KIM LANDERS: Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives in Australia later today as part of a six day Asia-Pacific tour aimed at strengthening security and economic ties in the region. Trade and the implications of a Donald Trump Presidency are likely to be on the agenda when he meets with the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull tomorrow. The Trade Minister is Steven Ciobo and he joined me a short time ago from our Gold Coast studio. Minister, good morning.

STEVEN CIOBO: Good morning, Kim.

KIM LANDERS: Shinzo Abe was the first world leader to meet President-elect Trump, so could he give us some insights into the Trump administration and the future of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well, there is a lot of people who are providing different thoughts and views on what a new Trump's administration is going to do. I think, it's best for us to just take some time, let President-elect Trump take the inauguration, become President Trump and let's see how his administration pans out. I don't believe that there is a terrific amount of insight that we’d get from academics or commentators or so called exports - experts, I should say, or indeed other leaders of relatively brief meetings in these early days.

KIM LANDERS: It was interesting me because the US nominee for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, told his confirmation hearing this week that he did not oppose the TPP, that's the same deal which Donald Trump has promised to dump on his first day in office. So how do you rate now the chances of the TPP surviving?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well, this goes back to the point that I made little a while ago Kim. When I indicated that premature - well the talk of the TPP being dead – is premature. Well, I do not deny, that based upon President-elect Trump's comment thus far, it would seem less likely than likely. But that notwithstanding, there are different views within US political system including by senior Congressional Republican leaders and I think we just need to give the Americans time to work their way through this issue.

KIM LANDERS: So what contact have you or Australian officials had with the Trump transition team about the future of the TPP?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well our ambassador in Washington Joe Hockey is doing an outstanding job. He’s been very involved in both sides, that is the Democrats and the Republicans in the lead up to presidential election. Since then he’s been working closely, of course, with the transition team and President-elect Trump's team. And I am very confident….

KIM LANDERS: Is the transition team even talking about the TPP or is it that simply not on their agenda?

STEVEN CIOBO: No but well I mean, they've got bigger fish to fry frankly in the short term, that's understandable. But, of course, they are open to discussions on TPP and I'll be over there together with the Foreign Minister, in January as part of our economic diplomacy efforts around G'day USA. As part of that, I hope to be able to have some further meetings and discussions with key people, in and around Washington, New York and LA. That’ll be an opportunity to gain further insight into where things are progressing.

KIM LANDERS: This weekend marks the second anniversary since the Japan-Australia free trade was signed, so if the TPP is still looking a bit dicey, is there scope to expand trade deals like that?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well I certainly think we need to continue to look for trade opportunities. Australia is a trading nation. Exports drive economic growth in this country. Exports drive our ability to generate jobs in this country; that is absolutely a key focus for this Coalition Government. So I've been heavily pursuing opportunities for examples Kim, with Indonesia. We know that there’s great scope to be able to boast, what is an underweight trade relationship between Australia and a population of some 250 million people in Indonesia. Of course, people would also be aware that I'm pursuing on Australia's behalf, trade agreements – or certainly negotiations – with the European Union. We’ll look at the UK and of course, we've got to continue building on the good work that we were able to achieve with China, South Korea and Japan.

KIM LANDERS: If I could turn to the row over ministerial expenses, why did you charge taxpayers a thousand dollars for an airfare to go to the AFL grand final in 2013?

STEVEN CIOBO: Kim, the matter of principle in relation to this is, should work expenses be claimed for a work-related activity? Now I go along to games here in my own electorate, I use a taxpayer-funded vehicle to get there and I think people expect that. I certainly can say, as an Australian I would love see for example, Australia's Prime Minister - I don't care whether it is Liberal or Labor - at a key game between for example Australia, the Wallabies - I happen to love ruby union – between the Wallabies and the All Blacks. So, I'm sorry but the reason I was invited isn't because I'm Steve Ciobo, I was invited because I am the Trade Minister, at that time in fact was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer. The notion and suggestion, that because Ministers or Parliamentary Secretary’s or others are invited to go along these events specifically by businesses and organisations who are taking the opportunity to showcase themselves there, to take the time, to have a conversation in relation to important matters, absolutely is work related and that's the reason why.

KIM LANDERS: There has been a lot of attention Ministerial expenses in the past few weeks, why hasn't the Prime Minister fronted the media to explain to the public what's going on - to make the case for it?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well we have various ministers assigned with different levels with responsibility –

KIM LANDERS: What about the Prime Minister?

STEVEN CIOBO: The Acting Special Minister of State, Kelly O'Dwyer, addressed the media in full. Of course, we've seen the Government make a statement in relation to the changes that we’re making to -

KIM LANDERS: But the Prime Minister is in charge of all of his Ministers, why haven't we seen Malcolm Turnbull?

STEVEN CIOBO: I don't believe the Prime Minister needs to come out of each and every single issue that is running each and every single day. The fact is, the Acting Special Minister, Kelly O'Dwyer, has made comments. The Government has made it clear what our intentions are, that we would be moving legislation to make further reforms to workplace-related expenses for Parliamentarians and I think that provides a very good bearing to the Australian people of this Government’s intention to deal with this issue.

KIM LANDERS: Minister, Thank you for speaking with AM.

STEVEN CIOBO: A pleasure.

KIM LANDERS: The Trade Minister, Steven Ciobo.

[ends]

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