TRANSCRIPT - Sky News AM Agenda
with Kieran Gilbert
7 December 2015
E & OE
Innovation statement, media laws, North Sydney by-election, Tony Abbott, Ian
The Communications Minister Mitch Fifield joins me now. Minister thanks very
much for your time. It’s important that the Prime Minister gets this right
today. There’s been a lot of rhetoric around the need to be innovative and
agile and so on, today the detail.
think you and your viewers, and business and the community will be very pleased
with what they see in the innovation statement. Ultimately what it’s about is
making it easier for people to raise capital. Making it easier to collaborate.
Putting more focus on STEM education and also looking at the way that
government can lead by example in these areas. So we’re taking an approach
which I guess you could call sector agnostic. Innovation is something that is
manifest throughout every sector and we shouldn’t forget areas like agriculture
where there’s incredible innovation happening. So there’ll be a lot of good
news today Kieran.
There’s only so much government can do as you know to make people take the
risks, but the one thing you can do as you alluded to there is to lead by
example. And I know the British Government, certainly that’s been a big focus
of theirs in terms of the way they run their government services.
That’s right and when Malcolm was the Communications Minister he established
the Digital Transformation Office, brought out to Australia a terrific guy Paul
Shetler to head that. And the objective was basically to reengineer the way
that government delivers its services because too often, government when designing
and engineering processes does that which suits government rather than that
which suits the citizen. And that also includes the interface between business
and government. And when Malcolm became Prime Minister one of the things he did
was to put the Digital Transformation Office into his Department so that you’ve
got a central agency and a Prime Minister who is going to be driving that
innovation and I’m fortunate to have the role as Minister Assisting the Prime
Minister for Digital Government. So keep an eye out for a few things in
relation to the DTO as well.
Alright so why is Australia, why have we been so bad at commercializing RND?
It’s something we just haven’t done well. The research has been there, the
breakthroughs have been there but the commercialization of those breakthroughs
has been lacking compared to comparable countries.
Kieran I think what it ultimately comes down to is the culture that you have.
The business culture. The innovation culture. It’s not as well developed as it
is in places like Israel for example. There are some great success stories, but
what the objective of the innovation package is, is to make a major
contribution to helping to create that environment, that culture that is
conducive. And there’ll be a number of elements that will go towards
collaboration between the research sector and the commercial sector. So that
good ideas can be commercialized. And Kieran I think it’s also important that
we don’t get fixated on any particular sector. I think one of the mistakes of
our predecessors, Labor over many many years when they were both in government
and in opposition, was that they used to talk about old industries and new industries.
The old was farming and mining and the new was tech. Now we love tech. But you
don’t have to pick. You don’t have to choose. You can embrace mining, you can
embrace agriculture and you can embrace the tech sector as well. What we want
to have is a broadly based economy and having a culture of innovation, we want
to see new ideas, new start-ups across all sectors.
Now on a few other issues today, in your portfolio, the media laws. There’s
been a lot of speculation about the government moving in this regard when it
comes to the two out of three rule, the reach rule, also the anti-syphoning
list when it comes to what sport can be broadcast on pay television versus free
to air. Can you give us an update on where this is at? Is it going to go to
Cabinet this week?
Kieran I never talk about what might be going before Cabinet or when. But I’ve
made very clear over the 12 or so weeks I’ve been the Minister that I think
that our media laws are outdated. That technology and consumer choice is
rendering them day by day, week by week progressively more redundant. We should
allow the freedom for media organisations to configure themselves in the ways
that best suit them and best suit consumers. And abolition of the reach rule,
abolition of the two out of three rule are things that I’m looking at. I’m very
keen in the New Year to bring something to the parliament that can set our
media laws up to reflect the world that we live in today.
On the anti-syphoning, I guess a disclosure might be necessary here. But given
we are on Foxtel it’s pretty obvious that we arte broadcasting on that
platform. In that context can you give us a sense of where that’s at, when it
comes to anti-syphoning? This is the big sporting events that are quarantined
to free to air at this point.
there are numbers of propositions that are put to me by different media
organisations on the subject. But what is I think universally agreed amongst
all the players is that there are certain sporting events which Australians
hold very dear. And which no government would propose be removed from the
anti-syphoning list. So the propositions which are being put to me are really
ones that I guess are around the edges because there is wide agreement on the
importance of having nationally significant sporting events available free to
The North Sydney by-election at the week if we look at a few other issues
before we wrap up. A big swing, double digit swing against the Liberals. This
is meant to be Turnbull’s heartland, small l liberal territory North Sydney.
Kieran it’s a
by-election. By-elections you have swings against governments. I want to wait
and see when the final results are in. Because when the Labor party isn’t
running, it’s not necessarily immediately clear on what basis the two party
preferred vote should be done. So look I want to see what the final results are
when they come in. But no surprise, by-election swing against the government.
If this happened to Abbott when he was still Prime Minister the knives would
have been out, but Turnbull the honeymoon, is it over? Given the result at the
Well I’ve never characterised the initial period of Malcolm’s Prime
Ministership in the way that you have Kieran. I think he has got a good
reception. I think he has changed the mood of the nation. I think he’s changed
the tone of the government. And that’s important because we want to be in a
situation where we can communicate with the community. Where we’re not in an
adversarial situation constantly. Sure, we’re in politics and we have our
political opponents and you want to pick your moments and you want to pick your
fights. But Australians want to see the government of the day getting on with
the job of doing the people’s business. Malcolm and the team have been doing
that, and I think that’s been well received.
you think that there’s room for Tony Abbott in a ministry under a Turnbull
Government? This is something Greg Sheridan in the Australian this morning is
suggesting that it would be in Malcolm Turnbull’s interest to bring the
conservative wing of your party with him by putting Abbott back in to Cabinet
is what he’s saying today.
I don’t know what’s in Tony Abbott’s mind about his future. We have a good
Cabinet team at the moment. What the configuration of that team is in the
future is entirely a matter for the Prime Minister.
Do you think he’s got a role to play? Tony Abbott into the future in the
Well ultimately Tony Abbott’s future in the Parliament is a matter for him.
Let’s finish up now with Ian McFarlane someone who believes he’s got a
future in the Parliament, he wants to be back in the Cabinet. Is that all out
of self-interest? Was that all selfish moves by him? The efforts to defect to
the Nationals, what do you make of that?
Well if someone is seeking to move Party Rooms the onus is on them to give
an explanation as to why they are doing that. I don’t know if Ian is motivated
by a philosophical issue, if he is motivated by a policy issue. It’s ultimately
up to him to explain the rationale for his move. Obviously we as a Liberal
Party would have preferred that Ian stayed in our Party Room. But ultimately what
happens from this point is a matter for the Liberal National Party of
It does look like blatant self-interest though doesn’t it?
Well look I’m not one who has ever been keen to provide a running
commentary on my colleagues. Ultimately the onus on each and every one of us in
the Parliament is to explain our own actions and to account for them and that’s
true for Ian as well.
Mitch Fifield appreciate your time this morning. Thank you, we’ll chat to
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