Radio Interview with Patricia Karvelas - RN Breakfast - Monday 2 May 2022

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
RN BREAKFAST 
MONDAY, 2 MAY 2022
 
SUBJECTS: Labor’s Plan for a Better Future; Labor's ‘Help to Buy’ policy; Labor's Plan for Cheaper Child Care; Aged care crisis; Newspoll; Australia’s Housing crisis.
 
PATRICIA KARVELAS, HOST:
Jason Clare is Labor's campaign spokesman and Shadow Minister for Housing and our guest. Jason Clare, welcome.
 
JASON CLARE, LABOR CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON:
Thanks Patricia, I don't think, we haven't spoken for yonks either.
 
KARVELAS:
Yeah, yonks. Well, I'm glad that the yonks ended, the drought has ended. Anthony Albanese has promised cheaper childcare, cheaper power bills, cheaper medicines, cheaper mortgages, if you win on May the 21st. But given Labor's mantra that everything is going up except for people's wages, why should voters believe you?
 
CLARE:
Look, I think Australians have had a gut full of this government. They're disappointed with what Scott Morrison has done over the course of the last three years, what this government has done over 10 years. You know, whether it's bushfires whether it's floods, or whether it's vaccines, or whether it's just failing to take responsibility for anything, they're looking for something better. I think they’re yearning for something better. We've got to, we got to work hard over the course of the next three weeks to earn people's trust and earn people’s vote. I don't underestimate how hard that is, Patricia, but we're setting out sensible policies that have been well thought out and offering them to the Australian people. The housing policy that we announced yesterday, that I played a role in, has been developed with the benefit of looking at the scheme in place here in WA, where I am, that's been in place for 30 years, and the scheme that's been rolling out now in Victoria for two years, as well as talking to the experts who know what we can do that can really make a difference to people's lives.
 
KARVELAS:
Someone has to pay, how much deeper are you prepared to go into debt?
 
CLARE:
Well, the interesting thing about this scheme is that it actually makes taxpayers money. It's an investment, you borrow money, you invest in helping people to buy a home. When they sell the home, the government gets the benefit of the capital gain, so does the owner of the house. The experience overseas, the experience here in Australia, is that this is a scheme that makes taxpayers money. Interestingly, also Patricia, in the Victorian scheme that's been up and running just for two years, one in six people have already paid out the government's equity, they've bought the government's share of the house back.  So, it helps people to get a foothold and to buy a home. But it also makes taxpayers money in the long term.
 
KARVELAS:
Yeah, but more broadly on your agenda before we get into more of the nitty gritty on that particular policy. In his speech, Anthony Albanese spoke of how all the big reforms have been delivered by Labor Governments, Medicare, the NDIS, the NBN, and universal superannuation. But where's your grand vision that would place an Albanese Government in the history books? You can, you can name that legacy, sure, but what's next? What's the big reform?
 
CLARE:
Well, these are these are smart, practical reforms that really will change people's lives. I know people are saying that they're looking for some sort of shining light here. Look at the policy that we're offering on childcare. Now, people often say, oh, that's just childcare. This will make a big difference to more than a million Aussies who've got kids in childcare. If you've got one child in childcare, and you're on a combined income of $100,000, that means you're going to pay $1,600 less for childcare than you are at the moment. I've just had my little boy move from childcare to primary school, it felt like you get a pay rise, when that happens.
 
KARVELAS:
It does feel like that.
 
CLARE:
It's not just that, Patricia, because it's more often than not women than men who are working part time, rather than full time. If childcare is cheaper, instead of working two and a half days a week, you might work three and a half or four or five, it means more money in their pocket because they're working more. PWC and others, I think KPMG, have said the economic return to the economy would be massive. You talk to employers out there, they're struggling to find skilled workers. This could supercharge the economy by getting skilled workers back in...
 
KARVELAS:
So, the childcare policies is what you'd put that on the list as one of the big Labor reforms in the same spirit of something like Medicare or the NDIS?
 
CLARE:
It's significant in terms of boosting productivity and participation in the workforce. But if you're an older Australian, or even if you're, you know, say our age, Patricia and you're thinking about your mum and dad going into aged care, you'd be terrified about that at the moment with everything that we've learned through the Royal Commission. You don't want your mum and dad suffering in their later years. We're offering practical policies there to make sure that there's more care, better food, nurses 24 hours a day...
 
KARVELAS:  
Okay. 
 
CLARE:
Now, that may not be the sort of policy that you say is, the one big thing, but it's one of a number of important things that will make a difference in people's lives.
 
