Sky News, AM Agenda
KIERAN GILBERT: These numbers, I know that people don't say that we don't look at the polls around this time of the electoral cycle, but the Prime Minister made the judgement on Tony Abbott based on the Newspolls so I guess it's fair enough, he's fair game isn't he?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well Kieran as you know, and I understand the excitement of the media about the first Newspoll after the election but we just had an election. The Australian people cast their verdict and their decision was to re-elect the Coalition Government. We're back with the majority government and we're going to be making decisions that implement the policies that we took to the last election. Frankly there could not be a less relevant poll for the Parliament than the one immediately after an election.
KIERAN GILBERT: But I guess people want to see runs on the board, don't they? And that's what the Prime Minister is hoping to achieve with this Omnibus Bill but it wasn't even ready to put to Labor so they could take it to caucus.
STEVEN CIOBO: No that's not the case. No, no, no hang on. Let's be clear about what this Omnibus Bill actually means. We know that Australians are concerned about debt and deficit. What we've attempted to do in this Omnibus Bill is capture all of the announced savings measures that the Government's put out there and that Labor has put out there. I mean bear in mind about two months and four days ago the Australian Labor Party released their fiscal plan which incorporated the very savings measures that we've incorporated into this Bill. Now we've got to put this to the Parliament and say 'come on Labor, only a little over two months ago you agreed with all these savings'. Surely the Labor Party can have enough consistency that two months and four days later they can still support their own announced savings.
KIERAN GILBERT: But if it's so urgent, why not give them time to have a look at it and then have the vote done this week.
STEVEN CIOBO: This is rubbish from the Labor Party. It was two months ago. Is their short term memory that bad that they can't remember what they actually announced two months ago?
KIERAN GILBERT: They just want to see the Bill though.
STEVEN CIOBO: Well they've got the Bill, they've got the legislation now. They've got the Bill, they've seen what we're proposing. So they're in a position to – all we're asking – we are not asking much of the Labor Party, we're simply asking of the Australian Labor Party to stand by the savings measures that they themselves announced. It's not a big ask. It simply is a recognition of the fact that they have to play a constructive role, not just simply bleat about all the negatives, but they've got to play a constructive role with helping to reform our nation's budget.
KIERAN GILBERT: Well obviously they've got some divisions on a couple of the measures in that Omnibus Bill. Some want to back the savings – some don't, including Anthony Albanese apparently, but in terms on their decision on this would you hope that they then have a special caucus and is it that urgent that you want it done this week?
STEVEN CIOBO: Really can it be that hard for the Australian Labor Party? Are they that divided and fractured that they can't even support a position that they had only two months and four days ago? Has it really reached the stage where Bill Shorten can't even cobble together a team some two months and four days later to stand by the same policies that they had two months and four days ago? Is that too much of an ask?
KIERAN GILBERT: On same-sex marriage it looks like. Well if Labor opposes the plebiscite, which all the indications at this stage suggest they will, then it's another three years before there's any reform in this area.
STEVEN CIOBO: Look I'm frankly astounded at Labor's position on this. This is a position that the Labor Party is putting out there and the Greens for that matter, which screams of arrogance. The reason it screams of arrogance is because they're basically saying to the Australian people, 'We don't trust you to have a say on an institution as important as marriage when it comes to the Australian society'. We took it to the Australian people. We said at the election that we will have a plebiscite. Australians want to have their say. You know what, they have every right to have their say. I find it extraordinary that the Australian Labor Party says, 'No no, we either A, can't trust what you'll say is going to be or B, we don't think you have a right to have a say on this'. So therefore they're going to deny them that vote.
KIERAN GILBERT: Well is there still a chance that they can manufacture a Parliamentary vote through a private senator's bill and then bring it through the Lower House.
STEVEN CIOBO: Kieran, look, we took this to the Australian people. What is so bad on an institution so fundamental to society as marriage to say to the Australian people, 'You have your say'?
KIERAN GILBERT: Well they're worried about, and Bill Shorten said again this morning he's worried about, unleashing homophobia and that sort of thing.
STEVEN CIOBO: But this is it. No but see this is the innate arrogance of Labor's position. So he says, 'Well look, the Australian people can't be trusted to have this debate because it'll unleash waves of homophobia and nasty comments being made by people'. And yet apparently the only people that can have a rational debate about this are confined to being within our nation's Parliament. Is that really Labor's position? That they say, 'Well you can only trust Members of Parliament to have a cool, calm, rational conversation about this, to not make homophobic claims and things like that'. Really? I think that's an absurd proposition. The Australian people, in my experience having dealt with thousands if not tens of thousands of people over many years, they're good people, they can have a say on something as fundamental as marriage when it comes to our Australian society.
KIERAN GILBERT: What's your sense of the mood within the party when it comes to the superannuation changes? Is – excuse me – is a compromise nearing?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well look the Government's obviously put forward in the May budget our proposal for savings around superannuation. Now, of course we have heard some strata of society, some of their concerns about some of the announced savings. The Government is not deaf to concerns that have been raised. We've been listening to those concerns. What we've got to do is have a look at that in the context of what we've announced and what's affordable, and we'll reach a resolution. We have outlined a clear plan going forward, that's still our preferred course of action.
KIERAN GILBERT: And you're hopeful of a compromise though within your party room and with those concerns from the electorate?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well as I said I think what's incumbent upon all Members of Parliament is to listen to their electorates, to obviously listen to the backbench - we're focused on doing that and we'll have a good look at it. But in terms of outlining a plan, we've done that, we did that in May, we took it to the election so we have a proposed course of action that we've outlined already.
KIERAN GILBERT: So any changes will be minimal?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well I'm not going to foreshadow changes, what I'm saying is that we're listening, we've taking a plan and we'll see ultimately where we're going to go with it.