Sky News AM Agenda

Interviewer:

Kieran Gilbert

E&OE

KIERAN GILBERT:

On the program now, Liberal front-bencher, Zed Seselja. Senator, thanks very much for your time.  We’ve got a bit to get across.  First of all, Labors position on this.  The Government needs to be clear now - what is its view?  What’s the view it’s going to take to state ministers in regards to this particular gun?  Is it opposed to lifting the ban or not?

SENATOR ZED SESELJA:

Well we want to get consensus and so what will come I think almost certainly out of the meeting this week will be a toughening up of the position.  When you look at this lever action shotgun, it was a category A and that was why the Government took that action to stop its import until we could get an agreement on the proper classification.  We’re going to work with the states and territories; I’m not going to pre-judge that meeting.  But we what we will get is a tougher restriction than what would have been the case before we acted.

GILBERT:

Mr Abbott comes out and says not on God’s earth would it have been allowed under his Prime-Ministership.   He looks really strong and decisive.  The rest of the Government looks like its equivocating and that the Labor party has got a window and it’s distracting from the other business of the week by smashing the Turnbull leadership over this particular issue.

SENATOR ZED SESELJA:

Well Kieran, I’m not a political commentator.  I advocate for policy.  And one of the reasons the Labor party wants to distract form the ABCC is because they are so terribly compromised on it.  And they’re not going to be able to distract for long because in the end they are going to have to make a decision.  Will they support the kind of disgraceful behaviour we’ve seen on building sites?  Or will they take action which everyone knows we need to take.  We can’t have a situation where you can get away with breaking the law consistently as many judges have commented in relation to the CMFEU that it is simply part of doing business, the cost of doing business.

So, Bill Shorten, he can distract for a little while but fundamentally he’s going to have to say do those $2 million donations to the Labor party, do they effectively buy his silence and his acquiescence to this kind of activity…

GILBERT:

But does it frustrate you…it’s a similar questions I asked Eric Abetz a bit earlier on the program. Two things, one, you’ve got this argument; you want to focus on IR, that’s one thing.  But the fact that the politics have caught you up in a way that one of your strongest policy legacies has a Coalition were the Howard gun laws of ‘96 and yet it’s become a point of attack for Labor.  It’s hard to fathom that.

SENATOR ZED SESELJA:

Well as I say, I’m not here to be a political commentator.  I’ll advocate for good policies.  When it comes to gun laws, we’ve got a strong record; we’ll continue to protect Australians.  That’s been our record.  And the alternative is very clear.  Bill Shorten is soft on gun crime when it comes to mandatory sentences to people who would smuggle illegal guns into this country.  So our record on guns is very strong in contrast to Labor and our record and our plans for IR and for cleaning up building sites are very clear.  And they can distract for a little while but they are not going to be able to distract from this fact that they’re going to have to face the Australian people and say why they are supporting some of the most disgraceful behaviour on our building sites which we are seeing at the moment.

GILBERT:

Suggestions that within Treasury there are concerns that Standard and Poor’s will downgrade Australia’s credit rating from AAA to AA plus.  Is this a worry to you?

SENATOR ZED SESELJA:

Well a couple of points – one is that we have had our AAA credit rating recently reaffirmed.  Now, yes, the ratings agencies said we need to continue the task of budget repair and we agree.  Not just for the ratings agencies, that is important, but because fundamentally we can’t keep borrowing the amount of that we inherited without having serious problems for the economy down the track...

GILBERT:

But they want more runs on the board, S&P, from what they’ve said to the Treasurer as recently as a couple of weeks ago.

SENATOR ZED SESELJA:

Well as a say, they’ve recently reaffirmed it.  We’ve put forward savings.  We’ve got an agreement for some 6 billion dollars in savings in recent times.  But there is more to do.  It’s a message to the Parliament more broadly, Kieran.  We can’t simply say it’s too hard to find savings.  We do have to find that task, continue upon that path.  We are on a path to surplus.  But that means that we need to continue to do that work.  I would say to the Labor party, I would say to the crossbench that we are up for it.  We are up for the challenge of finding savings, of getting the budget back into surplus.  We have been frustrated on many occasions but we have also made progress and we will continue to fight to make more progress.

GILBERT:

Senator Seselja, appreciate your time.

SESELJA:

Thanks very much.