5 February 2015
Transcript - #2015003, 2015

In the role of: Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer [23 December 2014 - 20 September 2015]

Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News AM Agenda

SUBJECTS: Leadership; Building a strong economy

GILBERT:

I'm joined now by Liberal front bencher Kelly O'Dwyer in Melbourne. Kelly thanks very much for your time, a lot to talk about. First of all I want to get your reaction to the comments of Arthur Sinodinos yesterday. What did you make of them?

O'DWYER:

Well you know, hold the front page but I fully and strongly support the Prime Minister and I'm not going to get into a commentary on my colleagues and the discussions and comments that they have made publicly. I respect my colleagues. My colleagues are very valued members of our team. But we've got a job to do and the job that we were elected to do, in Government, was to get the budget back under control, to put in place a strong economic plan for the country, to put in place the right framework that can deliver jobs. And the Prime Minister delivered a very strong speech on Monday that outlined some of the ways that we are going to go about doing that. A small business package will be announced very shortly. Already there is going to be a 1.5% company tax rate cut on the 1st of July. That is the starting point. We know by easing the pressure on small business, it will give them the ability to have the confidence to employ people and to help grow our economy. These are just some of the measures that we are focused on in Government.

GILBERT:

Do you think the Prime Minister needs to confront this issue next week to stop the leaks, to stop the undermining and not just the leaks it's the public criticisms now with a couple of backbenchers speaking publicly about the private concerns that have been held for some time now.

O'DWYER:

Well I think the Prime Minister has to focus on doing the job that he was elected to do. I think the Government needs to focus on the job that we were elected to do. I don't think that we can afford to have any distractions. We face a global economic environment that is increasingly uncertain. We have seen commodity prices fall. We don't have the same shock absorbers in place in this country that shielded us from the Asian Financial Crisis, the Dot Com Bust and the most recent Global Financial Crisis. One of those shock absorbers of course being that we had money in the bank, which actually helped us to be shielded from the affects of the Global Financial Crises. Now the Labor Party were irresponsible in Government. Not only did they spend the money that was there but they spent into the future as well, and we have a huge debt problem now. A debt problem…

GILBERT:

I do want to ask you about that in a moment but do you think that there should be, is there any likelihood that there will be a spill next week given the public criticisms of the Prime Minister from some back benchers publicly and privately?

O'DWYER:

Look, I'm sure there is going to be a good discussion as there always is in the Coalition Party Room. I would expect nothing less from my colleagues but, as I say to you again, our focus is on getting on with the job we were elected to do. We have had some great achievements to date. We have been able to get rid of the Carbon Tax, we have been able to ensure the stopping of the boats. Again one of those issues we were elected to get on with. An issue that not only cost lives but cost the budget over $11.7 billion in blowouts when more than 50,000 people arrived. And I can go on with the list if you will give me the chance.

GILBERT:

Do you support the PM a 100%?

O'DWYER:

Of course I fully support the PM. I fully support the PM I don't know how much stronger I can make it.

GILBERT:

No you've done it, it's pretty clear, let's move on. There's two stories out this morning, I guess with conflicting messages or differing messages. One is the briefing by Glenn Stevens to the Cabinet was that the debt trajectory is so bad that the Government will never be back in surplus unless the spending measures in the budget are passed and then the other story, and that's in The Daily Telegraph. The Fin Review reporting that Government sources confirming that as rates are cut further fiscal restraint won't be undertaken in the upcoming budget. So it seems like that there are conflicting forces here, the softening economy precluding any further fiscal restraint in the face of very high debt. Now what is the Government going to do about that, obviously there won't be any great cuts in May when Joe Hockey delivers his second budget.

O'DWYER:

Well look, I'm not going to predict what's going to be in the budget. That's pretty common, you wouldn't be expecting me to saying in advance what's going to be in the budget before the budget is announced. But you are right to say that Glenn Stevens and others have been warning for some time now that we do face a very serious issue in this country. With the amount of debt that we have - we are borrowing now over $110 million a day to pay the debt and the interest that has been amassed by the previous Labour Government. What I was saying before about being able to withstand these global economic shocks, if we do not have money in the bank, if we do not restrain our spending, it will mean that people are far more vulnerable and exposed to those shocks when they hit. It means that we will not be able to have the capacity to absorb it in the way that we once did. Now the people who are going to most affected by that are not the wealthiest Australians but the most vulnerable Australians. So that's why we have put in place a plan to get spending under control in a very measured and practical way. We have about $30 billion of savings that are currently stuck in the Senate, around about $5 billion of which are savings that the Labor Party proposed when they were in Government and which they are now opposing for the sake of being political wreckers. It just shows you how economically irresponsible they are and it just goes to show that they have no plan.

GILBERT:

Is that fiscal tightening still relevant though and appropriate given the monetary policy that we are seeing out of the RBA right now?

O'DWYER:

Well it's appropriate to undergo the structural reform that we need to in order to get our budget back under control. Now, that's actually over the medium to long term. The measures that we have put in place, cutting the growth in spending are over the medium and long term. These are not measures that are particularly severe – and they're not my words, they are the words of the Reserve Bank Governor when he gave evidence to the House Standing Committee on Economics late last year. He also warned that at time that if we do not get the structural deficit under control, if we do not put in place, the measures we need to put in place we will be very exposed.

GILBERT:

Okay, well just quickly the NAB, we are almost out of time, but the NAB have just, we have reported at the bottom of our screen there, has cut its variable mortgage rate by a quarter of a percent in line with the official cash rate, that's good news.

O'DWYER:

That's always good news, that's good news for those people that have got home loans. I'm sure will be very welcome news.

GILBERT:

Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Kelly O'Dwyer thanks we will chat to you soon.

O'DWYER:

Speak soon.