Interview - Today Show
SUBJECTS: Looting in flooded areas; Budget pressures; Education; Nedd Brockmann
KARL STEFANOVIC: Well, it is one of the lowest acts – looters taking advantage of an emergency situation to pilfer expensive goods from homes impacted by the floods. Our own weatherman Tim Davies was caught up in the drama yesterday.
TIM DAVIES: I happened to stumble across some very suspicious activity by three men in a blue four-wheel drive. Happy to tell you now that police were on the phone with us straight away. They are on scene. They were on scene really quickly. They’ve been going through the property that we witnessed these men inside and they have made contact with the owner who was here until late yesterday afternoon.
STEFANOVIC: Today it’s front page of the Herald Sun in Victoria. Education Minister Jason Clare and 4BC’s Scott Emerson join us now to discuss. Morning, lads.
JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: G’day, mate.
STEFANOVIC: To you, first of all, Jason, I mean, how low can you go?
CLARE: Well, natural disasters bring out the best in Aussies. But, as we’ve seen, they also bring out the scum. You’ve got Aussies that have lost everything – mud through the house, everything’s had to get thrown out the front. And what’s left, whether it’s a laptop or an iPad or a phone, some mongrel’s come into the house with a balaclava on and a flouro jacket and stolen it. From that footage it looks like the cops might have grabbed some of these people. I’m glad they have.
STEFANOVIC: Scott, we saw some of this in Brissie as well.
SCOTT EMERSON: Yeah, look, these are just grubs out there taking advantage of people at the most vulnerable time. Hopefully they catch them. The thing that worries me is that I know when they catch them, and they go before the courts, they just get a fine. That’s all. And this is when they are just – as Jason just said, they’re mongrels. These scum out there taking advantage of people at their lowest point.
STEFANOVIC: As you say, though, when they go before courts they’re just let out, and most of them are underage, aren’t they? Well, the farms in Victoria, too, have been smashed. Crops damaged and dairy farmers without electricity. Now we hear that this will impact the cost of groceries around the country. All inflationary pressures Jason.
CLARE: Yeah, well, we’ve got people who have lost everything. There are still people out there, Karl, that are isolated or are being evacuated right now. And so, you’ve got the SES and the army out there helping them. But soon enough this is going to hit all of us because this is the food bowl of Australia. And so, if all of the food gets destroyed, then it has an impact on the price that we pay at the supermarket. I suspect that Australians are going to be as sick of La Nina as they were of Covid and we’re going to really feel this over the next few months.
STEFANOVIC: There are huge pressures on budgets at the moment, Scott. And I fear over the next six months a lot are going to be right on the edge.
EMERSON: Look, no doubt about that, Karl. We’ve got the budget next week coming down by Jim Chalmers. And this is only going to add to the inflationary pressures. We know the inflationary pressures add to the interest rates with the RBA. So, look, a lot of Australians are going to be doing it tough and they are going to be looking at next week before budget and saying, “What’s in it for me? What’s in it to help me get through the next couple of years with all this pressure?”
STEFANOVIC: Okay. Given that, Jason, you’ve seen what’s happened to the British PM with her promised tax cuts. I mean, she’s in all sorts of trouble now. Do you really think it’s still a good idea, given the state of the economy, to press ahead with those tier 3 [tax cuts]?
CLARE: Well, Karl, I think you’ll have Jim on in a couple of minutes talking about the budget that, as Scott said, is due next week. I just make the general point, it doesn’t rain, it pours. We’re seeing that in the economy as well – inflation, interest rates, now this. It’s just going to make it harder for Aussies. Things are going to get harder before they get better. We’ve got to focus on that as we put the budget together for next week.
STEFANOVIC: So, it sounds like you’re pulling out of the tax cuts.
CLARE: We’ve made it clear. I think the boss said it, and Jim said it last week, that we’re not. We haven’t changed our plans. But what we’ve got to do is build a budget for the times, and that’s what we’re doing.
STEFANOVIC: Okay. Now we learned this morning, too, on the front page of the SMH that writing standards are in crisis – most year 9 students at a level that is two years behind at year 7 level. I mean, as Education Minister, what can we do about this?
CLARE: Yeah very concerning. I think we’ve seen with NAPLAN data that primary school children’s reading skills as well as their maths skills have improved over the last 10 years. But not for kids from poor backgrounds. That’s a problem. I think we need to make sure that we’re targeting funds to help those children. And this report today shows that writing skills are going backwards, particularly at high school.
We had a report yesterday that said that one of the reasons that teachers are working so long hours, longer than teachers in other countries, is because they don’t have lesson plans. They’ve got a curriculum, but they spend all night preparing lessons for the next day. Now, we might be able to fix two problems with the one solution, which is investing in developing lesson plans to help teachers, so they don’t spend all night and the weekend preparing for classes the next day or the next week.
STEFANOVIC: I just don’t know how we’re not on top of this. I mean, we’re a reasonably well-off country, and our education standards just need to be better.
CLARE: I’m glad that we’ve got the report. I’m glad that we tracked this data over 10 years. You can’t fix it if you can’t diagnose the problem. So, the first step is the report is telling us there’s something wrong. Now we’ve got to put in place the measures that don’t overburden teachers and give them more work to do but help them to do their job – that is the most important job in the country.
STEFANOVIC: And quickly. All right, if you need some inspiration this Tuesday morning, look no further than this young tradie with a mullet who has put his body on the line running from Perth to Bondi to raise money for the homeless. He has taken thousands on the journey with him. Have a look at the crowd that welcomed him to Bondi yesterday. Scottie?
EMERSON: Sensational. Mullet power, isn’t it. And it is – Karl, did you see his diet?
EMERSON: Like, what he ate, you and I could be world-class athletes with that diet, couldn’t we?
STEFANOVIC: Minus the 42ks every day for 47 days. What do you think about that, Jason? I mean, you’re a bit of a runner, aren’t you?
CLARE: Mate, well, I wish, once upon a time. This bloke makes Cliff Young look like he just went for a run around the block. We started this interview talking about mongrels who steal things out of people’s homes. Now you’ve got the best of Australia. What an absolute legend. Ally said this morning she was a bit worried that he was having a shoey out of his own shoe that he ran across the country with. I reckon, you know, Scott, you’re worried about throwing the book at these crooks that are stealing things outs of people’s homes; we should make the crooks drink out of that shoe.
EMERSON: And he had maggots in his toes, too. Let’s not forget that.
STEFANOVIC: Whoa, mate, too far. You’re so romantic, Scottie.
EMERSON: You know, mate, that’s me completely.
STEFANOVIC: Hey, thanks, guys. Great way to end it. Appreciate it. See you soon.
CLARE: Thanks, mate.