4 December 2014
Transcript - #2014046, 2014

Doorstop interview, Parliament House, Canberra

CIOBO:

Just want to say a couple of words this morning in relation to the national accounts that were released yesterday. What we see and what the national accounts draw attention to is the fact that Australia still has economic challenges. Although growth under the Coalition, our first 12 months, has been at 2.7 per cent, versus the last 12 months of the Labor Party which saw GDP growth at 1.9 per cent, there remains a very clear case that we have strong fiscal repair that needs to take place. The Coalition is absolutely committed, and in fact the Coalition is the only party in mainstream politics that's focused on restoring the Budget. We're the only party that's prepared to make the tough decisions that put the national interest first, that help us to stop having to borrow a billion dollars a month just to pay the interest on the debt that Labor's left behind.

Only the Coalition, as identified by Chris Richardson, has a plan to deal with the structural reforms required. The Labor Party, and indeed more broadly the Opposition, have completely walked away from the national interest, have walked away from fiscal repair, and instead remain focused on short-term political populism. From a Coalition perspective, we call again on the Opposition parties to recognise national interest, to stop mortgaging our children's future. We need to get through the reforms required to make sure Australia can live within its means.

Happy to take some questions.

REPORTER:

Do you think the Coalition needs to work on its negotiating strategy though, because when you have David Leyonhjelm saying you're hopeless, Genn Lazarus says been harassed by Christopher Pyne with text messages. So do you think that you're potentially to blame here for not being able to negotiate your policies through the Senate?

CIOBO:

Well look, fundamentally the Coalition wants to have a mature conversation with people that are reasonable in the Senate. We do have an agenda that we want to try to put through, we have got an economic action strategy; the Labor Party doesn't. Now, we've got shifting sands in the Senate, a variety of positions that have been adopted by different people. Ultimately though, each person will cling to whichever arguments they want to cling to about whether or not they can pass legislation through or not. We want to put the national interest first, and we'd call upon crossbench senators to join us in putting the national interest first.

REPORTER:

Inaudible question.

CIOBO:

I beg your pardon?

REPORTER:

Inaudible.

CIOBO:

Well it's interesting that the Labor Party is trash talking the Australian economy, I think it really reflects poorly on the Australian Labor Party. The fact is that we saw two quarters of negative income growth under the Labor Party three times when they were in power. Now because it suits their short-term political populism they race around and say that there's a crisis in terms of national incomes, but in fact this is entirely consistent with what the Coalition has said from day one: we, if we want to make sure that Australians have a better tomorrow than they did today, need to undertake structural reform; we're committed to it, we're focused on it. Labour at the moment is the major political party that stands in the way for Australia having a brighter tomorrow than they do today.

REPORTER:

You said the Coalition wants to have a mature conversation with reasonable people in the Senate - the Prime Minister's postponed his meeting with Jacqui Lambie a couple of times - does that mean… think she's reasonable?

CIOBO:

Look we'll continue to talk with the Senate crossbench, they are of course important, we must work with the Senate crossbench in order to get legislation through. There'll always be different competing demands in terms of not only their time, but minister's times. We've got examples of ministers who've been unable to speak to crossbench senators at their behest.

Fundamentally, my consistent message and clear message is this: I say to the Labor Party that we wouldn't need to have these ongoing negotiations if they were willing to put Australia's national interest first. We need structural reform - Martin Parkinson, the Treasurer Secretary, made the point very clearly yesterday when he said that Australia must undertake fiscal reform to ensure continued economic growth, and continued income growth. That's what we're trying to do, the Labor Party is standing in the way because of short-term populist politics. We want to get on with the job that we were elected to do.

REPORTER:

If you had to assess the Abbott Government's first term- or first parliamentary year what mark, or what grade would you give yourself?

CIOBO:

Look I think the Coalition has had an outstanding year. We remain very focused on delivering in spades; we stopped the boats; we of course abolished the carbon tax, saving households $550 a year; we abolished the mining tax at the very time that the mining industry needed it, when they're under significant pressure; we've seen a 25 per cent fall in commodity prices since May of this year; we've also of course implemented free trade agreements with China, Korea, and Japan; and we remain focused to the delivery of the biggest infrastructure package this nation's ever seen, with $50 billion worth of infrastructure, and of course we've got a trillion dollars of environmental approvals in place.

We are absolutely focused on jobs and growth. The Labor Party is absolutely focused on short-term, rank, populous politics. We need to make sure that we can push through that, we need to put the national interest front and centre. The Coalition is focused on doing that, and we have delivered in spades.

REPORTER:

But there are mixed messages, though, coming from the Government. On the one hand Joe Hockey says spend up big for Santa, on the other hand you're talking about semi-budget crisis, or it's a pretty inaudible budget.

CIOBO:

I think there's a world of difference between the position that's put forward by the Coalition, and the position put forward by the Opposition. The Coalition's message is straightforward: we have structural reform that's required, it's absolutely necessary, to make sure we live within our means, and to make sure that Australia has a brighter tomorrow than it does today. The Opposition is more concerned about racing around, playing semantics and word games, rather than putting our national interests forward.

Our message is consistent: unless we make hard decisions, unless we put the national interest front and centre, we will continue to face a declining standard of living. We want to make sure that Australia's got a better tomorrow, and that's why we say to people: let's build upon the confidence that is already there, and let's make sure that Australians are out there spending up full well in the knowledge that we have a strong economy, but one that could be stronger over time and more sustainable by undertaking structural reform.

REPORTER:

So spend up big for Santa?

CIOBO:

I'd encourage everyone to be out there recognising it's a great time, we're in a great country, we've got a great opportunity to continue to boost our economy, and we do that by people having confidence to go out there to shop, to focus on jobs and growth, and that's what we're trying to deliver upon.

Thanks all, I'll leave it that.