KARVELAS:
Let's get to today's polls, which have you at least six points ahead of the Coalition two party preferred. Three weeks out from polling day. What would it take for Labor to lose it from here?
 
CLARE:
Patricia, don't look at polls. You talk to Fran about this on the podcast all the time. You know that they're wrong. They were wrong last time. I think it's a mistake for anybody to pay too much attention to national polls. The bottom line is, we need to win seats, not polls. We need to win people's votes all across the country. And it's going to be a massive effort for us over the course of the next three weeks to earn the trust and support of the Australian people.
 
KARVELAS:
Okay, let's talk about the centrepiece. You've already explained a little bit about it. We've gone there. This is the housing policy you announced. You say the scheme will cost $329 million over four years. But will that be anywhere near enough given a Labor Government would be co-purchasing houses? Could the price tag end up being much bigger?
 
CLARE:
Well, that's the cost of the interest we pay on the investment we make in the houses as well as admin costs. But we expect that over time, it actually makes money, as I mentioned before, as over time, say over 10 years people sell their house at a capital gain, and money comes back to taxpayers. 

But you know, to your broader point, Patricia, I don't think it's melodramatic to say that we have a housing crisis in Australia. It's harder to buy than ever before, but also harder to rent and there are more homeless Aussies than ever before. This is one part of the solution. But we’ve also got to invest more in social housing, and in affordable housing, particularly for frontline workers. But there is a group of Australians out there at the moment, who are giving up on the great Australian dream and they are people on lower incomes. The Grattan Institute's work shows that particularly Aussies in their 20s and 30s who are on lower incomes are missing out. Back when Bob Hawke was the Prime Minister of Australia, about 60% of young Aussies on lower incomes owned their own home. Now it's only about 28%. This policy is targeted to help them. But not just them, it's not just for first home buyers. Think about men and women who get divorced in their 50s. They sell the family home, they've got enough money as a deposit to buy a house, but they can't get a mortgage because they either don't earn enough or they're not going to be in the workforce long enough. I think only 34% of women who get divorced and sell the family home, buy another home within five years.
 
KARVELAS:
All of that is true. But the criticism is that the scheme will help too few people, only 10,000 homes will be co-purchased. Doesn't that pale in comparison with the Government's home guarantee scheme, which allows 50,000 people to secure a property with a 5% deposit and they don't have to share ownership with the Commonwealth?
 
CLARE:  
We support that. But be clear Patricia that that helps a different group of people, usually on higher incomes more than $100,000. It helps people to buy a home sooner without having to pay mortgage insurance. People who are always going to buy a home but can buy it today rather than waiting another couple of years to save a deposit. This is a policy that's designed to help people to get a home with a smaller mortgage, rather than renting for the rest of their life. Let me give you a real life example of a person I've met. Angela on the Central Coast. She works at a school canteen, her husband is a carpenter, they've got three kids, wants to buy a house worth about $900,000. The bank won't lend her that much money. But she can get a loan for about $500,000 or $600,000. This is a policy designed for people like that...
 
KARVELAS:
Okay.
 
CLARE:
To be able to live in a home that they own rather than rent for the rest of their life. And that's why it's been backed by everybody from the Property Council on one side, to National Shelter on the other.
 
KARVELAS:
But if you really wanted to make housing more affordable, Jason Clare, don't you have to rediscover the political courage you had three years ago and do something about negative gearing and Capital Gains Tax?
 
CLARE:
We're not going down that path. I think we've learned from the last election that that wasn't something that Australian people support. But the problem still exists. We've got to come up with other ways to...
 
KARVELAS:
But can the problem really be solved with these piecemeal approaches rather than a fundamental reform?
 
CLARE:
What I'm saying is this is one part of a bigger plan. We've got to do this. I hope you're not suggesting that investing in social housing and affordable housing is piecemeal because I've got to tell you, that's the guts of it here. You need to get the Commonwealth Government showing some leadership and investing more in social and affordable housing. But on top of that, Patricia, we've got to do something about that Gordian knot of housing supply, releasing more land, fixing the planning problems. That's why we announced yesterday, the National Housing Supply and Affordability Council to get to that. To set targets for states about the release of land and reporting through the National Cabinet on progress. And bigger than that, anybody who has spoken to you on housing on your program, I’m sure, would tell you we need a national housing and homelessness plan for the long term. If we win the next election we'll do that, we'll put in place in the first term of an Albanese Government and start to implement it in that first term.
 
KARVELAS:
Jason Clare, I hope it's not yonks again. Thanks for coming on the show.
 
CLARE:
I hope so too, thanks.
 
ENDS
 

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