TRANSCRIPT - ABC News Breakfast
with Virginia Trioli
19 April 2016
Double dissolution election, ABCC, budget, 60 minutes, ABC
The political shadow boxing between the major parties
has already begun, with the Opposition seizing on reports that some details of
the Government’s budget have been leaked to the media. Sky News reported last
night that a leaked script from Government advertising outlining 16 billion
worth of savings over the next 4 years was leaked. Mitch Fifield is the
Communications Minister and Manager of Government Business in the Senate and he
joins us now from Parliament House. Mitch Fifield good morning and welcome to
Good morning Virginia.
So the Prime Minister has his double dissolution trigger. Wouldn’t it be more
honest to call that election now?
Well Virginia we have made clear that our objective has
been to secure the passage of the Australian Building and Construction
Commission legislation. That’s been the aim. There is constitutionally a
provision to resolve deadlocks between the House and the Senate. That’s what
we’re going to do with a double dissolution election and it’s important to
remember that the purpose of that is so you can have a joint sitting of both
houses of Parliament after the election. That’s the intention with the ABCC, is
to get it passed and to have that joint sitting of both houses after the election..
I accept that Minister, sorry for jumping in. That’s my question, so why not
call that election now? Why do we have to have this phony campaign leading up
until after the May budget?
When the Prime Minister announced that the Parliament was
going to be recalled, he made very clear that if the ABCC legislation wasn’t
passed that there would be an election on July the 2nd. Now we have important
Government business to transact first. We have the Federal Budget to deliver.
So we’ve got things to do. But the timeline is there. It’s well known.
Minister your Government’s been rocked this morning by the leaking of some
budget material. Let me quote Tony Abbott from 2010, the then Prime Minister on
Gillard-Rudd leaks. ;I just don’t want to get into who might have done it, why
it might have been done, I just say it’s obviously a deeply disfunctional
government and why would you reelect a government as dysfunctional as this?‘.
Would you elect a mob that did this to its own side?
Virginia I cannot vouch for the veracity or otherwise of
what’s been reported on Sky News. We don’t comment on budget speculation. This
is a Government that is pulling in the same direction. This is a team that
wants to see the science and innovation agenda delivered. This is a team that
wants to see our defence industry plan delivered. This is a team that wants to
see the NBN in my portfolio fully rolled out. This is a team that wants to see
media reform transacted. We’ve got a big agenda and we’re working collectively
as a great team to do that.
How can you argue that you’re pulling all in the same direction when you have
these leaks going on? The very morning after the Prime Minister gets his long
awaited double dissolution trigger. Just make the case for me for that solidity
of view? And clearly its not there.
It’s clear that we’re working together...
No it’s clear that there’s leaks Minister.
The Prime Minister and the Defence Minister were out
yesterday making an important defence procurement announcement. I in my portfolio
am working with my colleagues to see media reform done, to see the NBN rolled
out. Christian Porter in Social Services is working hard to see the National
Disability Insurance Scheme rolled out in full. We have an agenda. We’re
prosecuting that. And the question for the Australian people as we approach the
election is who is it that you trust to have carriage of those important
national reforms? NBN. The NDIS. The science and innovation agenda. Is it Bill
Shorten? Or is it Malcolm Turnbull? When I put that question in community
forums, the answer comes back Malcolm Turnbull every time.
Mitch Fifield can you explain to us the logic of calling an early election
whern the polls indicate that your government and your Prime Minister is losing
Australian Federal Elections are always close run things.
They’re always competitive. Polls always tighten as you get closer to election
day. There’s nothing unusual about that. No political party should ever
approach an election thinking that they’ve got it in the bag. They’re always
fought very intensely. And the Australian public, they often reserve their
judgement until close to election day. They want to see the plan that both
sides have for the nation. And that’s appropriate. We need to continually earn
the trust of the Australian people and that’s what we’re setting out to do.
Well your budget will have to be a launching pad for a very tight election.
That kind of budget traditionally has a number of sweeteners in order to get
you there given that your support is declining, will yours
We have always had responsible budgets. I don’t think
anyone has accused us of taking a populist approach to the budgets that we’ve
delivered. It‘ll be responsible and will help to underpin our agenda for jobs
Now this will only have been worth it in a political sense if you get a
Senate back in your favour with your numbers. What’s the likelyhood of that
now, reading that sensibly and politically.
I think that’s a misunderstanding of what has happened
over recent days and weeks.
I sure that’s a broad thought out in the community, that this is the political
purpose of all of this.
Well the purpose is to resolve a deadlock between the
House of Representatives and the Senate in relation to the Australian Building
and Construction Commission legislation and the Registered Organisations Bill
which seeks to apply basically the same standards that we expect of company
directors for trade union officials.
Well sure but to follow your logic then the only way to resolve that deadlock
as you say is to get it passed. The only way to get it passed is to have
numbers in your favour in the Senate. What’s the likelyhood of that?
Well that is
the purpose of a joint sitting of both houses, is that it doesn’t rely upon the
numbers in the Senate alone. It relies upon the combined numbers of the
Government is from both houses sitting together. That’s the purpose of a double
dissolution election, is to enable that joint sitting of both houses to happen.
So I know a lot of commentary has focused on other things, but our purpose and
the objective of a double dissolution election is to resolve a deadlock between
the two houses.
On the 60 minutes
controversy, as Communications Minister with that hat on. Do you want ACMA to
take a look at what the television program has done and been involved with,
with this botched child rescue?
It’s obviously concerning. I think the most important thing at this time is for
the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs to offer
consular assistance. I don’t think it’s helpful for the parties involved, for
Ministers to provide a running commentary. There may well be questions to
answer but I really don’t want to comment on that while the proceedings are
afoot in Lebanon.
Just finally Mitch Fifield on funding matters in your ministry. The previous
Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised no cuts to the ABC and did not keep that
promise, will you make such a promise?
It’s interesting Virginia
this is a question I get every time I come onto an ABC program.
It’s kind of our responsiblity Minister.
And that’s understandable, I don’t get asked that interestingly enough on
Well they should care about it more too.
But anyway Virginia, we will make sure that the ABC has the resources to do
it’s work. The ABC is an important national institution and we’ll make sure
that it’s appropriately funded.
Well that’s not a promise is it?
Virginia we have the next triennium of ABC funding which will be released in
the budget. I can’t pre-empt the budget or give you a dollar figure this
morning. But I can assure you that we will make sure that the ABC is well
Look forward to talking to you during the election campaign in the next 74
days, thank you Minister.
Look forward to it, thanks Virginia.
contact: Justine Sywak | 0448 448 487 | Justine.Sywak@communications.gov.au