Interview on FIVEaa Will Goodings and David Penberthy
Topics: Upcoming Newspoll; National Energy Guarantee; Peter Costello

Presenter: Monday does loom as a very difficult day for the Prime Minister who himself used Newspoll as one of his justifications for knocking off Tony Abbott. He said that Mr Abbott had lost 30 consecutive Newspoll’s and had to go and it now looks unless the unthinkable happens this Monday Malcolm Turnbull will himself register 30 consecutive negative Newspoll’s. Simon Birmingham is the Liberal Senator for South Australia and the Federal Education Minister. Minister good morning and thanks for joining us. You guys are doing a bad job managing this leadership question aren’t you?

Simon Birmingham: There is obviously a lot of focus that is being put on it. I would highlight the fact that there are many other things Malcolm Turnbull said when he took on the leadership a couple of years ago now. In particular, he talked about the need for economic confidence and he has delivered that in spades with more than 420 000 jobs generated just over the previous 12 months and really a sense in which we’ve seen a record run of consecutive monthly jobs growth. The highest ever female workforce participation….

Presenter: Sorry to jump in but for all of those good things, you’re at a point now where your Cabinet colleague, the Federal Immigration Minister Peter Dutton came out yesterday and said Bill Shorten is going to win the next election?

Simon Birmingham: Well if you look at the polls that is what they’re suggesting although those of us who have lived in South Australia in the past 12 months know the polls can be wildly wildly inaccurate. Nick Xenophon was going to be Premier and instead he didn’t win a single seat in the South Australian Parliament. What we will have to do and will do, everything single day between now and the next federal election due in a little over 12 months’ time now is to remind people that the election is a choice. It’s a choice between Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition Government that has delivered that record run of jobs growth, that is repairing the budget, that is delivering greater support to households with more on the way in terms of dealing with their cost of living, that is fixing a broken energy market with sensible reforms which will drive prices down. Compared with a choice of Bill Shorten who has policies for higher taxes on wages, higher taxes on savings, higher taxes on houses, higher taxes on electricity. That really there is a stark stark choice at the next election, and we need to sell both choices to make it clear and apparent to people…

Presenter: Sure, isn’t the issue though in terms of selling a choice on something like energy policy for example that it appears from the outside that you’re having trouble selling that message internally let alone to the general public?

Simon Birmingham: I think there is strong support internally for the National Energy Guarantee. Yes, there are backbenchers talking about other aspects of energy policy and frankly the Liberal Party has always had backbenchers who whether it is energy policy or tax policy or other matters, energetic {indistinct] from the backbench. It’s why one of the reasons why I would encourage more people to get involved in the Liberal Party and to support us, because rather than …

Presenter: A recruitment drive to drive out the dissenters.

Simon Birmingham: You too can have the excitement of discussions about energy policy [indistinct].


Simon Birmingham: I think it’s an exciting proposition for people particularly at six or seven in the morning…

Presenter: Exactly. Now before we let you go. Simon Birmingham, there has been some talk out of Victoria about the prospect of Peter Costello returning to the fold. Do you think he would be a welcome addition to party ranks. Do you like the idea of trying to draft him back into the party?

Simon Birmingham: I think it is extraordinarily improbable and unlikely and I’ve seen no suggestions that Peter is remotely interested in doing so. Peter is a great talent, he was a great Treasurer, he is doing a great job for us now as chair of the Future Fund.

Presenter: Senator Simon Birmingham for South Australia and also the Education Minister, thanks very much for coming on the show this morning with us.

Simon Birmingham: Thank you, cheers guys.