Transcript of Doorstop, Parliament House, Canberra



24 March 2014

Jamie Briggs: Good morning.

Today we've got another indication of just how serious building the infrastructure of the 21st century is to Prime Minister Abbott and the Government. We have seen this morning reports and today an announcement that there will be a special subcommittee of Cabinet formed, headed by the Prime Minister or the Deputy Prime Minister and the Treasurer to ensure that we are building the infrastructure of the 21st century as quickly as we ought to and as cheaply as we should be.

This is part of our plan, our economic plan to build a stronger Australia for a more prosperous future. This is about putting a singular focus on infrastructure: that we get the best value of the $36 billion we've allocated thus far, to ensuring we get the economy of the 21st century, the economy Australians voted for in September, and the economy we've promised to deliver, and this will help ensure that Tony Abbott is remembered as the infrastructure Prime Minister.

Question: What do you make of the resignation—the reported resignation of Paul Howes?

Jamie Briggs: Well, I'm sure Paul's got—if it is, indeed, true. I don't want to speculate if it's not. Although you would think on the front page of a national newspaper it would be. Look, Paul's made a contribution to the union movement. Some will say that's a good contribution. Others will disagree. I'm sure Paul's got an exciting future ahead of him and I wish him all the best for his impending wedding in a couple of months’ time.

Question: Are you happy to see the back of him?

Jamie Briggs: Well, I don't particularly have a view. What I would say, though, is it is an important moment this week for former union bosses and certainly former union bosses of the AWU to be honest with the Australian people. We see Bill Shorten tell Western Australians one thing about the carbon and mining tax—and in Canberra he does another. He was the faceless man, now he's the two-faced man.

So Bill Shorten this week should be honest with the Australian people and support what the Australian people voted for in September, and that is the abolition of the carbon and mining taxes.

Question: [Indistinct]

Jamie Briggs: Well, look, I think there should be an inquiry into the predictions from commentators in relation to elections. I agree. Ultimately, the Labor Government has formed a minority government, they formed it without the majority of the vote, and they formed it with a conservative—an independent, representing a conservative area, who has now joined the Labor Cabinet. We've seen this show before and we know how it ends.

Question: Should Steven Marshall go or should the state director? Are they prepared—are they safe in their position?

Jamie Briggs: I think Steven Marshall's probably the best leader of the Liberal Party in South Australia we've had in a generation. Steven Marshall is a fantastic contributor to the South Australian Liberal Party. He did a terrific job in the election campaign and he has fallen just short, albeit with 53 per cent of the vote. Now, the reality for my state colleagues, as tough as it is, is they've got to bunker down and they've got to hold this government to account. They've got a new member of the Labor Government who has just joined as of yesterday and they need to treat that person like they would treat any other Labor Minister. And in four years’ time, they need to present an alternative vision for South Australia and get the majority of seats—not just the majority of votes.

Question: [Indistinct]

Jamie Briggs: Well, I think ultimately there will be a review of the election, as there always is, whether you win, lose or draw elections. But again, I make the point we received 53 per cent of the vote. Unfortunately we didn't get across the line in 53 per cent of the seats and sadly for my home state and sadly for South Australians we're going to still have the continuation of a bad Labor Government.

Question: We had a minority government in the 43rd parliament here in Canberra. Pretty tense and heated scenes at times. Are you expecting a similar sort of attitude in the new parliament of South Australia?

Jamie Briggs: Well, as I say, if you back a Labor Government from a traditional conservative seat, you can't expect people not to be disappointed about that. Geoff Brock has made his decision and that's completely a matter for him, of course. But it is in defiance of the wishes of his electors and it's in the defiance of the wishes of South Australia. There is not a lot of authority of this government. That's the reality. And now the test for Jay Weatherill is will he actually deliver on what he said yesterday? Starting to put in place policies that support small business in South Australia, not damage them. Will they put in place policies that reduce tax, not put more tax on? I think the answer to those questions is no and you'll see a very disappointed electorate in the months and years ahead.

Question: Geoff Brock says he's going to be in Cabinet but also remain an independent. Can you see how that would work, how it's possible?

Jamie Briggs: Well, it can't work and it's not true. As soon as you join a Labor Cabinet, you're a Labor member of that Labor Cabinet.

Question: But he says if there's anything he disagrees with in Cabinet, he'll remove himself from those conversations [indistinct].

Jamie Briggs: No, he won't be able to do that. He'll be a member of the Labor Cabinet. That's the reality. He's made that decision. He's entitled to make that decision. But he should be honest with the electors. That's the decision he's made. He's part of a Labor Government and people should know very well that's what it is. And it is now up to that Labor Government to deliver. They've got the 24 seats they need to govern. They now have another opportunity to govern and the last three terms have shown they're not up to governing South Australia well. Hopefully, from South Australia's perspective, they can turn that around.

Question: Why is Eric Abetz [indistinct] forecasting front?

Jamie Briggs: I have not seen those reports.

Question: [Indistinct]

Jamie Briggs: Sorry, Latika, I genuinely haven't seen the reports. I've been focused on building the infrastructure of the 21st century this morning.

Question: [Indistinct] appropriate use?

Jamie Briggs: Look, I haven't seen the reports, I'm sorry.

Question: [Indistinct]

Jamie Briggs: Well, look, ultimately business creates jobs. What we've said though is we'll put in place the settings which allow businesses to get on with that. Last week we saw the beginning of the red tape repeal actions, which will help. We're seeing bills in parliament to reduce unnecessary taxes—the carbon tax, which Bill Shorten should listen to Western Australians and Australians more generally and vote in support of this week along with the mining tax. And you're seeing a focus on building the infrastructure of the 21st century and today's announcements are part of that. That is all part of our plan to allow business to create more jobs, more prosperity, and a better Australia.

Question: Are there any worries within the Coalition that that million jobs target will not be met?

Jamie Briggs: No. We're all very focused on cutting tax, cutting unnecessary regulation and building the infrastructure of the 21st century.

Question: Then why are we seeing this report that there's some—there must be some sort of worry if there are, indeed, this circle of massaging of the jobs figures?

Jamie Briggs: As I say, I haven't seen that report, I'm sorry.

Thanks, guys