Doorstop interview, Canberra
Topics: Leadership; National Energy Guarantee
Question: Is Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership under threat?
Simon Birmingham: No, the Government is focussed as we have been for a long-time on helping Australians with their cost of living pressures, in this case particularly driving down their energy costs and we’re going to keep working in relation to implementing policies that deliver lower electricity bills for Australians.
Question: Will Peter Dutton challenge him?
Simon Birmingham: No, Peter is committed as the whole team is to getting lower electricity prices for Australian households.
Question: Minister, you’ve just appeared on Sky News, why would you agree to appear on such a program when some of your colleagues are blaming the conservative media for stoking the fire?
Simon Birmingham: I have a regular spot as the Manager of Government Business ahead of each sitting week and I honour those regular commitments.
Question: [Indistinct] Is that a captains call?
Simon Birmingham: The Prime Minister has been working to make sure that as a Government we continue to implement policy to drive down electricity bills…
Question: [Indistinct] Was it a consultative process or was it a captain’s call to revise the National Energy Guarantee?
Simon Birmingham: Every step of our electricity policy has been a consultative process, last week the Coalition party room gave overwhelming support in relation to ongoing work on the National Energy Guarantee. Disappointingly, a handful of members decided to oppose elements of that. The Prime Minister quite rightly has been consulting with those members since to see if it is possible to reach consensus with them as well.
Question: Is there a campaign by the conservative media against the Government?
Simon Birmingham: I’m not going to comment on the media, in the end the media can comment on itself if it wants. As a Minister in the Government my focus is on the things that matter to Australians–lowering their tax bills–lowering their energy bills–helping them with their cost of living–creating more jobs–they don’t really care about the media talking about the media.
Question: The latest poll is down by 4 points, isn’t this disunity costing you numbers in the polls?
Simon Birmingham: There is no doubt that when a handful of individuals in government decide to go out publicly and criticise elements of policy against the will of the overwhelming majority and the endorsement of the overwhelming majority, that is unhelpful and what I would urge every single member of the team to do is to focus back in on the policies that we have implemented and are implementing that have delivered record jobs growth, bringing the Budget back to balance, lowering electricity prices for Australian households. This Government has a strong track record of achievement and every member of the team ought to be out there selling it.
Question: Who is responsible for the disunity against the PM?
Simon Birmingham: I think you can see that in the public criticism.
Question: Was that a message to Tony Abbott?
Simon Birmingham: I just gave a message to every member of the team and that is that the Turnbull Government has a strong record of achievement in creating record jobs growth, bringing the budget back into balance, lowering energy prices, delivering reforms such as our child care reforms. These are strong achievements for any government and every member of the team ought to get out there and positively sell them and make sure the Australian people understand the dangers of an alternative government. Thanks Guys.