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Early Agenda -

View in ParlView

AM Agenda

16 June 2010

KIERAN GILBERT: Joining me this morning the Parliamentary Secretary for Employment Jason Clare and
the Shadow Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, gentlemen good morning to you both.

JASON CLARE: G'day.

SCOTT MORRISON: Good morning.

KIERAN GILBERT: Jason, what is it? Is it talks are proceeding well or they're not proceeding at
all. The Prime Minister seems to believe that everything is going swimmingly, you listen to the
industry and it's the complete flipside to that.

JASON CLARE: Oh, I guess it depends on who you're speaking to in the industry. We're seeing good
progress. You broke a story on the show two weeks ago today where you made the point and the
Minerals Council made the point back to you that we should be taxing mining profits based on the
profit they make rather than the production they make. That was a really big concession by the
mining industry to recognise that we should be taxing profits rather than production and off the
back of that you've had Peter Costello, John Hewson, Andrew Robb, a range of people say this is the
way to go, the only person who isn't saying that we should tax profits is Tony Abbott. What we're
talking to the mining industry about now, not just the Mining Council but individual companies, is
about the detail about how that will work, how that will work to make sure that the mining industry
continues to grow but at the same time Australians get a fair share of the profits that they make.

KIERAN GILBERT: The Prime Minister's message yesterday was hold or thanked the Caucus for holding
their nerve. Was that as much a request as it was a statement, please continue to hold your nerve
because eight of the 10 questions or statements in the Caucus related to the mining tax, it seems
people are skittish?

JASON CLARE: No, I think it's the reverse actually, Kieran. You know, my colleagues were saying was
go ahead, Kevin, this is the right thing to do. People in the Labor Caucus know that reform is
hard, it's never easy. Have a think back 20 years to the reforms of the Hawke government whether
it's tariff reduction or whether it's superannuation or Medicare, these are hard things, today we
might think they are easy but there were serious blues and serious fights back then. Have a think
overseas, look at Obama who's just made big reforms to healthcare, but go back six months and they
were very unpopular; people were burning him in effigy. What all of my colleagues were saying is
that good Labor governments make big reforms that set us up for the future. We've done it before
and we'll do it again.

KIERAN GILBERT: But, you talk about the rows, the stoushes, there apparently was one yesterday
between Gary Gray the Member for Brand in W.A and Lindsay tanner. Gary Gray was saying that there
needs to be deadline set, August at the latest for a resolution to this. Lindsay Tanner says there
can't be an arbitrary deadline set. Apparently they had a stink in the Caucus so Gary Grey
obviously doesn't agree with you that things are travelling as they should.

JASON CLARE: I didn't see it. You know, if it was there I didn't see it in the Caucus. What
everybody is saying is we want a deal with this as expeditiously as possible but we've got to get
it right. You can't take a cake out of the oven just because you're hungry, you've got to cook it,
you've got to get it done, we've got to get the details sorted out to get the right package that as
I said before will make sure that the mining industry continues to grow but at the same time
Australians get their fair share of the profits that these companies make.

KIERAN GILBERT: Okay, well for Tony Abbott, Scott Morrison, his message was the Coalition needs to
play a cautious, steady game, a straight and steady game. Essentially it seems that he just doesn't
want you to make any mistakes and to keep the focus on the mining tax?

SCOTT MORRISON: Well, looks there's a good reason to focus on the mining tax. I mean what we've
seen with the mining tax, if this was a real reform, I thought Peter Walsh made this point quite
well a few weeks ago, if this was a genuine reform the Henry Review would've come out for everyone
to see back in February. There would have been a long consultation process that went on and a
debate about the Henry Tax Review and including, you know, this measure which isn't what was in the
Henry Tax Review, what they've come up with is something different but there would've been a long
process of debate, there would've been genuine reform discussions taking place. What we've seen
instead is a Prime Minister spring this on the Australian people, spring it on the mining sector
and just put it out there and now he's going through this faux process of consultation. Now, if the
people you're negotiating with don't think you're consulting, I don't think the Prime Minister can
stand up and tell the Australian people that he's engaged in a consultation process.

