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Transcript of press conference: Parliament House, Canberra: 22 September 2008: Turnbull Shadow Ministry.



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON. MALCOLM TURNBULL MP FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WENTWORTH

22 September 2008

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. MR MALCOLM TURNBULL MP PRESS CONFERENCE, PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA

Subjects: Turnbull Shadow Ministry

E&OE…………………………………………………………………………………...

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

We’re here today to announce the new Shadow Ministry. This is a new team that will provide the leadership Australia needs to meet the great challenges of our time. And more than ever the great challenge of our time is economic management. And that’s not just about banks, stock markets or big companies; it’s about a lot more than that. It’s about the lives, the future, of ordinary Australians, it’s about their homes and the mortgages they’ve taken out to buy them, it’s about the savings - representing a life’s effort, a life’s industry, a life’s sacrifice, the savings they’re put aside for their future. This issue of economic management is vital to the future of our nation, it’s vital to the future of every single family.

And we have put together, as I’ll describe, an economic team that will provide the leadership that has been so sadly lacking from the Rudd Government. At the same time we recognise the great environmental challenges of out time - water scarcity, climate change and of course the design, in that context, of an emissions trading scheme. Again we have put together a powerful team, combining environment, economics, bringing all those threats together to provide the leadership and the direction Australia deserves.

And I would also include in this a key issue which has not been a focus of Federal Governments in our history. Federal Governments, Commonwealth Governments, must do more to promote sustainable development - both in regional communities and in our cities - and as you will see we have taken steps to provide leadership and policy direction in that area as well.

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My vision is for an Australia where economic growth goes hand in hand with a clean environment. Whereby being smarter we can have more energy with less emissions; whereby using water more wisely we can produce more food and fibre and support the environment. Sustainable agriculture should support the environment. A productive agricultural sector in Australia is vital for our future, just as sustainable environmental management is - they go hand in hand. And we will bring that together in a way that again the Government has shown itself incapable of doing.

Now, turning to the team:

I am delighted that our economic team will be lead by my Deputy Julie Bishop as Shadow Treasurer. Julie as you know comes to this office with a very rare combination of ministerial and commercial experience. She will be assisted in the outer ministry by Chris Pearce, the Shadow Minister for Financial Services, Superannuation and Corporate Law, and Tony Smith, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer.

Warren Truss the Leader of the Nationals will be responsible for Trade, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, and he will be assisted by three Shadow Parliamentary Secretaries - Ian Macdonald covering northern Australia, Barry Haase covering Roads and Transport and John Forrest covering Regional Development.

Senator Minchin, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, will take responsibility for Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy. Nick Minchin will take on the fraud that is Labor’s broadband revolution. He will be there to take on Senator Conroy and with a very powerful combination of experience in communications, in finance and in regulation, Nick Minchin is perfectly equipped to take on Stephen Conroy and demonstrate the hollowness of this area of the Government’s initiative.

Senator Abetz will continue in his current role as Shadow Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research and of course Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.

Now, Andrew Robb is going to fill a new Shadow portfolio which will be at the cutting edge of some of the most complex and contentious economic issues of our times. They include Infrastructure and COAG - which of course is short hand for the relationship between the commonwealth and the states, so central to good government in Australia. Andrew will also assist me on the Emissions Trading Scheme and in doing so we will both work very closely with the Shadow Environment Minister, the Honourable Greg Hunt who has expanded responsibilities as I’ll describe.

Now an additional appointment in this area, very important one, is a new Shadow Minister for Sustainable Development and Cities. This is a new area for us; it’s a new area for any party in the Federal Parliament, but it is a vital area, and I’ve asked Bruce Billson to take that role and of course you’ll remember that Bruce chaired the House Environment Committees work on sustainable cities - a great piece of work.

Senator Helen Coonan will be responsible for Foreign Affairs. Joe Hockey will be responsible for Finance and he’ll serve as Manager for Opposition Business in the

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House. Luke Hartsuyker will be the Deputy Manager of Opposition Business and continue in his current role as Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs.

Ian Macfarlane will return to his great love: Energy and Resources. Tony Abbott will continue as Shadow Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. Working closely with Tony will be a new appointment to the outer ministry, Scott Morrison, Shadow Minister for Housing and Local Government and two Shadow Parliamentary Secretaries, Marise Payne and Cory Bernardi.

Senator Michael Ronaldson will continue to serve as the Shadow Special Minister for State and he will take on a new role of Shadow Cabinet Secretary. Nigel Scullion who of course is the Deputy Leader of the Nationals will take up responsibility for Human Services.

Greg Hunt will continue to serve as the Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Water. His water responsibilities will be all-embracing, they will not be limited as they had been to urban water and he’ll be assisted by Senator Fiona Nash, who will serve as Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Water Resources and Conservation.

