Michael Brissenden: Mr Robb, good morning.
Andrew Robb: Good morning Michael.
Michael Brissenden: We'll get to the TPP in a minute but can we first get your reaction to the previous story. It's been reported that you are one of those in Cabinet that don't support the idea of an iron ore inquiry. Why not?
Andrew Robb: Well Michael no decision has been taken as yet but the leadership group have, quite appropriately, been canvassing views – various views – amongst various colleagues who have got some relevant part of their portfolio, and I certainly don't intend to discuss those discussions publicly because the leadership group are still to make a decision. So we will take our own counsel, and our views will be properly aired once we've made a decision about going to an inquiry or not.
Michael Brissenden: Okay, but would it concern you that sort of signal that an iron ore inquiry might send to the industry?
Andrew Robb: As I said, Michael, I don't intend to get into the various views. We've got a process which is a very disciplined one, and that marks us out from the other side of politics, and it's an important process, and I am certainly going to stick with that process. Until we make a decision, which I assume will be in the next week or so, we will take our own counsel and consider all the points of view that have been put by the people that you've just interviewed.
Michael Brissenden: Okay. There are a couple of arguments here though, aren't there? I mean one is the protection, in a sense, of the smaller miners and the other is the price that we get for those resources. I mean we only get to sell them once, don't we? Shouldn't we ensure that we get the best possible price for it?
Andrew Robb: We should and that's been something we've had a fair bit of experience with over 150 years. So, I think Australians should feel confident that we do understand, and the industry understands, how to make a profit. And for the last 10 or 12 years we've ridden on the back of the mining sector; it got us through the global financial crisis. So this is something that's been canvassed and people are entitled to canvass these sorts of concerns or different views, but we've got to take a decision as to whether that needs a proper or major inquiry or not.
Michael Brissenden: But broadly you'd be in favour of letting the market do its business, wouldn't you, unencumbered?
Andrew Robb: As I’ve said, I've put my views, as others have, to the leadership group and it's up to them to weigh up the merits of all the views that have been put to them, and to make a decision for the Government. And that's what people expect us to come out with a decision, albeit one which is taking into account all the different perspectives.
Michael Brissenden: Okay, let's move onto the TPP because US Congress goes into summer recess at the end of this week. Do you believe that they will pass the Trade Promotion Authority which is effectively the mechanism that will fast track the TPP?
Andrew Robb: Overnight the Republicans have become increasingly bullish about it passing the Senate quickly, where the real difficulties are with the Democrats, and then through to the House before the end of the week; and in the House, of course, the Republicans have got the numbers and it would pass. Paul Ryan who's the heavyweight in the ways and means committee said we will have the votes, we're doing well, it's gaining a lot of steam and momentum. So these sorts of sentiments are now starting to pervade the Hill in Washington and if that's true it would pave the way to possibly conclude negotiations by all 12 countries in the following fortnight.
Michael Brissenden: Right, because the TPP trade ministers are due to meet next week for another round of talks, aren't they?
Andrew Robb: That's right. We'll be coming together and if it doesn't happen then I think it will be another month or two because of the way the timetable in the Congress is structured, so it'll be a big week I think in Washington, but some signs that it may well pass by the end of the week.
Michael Brissenden: And if it doesn't, you would have to think wouldn't you, that that would be the end of it for the moment because the US is about to enter into the presidential campaign and that's going to be very difficult for it to get any sort of legislation through, isn't it?
Andrew Robb: I think there'd be one window in June from what I understand, but every month that goes by the more the chance is of this issue becoming even more politicised in the United States as they head towards the next presidential election, as you said. So, it really is very much a matter of the politics in the United States, that once they've given this bill, which is not the agreement itself, it's just the authority for the president to make a decision of yay or nay, rather than bringing the whole bill to the Congress, so once that's through that will give confidence to the other 11 countries that we can reach a conclusion and have this thing dealt with properly within the United States then.
Michael Brissenden: Okay, now I know you're in PNG but this morning's polls I'm sure haven't escaped you. You've had a bit of a bounce this morning. You'd all be pretty happy so far with the way the budget has been received?
Andrew Robb: Yes indeed, Michael. I don't need a poll to know the budget hit the mark. It has been very well received and I think it will restore confidence in jobs, particularly within the small business sector. I only had a couple of days at home around my electorate but the response was overwhelming to be honest and especially amongst the small business sector and we've just got to keep on with the job now.
Michael Brissenden: So if you were still the federal director of the Liberal Party, would you be advising the Prime Minister hold an election this year?
Andrew Robb: No. I think he's got no instinct for that. The fact of the matter is that you go into politics to get into government and you seek to get into government to do good things and I think we'll use every minute of every day that we've got to keep doing those good things.
Michael Brissenden: So you'd be advising him to stay the course for the entire term?
Andrew Robb: Yes, I think that's absolutely the case. And I think that's his instinct by the way. I think he said it publicly too.
Michael Brissenden: Alright, Andrew Robb, thank you very much for joining us.
Andrew Robb: Thanks Michael.
Michael Brissenden: That's the Trade Minister, Andrew Robb there.
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