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Transcript of interview: Sunrise, Channel Seven: 23 September 2011: [offshore processing; economic reforms; Australia Week in the US]



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TRANSCRIPT

THE HON JOE HOCKEY MP

SHADOW TREASURER

SUNRISE ‘BIG GUNS OF POLITICS’

FRIDAY 23 SEPTEMBER 2011

E&OE………………………………………………………………………………………

PRESENTER:

Let's get reaction from our Big Guns of Politics, Environment Minister Tony Burke and Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey. Good morning to you both. Senator Trish Crossin insists the last time she spoke with Mr Rudd was three weeks ago and the conversation was about a footy team, nothing to do with the leadership. So, Joe, where is the Coalition getting its information from?

JOE HOCKEY:

Look, we are focussed on doing our job, the government should be focussed on theirs. I mean where things come from, I can't be sure, but if Kevin is nine votes short, if he’s just nine votes, are you going to vote for him?

TONY BURKE:

How can you be not sure? This has come directly from a Liberal Senator, this story is the REO Speedwagon song, ‘he heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend who heard it from another’. This is a journalist who has heard from a member of the Liberal Party who reckons he’s heard a conversation from a member of Labor Party, who reckons he heard what was being said on the other end of the phone. This is a beat up.

JOE HOCKEY:

OK, then it's a beat up. Then it's a beat up.

PRESENTER:

We are talking nine votes, that is pretty specific this morning.

TONY BURKE:

That is what specifically has been said by a member of the Liberal Party about a telephone call he allegedly walked into the room at the end of. It's an invention. You asked me last week, is there anything on: there is nothing on.

PRESENTER:

Can you say the phones haven't been ringing?

TONY BURKE:

Yeah, this is entirely from Liberal Party. Everyone else involved, has said no, not true.

PRESENTER:

Have you had a call from Kevin Rudd?

TONY BURKE:

No I haven’t, but it would be no surprise when any of us are travelling overseas that cabinet ministers get in contact with one another.

JOE HOCKEY:

Come on Kevin.

PRESENTER:

To talk about the football?

JOE HOCKEY:

From his hospital beds, he rings Trish to talking about football. Kevin Rudd, talking about football. Come on, we know. Do you think he is ringing to have a chat to a Northern Territory Senator about the football?

TONY BURKE:

Mate, the source of this is from the Liberal Party. It's Nigel Scullion. You know that.

PRESENTER:

Okay, he said, she said. Former Labor powerbroker Graham Richardson says the bigger threat to Gillard's leadership will be from the Independents. Just have a listen.

GRAHAM RICHARDSON:

In May, I believe Andrew Wilkie will bring the government down because they won’t be able to get that poker machine legislation through. I think an election is only probably 7 or 8 months off.

MEL DOYLE:

What do you make of that Tony?

TONY BURKE:

When we first formed government people said this government would only last three months. The Independents made a commitment for three years. Then they said it wouldn't last a year. We are now beyond a year. The Independents still say they’ve made a commitment for three years. I believe them.

PRESENTER:

Joe?

JOE HOCKEY:

I think Australia's hoping they don't last 9 months. I think that's where we are at, and the sooner this can all be revolved, the better. We had shenanigans in the parliament this week because the government has introduced a migration amendment Bill, trying to fix offshore processing but they have not got the support of the majority of the members of the Parliament. We are going through the charade of a vote where they are not going to deliver the numbers. This is a very significant issue. A government that can't deliver its agenda on the floor of the Parliament is a government that has to go back to the people.

TONY BURKE:

Joe, the reason, let's not forget why you've got the issue at the moment that causes you to say you don't think it will make it through, it’s because Tony Abbott is preparing to go vote with the Greens to stop offshore processing.

JOE HOCKEY:

Mate, you vote with the Greens every day.

TONY BURKE:

Not to stop offshore processing.

JOE HOCKEY:

We are such evil people to be voting with the Greens. You’re in a partnership with them.

TONY BURKE:

We actually agree on this issue though. We agree on offshore processing. We have a difference of opinion as to what country it should happen in. There is legislation before the Parliament, that says whatever country the government of the day believes it should happen in, it's up to them. It doesn't commit you to Malaysia. It just says here is the bit we agree on and let's just vote on that.

