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,
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
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
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
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.
- Trade Minister's Office: (02) 6277 7420
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555