Q & A with Jason Clare MP
Shadow Minister for Communications and Member for Blaxland Jason Clare sits down for a Q&A session with Naomi Tsvirko, answering questions about metadata retention legislation, the proposed budget, media representation of western Sydney and the future of the Australian Labor Party.
ON METADATA RETENTION LEGISLATION
NAOMI TSVIRKO: Once the metadata retention bill was introduced you recommended some amendments, which you believe would better suit the legislation. As the Shadow Minister for Communications, are you satisfied with the metadata retention laws that have now passed?
JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: The laws passed by the Parliament are much better than the original laws proposed by the Government. What the Government proposed was not satisfactory. There was a Committee inquiry into the proposed laws and the Committee recommended 74 amendments to the legislation to take powers off the Government and to dramatically reduce the number of organisations that could access our metadata, and to also significantly increase oversight of people’s metadata. What a lot of people don’t know is that police have been accessing our metadata for about 40 years and they access that metadata of about half a million people every year and there’s about 80 different organisations that do this right now, from the Federal Police to Bankstown Council.
TSVIRKO: What did the Labor party specifically do to improve metadata retention legislation?
CLARE: What we did, as the Labor party is make dramatic changes to the government’s bill. Instead of 80 organisations being able to access people’s metadata, it would now be reduced to 20. Also, for the first time the Ombudsman and the Parliament will be able to oversee the use and misuse of these by powers [to access metadata] by the police and other organisations.
TSVIRKO: Why did you propose a different system of access to metadata for journalists?
CLARE: Well, journalists are different because even knowing who a journalist is talking to can impact on freedom of the press. That’s why if law enforcement want to access the metadata of a journalist they should first have to go to court and get a warrant to get that information. That’s the model they have adopted in England and that’s the model we thought we should have here. The Government disagreed. They thought there shouldn’t be a special system for journalists. But we were insistent that it had to happen and finally we got our way.
ON THE BUDGET
TSVIRKO: What are your thoughts of the Federal Budget that was delivered earlier this month and how will it impact on those in your electorate?
CLARE: Last year’s budget was terrible for our area in western Sydney, of the entire 150 electorates in Australia, the electorate of Blaxland was the hardest hit right across the country. That was because of the tax to make people pay to go to the doctor, as well as the introduction of $100,000 university degrees, the cuts to the pension and the big cut to Family Tax Benefits.
This budget has kept the increase to university fees to $100,000 and the cut to Family Tax Benefits, so 17,000 families in my electorate will lose thousands of dollars if these cuts go through. I remain worried about the budget in our area particularly with the rise in unemployment, we have a big problem with youth unemployment and the Government doesn’t have a plan on how to reduce these numbers.
TSVIRKO:Is the Budget’s proposed tax on Netflix a good idea, considering Australia has a problem with pirating?
CLARE: What the Government is proposing is to apply the GST to Netflix, and we do need to make sure that content is as cheap as possible and is delivered to people as soon as it’s possible in an easy to access firm. If that doesn’t happen people will pirate. That’s why services like Netflix are so important.
TSVIRKO: Do you support the GST on Netflix?
CLARE: Well, I think it makes sense for this reason; Netflix competes with other Australian based video-on-demand services like Stan and Presto and so it makes sense to me that if you’re paying the GST for Stan or Presto, you should pay the GST for Netflix as well. After all, they are the same type of video-on-demand services.
STRUGGLE STREET & MISREPRESENTATION OF THE WEST
TSVIRKO: You were raised in Cabramatta and you criticised SBS’s Struggle Street last time you appeared on ABC’s Q&A. As Member for Blaxland, do you believe there is a serious misrepresentation of western Sydney in the media?
CLARE: If you’re not from western Sydney, it’s easy to assume that western Sydney is this one big space and that everybody is the same and that’s just wrong. Western Sydney is made up of more than 2 million people and stretches over a large area. All the people living here are different; the people in Bankstown for example have got different issues, interests and concerns than the people in Penrith. The people in Castle Hill are different to those in Campbelltown. We are not homogeneous.
The problem is people misunderstand what western Sydney is like and you have to live here and live and breathe it to really understand western Sydney. My problem and the problem I had with the show [Struggle Street] is that it risked stigmatising one suburb when in fact the issues it explores are not specific to one place or to western Sydney. We need SBS and other broadcasters to focus on the good and the success stories of multicultural Australia.
TSVIRKO: Does Labor have a chance of winning the next Federal election?
CLARE: We are the underdog. No government has lost power after one term since the 1930’s. We have a big challenge to earn the respect and trust of the Australian people. But I don’t think people like or trust Tony Abbott, they’re sick of all the broken promises and unfair policies. It’s going to be a tight contest and our job is to earn the respect of the Australian people, to deserve the honour to govern again. ☐