Sky News First Edition – Interest Rates, TikTok, Taiwan



Subjects: House prices and the interest rate rise, China – TikTok, Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan

PETER STEFANOVIC (HOST): Back to Canberra now, joining us live is the Labor MP, Peter Khalil and the Liberal Senator James Paterson. Gentlemen morning to you. James, I’ll start with you today because you were watching there with me that short press conference there from the Treasurer, Jim Chalmers. He keeps using this line $1 trillion of debt with nothing to show for it that was accumulated by the Liberal party. Does that need to be checked a little more because a lot that is JobKeeper that the Labor Party supported and Labor also has a big chunk of that debt as well. I mean, does all this need to be elaborated on?

SENATOR JAMES PATERSON: Let’s do a live fact check right now Peter. If you go back, part of that trillion dollars is the roughly $300 billion of debt we inherited from Labor which was left over from the global financial crisis because, of course, when we left government in 2007, we handed them a clean set of books. The budget was in surplus and there was no net debt. They racked up about $300 billion of debt over the GFC and then they left us a budget which was a trajectory to go far more than $1 trillion of debt because they baked in all this extra spending, but no means to pay for it. Now, we spent nine years trying to wrestle that back to balance. We did just before the onset of COVID 19 achieve a budget balance which means that debt was going to start to be paid down rather than increase further and of course, COVID 19 came along and we had to take the measures that we did to support the economy and we did so with the full support of the Labor Party. In fact, throughout COVID 19, they were egging us on to spend more. They were telling us we shouldn’t switch off JobKeeper, we should continue it for even longer. If we had followed Jim Chalmers’ advice at the time, the budget would be in an even worse state today than it is. So, it’s very rich for him to be complaining about that now.

STEFANOVIC: Peter, over to you on this now. I mean, when he says there’s nothing to show for, there’s thousands and thousands of jobs that were saved because of that expenditure right?

PETER KHALIL, MEMBER FOR WILLS: That was just some wonderful revisionist economic history their by James well done. We didn’t say spend more, we said spend better. And one of our main criticisms in the way that the previous Government spent the JobKeeper – and by the way, didn’t want to do it. They didn’t even want to do the wage subsidy from the beginning of the pandemic. We had to push them to do it and I think only when Boris Johnson in the UK did something similar did Scott Morrison sort of follow. But we were critical about the way they it, the cookie cutter approach, the money that went to, for example, companies that were making profits and the big gaps in the arts and entertainment sector and other industries. It was a cookie cutter approach. It was botched in that respect, and that was our criticism – spend it more wisely, spend it more effectively, get more bang for buck for the economy – that was our main criticism. And anyway, my question back to James is if he thinks that they’ve got no responsibility whatsoever for this trillion-dollar debt, is he saying every dollar that they spent was done correctly spent correctly spent, wisely? Did you get the bang for your buck that you think you should have for the 700 billion? Even if I accept your analysis?

PATERSON: Well, I think it’s very cute that the Labor Party, on the one hand, wants to take credit for JobKeeper – it was all their genius idea – but that they don’t want to take responsibility for the cost that it enacted. It was a very expensive scheme that saved hundreds of thousands of jobs and I think ultimately lives, because we know what has happened in previous recessions. The recession of the early nineties left massive scarring in the economy and generations of young people.

STEFANOVIC: Yeah, that’s the point I was trying make to Peter too, when he says there’s nothing to show for it. I mean, so many jobs were saved. That’s what I’m talking about the Treasurer here when he when he says that I mean it’s just inaccurate. That’s just the line that he keeps going to.

KHALIL: Well as said our criticism was that they spent the money in a way which was in a cookie cutter set up that, where a lot of money was wasted. And then, not to mention the rorts and all of those different programs that were under the previous Coalition Government for, money that went to who knows where, which we’re now trying to rein in. So, it’s a bit rich of James to actually say they’ve got no responsibility for that trillion-dollar debt when they spent in a profligate way – particularly the sports rorts on the carparks that weren’t even being used, all of that stuff, and there’s probably going to be billions of dollars that our Treasurer is going to save just looking at that.

STEFANOVIC: Okay back to national security, James. Nancy Pelosi, it looks as though she’s going to visit Taiwan. Do you think she should?

PATERSON: It’s a very good question Peter. And I’ll be a little bit careful about commenting on the travel plans of the US. Speaker of the House of Representatives. It’s a matter for her. It’s not without precedent. Previous Speakers of the House of Representatives have visited Taiwan. It is very common for members of the US Congress to visit Taiwan. In fact, there was a delegation of US Senators who came through Australia just before our federal election, who went through Taiwan on the way back as well as they did in Japan. I, myself have been to Taiwan. I’ve met the president Tsai Ing Wen a number of years ago. So, it’s perfectly consistent with both the United States government approach to Taiwan and the Australian government approach to Taiwan that members who are not part of the executive, who are part of the legislature, engage in unofficial exchanges with the people and the Government of Taiwan.

STEFANOVIC: Peter, what sort of reaction would you expect from China if she goes?

KHALIL: Well, it’s been pretty obvious, that the threats that they have been making a lot of the media has been all over that. I just would say this; it’s not for us to determine the itinerary of the speaker of the US House of Representatives, nor is it for China, frankly. I mean, she can travel, where she wants, and what we’re really missing here is, the significance of this delegation, it’s a congressional delegation led by the Speaker to the Indo-Pacific. It’s a reaffirmation of the Biden administration’s commitment to the region. They’re visiting Singapore and Malaysia and Japan as James said. This is a really important trip because it is all about US presence and US engagement, both economic and in a security sense in our region – as a stabilising force – and I think that’s to be encouraged. And look, as I said, it’s not for us to determine her itinerary, but I am pleased that she’s taking this delegation to our region because it is so important for our stability and our security.

STEFANOVIC: Just close on this one James, it looks like Peter’s got your old job in the security committee. How do you feel about that?

PATERSON: Well, if Peter is the Prime Minister’s choice to Chair the Intelligence and Security Committee, I think that’s a very wise choice. So, I don’t want to damage his career too much by praising him, but we’ve worked very well together on the committee in the past. We led a bipartisan delegation to the United States in March. We met with the intelligence community in the United States and Peter acquitted himself very well, and I think together we robustly advocated for Australia’s national interest. So, if that’s the Prime Minister’s choice, then I would certainly welcome it.

KHALIL: Well, thanks, James. I’m going to buy you a coffee now after this interview, but nothing’s been formally announced. But I will say this; the only Chair or former Chair that we have with us is the illustrious company of Senator Paterson at the moment, until the PM makes his decision.

STEFANOVIC: Yeah. So, you say you’ll be picking from where James left off? Is that your approach if you get it?

KHALIL: Well, I really, really appreciate the work that James had done on the committee. His commitment to Australia’s national interest cannot be questioned. I mean, this is not about partisan politics. There is a real commitment there and he has demonstrated both in his work on committee as Chair and his commitment to our national security, really, he did a sterling job and look, we don’t agree on everything, obviously, we’re on different sides of politics. But I think we agree that we love and we want the best for our country and do the work that we do because we want to make that contribution to Australia’s national interest. And I have no doubt that James will continue to do that as a member, hopefully of the committee as well.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, Peter Khalil, James Paterson, good to see you. Will talk to you again soon.

KHALIL: Thank you.