ABC Radio, AM

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: Japanese Prime Minister Visit; Trans-Pacific Partnership; Parliamentarian Expenses.
13 January 2017

KIM LANDERS: Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives inAustralia later today as part of a six day Asia-Pacific tour aimed atstrengthening security and economic ties in the region. Trade and theimplications of a Donald Trump Presidency are likely to be on the agenda whenhe meets with the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull tomorrow. The Trade Ministeris Steven Ciobo and he joined me a short time ago from our Gold Coast studio. Minister,good morning.

STEVEN CIOBO: Good morning, Kim.

KIM LANDERS: Shinzo Abe was the first world leader to meetPresident-elect Trump, so could he give us some insights into the Trumpadministration and the future of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well, there is a lot of people who are providingdifferent thoughts and views on what a new Trump's administration is going todo. I think, it's best for us to just take some time, let President-elect Trumptake the inauguration, become President Trump and let's see how hisadministration pans out. I don't believe that there is a terrific amount ofinsight that we'd get from academics or commentators or so called exports -experts, I should say, or indeed other leaders of relatively brief meetings in theseearly days.

KIM LANDERS: It was interesting me because the US nominee forSecretary of State, Rex Tillerson, told his confirmation hearing this week thathe did not oppose the TPP, that's the same deal which Donald Trump has promisedto dump on his first day in office. So how do you rate now the chances of theTPP surviving?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well, this goes back to the point that I madelittle a while ago Kim. When I indicated that premature - well the talk of theTPP being dead – is premature. Well, I do not deny, that based uponPresident-elect Trump's comment thus far, it would seem less likely thanlikely. But that notwithstanding, there are different views within US politicalsystem including by senior Congressional Republican leaders and I think we justneed to give the Americans time to work their way through this issue.

KIM LANDERS: So what contact have you or Australian officialshad with the Trump transition team about the future of the TPP?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well our ambassador in Washington Joe Hockey isdoing an outstanding job. He's been very involved in both sides, that is theDemocrats and the Republicans in the lead up to presidential election. Sincethen he's been working closely, of course, with the transition team andPresident-elect Trump's team. And I am very confident….

KIM LANDERS: Is the transition team even talking about the TPPor is it that simply not on their agenda?

STEVEN CIOBO: No but well I mean, they've got bigger fish to fryfrankly in the short term, that's understandable. But, of course, they are opento discussions on TPP and I'll be over there together with the ForeignMinister, in January as part of our economic diplomacy efforts around G'dayUSA. As part of that, I hope to be able to have some further meetings anddiscussions with key people, in and around Washington, New York and LA. That'llbe an opportunity to gain further insight into where things are progressing.

KIM LANDERS: This weekend marks the second anniversary since theJapan-Australia free trade was signed, so if the TPP is still looking a bitdicey, is there scope to expand trade deals like that?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well I certainly think we need to continue to lookfor trade opportunities. Australia is a trading nation. Exports drive economicgrowth in this country. Exports drive our ability to generate jobs in thiscountry; that is absolutely a key focus for this Coalition Government. So I'vebeen heavily pursuing opportunities for examples Kim, with Indonesia. We know thatthere's great scope to be able to boast, what is an underweight traderelationship between Australia and a population of some 250 million people inIndonesia. Of course, people would also be aware that I'm pursuing onAustralia's behalf, trade agreements – or certainly negotiations – with theEuropean Union. We'll look at the UK and of course, we've got to continuebuilding on the good work that we were able to achieve with China, South Koreaand Japan.

KIM LANDERS: If I could turn to the row over ministerial expenses,why did you charge taxpayers a thousand dollars for an airfare to go to the AFLgrand final in 2013?

STEVEN CIOBO: Kim, the matter of principle in relation to this is,should work expenses be claimed for a work-related activity? Now I go along togames here in my own electorate, I use a taxpayer-funded vehicle to get thereand I think people expect that. I certainly can say, as an Australian I wouldlove see for example, Australia's Prime Minister - I don't care whether it isLiberal or Labor - at a key game between for example Australia, the Wallabies -I happen to love ruby union – between the Wallabies and the All Blacks. So, I'msorry but the reason I was invited isn't because I'm Steve Ciobo, I was invitedbecause I am the Trade Minister, at that time in fact was the ParliamentarySecretary to the Treasurer. The notion and suggestion, that because Ministersor Parliamentary Secretary's or others are invited to go along these events specificallyby businesses and organisations who are taking the opportunity to showcasethemselves there, to take the time, to have a conversation in relation toimportant matters, absolutely is work related and that's the reason why.

KIM LANDERS: There has been a lot of attention Ministerialexpenses in the past few weeks, why hasn't the Prime Minister fronted the mediato explain to the public what's going on - to make the case for it?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well we have various ministers assigned with differentlevels with responsibility –

KIM LANDERS: What about the Prime Minister?

STEVEN CIOBO: The Acting Special Minister of State, KellyO'Dwyer, addressed the media in full. Of course, we've seen the Government makea statement in relation to the changes that we're making to -

KIM LANDERS: But the Prime Minister is in charge of all of hisMinisters, why haven't we seen Malcolm Turnbull?

STEVEN CIOBO: I don't believe the Prime Minister needs to comeout of each and every single issue that is running each and every single day. Thefact is, the Acting Special Minister, Kelly O'Dwyer, has made comments. TheGovernment has made it clear what our intentions are, that we would be movinglegislation to make further reforms to workplace-related expenses forParliamentarians and I think that provides a very good bearing to theAustralian people of this Government's intention to deal with this issue.

KIM LANDERS: Minister, Thank you for speaking with AM.

STEVEN CIOBO: A pleasure.

KIM LANDERS: The Trade Minister, Steven Ciobo.


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