KIERAN GILBERT: But, you know ...

SCOTT MORRISON: It will be the usual just get out of the way I want to do this. He said it on
health to the premiers; apparently the premiers were the problem, now the mining industry is the
problem. Well there is a pattern here, this Prime Minister doesn't listen.

KIERAN GILBERT: Well, Tony Abbott using the words steady and cautious, has he had a makeover?

SCOTT MORRISON: Look, what Tony is saying really clearly is that this government has major problems
and the Australian people need to understand what those problems are and they understanding,
they've woken up to Kevin Rudd, I think that's very clear but what we're seeing with this mining
tax again is this faux process of trying to pretend to be one thing but clearly being another and I
think that's exactly what we've seen from this Prime Minister from day one.

KIERAN GILBERT: Tony Abbott led the charge in Question Time let's recap a little of the exchange
with the Prime Minister.

TONY ABBOTT: When will he finally end this amateur hour experimentation with Australia's economic
future and dump this bad tax?

KEVIN RUDD: We're engaged in consultation, we're engaged in negotiation and we will, we will
prosecute that to the extent that it's necessary to reach an appropriate settlement for the
national economic interest.

KIERAN GILBERT: Scott Morrison, the message from Tony Abbott to your troops seems like the typical
small target strategy, very different from the approach that he took in his Battlelines book of
those big ideas, big spending initiatives. This seems to be just keep your head under the parapet
at the moment?

SCOTT MORRISON: Well, we've announced a whole range of policies this year starting with the direct
action on the environment in beginning of this year. In my own area we've announced quite a number
of policies. Now, the government doesn't want to talk about our policies too much in the area of
border protection, maybe we will later. We've announced policies on paid parental leave, the
government's paid parental leave scheme will go through the parliament but the voters will have on
offer to them when they go to the polls later this year is a better scheme, a scheme that is a
genuine fair dinkum series of payments to women in the workforce and fathers in the workforce for
that matter depending on, you know, who's taking the role of carer.

KIERAN GILBERT: On the government's negotiations, I just want to drill down a little bit, excuse
the pun ...

JASON CLARE: Can I respond to that just quickly?

KIERAN GILBERT: Yeah, I'll let you respond to that as well. Let's just look at the negotiations ...

JASON CLARE: Sure.

KIERAN GILBERT: ... that we've seen. I mean the Prime Minister says they're all going well. We've
seen one image of a person this week, and it's been handed out everywhere that image of the
petroleum gas negotiations yesterday, you've come up with one company?

JASON CLARE: Oh, well ...

KIERAN GILBERT: ... It's not really a compelling case to say yes our negotiations are going well
...

JASON CLARE: For every ...

KIERAN GILBERT: ... no one else will let you in the door with a camera?

JASON CLARE: For every company that is saying that there's not real consultation, there's a dozen
that are involved in real negotiations ...

KIERAN GILBERT: Well, where are the images? We've seen one company yesterday.

JASON CLARE: Well, well ...

SCOTT MORRISON: Name the dozen?

JASON CLARE: As Minister Ferguson has said, it's important that those discussions occur
confidentially and that he was respecting the confidentiality of those discussions. He is talking
to a lot of companies about the detail of how this will work. But, just back to that point about
Tony Abbott. I was talking to a bloke the other day and he said do you work for Kevin Rudd or the
underpants man? Now, I reckon ...

SCOTT MORRISON: Jason.

JASON CLARE: ... now I reckon, I reckon Tony Abbott ...

SCOTT MORRISON: Well, that's, that's the contribution to the debate today, talking about
underpants, okay.

JASON CLARE: ... this is what a bloke said to me the other day at the railway station ...

SCOTT MORRISON: (Inaudible)

JASON CLARE: ... do you work for Kevin Rudd of the underpants man?

SCOTT MORRISON: Oh yeah that's right

JASON CLARE: Now, I think Tony Abbott l would like to be the underpants man ...

