrise – Friday 18 August 2023


SUBJECTS: ALP National Conference; Cheaper medicine

MATT SHIRVINGTON: The Prime Minister is set to set aside thousands of jobs for unions in a last-minute AUKUS deal. Anthony Albanese will today promise almost 10,000 secure and well-paid jobs to union members in South Australia as he tries to block attempts by left faction delegates to embarrass the government.

Let’s bring in Education Minister Jason Clare and Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley. Good morning to you both. Jason, why is the PM promising jobs for unions? Is it just to smooth things over, not to undermine the government?

JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: G’day Shirvo. This conference is important. Yesterday we focused on the economy, how we take pressure off Australian families, help Australians with the cost of living, but also to build more houses and make it easier for Aussies to rent and to buy a home. And today is focused on national security. AUKUS is important. It’s important to make sure that we can defend our country in the years ahead, but it’s also going to create thousands of jobs and create new businesses. Some of those will be union jobs, some of them won’t be.

SHIRVINGTON: Sussan, Peter Dutton described it as angst within the ALP over AUKUS. What do you make of the PM promising to the unions these jobs? I mean, does it fly in this day and age?

LEY: Shirvo, why don’t the best people get the jobs? That’s what Aussies, as Jason would say, are used to experiencing in their workplace, not a workplace distorted and dominated by unions. I’ve got a broader message to Australians who are watching this morning. Labor has spent three days at this annual conference talking about themselves. They’ve talked about us, they haven’t talked about you, they haven’t talked about you, the ordinary Australians who are struggling, struggling to rent, struggling to buy a home, struggling to pay your mortgage, because, as usual, it’s about the politics of negativity and it’s about the politics of always pointing at your opponents. So, I’m glad Jason’s supporting AUKUS. I’m glad the Labor Party has supported it. I know many in the Labor movement do not. And I know that there’s considerable angst at this Labor conference because of that and because this is where the faceless men and women of the Labor Party gather and factional politics determine public policy.

CLARE: More Liberal rubbish. Shirvo, we’re the only party that has a conference where the media are allowed in and can see everything. The Liberal Party do this behind closed doors. Sussan talks about negativity. The Liberal Party say ‘no’ more than my six-year-old does. You can’t come on Sunrise and talk about negativity, Sussan, when you say no to cheaper medicine, you say no to cheaper electricity, you vote no to everything that the Labor Party does.

LEY: I just want to see a national conference where Labor focuses on the cost of living crisis that Australians are facing –

CLARE: That’s what we’re doing. You should come up to Brisbane and have a look.

LEY: And actually backs-in families and small businesses, the ones that I meet every day.

CLARE: And that’s exactly what we’re doing. And not only that, we’re voting to help families, unlike you, who’s voting to keep medicines high and voting to keep electricity prices high.

LEY: I might repeat my challenge. Jason, after meeting with pharmacists yesterday, your colleagues need to walk into pharmacies and understand the vulnerabilities of the patients that they look after every day, that rely on their pharmacist for cheaper medicine. And you can’t get that when your pharmacy is closed.

CLARE: Let me repeat my challenge to you. Stand out the front of the pharmacist and tell pensioners that you voted to double the cost of their medicine.

LEY: I met many of them yesterday at the pharmacy rally.

CLARE: Do you tell them the truth? Did you tell them that you voted against them getting cheaper medicine?

LEY: They talked to me about how important their pharmacy is in their care and that’s what matters.

CLARE: And you don’t have the courage to tell them you voted against cutting the cost of their medicine.

LEY: Jason, I’m not going to talk about political courage because I think the viewers want to see politicians who back them in and back in what they would like to see all of us do every day.

SHIRVINGTON: And we’ll see what comes out of this ALP conference later on today as well, particularly around defence and the AUKUS.

Thank you, Jason Clare, Sussan Ley.