Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Transcript of joint press conference: Sydney: 26 August 2013: High Speed Rail; Paid parental leave; Syria; Second Sydney airport; Australia's strong economy; Climate change; Aviation markets; National Broadband Network



Download PDFDownload PDF

Campaign Transcript

TRANSCRIPT OF PRIME MINISTER KEVIN RUDD AND DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER ANTHONY ALBANESE PRESS CONFERENCE SYDNEY

26 AUGUST 2013

E & O E - PROOF ONLY _____________________________________________________________

Subjects: High Speed Rail; Paid parental leave; Syria; Second Sydney airport; Australia’s strong economy; Climate change; Aviation markets; National Broadband Network _____________________________________________________________

PRIME MINISTER: It’s great to be here in Sydney with the Deputy Prime Minister, his home town. Here today we’re going to talk about an important national infrastructure project for Australia’s future. People of Australia as we go through this election campaign often ask, rightly, what’s your vision for Australia’s future? Ours is very clear, we believe that our responsibility as the Government of Australia is to build Australia's future. To build the new industries, new jobs, new small businesses of the future, so we don't have all of our eggs in one basket. To build the hospitals that we need for the future though our health and hospitals plan, to build the schools of the future through our Better Schools Plan. To build also the infrastructure of the future, including the National Broadband Network, a vital underpinning for the future of our national economy and doing all that while maintaining as much effort as we possibly can to keep cost of living pressures as low as possible for Australian families. That's our vision.

When it comes to the big calls in Australia's economic history, we've been on the right side of those calls. We believe in building the nation's infrastructure and getting those calls right and making the right calls, the big calls on the Australian economy as we did during the Global Financial Crisis.

When I heard reports of Mr Abbott's campaign launch yesterday, many people have asked me, well, what was his vision? Obviously, that's for others to conclude, but I didn't hear much of that at all. I think that's what the Australian people want to hear. Where do you want to take the country? Which policies are you going to embrace in order to get you there? How are you going to do it? They're pretty basic questions.

National elections are about priorities and our priority on infrastructure is absolutely clear. That's why I'm so proud of the investment, of decisions that have been made

by the Deputy Prime Minister in his capacity as Infrastructure Minister, the minister responsible for Infrastructure Australia, and more recently responsible for the National Broadband Network. If we do not have world-class infrastructure, there is no future for the Australian economy. It's as basic as that.

This vast continent of ours has 23 million people in it. Unless you’ve got the infrastructure pumping, well frankly, it's not going to work and that is a core part of our vision for the future. Because if the infrastructure is working and the new industries are being built, so we don't have all our eggs in one basket, then the bottom line is this: that jobs are there for the future. If you don't have a job in the future, you don’t have economic security. We are passionate, therefore, about building those jobs for the future.

The Deputy Prime Minister has been hard at work on a range of infrastructure projects. Whether it's road, whether it's urban rail, whether it's rail freight and a lot of other things besides. But this is an exciting project for Australia's future that we are talking about today. The Deputy Prime Minister and I, today, are proud to announce the Government's response to this important report delivered by the High Speed Rail Advisory Group, which the Deputy Prime Minister commissioned some time ago. Those who are members of the advisory group include former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer as well.

It's a good report. The Government's response is appropriate given our national infrastructure future challenges. First of all, the Government has decided in response to this report to legislate to preserve 1,750 kilometres of rail corridor all the way from Brisbane through Sydney to Canberra to Melbourne.

Secondly, to legislate and invest in the establishment of a High Speed Rail Authority, which will oversee the planning, the detailed market testing, the development of a full and final business case and to oversee the development of this project for the future. These are important decisions in laying out the future of our rail infrastructure for the economy's future.

It's important, as I said before, to put all this in the context of priorities. Let me conclude with these observations - our priority is building the future of the economy and building the future of our infrastructure. If we were to build this entire 1,750 kilometre high-speed rail project from Brisbane to Melbourne by 2035, it would cost less than Mr Abbott's unaffordable, unfair paid parental leave scheme for the same period of time. Put that into context - what is more necessary for the nation's future - a high speed rail network which links these vital cities along Australia's east coast or an unaffordable, unfair paid parental leave scheme?

My final point is this: there are many, many things wrong with Mr Abbott's paid parental leave scheme, but there is a particularly important lesson that we should all derive from what it says about his priorities for the future. This scheme benefits a small group of people, but everybody in Australia then has to pay for this scheme. And if Mr Abbott becomes Prime Minister, that is the principle which will apply across-the-board to everything his government, if he was elected, would then seek to do. Deputy Prime Minister, I turn to you, and then we'll take your questions.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Thank you very much, Prime Minister. I first want to take the opportunity to thank those people who participated in the advisory group. This followed the reception of the high speed rail study done by AECON, which we received in April. I then established an advisory group that was about community consultation. It received around about 320 separate submissions. It was chaired by Lyn O'Connell the Deputy Secretary of my department, but it also included some prominent Australians, including the former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer, Jennifer Westacott the CEO of the Business Council of Australia, Brian Nye, the head of the Australasian Rail Association and other prominent representatives, including Peter Newman who's a member of the Infrastructure Australia Council.

