SKY NEWS: 11/5/20

May 11, 2020

MONDAY, 11 MAY 2020

PETER STEFANOVIC: Joining us now is the Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy Mark Butler. Mark, good morning, thanks so much for joining us. Later on today Anthony Albanese will be outlining what he calls, “once in a century reform.” What will that look like?
MARK BUTLER: We are getting back together as a caucus again over the course of this morning and Anthony is going to start the process of Labor’s contribution to the conversation the country has to have, which is charting a path out of this crisis.
We as an Opposition have a range of different jobs during a national crisis like this. We have tried to be as constructive as we possibly could be, providing bipartisan support in fashioning a health and economic response to the crisis. We obviously have a job to do to hold the Government to account – to press for improvements in their response and press the Government when things go wrong, like when organised crime was able to hack into people’s superannuation accounts.
We also have a job in participating in the conversation about how we come out of this crisis. What economic changes we need to make, what lessons we learn from this. for example, the millions of Australians who were left without protections – either industrial protections or JobKeeper protection because they are employed on a casual or other precarious employment arrangement.
Anthony will be talking about that over the course of this morning to start that conversation.
STEFANOVIC: Okay well just on that should JobKeeper of JobSeeker be wound back given some businesses will be reopening soon?
BUTLER: The Deloitte Report that was released this morning confirms this. any idea that the economy is going to be able to snap back magically in a few months’ time to a position it found itself in before Coronavirus is frankly a fantasy. This is going to be a slow, difficult economic recovery. We think it is important that the Prime Minister leads and not pretends that the economy is going to be able to snap back and people are going to go back to the way things were at the beginning of this year. It is going to be slow, it is going to take time and we are going to have to make sure that workers aren’t in a position where suddenly they are not able to pay the mortgage, their employment arrangements are separated, they are pushed back onto Newstart arrangements of $40 a day, which we now recognise was insufficient to live. If that happens we are going to find the recovery harder than we already will.
STEFANOVIC: Just on JobKeeper should that be wound back?
BUTLER: We think it is important to make sure JobKeeper keeps pace with the economic recovery. Deloitte’s has made it clear that they don’t think the recovery is going to be fast enough, quick enough, to see JobKeeper snap back after six months.
STEFANOVIC: So what timeframe would you give it?
BUTLER: We need to be flexible. We need to see what type of pace the economic recovery is able to proceed on and how fast different parts of the economy are going to be able to open up and be flexible about it. That’s really the call you see in the Deloitte Report this morning. It is the call that Labor has been making.
STEFANOVIC: So you think it should continue up until September or perhaps even beyond that?
BUTLER: I think there will be an argument for there to be some sort of flexibility beyond September depending upon the speed of the economic recovery. The Deloitte Report this morning makes clear what a number of us know, as we are talking to businesses in our electorate, this is going to be a slow economic recovery. The way in which the country has been able to deal with the Coronavirus has been magnificent, the discipline, the contribution made by Australians has been magnificent. But the economic recovery is going to be slow, it is going to be difficult and it is important that the Government provides support to its citizens.
STEFANOVIC: Okay well Angus Taylor wants a gas led recovery. Is that something you would be for?
BUTLER: I think what businesses need is an energy policy which gives them confidence to invest. Already before the bushfires, before Coronavirus, business investment was at some of its lowest rates since the early 1990s and one of the lessons I think we do take from this crisis, this global health crisis, is the degree in which we have wound down our manufacturing capability over the course of the last several years. Particularly seeing our automotive industry depart. The manufacturing industry wants to see nothing more than a serious energy policy which gives them the confidence to invest. They have not been getting this over seven years of the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Government, they are certainly not getting it from Angus Taylor.
STEFANOVIC: So could car manufacturing make a return?
BUTLER: I think we need to have a look at our manufacturing capability. We’ve learnt a very clear lesson about the dangers of having supply lines that are so dependent upon the global economy running smoothly. It has not been running smoothly and we have found ourselves frankly stranded with manufacturing capability at its lowest levels since World War II.
STEFANOVIC: Mark just finally, Mike Kelly has taken up a job with a US tech giant he has publicly praised in the past. Have you got any concerns about him taking up this post?
BUTLER: Mike Kelly has made a magnificent contribution to our country through public service in the ADF and public service in the Parliament. I don’t think anyone expected, he is still relatively young, that although he had to retire on health grounds because of the extraordinary travel in representing an electorate that is, I think, larger than sixty-six nations in the world, that he was simply just going to hang up his boots and not do any work anymore. He does still have an important contribution to make to this country and I’m very glad he has found the opportunity to do that.  
STEFANOVIC: Is it a conflict of interest though?
BUTLER: I’m sure that Mike will ensure that there is no conflict of interest. He is a patriot,  he is a person that has made an extraordinary contribution to this country and he deserves the ability to continue working.
STEFANOVIC: Okay Mark Butler I appreciate your time this morning, thanks for joining us.
BUTLER: Thanks Pete.