29 November 2018
Subjects: Malcolm Turnbull, economic growth, Craig Kelly, 2019 election, and Julia Banks
JOURNALIST: Malcolm Turnbull tried to help Kerryn Phelps after she was elected. Do you think that is a wise move for him to do?
STEVEN CIOBO: What I think is a wise move to do is to focus on what Australians want. What I’m going to make sure that I do is focus on those issues that matter to Australians which is economic growth, paying down debt, record funding for schools, record funding for health. That’s what my focus is, and that’s what I’m going to talk about.
JOURNALIST: Do you think it’s a distraction, how much of a distraction for the party, that still people are talking about what Malcolm Turnbull is up to?
STEVEN CIOBO: It is a distraction. That’s precisely why I’m going to focus on what matters to everyday Australians, which is why I talk about our record funding for health, our record funding for education, our 3.4% economic growth. We have the fastest growth rate out of any G7 economy. That’s what Australians have said consistently that they want us to focus on. What matters to them, and that’s what I’m going to continue to focus on.
JOURNALIST: Do you think he’s been disloyal by helping Kerryn Phelps?
STEVEN CIOBO: I couldn’t have been more clear with the answer I just gave.
JOURNALIST: But, do you think he’s been disloyal?
STEVEN CIOBO: I could not be more clear than the answer I just gave. What matters to Australians is economic growth. What matters is jobs. The fact that we’ve been able to create the right economic conditions for 1.2 million jobs to be created, the fastest growth rate of job creation in Australia’s history. You’ve got unemployment down to 5%, record health funding, record education funding. That’s what Australians want us to focus on, and that’s what I’m going to focus on.
JOURNALIST: What’s your message to Craig Kelly or any other colleagues who may be considering defecting?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well, Craig Kelly made very clear his position, and from my perspective, what we need to do to be competitive at the next election is focus on what matters to everyday Australians. I’ve outlined a long list of the government’s achievements. I’ve outlined precisely why if we focus on that, we will be incredibly competitive, and that’s what I’m going to focus on.
JOURNALIST:“Competitive” in the elections, sir, is that a concession you don’t think you can win?
STEVEN CIOBO: The next election will be a contest between the Coalition and the Labor Party. Two remarkably different policy approaches. The Coalition will deliver a surplus budget. This will be the first budget surplus since the Coalition was last in power. Labor hasn’t delivered a budget surplus since the 1980’s. We’re able to do it, because we’ve taken the hard decisions. Hard decisions that have brought our budget back into a surplus position. That means we can do a whole range of things. Tax relief, you’ve seen already the tax cuts we’ve provided to the small and medium-sized businesses of Australia. We’re providing tax relief to everyday Australians, and we’ll have opportunity as a consequence of the budget surplus to do more of that in the future. That puts us in a very competitive position. We’ve got a really strong track record. From my perspective, when faced with that option, versus Bill Shorten and Labor and their radical agenda that will see deficit budgets and will see, of course, unfortunately, big impacts in terms of tax rates. They have an unashamed policy to crank up taxes across all Australians, $200 billion worth of additional taxes. I think it’s pretty clear the choice Australians have.
JOURNALIST: Have you spoken to Julia Banks?
STEVEN CIOBO: I speak to her, and I see her from time to time, sure.
JOURNALIST: Can you express a view on her decision to quit the party?
STEVEN CIOBO: No. My focus as a representative in my seat is to fight for my constituents on the floor of Parliament for sound policy. That’s what I focus on. I don’t get caught up in the sorts of things that, other aspects do, or other elements want to, or the media want to focus on. I understand that that’s of interest. But, that’s not of interest to me, and I don’t believe it’s of interest to everyday Australians.
JOURNALIST: Do you regret being caught up in the Malcolm Turnbull leadership chaos?
STEVEN CIOBO: What I know, and what I absolutely do not regret is the sound track record of this government, creation at an incredible pace, 1.2 million jobs, the fastest job creation rate in Australia’s history. Unemployment at 5%, getting the budget back into surplus, record health funding, record education funding. Those are the things that I’m focused on, and I’m really proud of the government’s achievements. I’m going to be a very strong advocate, not only in terms of my own community but across Australia about this government’s track record.
JOURNALIST: Do you want to see Malcolm Turnbull campaigning for the Coalition ahead of the next election?
STEVEN CIOBO: I think that every single person who can point to the strong track record of achievement for the Coalition would be out there talking about why the Coalition deserves to be re-elected and, ultimately, why it’s just too big a risk to have Bill Shorten in the Lodge. Because this is a guy who’s going to impose $200 billion of more taxes, bring us back into budget deficit positions, grow debt across the country, and take us back to a 1970’s era industrial relations policy which will have a profound impact.
JOURNALIST: Sir, if you could just, do you think people who were part of the government should help-
STEVEN CIOBO: I couldn’t have been more, I couldn’t have been more clear. I couldn’t have been more clear. We need to make sure we’ve got strong advocates to talk about the government’s track record, and I’m very pleased to do that.
JOURNALIST: What aspects, because there was a lot of talk yesterday with the females for Parliament saying there’s a lot of sexism in the House and, also, the Senate? Is this something you’re aware of, the allegations?
STEVEN CIOBO: Again, at the risk of repeating myself, Australians are interested in knowing what this is about in terms of the policy choices they’ll have at the next election. Who’s got the best policy for economic growth. Who’s got the best policy to pay down debt. Who’s got the best policy to make sure that their kids have a great education. Who’s got the best policy to make sure that if they go to hospital that they’ll be able to ensure that they get great service and treatment in hospitals? The Coalition’s track record, record health funding, record education funding, unemployment down to 5%, 1.2 million new jobs, the fastest economic growth rate of any G7 economy, those are the things they’re focused on. Everything else is not relevant to the main discussion and debate that Australians want to know about. What are the policy choices they have. All right? Thanks a lot.