Interview with Andrew O’Keefe and Monique Wright – Weekend Sunrise – Saturday 11 February 2017



ANDREW O’KEEFE: Joining us to discuss the start of the Parliamentary year are the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Steve Ciobo and Opposition Trade and Investment Shadow Jason Clare. Morning to you both gents.

Well, let’s start with the PM’s attack on Bill Shorten. In case anyone missed he’s what he had to say at Question Time after Mr Shorten had labelled him the PM ‘Mr Harbourside Mansion”.

[Plays excerpt of Malcolm Turnbull’s rant]

MONIQUE WRIGHT: Well Steven Ciobo, it was quite uncharacteristic from the PM. Let’s remember he began his term in office by calling for more civility in politics. Is this the only way that he sees that he can cut through to try and win the public back?

CIOBO: No of course not.  A lot of this was about calling Bill Shorten out for what he is. It’s about the hypocrisy of Bill Shorten where he says in one chamber and another thing when he’s out chatting to people. And so Malcolm Turnbull just wanted to reinforce that this is a guy who simply can’t be trusted with running Australia.

O’KEEFE: It was however a very uncivil means of bringing that to people’s attention. I mean have the backbench got in his ear and said come on Mal fire up?

CIOBO: You know I think it’s pretty clear that Malcolm Turnbull is a statesman and from time to time, you know, in the theatre of Parliament, he calls it for what it is and I don’t think Australians reject someone for being open and honest and frankly he was pretty witty as well so I think he did a pretty good job.

COMPERE: Jason let’s see what you think. Cory Bernardi quit the Liberal Party, we should say after a nice taxpayer funded three month junket to New York as a Liberal Senator and talked about the public’s disillusion with politics. Was this the sort of performance that we saw from the Prime Minister during Question Time, do you think that it’s going to do anything to engage Australians more in politics.

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT: Well I think this is the sort of performance you have when you’ve had a little bit too much red cordial. Now I know why Mum and Dad said no red cordial.

This is the performance of a Prime Minister who’s under pressure. You’ve got to understand that the polls are going down, he’s got members of his own team like Cory Bernardi who are quitting the Liberal Party. He’s under more pressure than my ears will be at the Guns’N’Roses concert tonight.

It’s a speech that’s designed to appeal to people like Steve – to rev up the troops. But for everybody else out in the real world, I don’t think this is a speech that they’ll like.

People want to hear ideas about how you’re going to make their life better, not this sort of bile and abuse that you see in the Parliament.

Especially when you’ve got unemployment going up and this week we find out that private health insurance is going up by $200 a year and the Government’s big idea this week was to cut the pension by $365 a year for single pensioners.

O’KEEFE: Yeah, the disillusionment of people does seem to be about personality politics and there have been a lot of that from both sides this week. On to some policy though. There were moves by the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to gain the right to review visas of immigrants based on their nationality, based on basically anything if you like as long as they constitute a class of people. Steven, it’s been described as a Trump-like measure. What do you say about that?

CIOBO: Well of course it’s not. What this is about is giving the Minister the power, to say to people, you know what you’ve broken a criminal law you’ve done something that Australians don’t appreciate or in fact is legal

O’KEEFE: But that’s not the issue. They’re not talking about the individual circumstance of people, they’re talking about banning classes of people whether that’s their nationality or because they wear glasses or whatever.

CIOBO: No, it’s broader than that. I mean this is actually about the Minister having the power to make these decisions and I’d highlight that this actually was supported by Labor in the Senate inquiry process and in fact Labor’s position’s only suddenly changed ever since Bill Shorten came under a bit of pressure in the Parliament. So, let’s make no mistake, we simply need to make sure and we make no apologies for standing up for Australia’s border protection and sovereignty. I mean, as a Government, we have now booted out something like a thousand people, revoked their visas and said leave Australia you’re not the kind of people we want in this country because typically they’re involved in organised crime and things like that and we do not apologise.

CLARE: Steve, it’s either a badly drafted law or a bad impersonation of Donald Trump.

CIOBO: So why do you support it? Why do you support it? Why do you support it then Jason? Why would you support it in the Senate

O’KEEFE: Well if you let him talk he’ll tell you.

WRIGHT: Jason, the ALP is on record as supporting a review of these visas.

CLARE: We expressed concern in the committee because the way it works at the moment is that if you’re a bad person, the Minister can kick you out of the country and keep you out.

The way these laws could work is that he could target a whole group of people based on the colour of their skin. Now, if that’s not the intention then the Government should come back to us and work with us.

Steve knows that we can work together across the aisle. Steve and I are opposite numbers and we’re doing that right at the moment on another law. So, if the Government wants to work co-operatively with us then pick up the phone

COMPERE: Thank you both very much for your time.