28 August 2014
Transcript - #2014024, 2014

Doorstop interview – Parliament House, Canberra

CIOBO:

In terms of the Coalition government's proposal around the Budget, as Australia knows, we’re attempting to make structural savings. We're trying to make sure that Australia is back on a sustainable pathway. We're trying to make sure that Australia lives within its means. Under the previous Labor Government, we had six straight years of budget deficits as a direct result of Labor's policies.

Even with the government's attempts to try to get Australia to live within its means, we potentially could see four more years of deficit, which would be ten years of deficit in this country, the longest period of straight deficits since the early 1970s, more than 45 years. This would represent a very significant slap in the face to the Australian economy and would represent frankly a failure of government policy that was instigated by the Australian Labor Party.

The Australian people elected the Coalition to undertake the important and necessary task of reforming the budget to make sure that as a nation we were living in a sustainable way and that we would be stronger tomorrow than we are today. The problem is that the Australian Labor Party in particular, but also the Greens and some others, continue to stand in the way of us living in a sustainable way, continue to stand in the way of making sure that we leave a better tomorrow than we inherited today, and most fundamentally, the Australian Labor Party would be responsible for a decade of deficits, the longest period in 45 years. Happy to take some questions.

REPORTER:

Are your fellow Senators feeling snubbed by the actions of the Prime Minister who didn't attend a fundraiser?

CIOBO:

The Coalition is very focused on the national interests, on the main priorities, and frankly there is very little that's a more important priority than making sure that this nation lives within its means, is on a sustainable economic footing. Side issues around who said what to whom and what's been taking place is nothing more than a distraction. It's not at the core of what this government is about. It's all a part of the core focus of the leadership of the Coalition.

We want to keep at a level eye on what Australians elected us to do, and that's to manage Australia's economy and to live within our means.

REPORTER:

Are you worried that these possible tensions are a distraction from the government's main message, that it is Coalition MPs and Senators who are speaking out are not doing their party any good?

CIOBO:

When I speak with Mums and Dads on the street, when I talk to people about in my community and across Australia, they're making it crystal clear to me that they want to know that the government is mature, that the government is focused on making decisions in the national interest. Whether that's on counter terrorism, whether that's on making sure that we balance the books in terms of living within our means, or whether it's about making sure that the Australian economy is stronger tomorrow than it is today, that's what they expect of us, that's what we're focused on, and we're not going to be distracted by one or two people carping from the sidelines.

REPORTER:

Is the Government talking about national security to distract from the Budget?

CIOBO:

It is an absurd proposition for Labor Senators to make the allegation that in some way the threat against Australia's security isn't a real threat. The fact is that we have a national security issue now. We've got tens of Australians that have been labelled as being involved with terrorist elements overseas who are being battle hardened and trained in terrorist exercises. This presents a real threat to Australia and that's what the Coalition government is responding to.

REPORTER:

The Coalition spoke a lot in the lead up to the election about tackling debt and deficits, so that was part of your message. At the same time, you had the PM on the eve of the election say that there will be no cuts to essentially anything, has that made the whole sales pitch that much more difficult?

CIOBO:

The Coalition has put forward a Budget that is consistent with our pre-election commitments. We've put forward a Budget that makes sure that we can leave to Australian children tomorrow a better future than they otherwise would have if Labor's policies continued. We don't think it's acceptable that we continue as a nation to borrow a billion dollars a month just to pay the interest on the debt that Labor accumulated. We don’t think it's acceptable that if we were to see a continuation of the policies that the Labor Party is proposing, we'd have $25,000 of debt for every man, woman, and child. It's not fair to mortgage our children's future just because the Labor Party thinks there's some votes in it.

REPORTER:

You've spoken about having a mandate for various measures and also wanting to leave a better world for the children, young people, but what about the university changes, the changes to higher education. Are they particular ones you could have flagged before the election for those same young people to know what they would be expected to contribute to fixing the Budget?

CIOBO:

The fundamental point about education, in particular tertiary education is this. As a Coalition, we believe in the operation of the market. We have a great vision for tertiary education in this country, one that would make sure that our best universities rub shoulders with the best universities in the world. Now Christopher Pyne is doing an outstanding job in providing leadership and steering the national debate in terms of education. We want to make sure that Australians have the opportunity to have access to world class institutions.

We've got a deregulated primary and secondary education market. It's hardly a radical proposition to talk about having a deregulated tertiary education market.

REPORTER:

If that's such a strong argument, why not mention it before the election?

CIOBO:

That's up to you to run arguments about what's been discussed and what hasn't been discussed. The fact is the Coalition has made its principles clear in relation to all manner of different policy areas consistently over many, many years. Fundamentally, what the Coalition is focused on doing are making decisions in the national interest and making sure that Australia lives within its means.

REPORTER:

inaudible… renewable energy target released today, what do you think should happen to the target?

CIOBO:

I'll wait until I actually see a copy of the review that's taken place and the government will respond in due course.

REPORTER:

Do you have a personal opinion?

CIOBO:

No, I don't. Thanks all.