SCOTT MORRISON: Mate, you have just gone to the bottom draw.

JASON CLARE: Well, ...

SCOTT MORRISON: ... you may as well put up the white flag if you're going to talk about underpants.

JASON CLARE: Well, well, I didn't know what colour they were but this bloke was telling me do you
work for Kevin Rudd ...

SCOTT MORRISON: This is the argument against ...

JASON CLARE: ... or the underpants man?

SCOTT MORRISON: This is Kevin Rudd's defence?

JASON CLARE: You saw it ...

SCOTT MORRISON: I'll let it (inaudible).

JASON CLARE: In the change in Tony Abbott, you saw the change in Tony Abbott over the last week.
Normally he's out there fighting and yelling and screaming in parliament, someone's got to him. I
think Crosby/Textor have told him don't say anything in parliament because suddenly he's really
sitting there very quiet. He doesn't want people to know that he's the bloke that would bring back
WorkChoices, that ...

SCOTT MORRISON: That's not true.

JASON CLARE: ... that would cut funding for health ...

SCOTT MORRISON: ...That's not true, Jason.

JASON CLARE: ... and would cut funding to education. And don't say that's not true because you've
already announced it.

SCOTT MORRISON: Smears and underpants, that's the government's defence?

JASON CLARE: Oh, I wouldn't put those two together mate. If you want to put those two together
that's up to you.

KIERAN GILBERT: Can we move on from, it's breakfast time, let's move on from the undergarment
debate ...

JASON CLARE: We won't talk about golden retrievers, okay?

KIERAN GILBERT: No, please not. Senator Steve Hutchins apparently told the Caucus yesterday that
there needs to be a deadline on when this issue mining tax needs to be resolved, Simon Crean
believes that there wasn't enough consultation done in this process as well, he said that a couple
of weeks ago. There seems to be some concern about Kevin Rudd's capacity, not some concern quite
extensive concern among the Caucus about his capacity to turn this all around?

JASON CLARE: No, no, I disagree with that fundamentally. Everybody wants to get it done
expeditiously, I said that, everybody wants to get it right but the Caucus is one on this, we think
this is the right reform for Australia. Now, I said it on your program last week, I spoke to a
bloke the other day, and it wasn't the underpants bloke, but it was a bloke who was asking me
questions about this and I said do you know that as a result of this reform if you're on an average
wage you'll get an extra $108,000 when you retire in your super. And he said to me well, you've won
me. He understood that point. The message we've got to get out there is that this is big reform
that will set us up for the future and it will mean that every company pays less tax, it will make
them more competitive and it will make sure that every Australian worker gets more super. When the
Australian public hears that they give it a big tick.

KIERAN GILBERT: Simon Crean, I mentioned him a little earlier, he was asked about those comments in
Question Time yesterday, he gave a forceful defence of the government's handling of the tax.

SIMON CREAN: We will continue to have them with the industry to achieve a sensible outcome for the
future of this country and the sooner you get on board ...

HARRY JENKINS: Order.

SIMON CREAN: ... and support that direction the better for this country.

KIERAN GILBERT: Simon Crean gave a strong performance yesterday, isn't this an example of where,
you know the Prime Minister should be using the experience on his front bench more? Consulting more
with your Cabinet and maybe the stuff ups might not have happened as much as they have?

JASON CLARE: Well, I'll dispute that again. He gave a forceful response, so has Julia Gillard, so
has Lindsay Tanner when he's spoken about these things so has Wayne Swan. Whenever any member of
the Caucus ...

KIERAN GILBERT: The kitchen cabinet?

JASON CLRE: No, no, well I just ...

KIERAN GILBERT: The action is about expending it broader than that.

JASON CLARE: I mention people that are outside the, that committee. Simon Crean is a good example
of that, Craig Emerson when he's on this program talks about these reforms and the importance of
implementing them. The government is as one on this. Whenever I speak to any of my colleagues they
make the same point, this is the right reform for Australia and it will set us up for the future,
it will make the economy stronger and create jobs. What you ...

