SKY NEWS – FIRST EDITION
Monday, 19 AUGUST 2019
SUBJECTS: Banking Royal Commission; Cladding Crisis; National Security
LAURA JAYES: Let's go live down to Sydney. Jason Clare, the Shadow Regional Services and Local Government Minister joins me now. Good to see you. Thanks so much for your time. We've heard from Josh Frydenberg this morning, he's giving a speech in Melbourne as well as we speak. He's promising a ‘really expedited’ timeline in implementing the 76 recommendations from the Royal Commission. It's essentially by the end of 2020 so about 18 months away. Is that a fair timeline in your view?
JASON CLARE: Would you call that fast tracked? Would you really call that expedited? Have a look at Josh's op-ed in the paper today, he doesn't even guarantee the legislation will be introduced and passed and implemented by the end of next year. He just says it'll be introduced. You know if this is fast tracking legislation then I would hate to see the Government when it's going slow. When the Government wants to get things done quickly, it can. We've seen national security legislation passed through the parliament really quickly, sometimes in the space of a day. But this Government never wanted the Royal Commission. It voted against it 26 times. We had to drag it kicking and screaming to implement it in the first place. They've had this report for six months and now they're finally getting around to implementing some of it. We're now told that it won't all be implemented until at the very earliest the end of next year and probably the year after that. Now we've been critical of ASIC but have a look at the front page of The Financial Review today - ASIC saying they're going to launch 50 cases against the banks and other financial institutions in the next few months. But it's going to take Josh Frydenberg and Scott Morrison and the Government another year and a half before they implement 50 recommendations of the Royal Commission. I think if you were ripped off by the banks and you gave evidence to this Royal Commission you'd be pretty disappointed that this government is still taking way too long to get anything done.
JAYES: One of the recommendations the Government says it is taking on board but is going to wait and review, and that is when it comes to mortgage brokers. Now Labor did have a different position going into the election. Has your position changed or do you now support the government?
CLARE: You're right. We had a slightly different approach to the Government in our policies at the election. We've said we'll review all of the policies we took to the election and we'll take a constructive approach here because what we want to do is get these recommendations implemented as quickly as possible. Shouldn't take 18 months or 24 months to get all this done. Get the legislation into the Parliament. Get it in in September when we come back in a couple of weeks time. We'll work constructively with the Government to take the action that's needed and the action that's been recommended by the Royal Commission.
JAYES: Do you accept the argument that by banning trailing commissions altogether it may have had the unintended consequences of just giving the big four more power. So are you happy perhaps to have this three year review?
CLARE: Well look I'm no expert here. I know enough to know that Royal Commissions don't always get things right. That's why it's important to go back and have a look at what are the impacts, what's the best way to implement the intent of the Royal Commission. It shouldn't take three years though. There should be enough smarts in the Parliament with the support of the public service to work out what we need to do here and do it quickly.
JAYES: There's a screaming headline on The Sydney Morning Herald this morning which says the building crisis costs could hit $6 billion. You also are the Shadow Housing Minister. This is very much in the state jurisdiction at the moment but with a price tag like that is there more the Federal Governments should be doing?
CLARE: Well what terrifies me about that story is not the headline with the six billion dollar cost What terrifies me is the 170,000 apartments that might be affected by this. 170,000 families that might be living in apartments with this dangerous cladding on it. That's a safety concern and that should be our top priority. Making sure that that cladding is identified ripped off and replaced with safe building materials so we don't have - god forbid, what happened at Grenfell happen here in Australia. The Federal Government does have a role. We import this stuff. The dangerous cladding that's on this building was only imported into Australia because our importation laws allow it. We've said to the government ban it - stop this stuff coming in. They've refused to do that. I think they should reconsider their position on that. There's also the case of dodgy companies that build apartments with this stuff on it and then the company disappears and then it's phoenixed. It turns up under another name, with the same directors, doing the same thing. There's a good reason to say that we should be chasing down these directors and holding them liable for what they've done. There's legislation that was introduced in the last Parliament to do that and I’d encourage the Government to bring that back. So there's things we can do at a national level, there is things the state governments should do. Victoria is already off and running they have contributed I think $600 million to rip this stuff off buildings and also putting a levy on the industry to fix this. New South Wales and other states should do the same thing.
JAYES: On the front page of the Australia's this morning as well ASPI and the US Studies Centre has looked at Australia's capabilities, the risks we have to the north with China's growing influence in the Pacific. Is this something that keeps you awake at night? Do you think government and those in charge really are doing enough to consider those risks that we have? I mean there was a couple of reports a couple of weeks ago that talked about the United States maybe asking Australia to have missiles based in Darwin. Perhaps we should reconsider that.
CLARE: No I don't think that's the right approach. But it's the ordinary responsibility of government to make sure that our borders are secure. I haven't seen the report today from ASPI or the US Studies Centre. I'll have a look at it when it's released. What’s our task here? It's to make sure that we've got our defence assets located in the right places and also to make sure that they're at the appropriate state of readiness and that we pressure test what our capabilities are. So in a sense that is nothing new. We've got to be careful not to over sensationalise this whenever we're talking about a ‘China threat’. I think that that can be unhelpful. But you talk about, you point to our region and an important part of our security is having friends in our region that support us, trust us and are prepared to work with us. What happened on the weekend or late last week in the Pacific didn't help in that regard. The ‘step up’ has become a ‘stuff up’.
JAYES: What would you have done? Would you have said ‘okay yeah we will stop producing coal’?
CLARE: No. Penny Wong was asked and answered that question on Insiders yesterday. But what we would have done is make a commitment to cut our emissions. This Government has seen emissions go up at the same time as electricity prices have gone up. That's that stuff in its own right.
JAYES: But your target in under review now. So will you go further than the 45 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030?
CLARE: Nice try Laura. This is all part of what we need to look at as we prepare for the next election which is a long way away.
JAYES: Based on your argument you’re not going to make that any less ambitious are you?
CLARE: If we had won the election then we would’ve went to that conference with a lot more credibility because we would have went as a party in government that was prepared to take climate change seriously and do something serious about it. The big problem that Scott Morrison had apart from upsetting people at the meeting was that he leads a government where emissions have gone up, not down, and full of people that actually think that we shouldn't be doing anything about climate change. And that, in the context of this report in The Australian today, reduces our support in the region and therefore our security in the region.
JAYES: Jason Clare as always appreciate your time.
CLARE: Thanks Laura.