ABC 730 - interview with Leigh Sales

  • Transcript, E&OE

JOURNALIST:Acting Prime Minister thanks very much for joining us.

JULIE BISHOP:Good to be with you Leigh.

JOURNALIST:Given that the Deputy Prime Minister is the National Party Leader,and that that person usually steps up to be the Acting Prime Minister whenthe Prime Minister is away, how come you're acting in the position ratherthan Nigel Scullion?

JULIE BISHOP:This is a matter of convention, Leigh. In the past, when the PrimeMinister and the Deputy Prime Minister have been unavailable, it has goneto the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party. We can go back as far asMalcolm Fraser, and I understand that John Howard, then as Deputy LiberalLeader, stood in when both the Prime Minister and the DeputyPrime Minister were unavailable. The same happened with Peter Costellounder John Howard and the Nationals Leader. So I'm the most senior personin the Cabinet after the Prime Minister and after Barnaby Joyce andthat's why I'm acting Prime Minister in the absence of both MalcolmTurnbull, overseas, and Barnaby Joyce, who is facing a by-election.

JOURNALIST:The Nationals seem a little bit agitated about it. Can you seewhy they might feel that way?

JULIE BISHOP:This is what's happened in the past under previous Prime Ministers in ourarrangement with the Coalition with the National Party, so it'sthe precedent and as the most senior member of the Cabinet after thePrime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, it falls to the Deputy Leader ofthe Liberal Party.

JOURNALIST:In terms of how the Parliament might unfold over the next few weeks, isthere any chance the Government would reconsider having a royalcommission into the banks, given that Labor is clearly going to try tohave a red-hot go at trying to take advantage of the numbers in theParliament to get a victory with getting that plan through?

JULIE BISHOP:The issue of a royal commission into banking came up as a result of anumber of banking customers unhappy with the treatment they had fromthe banks. These are very complex cases, some go back many years. Some havebeen resolved by the courts, some are still before the courts, some have beenlitigated, some have been settled. The Government is seeking to address theirconcerns now. We are taking action now - giving the regulators morepower, the four big banks are brought before the Parliament twice ayear. So we are taking action now to address their concerns and working witha number of Members of Parliament who have constituents who are veryconcerned about the relationship they had with their bank. The problemwith a royal commission is it can only make recommendations. It would takeyears and at the end of the day, all it can do is makerecommendations. We're taking action now to address the concerns of thesebanking customers and we're also looking at setting up a financialclaim scheme, and that legislation will come before the Parliament.

JOURNALIST:We heard that 3 Coalition MPs are considering crossing the floor onbanks: Warren Entsch, George Christensen and Ann Sudmalis. Howconfident are you that the Coalition will maintain discipline on thisissue?

JULIE BISHOP:Clearly we want to work with those MPs and others who have constituents who areconcerned about the relationship they had with their bank. We want to addressthose concerns, we want to address them now, a banking royalcommission will not provide them with redress. If would only makerecommendations and that could be years away. That's why we're tryingto take action now, and I'm sure my fellow Members of Parliamentunderstand that.

JOURNALIST: But nonetheless, when you have systems where there seems to be awidespread number of problems, as we've seen with the banks, a royalcommission is a very useful tool to get to the bottom of that. Areyou saying there's no way that the Government will reconsider that?That's completely out of the question?

JULIE BISHOP:I don't see that a royal commission into banking will provide theresponses, the redress that people are seeking now. Some of the casesgo back to the global financial crisis in 2008, 2009. They are verycomplex cases and we are seeking to work with those people to find asolution for them. A banking royal commission won't do that. We havegiven the regulators more power to ensure these things don't happen again,and there is legislation to come before the Parliament to set upan Australian financial scheme, a commission that will addressthese issues in the future.

JOURNALIST: Just on last week's High Court rulings on citizenship, do youthink there's a case of for amending the constitution as BarnabyJoyce has recommended?

JULIE BISHOP:I believe that Barnaby is talking about a whole range of issues,including Indigenous reconciliation. In relation to section 44, it's beenpart of the Constitution since 1901. Seven judges of the High Court havenow determined what it means and it's pretty clear. Of course we are goingthrough the detail of the judgement to ascertain any otherimplications for it, but at this stage, we have referred the matterto the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters and thatcommittee will consider the judgment very carefully and willmake recommendations to the Government.

JOURNALIST: On another matter, the Queensland Premier has called a stateelection. If One Nation does well in that, will that be an ominous signfor the Federal Coalition come the next election?

JULIE BISHOP:In relation to One Nation and the Queensland election, we will obviouslyhave to see how they fare. Tim Nicholls, the Leader of the LNP, has madeit clear that he would not be forming a coalition with One Nation, hewould not be sharing ministries and the like. He has made it very clear thatif you want to get rid of a do-nothing Labor Government inQueensland, you vote for the LNP, because if you vote for One Nation, youend up with a Labor government, as we've seen in the past. So Ibelieve that Tim Nicholls and the LNP team will be working very hard toprove that they have the policies - in infrastructure, roads, rail,bridges - that they have the plans to create more jobsfor Queenslanders and to grow the Queensland economy. On that basis,I believe that the LNP will be able to present a superior case to winthe hearts and minds of the Queensland people.

JOURNALIST:As we mentioned at the start of the interview, you're filling in as PrimeMinister. Would you like the gig permanently one day?

JULIE BISHOP:(laughter) Leigh, I'm very happy with my role as Foreign Minister. I havebeen in Parliament a long time now and I have much to do as ForeignMinister and I'm very happy in my role.

JOURNALIST:But ambitious politicians always like to think of themselves ashaving a stab at the top job one day. Is that something youcan envisage for yourself?

JULIE BISHOP:Not every politician has that view. I have certainly been very pleased tobe elected as Deputy Leader of my party for 10 years now, and I'mvery happy in my role as Foreign Minister.

JOURNALIST:What is the chance that Malcolm Turnbull won't lead the Coalition tothe next election?

JULIE BISHOP:I believe that Malcolm Turnbull will be leading the Coalition to thenext election. He's by far the preferred leader in the minds of theAustralian people, if you judge by the polls, and getting onwith governing for Australia. He's focusing on some really tough issuesincluding energy, to bring down energy prices, to make sure that we've gotaffordable and reliable energy, and that drives economic growthand that drives jobs. That's one of the responsibilities of anational government.

JOURNALIST:Julie Bishop, many thanks for making time to speak with us tonight.

JULIE BISHOP:My pleasure.

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