Transcript of Interview: Sky News with Kieran Gilbert
26 May 2014
Kieran Gilbert: And with me now, Liberal Minister Jamie Briggs. Jamie Briggs thanks for your time. It's going to be a tough, tough sell within the Parliament as it is proving more broadly.
Jamie Briggs: It was always going to be a tough sell Kieran, but tough sells are important sells and this is an important Budget for the future of Australia. It's a Budget which not only reduces the risk of debt getting out of control, it plans to live within our means, to address the unsustainable budget situation the Labor Party left with us, but it's a Budget that builds, and on Saturday you saw the Prime Minister in Adelaide announcing more about the Medical Research Fund, announcing more about our $50 billion roads package. This is a Budget that gets the balance right between addressing Labor's unsustainable debt crisis and building a future—a stronger future for the Australian people.
Kieran Gilbert: Now, you're talking about billions of dollars in savings that are going to be blocked though. There's no likelihood that the minor parties are going to negotiate here. Christine Milne's not even meeting with the Prime Minister. She's confirmed that again this morning that they have to go through intermediaries. So the prospects don't look good for nearly half the savings and revenue measures.
Jamie Briggs: Well, look, I'm not going to predict what's going to happen in the other place. We firstly have to get the Budget bills through the House of Representatives and this week and next week we'll do that. We'll put the case to the House of Representatives for the Budget and obviously it'll pass and then it will go to the Senate, but the Australian people elected us to do a job. We're in the midst of doing that job. We've announced a plan, it's now up to the Parliament to listen to the Australian people and do what we were elected to do and that is to allow the Budget measures through. What you're seeing from Labor is a policy-free zone. They have become a purely political operation where they don't think about the future of Australia, they think about the future of the Labor Party. We saw that when they were in government and that was widely seen as one of the reasons they were such an appalling government, but now you're seeing them take that into opposition. Bill Shorten's speech in reply had no policy. Chris Bowen's speech in reply had no policy.
Kieran Gilbert: First year in opposition though. Do you expect fully formulated policies first year?
Jamie Briggs: No, but they should be at least taking responsibility for the mess that they left and they're not taking responsibility for the mess they left. They're trying to blame everyone else but themselves. They can start to take responsibility by supporting these important measures, which will help to bring the Budget back under control.
Kieran Gilbert: I want to ask you about some of the personal politics that have been going on the last few days. Now, they've been suggestions that it's Labor orchestrated. Do you think that comments from the former first bloke for example are orchestrated by Bill Shorten? It does sound a bit odd to be thinking that Shorten's behind all of that.
Jamie Briggs: Well, look, I saw that Mr Shorten yesterday said that these were inappropriate comments and some of the campaign against the Prime Minister's family was inappropriate. That's good, I'm pleased that he said that, but there is a suspicion about the coincidence, that's for sure, that these matters have been raised all within a week. It does seem to be somewhat of a coincidence and I just hope that there's not an organised campaign within the Labor Party to run these personal smears against the Prime Minister's family.
Kieran Gilbert: Now finally, there's a story in The Telegraph today about a letter from Labor front bencher Tony Burke to the Immigration Department. Now Mr Burke has told The Telegraph that his letter, on behalf of a gentleman who has been previously convicted of drug offences did not constitute representation on the woman's behalf simply outlining her request to the Government. Isn't that fair for a Member of Parliament to do on behalf of a constituent?
Jamie Briggs: Well, you're right. We all get asked as Members of Parliament to provide letters of support, particularly in relation to immigration matters, and it's a matter of judgment on who we give those letters to. Obviously the office carries some weight and people approach your office as a Member of Parliament regularly, particularly as such a high profile and ambitious person as Tony Burke is, you do have to make judgment calls and I guess it's up for Mr Burke to explain why, in his judgment, he thought it was a good idea to write this letter.
Kieran Gilbert: Jamie Briggs thanks for your time, I appreciate it.
Jamie Briggs: Thanks Kieran.