5 December 2013

Doorstop, Parliament House

Note
SUBJECTS: Labor's debt legacy, Edward Snowden

This is a transcript of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer's doorstop interview at Parliament House. The topics discussed included Labor's debt legacy and Edward Snowden.

CIOBO:

We’ve seen a big change in the last 24 hours, we’ve seen a situation where the Greens Party has completely embarrassed the Labor Party. We’ve seen a change where the new economic fringe dwellers are the Australian Labor Party. Unfortunately Labor had a big problem in Government, and that’s a problem that’s now becoming even worse for them in Opposition. Labor is still completely addicted to higher taxes, Labor is still completely addicted to more spending, Labor is still the party of more debt, and unfortunately Labor is also demonstrating they are still the party of more boats. On each of these areas Labor is now, in Opposition, showing that they are even worse than they were in Government. And the concerning aspect is this: the Labor party has reached the ludicrous stage, and it just underscores why the Greens are now embarrassing Labor; Labor has now reached the stage where they are actually opposing their own savings initiatives. And so the consequence of all this change from the Labor Party is that they can no longer be trusted at all when it comes to making decisions in the national interest, even from Opposition. Any questions?

JOURNALIST:

Joe Hockey compares this relationship with an ex-wife having coffee with gentleman, Kelvin Thompson says it’s more like a candle-lit dinner. How you define this relationship?

CIOBO:

[Laughs] Well the relationship is this: the Greens are demonstrating that they are, when it comes to Australia’s debt limit and the national interest, more willing to reach a sensible compromise than the Labor Party. The Labor Party are still opposing their own saving initiatives. The Labor Party are just reinforcing they are a party of more spending, more taxes and more debt.

JOURNALIST:

Are we going to see more partnerships between the Coalition and the Greens?

CIOBO:

Well we are always willing to work with any political party that’s demonstrating they’re willing to put Australia’s national interest ahead of their own political expediency. For the Australian Labor Party to claim that they’re governing, or attempting to govern, from Opposition in Australia’s national interest just reinforces that they have completely lost the centre ground when it comes to economic orthodoxy.

JOURNALIST:

Even though they were your sworn enemy in the last Parliament?

CIOBO:

Look, the fact is there are still a lot of things that divide the Greens and the Coalition. But that notwithstanding, the Greens have embarrassed the Labor Party because the Greens have been willing to reach a compromise, have been willing to occupy the sensible middle ground, in stark contrast to the party of higher taxes and higher debt and more spending – the Labor Party.

JOURNALIST:

Debt will be now unlimited, do you have a figure in mind what you think debt shouldn’t go past?

CIOBO:

Well we of course need to repair Labor’s debt legacy. We’ve been left a mountain of over $400 billion debt by the Australian Labor Party. There’s a lot of expenditure that’s locked in by the Australian Labor Party. So we need to be able to manoeuvre to make sure that we can start to pay down that debt mountain Labor left behind. What the figure will ultimately be will be will be a function of economic head winds and will be a function of revenue for the Government. Ultimately though we’re absolutely focused and committed on repaying down all that mountain of debt Labor left. We’ve done it before, and we’ll do it again.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think around $500 billion?

CIOBO:

Well look, initially we asked for the debt limit to be $500 billion. The Labor Party knows and despite their repeated assertions that there’s no evidence of why it needs to be over $400 billion the simple inescapable fact is that Labor knows on their own figures and on the tabled minute from the Australian Office of Financial Management that debt was going to reach $430 billion so Labor needs to stop their lunacy when it comes to economics; they need to stop being the fringe dwellers; and they need to actually make decisions in the national interest.

JOURNALIST:

Is the Government worried that at least 15,000 documents from Australia’s spy agency could be in the hands of Edward Snowden?

CIOBO:

Look unfortunately when it comes to national security Edward Snowden is doing  a lot of damage, there’s no doubt about that. Edward Snowden has, in my view, done completely the wrong thing, not only by Australia’s national interests but also presumably by the UK and the USA as well, as well as New Zealand. It is concerning that this information is floating around, it is not in Australia’s national interest and we’ll see in the fullness of time what the full repercussions will be.

JOURNALIST:

Is the Government bracing itself for further scandals?

CIOBO:

Well we can’t possibly predict what the outcome is going to be as a result of these leaked documents other than that they are not in Australia’s national interest to be floating out there. And also not in the national interest of our strategic  partners like the United States, the UK, New Zealand and Canada.

JOURNALIST:

[Inaudible]

CIOBO:

We can only urge the Australian Labor Party to shape up and frankly stop being economic fringe dwellers, take the sensible middle ground. For the Australian Labor Party to oppose their own saving initiatives represents a new low. It’s the kind of gimmick you’d never expect from a major political party. And it just demonstrates all their problems in Government – of being high taxing, high spending and more debt – are becoming even worse in Opposition.

JOURNALIST:

When can we expect to see the first detailed statement on debt to Parliament?

CIOBO:

We’ve indicated in our agreement to the Greens that we will have an economic statement in the Mid-Year-Economic-Forecast, in the Budget and in PEFO… I anticipate every time we breach $50 billion… so I’d anticipate probably the first one will be coming out with the Budget. Thanks all.