4 December 2013

Doorstop, Parliament House

Note
SUBJECTS: debt ceiling, other issues

Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Steven Ciobo, discussing the debt ceiling and other issues at the doors of Parliament this morning.

CIOBO:

We see today the depths that Labor will sink to with respect to trying to be politically opportunistic. The reality is the Coalition was elected at the last election with a clear mandate on a range of areas; we’ve got to restore Australia’s economic credibility, we’ve got to start to repay the mountain of debt that has been left by Labor, we also had to take control of Australia’s borders. On each of these fronts Bill Shorten and the Labor Party are giving the two-fingered salute to all Australians. They are completely ignoring the wishes of the Australian people and most importantly, the mandate that was given to the Abbott Government.  The simple fact is this: in the current economic climate, the Greens are being more responsible when it comes to economic policy than the Labor Party. The Labor Party knows on their own figures that debt will reach over $400 billion, taking into account the buffer that’s required by the Office of Australian Financial Management. And yet despite that, Labor continues to ignore that and pretend as if Australia doesn’t need to increase its debt ceiling, only wanting a limit of $400 billion. The reality is this issue needs to be dealt with now; we’re literally only a day, or a week or two away from breaching the current $300 billion debt ceiling. In addition to that the Labor Party is also, in an extraordinary move, actually looking at voting against their own saving measurers they announced with respect to education savings. So you’ve got the Labor Party standing in the way of Australia paying down debt, of Australia restoring economic credibility, of Australia providing economic certainty, and they are now actually compounding the problem by now voting against their very own saving measures that they announced. It just highlights that this is a Government, I should say rather this is an Opposition, that wants to stand in the way of the Government in restoring Australia’s economic credibility, repairing the damage, purely and simply because they think it’s politically opportunistic to do so.

JOURNALIST:

So are the Greens no longer economic fringe dwellers?

CIOBO:

Well on this particular issue with regards to Australia’s debt ceiling, The Greens are more responsible than Labor. The Opposition Finance Spokesperson… sorry Andrew Leigh, I’m not sure what his title is, Andrew Leigh made comments that the Opposition, who was then the Coalition, were economically irresponsible because he thought we were going to remain opposed to increasing the debt ceiling when Labor was in Government. Now when the shoe is on the other foot we’ve got Andrew Leigh suddenly claiming that no, it’s economically irresponsible to increase the debt ceiling and Labor are the ones that are trying to be responsible. I mean the hypocrisy of the Labor Party in this instance is just extraordinary.

JOURNALIST:

So we’re expecting a deal soon?

CIOBO:

Well conversations are ongoing with the Greens. They are high level, personal conversations that are taking place, so we’ll see in due course. But clearly at the moment the Greens are being more economic responsible than the Labor Party with respect to providing the markets with economic certainty and stability when it comes to Australia’s debt ceiling.

JOURNALIST:

You said a couple of weeks ago Australia needed a debt ceiling, now you’re contemplating removing it. What’s changed?

CIOBO:

I personally would like to see the continuation of the debt ceiling, but unfortunately the Labor Party remain steadfastly opposed to taking economically responsible actions. The Labor Party are trying to be opportunistic, and it’s the Greens, the only Party willing to come to the table to have a common sense discussion about what is in Australia’s national interest.

JOURNALIST:

Why do you want to keep the debt ceiling? What are the implications of removing it?

CIOBO:

Well the reality is the Greens are willing to talk to the Government, to make sure we provide the markets economic stability and certainty. And, frankly that is a breath of fresh air compared to the Labor Party who simply want to do in Opposition, what they did in Government: which is to kick the can down the road; not care about Australia’s national interest; not care about the fact that we are literally a day or possibly a week or two away from breaching our current debt ceiling.

JOURNALIST:

Just on asylum seekers, none of the asylum seekers that arrived by boat are going to be settled anyway, why take away PPVs for people already arrived? That seems cruel.

CIOBO:

Let’s never forget the legacy from the Australian Labor Party when they were in Government. Labor caused the situation where we had over 55,000 people arrive. The Coalition made it very clear that temporary protection visas were a key part of our policy arsenal should we be elected at the last election and we were. So we’re now trying to honour our commitment to the Australian people. We are now attempting to re-introduce temporary protection visas and the Labor Party wants to deny the Australian people their wish and this Government’s policy to do so. We see it as an important tool to getting Australia’s border protection under control. We’ve had great success, nearly an 80 percent reduction in illegal boat arrivals. And for those already in Australia, approximately 33,000 people, we want to make it clear that if you’ve come by boat you are not going to be staying here permanently and that is that’s a message Labor and the Greens simply don’t get.

JOURNALIST:

…they’re already here, it’s not going to stop other boats arriving…

CIOBO:

Well that’s your assertion and I certainly don’t agree with it. The reality is that for every person that’s in Australia whose come through a people smuggler, if they get to stay in Australia that’s effectively an advertisement for people smugglers and the Coalition will not sign up for that.

JOURNALIST:

What did you think of the ASIO raids in Canberra yesterday?

CIOBO:

Well look I’m going to leave any further comment in relation to those ASIO, ah the exercise of the warrant by ASIO to the Attorney General.

JOURNALIST:

You don’t think George Brandis has over-stepped the mark with this?

CIOBO:

As I said I’m going to leave any further comment to the Attorney General. Alright thanks all. Have a good day.