26 January 2017
Transcript - #2017002, 2017

Interview with Kim Landers, ABC AM

SUBJECTS: Australia Day; medical research; Trans Pacific Partnership; Bill Shorten’s surrender on trade and jobs; housing affordability; offshore processing

KIM LANDERS:

Treasurer, good morning.

TREASURER:

Happy Australia Day Kim and to all listeners.

LANDERS:

Thank you. Do you think Australia day should be celebrated on another date?

TREASURER:

No I don't actually. I think Australian stories go back, you know, well beyond the time that the First Fleet first arrived in Australia and all of Australians, I think, can embrace all of our stories and I think that’s one of the most wonderful things about the country. But that doesn't mean that we need to deny any parts of our heritage and parts of our history, whether it's our colonial heritage, our settlement history, our deep and long Indigenous history, our post-war migration and the coming of refugees to Australia. So they’re all part of our Australian stories, and today is our day, and it's a day to celebrate all of the things that all Australians have been able to contribute over all of that period of time.

LANDERS:

Do you understand why some Indigenous people simply cannot celebrate on a day that marks the arrival of the First Fleet?

TREASURER:

Well I will tell you this story from my own electorate. What we note on the day of Cook's arrival at Botany Bay, in our electorate - we mark a day of reconciliation, about a meeting of two cultures. And that is how that day has been transformed in the life of our local community and we have done that in partnership with Indigenous elders. Look, I take a more optimistic view of these types of things. I'm a keen proponent of reconciliation and I think reconciliation comes from all Australians combining together and celebrating all of our stories, but also acknowledging all the things that we have to learn from as well.

LANDERS:

The new Australian of the Year, Professor Alan Mackay-Sim, wants more money put into medical research. Will you do that for him in the May budget?

TREASURER:

As you know, we have already set aside the medical research fund, some years ago, and that continues to be populated from the savings that have been made in those areas and it remains a very important area. Innovation, science, research, all of these areas and the application of that, is a key part our economic future, let alone our health future. So, I congratulate him and I congratulate all of the others who are being celebrated today with these acknowledgments and the opportunity of being recognised in that way provides the opportunity to participate in the debate as well.

LANDERS:

You're been in the UK and Europe talking about trade and the implications of Brexit. Japan and Canada have both poured cold water on the idea of pressing ahead on the TPP without the US. Will the Government still ask the Parliament to ratify the TPP?

TREASURER:

We continue to believe that trade is an important part of an Australian first policy. We're a trading nation. This is where our prosperity has come from over generations and we are not ones to, you know, quickly just timidly walk away from disappointments or discouragements in some of these affairs, and we are keen to see where this can be taken now…

LANDERS:

So will it go to the Parliament though?

TREASURER:

And where this will be resurrected and what can be taken forward. Well look, I'll refer these matters to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Trade. It has already gone through the committee process for the Parliament, but why on earth would you want to try and surrender on these issues when, you know, there is every opportunity to try to take something forward here. I mean, if you’re against trade in Australia as Bill Shorten is, then you're against jobs. So I don't understand why Bill Shorten is so against the jobs that have come from trade.

LANDERS:

You've also been in the UK talking about housing affordability. The Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, has suggested that people who can't afford a home in Sydney should move to the country. Is he out of touch?

TREASURER:

Well, I think those comments were taken a bit out of context. What Barnaby has said is there is one of the options is to ensure that we are creating jobs and opportunities in regional parts of the country and when those opportunities are there, then Australians have more options. But that doesn't at all take away from the very real and significant challenges there are with housing affordability, particularly in places like Sydney and Melbourne. Now, I've been in the UK and they are confronted by similar challenges and I can tell you the one consistent message I've had from those who I've met with here in the UK when I've been there, earlier in the week, is supply is the issue. They need more housing in more places to meet more of the need, and the same is true in Australia.

LANDERS:

If I can ask you about something else, the US President Donald Trump is halting access to the country for some refugees, blocking visas for people from Muslim majority nations, including Syria. So what guarantee does the Government have from the Trump Administration that it will allow refugees from Manus Island and Nauru to be resettled in the US?

TREASURER:

Well you’ll have to put those questions obviously to the Minister of Immigration and Border Protection. We have an arrangement, which we were able to enter into with the United States and obviously we will continue to work that arrangement as it currently exists…

LANDERS:

So, are you confident that the deal will stand? Are you confident the deal will stand?

TREASURER:

Well, we will continue to work those arrangements but the President is the President of United States, they will make the decisions as it applies to things on their side. But in the meantime, we will continue to pursue those arrangements and I've observed also and am aware of the very positive comments that have been made by Peter Dutton and others about how this can be taken forward. But this has been I think a very important agreement and I commend him for being able to bring it to where he has.

LANDERS:

Well Treasurer, thank you very much for joining us on the line from Germany on this Australia Day.

TREASURER:

Thank you very much, Kim, good to be with you.