Doorstop Interview on Stay Smart Online week, the budget and Andrew Bolt.

June 2, 2014
Transcripts

2 June 2014

TRANSCRIPT OF THE MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS
THE HON. MALCOLM TURNBULL MP
PARLIAMENT HOUSE CANBERRA


Subjects: Stay Smart Online; Budget; drug testing for MPs; Andrew Bolt.

E&OE……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Stay Smart Online. This is a very important initiative as you've seen. And the key is really awareness because all of the things that we are encouraging people to do are pretty obvious. Most people, certainly most adults, know to do them but we don't think about it. I think this is a great initiative and again I'm very grateful to Telstra, to NBN, to Pricewaterhouse and of course the departments; Prime Minister and Cabinet, Attorney-General, Defence and my own Department of Communications in bringing this Stay Smart Online Week together.

QUESTION:

Minister, how do you feel that your Government is doing at selling a consistent message about the Budget?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

I think we're doing very well. The critical fact about the Budget is simply this: Labor left us with a terrible mess of debt and deficit where revenues were well below expenditures. Clearly something had to be done. All the trends were bad, so there had to be some change. We've taken the tough decisions, we've proposed a set of measures which will correct it. And I understand, we all understand, that not everybody agrees with every measure but we certainly understand why many of them are unpopular. But the challenge for Labor is to stop denying reality and if you don't agree with our measures what is your alternative? Because without an alternative they are simply in denial, simply being the complaints desk of the nation without any solution. If they want to be credible, if they want to be regarded as a serious alternative government they have to put out an alternative budget. And Shorten missed that opportunity, he should have done that in the Budget reply. Opposition leaders, including myself, have done precisely that in the past and he failed to do it.

QUESTION:

It seems that some Ministers don't know their policies or are stating their policies wrong and then being contradicted by the Prime Minister. Do you think this is a message you're winning?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

I don't want to comment on my colleagues in that manner but some of these measures are complex and often people may make mistakes when describing them in a doorstop like this.  But I think the bottom line is we do have a very clear Budget strategy. It is all set out in the Budget papers and all of the information surrounding it. And rather than practising some sort of 'gotcha' journalism we should be focusing on what our measures are and again, I repeat, if Labor doesn't like them and they clearly don’t, then you should be saying to them 'What's your alternative?' You should be saying to Labor: 'Do you think $667 billion of debt in a decade hence is acceptable and if it's not what are you going to do about it, what's your alternative to the Government's approach?'

QUESTION:

Is it 'gotcha' journalism though? He wasn’t in a press conference, he is the Minister, he was asked a direct question --

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

I’m sorry I’m not sure which Minister --

QUESTION:

Christopher Pyne.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Really you should raise those matters with Christopher. Christopher is an extremely capable parliamentarian and Minister and I’m sure he has all of the facts at his fingertips.

QUESTION:

If you were in the Prime Minister’s situation how would you feel about your ministers making incorrect statements and inconsistent statements about the Budget?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

I know you’d love me to run a commentary on my colleagues but I’m not going to oblige you here, I’m sorry.

QUESTION:

What do you make of suggestions this morning for politicians to be drug tested?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

I think the responsibilities that we all have to discharge our duties here in a sober manner, in a responsible and thoughtful manner are well understood by members of parliament.

QUESTION:

What do you make of speculation that perhaps we could see some kind of leadership issue in the Coalition?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Let me say this, I saw the question that Andrew Bolt asked the Prime Minister on Sunday and I’ve seen his column in some of the News Limited papers today. It borders on the demented to string together a dinner with Clive Palmer and my attending, as Communications Minister, the launch by a cross party group of friends of the ABC, and say that that amounts to some kind of threat or challenge to the Prime Minister. It is quite unhinged.

Mr. Bolt is fond of attacking what he regards as the Government’s enemies in the media, principal amongst whom of course he numbers the ABC. I don’t think you’d see anything as crazy as that on the ABC. I just have to say to Mr. Bolt, he proclaims loudly that he is a friend of the Government, well with friends like Bolt we don’t need any enemies.

Thank you.

[ends]

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