Wed, 22 Jun 2022 - 10:03
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The clip of this interview can be watched here

LAURA JAYES: I want to bring in now live the shadow government services minister, Paul Fletcher. We are going to talk about the parliamentary calendar, but If I could get your reaction to the RBA Governor today playing down those inflationary pressures from Government spending or the Fair Work Commission. Do you accept that.

PAUL FLETCHER: Well, clearly the RBA is a respected reserve around the world. There is a somewhat worrying sense at the moment if we listen to Jim Chalmers others that are not very experienced crew got their hands on the levers. So we'll just have to wait and see how this government manages the economy.

LAURA JAYES: The RBA Governor just said he is quote, not concerned about any misalignment between and fiscal policy here. That's pretty clear isn’t it.

PAUL FLETCHER: Well, the RBA Governor obviously occupies a very important place. An economic system is a well-respected figure. I'm not going to offer a running commentary on what he said.

LAURA JAYES: Sure, but this goes the politics of what your side of government or your side of politics was warning about before the election. Labor's spending would contribute to inflation. He doesn't seem to be saying that this morning. So who's right?

PAUL FLETCHER: Well, again, I'm not going to offer a running commentary on what the Governor has said. We were very clear in our position before, the election, about the risks that need to be managed in economic management, including the risk of inflation. It's a significant risk. But as I said, I'm not going to give you a running commentary on the Governor. He's got an important job to do, and I'll let him get and do it.

LAURA JAYES: All right. Let's talk about the parliament then. You're champing at the bit to get back to Canberra. I can see that. Paul Fletcher, what's with the timetable? This is the timetable set out, wasn't it?

PAUL FLETCHER: Well, Labor has just released the sitting timetable for the balance of the year, just eight weeks in the House of Representatives, only seven in the Senate. When you add what Labor's put in with the sitting days in first half of the year, it gets you to just 40 sitting days in 2022. Now if you compare that to previous election years on average 2013, 2016, 2019, 48 days. So, this is very light on indeed that Mr. Albanese talks a lot about accountability and scrutiny and transparency. That's the role of the Parliament and by minimising the number of days that the Parliament is sitting, it seems that Mr. Albanese is seeking avoid accountability and scrutiny. You know the Parliament doesn't first sit until the 26th of July, it's required to sit under the Constitution within 30 days of the return of the writs. The last date for that is 28 June. So just scraping in there, they seem to be taking every opportunity to push out the date as far as possible. By contrast, after the 2013 election, parliament set within 11 days of the return of the writs.

LAURA JAYES: So you are just desperate to back in and vote for the new emissions reduction target because that what it means.

Well, Laura, the point I'm making is that Mr. Albanese and Mr. Burke, as leader of the when in government talk about when in opposition I should say I talked about the role of accountability and the role the Parliament in holding the Government to account. Indeed, when we released the sitting timetable for 2022, Mr. Burke was indignant. He said that it looked like a timetable to minimise the number of sitting days between now the election.

LAURA JAYES: That was true wasn’t it?

PAUL FLETCHER: That's exactly like what Labor Government has now released.

LAURA JAYES: So what do you think the motivation is? What they trying to avoid? Paul Fletcher, what do you suspect here.

PAUL FLETCHER: Well think I think they're trying to avoid scrutiny they're trying to minimise the amount of time in Parliament. Mr. Albanese seems more interested in jumping on planes and flying around the world than doing the detailed nuts and bolts work of Parliament, debating the issues that are of importance. The Australian people. It didn't take long under the previous Labor government for Kevin 07 to be known as Kevin 747 because he loved getting on a plane so much. Now we've got Airbus Albo who wants to get on a plane. It would seem whenever he can, and the concerns that he at earliest in his parliamentary career about the importance of accountability and scrutiny of the parliament. That seems to have all been forgotten.

LAURA JAYES: So what, you’re saying he shouldn’t be going to NATO?

PAUL FLETCHER: The point I’m making, Laura, is that what is important is the Parliament do its work. And when you look at the numbers, when look at the number of sitting days that it will be materially lower than average which was 48 across 2013, 2016, 2019. You know, last year it was 67 sitting days. So, we are seeing Mr. Albanese and, Mr. Burke, the Labor Government, they say they're committed to transparency, accountability, scrutiny, but they seem to be doing everything they can to minimise the number of days that Parliament actually and perhaps that's because they want to minimise the amount of parliamentary that the Albanese Labor Government is exposed to.

LAURA JAYES: We'll see what Labor has to say about that. But if you if you're looking at parliamentary scrutiny, and you think the sanctity of Parliament and its oversight is so important why did only one side of politics to the election promising to an emissions target.

PAUL FLETCHER: Well Laura can I just reject the connection between those two issues. Transparency and accountability is about the overall process which parliament operates and it's a pretty proposition that the fewer the days the parliament, the less scrutiny and accountability the government of the day will be subject to, if you want any quotes to back up that just go and look at statement after statement made by Mr. Albanese when he was leader of the House and Manager of Opposition or Mr. Burke when he was Manager of Opposition business in the House. This a well-accepted principle that the role of the Parliament is key to accountability and scrutiny the government of the day. What we've seen is the moment that Mr. Albanese has got his hands on the levers, all of his stated interest in accountability seems to be a second a priority to other objectives, and as a consequence, only 40 sitting days. And even if you just at parliamentary years in, which there was an election, the average across 2013, 2016, 2019 was 48 sitting days. The decision that Mr. Albanese, Mr. Burke taken means there will only be 40 sitting days. You cannot that in any other way as a material reduction in the effectiveness of the Parliament's scrutiny of the Government of the day.

LAURA JAYES: Eight days might be all the difference. Paul Fletcher, we will get Labor's response on that too. Thanks so much.