SKY NEWS FIRST EDITION WITH LAURA JAYES
TUESDAY, 21 JANUARY 2020
SUBJECTS: Economy and surplus; climate change policies; sports rorts .
LAURA JAYES, HOST: Let's go live now to Sydney. Labor frontbencher Jason Clare joins me live. Good to see you. The Government says it may not achieve its surplus after all. That's entirely understandable isn't it?
JASON CLARE: I'm still assuming that they’ll deliver a surplus in May. They said back in December that they’d deliver a five billion dollar surplus. Now they've allocated two billion dollars over two years to the bushfire recovery. So we'll have to wait and see what comes in May, but that doesn't mean everything is hunky dory. The economy is weak. Everyone knows that. Interest rates are at emergency levels. Wages are flat. Confidence is down and the disaster of the bushfires just makes this worse. There's no doubt about that.
JAYES: Yes certainly it does and yes a two billion dollar figure put on it. That doesn't take into account the loss of productivity. Small businesses for example not trading at all. So does Labor accept that the bushfire crisis will make it difficult to achieve that surplus? Do you give them a bit of leeway?
CLARE: Well what the Government should be doing is taking the action necessary to help businesses get back on their feet. That's why we've welcomed the initiatives to help businesses in those fire affected areas to either get grants or loans to help them get through what is an extraordinarily difficult period of time. But right across the economy there is a hell of a lot more the Government can do. You've got the business community today in the newspapers calling for tax incentives to help encourage business to invest more. Business investment is down about 20 per cent since this Government came to office six years ago. So you've got business today saying if you want to turbo charge the economy then give us more incentives to invest. We support that. We called for that at the last election. That's the sort of thing the Government can do if it wants to get the economy growing stronger than it is at the moment.
JAYES: Climate change is of course a hot topic at the moment. How long is Labor going to be without a climate change policy?
CLARE: Well we'll take a strong policy on climate change action to the next election. We always have. We’re the only party of government that takes this seriously.
JAYES: Sure but it’s a bit rich at the moment surely, for you to be calling on the Government to do more when the general public doesn't know what Labor’s goal is?
CLARE: Oh look I don’t think that’s fair Laura. We lost the last election. So if you lose an election your job is to hold the government to account and keep them honest. The Liberal Party and the National Party are the government at the moment. They're the only ones that can put in place policies to cut our emissions. What we're saying to the Government is look, see what's happened over the last few weeks and months in Australia. People can see it. They can smell it. They know that climate change is affecting our country, our planet and our economy, and you should be taking more action than you already are at the moment to reduce our emissions. You know this whole idea of using Kyoto credits just to tick a box and say that they've cut emissions consistent with Paris, I don't think that meets the pub test. If the Government really wants to sign a trade agreement with the EU, then I suspect the Europeans are going to force the Government to take this seriously and take action to make sure that they actually do cut emissions by 26 to 28 percent if not by more.
JAYES: You want the Government to do more. You argue the science is settled. The trajectories are pretty obvious and stable. Labor’s reason for not setting a target at the moment seems to be a political one and nothing more.
CLARE: No I don't think that's fair either. You talked about trajectory. Well the trajectory at the moment is pretty flat. The Government aren’t cutting emissions by much at all.
JAYES: That’s right. So why can’t you base your emissions target on those trajectories? On the settled science, on where we’re at, at the moment?
CLARE: Well what Albo said over the weekend, he said it in a Sky News interview with Andrew Clennell, is that the trajectory, how hard and fast you have to cut emissions, depends on how much this Government has cut emissions by, by the time of the next election in 2022. It's much harder to cut emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 if you only have five years to do it than if you have ten or fifteen.
JAYES: Yeah but what I’m saying is isn’t it entirely predictable where we will be at in two years’ time?
CLARE: Well you know we live in hope that Scott Morrison, Angus Tyler and this Government might actually do something in the aftermath of the fires that this country's gone through over the last few weeks and months and that they might be forced by public opinion, as well as by a whole raft of other factors, to put in place policies that will help cut emissions this year and next year and the year after that.
JAYES: Albo as you pointed out in that interview with Andrew Clennell on the weekend said it was a mistake to continue with the same policies unamended from 2016 to 2019. Was it also a mistake to pretend their wasn't a cost involved?
CLARE: Well I think you know we made lots of mistakes. That's why we lost the election and there's a hell of a lot of people around the country I suspect at the moment wishing that we'd won that election because you've seen an absence of leadership from this Government over the last few weeks and months as the bushfires have ravaged the country. What Albo is saying is if you lose an election you've got to go back to the start, review everything, make sure that you don't make the same mistakes again. We want to win the next election because we think that the Australian people deserve better leadership than they're getting at the moment. Now in order to do that we've got to make sure that we put in place the right policies that are properly costed, all of the things that you would expect a responsible opposition to do ahead of an election.
JAYES: Ok we look forward to that detail. Just finally Labor is calling for Bridget McKenzie’s head. Why? When this is something that previous governments, even Labor governments, have been guilty of in the past.
CLARE: Well when previous ministers have done this they got the sack. This is dodgy as all hell. You've got an Audit Office report which says that we don't know whether the Minister had legal authority to even do this. You've got a smoking gun in the form of a colour coded document from the Minister's office proving that they were allocating the money based on marginal seats. You've got allegations raised on Channel 10 last night that a senior person in the Prime Minister's Office was involved in making sure the money was allocated to places based on the seats they wanted to win the election. That helps explain I think…
JAYES: So do you think that the sackings should go further than Bridget McKenzie then? Should it be into the Prime Minister’s Office?
CLARE: Well I think this explains why the Prime Minister won't sack Bridget McKenzie because if what Peter van Onselen said on Channel 10 last night is right then the Prime Minister's Office are up to their armpits in this. If they don’t sack her, and she doesn’t quit, then this is just going to be a weeping sore. It's going to be a distraction for the Government when Parliament returns and it's just going to be a reminder for everybody in the country how dodgy this Government is.
JAYES: Jason Clare we will leave it there. Thanks so much for your time this morning.