12 October 2015
Transcript - #2015015, 2015

Doorstop interview, Canberra

SUBJECTS: Newspoll; Stage two of Gold Coast light rail on track for Commonwealth Games; New South Wales State Council; providing real opportunities for Australians who want to work, save and invest; Free Trade Agreements

QUESTION:

Your thoughts on the Newspoll 50 - 50 you can’t get a lot of confidence out of that, I imagine?

TREASURER:

I’m feeling very confident about the fresh new message that the Government has been able to articulate over the last few weeks and I have been very encouraged by the responses as I have moved around the country. There is a real spirit of optimism, I think, out there which is building and I think that is something that the country has been looking forward to and whether I talk to business people or just people more generally and families it is very important that we, I think, reinforce these points. Yes, there are challenges that we have for our economy, there are head winds but there are also tail winds and the Government is backing Australia’s ability to move through this transition. Whether they are dealing with the challenges in South Australia, where I was on Friday, or taking advantage of the great work that is done in New South Wales by the Baird Government with their infrastructure programme. I think there are a lot of things to be positive about in our economy and the Australian people will judge us as a government on what we are able to achieve, on how we are able to grow the economy and how we are able to encourage people to work, save and invest. I think we are making a strong point on that and it is being well received.

QUESTION:

And Coalition voters are overwhelmingly in support of the leadership change. Were you expecting that?

TREASURER:

Well, look, the polls will say and confirm these things and people can note all that. What is most important from our perspective is that we are getting on with the job. There has been a very smooth transition from the previous Prime Minister to the new Prime Minister and the movement between the portfolios. I have been very impressed with the way that the public service has been able to support new ministers coming in and I think there has been a very orderly and smooth transition. We are already seeing now some new approaches, particularly in the area of infrastructure, the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday about the Gold Coast light rail, I think indicates a very strong commitment to the fact that infrastructure is so important in continuing to drive our economy. We can see in Queensland where the new Queensland Government hasn’t been taking advantage of the asset recycling initiative but the New South Wales Government is. I would love to see them continue to consider a rethink on that but in the meantime we have been able to support that very important project on the Gold Coast which will be a strategic link for South West Queensland.

QUESTION:

And the barbecue in the Prime Minister’s courtyard last night. Is that a sign of the new style of approach that Malcolm Turnbull is taking to his government?

TREASURER:

Look, there have been plenty of meals in the courtyard. I mean Prime Ministers have done that, I think the previous Prime Minister did, this Prime Minister did, I think that is all very positive and it was just a way for colleagues to come together before the start of the sitting week and I was happy to pop in and have a chat.

QUESTION:

You talk about a smooth transition in the leadership but at the New South Wales State Council on Saturday the new PM was laughed at by Party Members. Has the transition in the base, and rank and file, of the Liberal Party been as smooth as in the Parliamentary Party?

TREASURER:

Look, there was, frankly, a relatively small group of people who responded to the Prime Minister’s comments yesterday. I was there. His speech overall, I think, was very well received. I mean the Prime Minister made two really important points in that speech. He talked about the need for us to be optimistic about the economy and for us to have an innovative economy and an agile economy because that is what is going to assist Australia move through the challenges that we have and take advantage of the opportunities; most notably the opportunities through the Free Trade Agreements that have been able to be concluded by Andrew Robb. The other point that he was making was about the issue of mutual respect when it comes to our national security and I think the leadership the Prime Minister has shown on that point has been very strong, it has been in concert particular after the terrible incident involving Mr Cheng working in concert with the New South Wales Government and in particular Premier Mike Baird, I think he has struck exactly the right note. This is a time for engagement not confrontation. This is a time for working together and trying to equip our communities to have the things that they need to address the challenges that are occurring and present a threat to our national security. So, I think the Prime Minister hit exactly the right note on those issues and that had very strong support. Others will make their reactions to the politics and there will still be some bruised feelings out there for a period of time. We acknowledge that. The best response the Government has and the Prime Minister and I and others have is to get on with the job of providing the government that Australians expect of us and that is exactly what we are going to do.

QUESTION:

So you concede that some of the wounds are still raw out there within the Party?

TREASURER:

Oh, look, there is a group of people who still feel like that. That is understandable. But I am quite confident, very confident, that as we continue to get on with the job and demonstrate the good Government that we are delivering and will continue to deliver, then that will make its own case. Effective performance as a Liberal National Government is what convinces Liberal/National voters, in particular, but it is what convinces the broader population and I am very pleased with the response we have had so far. It is early days but we have to make our case, we have to take people with us and we have to put in place the changes that we know will make our economy stronger, that will give people greater confidence about their jobs going forward and the ability for them to be able to plan for their futures with confidence. Sure there is uncertainty out there but the Government’s strong leadership, particularly on economic management, on national security, can give them confidence to be able to plan for their future and for their families with confidence.

Thank you.