Sky News, News Day
ASHLEIGH GILLON: Minister, thank you for joining us on News Day this afternoon. We appreciate it. You heard the report there. We know that yesterday on Sky News, David Spears asked the Prime Minister so the company tax plan, what's it going to cost over 10 years? Mr Turnbull says we have not, Treasury has not identified the dollar cost of that particular item. Was that misleading? STEVEN CIOBO: No, not at all. Treasury did not identify that dollar cost in the budget papers, but let's get back to brass tacks, Ash. I mean, the Coalition is not going to do the work on behalf of the Australian Labor Party. The Australian Labor Party has got to do the hard work themselves, when it comes to their own costings. Frankly we've seen what Labor's like when it comes to doing costings. They've got form. They get a lot of mistakes wrong. We saw, for example, around the tobacco tax, that Labor's costings were out by $19.5 billion. But it's not only confined to over 10 years. It's not only confined to estimates. We saw when Labor was last in government, when they made predictions around the mining tax. They said it was going to raise more than $16 billion. They designed it, to raise more than $16 billion and guess what? It actually fell $15 billion short. Bill Shorten frankly, is engaging in a disgraceful exercise of playing the man and not the ball. Australians don't want a negative carping opposition leader who wants to go on the personal attack against the Prime Minister instead of actually focusing on what he should be doing which is outlining a vision for this country. Australians just don't like it when the Labor Party and Bill Shorten play the man and not the ball. ASHLEIGH GILLON: But Minister, everyone who saw that interview yesterday knows that David Spears was asking Mr Turnbull to give the cost over 10 years. David knew, the viewers knew that those numbers weren't in the actual Budget papers. We all knew that. That was something that was very clear on Budget night, but Mr Turnbull seemed to suggest yesterday that Treasury hadn't costed those figures going forward over that 10 year period full stop. STEVEN CIOBO: But Ashleigh I don't know how we could put it any more clearly. We were not going to provide that figure for the Labor Party when the Labor Party need to do their own costings on their own alternative Budget. ASHLEIGH GILLON: But Treasury said those figures – they costed them weeks ago. STEVEN CIOBO: Irrespective of that, it doesn't alter the fact that the Labor Party has to take responsibility for doing their own costings. What we saw announced by Bill Shorten as the prospective government – as the alternative government in this country – Bill Shorten and the Labor Party stood up last night and said that if he becomes Prime Minster he's going to whack up taxes in Australia by $100 billion, he's got still $60 billion worth of budget black holes, he's got a $19.5 billion black hole off the back of his tobacco calculation so you know frankly, when Bill Shorten stands up and tries to attack Malcolm Turnbull personally rather than focusing on actual policy I think that's when a lot of Australians say to Bill Shorten, you know mate we don't want you to engage in this kind of petty, personal, pathetic personal political attacks. We actually want you to focus on policy and the big debates about the future of our nation and economic growth and driving jobs – that's what they want to focus on. Not that kind of grubby gutter politics that we're seeing from Bill Shorten. ASHLEIGH GILLON: Well I think in hindsight perhaps this whole issue may have been handled a bit different after we saw Treasury reveal those figures today. I do want to look though, at your own portfolio. Today you had a big announcement. The Government's saying that we've now got both the trade ties with Singapore, also a $2.25 billion defence deal with Singapore. This is going to benefit in particular, your home state of Queensland, and in particular, two marginal seats in northern Queensland. The timing is pretty handy, isn't it, with an election around the corner? STEVEN CIOBO: Well, I mean, this is a consequence of the hard work of the Coalition. We've been able to do this deal with Singapore, and frankly, it's a great announcement. What we are seeing off the back of today's - this morning's announcement about this deal, are closer ties between Australia and Singapore. It's going to see the investment of billions of dollars in to defence assets, which incidentally Ashleigh, have been there for many, many years. The notion of this is in some way tied back to marginal seats, frankly is just far too cynical. These are existing defence assets that have been there for many years, so that's the reason why Singapore has nominated these sites as being the sites that they want to use for training, but it's broader than that. It's business links. It's cultural links. It's trade links. It's opportunities with the announcement of our 5th landing pad, to drive Australia's entrepreneurial small business venture capital sector in Singapore as well. On every front, it's great news. ASHLEIGH GILLON: Minister, how do you think China will feel about this enhanced relationship? I doubt China would see this as great news, that comes off the back of the Kidman investment decision by Scott Morrison recently as well. Are we offending China with the number of these announcements lately? STEVEN CIOBO: Of course we're not. The relationship with China continues to go from strength to strength. I mean, we've got in place now, a China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. That only came in to effect last December. I was just there, in China several weeks ago, leading Australia Week in China, together with the Prime Minister. More than 1000 Australian businesses that were there. We saw the Prime Minister actually have an audience with both the Premier and the President of China. The relationship between Australia and China has never been stronger. It is safe under the Coalition stewardship. We are of course, respectful of China, but we remain very good friends with the United States. We've got a great relationship with Japan and of course we've got a terrific relationship with Singapore. I guess, in summary, what I'm saying is that we can more than chew gum at the same time Ashleigh. ASHLEIGH GILLON: Minister, we are expecting the election to be called on Sunday. I feel like I'm giving David Spears quite a few plugs in this interview, but I have to say that Peta Credlin will be doing a one-on-one interview with David Spears tomorrow. Are there nerves within the Coalition about her involvement in the upcoming campaign coverage. She knows where all the bodies are buried after all? STEVEN CIOBO: Not at all Ashleigh. I mean, I think Peta Credlin is someone who understands politics innately, is well placed to provide some really salient and perhaps insightful knowledge in relation to politics. She understands what the Coalition is focused on. She understands what the Australian Labor Party is focused on. So I think it's probably another feather in the cap for Sky News maybe? ASHLEIGH GILLON: We'll take that. Steve Ciobo, the Minister for Trade. Thank you for joining us on News Day, this afternoon. We really appreciate it. STEVEN CIOBO: Thank you.