SCOTT MORRISON: But, that's not the point, Jason.

JASON CLARE: Well, It is isn't it?

SCOTT MORRISON: The issue here is that there are four people making decisions in this government,
just four.

JASON CLARE: No, that's incorrect ...

SCOTT MORRISON: The gang of four ...

JASON CLARE: ... that, that is incorrect.

SCOTT MORRISON: ... make decisions on all the big things, in fact all the big stuff ups as well and
so when it comes to making choices between chairman Rudd or Madam Gillard they are all responsible
for the same decisions. That is the group of people who are making decisions. Simon Crean was left
out of the loop on this as was the Resources Minister, they admitted as much yesterday in the
parliament. You've got these four people who aren't talking to anyone, who aren't listening to
anyone, they are just steamrolling ahead with all of these decisions which are costing taxpayers
billions and billions and we've got the situation with the mining tax at the moment which is writ
large the failure of Kevin Rudd's process.

JASON CLARE: I'll give you one example which shows that that is just fundamentally wrong. In the
budget there's a $600 million package, a skills package which includes more money for apprentices,
more money for literacy and numeracy, guaranteed training for young people. It was a package that
was put together by me, Mark Arbib and Julia Gillard working together. So, they're all members of
the government are working on these things and I'll tell you what that package also includes $200
million to help to provide skills to the mining industry (inaudible) to help jobs to grow.

KIERAN GILBERT: Okay, a quick response and then we've got to take a break and we'll get back and
talk about other issues.

SCOTT MORRISON: Well, there's no doubt that policies percolate but at the end of the day four
people make the decision. The gang of four make the decisions on this government and I think that's
what worries people and I think that was the point peter Walsh was making. This government does not
consult.

KIERAN GILBERT: Okay, time for a quick break, stay with us.

Thanks for being with us on AM Agenda with me this morning Scott Morrison and Jason Clare. Scott, I
want to ask you about this report in the Herald today suggestions that since the government
announced it's tough reproach to the processing of asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka
that the numbers have fallen by a quarter since that April announcement, so that seems to be
working, does it not?

SCOTT MORRISON: No, I mean we've had 31 boats since that decision, we've had eight boats in the
last 12 days, we've had more than 300 people turn up this month, so if that's success, if that is
success under this government, under their policies on border protection I would hate to see
failure. I mean, we've got more than three boats per weeks arriving since that decision ...

KIERAN GILBERT: But doesn't that, isn't that less in terms of percentage than the three months
prior to that?

SCOTT MORRISON: This is like, you know, no it's not ...

KIERAN GILBERT: It's 25 per cent less, isn't it?

SCOTT MORRISON: No, we've got 31 boats, Kieran. We've got 1400 people who have arrived. We only had
300 people, less than 300 people arrive in the last six years of the Howard government. So, if this
is success and the government themselves said that they didn't think it would stop the boats and it
hasn't, we've actually had more actual boats arrive than in the same corresponding period before
that decision. So, this is a policy, let's be clear, this is a policy that says if you're an Afghan
or you're a Sri Lankan we are not going to assess your claim, we're going to freeze that assessment
for six months and potentially longer, you are now going to go to a remote camp in Western
Australia at the Curtin Detention Centre, a centre closed by the Howard government, and you're
going to end up at a range of other remote camps all around Australia. Now, apparently this is a ,
this is the humanitarian approach of the Rudd government but yet the boats continue to arrive. So,
it's as ineffective as it is discriminatory, Kieran.

KIERAN GILBERT: Well, the boats continue to arrive, there was another one yesterday and despite the
apparent reduction according to the numbers in the Herald today, Jason, it's still heading towards
to highest number of unauthorised arrivals in a year. Are you worried about the politics of this
issue? Is this, you know, the sleeper issue that people don't recognise? There is a view that shift
against Kevin Rudd that we've seen manifest in the last few weeks began last year with the Oceanic
Viking and the bungled handling of that case?

