TRANSCRIPT - ABC News Breakfast > Mitch Fifield, Liberal Senator for Victoria

CONTACT SENATOR FIFIELD

Click here to email me

Electorate Office
42 Florence Street
MENTONE VIC 3194

Phone: 03 9584 2455
Phone Toll Free
(Vic only): 1300 797 110

Parliament House Office
Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600
Phone: 02 6277 7480




Media Releases

Senator The Hon Mitch Fifield

TRANSCRIPT - ABC News Breakfast

with Virginia Trioli

19 April 2016

7.00am

 

E & OE            

Subjects: Double dissolution election, ABCC, budget, 60 minutes, ABC


TRIOLI:

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 News Breakfast.

FIFIELD:

Good morning Virginia.

TRIOLI:

So the Prime Minister has his double dissolution trigger. Wouldn’t it be more honest to call that election now?

FIFIELD:

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..

TRIOLI:

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?

FIFIELD:

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.

TRIOLI:

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?

FIFIELD:                                                                           

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.

TRIOLI:

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.

FIFIELD:

It’s clear that we’re working together...

TRIOLI:                                                                                                                        

No it’s clear that there’s leaks Minister.

FIFIELD:

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.

TRIOLI:

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 support?

FIFIELD:

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.

TRIOLI:

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 

FIFIELD:

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 and growth. 

TRIOLI:

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.

FIFIELD:

I think that’s a misunderstanding of what has happened over recent days and weeks.

TRIOLI:

I sure that’s a broad thought out in the community, that this is the political purpose of all of this.

FIFIELD:

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.

TRIOLI:

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?

FIFIELD:

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.

TRIOLI:

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?

FIFIELD:

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.

TRIOLI:

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?

FIFIELD:

It’s interesting Virginia this is a question I get every time I come onto an ABC program.

TRIOLI:

It’s kind of our responsiblity Minister.

FIFIELD:

And that’s understandable, I don’t get asked that interestingly enough on commercial stations.

TRIOLI:

Well they should care about it more too.


FIFIELD:

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.

TRIOLI:

Well that’s not a promise is it?

FIFIELD:

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 resourced.

TRIOLI:

Look forward to talking to you during the election campaign in the next 74 days, thank you Minister.

FIFIELD:

Look forward to it, thanks Virginia.

 [ends]

Media contact: Justine Sywak | 0448 448 487 | Justine.Sywak@communications.gov.au