Transcript of Doorstop: Parliament House, Canberra

Interview

BPC014/2015

24 March 2015

E&OE

Jamie Briggs: Well, I think today there's more evidence in the Financial Review of the concern from major businesses in the infrastructure space about Daniel Andrews' decision to tear up contracts on the East West Link, and potentially legislate away the consortium’s rights.

We are utterly against this move by Daniel Andrews; it will cost jobs, it will damage Victoria and Australia's investment rating, and we think he should think very carefully before proceeding down this path. We want the East West Link built, Bill Shorten used to want the East West built, we think it'll create jobs—7000 jobs in fact—it will address the commuter issues in Melbourne, it will mean Victoria's more productive, and it'll help build a stronger national economy.

That's why we're investing $3 billion in both stages. We want Daniel Andrews to come to the party, honour the contract, not tear it up, stop these silly games, and create the certainty the business wants, not this ongoing concern that they see.

And there is a test here for Bill Shorten. Mr Shorten used to support the East West Link, he now says he doesn't, he should show some leadership though and ring Mr Andrews, bring him in and say you cannot legislate away the rights of this consortium, it will damage Victoria, it will damage Australia, and we think this is a very bad move for the country.

Stop the politics, let's get on with it. I think what you're seeing today in some poll results that've been released is that people are starting to have a good look at Mr Shorten, and they just don't like what they see.

Question: Have you ever found yourself rolling your eyes during a speech by Joe Hockey?

Jamie Briggs: Well, as some of you know, I live with Joe Hockey here in Canberra, and I often have the occasion to roll my eyes.

Question: Jamie, I wanted to ask you about this story in The Oz suggesting that the Shop Assistants Union and Retailers have reached an agreement on penalty rates; they're going to be cut, but the base wage will go up. Do you welcome that?

Jamie Briggs: Well, look if that's the agreement that's been reached, and I've only read the report, then I think that's a good outcome, because obviously there you've seen employers and the union recognise that there's a problem, and if that's the case that's a good outcome. I know Peter Malinauskas, who's the head of the Shoppies' Union in South Australia, he's a very ambitious young fellow, and I'm sure we'll see more of Peter Malinauskas in these corridors at some stage.

If he's come to that arrangement, I think it shows that what we've said about penalty rates is true; that it's a matter for the Fair Work Commission and if employers and employees work together for their best interests then we'll get a better result than we're seeing in South Australia at the moment, which I might add is only held up from the bottom of the ladder by Tasmania.

Question: Can you explain to us the Government's budget strategy just in one sentence?

Jamie Briggs: Absolutely. What we've said all along is that Australia must live within its means. We want a growing economy and that's why we're investing in infrastructure. We're looking at reducing as much red tape as possible, we'll have a jobs growth package in small business, but equally at the same time we've got to live within our means. We cannot keep spending money our children will have to pay back.

Question: Do you think that that message is getting confused though? I mean there was a budget emergency, now it's going to be a dull budget; you're backing away from a bunch of savings and measures that were in the last year's budget.

Jamie Briggs: No, I think the people who are confused are the Labor Party who created a mess that they refused to fix, and what you're seeing is people are starting to recognise that Mr Shorten hasn't got a plan.

Today's poll result must really start to make people in the Labor Party wonder all their concerns that they expressed privately to people about Bill Shorten are starting to come true.

When people look at Bill Shorten they see a hollow man. They see a man who was part of an ABC documentary a few years ago. He is not a national leader, and this is what's becoming very evident every day.

Jamie Briggs: Thanks guys, thank you.