Today Show interview with Karl Stefanovic

  • Transcript, E&OE
21 November 2017

JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joins me now. Foreign Minister, good morning.

JULIE BISHOP: Good morning Karl.

JOURNALIST: Who on earth made that decision?

JULIE BISHOP: It was a collective decision because we were going to sit for two more weeks before Christmas, and so to clear up all these citizenship questions, we are now sitting for two more weeks but starting on 4 December. So hopefully we will get a clear run at the citizenship issue and passing the same sex marriage legislation, because the Senate won't be finished with that until the previous week.

JOURNALIST: Does the PM realise how soft that makes him look?

JULIE BISHOP: I don't believe it does, it is being efficient. We want to make sure that the Parliament can sit on the basis that the citizenship matter is cleared up, and we know there are a number of Labor Members who have already admitted they weren't eligible to sit in the Parliament so we need to resolve that issue and also then we will be able to pass the same sex marriage legislation because it will have been debated and concluded in the Senate by then.

JOURNALIST: Your own MPs don't like it, they are leaking like a rusted gutter this morning. Quotes everywhere this morning, include: "It looks like panic." "Turnbull is scared of the party room." "He is stalling, he is avoiding the banking Commission of Inquiry."

Is he running scared of his own party room?

JULIE BISHOP: Absolutely not. There were going to be two sitting weeks before Christmas. There will be two sitting weeks before Christmas.

JOURNALIST: Why would he retreat when the only way forward for him is attack?

JULIE BISHOP: That's not a retreat. We have got two sitting weeks before the Christmas break and we want to be able to do it at a time when the Senate has finished debating the same sex marriage legislation so we can deal with that seamlessly, and secondly the citizenship issue has to be clarified once and for all. So Members are going to be required to file a declaration on 5 December, now that gives us an opportunity to clear up those who have very serious question marks about their eligibility to sit in Parliament.

JOURNALIST: You think this is a right decision for the PM?

JULIE BISHOP: Absolutely.

JOURNALIST: Moving on. Malcolm Turnbull has promised tax cuts for middle income battlers in the lead up to the next budget and also looks like bringing down company tax. Now how on earth, you do the math, how on earth are you going to stay on track and pay back the mounting debt, which is incidentally $1 billion a day. How are you going to do that?

JULIE BISHOP: We inherited a massive debt, there's no question and people who...

JOURNALIST: It was a while ago now.

JULIE BISHOP: People who know that if you have a massive credit card debt, it can take some time to pay it off. We are determined to get back into surplus but we also want the Australian people to keep more of their hard earned dollars in their pockets. We are the party of tax reform, we are the party of lower taxes. We want to ensure that middle income earners in particular pay a lower tax rate and we want to ensure that corporate tax is internationally competitive. President Trump is talking about a corporate tax rate of something like 20 to 25%. We can't stay at 30 cents for our major corporations, we'll just be internationally uncompetitive.

JOURNALIST: How do you pay back the debt when you are not getting as much income from tax? How do you even do that?

JULIE BISHOP: We are seeking to grow the economy. That's what all our new free trade agreements are about – boosting exports, boosting our commodity sales, boosting our services exports. So you grow the size of the economy, and we are determined to ensure that the Australian people can keep more of their hard earned dollars in their pocket.

JOURNALIST: OK. When are these tax cuts going to happen? I mean the Australian people aren't idiots as you would know. This is ust an empty unfunded promise we can't possibly afford. You know that.

JULIE BISHOP: When you have tax reform, you want to discuss it with the Australian people. I remember when New Zealand went through a tax reform agenda, they took about 12 months to discuss it publicly with the people. That's what we want to do. We want to talk about it, get feedback, and be able to implement serious tax reform, including lowering the income tax rates for middle income Australians.

JOURNALIST: What you really want is a sugar hit.


JOURNALIST: Well, you want a sugar hit from the Australian people, don't you?

JULIE BISHOP: No, what we want is to ensure that the Australian people can keep more of their hard earned dollars, and we think tax rates are too high. So we want to have a discussion with the Australian people about the work that we have been doing to lower tax rates and how we can do it, and I think it is sensible for the Prime Minister to raise it.

JOURNALIST: That was a big sigh, Julie.

JULIE BISHOP: (Laughter)

JOURNALIST: This is a tough sell for you, isn't it?

JULIE BISHOP: (Laughter) Not at all. I love being on your program…

JOURNALIST: No, I know. And we love it too.

JULIE BISHOP: I'm happy to be here. I'm so happy to be here.

JOURNALIST: But that was still a big sigh when you are trying to justify something that shouldn't happen or can't happen at this point because we have got too much debt, we've got a billion dollars a day in debt.

JULIE BISHOP: I was actually thinking of what I was going to say, I wasn't sighing, believe me.

JOURNALIST: Alright, I'm just watching your sighs.

JULIE BISHOP: (Laughter)

JOURNALIST: Before we go, on a much lighter note, as we are prone to saying on this show, what is your favourite AC/DC track? Of course this is a question the PM couldn't answer.

JULIE BISHOP: I'm not going to say "Highway to Hell", am I? I'm going to say "Shook it all night long".

JOURNALIST: I had a feeling that would be it. I have it ready.

(Song audio plays)(Laughter)

Julie, thanks for your time today. Appreciate it. Rock on.

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