Interview with Andrew O’Keefe and Monique Wright – Weekend Sunrise – Saturday 4 March 2017

SATURDAY, 04 MARCH 2017                             

SUBJECT/S: National accounts, Positive things happening in Canberra, Senator McFlurry

ANDREW OKEEFE: Now the Australian economy has taken a surprising turn with better than expected December quarter figures – basically, it means we haven’t gone into recession.

MONIQUE WRIGHT: Yay. Joining us to discuss are Minister for Trade and Tourism, Investment Steven Ciobo on the gold Coast and Shadow Trade and Investment Minister Jason Clare. Good morning to you both.

Steven Ciobo let’s start with you now this news has come just at the right time for the government hasn’t it? But let’s look at the broader picture here, average wages have stagnated, household debt is high, you’re steaming ahead with cuts to penalty rates, is this a case of just the high end of town reaping all the benefits?

STEVEN CIOBO: No, this is really good news for the Australian economy its shows the government’s plan to grow the economy, to grow jobs in the economy which is why we’re seeing unemployment go down. It really is an encouraging sight. Australia has one of the fastest growth rates in the world and in fact has a faster growth rate than all the major big economies around the world. It’s good news for Australia, it’s good news for Australians and what it means because of the government’s concentration on bringing down the cost of living, things like power prices which we’re focused on we’re very determined to make sure for all Aussies that the future looks brighter.

O’KEEFE: So Jason is there a point at which the Opposition has to say ‘well done, things are looking pretty good’?

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT, SHADOW MINISTER FOR RESOURCES AND NORTHERN AUSTRALIA: Well it is good news for the government’s budget, but you make the right point that it’s not great for family budgets, because what this showed is that you’ve got company profits at record highs – company profits haven’t been this high in forty years  – but pay rises haven’t been this low in 20 years. So you’ve got companies making a lot of money, but they’re not passing it on to the people watching at home. You can understand why people are frustrated and angry and feel like they’re going backwards not forwards. These figures, while they sound great in theory, they don’t feel good in practice. People don’t feel like they’re better off.

O’KEEFE: Steve Ciobo, isn’t that kind of the basis of ‘Trumpism’? A whole band of people feeling like they’re not reaping any of the rewards?

CIOBO: I recognise that there are sections of the community that feel like that absolutely. But the question is Andrew what does that mean in terms of government policy, because ultimately people chose a government to make decisions about the economy and what we come back to is this only under the Coalition have we seen unemployment now trending down instead of up, only under the Coalition are we seeing debt come under control rather than keep increasing like it was under Labor and only under the Coalition have we actually got good policies in place for example around energy. I mean you see Labor’s policy their commitment to renewable energy we’ve seen what a complete mess that is in South Australia, people have seen the continued increase in power prices and that would only get worse. So that’s why ultimately, although what Jason says is in part correct, it still comes down to a choice between how we’re going to manage Australia’s economy and just saying well there’s all these problems but not having a solution is not a viable pathway.

CLARE: Well the way you don’t do it is by cutting peoples wages. We’re going to have hundreds of thousands of people get a pay cut on the first of July because of this penalty rates decision, and Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal Party are going to stand there and do nothing. That means that people are going to be worse off, not better off.

O’KEEFE: Now Gentlemen, we wanted this week to get some good news basically and we asked you both to nominate for the benefit of our viewers who only see the bickering and the discord in Parliament, what your best moments of your week could have been. How about you Steven, what’s your choice of moment of the week out of Canberra?

CIOBO: I think the best news over this past week was the deal we’ve done with Indonesia. This is great news for Australian exporters, particularly for those in the beef trade and the sugar trade, which of course employ thousands of Australians throughout regional Australia, so it’s great news and a great outcome.

O’KEEFE: Terrific.

WRIGHT: And Jason, what was your highlight of the week in Canberra?

CLARE: I agree with Steve, the work we’re doing with Indonesia is very important – I hope that leads to a great trade deal later this year. There wasn’t much else good that happened in Parliament this week. But the week before that we were in Parliament I brought my little boy Jack, who’s four months old.  There he is the little nugget, and he was probably the most mature person in the Parliament that day.

O’KEEFE: He’s not failing to thrive is he Jason? He’s pretty good on the tooth.

CLARE: He’s pretty good on the tooth and a good sleeper. He’s a great little lad.

WRIGHT: He is gorgeous! He looks like he’s a little chipmunk, he’s storing things in his cheeks, for winter.

O’KEEFE: Just very quickly before we let you go. In breaking news this morning, Senator James McFlurry from Queensland – sorry McGrath from Queensland – he’s petitioning McDonald’s to introduce the Milo McFlurry. Will you be getting on board with this and can we expect bipartisanship on this issue?

CLARE: Steve are you a Kit Kat man or a Milo man?

CIOBO: I think anyone who took a look at me would probably say there’s a bloke that’s had a McFlurry in his time.

O’KEEFE: So that’s a tick from Ciobo.

WRIGHT: And for you, Jason?

CLARE: Well I was going through Maccas drive-through in Canberra on Wednesday night getting an M&M Mcflurry, so yeah, go for it. Milo that’s the way to go.

WRIGHT: Isn’t that lovely.

O’KEEFE: Senator McFlurry’s galvanised everyone.

WRIGHT: The fact that his name is McGrath, it’s just so perfect.

CLARE: He might be related to Ronald McDonald.

WRIGHT: Exactly!