Doorstop interview, Canberra
Polling; Tony Abbott; Making child care more affordable, accessible and flexible

Journalist: … how these polls, not just a one off, a trend but bad on every marker for the Coalition.

Simon Birmingham: Well I don’t think Australians want a government that is fixated on polls. They want a government, as we are, to focus on the issues that matter to them. Whether its electricity prices and reliability, job creation, paying for child care – they’re the issues the Turnbull Government is focused on dealing with and helping Australians. And nothing will distract us from that.

Journalist: It’s not coming through though is it?

Simon Birmingham: Well we all have to work day in, day out to make sure we make progress on the reforms through a challenging Senate environment, but we will do that. Now of course we’ve seen before, in the early days of John Howard, a rise in the vote of parties like One Nation, that’s occurred, it’s come and it’s gone in Australian politics before. And of course you can deal with it by focusing on the issues that matter to Australians. And that’s exactly what we’ll keep doing.

Journalist: What’s not working though? If you’re sticking to the issues that matter why aren’t you convincing the electorate? Why do these polls keep getting worse and worse for the Coalition?

Simon Birmingham: I’ll let the political commentators talk about the reasons behind the polls. But we will focus on dealing with the broken child care system we have in Australia and better helping families on dealing with making Australia a more attractive place to invest and create jobs by reforming company tax, by dealing with a broken electricity market and investing in ways to make renewable energy work for us rather than against us. We won’t be distracted from that. And we have to, and will, stay focused on all the issues that matter most.

Journalist: Is Tony Abbott hurting the Coalition?

Simon Birmingham: I don’t think it’s ever helpful when people take us away from that focus, but I can tell you the Cabinet is not distracted, the Ministry is not distracted, the senior members of the Government are not distracted. We are determined to make sure that we keep progressing our agenda. 

And we have had significant success. In the last six months of last year we got through the Parliament reforms that had been blocked multiple times in the previous Parliament. So we’ve seen and demonstrated we can work with the Senate and I’m confident we can do that in relation to our child care reforms that I’m leading the charge on, as well as make progress in relation to our company tax reforms and energy market reforms.

Journalist: Just on the child care reforms, Nick Xenophon says he wants to park the Omnibus, that there’s too many issues there at the moment that he has trouble with. How are negotiations going?

Simon Birmingham: We continue discussions with Nick, with other members of the crossbench. I only wish that Bill Shorten and the Labor Party would come to the table. The child care model in Australia is broken where too many families run out of support mid-year, where low income families who are working hard receive insufficient support. And the Turnbull Government’s reforms will give more help to those families. It is astounding and disgraceful that Bill Shorten is not engaging in relation to fixing our child care model, but he’s not and we’ll continue those discussions with Nick and the rest of the crossbench.

Journalist: Thank you.