SKY NEWS FIRST EDITION
TUESDAY, 18 AUGUST 2020
SUBJECTS: Queensland border closure; PMs letter to the Premiers about border closures; gas; superannuation.
PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Let's bring in the Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness now, Jason Clare. Jason, good to see you. Thanks so much for joining us. So, were you planning on a trip to Queensland this Christmas at all?
JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS: It's been a tradition for 48 years. Jump in the station wagon and head up to Queensland, usually stop off at Port Macquarie or Coffs Harbour at the Big Banana. I've been doing it as a kid, doing it as an adult, I've got family up in Queensland like you too, mate. But this is the world we live in.
CLARE: Brendan said it in that report. I think they've got eight active cases in Queensland at the moment, in Melbourne they've got 7,600. This is hard, but if you want to keep people safe, this is what you have to do. If you had to pick a place on the east coast of Australia at the moment where you'd want to be, it's Queensland. It's the safest place at the moment.
STEFANOVIC: Yeah, my family had a trip booked for Queensland this Christmas. So I think now, we're going to have to start thinking of something else but what do you think of the Premier's move...
CLARE: Think about the south coast!
STEFANOVIC: We're actually looking.
CLARE: They've been buggered by the drought and the bushfires and they need our help.
STEFANOVIC: We're actually looking at that so there you go, but what do you make of the Premier's decision? It's to reduce community transmission; the community transmission might be around until deep into next year if there's no vaccine, so it stands to reason that the Queensland border could remain closed until then if what the Premier is promising to do remains true.
CLARE: She's saying we'll do everything we can to keep the community safe and you'd expect her to say that. She's come up for a lot of criticism, we've talked about it on this show a lot, but I think the decisions that she's made over the last few months have been proven to be the right ones. You only have to look at what's happening in Victoria to know that this virus can take off like a rocket. So follow the medical advice, I'm sure that's what she's doing. If you can lift the borders earlier, terrific, but the most important thing here is that we don't want what we've seen overseas and what we've seen take place in Victoria to take place right across the country.
STEFANOVIC: Still with the Queensland Premier, well all of them for that matter. The Prime Minister has written a letter to them seeking border allowances. So basically, this has to stop supply chains from being disrupted. Do you think that is something that should be allowed?
CLARE: It seems like common sense. I saw the story the other day where the PM got involved in helping a little girl cross the border from Victoria to South Australia. She's got hip dysplasia, little two-year-old kid. I saw another yarn - I think there's a boy, 16, at Tweed Heads who had trouble getting across the border into Queensland for cancer treatment in Brisbane. These are the sorts of things that we should be able to sort out really easily and create a system where people who are sick and need to get to see a doctor can do it without having to get special permission from the Minister and we can get doctors across the border, we can get farmhands across the border. We can keep the economy working as best as we can within those small regional communities and help sick people to get medical attention without having to have all of these delays and get prime ministers and ministers involved.
STEFANOVIC: Jason, I just had Senator Matt Canavan on the show and there are reports this morning that suggest the Coalition and the Greens are going to be targeting vulnerable Labor seats over the apparent split in energy at the moment that seems to be troubling the Labor Party. We could single out Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese there when it comes to gas. What are your thoughts on this new campaign?
CLARE: Sometimes I think the Nats and the Greens are in bed together. This is just silly buggers stuff. Everybody knows Pete that gas is going to be part of the energy mix in this country for a long time to come. We're going to use it, not just to produce electricity, but to make things. A third of the gas that we pull out of the ground and use here in Australia is for manufacturing: making everything from chemicals, to products for farms. It's as simple as that. The big problem is it costs too much. You can pull gas out of the ground here, put it in a machine, turn it into liquid, put it on a ship, send it to Japan, put it in another machine, turn it into a gas and it's still cheaper over there than it is here in Australia. This Government's been in power for seven years and they still haven't fixed that. Matt was the Minister for a lot of that time. What we're saying here is that they've got Nev Power putting together a report looking at how we can make gas cheaper, and make sure that we've got the supplies that we need here for Australian energy and manufacturing. If they can come up with a good plan, terrific. We're ready and willing to offer bipartisanship.
STEFANOVIC: Is there a party room revolt over energy policy at all?
CLARE: No. This is all hot air, mate. This is all hot air.
STEFANOVIC: Okay, one more issue before we go. Are you expecting, there seems to be a bit of a shift in language when it comes to super, and particularly the Prime Minister. He seems as though he's starting to walk back this legislated move to increase super contributions. Are you concerned that that that might be starting to come off?
CLARE: I think they should be concerned. I don't like giving the Libs free political advice, but be careful what you wish for. If you break this promise and you try and push legislation through the Senate to cut people's superannuation increases, you could be committing political suicide. Remember, John Howard got Word Choices through the Senate and it cut the incomes of a million Australians. If they do this, they'll effectively be cutting the incomes of about 10 million Aussies by cutting their superannuation. If they think that this is a good idea, not only would they be breaking a promise, but they'd be cutting people's incomes and I think they'd rue the day.
STEFANOVIC: But aren't you cutting incomes anyway because, the RBA has pointed to this, the Grattan Institute has pointed to this as well, that people may not get pay raises if these increased super contributions go ahead.
CLARE: Well, Pete, that explains those massive pay increases that happened over the last few years when super didn't go up, didn't doesn't. This is just a rubbish argument. We didn't have a superannuation increase over the last few years and we haven't had massive pay increases either. So the bottom line here is if they cut superannuation, then there's going to be a pay cut. There's no guarantees here that salaries are going to go up. It's typical Liberal agenda. They're always interested in freezing and cutting superannuation. There's a couple of things you can always guarantee in politics: the Labor Party is going to defend and fight for Medicare and for superannuation, and the Libs, wherever they can, are determined to cut it.
STEFANOVIC: But isn't it worth arguing the fact that COVID-19 has changed the game here? That perhaps if these super increases aren't increased now, maybe it can be done further down the track rather than right now when a lot of businesses are struggling and they can't afford to pay.
CLARE: That's always the Liberal argument, throw it down the track, throw it down the track. You're right that COVID is asking us to revisit and think about some of the things that we've got wrong that we need to fix or that we need to change for the future. One of them is aged care. This has exposed that aged care is a disaster that needs to be fixed. It shows that there's big problems in the IR system, you got a third of workers without sick leave, forced to go to work sick, spreading the virus in places like Victoria. The other is manufacturing. The virus has shown that there's a lot of stuff we need to be able to make here in Australia. There's nothing to say that we're not going to have another pandemic caused by something else in 10 years time. The political parties in this country need to identify what are these big problems coming at us down the track? What has Coronavirus taught us that we need to fix? One thing's for certain - Aussies need superannuation, otherwise they're going to retire poor.
STEFANOVIC: Okay, Jason Clare. Always good to get your thoughts. Thanks for joining us this morning. We'll talk to you again soon.
CLARE: Good on you, mate. Thanks very much.
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