Topics: IA-CEPA; Julie Bishop; Preselection and MP retirements

Simon Birmingham: Good morning Deb. This is a great deal for both Australia and Indonesia. You know, Indonesia is currently the 16th largest economy in the world but is forecast to grow into potentially the fourth biggest economy. It’s right on our doorstep and this is a deal that means cattle producers are going to get better access, potato or carrot growers are going to get better access, those manufacturing steel are going to get better access. What we’re doing is ensuring that more product at lower price can come into Indonesia, as well as our education and healthcare services, which not only means good deals for those providers in Australia being able to do business in Indonesia but also opportunities for Indonesia in terms of higher quality education, healthcare, all of which can fuel and advance their economy too.


Presenter: The deal has to be ratified by both countries, unions are questioning if we will be worse off under this deal, and Indonesia is going to the Polls next month and free trade is unpopular there, is there a risk that this deal could be undone?


Simon Birmingham: Well I would hope that in both countries people see the real upside from this agreement, to strengthen the economic cooperation between our two countries, to see trade flows increase, I mean we’re seeing Australia’s unions simply running a predictable scare campaigns when the facts speak the opposite as we have done trade deals and increased market access to countries right around the world over the last few years. We’ve actually managed to grow jobs by 1.2 million in Australia and in fact our balance of trade, our trade surplus, is a surplus. Last year we saw every single month Australia exporting more than we import and part of that is because we have better trade access around the world and this is just going to further strengthen that.


Presenter: Ok. Plenty of reaction around here with Julie Bishop saying that she could have beaten Bill Shorten if she had been chosen as Prime Minister…


Simon Birmingham: Well I’m sure Julie could have beaten Bill Shorten but I’m also confident that Scott Morrison will beat Bill Shorten because Bill Shorten is going to the next election with more than 200 billion dollars plus in additional taxes he wants to slug each and every one of your viewers in a range of ways. So, if you’re a retiree, if you’re a small business person, if you’re someone working hard for your retirement, the risk is you’re going to pay more tax under Bill Shorten so I think when it comes to the crunch, almost anybody could have beaten Bill Shorten.


Presenter: Is it damaging to have these old wounds reopen again? Liberal power-broker Alex Hawke is now backing this idea of intelligent use of quotas of having more women overall – is that something worth considering?


Simon Birmingham: The Liberal Party cherishes the fact that we give local branch members, if you join the Liberal Party, you get a say in who your Liberal candidate will be and that’s a really important part of the way we select our candidates. Now the Labor Party leaves that to backroom operators and, incidentally, they also have eight members of parliament retiring at this election, five off of Bill Shorten’s frontbench. Now I respect each and every one of them for their personal decision to decide to retire at the next election. Frankly, Bill Shorten ought to respect the decision of those long-serving MPs on our side, such as Christoper Pyne, who spent 26 years in the Australian Parliament, thinking that maybe after 26 years you can call it a day.