6 February 2015
Transcript - #2015016, 2015

Interview with Sky News, Melbourne

SUBJECTS: Leadership, Coalition Government’s plan for the nation.

DAVID LIPSON:

Well the Small Business Minister Bruce Billson joins us now from Melbourne. Bruce Billson thanks for your time. First of all, which way will you vote in this motion on Tuesday for a leadership spill?

BRUCE BILLSON:

I will vote against it.

We have a settled, experienced team, a clear plan for the future.

We have got what no other candidate or side of politics can offer, and that is a clear plan to get the country back on track, grow opportunity, grow jobs.

That is what I am on about and the spill motion should be defeated.

The spill motion risks damaging one of our key equities –our stability.

Our leadership team has been in place and engaging with the community.

We have had many successes. The risk is that the spill motion would detract or deduct from all of those key assets, which are very important foundations for us to work from for the coming year.

That is where my thoughts are and that is where my vote will be.

DAVID SPEERS:

Can I ask you Minister, the Government has long accused Labor of being a rabble and chaotic in Government. How do you think the events of the last week leave the Government looking?

BRUCE BILLSON:

Well it has not helped.

But this is an opportunity with the spill motion to reassert those key equities that I just spoke about: Stability, unity, clarity of purpose, a plan for the future.

That is what the electorate is telling me.

As I travel through my own electorate and throughout the country, particularly small business owners are saying - you have got the plan; your success is so much interwoven with the success of our nation and the opportunities of our people.

Get on with that work, get on with the job. You have had some wins, more are required. Lift your performance.

Just changing personalities does not do that.

And a spill motion that assumes there is some greener field somewhere, undefined though it is, is the way to go is just ridiculous.

Our key equities, our stability, our unity- are our action plan, are our successes and we should not be detracting or diminishing the value of those key equities when we all need to lift our game.

KIERAN GILBERT:

Minister, it’s Kieran Gilbert here. I want to ask you about what the scenario might be -I spoke to one of your colleagues just a few moments ago who said to me that this could end up being a straight out confidence vote in the Prime Minister.

If there is not another contender, that this spill motion would end up being a vote of confidence or otherwise in the PM. Now if there was to be a significant number support a spill motion, when you don’t even have another contender, that would be enormously damaging to the Prime Minister, almost mortally wouldn’t it, to have a decent number vote for a spill when you don’t have a contender?

BRUCE BILLSON:

Yes that would just ben an extraordinary act of self-harm. That would just be completely inane and insane.

The issue that we are facing is many challenges as a country.

A clear plan that we have articulated. Which I might say has had the best input of all of our people. So it represents our best efforts to map out a plan for the future. With full input, full engagement from all of our people.

Simply changing personalities or having a theoretical naval gazing exercise of favourites up and down to achieve nothing is a completely pointless exercise.

That is why the spill motion needs to be defeated.

To show the Australian public we are different from Labor. We are not the Labor Party.

Our unity, our clarity of purpose, our stability, our clear plan, and our successes to date, are all the best assets we have going for us as we all work to lift our plan and our programme.

KIERAN GILBERT:

Why then does the deputy leader not articulate the sort of message you’re saying this afternoon instead of, a couple of lines saying that due to Cabinet solidarity and as deputy leader she has agreed to not support the spill. It’s not a ringing endorsement of the Prime Minister and his performance, is it?

BRUCE BILLSON:

Well I’m not sure what else you would expect the deputy leader to say. I mean there is so much analysis in every syllable.

KIERAN GILBERT:

Maybe a little of what you said.

BRUCE BILLSON:

And Julie has made that point over and over again.

This week we have spent two days together as a fully functioning, collegiate Cabinet, recognising the challenges that we face.

Very focused on the team working well effectively, to implement the plans that we have.

Acknowledging we all need to lift our game. It is not just a matter of whether one team member is performing well or not, it is all of us, including all of our back bench, and that is what our focus needs to be.

KIERAN GILBERT:

But Mr Billson as you know, and as has been reported, Julie Bishop has even said, she’s not on a joint ticket with Tony Abbott, that she hasn’t given an indication of what she would do if the spill motion succeeded. Again I put to you, is that not telling?

BRUCE BILLSON:

No it is not.

This spill motion will not succeed, it would be an act of self-harm, it would damage the key equities that we have. Our key assets of stability, unity, clarity of purpose, a plan for the future, and the results to date to build from.

That is why the spill motion needs to be defeated. And I understand why senior colleagues aren’t seeking to be drawn in to the ‘ifs’ and ‘what’s’ after that event, because this spill motion has got to go down and go down comprehensively.

DAVID SPEERS:

Bruce Billson, David Speers again. Let me ask you this, if the Prime Minister and his colleagues do tee off this motion next week and he stays as leader, I mean is that indefinite? How long do you allow him to turn things around before you and others revisit this?

BRUCE BILLSON:

This has got to be dealt with decisively, knocked over, as an adventure of no purpose, and no value, and no upside.

And then we all need to get together. To give our best efforts as a team; to lift our performance; to engage more effectively with the Australian public.

And to make the simple point- The success of this government is so interwoven with the success of our nation and our people.

We are the only side of politics prepared to face the challenges of our nation. We are the only ones with a plan. We have got Labor being as obstructionist as they can be; inciting grievance.

That is no strategy for the future. This motion has to go down. The government’s success is interwoven into the nation’s success and the success and opportunities of our people.

That is why I am so focused on the work ahead, and that is why I am supporting Tony Abbott.

DAVID SPEERS:

Alright, and you will continue to support him, right until the next election.

BRUCE BILLSON:

Yes.

DAVID SPEERS:

Alright Bruce Billson, Small Business Minister, we appreciate you coming on this afternoon.

BRUCE BILLSON:

Thank you David.