17 November 2014
Transcript - #2014041, 2014

Interview with David Penberthy, FIVEaa, Breakfast

DAVID PENBERTHY:

It was, of course, the G20 and it wrapped up yesterday in Brisbane with some of the most powerful people on the face of the earth flying their way back to their homelands.

Joining us now to discuss what this actually means for you is Steve Ciobo. Now, Steve is a Queensland Coalition MP, senior member of the Abbott Government. He is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Joe Hockey, so he's a guy who has his hands on the economic levers, and also a Brisbane boy.

Firstly, Mr Ciobo, can we just ask you to describe, what was it actually like being a Brisbane guy and having everybody there?

STEVEN CIOBO:

Good morning. It was a great day; actually, it was a great two days over the weekend. It was very hot, but that notwithstanding, just to have those world leaders, to have global finance ministers all in Brisbane to talk about collectively what can be done to boost global growth, to talk about what can be done to boost jobs was an extraordinary event, and as the Prime Minister identified, probably the most important meeting that Australia's ever hosted.

DAVID PENBERTHY:

Just in terms of what it will actually mean for the ordinary man or woman on the street, I guess in an economic sense, the headline moment out of the summit is that all of the nations have committed to a 2.1% increase in economic growth. What will that actually mean? How will that be achieved?

STEVEN CIOBO:

The reason this is important and the reason it will have an impact on the lives of every Australian is because as a result of the collective efforts of countries around the world, we're going to boost global growth by 2.1%. Now the impact of that is to add $2 trillion dollars to the global economy and to generate millions of new jobs, and that's important because it helps to drive Australian exports, it helps to drive the Australian economy, and ultimately what this all trickles down to mean is that for local Australians, it actually is going to boost our economy and it's going to make it better for Australians to be able to secure employment. It's going to drive capital investment in Australia.

Of course, one of the other big initiatives that flowed out of the weekend was the development of a global infrastructure hub and this will see Australia really at the epicentre of global work around infrastructure, so that's also going to sit and dovetail very nicely with the work and the investment by Australian governments, both at a state and federal level. We're going to invest about $125 billion into infrastructure here in Australia.

DAVID PENBERTHY:

Just in terms of climate change and the manner in which that became quite elevated at the conference, President Obama from the U.S. obviously spoke with a high degree of conviction about his views. I was reading Paul Kelly's piece on the front of The Australian this morning where he said that certainly from a domestic tactical perspective, Obama's forthright position on climate and also China's decision to sign on to reduce emissions targets too has put your government in a bit of an awkward position because it looks like you were doing less.

Is that a fair assessment, do you think?

STEVEN CIOBO:

Look, I really don't think it is and the reason I don't think it is because the agreement's that received a lot of headlines is an agreement from the year 2030 onwards. Now in Australia, both the Labor Party and the Coalition actually have signed up to the same agreement, which is to reduce Australia's CO2 emissions by 5% on the year 2000 levels by the year 2020.

What's more, we're also taking a position, post a big conference that's taking place in Paris next year, that what we'll do in terms of additional reductions of CO2 emissions in the future, so really what we're talking about here is Australia acting now to reduce our CO2 emissions by 5% by 2020, versus the United States and China who made an announcement about things that will happen from 2030 onwards.

I really think that some of the focus about this USA/China agreement, while it's an important agreement, missed the point that we're talking about the here and now versus stopping what's happening from the year 2030 onwards.

DAVID PENBERTHY:

Just finally, Steve Ciobo, there was a lot of speculation or a lot of discussion rather in the lead up to the G20 about the appropriateness of Vladimir Putin coming, given Russia's complicity in the MH 17 atrocity. We saw Putin getting the cold shoulder over the last few days from David Cameron. The Prime Minister spoke forthright fashion ahead of the G20 calling for him to compensate the victims and apologise.

On balance, do you think it was a good thing that Putin was here?

STEVEN CIOBO:

Look, I do, and the reason I believe that's the case is because I think that with … I'm hesitant to use the word rogue nations, but in many respects Russia does act in a rogue way … it's important to maintain communication. It's important to have the ability to talk with member states, with nation states, that are not doing the right thing.

Given also that the G20 is a group of 20 member states and given that it's not up to any one country to determine who should or should not attend, I also think it was appropriate in that sense. Look, we made our position clear. Australians feel very strongly about what happened and understandably so and I think that between the efforts of the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Canada, and others who all made our points very clear to Vladimir Putin, I think using no uncertain terms, about how the majority of western nation feels about the way Russia's conducting itself.

DAVID PENBERTHY:

No, that's certainly true. Steve Ciobo, Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer. Thanks very much for joining us this morning.