14 November 2014
Transcript - #2014042, 2014

Interview with Matthew Taylor, CNBC

MATTHEW TAYLOR:

Steve thanks very much for joining us. I ran through a number of things that are going to be at the top of the agenda, from the Australian point of view, what are you really hoping to get out of this G20 gathering over the weekend?

STEVEN CIOBO:

Several things. Key is the agreement, the aspiration, that was reached back in Sydney for member states to strive for an additional 2 percent of global growth. We're talking about $2 trillion of additional global GDP, effectively. We're also talking about tens of millions of additional jobs if we achieve that percent target. That's something that states have been working on diligently over the past nine or so months, so we'll see the roll out of those plans.

The other big thing we're focused on is the global-infrastructure initiative. We hope to be able to bring that global-infrastructure initiative through the infrastructure hub which we hope will be headquartered here in Australia. We'll roll out some great plans to tackle global-infrastructure needs.

MATTHEW TAYLOR:

How close are we to being able to tick all the boxes on those things you described? The global growth target, I know back in Cairn when we were there for the finance ministers' and Central Bank governance meeting, the Treasurer Joe Hockey said we're about 80 percent of the way there. Do you have an update for us now?

STEVEN CIOBO:

It looks very promising. We've achieved through reforms that have been put forward about 1.8 percent of additional growth. I saw comments yesterday from the OECD head, Angel Gurria, who said he'd expect it would be about 2.1 percent. It looks like all the member states have done the work they need to do. Now the real test is to make sure that as well as having the aspiration, as well as having the plans, we now need to focus on the execution of those reform processes.

With respect to the execution of the reform process we want to make sure the IMF and the OECD are both watching closely how member states roll out those reforms in their own countries so we can achieve the additional growth.

MATTHEW TAYLOR:

What about here in Australia? I know the Prime Minister was in Myanmar and spoke to the Financial Review, was on the front page this morning saying Australia might not be able to meet its own targets. There are issues with getting the budget through the senate.

How likely is it Australia will be able to tick the box when it comes to the growth aspirations?

STEVEN CIOBO:

Australia is growing. We've had a continually growing economy now for 24 years. We'll continue to achieve growth.

What we as a government are looking for is even more growth. We've outlined a whole series of reforms. We've got an economic action strategy that's focused on making sure we achieve a couple of outcomes. One is additional growth, but also we want to see fiscal consolidation in Australia. We're attempting to do that. We've got some stubborn opposition and some stubborn cross benches, but we will continue to work with them in the senate. We're very hopeful of getting those reforms through.

MATTHEW TAYLOR:

Trade is another big one. We're all hoping we get the Australia-China free trade agreement at the conclusion of G20. Are we going to see that?

STEVEN CIOBO:

We've been working hard for it. As a new government we said we wanted to land free-trade agreements with Japan, Korea, and China. We can tick two of those boxes. We've got an FTA, a free trade agreement, with Japan. We've got one with Korea. China's the one that's left. We've been working on this for seven years. We're quietly confident we'll be able to land it, but you never know until it's over.

MATTHEW TAYLOR:

What are the sticking points, if any, as the negotiations unfold?

STEVEN CIOBO:

There's sticking points from both sides. From an Australian perspective we want to make sure we're able to achieve good outcomes for our agricultural sector and our primary producers. That's a very big focus for us. We're focused on making sure we elicit the best possible outcome under the FTA for our primary sector. If we achieve that, we’re all quietly confident we'll be able to get a common understanding and achieve an outcome.

MATTHEW TAYLOR:

There's been interesting developments on the sidelines at APEC with Russia and the conversations between Australia and Russia. We've heard there are Russian ships now off the coast of Australia. Should people be worried about that or is it just chest thumping from the Russians or is it nothing at all to be concerned about?

STEVEN CIOBO:

I don't think people should be worried about it at all. It's not without precedent. The fact is Russia has stationed warships off countries where they've been at summits previously. The fact they're choosing to do so, or it appears they're choosing to do so, again here in Australia is not to be unexpected. Australians understand and, more broadly, people understand, we were greatly aggrieved at the shooting down of the Malaysian Airlines aircraft, and especially the loss of so many innocent Australian lives.

We are calling upon the Russian president to say sorry. Intelligence shows that the missile that shot them down came out of Russia, was fired in the Ukraine, and went back to Russia. We think it's appropriate the Russians say sorry. We think it's appropriate they look at paying compensation the same way the Americans did when they accidentally shot down an airliner. It's not without precedent. I would simply call upon the Russian president to recognise that they should do something to, appropriately, deal with what's happened.