SKY NEWS FIRST EDITION
THURSDAY, 1 OCTOBER 2020
SUBJECTS: Manufacturing; Sydney airport; social housing; HomeBuilder.
PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Welcome back to first edition. Great to have you with us this morning. Joining us live now out of Sydney is the Shadow Minister of Housing and Homelessness, Jason Clare. Jason, good to see you as always. Before we get to housing, I do want to ask you about this latest announcement from the Prime Minister that's coming up later on today - one and a half billion dollars that's going to be spent on the manufacturing sector to try and get manufacturing going again here in Australia. What's your reaction? What's Labor's position on that at the moment?
JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS: One and a half billion dollars sounds like a lot of money but it's actually less than the amount of money they're ripping out of RND. It pays, like everything the government does at the moment, to look at the detail of this. And when you do, you find that a lot of these are re-announcements, and I'd encourage, Pete, your listeners to have a look at the front page of The Australian today where the Prime Minister says he's going to focus this. Surprise, surprise - they're in marginal seats so it tells you that this is more about politics than it is about jobs. Have a look at the government's record, seven years and there are fewer people who work in manufacturing today than did when the Liberals and the Nationals were first elected back in 2013. The only thing they're good at is manufacturing slogans and if they were serious about manufacturing, they'd be talking about ‘Made in Australia’ today and they'd be telling state governments around the country that are getting trains built in India and Korea and other places, that we should be doing it right here in Australia.
STEFANOVIC: You would agree though, wouldn't you, that we have to become less reliant on China?
CLARE: I think it's a no brainer that we've got to be able to do more manufacturing here in Australia, the Coronavirus teaches us that. Have a think about where most of the masks are made in the world. Six months ago, when the virus struck, the two biggest places for masks to be produced in the world were Wuhan in China and Milan in Italy, ground zero for this virus. So, there's lessons to be learned here, I'm just not sure that this government is the government to learn those lessons. Does a leopard really change its spots? They pushed the car industry out of the country, they've neglected manufacturing for almost a decade and now the Prime Minister is going to rehash a whole bunch of old announcements and try and convince Australians that he really cares about manufacturing.
STEFANOVIC: And is the issue with manufacturing the fact that the costs for labour are just too high? It's cheaper to buy stuff elsewhere.
CLARE: That is not the right way to look at this. Labour is one part of it, energy is another part of it, but it's also, especially with advanced manufacturing, the fact that you can make things better here than you can overseas. And Pete, if you're talking about government buying things, if you're thinking about buying trains for Sydney, or for Brisbane or Melbourne, if you're writing a cheque for $5 billion and send it overseas, then that's all money that gets spent overseas. If you spend a little bit more but you build it in Australia, that's money that gets spent in Australia at the local shops, spent right around the economy. I think governments need to think about this in a bit of a smarter way. You send jobs overseas because you think you save a little bit of money, it ends up costing Australia a lot more.
STEFANOVIC: The transport minister is opening up a discussion today, Jason, on whether or not the curfew should be lifted when it comes to Sydney Airport. Do you think that could ever happen?
CLARE: People who forget history are condemned to repeat it. Think back about the 1998 election, the Libs lost the seat of Lowe then because of flight paths over that part of Sydney. I encourage you to Google the flight paths for Sydney Airport and have a look at what happens when the wind is blowing in a northerly direction. All the planes go out and come back over the Liberal marginal seat of Reid. If the Prime Minister doesn't clearly knock this on the head today, then I'll give it away. We've had that bumbling Transport Minister Michael McCormack this week say that spending $30 million for a block of land out in Western Sydney near the airport, that's only worth $3 million was a “bargain”. He probably thinks it's a good idea to get rid of the curfew. The Prime Minister needs to knock this on the head very quickly today.
STEFANOVIC: And he has done already. He did say that the discussion is going to happen because there has to be ways to figure out how to get the aviation sector up off its knees again, but he did suggest that this curfew is out of the question.
CLARE: Good. It shouldn't have even made it into the paper. It shouldn't have even made it into this document that the government's released.
STEFANOVIC: The people in the inner West would have something to say about it.
CLARE: It's just silly.
STEFANOVIC: The people in the inner West, you know, facing jet engines at two o'clock in the morning might have had a big thing to say about this as well.
CLARE: I think that's right.
STEFANOVIC: Hey, this is, what are we, left five days away from the Budget next week? 1-2-3-4. So early in the morning to be doing maths. Are you expecting much to be coming? You're obviously so big on housing and getting public housing going more of that into the future. Do you hold out any hope that you're going to get much luck next week?
CLARE: Housing, I talk about it a lot because it's such a big part of the economy. More people work in the housing construction industry than the manufacturing industry we were talking about a moment ago, almost a million Aussies, and the housing construction industry is going off a cliff. It's expected that we'll build about 25 per cent fewer homes this year than last year. That means massive job losses. The government's been spruiking their HomeBuilder scheme, it's been bungled from the start. We had more data confirming yesterday, Pete, it shows that particularly for apartments, the number of apartments being approved and built is falling rapidly. The Housing Industry Association thinks that the number of apartments built next year will drop by about 40 per cent. So that scheme’s not doing enough. I think they'll try and fix it in the Budget but even doing that is not going to be enough to save the jobs of all these tradies. That's why the Master Builders Association, the HIA, the Property Council of Australia, all of these organisations that aren't card carrying members of the Labor Party, they're not raging socialists, they're all saying build social housing because that'll help to keep these tradies working. They're not saying this because they want to build a better society. They're saying it because the industry is going off a cliff and this is one really good way to keep this industry afloat.
STEFANOVIC: Alright, Jason Clare, appreciate your time as always. We'll catch you again soon.
CLARE: Thanks, mate.
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