Interview: ABC Illawarra, Drive with Lindsay McDougall

2 Nov 2018

Interview: ABC Illawarra, Drive with Lindsay McDougall

SENATOR THE HON. DOUG CAMERON
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR SKILLS, TAFE AND APPRENTICESHIPS
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
INTERVIEW
ABC Illawarra, Drive with Lindsay McDougall
THURSDAY 1 NOVEMBER  2018
 
SUBJECT/S: Housing affordability, Homelessness, Live Exports
 
LINDSAY MCDOUGALL: As it is a Wednesday night it’s not a bad day to go to the pub and the saying goes there are two topics of discussion strictly off limits at the pub and that’s politics and religion. But what do you do when there are a couple of politicians coming to the local pub?
 
You would be remiss if you didn’t bail them up with some hard questions – like for example how are you going to fix homelessness or what about affordable housing?
Well if you are around the Berkeley hotel this afternoon at 5:30, drop in for a beer or a coldie and bring some questions for Stephen Jones, the Member for Whitlam and from the Australian Senate, Labor Senator for NSW Doug Cameron who is on the line right now. Good afternoon Senator.
 
SENATOR DOUG CAMERON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR SKILLS, TAFE AND APPRENTICESHIPS:  How are you?
 
 
MCDOUGALL: I am good, great to talk to you. Now housing prices are falling, are predicted to continue to drop, some people are cheering because they will finally be able to get into the housing market but others want the falling to stop because they are losing value in their investments. We have both these types of people down here.
 
If Labor is elected how will you balance these two points of view?
 
CAMERON: Well you balance it by making sure people can get a roof over their head. That’s the key issue. That’s why we have focussed on negative gearing and capital gains tax. It’s just unacceptable that a young couple trying to buy their first home are lining up against an investor with four, five, six, seven homes and those investors are being subsidised by the young couple that they are bidding against.
MCDOUGALL: So your policy to stop negative gearing, is that just limited to new homes?
 
CAMERON: Yes. If you are negative gearing at the moment and you access capital gain tax that’s red circled, you will continue. But in the future what we’ve indicated is that unless you are adding to the housing stock then you won’t have access to negative gearing and capital gains tax.
 
So if you are an investor now you are OK, in the future you have got to add to the housing stock and that’s a fairer and more reasonable approach.
 
MCDOUGALL: Now what about rental properties? Affordable rental properties can be hard to come by but is this a housing supply issue or a low wages issue? If people have higher wages they could afford more housing. What would Labor do to say raise wages?  
 
CAMERON: Well it’s a combination of both and the first thing we will do is restore penalty rates to workers who have had penalty rates for years and under this government have seen their penalty rates ripped away. That’s an absolute nonsense so we will fix that.
 
In the context of ensuring that prices are reasonable, that’s why we’ve indicated that we will look at plugging the gap between what the community housing sector can afford to build now and what they can afford to build for low income people.
 
There is an affordability gap there and we’ve indicated that we will make an announcement about that in the future.
 
MCDOUGALL: What about the suggestion that employers are less likely to hire young, more lowly paid people if they then have to pay them penalty rates?
 
CAMERON: Oh look I was a union official for twenty seven years and I’ve been a Senator now for eleven, I’ve heard those arguments ever since I’ve been involved in public life.
 
Many employers don’t want to pay penalty rates. Many employers don’t want to pay wages that are going to keep food on the table for working class families. So I don’t buy those arguments. Profitability is up in this country, wages are going down, this is an issue Labor is well aware of and we want everyone to get a fair go. Business should get a fair go but so should working people.
 
MCDOUGALL: Moving onto another issue that’s closely related and will be discussed tonight at the Berkeley pub. Homelessness, especially for women escaping domestic violence have often got nowhere to go because emergency shelters are full or they have kids with them. How would Labor make sure any woman escaping an abusive partner had a safe place to stay?
 
CAMERON: Well the first thing we will do is restore the funding for two years that was cut by the Abbott government in that 14/15 budget. There was $40 million a year for housing to get people that were in domestic crisis into. So that’s been cut - we will restore that for two years.
We will make sure there is crisis housing available and we will make sure that there is a longer term policy that looks after young kids coming out of out of home care at eighteen and older women who are now going into private rental accommodation at prices they can’t afford.
 
We need to deal with that. This is a social crisis that we are facing.
 
MCDOUGALL: I guess a lot of mortgage owners are currently under large financial stress as well because the interest only payment period has passed which means they are now paying down on their interest plus principal which is this cycle they can get mired in. What will Labor do to relieve the stress these home owners are facing?
 
CAMERON: Well all we can do is to try and make sure those home owners when at work can actually negotiate with their employer to get a wage increase so that they are not left behind the cost of living rises that are taking place.
 
Where they have got decent bargaining rights, where they have got the capacity to get decent wages through the bargaining process.
 
That’s important to Labor, that’s important to working people and you can’t have a situation where more and more of the share of wealth in this country is going to business and less and less to working people. That’s an important aspect of what we are looking at.
 
MCDOUGALL: I am talking to NSW Senator Doug Cameron who is at the Berkeley Hotel tonight from 5:30 this evening. Now farmers in our area are having a very hard time at the moment. Bill Shorten tweeted today of Labor’s plan to phase out live sheep exports to in his words, end the cruelty, support our farmers and create more jobs here in Australia.
 
How is phasing out a whole side of the industry going to support our farmers and is there a transition plan?
 
CAMERON:  Well in terms of phasing out live sheep [exports], I think the public will be fully supportive of Labor on that issue.
 
You can’t have sheep being boiled alive at sea for the profit of a few farmers.
 
I don’t see that the export sheep industry would be the biggest industry in the South Coast and what we need to do is to make sure we have the proper policies to deal with climate change in the future because that’s the biggest threat to farmers. It’s not the live sheep trade, a cruel trade, a trade that is boiling sheep alive, that’s not the issue. The issue is to deal with climate change and to make sure that we have the policies in place to make sure that people can farm in the future.
 
MCDOUGALL: But what about the farmers who are selling their animals to the live export trade? They suddenly lose a place to sell their livestock.
 
CAMERON: Well you know there are other alternatives and certainly I remember times when we had abattoirs right across New South Wales where we had worker’s getting decent wages and abattoirs processing meat for the domestic and overseas industry. We need to make sure that we can get more chilled meat overseas, that we open those markets up and we have jobs created locally and an export industry through the abattoir.
 
MCDOUGALL: Senator for NSW Doug Cameron you are going to be at politics in the pub at the Berkeley Hotel from 5:30 this afternoon?
 
CAMERON: Yes, Stephen Jones and I will be there and we will be happy to talk to people about all the issues that are important for working class people in the Illawarra.
 
MCDOUGALL: And if the issue is that they want you to buy them a beer?
 
CAMERON: Well, you know I am a Scotsman!
 
MCDOUGALL: Probably no more need to be said!
 
CAMERON: I better clarify that – I am an Australian citizen.
 
MCDOUGALL: Yes I think I just saw a certain part of the constitution pop up out of his seat and put his hand up! Doug Cameron great to talk to you, have a great afternoon.
 
ENDS
 

Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.