The Honourable Peter Dutton MP will take responsibility for the vital area of Health and Ageing and working with him will be Margaret May, Shadow Minister for Ageing, as well as Senator Cormann who will be the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Health Administration.

Defence will be handled by Senator David Johnston and in the outer ministry Bob Baldwin continues as Shadow Minister for Defence, Science and Personnel and Louse Markus, our new Shadow Minister, will serve as Shadow Minister for Veterans Affairs. Peter Lindsay continues as Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Defence.

Christopher Pyne will be the new Shadow Minister for Education, Apprenticeships and Training and working closely with him in the outer ministry will be Sophie Mirabella as Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education, Childcare, Women and Youth. Brett Mason will continue as the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Education.

George Brandis continues as Shadow Attorney-General and in the outer ministry the Shadow Minister for Justice and Customs will be the Honourable Susan Ley in the Lower House. Jason Wood will serve as Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Justice and Public Security.

John Cobb will serve as Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and he will be assisted by Senator Colbeck as Shadow Parliamentary Secretary of that portfolio. Michael Keenan will come into the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and in the outer ministry Dr Andrew Southcott will continue to serve as Shadow Minister for Employment Participation, Training and he’ll have an additional responsibility of Sport.

Sharman Stone will enter the Shadow Cabinet as the Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship and she’ll be assisted by Senator Concetta Fierravanti-

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Wells, as Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration, who will also assist the Leader in the Senate.

Steven Ciobo will come into the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Minister for Small Business, Independent Contractors, Tourism and the Arts. Now finally I want to express my great thanks and the thanks of the whole parliamentary team and to the former members of the Shadow Ministry who are not listed. They of course include our former leader, the Honourable Dr Brendan Nelson, Senator the Honourable Chris Ellison, the Honourable Bronwyn Bishop, Mrs Joanna Gash and the Honourable Pat Farmer and Mr Mark Coulton - and I thank them all very much for their service and over to you now for some questions.

QUESTION:

(inaudible) Dr Nelson had?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

No, it’s exactly the same number overall, but there is one more in the Shadow Cabinet and one less in the outer ministry.

QUESTION:

(inaudible)

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well we’ve kept the numbers. They are the same with that slight change I mentioned.

QUESTION:

Mr Turnbull you’ve rewarded those who hit the phones last Monday night in support of your leadership and promoted a couple of key individuals who backed Dr Nelson, is this the right way to forge unity in the Coalition?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well Steve, this Shadow Ministry has been selected on the basis of being the team that I believe is best able to provide the leadership Australia deserves and we need to provide to take us to Government - and to hold the Rudd Government to account.

QUESTION:

Mr Turnbull it was pretty well publicised that Mr Robb was interested in the Treasury portfolio, in creating this new area which does have economic- significant economic areas, have you just really divided the responsibility up to avoid discontent?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Look, Mr Robb is taking on a very major economic role, as are a number of Ministers. The head economic Minister is the Shadow Treasurer, my deputy, Julie Bishop.

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Economic management, the economic challenge is a gigantic one and we have to bring all of our best talent, all of our best attention - and not just the Ministers that have got finance or, you know, economics or treasury obviously in their title. Right through this Ministry is a focus on economic management. Every member of this team understands that in order to enable Australians to achieve what they aspire to,

what their families aspire to, economic management is key and we have seen so little of it from the Rudd Government.

QUESTION:

Tony Abbott seems to have retained the same position even though he made it quite clear that he wanted to change that position, why did you decide to keep him in that position?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well Tony Abbot has been doing a great job in the families and communities and indigenous affairs- the FaHCSIA, I think is the acronym, portfolio and he’s keen to continue doing that and he will be doing that.

QUESTION:

(inaudible)

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Tony is very happy in this position. He’s happy, he’s effective and he’s focussed; and all of those things are key and he’s doing a great job.

QUESTION:

He thinks it’s nowhere near the main game?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Look, Tony Abbott is doing a great job in that area. He’s doing a very good job and I’m very comfortable with him in it.

QUESTION:

Did Mr Truss ask to be given trade on top of transport and regional development?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well as you’ve probably gathered, infrastructure has moved to Mr Robb away from Mr Truss and trade has moved to Mr Truss. So there has been a realignment of responsibilities.

QUESTION:

(inaudible)

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MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Look, the prime suspect for confusing motion for action is Kevin Rudd, let’s face it. You know Warren Truss is very focussed on Australia and on Australia’s interests. The prime tourist is the guy down the other end of the building. We’re very focussed on the challenges of Australia right here today.

QUESTION:

Julie Bishop, if I could ask you, what qualities do you bring to the treasury portfolio that Wayne Swan lacks?

JULIE BISHOP:

I am more than happy to have my qualifications, training and experience compared with that of Wayne Swan.

