12 November 2021

SUBJECTS: Labor’s plan to take down online scammers; mandatory vaccines; treating COVID patient in hospital.
RICHARD KING, HOST: We've turned on the good weather especially for a visitor to our neck of the woods and that is Labor's Shadow assistant Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Financial services and Superannuation, Stephen Jones. He's in our neck of the woods today, and he's on the line. Good morning, Stephen.
STEPHEN JONES, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning, Richard. Good morning Shanna, good to be with you.
KING: Thanks for your time. What's the purpose of your visit to Newcastle today Stephen?
JONES: Sharon Claydon's asked me to come up and talk to some of her seniors representatives about the impact of scams, these unconscionable criminal acts who are, you know, bombarding us at the moment with emails, with fake calls, SMS’s with a single purpose, to try and get personal bank details and ID and steal our money. So they’re targeting seniors, they're targeting regional Australia, they’re targeting multicultural communities. We don't think the Government is doing enough. We want to talk about the problem and set out some of the things that should be done. Things, that individuals can and things that the Government should be doing to protecting Australians.
BULL: Stephen earlier this week your party unveiled the anti-scams policy. How can that better protect both the community and local businesses?
JONES: The thing about addressing scams is understanding the problem. These are sophisticated operators and they change their business model regularly. So we need a centre in the Federal Government which is bringing together the resources of the police, the finance market regulators, the bank's, the telecommunications companies and the social media platforms. So if you like the vectors, the social media, phone and the telecommunications companies and the wallet at the end of the problem, which is the banks. We need to be bringing all of those people together and acting in real time. If we see something going on, shut it down. Warn the customers, warn the banks, so that money doesn't leave a bank account because it's almost impossible to recover once the money has gone.
KING: Right, but surely a lot of the process is educating us to not be scammed. I mean, a lot of people unfortunately think that there might be a pot of gold at the end of it. You know, you've just had a long distant relative you've never heard has deposited so much money in the bank. Surely a lot of it’s common sense? It's just, if in doubt, then just assume it's a scam?
JONES: Yeah, a lot of it is. But some of those operators are pretty smart and they work on a method of gaining trust. And they might promote a scheme to you that looks good and actually performs well for a month or two. And once they've got you on the hook and got you to put little bits of money in which provide an excellent return, whamo they've got you and they rip all of your savings off and all of your investments off. So, yes there is a lot about people taking responsibility and being aware. But there's also some pretty smart operators out of there that we've got to be on guard against. I've actually, I was talking to somebody with two PHDs, a professional woman, a couple of days ago. She fell for one of these Amazon scams. You know, got an SMS saying, your order’s about to be delivered. Please click this link, just to confirm your address details. Boom, she was caught. And they also prey on people who are time poor. You know, you're on the way out the door, trying to get the kids off to school. You get the call. You're doing three things at once. These are the things that we've got to be aware of.
BULL: Stephen, have you personally fallen victim to a scam yourself?
JONES: Well, I haven't but I reckon I've come close a couple of times, particularly in the height of covid. Did a lot of online ordering. I got a couple of SMS's and I thought all right, okay I'll just click, ahh no I'm not going to. This one's probably not legit. So came close a couple times, I think.
KING: 2HD, it’s ten to eight. Our guest is Stephen Jones, Labor’s Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation here in Newcastle as a guest of Member for Newcastle, Sharon Claydon. They’re holding a roundtable discussion with a number of local stakeholders about the impact of online scammers on us Novacastrians. Unfortunately a lot of us do get scammed. Good luck to today and hopefully some good workable solutions will come of it. Look, we've had a lot of feedback this morning on a couple of very topical issues, one of them being BHP mandating that all their workers have to be vaccinated and they've said that they're going to stand down all those that aren't vaccinated by a certain date. I think that's going to the full bench of the Fair Work Commission. Do you think it's fair for employees to mandate that their workers have to be vaccinated Stephen?
JONES: Look I know it’s a controversial issue, but I guess I come from the view of, you know, workplace health and safety. And an employer’s got an obligation to assess the risks across all their workforce and the customers they're dealing with as well. And we know at the moment transmission of covid, it's still out there in the community. So I think if the employer can make a case that it's important to maintain the safety of the whole workforce, then I'm going to lean on that side. I don't think they should do that arbitrarily, but I think it'd be a pretty easy case. Most employers with a large workforce or with customer-facing staff to be able to make that case.
KING: All right and just quickly to before we come to your petition re scamming, former New South Wales Labor Premier Bob Carr has suggested that we follow the lead of Singapore and that if somebody chooses not to be vaccinated and they are hospitalised with the disease, then they should have to foot the bill themselves and not receive any Medicare benefits. Do you agree with that?
JONES: Look no I don't. I think that our Medicare, our hospital system, it's an open door to all. Of course we're encouraging, and in some places mandating, the requirement of it's a genuine health and safety issue. But I think our health system, you know, we don't bar people who have done something stupid from entering a casualty ward. We don't refuse to treat smokers. You know, there's a whole bunch of things that, you know, we just accept, okay we're going to take patients as we find them. So, no, I don't support that.
BULL: And just finally, Stephen. I think it's important to make reference to let our listeners know this morning who are listening to this interview with you right now that you actually have a petition online at the moment that people can sign to try and stop online scammers. Can you just let us briefly know a little bit about that?
JONES: Yep we want to ensure that we send a big strong message to the Government to show that this is an issue that Australians are concerned about it. They want their Government to be acting more strongly to protect them. To protect households and small businesses from this terrible scamming behaviour, which is costing us $33bn a year.
BULL: And where can people go to sign the petition?
JONES: You can find that on my webpage at  or my Facebook page under Stephen Jones.