WEDNESDAY, 30 MAY 2018
SUBJECTS: US-China Trade war, Family Court changes, Barnaby Joyce.
KIERAN GILBERT: Joining me now on the program is the Shadow Trade Minister Jason Clare. Thanks very much for your time. Well we talk about on again off again in the North Korea talks – but also in the trade war with China. It's hard to know what's happening with the US Administration detailing some $65 billion of Chinese products that’ll cop the tariffs.
JASON CLARE: You're right. Last week we were told by the Treasury Secretary that there'd been an agreement struck between the Chinese and the Americans. Today I think it's $50 billion US worth of tariffs. I note that the Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross is heading to Beijing in the next few days. Maybe this is all part of a negotiation, part of a sort of a negotiating tactic by the Trump Administration. I don't know. But I do know this, the sooner it's sorted out the better. We're talking here about two countries that represent almost half the world's economy in China and the United States and a trade war – even the threat of a trade war – has implications for us here. It threatens Australian jobs. So from an Australian point of view we'd want China and America to sort this out quickly.
GILBERT: When it comes to brinkmanship it's always been part of the foreign policy debate, but this Trump brinkmanship it's something else altogether isn't it?
CLARE: - and look, take a step back. It might mean that the Americans get more from the Chinese than they've got at the moment. Certainly the Trump Administration has been taking the same approach with Korea and they've got a change to that Korean trade agreement that means more cars into Korea. If this means that more American companies sell more to China, that's good. But if it goes down the path of an out and out trade war where tariff walls are pulled up and people lose their jobs around the world, that's bad. So I would only repeat the comments that everybody else around the world that is committed to open markets has said, and that is fix this, sort it out as quick as you can.
GILBERT: And there are complexities in terms of that that relationship all over the place aren’t there. In terms of the U.S. China relations on trade. We’re seeing further reports today of the Australia China relationship as well.
CLARE: Well we’ve got Australian wine sitting on the dock in China that can't get to market.
GILBERT: There is being push back. But I mean as well where do you draw the line when you’re a government seeking to prosecute your own national interest as well.
CLARE: You must always prosecute your national interest.
GILBERT: We're seeing a suggestion that the academic from UTS. Who was grilled in China last year over a former or a current contractor – former staffer in the Prime Minister's office.
CLARE: You always have to stand up for our national interest. But the point that I would make is you can act in a professional way with the Chinese Government without saying silly, stupid or provocative things. You've seen the footage of what Malcolm Turnbull said last year when he quoted Mao Zedong in Mandarin and English. If you haven't seen it go on YouTube and have a look at it. That's what got the Chinese Government angry. That's the reason why Australian products still can't get into China. It was just a provocative act which angered the Chinese. I'm not saying you pander to the Chinese – you act in a professional way. And you tell the Chinese where you disagree on everything from South China Sea to the militarization of islands, to anything else when it comes to trade.
GILBERT: But targeting an academic an Australian academic in Beijing, an Australian citizen, a staff member within the Prime Minister's office it is quite extraordinary.
CLARE: I think John Garnaut was working in the Department at the time.
GILBERT: Undertaking a review of Chinese interference on behalf of the Prime Minister.
CLARE: Absolutely. And you would expect that DFAT would make representations to the Chinese Government and say ‘what was that all about’. I repeat the point. You act in a professional way. You tell the Chinese Government where you disagree with things but when you do things like the Prime Minister did – or for that matter you know what Barnaby Joyce did last year where he said that China was a bigger threat than ISIS – well then there are consequences for that. The sort of administration that Chinese Government is will act in certain ways and one of them is that Australian beef exporters and wine exporters can't get their products into China.
GILBERT: What are your thoughts on the Family Court changes that are being announced today by the Attorney General, do you welcome them? Obviously the delays that people in a tough spot - you know break ups and all that sort of stuff - to wait up to five years in terms of their delays. It’s crazy.
CLARE: There’s big delays and they’re getting longer. If this helps sort that out that's a good thing. We want to see the details. It's all about how it works in practice. I don't think all of the family support groups or all of the people that are involved in the family law court system have been consulted on it yet. I hope they are because whatever the changes are that are made we want to make sure they work.
GILBERT: And finally what one particular family breakdown that the Attorney said that he's not getting caught up in – he’s focusing on the broader issues of the Family Court – but we know that the Barnaby Joyce saga continues. What's your take on that – you feel for him at a personal level?
CLARE: I do. He's asked for a pair and we've granted it. I can understand why he needs some time off. Obviously he's going through some big challenges at the moment and they're only emphasized by fact that he’s got a newborn baby. I've got an 18 month old and I’m still trying to get him to learn to sleep. But I can also understand why Malcolm Turnbull doesn't want him in the building either, because this has been a weeping sore for the Government. Every time Barnaby's on the front page of The Daily Telegraph it just reminds everybody that this Government is divided and dysfunctional. They were at each other's throats about this again yesterday.
GILBERT: Mr Clare Thanks so much as always. Appreciate it.
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Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra