Laura Jayes, Sky News AM Agenda

18 August 2023


Laura Jayes, Host: Let's wrap up the Labor Conference for AM Agenda today. There's still a couple of hours to go. To do that is Tim Ayres, he is Assistant Trade Minister.

Tim Ayres, Assistant Minister for Trade and Manufacturing: G’day Laura

Laura Jayes: Good to see you. First of all, Anthony Albanese talking - in that interview, something that cropped up unprompted, is Anthony Albanese talking about the disunity of the Rudd/Gillard years. Why would he have raised that, is there something going on in the party that I don't know about - was there a vailed warning to anyone?

Assistant Minister: No, I don't think so. I think it's been a pretty consistent theme, hasn't it, for this Government. We are determined to be an adult Government that is united, that has got a really clear sense of purpose about what's in the national interest and not to be focused on ourselves. And that's been demonstrated not just while we've been in Government, but also in our policy development process and our period in Opposition. We have got no time for self-indulgent arguments. We are focused on supporting the Government, on delivering an agenda that's in the national interest to working for the Australian people. And that's not a controversial point and I think you can expect to keep hearing that from Labor at this conference, but right into the future.

Laura Jayes:  Yeah, I lived through the Rudd and Gillard years in Canberra, and whenever anyone says that, it always felt like there was the exact opposite going on behind the scenes. But we'll believe you for now.

Assistant Minister: It’s absolutely - you can see it in the way that the Government is operating, in the collegial way that we're working - in Anthony's determination to make sure we are a proper Westminster system government with a proper Cabinet process -

Laura Jayes: Sure – you keep on saying that this is such an open process, and we invite publicity and we invite the public in. Instead, these backroom deals are being done to avoid embarrassment on the floor, so they're not that open.

Assistant Minister: This is the Labor Party, Laura. There's discussions across the groups, between interest groups, between stakeholders. All of that will always go on and it improves the outcomes of the conference. It's been a very open conference. We are the biggest political party in the country. We're the oldest social democratic party in the world.

Laura Jayes: And if you cross the floor in Parliament, you get kicked out of the party.

Assistant Minister: Our conferences are open for the whole public to see. We have an extraordinary tradition here. It's a strong contrast to our opponents, Liberals and Nationals. You won't get this kind of openness at their conferences. And the Greens Political Party conferences happen in some town hall with the doors locked and it's a secret what happens in there -

Laura Jayes: You’re not comparing yourself to the Greens are you?

Assistant Minister: - We have the intellectual confidence about our tradition and our position, and the confidence to have delegates come here and express different ideas and it improves the outcome and it also means we take the community with us. People get to see what's going on.

Laura Jayes:  Yeah, well, let's talk about AUKUS, then.

Assistant Minister: Sure.

Laura Jayes: You're going to take the left faction, a couple of 40 delegations, or groups of delegations here that are opposed to AUKUS. I asked Anthony Albanese if he's promised 10,000 union jobs. The answer was no, unions think otherwise.

Assistant Minister: I'm not sure what the 40 delegations is. There is a conference here of, I think, 399 delegates. All of them will come to the conference with a view. There will be a really good debate on the AUKUS question, and it will be a debate that will be about the broader spectrum of, yes, the AUKUS arrangements, but also what is the nature of the changing geopolitical reality in our region, what does that mean for how we see security. Now the Government's got a really clear agenda here. It's an agenda that constructs security in its broadest possible sense. Of course, dealing with the hard deterrence and Defence capability issues, but also in terms of our Statecraft. All geared towards making Australia safe, all geared towards our national security and projecting Australian capacity into the region in a way that we help shape a region that's safer for everybody. And I think it's going to be a good thing to see that debate fleshed out for the conference. And I think that's going to be a very persuasive case for delegates who come here.

Laura Jayes: Okay, one last question, because politicians of all stripes love the Matildas at the moment. They love them. So, they're asked to commit money to actually seeing women's sport and women's soccer thrive in particular. Now, look, the Prime Minister said, watch this space this morning. He's going to have to come up with something pretty big to back up those words, isn't he? And the sentiment.

Assistant Minister: Can I say two things, if you just give me a second on the Matildas. I just want to add to this, it has been so wonderful for the country.

Laura Jayes: Money.

Assistant Minister: It is so wonderful -

Laura Jayes: Please talk about money.

Assistant Minister: - Let me come to it in a second. Focusing on the women in that team and the performance that they have given for Australia and the inspiration that they've given to boys and girls, and when the cameras panned across those audiences and you see the faces of young kids, passionate about sport and girls passionate about sport. That is a wonderful thing. And if the Prime Minister said, watch this space, I urge you to watch that space, and we'll see what the Prime Minister's got to say.

Laura Jayes: Okay, it should be money. And it sounds like it's going to be substantial, we hope so.

Assistant Minister: Well, it’s not a decision that I know anything about -

Laura Jayes: Okay.

Assistant Minister: - And it's a matter for the Prime Minister what announcements he makes. But we join with all Australians being so amazed at the performance of that team and what it's meant for the whole country. It's brought us together in a really special kind of way.

Laura Jayes: We certainly have. Thanks so much for your time. Appreciate it. Enjoy the rest of the conference.