Interview on Sky News with Laura Jayes

  • Transcript, E&OE
Topics: ‘Bad Blood’ series; foreign policy with regard to China; US-China trade war; Iran.
26 June 2019

Laura Jayes: And he joins us live now. Thanks so much for your time. First of allwhat are these revelations in the documentary Scott's numbers, Scott Morrison'snumbers men accused of bringing down Turnbull for, well essentially to gettheir man up, is that plausible?

Simon Birmingham: Look Laura, everybody will have their own interpretation of events, theyplayed out some time ago now. I think on May 18 the Australian people put theseevents firmly behind them and certainly for Scott, myself, for the government'sleadership in cabinet, they are behind us and our job now is to focus ondelivering what the Australian people want and what we promised such as a lowertax agenda. You know we heard that message from the election, it's a shame theLabor Party yet.

Laura Jayes: We'll get to that. From Muppet show to miracle win absolutely, but doesthis accusation show honestly that there still is some bad blood in the party?

Simon Birmingham: Obviously these interviews were conducted by your colleagues here atSky, I'm not sure when exactly all of them were put in the can and wereundertaken but I can assure you and the listeners that the sense of directionand unity and purpose at the heart of the government is as strong as it's everbeen, that we are completely united around getting our policy agendaimplemented and seeing that tax relief delivered for Australians, and oncontinuing to do the things that are necessary to keep the Australian economystrong and to keep generating jobs and that is right where the focus of everysingle second of Scott Morrison's time is.

Laura Jayes: Do you think finally, could Malcolm Turnbull Turnbull have won theelection like Scott Morrison did?

Simon Birmingham: Yes and Scott said that in the program last night and look we arecontinuing to build upon Malcolm's legacy and his work as indeed before thatTony Abbott's, put us in a position in terms of being able to bring the budgetback to the point of handing down a surplus budget. Being able to deliver thetype of tax cuts and tax relief again for hard working Australians, creatingthe type of jobs that are there. This is a legacy of the Coalition Governmentthat goes back to 2013 and that has been about the work we have done to dateand I think the verdict of the Australian people on May 18 was that they maynot have liked some of the political shenanigans that happened, but theyrecognised that our management of the economy, our management of the budget,our creation of jobs and the policies we had in terms of what they've deliveredand what they can deliver for the future are the right policies for thecountry. And we have heard that message loud and clear, there will be noshenanigans there will be absolute delivery of our policies and we want to makesure that the Labor Party and the parliament, respect that message as well interms of the importance of lower taxes for Australian families.

Laura Jayes: Could Peter Dutton have pulled off the same Simon Birmingham?

Simon Birmingham: Look, I don't know. We'll never know. In the end the decision was madeonce the leadership spill vote was successful to have a vote. Scott became theleader and we've seen exactly how Scott performed, he's performed brilliantlyand he's providing strong leadership not just for the party and the Coalitionbut for the nation. And this week, he'll take that leadership to the worldstage at the G20 where he goes now as a leader, elected in his own right, witha strong mandate and that of course gives him a strong platform in terms of hisengagement with other world leaders. Let's talk about some of the challenges weface and challenges not of our creation in terms of global trade conflict butchallenges that we urge the world to get on and address and that we willcollaborate closely with like-minded countries to address.

Laura Jayes: Scott Morrison, you're right has declared today that Australia won'tstand by passively so what will you do?

Simon Birmingham: What we are doing is engaging with Singapore, Japan, European Union,other like-minded countries around the world to advance an agenda of how it isthat we advocate for the maintenance of rules-based systems aroundinternational trade and modernise them. What's really important here is that werecognise that in the period since World War II, the United States and othernations helped build international institutions such as the World TradeOrganization and establish rules that have served us very well. But they arefar from perfect. In that time we've seen phenomenal economic growth includingin China who now sits alongside the United States as a great economic power.And Scott is urging both the US and China to exercise those powers responsiblyas great powers should, to recognise that might is not always right and toengage in addressing some of the legitimate concerns that exist about theoperation of their economies and the operation of their trade policies inparticular, and the impact that they are having on market conditions around theworld and on growth prospects for our economy and every other world economy.

Laura Jayes: It sounds like what you're saying Simon Birmingham is that you willengage to try and circumvent this problem between the US and China at themoment, engage with other trading nations to beef up those relationshipsperhaps and use stronger language, imploring the US and China to come to somekind of deal. Can you do anything other than that?

Simon Birmingham: Laura, we can't fix this dispute between the US and China, they are bigeconomic superpowers. They have to resolve their tensions and their disputethemselves. We have said consistently for a while now that we appreciate andunderstand and share as do many other nations, some of the concerns aboutprotection of intellectual property and technology transfer within the Chinesesystem. We urge China to provide action and to deliver upon the promisesthat President Xi has made to the world that they will be stronger protectionsthere. Equally we are concerned about the use of unilateral tariff measures bythe United States and the impact that has had in terms of undermining globaleconomic confidence and we see now from the work of the IMF, the work of theOECD that projections around global trade growth are down and that flowsthrough in the projections of global economic growth have been brought down aswell. And that's bad news for everybody including those in the US and China. Weneed them to recognise that and that the growth of global trade rules havedelivered has been an economic miracle of our lifetimes, lifting hundreds ofmillions of people out of poverty and that we can continue to develop andmodernise those rules for the future.

Laura Jayes: Will you impose economic sanctions on Iran?

Simon Birmingham: Well we already have. We already have economic sanctions in place.

Laura Jayes: Any further sanctions, do you have any further levers to pull?

Simon Birmingham: We are constantly reviewing those sanctions to make sure that they arefit for purpose and appropriate. Australia is deeply concerned about the typeof disruptive action we're seeing from Iran, deeply concerned about anythingthat allows Iran to develop nuclear capabilities and especially given thethreat that those nuclear capabilities could then fall into the hands ofterrorist organisations and others. That's why we want to do everything we can,responsibly, sensibly, within our power to see these issues resolved in adiplomatic way using the leverage of economic sanctions to do so.

Laura Jayes: Just finally on tax cuts how do you know that you can afford the entirepackage that you took to the election, because it does rely on, theaffordability does rely on a GDP figure of 3 percent, that's in your own budgetin the outer years. How believable is that given at the moment our economicgrowth is at about 1.8 percent and is not even meeting the current budgetexpectations which is at 2.75?

Simon Birmingham: Well we based all of these figures upon our analysis of global economictrends and the type of concerns I was speaking about before are built into ourbudget projections and we look to the future as to how we will best overcomethose results. I mean Australia can't afford not to have the delivery of incometax relief, that's the clear message we've had from the Reserve Bank Governor,from business leaders, from economists, from those who recognise that if wedon't do this, our conditions will be anti-competitive when it comes tocomparison with other global economies particularly in the English speakingworld. Workers in Australia will be paying significantly higher taxes relativeto their counterparts in those other English-speaking countries. So again, wemust see this tax relief delivered because of what it can ensure, the strengthof our economy, the resilience of our economy, help to underpin future growthand of course it's what we promised the Australian people we would do. And it'sremarkable that Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party are so tone deaf when it comesto what was a clear verdict from the election, a verdict for lower taxes nothigher taxes.

Laura Jayes: Trade Minister we appreciate your time this morning speak soon.

Simon Birmingham: Thank you my pleasure.

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