4 June 2015
Transcript - #2015064, 2015

Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News Agenda, Canberra

SUBJECTS: Small business package, Opposition tactics, Cabinet leaks

KIERAN GILBERT:

With me now, the Small Business Minister Bruce Billson. Mr Billson thanks very much for your time.

Mr Hockey this morning is saying that he wants Labor to back the package through the Senate. What more does Labor need to do to show you that they are going to support your measures? Labor were clear yesterday.

MINISTER BILLSON:

It was and that is good. A bit all over the place earlier on.

We heard the Opposition Leader bagging the instant asset write-off as a fire sale at used car dealerships and Harvey Norman. And then the Shadow Small Business spokesman bagging the idea of a small business company tax cut.

They seem to have landed in the right place. That is great. That is encouraging.

We are now asking them, and Tony Burke said yesterday there will be no shenanigans in the Senate, there will not be a Senate inquiry to ponder the imponderable, we will just get on with it and that is what small business wants.

KIERAN GILBERT:

Is it not then going to create uncertainty unnecessarily for the Treasurer and others to be saying, still raising doubts as to whether Labor will back them?

MINISTER BILLSON:

I would not have thought so. It was not the Government that raised these issues in the first place, it was actually accountants pointing to some of the dysfunction in the Senate and the unpredictability of the Senate.

And that has been largely because the crossbenchers have double teamed with Labor on a range of issues.

Now we have got some clear statements from Labor and I welcome those and that is what we have been calling for but there will not be any fun and games and politicking in the Senate.

We will get the measures passed for the instant asset write-off and the reduced small business company tax rate, the lowest it will have been since 1967.

KIERAN GILBERT:

Why did you not do it yesterday? You had the opportunity.

MINISTER BILLSON:

Labor pulled on a stunt.

Here we had today when small business that provides 4.3 million jobs in our economy, $330 billion of GDP, 4 out of 10 jobs in the private sector – it was small business’ day in the parliament yesterday and it was pleasing that you had over a dozen members of parliament sharing the ideas, the aspirations, the needs and the reactions of small business in their electorate.

Was it too much to ask? You know I am always saying to you Kieran you do not talk about small business enough. Well yesterday was the parliament’s day.

We made sure small business had its day and we will see the passage of the bills today that will have them on the desk as an early order of business for the Senate.

It would not have mattered if it was passed yesterday at dawn or at dusk or mid-morning. It will still be there.

KIERAN GILBERT:

Is it not a stunt though from the Government to be saying that, still raising doubts as to where Labor is on it, I know you are not, but the Treasurer was of a very different message this morning on ABC radio.

MINISTER BILLSON:

He is pointing to the issues about the Senate. He is saying…

KIERAN GILBERT:

Irrelevant on this one is it not?

MINISTER BILLSON:

No because for those viewers who are not familiar with our parliament, it is a two-stage process. We have got a bicameral parliament. Think of a camel with two humps. You need to get this legislation through.

We are saying back it but back the idea that there is no need for a Senate inquiry, that just starts the clock ticking with a further delay.

There is no need for a Senate inquiry. I am pleased and I will say it again, Tony Burke the Manager of Opposition Business said there will not be a Senate inquiry. I take him at his word.

I was also told there would be no shenanigans in the House but you saw what happened, but that will be dealt with that should pass this morning. It will be there on the desk when the Senate is returned and reconvened.

No Senate inquiry is what Labor is saying. We welcome that. Let us just get it on, get it through and small business can get about their business.

KIERAN GILBERT:

Labor, you call it a stunt, but Mr Bourke yesterday and again this morning has said that they needed to do that to get it through to people that they are actually backing your initiative on this, there is no crack of light on it.

MINISTER BILLSON:

I think he tried to recreate an atmosphere to deal with their own missteps.

All they needed to say, Bill Shorten’s statement bagging and being critical and certainly not sounding supportive of the instant asset write-off, were mistaken or not a reflection of Labor’s position and they could of said to Bernie Ripoll why did you put out a press statement just days before the Budget bagging the idea of a small business company tax cut. Why did you do that?

