15 September 2015
Transcript - #2015107, 2015

Interview with Michael Rowland, ABC News Breakfast, ABC News 24

SUBJECTS: Leadership, economy

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

Joined now by the Small Business Minister and strong Tony Abbott supporter Bruce Billson. Mr Billson, good morning- thanks for your time.

MINISTER BILLSON:

Michael, good to see you.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

There were some character forming events for every Liberal MP last night.

MINISTER BILLSON:

Yes, it was a big night. Our party process allows the colleagues to select the captain-coach. That decision was made and we are all throwing our support and our weight and all that we can contribute behind Malcolm Turnbull.

The Party Room has spoken. Malcolm has been elected leader and as we have had the opportunity to form Government, he will be the next Prime Minister.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

You must have some disappointment though, that Tony Abbott got beaten in the ballot given you supported him.

MINISTER BILLSON:

Well I am a Cabinet Minister and Cabinet Ministers support their Prime Minister and that has been my approach and Prime Minister Turnbull has my support. We make that decision, we form up our team, we get on with it, we do good things for the country and that is what is expected of me.

That is the way I approach my work and for the small business men and women, they expect me to bounce out of bed every day and do good work for them as well.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

Now the Prime Minister, well he still is Prime Minister until Malcolm Turnbull is sworn in, did not speak publically last night -you had a chat to him privately after the ballot. How is he holding up?

MINISTER BILLSON:

Look, it is obviously a very character-building experience. He was raw. I also think it is a moment where a serenity about all the effort, the relentless contribution.

He has given absolutely all of himself for six years as leader of our party in opposition and as Prime Minister. There were some lovely words and great tributes directed to him and also an acknowledgement to Margie and the girls – his family.

The Prime Minister has given his absolute all for his country, for our party and he has great admiration for that and that was reflected in the comments last night and I think that was also part of how emotional the experience was for Mr Abbott.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

We saw what happened when Kevin Rudd was rolled by Julia Gillard and he went onto the backbench to cause mischief. What do you expect Tony Abbott to do now?

MINISTER BILLSON:

No, he won’t do that. He made it clear he will support Prime Minister Turnbull. Whatever you might say about Tony Abbott, he is one classy, genuine individual - a very honourable man.

He made it clear that he is obviously disappointed with the result last night but he has given so much to the Liberal Party and the Liberal Party and our colleagues have afforded Tony Abbott so much as well.

He said he will give his full support now that the decision has been made and that is a mark of the quality of the character of the individual.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

He is a man though, I believe, who brought last night’s result upon himself. He did make some pretty dodgy decisions didn’t he, as Prime Minister? Some really bad captain’s calls and even conservatives said so. 

MINISTER BILLSON:

Look, I am not going to give you a score card on every decision that has been made. I can give you a couple though.

The 300,000 jobs that have grown under the Abbott Government, the Free Trade Agreements, the foundations for better prosperity and growth, and better security into the future – that is a great platform from which the Turnbull Government can build from.

I think that is a very positive starting position. They are good achievements, that is good positive momentum and of course, who could forget that outstanding small business package that has seen more small businesses created in the last 12 months than any time in our nation’s history.

Small businesses are employing again, investing again, really energising enterprise. So that is a good foundation that the new team can work from.   

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

Finally, two very quick questions and answers. Will you serve in a Malcolm Turnbull ministry?

MINISTER BILLSON:

Happy to serve in any way that I can but that is a call for our Prime Minister.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

And, when will the next election be? Do you expect the Government to serve its full term?

MINISTER BILLSON:

I do. Yes.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

Okay, Bruce Billson, Small Business Minister, thanks for joining us.

MINISTER BILLSON:

Thank you for having me.