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Transcript of interview with John Laws: Radio 2GB Sydney: 20 August 2014: RODE microphones; the Senate; Clive Palmer's comments on China; execution of an American journalist

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Hon. J.B. HOCKEY Treasurer


E&OE……………………. JOHN LAWS: Treasurer, good morning and welcome to the program. TREASURER: Good morning, John. JOHN LAWS: They’re calling you embattled; do you feel embattled? TREASURER: I feel that I am doing what is right for my country and that is exactly what the Coalition is endeavouring to do; get on with the job of running the country. JOHN LAWS: But do you feel a bit beaten about? TREASURER: No John, don’t worry about my emotions, I am focussed on the job I have at hand. You’ll love it John, I’ve just been out in Silverwater at a microphone manufacturer and the first question I asked them was, ‘did you deliver John Laws’s golden microphone?’ When I see businesses like RODE microphones which I just visited, where 97 per cent of what they produce is exported, and growing, I just have a great sense of hope for the future of Australia. JOHN LAWS: I’d like to try out one of their microphones if they’re good. I think the one we’re using is a German one. TREASURER: This is Australian made, Australian innovation, I’ll let them know that you’re a willing recipient. You know the good story is it is manufacturing, it is very high-tech, and they’re exporting to China. They’ve just opened an office in Shenzhen in Chin;, they’re exporting to 100 countries out of their factory and warehouse and innovation centre in Silverwater. JOHN LAWS: That’s terrific, that’s a great story. We should be hearing more of these stories, we really should. TREASURER:

Well, yesterday I was in the Geelong region in Victoria and Cobram is an exporter as well as a market dominant player in olive oil and it’s another great Australian story of some young Australians who bought up olive farms and they manufacture it in Australia and they supply Woolies, Coles, Aldi, everyone. But also, importantly, they’re exporting to the world. JOHN LAWS: Yep, there are some very good stories around. TREASURER: And that’s why we’re getting rid of the Carbon Tax. We promised it in the Budget and that’s gone. We want to get rid of the Mining Tax and we are working with sensible Senators to get rid of the Mining Tax and these are the structural reforms, John, that are going to help to strengthen us. JOHN LAWS: When you say you’re working with sensible Senators, are there any who aren’t? TREASURER: The Labor Party is not being sensible and the Greens aren’t being sensible. Firstly, they are debt deniers, they deny that there is any problem at all; that’s because they made the problem real. If we do not take action now, John, the debt is going to rise to $667 billion in ten years - that’s $25,000 for every man woman and child. In ten years’ time, we will have to spend $3 billion a month just on the interest payments on that debt and of course, 70 per cent of the money we borrow comes from people living overseas. So we have to pay 70 per cent of the interest back to them. That’s just lost opportunity for Australia so now we are taking action. JOHN LAWS: So what does Mathais Cormann mean when he says it is time for a reality check? That would indicate to me that we have done something wrong. TREASURER: It is a message to our political opponents. The reality check is that if we do not take action now, then the pain further down the track is going to be far greater. We have had a fire in the kitchen and we’ve been endeavouring to put it out and we’re doing everything we can to stop it spreading to the rest of the house. That’s the state of the Budget. We are getting on with the job of fixing the problems. The day-to-day Budget, as you correctly said, the day-to-day expenses of Government management of Government are passed through the Parliament. Now, we are dealing with the structural things that are going to strengthen our economy and ensure that we can maintain maybe even improve our quality of life into the future. JOHN LAWS: OK. Could the Palmer United Party’s attack on China have any ramifications for trade with China, do you think? TREASURER: I think our relationship with China is deep enough and sophisticated enough to withstand some of these comments but Mr Palmer is a man with a loud voice and his party does have some influence and the fact is that they should focus on Australia’s best interest at this moment. I don’t doubt that various comments are focussed on Australia’s interest but it is in Australia’s interest to work with China and to work with all of our trading partners. After all, China is our biggest trading partner; they buy what we produce, including from that factory I just visited in Silverwater. JOHN LAWS: They’re very important to us, but when you listen to, I don’t want to upset you by playing this again, but I’m going to play it, listen to this:


We can’t ignore the threat of a Communist Chinese invasion. It is delusional. We’d have rocks in our head if we just turned our backs and just said, ‘No it’s never going to happen’. I mean, the Communist Chinese military capacity [inaudible] is a threat to western world democracy and at an unprecedented historical high. If I’ve got children and grandchildren, it worries me what is going to happen in the future if this does happen or if this does occur. It worries me terribly. JOHN LAWS: What do you make of comments like that? TREASURER: Jacqui Lambie is entitled to her view. JOHN LAWS: Do you have to be nice to Jacqui Lambie? TREASURER: No, I’ve got to be honest with Jacqui Lambie. I mean, I’m trying to be honest with everyone. JOHN LAWS: Is she important to the Government? TREASURER: She is a Senator and holds a position of influence. JOHN LAWS: And you need her help? TREASURER:

I am looking for help from all Senators, but John, the fact is, there has been no government in recent times that has been more focussed on ensuring that our defence forces are well resourced than the Abbott Government. I mean, we’ve just laid down a plan to increase defence expenditure over time to the equivalent of 2 per cent of GDP. Now, we’re doing that not because we want to spend money, in fact, we’re trying to be very careful with money, but we’re doing it because we want to make sure that Australia is well prepared for the challenges ahead and last week, the Prime Minister announced more than $600 million of extra spending on counter-terrorism initiatives. So, we are very focussed on protecting Australians and protecting our national interest. JOHN LAWS: OK, but you could do without the help of Jacqui Lambie couldn’t you in situations like that, or Clive Palmer for that matter? TREASURER: Everyone is entitled to an opinion, John. I respect everyone’s right to have a view. If you disagree with it, then you should say so. Now, I disagree with what Mr Palmer said and he subsequently went on to correct some of his words. But the fundamental point is that all of these people are influential and therefore have a responsibility to be careful with words. JOHN LAWS: That’s right, people have a responsibility to be careful with words. But this is what bothers me, because I know that you like to be forthright and you like to be very direct and very honest and you must find it very difficult to condone, and that’s what you’re doing, statements like the statement made by Jacqui Lambie. How you can condone such a ridiculous statement from what appears to be a ridiculous person is beyond me, is it all politics? TREASURER:

No, I disagree with what Jacqui is saying, don’t get me wrong. There are obviously always going to be challenges that we as a nation need to respond to and our defence forces have a much wider brief today than perhaps in previous years, including a very significant role in counter-terrorism activities. I just think we’ve got to be careful about thinking who the enemy is on the basis of a particular issue unless we have very good cause to do that as we do in relation to the very significant terrorist threat emerging out of the Middle East at the moment. JOHN LAWS: Have you spoken to Jacqui Lambie in relation to that statement. TREASURER: No, I haven’t, no. JOHN LAWS: Do you intend to? TREASURER: It is not for me to give her one-on-one council on these issues. JOHN LAWS: What she said would affect the Government and surely you would want to protect the Government from any adverse criticism, would you not? TREASURER: My focus is on doing what is right for Australia, John, and I am focussed on the Budget. I am focussed on lauding the industries that employ more Australians, like the one I just visited in Silverwater and importantly, I am focussed on getting on with the job of building a stronger economy. JOHN LAWS: I know all that, and I accept all that. TREASURER: It is beyond my capacity to be giving regular individual advice to others about what they’re doing and saying. I am not running commentary on commentary. JOHN LAWS: I know, but nonetheless, you’re close to being the boss, sometimes you have to say to the people who work with you or for you or whichever way you want to put it, ‘listen, hang on, that wasn’t a very bright thing to do’, because it wasn’t a very bright thing to do, it was plain bloody stupid. TREASURER: John, I hear what you’re saying. I suspect that Jacqui would be well aware of everyone’s views about her comments and I suspect Mr Palmer would be the same. JOHN LAWS: But wouldn’t it be helpful if you, as a very highly respected member of the Government said listen, you two better learn to behave yourselves and lay off? TREASURER: I’ll think about, John. I’ll think about it. JOHN LAWS: Will you let me know when you’ve done it? TREASURER: If that makes you happy. I’m always doing what I can to make John Laws happy. JOHN LAWS: That’s very nice of you, Joe, but when we have this talk of a reality check from a man who seems to be a very competent man and a very plausible man, Mathias Cormann, talking

about a reality check, he means we have got to look closely at what we have done or what we’re about to do? TREASURER: We’ve got to deal with the challenges that we have before us. The fact is, if we don’t move now to live within our means, then we just make life much harder for ourselves in the future. There are many challenges in the world at the moment and we’ve just been talking a bit about security challenges. But, there are many challenges in the world. The best way to be able to cope with many of those challenges is to make sure you’ve got money in your pocket to be able to meet, head on, the unexpected. Now, that applies to individuals, and I know a lot of Australians do it pretty tough, and that’s why we’re focussed on making sure that our Budget and our economic management is about job creation and helping to build a more prosperous economy. But, it’s also got to be the same for the Government. If the Government has a plan to live within its means and is able to implement that plan, then we have the financial capacity to do additional things. That’s a way we can prosper as a nation. JOHN LAWS: OK, just quickly on to another subject, what are your thoughts on this beheading of this American journalist. TREASURER: John, I just heard about that, we are facing the most gruesome threat to our nation in my life time and I suspect the lifetime of many others. This is why we are determined to strengthen our capacity to deal with the threat and that’s why Tony Abbott announced a strengthening of laws in relation to terrorist activity and importantly, that’s why I worked with the Prime Minister to deliver $600 million extra to our counter-terrorism activities. JOHN LAWS: Yeah, well we’ve got to keep it doing because you obviously haven’t yet seen the pictures and I can understand why, you’ve been getting around a little bit, but later in the day, undoubtedly, you will see some of the pictures not of the actual beheading thank God, but you will see the man kneeling waiting to be beheaded. He looks like an ordinary everyday kind of fella. He is more than likely married with children. TREASURER: We are facing the most evil threat, probably since World War II. The capacity of the threat to come here to our own community is very real. Therefore we need to make sure that not only are we vigilant but we give our agencies all the resources they need to be able to do their job. That’s exactly what the Abbott Government is doing. JOHN LAWS: Many parts of the world are becoming very concerned about the extreme Muslim movement that seems to be growing and growing very rapidly. TREASURER: Extremism - wherever it is - is a threat to our way of life. It is not about who your guide is, it is about what is in your heart. These people who are engaging in this sort of activity are the carriers of evil. JOHN LAWS: They are very black-hearted people. TREASURER: Exactly right. A huge part of the world is Muslim and we’ve got the biggest Islamic nation in the world on our doorstep and we are great friends and great partners and it is a very peaceful embracing nation. Everyday Muslims would be appalled and outraged at this sort of representation as you and me and your listeners and anyone else. So, we all have a duty, no

matter who our God is, no matter what the colour of our skin. We all have a duty to fight this extremism. JOHN LAWS: You’re quite right and we must continue to fight it and we must make sure our borders are safe and protected - very important. TREASURER: Absolutely. JOHN LAWS: Joe, thankyou very much for your time, you’ve been very generous. TREASURER: Any time John, thank you very much for yours too.