QUESTION:

Mr Turnbull you’ve done well for Queenslanders there, I think there’s now five Shadow Cabinet Ministers, is that in acknowledgement that you’ve got to do something to counteract Rudd and Swan who are from Queensland?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

This Shadow Ministry has brought together out of a pool of considerable talent; we have a party room of considerable talent. There is a wealth of talent in the Coalition party room; a great diversity of life’s experience. And that is where we’re so different to Labor. The overwhelming theme in the Labor caucus of course is trade union officials. We have an enormous array of life’s experiences and there’s a lot of talent there.

So putting together, you know there is an abundance of talent to draw from, and what I have sought to do is to put together the best team, putting the best people, the right people in the right jobs and bringing it all together. It’s been a very interesting

business to do it, I think we’ve got an outstanding team here and I’m very confident that we will have great success in providing the leadership as we build the Coalition’s basis, the Coalition’s confidence with the community to present ourselves as the alternative government at the next election.

QUESTION:

How do you think Peter Dutton will go against someone like Roxon? I mean he’s seen a head kicker, isn’t that a bad look that you’ve got a head kicker taking on a woman?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Come on. Next question.

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QUESTION:

Mr Turnbull you’ve made a big deal about economic and sustainable development being linked. Is this a recognition that the Coalition has to do more to enhance its environmental credentials? Are you essentially ditching the ‘growth at any cost’

mantra or philosophy that really did underpin the Howard years?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well Steve rather than let you put words into my mouth, although you’ve put them together so well of course, let me just say this- I repeat what I said: Commonwealth governments, national governments have to do more in terms of providing leadership on sustainable development right across Australia both in regional communities and in cities. This is a major issue, it is a longstanding policy interest of mine and as Leader I am committed to us providing real leadership in that area. It hasn’t been provided by the Rudd Government at all- they’re full of rhetoric on the environment. Their mishandling of the water crisis is almost as inept as their mishandling of the economic situation at the moment.

QUESTION:

Why shouldn’t the Prime Minister go to New York as he says to meet with 100 world leaders and the regulators of Wall Street to talk about the economic crisis? Why isn’t a good thing for the Prime Minister to be doing?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well he should be focused on the task at hand, Mark. If you just look at the ineptitude of this government, I mean we had the Australian stock market, which couldn’t open for an hour today because the market did not understand what the Government’s changes relating to short selling, which were announced on Sunday evening, were.

Why were they announced on Sunday evening? Because they forgot to announce them on Friday. They announced some changes on short selling on Friday and then presumably on Sunday afternoon some of you may recall, I made reference to the problems that they were facing through not having a comprehensive answer when I was speaking to the media on Sunday morning. By Sunday afternoon they had woken up to the fact that they hadn’t got it together and so they rushed out and announcement. I mean there is a very real concern with real evidence that they don’t

know what they’re doing. And frankly Mr Rudd should be here. He shouldn’t be flying off. Look it’s very good to go to the UN, it’s very good to go and speak to Wall Street bankers and regulators and so forth, and they’re all very busy at the moment. I don’t know how much time they’ll have for Mr Rudd but even if he gets all the time in the world the real action is here in Australia. If I was the prime minister I would not be flying to New York today. I would be focused on my own country and the challenges we face right here. So just one more.

QUESTION:

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Mr Rudd locked in his economic team that they would have the same jobs on the other side of the election. Will you do the same with your economic team? MALCOLM TURNBULL:

The next election is some years away. This is a great team; I have no reason to doubt that this won’t be the team we’re taking to the election. But we have got some time ahead of us. This is a great team, if there was an election next week I would have every confidence that this is a team that can provide the leadership the country deserves. Okay one more. David Alexander, last one.

QUESTION:

What’s your attitude to bailing out banks for the bad decisions that they might have made? Why should taxpayers be bailing out bad banks?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

David I assume you are referring to the rather hysterical remarks of Wayne Swan in the media today. Wayne Swan doesn’t even know the legislation that his Government has passed this year. Far from recommending that the Government bail out banks or anything of that kind I simply said on Sunday that we would happy to discuss with the Government the possibility or the prospect of the Australian Office of Financial Management, which manages the Government’s liquid assets, as you know, doing precisely what Mr Swan has legislated to allow it to do in legislation that was in the House in June and given the royal assent in July. So the Australian Office of Financial Management is entitled to invest in mortgage-backed securities, as long as they are of investment grade, prior the legislative changes it wasn’t, the Government made that change, this is something that’s been discussed widely, including most recently the House Economics Committee.

It’s out there, its part of public discussion. I raise it in a bipartisan way and we get this hysterical overreaction from Mr Swan. You know people talk about panic on the markets. There is a lot more panic in the ministerial wing then there is on any stock market around the world today and they’ve really got to get a grip on themselves and stop running off at the mouth - overreacting to perfectly measured, matter of fact remarks coming from our side of the House.

Thank you very much.

[ends]

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