Doorstop interview, Canberra
Topics: Latest Newspoll; Citizenship of Parliamentarians

Journalist: Happy with the results of the Newspoll?

Simon Birmingham: Well the Turnbull Government is determined that despite the fact that the commentary around citizenship sucks much of the oxygen out of the news coverage at present, that we’re going to keep focusing on things that matter to Australian households, Australian businesses, that’s why the Prime Minister is there negotiating better trade access for Australian exports so that we can continue to grow on our record jobs growth numbers, the 370 000 jobs we’ve created over the last year. Our focus has to be on the issues that matter to people, it is on the issues that matter to households, businesses, jobs creation, the cost of living, those pressures and of course we want to make sure that we bring all of the political debate back to those issues.

Journalist: Are you blaming the Newspoll result on the citizenship issue?

Simon Birmingham: There is no doubt that an issue that consumes so much air time in media coverage, but only relates to the lives Parliamentarians is unhelpful for a government. That’s why our focus is on issues that matter to households and families, it’s about ensuring their jobs are secure, their wages are growing, their cost of living pressures are eased, these are the things that as a Government we’re working very hard to do. Just yesterday I was talking about the almost one million Australian families that will benefit from our child care reforms, while at the same time Malcolm Turnbull was there trying to get new exports markets open for Australian businesses to create more jobs. These are the things that matter to people’s daily lives, that’s where our focus on policies will continue to be as Government.

Journalist: Malcolm Turnbull’s preferred Prime Minister rating has plunged, is he copping it most?

Simon Birmingham: The leader of the government, of course is out there on the frontline day in day out, having to deal with the issues sometimes not of their own making. The citizenship situation was not one that the government asked for, or created, but will fix it, and Malcolm Turnbull has demonstrated a commitment to make sure that all members of this Parliament declare their citizenship situation. That from there we will be completely even handed in dealing with members of this parliament that if people have an issue it ought to be referred off to the High Court for resolution. That’s the sensible approach to take, that’s the fair approach to take, unlike Bill Shorten who remarkably calls for a disclosure regime but then says it shouldn’t apply in terms of any implications for Labor MPs, that’s rank hypocrisy, he cannot have it both ways, Bill Shorten and the Labor party cannot be out there demanding disclosure, making threats about Liberal MPs but then saying we want a clean pass for our Labor MPs, Justine Keay, Susan Lamb based on what they have disclosed to date, do have questions to answer and of course if there are real questions to answer once everything is fully disclosed, then they ought to be treated in exactly the same way as any other member of Parliament.

Journalist: But is the electorate blaming the Prime Minister for the citizenship debacle?

Simon Birmingham: Well I don’t want to try and mind read the electorate, I am confident that the Prime Minister is determined to resolve the citizenship situation even though it is not a problem of his making, but is even more determined to make sure that day in day out the Government says focused in terms of our policy reforms on things that matter to Australian people, that impact on their lives. The citizenship of Parliamentarian’s does not impact on the lives of Australian families, job creation impacts on the lives of Australian families, child care fees and bills impact on the lives of Australian families and they’re the things we’re going to keep working to fix.

Journalist: The Prime Minister has lost 23 Newspolls in a row now, how long has he got?

Simon Birmingham: Look the Prime Minister will continue to demand the support of the Government as long as he continues to focus on the issues that matter to the Australian people, around jobs growth, around easing cost of living pressures, and given the work he has put into for example, energy policies that will provide relief not just in the short term but ensure that over the coming years we have a more efficient, reliable and lower cost energy market, it’s clear the Prime Minister is working hard on all of those difficult policy issues that really the Australian people rightly expect him to focus on.