Sky News, AM Agenda

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement; Penalty Rates; Newspoll; Racial Discrimination Act.
28 February 2017

KIERAN GILBERT: With me this morning the TradeMinister, Steve Ciobo. Peta Credlin and others are saying that some of yourtraditional supporters have left and they're not coming back. What do you sayto that?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well, look, we always have to work,of course, to earn people's support and their respect and that's what we'refocused on. That's why we're taking the hard decisions. These are decisionsthat don't necessarily make us that popular early on in the election cycle, butthey're decisions that are necessary because it puts Australia back on theright track. I think people just need to relax a bit. We're seven months insince the election. We've got more than two years to go. Most importantly,people will judge us at the next election on the basis of what we do this termand we're getting a lot done. I mean, we have put through a huge amount oflegislation, significant reform - we've got the Australian Building andConstruction Commission back on track. It's going well.

KIERAN GILBERT: The Prime Minister's had forcefulsupport from Mathias Cormann. He did that on this programme on Friday and thenothers, senior figures within the party expressing support publicly that theyare behind Malcolm Turnbull. There's no chance of Tony Abbott returning to theprime ministership, but him niggling is going to continue to causedistractions, political distractions, and damage the Government in a pollingsense.

STEVEN CIOBO: You know, Kieran, all I can say toyou is that I am focused on the job that I've been given. I'm Trade, Tourismand Investment Minister. My focus is absolutely upon representing myconstituency of the Gold Coast, but also what I can do on the trade front andon the tourism front. We've got record tourism funding going in. Tourismnumbers are surging. More tourists staying longer, spending more – that'screating jobs. I'm focused on trade –

KIERAN GILBERT: You did the trade deal with - well,it's on its way, with Indonesia, so that's a good outcome, but all of that justburied by the fact that Tony Abbott made that intervention last week.

STEVEN CIOBO: But look, I mean that's politics.There's always someone making a comment somewhere about something. I mean,there is never smooth waters.

KIERAN GILBERT: Should the PM bring, should MrTurnbull bring Tony Abbott into the tent now then, as Peta Credlin suggests.

STEVEN CIOBO: Well, Tony Abbott is in the tent.The fact is that he's a member of the Coalition. He's got every right to makecomments as a backbencher and that's what he's choosing to do. Ultimately, theCoalition Party Room is there and we're meeting later on today. It's where wetalk about policy. It's where people will raise issues. It's where Governmentwill take decisions about the kinds of initiatives that we'll undertake. I justmake the point again, I'm just not going to get – no-one on the executive isgoing to get distracted by what someone or something is doing. What we're doingis focusing on the job we were elected to do, our National Economic Plan.That's what Australians expect of us. We want to get the cost of living down.These are all of the key things –

KIERAN GILBERT: Malcolm Turnbull said the samething yesterday, but then made the call to then specifically refer to TonyAbbott's outburst and that it derailed the polling. That was a bad call, wasn'tit, from Mr Turnbull to engage so directly with that issue?

STEVEN CIOBO: Again, Kieran, I'm just not goingto provide a commentary on who said what to whom.

KIERAN GILBERT: He should have been taking yourlead.

STEVEN CIOBO: It's just not relevant. What I'mfocused on, as I said, I'm happy to talk about trade, tourism and investmentall day long.

KIERAN GILBERT: Maybe you should have told thePrime Minister to take that approach yesterday and it wouldn't have dominatedagain for another 24 hours.

STEVEN CIOBO: The PM has said time and time againhe's not going to be distracted by this.


STEVEN CIOBO: He's not being distracted. TheGovernment's not being distracted. The Cabinet's not being distracted. We arefocused on reducing the cost of living for Australians and implementing ourNational Economic Plan, that's what we were elected to do.

KIERAN GILBERT: The penalty rates issue is one thatclearly Bill Shorten and Labor feel is fertile ground for them, and privatelythey're referring to this as the next Medicare or the next Work Choices.

STEVEN CIOBO: Medi-scare in the case of Labor, Imean look, make no mistake, Bill Shorten is a complete fraud when it comes topenalty rates. Bill Shorten is the daddy of this decision. This is the guy whoactually set this body up, gave them the jurisdiction to look at penalty rates,said time and time and time again that he would honour the independent umpire'sdecision. And low and behold, all of a sudden, typical of Bill Shorten, thecomplete hypocrite that he is, is now out there saying, 'Oh no, I don't likethis decision'. After he set it up, he told them to look at penalty rates, hesaid he'd respect the decision. I mean this is why Australians know BillShorten can't be trusted.

KIERAN GILBERT: But if you've got $70 less in yourpocket a week...

STEVEN CIOBO: Look, cold comfort for thosepeople, I get that. And I don't for one second, you know, in any way downplaythe impact it will have on those people who are going to see a reduction intheir pay as a consequence. But by the same token, Kieran, and make no mistakeabout this, if you look at the hospitality and tourism sector, just about everysingle major peak body from the tourism sector has said this decision is goingto mean thousands of more jobs in the sector. And so Kieran, my focus isn'tjust on those –

KIERAN GILBERT: Explain that, explain that to us.So, they're hoteliers, tourism operators, because you know this industry,explain to us, how does that translate to more jobs?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well the way it translates to morejobs –

KIERAN GILBERT: Thousands of jobs.

STEVEN CIOBO: …is because there's a lot of forexample, you know, restaurants on public holidays, cafes, hospitality, fastfood workers, etc. I mean, let's be clear about a couple of things. First isthat many of these people – COSBOA yesterday, Council of Small Business saidthat 80 per cent of people will not be affected by this decision, that's thefirst point. 80 per cent of people, according to COSBOA, will not be affected bythis decision because they're on EBAs. So it's only those on the margins, the20 per cent that are likely to be affected. Second point is that you get ahospitality business that may not open on a Sunday today, because of penaltyrates, they're too excessive, it doesn't make it cost effective so they don'topen and or if they do open, they open for reduced hours. By reducing thepenalty rates, what that actually now means is that it actually becomes morecommercial to open.

KIERAN GILBERT: Yeah, more hours, more jobs.

STEVEN CIOBO: When they open it means more jobsand more –

KIERAN GILBERT: And finally, on the RacialDiscrimination Act, the Committee's going to propose a number of options today.One of them reported in the Fairfax press suggesting they're going to removesome of the words, include harass and intimidate. This obviously is a totemicissue for those in the conservative element of the Party. But do you think thatmore broadly this is a distraction for most people more worried about their penaltyrates and their take home pay?

STEVEN CIOBO: Look, I mean, different issuesmatter to different people. This is an important issue for some people, Irespect that. We commissioned the inquiry because we wanted to hear thedifferent points of view and so we'll have a look at their recommendations,when it comes out later today.

KIERAN GILBERT: Mr Ciobo thanks for your time,appreciate it.

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