KIERAN GILBERT:

What did Bill Shorten really say that was critical because he just said that Harvey Norman is going to have a fire sale. You were out at Harvey Norman the other day.

MINISTER BILLSON:

Yes and he was saying that, in a derogatory tone, it would be a fire sale at used car dealerships and Harvey Norman.

Now small business people deserve more respect than that. It is about them being able to buy kit, new equipment , new tools to build up and strengthen their business, create the jobs – we need to recover.

519,000 jobs lost in small business under the previous Labor administration. We are putting the rocket fuel into the engine room of the economy, creating that growth, building that economic momentum, building jobs.

We are at four times the rate of jobs growth in our first year compared to Labor.

We have got more work to do Kieran. This is another step. More will be required. We are not taking our eyes off the ball.

KIERAN GILBERT:

The Government has welcomed the GDP figures. The Treasurer, very optimistic, says the talk of a recession from clowns - economists and so on that have suggested that as a possibility have been proven wrong. He described them as fools this morning. Some of the rhetoric around it…

MINISTER BILLSON:

Talk to me about the figures not the commentary.

KIERAN GILBERT:

The Opposition said it is still under trend, under long-term trends. That is the reality is it not?

MINISTER BILLSON:

We know that. It is a substantial step up on where it was when Labor left office so it has improved and we are seeing that come through in a faster rate of jobs growth.

Do we want it to be more? Of course we do. What do you think the jobs and small business package…We are trying to put all the tools in place and get the entrepreneurial eco-system, the environment right so that enterprising people can make that decision.

KIERAN GILBERT:

How much will it add to the growth figures?

MINISTER BILLSON:

That is what we are working on.

KIERAN GILBERT:

You do not know?

MINISTER BILLSON:

I cannot give you a precise figure because this is where, I understand, it is not governments that create jobs it is the private sector… and what we can do…

KIERAN GILBERT:

It would have been modelled or…

MINISTER BILLSON:

There is no single moving part on this.

The abolition of the Carbon Tax, that has been good for the economy. The trade agreements, that has been good for the economy.

The abolition of the Mining Tax, that is good for the economy because we saw investment in mining fall off the cliff when the Mining Tax came in.

The work we have done in the small business and jobs package. The work we have done…

KIERAN GILBERT:

But no numbers done on the impact on the economy?

MINISTER BILLSON:

There is no single moving part Kieran.

KIERAN GILBERT:

The small business plan?

MINISTER BILLSON:

But that is not the only issue at play here. That is the latest instalment of an ongoing program, an ongoing economic strategy to get those settings right, to have our economy as the best place to start and grow a business.

We know the abolition of the Carbon Tax, $550 on average for households and we left the compensation in place. That is why cost of living improved under the Coalition in its first year whereas it deteriorated under Labor in the last year.

Jobs growth – 4 times the rate in the first year under our Government compared to Labor.

They are good signs but let us not be complacent. We have work to do and we have got to keep doing it.

KIERAN GILBERT:

Finally you have said that Cabinet Minsters should leave Cabinet if they are leaking. Do you want them to resign? Is that exactly what you are saying?

MINISTER BILLSON:

You have heard what I have said. There is no place for leaks. They have got to go. Let us move on.

KIERAN GILBERT:

They should quit?

MINISTER BILLSON:

Whoever it is knows who it is. I have made my position clear on that and I do not need to repeat it.

KIERAN GILBERT:

I just want to clarify. Should they quit?

MINISTER BILLSON:

They do not deserve to be in Cabinet if they cannot abide by the disciplines and the responsibilities and the incredible fortune of being a Cabinet Minister. That requires the best of everyone every day.

KIERAN GILBERT:

But there are leaks. Formal leaks out of Cabinet.

MINISTER BILLSON:

I have talked about that…

KIERAN GILBERT:

The papers and so on as well…

MINISTER BILLSON:

You know what my position is on that I have not got anything to add.

KIERAN GILBERT:

So you do not think the Prime Minister’s office should be doing that either?

MINISTER BILLSON:

You know what I have said. If people cannot stick by those disciplines they do not deserve to be there.

KIERAN GILBERT:

Alright Mr Billson thanks for your time.

MINISTER BILLSON:

Good to see you Kieran.