14 November 2014
Transcript - #2014037, 2014

Interview with Marius Benson, ABC NewsRadio

BENSON:

Steve Ciobo, good morning.

CIOBO:

Good morning.

BENSON:

Jobs and growth, that's pretty much motherhood, isn't it, in this context, there is no anti-growth, anti-jobs view at the table at the G20. What, specifically, is Australia, what are you looking to the summit to produce over the next two days on jobs and growth?

CIOBO:

Well, in particular, we want to crystallize the aspiration that was reached back in February when Finance Ministers said that we wanted to commit to an extra 2% of global growth, that represents an extra two trillion dollars in the global economy and tens of millions of jobs. So when we talk about jobs and growth, we're talking about the nearly 1000 specific actions the G20 member states want to take to make sure that they boost growth in their respective economies, because collectively, by each one undertaking their own individual actions, collectively we're going to boost global growth, and that's a good thing for everybody.

BENSON:

But when you look at Australia taking the individual actions of your government, you are failing to meet your own growth targets. Surely you can't expect the world to be committing to a particular target.

CIOBO:

Well, we would expect the world to undertake the reforms that are necessary to promote and to enhance growth in their own countries. And by each individual state doing that, collectively we're all better off. Now, in Australia's context, the government's undertaken a whole raft of reform, and they're designed to boost growth. Now, sure, we encounter difficulties, and we've got a stubborn opposition that refuses to respect our mandate. We've encountered difficulties when we've got an opposition that refuses to deal with the fact that we're borrowing a billion dollars a month just to pay the interest on the debt that Labor left behind, but that notwithstanding, that's no, there's no reason why would erode our commitment to drive growth and to boost jobs for Australians.

BENSON:

But again, everyone at the table is committed to growth, and if all you're getting is a crystallization of a commitment, is it worth getting everyone together?

CIOBO:

Well, I think you're being very downbeat about it, Marius, I mean, the fact is that the OECD's Angel Gurría made the comment that if everyone implements what's been put forward, there will be a boost to global growth of 2.1%. This is over and above the growth that was going to be achieved. So, do I think it's worthwhile, striving for an extra two trillion dollars, yes I do. Do I think it's worthwhile that we would generate tens of millions of jobs as a consequence of everyone coming together and settling upon a pathway forward? I absolutely do. So, I think this has been one of the most successful G20 years that there's existed in relation to the G20 for some time. It's given a renewed impetus to the G20's focus, and I think the growth agenda that we've been able to drive in this year of the presidency will have a marked impact.

BENSON:

On climate, there is a debate about the position of climate change in the discussions over the next two days. Now, in this quote, Jen Psaki, who is a US State Department Senior Spokeswoman, quoted in Fairfax papers this morning, saying, "There is a focus on economic issues and how we coordinate the global economy at the G20. Climate, in our view, is part of that." Is climate a part of the discussions, in your view?

CIOBO:

Well, of course these things are a tapestry. I think it's unwise to try to pick at any one particular thread. We know that, when it comes to economic growth, it's a tapestry of issues that need to be considered. The environment is one of them, but there are other aspects to it as well.

BENSON:

And another aspect that Joe Hockey's referred to is tax, and tax avoidance, he's said that companies that do not pay tax where they earn profits are committing theft. Do global tax dodgers have anything to worry about from the G20?

CIOBO:

I think they should be. The fact is that we've done a lot of work throughout this year on what we call base erosion and profit shifting, which in other words is those that try to avoid taxation. There's been some big steps forward that's been taken under the presidency of Joe Hockey, and in particular in relation to the willingness of countries to share tax information. Some parameters around the way in which that information is gathered, collated, stored, and shared between countries, and that's going to really make a big difference in terms of how we can start to deal with some of those multinationals that utilize strategies to minimize the amount of tax they pay, often at obscene levels, so when you contrast that with, for example, a small business who doesn't have access to those same sorts of features, then you start to understand why people get so angry that there seems to be, often, an imbalance between some of the biggest businesses and their own small business which pay, effectively, higher rates of tax.

BENSON:

What will the result be by the end of Sunday's deliberations, will there be a communiqué, and will there be hard evidence that it's more than a talk-fest, as Tony Abbott has said, it is more than a talk-fest?

CIOBO:

We've wanted right from the outset, and the Prime Minister has made this clear that this was not just to be a talkfest. We wanted specific courses of action that we know people are going to follow, so to quickly summarize I guess, the work that's being done in relation to the global infrastructure initiative, and in particular, the work that will be done in relation to a global infrastructure hub is one of the most exciting aspects; it represents the opportunity for Australia to be a truly global leader when it comes to infrastructure and knowledge around infrastructure, and that's going to help to change lives. But in addition to that, as I said, it's the fact that we've moved beyond simply saying, well, we have an aspiration of 2% growth, to actually getting countries to detail, there's about a thousand reforms that have been put forward, to detail how they're going to achieve that growth, and, importantly, to also require countries to benchmark the actual implementation of those reforms so we can measure whether those reforms are being put in place, and what the consequent impact on global growth is.

BENSON:

Steve Ciobo, thank you very much.

CIOBO:

It's a pleasure, thank you.