TUESDAY, 19 NOVEMBER 2019
SUBJECTS: Smoke in Sydney, Paul Keating Speech, Making older workers work longer, First Homebuyers Deposit Scheme
LAURA JAYES: Let’s go live now to Labor frontbencher, Shadow Minister Jason Clare. Jason good to talk to you. First of all before we get to the many issues of today you travelled in this morning from your Western Sydney electorate. Is the smoke as bad as it seems in here?
JASON CLARE: Oh you can see it. It's pretty bad. I'm heartened to hear the advice that it's going to clear over the course of the day but there's lots of people coughing on the streets of Sydney this morning.
JAYES: Absolutely. Now we're going to see a speech from Peter Dutton today. Your previous portfolios have been in this space, around looking at technology the emergence of technology and the security risks that come into place. Now Peter Dutton is talking about a voluntary code of conduct if you like, among tech giants, so that smart TV speakers aren’t vulnerable to hackers. Is this a right course of action - a voluntary code?
CLARE: We'll have to wait and see the details. It's the first we've heard of it today. But anything that helps make devices more secure and safer for users sounds in principle like a good thing. But I’d be happy to see the details when the Minister provides that today.
JAYES: There's been a lot of talk about China particularly because of this Australian Newspaper forum yesterday. We heard from Paul Keating who described the strategic, or lack thereof, policy from the Government when it comes to dealing with China. Do you agree with Paul Keating's assessment?
CLARE: I think what Paul saying is we've just got to get real. We need a bit of sober realism here. China is the biggest kid on the block. When Paul became Treasurer the Chinese economy was about the same size as Australia's. It's now I think 10 times the Australian economy. It's an economic superpower and we need to work with China. We need to understand that we're not going to agree on everything. We're going to be able to work together as partners on many things. But China is going to be an economic superpower in our region for the rest of this century. What Paul's saying is we've got to accept that reality and learn to work with China.
JAYES: What is accepting the reality mean though? We accept that we are you know at the feet of China, on our knees, when it comes to the economic partnership we have and our reliance on them for trade.
CLARE: No. You've always got to defend your values and be frank with superpowers, just like with the United States where they respect the fact that you say look we don't agree with you on this, we think you're doing the wrong thing here. You need to say the same thing to China as well. You don't build respect by laying down and giving up your values. I'm not suggesting that at all. But what Paul is saying here is that China is a big important power in our region. That's not going to change. China's only going to become bigger and more important in the world. Particularly with a retreating United States in our region and we need to be realistic about that and build policy that's in Australia's national interest to adjust to that new reality.
JAYES: Do we need China more than they need us?
CLARE: Well it's a partnership. I think it's wrong to talk about the relationship as just about China being a customer. The Prime Minister used that rhetoric a couple of months ago. That's wrong. I think the sort of rhetoric we saw yesterday from Tony Abbott about a “cold peace” is absolutely wrong as well. It just proves that he's yesterday's man with yesterday's thinking. To suggest, or to create the impression, that our relationship with China is somehow what it was like with the Soviet Union during the Cold War I think is absolutely wrong. We've got a very important relationship with China but we also need to make sure that we build the same sort of economic relationship with other emerging economies in our region. Countries like Indonesia and countries like India as well.
JAYES: Josh Frydenberg is going to give a speech later on this evening to CEDA. He’s talking about the ageing population. It being a ticking time bomb for our economy. He's calling on older workers to work for longer. Do you agree?
CLARE: Work till they drop. To work till they drop.
JAYES: Well he's not quite saying that. He's saying work for longer and the pension age is at 65. When do you think people should be working until? What age?
CLARE: Well the Libs have got form on this. You know they tried to increase the pension age to 70. They've cut the pension. They've tried to, or they've frozen superannuation before. There's no new ideas here it's just Josh Frydenberg digging up the old ideas about getting people to work longer. Now think about this Laura. About a quarter of the people that are on Newstart at the moment are over 55. Instead of trying to chain people to their desks longer from 65 to 70, why don't we do more to try and increase the participation rates in the economy of people that are 55 to 65? Instead of being on Newstart we should be doing something about helping them get into the workforce. I haven't heard anything about that this morning.
JAYES: It's true that Wayne Swan also tried to lift the pension age though didn't he?
CLARE: Well we did. We lifted it to 67. There’s a big difference between 67 and 70, if you're on the tools on a construction site out in Western Sydney today I can tell you. So instead of jacking up the pension age to 70, chaining people to their desks or work sites for even longer, how about thinking about how we can get some of those people that are on the dole now, that are 55, that have been thrown on the economic scrapheap, can't find a job for love or money - put a bit of money back into TAFE, into training. They've ripped $3 billion out of TAFE. Try and help those people get a new job and get back into the workforce.
JAYES: OK just finally I want to ask you about this home deposit scheme because this is firmly in your wheelhouse, in your portfolio. This is due to come in on January 1. The banks have kind of signalled that they want to have a higher interest rate on those loans because there's risk there. How is there any risk if it's a government guarantee?
CLARE: Well there's not and that's exactly the point. There's a mad scramble happening inside government at the moment to set this scheme up from the 1st of January. We’ve supported this scheme and we want it to work but there's reports that the big banks that participate in this will want to charge people that are involved in this scheme a higher interest rate. Now if that happens that'll defeat the whole purpose of this first homeowner deposit scheme. It'll be cheaper upfront because you won't pay the mortgage insurance but it'll be more expensive in the long term because you'll be charged higher interest rates.
Now the Government can stop this. They can make sure that any bank that's part of the scheme is banned from charging higher interest rates and I have been calling on the Government to do this for a couple of days. All we've heard is crickets. The Government has refused to say that they will prohibit banks from doing this. They've got to do this. Otherwise it'll defeat the whole purpose of the scheme and there won't be any advantage for first home buyers.
JAYES: Jason Clare I appreciate your time this morning.