What we wanted to ensure was that we got some hard economic analysis into the high speed rail proposal. And indeed, today they've produced a report that I'm releasing ‘On Track: Implementing High Speed Rail in Australia’. What it suggests is a range of recommendations. The Government is taking them up. The Government understands that high speed rail is a part of Australia's future. High speed rail is now on every continent, including Europe and Asia.

For Australia, the challenges are greater because of our less densely populated areas but down the east coast, between Brisbane and Melbourne, we know that it is viable. What the report recommends is that the first stage would be from Melbourne to Sydney. It does that because of the economic analysis that shows that $2.10 would be returned as a result of every single dollar invested, so this is a project that stacks up.

What's more it would lead to the creation of jobs, some 10,000 jobs during the construction phase. It recommends Sydney to Melbourne by 2035 and you would have Sydney to Canberra up and running by 2030. It recommends taking, essentially, bite-sized chunks of the larger proposal, doing it on the basis of where the greatest economic benefit would be.

It also recommends an important process to make sure that the entire corridor is preserved from Brisbane right through to Melbourne and we will introduce legislation before the end of this year, my department has already begun working on that legislation. We also would establish a High Speed Rail Authority, which would include representatives from New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and the ACT.

This obviously has to be a project done in consultation with the transport but also the planning authorities in the relevant jurisdictions. We will also work with Infrastructure Australia to develop a business case. I know first-hand that there is a great deal of interest from Japan, China, Spain, Italy and France, from companies in these jurisdictions.

One of the benefits of high speed rail is it's a bit like what the automotive industry does in manufacturing and it's a bit like consistent with what the National Broadband Network will do. It is a driver of innovation in Australian industry and with radio spectrum allocated as we did earlier this year specifically for rail, high speed rail would certainly benefit from that as well. It would spur new high-tech supporting industries delivering jobs and innovation. It will integrate our regional and our metro

communities so that you can get from Sydney to Melbourne CBD to CBD in under three hours.

But importantly also, because the route would flow through the Southern Highlands, Canberra, Wagga Wagga, Albury-Wodonga and Shepparton, this would be an enormous economic stimulus for those regional communities, delivering jobs and economic growth in those regional communities. It also goes without saying that there is substantial environmental benefits from high speed rail. It is in terms of emissions, obviously a cleaner form of transport. There are also benefits in terms of safety issues in terms of taking vehicles off our roads because rail is the most safe form of transport as well.

So this is about a low carbon, high productivity future. This is about making sure that we have a considered approach as well. We want to over deliver but under promise on this project. We haven't tried to suggest this can be done tomorrow or next week, but by putting in place as well $52 million in the forward estimates to make sure that our commitments can be realised, that will certainly be able to deliver that. I conclude with this, one of the great divisions at this election is about building for the future, is about infrastructure.

There's nowhere, there's perhaps two areas where that stands out as being very stark to me. One is the National Broadband Network, which we will continue to roll out. They will, they said they would wreck it, that was the job that Malcolm Turnbull was given. He knows that lacks credibility so now they're going to wreck it but not tell people. Wreck it by stealth, by having fibre to the fridge rather than fibre to the home. What we also have a distinction on is in rail. This government has proudly invested more in urban public transport since 2007 than all previous governments combined.

Tony Abbott is being fair dinkum and honest with the Australian people on this one. He is telling them, we will have zero dollars invested in urban public transport - the same amount that the Howard Government invested in its 12 years in office. We have urban public transport projects right around the nation. Another one announced just last week at Tonsley Park in Adelaide. We have important urban public transport projects because unless you deal with that you can't deal with congestion in our cities. Tony Abbott says that’s someone else’s problem.

At the same time we have rebuilt one third of the interstate rail freight network, taking seven hours off the journey from Brisbane to Melbourne, nine hours off the east to west coast journey. What that means in practical terms is that companies like Woolworths have taken their dry goods off roads and onto rail. Good for safety, good for productivity.

Also we have funding in our project for projects such as the inland rail project. $300 million as part of Nation Building Two to make sure you have an inland rail freight route through parks, good for agriculture, good in terms of the interstate rail freight network but also a very positive development in terms of taking pressure off the main coastal route. As well as that we're investing in important intermodal projects such as Moorebank here in Sydney that's absolutely vital and will take 2,300 trucks off Sydney's roads every single day. So our record as well as our future commitments is

very clear when it comes to rail with the High Speed Rail project we believe this is a very important part of Australia's future.

PM: Thank you Deputy Prime Minister. Our vision is clear for building the future. Infrastructure is a core pillar of that vision. Whether we are building the National Broadband Network, whether we are building the urban transport network for so many of our larger cities in the future, whether we are building high speed rail linking these major cities on the east coast or whether we're also building inland rail for future as well, we believe in infrastructure. It underpins future industry which in turn underpins future jobs and jobs is our number one priority. Over to you folks.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, a question on Papua New Guinea. The Australian Federal Police have revealed that $220 million of illegally obtained, or corruptly obtained, monies are entering and being invested in Australian banks every year. Why have none of those monies been repatriated?

