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Transcript of doorstop interview: Canberra: 15 March 2012: Empowering Local Schools; Future Fund; Carbon price; Small business; Craig Thomson; Company tax



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Transcript of doorstop interview, Canberra

THU 15 MARCH 2012

Prime Minister

Subject(s): Empowering Local Schools; Future Fund; Carbon price; Small business; Craig Thomson; Company tax

PM: I’m here today at Gungahlin College and thank you very much to Gai for showing us around.

This is a great school, that has been set up on the basis of empowering the school principal Gai to select her staff, to marshal her team and to manage her school budget.

I’m here today with Chris Bourke, the ACT Education Minister to announce that the Federal Government and the ACT has entered into an agreement to roll out Empowering Local Schools to eight schools in the ACT.

This is part of a national initiative, a Federal Government initiative, to empower 1000 schools around the country. We’re investing $480 million until 2017 to achieve that result and we have already achieved agreement, not only with the ACT, but with New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania to roll out Empowering Local Schools.

Now we’re so passionate about this because simply put it means better results for students and Gai couldn't have been clearer than she was today about the better results that you see for students when the principal has more ability to select their team and to drive their school in the direction that works for the kids in that school.

Every school is different and Empowering Local Schools recognises that.

Because I am required back in the Federal Parliament and because Minister Garrett was unable to come today because a pair wasn't made available to him, I will now take questions and then I will leave the ACT Minister talking to you specifically about what it will mean for local schools.

Happy to take your questions now.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, are you concerned about Clive Palmer's legal challenge?

PM: The interesting thing here is Clive Palmer says something one day and Tony Abbott parrots it the next. Clive Palmer tells Tony Abbott what to do.

So Clive Palmer has told Tony Abbott to carry on about the constitutionality of putting a price on carbon. Of course we took very careful advice on the carbon pricing legislation.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible) billionaire's revenge after Wayne Swan's scathing attack?

PM: You’d have to ask Mr Palmer that. But really the important thing is we’ve learned over the last 24 hours, Clive Palmer tells Tony Abbott what to do. That’s because Tony Abbott’s in politics to look after the billionaires.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: We have taken careful constitutional advice and legal advice at every stage.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, Senator Conroy this morning undermined Peter Costello’s position on Future Fund, he said he wouldn’t trust him as much as David Gonski to be the chair.

Now your government appointed him, is it actually the official government position that Peter Costello is not up to the position and if not what was Stephen Conroy talking about?

PM: David Gonski is the best person for the job, that's why he was selected and I am sure Senator Conroy was putting that view too. The Government obviously came to the conclusion that Peter Costello should to play a role in the Future Fund, that’s why we appointed him and he’ll continue to play that role.

JOURNALIST: But Senator Wong said this morning he lacks the competencies required to be the chair of the Future Fund. What competencies are those, I mean as I say-PM: Well being the chair is a different position, so it requires different competencies. The Government selected the best person for the job and the best person for the job is David Gonski.

JOURNALIST: It’s not because politically it would have been harder to work with Peter Costello?

PM: It’s pretty hard to make that case when we appointed him to the Future Fund at all.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, do you agree with the Treasurer's assessment that billionaires like Clive Palmer have too much influence over the political debate?

PM: Look I agree with Treasurer Wayne Swan that our political debate should be about the national interest, it should be a debate that extends to the full range of Australian society, it shouldn't be a debate that’s dominated by a privileged few.

We will always make decisions in the national interest. The billionaires don't tell us what to do. I respect people who’ve made a lot of money, good on them. If they’ve made that money and strived for it that’s achievement and that’s a good thing.

But when we make national policy, we make national policy for everyone, listening to the aged pensioner, listening to the working person who’s striving hard, listening to the small business operator who’s knocking themselves out day after day to provide for themselves and their families and to give their fellow Australians a job, listening to business as well.

My criticism here is of Tony Abbott - the only people he listens to are the billionaires. They’re setting his policies for him, which is why, faced with the choice of better taxing mining and benefitting other businesses around Australia, he says ‘Give the money to the billionaires, knock tax cuts away from small business and other businesses around the nation.’

We’ll go here because you haven’t had one. Yes.

Page 1 of 2 Transcript of doorstop interview, Canberra | Prime Minister of Australia

31/10/2012 http://www.pm.gov.au/press-office/transcript-doorstop-interview-canberra-7

JOURNALIST: Yesterday you announced the Business Commissioner and today a report has found that Westfield has built into its lease agreement the carbon tax.

What reassurances have you got for small businesses who are worried about the carbon tax and their rental agreements?

PM: Well I’m glad you have asked me that question and I would refer you to Shop Talk, the journal of the Shopping Centre Council of Australia who have put out today a stop press.

‘Some newspapers’ - this is their quote not mine - ‘Some newspapers are today carrying an exclusive report quoting a retailer claiming that some shopping centre landlords are including a new lease provision passing on the effects of the new carbon tax to retailers.’

Then they go on to explain: ‘This clause is actually several years old, which is why it does not directly refer to a carbon tax and was included in leases once debate began about the need for legislative action to combat greenhouse emissions.’

I’d also refer you to the fact that discussion about combating greenhouse gas emissions has been round for a while, it’s been around right back to the days that Tony Abbott was standing alongside John Howard backing in a carbon price.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, just back on Peter Costello, I have to ask again, he ran a $300 billion annual budget. The Future Fund -what specific competencies does he not have to not be able to manage a $73 billion Future Fund when the view of the board of the Future Fund was he should be the chairman?

PM: Look Senator Wong has dealt with these questions today. The obligation of government is to pick the best person for the job and we did.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, the last time that the Government took legal advice was in regards to the Malaysia solution and that didn't go particularly well. Are you concerned with the Clive Palmer situation, that you may receive different legal advice or perhaps better legal advice?

PM: Look, we have taken careful legal advice throughout. If Clive Palmer is going to take a court case and Tony Abbott is going to back him in, well so be it. It will be part of their hysterical campaign against putting a price on carbon, even though as is perfectly clear from the historical record, Tony Abbott in the past has been a supporter of putting a price on carbon.

But, if he has been told by Clive Palmer to knock off supporting carbon for a while and to do what Clive tells him, that's a matter for Tony to explain.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, do you have an update on Craig Thomson's health?

PM: No, I don't. I understand he continues to be unwell. I received that advice yesterday. I don't have a specific update about his state of health other than he continues to be unwell and won't be in Parliament today.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, business said today that a one cent in the dollar tax cut is not really tax reform, it’s just skirting around the edges, what's your response to that?

PM: Look, I understand the case of business to have a lower company tax rate, but I’d make this very simple point: you can't get to 25 cents in the dollar by not starting to bring the company tax down. The only way of hitting 25 cents, if that's what businesses want, is to be on a journey down in company tax.

I want to start taking company tax down and it is Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party of Australia, of all people, who want to stop this happening. They are saying to businesses around the nation ‘We want you to pay more tax, even though the Labor Government wants to take a bit of a tax burden off you, we want you to pay more tax.’

And yesterday, Tony Abbott not only said he is opposed to our tax cuts for big and small businesses, he actually walked away from his earlier commitments to provide to businesses a 1.5 per cent piece of tax relief in company tax.

So, he’s betraying them in terms of the tax cuts I want to provide now and he has walked away from any commitments he had in the past to provide the sort of tax relief that he’s talked about in the past. Once again betraying businesses and large and small.

Thank you.

Page 2 of 2 Transcript of doorstop interview, Canberra | Prime Minister of Australia

31/10/2012 http://www.pm.gov.au/press-office/transcript-doorstop-interview-canberra-7