PRESENTER:

Alright, the focus though continues to be Kevin Rudd again. Another issue, the travel bills won't go away. The latest reports the Prime Minister has knocked back a request by him to attend Australia Week celebrations in the US. Is this the sort of event that the Foreign Minister should absolutely be attending to promote our nation?

TONY BURKE:

You have different ministers to go to this event every year. That’s always the case.

PRESENTER:

What about Foreign Ministers?

TONY BURKE:

Foreign Ministers go to it on some occasions, other years other Ministers go. Joe will know from when he was a minister. It's standard among government that a few ministers will put in a bid for these major events.

PRESENTER:

How does the Prime Minister decide which one to knock back and which one to let go?

TONY BURKE:

Usually they rotate it and it depends what the themes are for the particular event. This is a big promotional event that happens in the United States every year. Some years they promote different elements of trade, sometimes it can be agriculture things, I remember when I was agricultural minister. Sometimes it's tourism.

PRESENTER:

So it's not Kevin's turn?

TONY BURKE:

Well, that’s the decision. They would have made the decision. You always get a number of ministers bids from ministers on major events.

PRESENTER:

Does he travel too much, Joe?

JOE HOCKEY:

If I were Julia Gillard, I would want him out of the country as much as possible. I don't know why she’d be knocking anyone back, any travel, if Kevin wants to go to Antarctica, on your way, mate. Take as long as you want. As long as there is no mobile phone coverage down there.

PRESENTER:

Let's talk finance. Big, big news overnight, massive slump, global financial markets. $30 billion wiped off the value of local shares yesterday. Joe, this is your field, what do you think we should be doing to make sure we do not have another economic slump? These are massive numbers.

JOE HOCKEY:

There is increasing global volatility. Obviously at this stage it's coming out of Europe but the United States looks really anaemic. I think we are entering into a long period of global volatility. Essentially it comes down to the fact that governments have borrowed too much money globally and they don’t know how to pay it back, and when they do make the decision to pay it back, it means so much pain for every day households, in Greece, in Spain, in Italy and so on, the community is rebelling against the government, and they are on the threshold of default. The bottom line is, if it’s good, if it's the right time for people to be cashed up, to have little debt, it's the right time for companies to be cashed up. It's the right time for countries to be cashed up with little debt.

PRESENTER:

What is the government's position Tony? Are we headed for another recession?

TONY BURKE:

Australia, better than any other country - Joe doesn't like to give the acknowledgment because it's being recognised internationally at the moment - we have got the runs on the board of being able to deal with a crisis of this nature. Now, we are not going to get into second guessing. This is developing day by day and hour by hour on the markets as well, but it is true to say, in terms of dealing with some of the worst scenarios that are out there, the Australian Government has the runs on the board of being able to deal with this sort of thing better than any other country. And that is being recognised, not with a whole lot of grace in terms of acknowledging, but it is being recognised internationally.

JOE HOCKEY:

I promise you, I am not going to be a hypocrite and criticize the government on the one hand and then praise Wayne Swan for being an outstanding Treasurer on the other.

TONY BURKE:

Just have a little bit of grace.

JOE HOCKEY:

It is not about grace, mate, it is about hypocrisy. I am not a hypocrite, I am not going to go and say, mate, you've screwed up on all these things, but hey, look, you are the best in the world.

PRESENTER:

Well, do you have any grace, then? Did the former government set it up for a situation where we are at now?

TONY BURKE:

The previous two governments did. The previous two governments, in terms of there is a whole lot of prudential regulation that was put in under Peter Costello. There were major economic reforms put in by the Hawke and Keating governments. All of that put us in a great position to be able to run the stimulus package and the different things that we did.

JOE HOCKEY:

The bottom line is, Australia is better prepared than most other countries. We have still got growth, strong growth in China, so there’s still demand for our minerals and energy, but other parts of the Australian economy are doing it tough. It will be a challenging time but as a nation, we can come through.

PRESENTER:

Are you saying there is a chance that Wayne Swan will say thank you to Peter Costello and John Howard in his acceptance speech for the world’s best economy?

TONY BURKE:

I won't be writing his speech but we have acknowledged the prudential regulations that they put in. It was really important, and when the other side does something that is important, I think you should acknowledge it.

PRESENTER:

Alright, gents. Thank you for your time this morning. Big day ahead.

[ENDS]