22 February 2019
Transcript - #2019036, 2019

Doorstop interview, Parliament House, Canberra

Subjects: Banking Royal Commission; coal exports to China; Prime Minister’s visit to New Zealand; and Julie Bishop.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Chris Bowen and Clare O’Neil, they’ve been rolled by their caucus, rolled by their Cabinet and rolled by their Leader. Before the Hayne Commission was even handed down, Chris Bowen said that if Commissioner Hayne recommends it, it shall be done. Clare O’Neil said that Labor would implement every single recommendation. They made a virtue of following Commissioner Hayne to the letter. In fact, Clare O’Neil said that all commissions from mortgage brokers should go. Now, we find out that the Labor Party is engageed in a humiliating backflip over mortgage brokers, faced with parliamentary pressure and pressure from the industry. But they simply cannot be trusted. And with regards to the compensation scheme they’ve announced today, it’s taken them eighteen days to follow the leader, namely the Coalition, and imitation is the best form of flattery. Because it was the Coalition that established the Australia Financial Complaints Authority, it was the Coalition that announced an expansive and comprehensive and full response to the Royal Commission that we would extend its remit from six to ten years and be able to hear those claims of misconduct by people, for people who have suffered at the hands of financial institutions. So, the Labor Party, now eighteen days on, from receiving the Royal Commission into banking misconduct has still not provided a full and comprehensive response. They’ve only responded to six of the recommendations out of seventy-six. Don’t look at what Labor says, look at Labor does. When it comes to the Royal Commission and its response, the Labor Party has been found wanting.

JOUNALIST:

Treasurer, can I ask you? China [inaudible] fair serve against Australia over coal exports. How worried are you about how much of an impact that’s going to [inaudible]?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, I wouldn’t jump to conclusions. The Chinese have also done these sort of environmental tests before. The key point is that the two way trading relationship between Australia and China is vitally important and is very strong. In fact, it works to Australia’s interest, because we are exporting, in the case of coal, billions of dollars a year, earning valuable exporting income and creating thousands of jobs here in Australia. If you look at the volume and the value of our coal exports to China in the last quarter of 2018, it was higher than it was in the same period in 2017.

JOURNALIST:

But China has shown over again that is prepared to punish companies and countries that don’t do as it says and as it wants. Is the price for our prosperity going to be our silence, Minister?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

We have a strong relationship with China and it will continue to be thus.

JOURNALIST:

It’s not really a line-ball thing though, this is very serious. What is the Australian Government’s immediate response to this? This is a very big industry and people are very anxious about waking up to that news that the Australia dollar dipped. I mean, this is not really the behaviour of a friend, is it?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, the Trade Minister has said that our Ambassador to Beijing will be making further enquiries, but I want to point out that the relationship between Australia and China is in both countries’ national interests. We provide the vital resources, whether it’s iron-ore, or coal, or other resources to China, which has enabled their rapid industrialisation, lifting millions of people out of poverty. We’re a vital supplier and a reliable supplier of resources to China, and that will continue to be the case. With respect to China to Australia, they are helping to create jobs in our country. China’s demand for our exports is helping to create billions of dollars’ worth of exporting income. Money that therefore can be spent on schools or on roads, on hospitals and important infrastructure.

JOURNALIST:

But none of that is to [inaudible]. Aren’t we seeing a pattern of behaviour by China that any time a country criticises it, it retaliates, sometimes by taking their citizens. Is that a relationship that this Government is prepared to have?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, our relationship with China, Chris, continues to be strong and we will continue, obviously, always to stand up for Australia’s national interest. But I wouldn’t jump to conclusions about these latest reports.

JOURNALIST:

The Prime Minister is in New Zealand today, there’ll be discussion about the refugee swap, or deal. What do you anticipate those discussions will involve?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, I’m not going to comment on bilateral discussions between countries or private conversations between Prime Ministers. The reality is we’ve had border protection policies since we came to Government that have worked. That have helped us close detention centres, that have helped us save lives that would have otherwise been lost at sea, and we’ve been very successful in removing every single child out of detention. That is in stark contrast to the Labor Party’s record, with fifty thousand unauthorised arrivals, new detention centres being opened around the country and 8,000 children practically going into detention. We’ve now seen a weakening of our border protection policies by the Labor Party siding with the Greens and the Independents. That was disappointing in the extremes, but across the Budget and it’s also going to weaken our borders.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, Labor seems likely to, at least, considering Julie Bishop for an overseas posting, some sort of diplomatic mission. What sort of role do you see for her in public life in the future?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, I think Julie Bishop will continue to have a very prominent role in public life. She has much to contribute. She can be very proud of the legacy that she leaves after twenty years in the Parliament as the Member for Curtin. She has not only served with distinction and dignity as the Deputy Leader of our Party, but also as Australia’s first female Foreign Minister. And particularly her response after the downing of MH17, the empathy she showed for the families of the victims, the justice that she sought through the UN Security Council has been really, really important and recognised. And I would particularly like to pay tribute to her initiative, the New Colombo Plan, based on a Menzies-era initiative where thousands of people came from the region to Australia to study and they became great ambassadors for Australia in the years to come. Now we have thousands of Australian young people who are going to live and work and study in the region and I think that makes for a better bilateral and multilateral relationship between Australia and others.

JOURNALIST:

She’d be a great US Ambassador, wouldn’t she?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well look, we have a great Ambassador in the United States, and as I said, Julie Bishop, she will continue to play a very prominent role in public life.