JASON CLARE: It is a tough issue and people have got strong views on both sides of the debate, I
think you'd recognise that, Mate. What I'm disappointed is that there used to be bipartisanship on
this policy area back before 1993 and since then bipartisanship has disappeared but beneath the
political debate that you're seeing in the newspapers and on television, if you look at the
policies, you find that the policies of the Labor Party and the Liberal Party are 95 per cent the
same. We all agree on most things except for two things and that is temporary protection visas and
the Pacific Solution. And the reason the government doesn't support either of those is because they
don't work and Scott knows that because ...

SCOTT MORRISON: No, no that's not true, Jason.

JASON CLARE: ... well, hang on a sec, I let you ...

SCOTT MORRISON: Yeah sure, okay

JASON CLARE: ... speak. If Scott's seriously thought that what he's putting out, what Tony Abbott
is putting up would work then he would've answered the questions at the press conference a couple
of weeks ago where they were asked for a guarantee and they said to Tony Abbott three times, will
you guarantee that this will stop the boats and he was asked the question time after time after
time and refused to answer it because he knows that this policy is a sham, he knows it's like one
of those presents you get on Christmas Day, very popular until you find out it doesn't work. So, my
...

SCOTT MORRISON: Yeah, let's go ...

JASON CLARE: ... question to you, Scott, is will you guarantee ...

SCOTT MORRISON: Let's go to the record.

JASON CLARE: No, no we're talking policy.

SCOTT MORRISON: (Inaudible) 43 boats arrived in 2001, 43 boats and after 2001 the full suite of
measures came into play, what was described as the Pacific Solution, temporary protection visas,
all of these came into play. The number of boats went to one and then went for six years, six
years, an average of just three boats a year and 50 people, less than 50 people per year. Now, when
you change temporary protection visas in August of 2008 and in particular when you showed a
complete, not you personally, but the Prime Minister showed a complete absence of resolve in the
Oceanic Viking we are now at a rate of per week. There are 452 children who are being detained
today. When we left office there were just 21 and I think those figures speak for themselves in
terms of the success of the Howard government's policies and failure of the Rudd government's
policies. There's a clear choice. Jason's right about this, this is not a debate about whether 13,
750 refugees and others should come under our refugee and humanitarian program, we agree about
that. We also agree and the settlement policies that have been employed by this government and the
previous government, the difference of view if how people come.

KIERAN GILBERT: Just quickly, your response. There's one issue I want to ask you about.

JASON CLARE: Well, my response would be this, when is the Liberal Party going to answer the
question, will you guarantee that what you're proposing will stop the boats? If they don't ...

SCOTT MORRISON: People know our record.

JASON CLARE: ... if they don't answer that question then they can't be trusted on this issue.

KIERAN GILBERT: Jason, just finally, in your electorate yesterday we saw that terrible plane crash,
it was in Canley Vale in Sydney, it is in the seat of Blaxland, you're the local member. What's the
latest? Have you spoken to the local principal? What's the latest on the ground?

JASON CLARE: First a terrible tragedy, two people lost their lives yesterday which is in the hearts
and minds of everybody but it could've been worse. I spoke to the principal late last night, she
told me that the plane crashed around about 8:10-8:15 but the plane had crashed about 20 minutes
later than it could've been a lot worse because that's when kids would've been dropped off at
school and they would've been all along the street and all along the pavement there. As it is there
was a car that had to dodge the plane and was very lucky that the father and the kids were able to
escape with their lives, so we're very grateful for that. The two people lost their lives, it's an
eerie feeling when you see a place that you know so well on television, I used to play most of my
cricket at the park across the road, my mum works around the corner, so it's a terrible tragedy for
my electorate and our hearts are with the families of those two people today.

KIERAN GILBERT: Absolutely, thank goodness it wasn't worse than what it was but appreciate your
thoughts on that and your time Scott and Jason, thanks.

JASON CLARE: Thanks mate.

SCOTT MORRISON: Thanks mate.

KIERAN GILBERT: That's all for our chat with our politicians panel.

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