WEDNESDAY, 13 OCTOBER 2021
SUBJECTS: National Party split on climate change; skills crisis; COVID restrictions.
ADRIAN FRANKLIN, HOST: We are joined by Shadow Financial Services Minister and Labor MP Stephen Jones. Good to see you, mate.
STEPHEN JONES: How are you? Good to be with you again. Going really well down here.
FRANKLIN: Now while we don't know these finer details just to the moment, would you say this is a step in the right direction?
JONES: Look, we've got to get a deal here. It's time for the National Party to either pee or get off the pot. They are holding the nation to ransom. Everyone from Prince Charles, our absentee monarch, or the majority of the Australian people are saying the same thing: We need to do our part. We've got to set a goal for 2050 and then we’ve got to get to work on what we're going to do over the next decade. And frankly, if the National Party got their nappies in a knot over setting a target for 2050, how on earth are we going to do what we need to do over the next decade? There's jobs in renewables. There's jobs in more regions for renewables and we've just got to get on board and make this happen.
FRANKLIN: So, you mentioned Prince Charles. We saw a grab a from earlier this week which was rather entertaining and certainly interesting. So, the pressure that's coming. I mean, do you think the Prime Minister would have I've seen that? And do you think he's feeling some of this pressure? Because we haven't heard from Prince Charles, but he put it on him, didn't he?
JONES: Yeah, well good on him. You know, I'm a republican myself, but he showed a bit of pluck. Good on him. He's on the right side on this one and I agree with him. The Prime Minister whose position has been controversial on this issue, leading a nation that has had a Government that's unwilling to do its bit needs to send a very powerful signal to the rest of the world. And the most powerful and potent signal he can send to the rest of the world is to turn up, to stand up and say, we are going to do our bit for net zero by 2050. And what's more, we've got a plan about what we're going to do over the next decade. That's the most powerful thing that Scott Morrison can do. What he needs to do between now and Glasgow is the housekeeping that every Australian wants him to do. Sort the National Party out. They’re supposed to be a coalition, not an opposition. sort. Sort the National Party out. Get agreement and do what all Australians want you to do.
FRANKLIN: Now, there was a report that found that public infrastructure projects are at a bit of a risk of COVID-induced skills and labour shortage. This is going to be interesting to see what the labour shortage, what impacts that has over the coming years. Is this a concern for you at the moment?
JONES: It really is. It strikes us many as strange, doesn't it, that at a time when we've just gone through a massive downturn in the labour market because the lockdowns, the COVID lockdowns, up to up to 10 percent of working Australians lost their jobs in Queensland and Victoria, sorry in New South Wales and Victoria, that we’re actually on the precipice of a skill shortage, 100,000 workers short of what we need, just in infrastructure projects alone. And it really puts a spotlight on the fact that we've had State and Federal Governments cutting funds out of vocational education and training, out of higher education, at the time we should have been plowing it in there. You know, one in ten jobs that were lost over the last 12 months were in higher education. That's crazy when we should have been using this as an opportunity to retool, retrain, build up our workforce. Because we knew the recovery was coming, 100,000 workers needed in infrastructure immediately. Lots more in the services sector. This is a challenge. We’ve got to get on it. We need a plan from the Government, for God's sake, to sort the skill shortage. We can't be just reverting to the lazy old thinking which is whenever you've got a skill shortage, you don't train your own, you just import people on a short-term basis from overseas. Surely we can do better than that.
FRANKLIN: And just finally, moving on, Sydney had its freedom day. Of course, everyone in Melbourne, Victoria, I can tell you is rather envious. Hopefully we'll be there soon. What did you make of the new premier Perrottet’s first week.? How did you see it?
JONES: Well, he looked a bit uncomfortable, didn't he? I think it's the first time he walked into a bar and had a beer. I've got to say I was envious of him. I'm locked down here at the moment because I've got to get the Parliament next week, which means I've got to restrict my movement. But I was very envious of all of those people who were standing in a bar, having a beer or a cafe somewhere or just getting out and about and catching up with people. We want to see the economy opening up. We want to people see people being able to see their friends, their family. We want to do it safely, so let's get the vaccination, let's get the second round of vaccination, sorted out. And what we're doing is calling on the Government to ensure that they don’t stuff up the next lot because the next lot is going to be the booster series. So we're going to ensure they have a plan for that as well. The last thing we want to see is 10 minutes of sunshine, everybody enjoying the opening up, only for us to be hit by another wave down the track. The alpha, beta, gamma, delta strain followed by whatever comes next. That's why we need a plan for the future as well. But for God's sake, isn't it good to be able to get out for a bit?
FRANKLIN: Oh, absolutely. It's going to be an interesting time for our leaders, but fingers crossed next year we're not really talking as much about all this sort of stuff and it's optimism, bringing people back in the country, new jobs all of it, right?
JONES: One hundred percent. Optimism for how good this country can be. Optimism for what summer in Australia should look like. We're all barracking for that. We want to ensure that over the coming months, the Government is working on his plan for the future. I can tell you Anthony Albanese’s Labor Government's working on its plans for the future. We'll have an election early in 2022. There's a lot at stake. This is a great country. Let's ensure that its Government is as good as the people and the country that we represent.