Sky News, AM Agenda

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subject: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC); Donald Trump; Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP); Registered Organisations Commission (ROC).
22 November 2016

KIERAN GILBERT: Let'sgo to the Trade Minister, Steve Ciobo. I spoke to him a bit earlier about arange of issues including the prospects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal,but also the passage of the Registered Organisations Legislation one of thosetriggers for their double dissolution election.

STEVEN CIOBO: It certainly is. I mean this is another step alongthe pathway of the Coalition delivering on our commitments that we took to theAustralian people. Of course very grateful that we were able to work veryconstructively with the Senate crossbenchers to make sure we got importantpolicy through that's going to help to make for a better Australia in the yearsahead.

KIERAN GILBERT: So now the focus turns to the othertrigger, more controversial in the sense that Labor's opposing this one. What'sit looking like in terms of the Senate?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well Labor's unsurprisingly being opposed to all ofthese reforms because the Labor Party and Bill Shorten are 100 per cent ownedby the trade union movement. So, they receive check of $11 million of supportfrom the most militant and extreme organisation in Australia, the CFMEU and soit's no surprises at all that Labor continues to oppose important reforms thatactually, without getting this reform through, it's costing tax payers money.We've seen, for example with the construction of important public assets,hospitals, things like that, unions, in particular the CFMEU, are driving upcosts by 30 per cent.

KIERAN GILBERT: To get this building watch dog through,how significant would it be in a political sense for the Government to headinto the Christmas break with that as another win? The two triggers for thedouble D.

STEVEN CIOBO: Look we've been consistently and calmly working ourway through our legislative agenda, and despite all the calls from Labor ... Imean, there's a lot of negativity coming from a very aggressive and negativeopposition, but the fact is we're getting the runs on the board. We're workingconstructively with the Senate crossbench and we are putting through importantlegislation, exactly consistent with what we took to the last election.

KIERAN GILBERT: You've just arrived back from Peru fromthe APEC Summit. What are the prospects of the TPP being achieved even withoutthe United States - that you'll push ahead with China on board as opposed tothe Trump-led United States?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well 12 member countries have agreed to the TPP. Anumber of them are pushing ahead with their domestic ratification around theTrans-Pacific Partnership. Australia's doing that. Japan's doing that, andwe're arriving at a situation where out of the 12, 11 could potentially ratifydomestically the TPP, which would leave the United States. Now, I think it'simportant to realise, the United States has up to two years to ratify. We'reabout eight or nine months in. There's still quite a way to go, so I think wejust need to wait, see what the United States Congress decides to do. If othercountries want to join, China, Indonesia, whoever it might be, that's always anoption for them in future years to be able to join as well.

KIERAN GILBERT: As was pointed out yesterday, the PrimeMinister argued that Bill Clinton, when he was campaigning, argued against theNorth-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, then in office advocated it. So, you'rehoping for that sort of reversal with Mr Trump?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well look the US system, like the Australiansystem, has a number of checks in balance. There's a number of different forcesthat can be brought to bear. In this particular case, it's a decision of the USCongress. That is the US House of Representatives and the US Senate. They'rethe ones that ultimately make the call about ratification within the UnitedStates, so we've got to wait and see what the US Congress decides to do, whichis separate to President-elect Trump.

KIERAN GILBERT: Well he still would carry the veto,though, even if they do pass the TPP, but in relation to the deal, as you say11 of the 12 could sign it. Could it still come into effect, even with just the11 nations, Canada, Japan, New Zealand among them?

STEVEN CIOBO: As it stands now, no it couldn't. As theagreement's been struck, it does require the United States to ratify in orderfor the deal to come into effect. But it's possible we could have conversationsand see if there is an appetite from the other 11 to press on regardless of ifthe United States is part of it or not. With a small change that's agreed to bythe other 11, we could press ahead with the agreement without the United Statesif that's what came to pass. But importantly Kieran, we've got a long way togo. As I said we're only about eight or nine months in, there's two year windowfor the United States to ratify something. We've just got to give them time.

KIERAN GILBERT: What was the reaction to Donald Trumpfrom international representatives, your counterparts at APEC?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well to be honest, we didn't spend a lot of timefocused on President-elect Trump. The purpose of APEC is to drive a free trade agreement,or I should say to drive a free trade agenda. One that's focused on the manybenefits that flow, the enhanced economic growth, the fact that we know thatfree and liberalised trade creates job opportunities.

KIERAN GILBERT: And there was not much mention ofTrump? That's odd.

STEVEN CIOBO: No well I mean because all of those countries thatare there are countries that are committed to opening their economies becausewe know that that is crucial to driving job opportunities. I mean inAustralia's case Kieran, I make the point repeatedly, we don't just sign up toagreements because we like the idea of doing that. We sign up to agreementsbecause they're good for Australia. If you look at what the Coalition'sdelivered with China, with South Korea, with Japan, these are good agreements,agreements that are driving Australian exports, and we have directly seen as aconsequence of the agreements the Coalition has already entered that we'regetting a wave of new exports out of the country that's powering the Australianeconomy. We've got one of the highest growth rates out of any of the developedeconomies because of the fact we've been able to secure world's best marketaccess into key markets that are good for a country like Australia.

KIERAN GILBERT: Ok and we'll just to conclude where webegan in a sense, that report in the Financial Review today suggesting that MrTurnbull phoned from Peru to say, stop the legal action against Leyonhjelm'sLiberal Democrat Party in order to not aggravate him right now at the time ofwanting to get the building watch dog through. That shows you how far the Government'swilling to go to get this deal done.

STEVEN CIOBO: Look, I've seen the reports. I'm not in a positionto say yay or nay in terms of whether that's true. Let's be focused on whatwe're trying to do here, though. We want to make sure that we're workingconstructively with the Senate crossbench. We've just demonstrated overnightthat the Coalition can have very constructive and cordial discussions withthem. We're working collectively to pursue Australia's national interests, andthat's a great outcome. We are very focused on doing it with the ABCC. We tookthat to the election. We've got the endorsement of the Australian people. And wewant to work constructively with Nick Xenophon's team, with One Nation, withother crossbench Senators like Derryn Hinch and others to make sure that we getthese reforms through because it's good for tax payers and it's good for thecountry.

KIERAN GILBERT: Mr Ciobo, I appreciate your time asalways. Thank you.



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