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Transcript of interview with Kieran Gilbert: Sky News First Edition: 21 June 2013:Australian-Indonesian relationship; Hockey's debt cap increase.

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SUBJECT/S: Indonesian relationship, Hockey debt cap increase

GILBERT: And with me this morning the Manager of Opposition Business, Tony Burke. Mr Burke thanks for your time.

BURKE: Morning.

GILBERT: [audio cuts out in broadcast] in the last day more of a focus, and we saw that from that statement last night, the message of team Australia. Has there been a concession by Labor that bipartisanship is needed on this.

BURKE: Bipartisanship was offered by Bill Shorten from the beginning. The reference that you made there with respect to Obama was that he asked the Government to look at the other formulation that was there and that wasn’t a break with bipartisanship, it was a constructive comment and it was put out there and that was the right thing as the Leader of the Opposition for Bill to do.

What he did last night was to make absolutely clear this is one of those moments where no matter how important politics can be from day to day, the national interest is absolutely paramount. The stakes are really high on this and there is a difference for Australia in whether or not it’s resolved quickly or whether or not it’s resolved slowly and that can have all sorts of impacts on the nation and we want it fixed.

GILBERT: I want to get to some of those impacts in a moment particularly in your, in the context of you being a former Immigration Minister, but Mr Abbott promising a swift, full and courteous response to SBY, would you hope that that

response would reflect that Obama approach, which in the end did prove effective with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel when a similar controversy erupted between those two nations.

BURKE: We’re not going to provide drafting instructions for what should be in the Prime Minister’s letter to the President. What we want is for the Government to take the action that is required to be able to resolve the issue. And you know we are not in those direct conversations between the two countries but this is a moment where we want the right actions taken and they have our support. This is an occasion where the opposition can either play games or can be upfront and say that we want this resolved and we want to work with you to have this resolved. That’s exactly how Labor’s dealing with it.

GILBERT: As a former Immigration Minister, if this cooperation on combating people smuggling remains suspended for the medium to long term, how damaging would that be?

BURKE: You can’t over estimate just how important the cooperation with Indonesia is. The changes, when people talk about the regional resettlement arrangements which have been really important, but at the same time that they were introduced you also had the change in visa on arrivals for Iranians and you know the Indonesian cooperation from there has been highly, highly significant. It’s something that builds over time, it’s cumulative, and so it’s not like you can just turn it on and off. If we lose the cooperation there, it’s not like the day cooperation resumes its right back from where we were. This is very significant and one of the reasons why it is important for this to be resolved.

GILBERT: On counter-terrorism, while there has been ups and downs on people smuggling, there’s been very effective cooperation between the Indonesian authorities and the Australia Federal Police in the wake of the Bali attacks on counter-terrorism, that appears as risk as well here.

BURKE: Look I think the best way, and we can go through all the different issues, but the best way of summarising it is Indonesia and Australia, we share interests in the present and we absolutely share a strong future together, and the cooperation needs to get back on track and we’re supporting the Government in what needs to be done to do that.

GILBERT: How important is it though that that be resolved this year because next year in Indonesia we have parliamentary, presidential elections and it’s not really the environment in which you want to resolve a diplomatic spat like this is it?

BURKE: Look there’s no timeline that you can say is - at what point does it become serious, it’s serious already, and this is an issue which we just want resolved and resolved quickly and that’s in the interest of everyone in Australia.

GILBERT: But with that looming election season in Indonesia that’s unlikely to be helpful is it?

BURKE: Look it is true that President Yudhoyono himself as well as Indonesia being a friend of Australia’s, President Yudhoyono himself has always been very positive about Australia and has never tried to play to any other elements within the Indonesian voting public. It’s always been a positive, constructive and professional relationship - we don’t want to end up in a context where that’s jeopardised.

GILBERT: And there’s no guarantee the next president will be the same either is there, because he’s served his two terms now and he’s not contesting the next election.

BURKE: That’s right and how quickly this is resolved may well have an impact on how that political debate runs next year.

GILBERT: Let’s move on to the debt limit. Dr Parkinson of the Treasury endorsed the Government’s move to five hundred billion dollars, in a bid to ensure confidence of the financial markets, why doesn’t Labor now accept that and move on?

BURKE: Well our position’s been if we’re provided with the documents, if we’re provided with the full economic update, then we’ll have a look at it. We have never ruled out the five hundred figure I mean it is extraordinary that Joe Hockey of all people - one of his first actions was to say oh by the way can I take debt to half a trillion dollars. That of itself is extraordinary. Our view was the four hundred which was justified on the paperwork that had already been seen, we would agree to that and agree to that straight up and that’s in front on them right now they can take it.

GILBERT: But now you have Treasury’s Secretary saying, giving it the tick, this is the man that worked with you very effectively in Government.

BURKE: Yes and our argument the whole way through has been provide the paperwork, you don’t go to the back to get a change in your credit limit and not actually get to provide any documents.

GILBERT: Unless you get the Treasury Secretary backing you which is what the Government’s got now.

BURKE: Well I don’t know, all we want is for MYEFO, which is the same demand I might say that they made of us when we we’re wanting to have changes of this sort. It’s not an unreasonable demand and it’s something that you go back through the tapes you’ll find Joe Hockey himself arguing is a minimum standard. It’s a minimum standard that they should meet, but we’ve already got on the table the figure to four hundred. There’s no urgency on five hundred the testimony last night said you know you’re looking at 16/17 before you’re likely to get there and that’s if Joe Hockey doesn’t do what he claimed he was going to do and turn it all around, so it’s not like that figure needs to be resolved in the next fortnight. If they feel that they do want something like that resolved in the next fortnight then release the paperwork.

GILBERT: Is this all about Labor trying to avoid being tagged with this debt, saying it’s Labor’s debt and forcing the Coalition to come back in another couple of years and therefore they own any increase in the credit limit card limit so to speak.

BURKE: It’s effectively us being consistent and the Government being hypocritical. We made sure that the right documentation was provided; the economic updates were given so people knew the true state of the books. Joe Hockey demanded that that was the right thing to do until the moment he became Treasurer. The moment he became Treasurer he wants permission for debt to go to half a trillion dollars and he reckons he doesn’t need to provide paperwork.

GILBERT: One last point on this before I let you go, Dr Parkinson said we’ve seen what happens in the US when politics gets in the way of good Government and he was alluding to their debt ceiling standoff, is Labor cognisant of that?

BURKE: Well we already have the legislation through to the Senate waiting for them that guarantees we don’t hit a debt ceiling. That’s there right now even without any additional paperwork being provided. If they want to go the half a trillion dollars provide the documents. We’ll be responsible with it, but they can’t be hypocritical in the way they handle it.

GILBERT: Mr Burke, appreciate your time.