Interview - Today Show with Allison Langdon
SUBJECTS: Climate change bill, 6-year-old kindergarten, NRL grand final
ALLISON LANGDON: Nice to have your company this morning. Well, not a bad day in the office for the new Government, getting the Greens on board with their 2030 climate target, big business also giving it the tick and a couple of Coalition MPs saying they’ll cross the floor to support it. The official vote will be this morning. Joining us now is Education Minister Jason Clare in Canberra and 4BC’s Scott Emerson in Brisbane. Nice to see you both. First up, Jason, how long do you think we’ll keep calling you the new Government?
JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: Well, it’s a big day, isn’t it. We’ve been fighting about climate change since I got to this place 15 years ago. It’s an awful long time. Aussies have had a gutful of that. They voted for change. They voted for action on climate change. Today we get to vote to deliver that, and you’ll see most of the Parliament vote to support that. That’s a good thing. Seems like the Libs still aren’t listening and most of them are going to vote against it. That’s disappointing. But you’ll see today that most of the Parliament is responding to what the Australian people called for on election day.
LANGDON: I think this is a big first win, but I’m not sure the climate wars are over just yet.
CLARE: No, you’ve still got the Libs sitting there like a shag on a rock. Acting like it’s 1950. They’re still saying that they’re not convinced that we need to take the action that everybody else believes we do. This fight that’s been happening for 15 years should be over. We’ve been told for a very, very long time that if you build renewable energy, then people will lose their jobs and prices will go up. We know the opposite is true. If we build renewable energy and we connect it to the grid, you create jobs, you cut pollution, and you can push prices down, I’m glad that we’re going to see most of the Parliament vote to support that today.
LANGDON: The bigger problem for you, though, Jason is it’s not so much what the Coalition thinks or does; it’s the Greens. You’ve got Adam Bandt, the Greens leader, he’s very keen to see no more gas or coal projects. You’re going to need their support in the upper house, so for you how do you keep them happy but also keep gas bills down and the lights on?
CLARE: Well, it’s not just the Greens. You see all of those seats that the Libs lost at the election to those so‑called Teal Independents; they’re all voting to support this legislation today just like most of the Australian people voted for change and, as you say, voted for an end to these fake fights in the Parliament over this. They’re all saying - look, we want action, we committed to action to reduce emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 and net zero by 2050. That was the commitment that we made to the Australian people on election day and I’m glad that that is being respected by most of Parliament today.
LANGDON: Scott, can you see the Greens being a little troublesome for Labor?
SCOTT EMERSON: Not little – just a little trouble, Ali. Look, this is a good win for the Labor Government early on but this is going to be a long Parliament. They’ve got to deal with the Greens. Adam Bandt is saying, “Look, this is a - shows again the power, the strength that the Greens have over Labor with this result today.” Labor denies that but we know what the numbers are in the Senate, and we know that Labor is going to have to deal with them. We saw how disastrous that’s been in the past, particularly with Julia Gillard and the Greens, so let’s see where it goes in the next couple of years.
LANGDON: Good point. All right. This issue I find really interesting which perhaps because I’ve got young kids – Jason, this idea of kids starting school in the year that they turn six, it’s being floated by the New South Wales Education Minister, do you think there’s merit in that?
CLARE: Well, as you say, what they’re proposing is that you start school at the age of six. So, for example, my little fella who’s five now, he’s at kindy, he turns six in October. I think what the New South Wales Education Minister is concerned about is you’ve got some kids that are starting kindy at about four and a half and finding it hard to keep up. Often parents are getting their kids into kindy early just because childcare is so expensive. That’s one of the reasons why we have got to take action to cut the cost of childcare. But hats off to the New South Wales Government, one of the things they’re also doing is expanding the amount of time that kids can spend when they’re four years old at preschool. If you’ve got universal preschool, in effect the kids are starting school at the age of four, that gives the Government the flexibility to change the rules around kindergarten.
LANGDON: What do you reckon on this one, Scott? I mean, we’re seeing it at the moment that you can have an age gap of 18 months with kids in the same class and when you’re talking about five and six-year-olds, there’s a big difference there.
EMERSON: Yeah. Look, Jason talks about kids going into school young. There’s also a big issue there of parents holding back their kids for a little bit longer. That tends to be wealthier parents that can afford to do that. They see it as an advantage for their kids to be a six‑year‑old surrounded by four-and-a-half‑year‑olds, as you say Ali. That is an issue as well. So, you’ve got to get that kind of evenness out so a good move by the New South Wales Government. Let’s see how it does pan out.
LANGDON: Just looking at that shot there behind you, Scott, and I know that Queenslanders, you’re desperate to steal the NRL grand final again. I mean, we can’t hold it in a city that – I mean, you can’t even guarantee that you’ll be able to see the ball when they play, right?
EMERSON: Look, underneath all that fog, the negotiations are underway just to grab that grand final now, Ali.
LANGDON: Jason you might have to step in here as a Western Sydney MP, have a chat to Peter V’landys, call Dom.
CLARE: Ali, I’m old enough to still remember when the grand final was on when the sun was still up and the kids were still awake. I miss those days. I’ll leave it to the NRL and the State politicians to work that out. As long as the Parramatta Eels are there on the day, or on the night, and they hold up the trophy at the end of it, I’ll be happy.
LANGDON: I’m not sure how that’s going to go for you, Jason. I mean, we’ve got Alex Cullen who’s an Eels tragic.
CLARE: You’ve got to have belief. You’ve got to have confidence.
LANGDON: How many years have you held on to that belief and confidence?
CLARE: Since 1986.
LANGDON: Sorry to remind you. Jason, what do you reckon though here because this is a proper stoush that’s brewing between the New South Wales Premier, Domenic Perrottet, and Peter V’landys. I mean, a promise was made, but as the Premier makes the point there’s only so much money. What do you prioritise?
CLARE: Well, that’s true and we see that at a Federal level as well. You can’t invest in everything that you want to do. You know, I suspect there’s a bit of push and shove going on here at the moment and that the grand final will end up back in Sydney, where it belongs, but lets wait and see.
LANGDON: If Scott has anything to do about it.
EMERSON: Come on. Success last year, bring it back this year. Peter V’landys, very sensible man. Bring it up to Queensland.
CLARE: Look, the way the Cowboys are going, the Cowboys could be there as well.
EMERSON: And the Broncos.
LANGDON: It could be a Broncos–Cowboys kind of thing. Who knows? All right. I don’t know. Queenslanders, hey. Sit next to one. Have one on the show.
EMERSON: Let’s not forget that State of Origin too.
LANGDON: Okay. We’re done. Goodbye gentlemen. Chat’s over.