ABC News Breakfast

  • Minister for Employment
  • Minister for Women
  • Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service
  • Senator for Western Australia


ABC News Breakfast

SUBJECTS:   ABCC legislation, 2016 Election

VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Let's get more for you on the Government's plans for the election. Employment Minister Senator Michaelia Cash joins us now from Sydney. Michaelia Cash good morning, thanks for making time for us.

MINISTER CASH:  Great to be with you, thanks for having me.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI: So what would you prefer; that the Senate pass the ABCC legislation when they prorogued or that you get your double dissolution poll and pass the legislation later anyway?

MINISTER CASH: Well obviously this is good policy. It's been our policy, you know, we took it to the 2013 election, we received an overwhelming mandate to implement the ABCC again. So while my preference is certainly to see the legislation pass the Senate and the Senate to do what it needs to do, support good policy.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Now you’ve mentioned several times you will be negotiating in good faith, you say. But when you say that, what do you mean you won't accept amendments when that's clearly the heart of Senate negotiation, as you well know?

MINISTER CASH:  No, Virginia, I have not said I won't accept amendments. What I’ve said is I’ll negotiate in good faith, but I’m not going to consider amendments that are going to change the fundamental integrity of the bill. An example I give is this - it's been put to me that we should just get rid of the ABCC proposal and bring in a Federal ICAC. I mean, it completely, totally and utterly changes the legislation. And clearly that’s not something the Government is able to consider. But as I’ve said, I have always negotiated in good faith. I will continue to do that, but in terms of the legislation, we do not want to undermine the integrity of the legislation. This is good policy; it has been our policy since the ABCC was abolished by the former Labor Government, and we would like to see the legislation passed in fundamentally the same form.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI: No yes, well what you describe earlier, just then of course is what Glenn Lazarus proposes, he doesn't like this legislation. He, as you mentioned, wants a national ICAC. Leaving that to one side, because that’s not an amendment, that would be an entirely different bill, what areas then in the bill, if you say you’re prepared to negotiate in good faith, what areas are you prepared to amend, to change slightly?

MINISTER CASH: Virginia, what I'm not going to do is indulge in ruling in, ruling out in hypothetical situations. I will wait for …

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:  But you said you would negotiate in good faith.

MINISTER CASH:  … interested members – no, no, exactly, with the crossbenchers. Unfortunately not with ABC TV, so I will wait for the crossbenchers. I will be making calls over the next few days. I’ll be sitting down with them, should they wish to, and listening to what they would like to do with the legislation. But very much from my perspective, this is good policy, as I said. This outlaws the thuggery, the intimidation, the bullying that we see that is rife in the building and construction sector. This is an important part of the Government's economic narrative. You know, this is an industry, Virginia, that employs over one million Australians. You know, $777 billion worth of projects are in the pipeline or anticipated. We want to see those projects get up, but we can't do that in the current state of the industry. It needs to change. We know there's a problem, we know what the solution is, so let's do our job; pass the ABCC legislation, and then move on to registered organisations.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI: On to other matters, Tony Abbott says, and has said overnight he’s happy to campaign for a Turnbull Government because he says the Government is seeking re-election fundamentally on the record of the Abbott Government. Do you agree with that?

MINISTER CASH: I believe that when you have a change of Government, even from Labor to Liberal, there will be some continuity in policies. When you have a change of leadership within a political party, you know Malcolm Turnbull was a senior Cabinet Minister in the former Abbott Government. Clearly we have a continuation of policies. So we will be campaigning on Coalition Government policies. But we'll also be campaigning on the agenda of the Turnbull Government, which I believe is also very clear. You know, transitioning to the new economy, a fundamental commitment to the innovation and industry agenda. I don’t think anyone could say that that’s not a Malcolm Turnbull policy, the $1.1 billion investment that we have. The Defence White Paper. But more importantly, what we saw go through the Senate on Friday, Senate voting reform - that was not something that was mooted previously. It was something that Malcolm Turnbull determined that he would do and we've now done it. So continuity, in terms of a Coalition Government but also policies that are very much Malcolm Turnbull.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI: And just finally this morning Michaelia Cash, do you think Tony Abbott and his supporters will be able to restrain themselves from undermining Malcolm Turnbull during the election campaign?

MINISTER CASH:  I know what my goal is, and I would hope that would be the goal of all members of the Liberal Party, and that is to ensure the re-election of the Turnbull Government because if you want a Government that is going to ensure that we transition in the best possible way to the new economy, if you want a Government that has an agenda that is centred squarely around boosting growth, productivity and at the end of the day, creating jobs for Australians, then we all need to be on board with the Turnbull Government, and that’s what I’ll be campaigning for.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI: For 15 weeks possibly, Senator. Good to talk to you this morning, thanks so much.

MINISTER CASH:  Great to be with you, thanks for having me.

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