PM: I'm unaware of the report and we'll examine that and provide you with a response in due course.

JOURNALIST: In terms of your commitment to the high speed rail, the $52 million is less than half of one per cent of a project that's over $100 billion. Are voters right to question your genuine commitment to this project? Secondly, in terms of the process question, and this might be one for the Minister, how does the land get set aside given a lot of it is privately owned?

DPM: The report examines that in detail. In terms of the commitment, $52 million is an initial commitment that will enable, firstly, the establishment of the authority. Secondly, it will allow the preliminary work will be done including the work done on how we attract capital to such an investment. Because there is a return of $2.10 for every dollar invested, we believe and the committee believes very strongly that it's possible to attract private investment for this project. What the $52 million will do in terms of the forwards, so that's over three years essentially, is to ensure that that work can take place. You will need of course future investment, whether either government money whether it be private money. One of the issues that’s explored by the task force as well is whether because there's a return to government, whether it essentially becomes an issue whereby future government investment is treated as that, as an investment, rather than a cost. The difference between this project and the paid parental leave scheme is just that. Paid Parental Leave, money paid, greater money than for a high speed rail line, right around the east coast. Once it's expended it's gone. The difference is this produces a return to the national economy, productivity. That in terms of- could shape as well how the design of- and through Infrastructure Australia, part of the recommendation is that they would oversee looking at future capital costs. So we envisage potentially significantly more money, but that because it produces a return, it could well be that that can be done off-budget. That's why we've established it. That is what the committee who I've met with this morning and had discussions with over a period of time. This is of course the third instalment. We’re taking a considered approach to this. This is evidence-based policy which is the best way to do infrastructure policy.

JOURNALIST: What about the land issue?

DPM: The land issue, that is one of the reasons why you establish the authority. It could well be, in terms of you can't create an infrastructure project such as this without having issues that have to be dealt with, including potential resumption of land that is an issue that will have to be dealt with. That's why you establish an authority. You deal through State and Territory Governments and involve those planning authorities, environmental authorities as well as transport authorities in the process.

JOURNALIST: Another key project that will reduce congestion is the second Sydney Airport. The overwhelming majority of western Sydney voters want a second Sydney airport, are we going to hear more about that project in the campaign?

DPM: In terms of the second Sydney Airport, our position's very clear. We support a second airport for Sydney. A second airport for Sydney. It's about jobs, it's about economic growth and it's about ensuring that Sydney remains a global city of the future. We've established a process that is looking at the detail. Once again, evidence-based policy. We had a joint study from New South Wales and the Australian Government. What it found was that Sydney needed a second airport. It essentially narrowed down the options to Wilton and Badgerys Creek. We know Badgerys Creek what the situation is, because it's had an environmental impact statement, prior to, prior to the election of the Howard Government that took the money out of the second Sydney Airport project, a billion dollars, when they were elected in 1996. Wilton requires further study in terms of geo-technical work because of mining that's gone on in the area and subsided. When that work is done, as with all of these reports, they will be released transparently.

JOURNALIST: Hasn’t the submission been talked about for too long though, I mean, isn’t it time for some actual action?

DPM: There needs to appropriate evidence-based policy, that is precisely what we are doing.

JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, on high speed rail, plenty of experts in Perth who have suggested maybe doing a high-speed link from Geraldton down to Perth and onwards to Bunbury. Given the long lead times in developing these sorts of projects, would that be one maybe worthwhile considering in time as a way of developing a west-coast mega region?

DPM: Look, potentially yes, but the first priority has to be driven by where the population is. And the population of Australia is, in terms of the large numbers, is down that east coast corridor. The benefit in terms of not just the capital cities but the benefit for the Shepparton’s, the Wodonga’s, as well as going north to Brisbane, Newcastle, Taree, Port Macquarie, the stations that have been identified by this study have a positive economic benefit, so we're looking at that. As for future development, I think what we're doing here is putting this out there because that is the priority and that's been the priority that's been identified by the experts.

PM: I think I'll take the directed questions, but to add to that and go to you if that’s ok, sir. I'm quite passionate about how you further develop WA's infrastructure. And I

think there's probably not been an earlier Australian Government prior to us who has invested more in WA's economic infrastructure. Whether it's up in the Ord or in the road system around Perth, if you arrive at Perth Airport these days, you see a road which we built by and large. And if you look at the road network around Perth, a huge investment as well. And as well as Perth's urban public transport needs, as well, a half billion dollar commitment I seem to recall DPM. On the broader region you're talking about, from Geraldton, through Perth down to Bunbury, I reckon it's a very exciting prospect. It's one where I'm sure Infrastructure Australia will invest a lot of energy and attention in terms of how we can turbocharge its infrastructure for the future. Over to you, sir.

JOURNALIST: There is increasing speculation that Australia could be on the verge of an economic troubled time. There was an article in Guardian in the UK last week that said there is a real prospect of an Aussie collapse of the economy - the real estate bubble here and the resources boom coming to an end. Do you see that as a genuine danger?

PM: I think it's important to first and foremost explain to our international audience and all Australians how robust the Australian economy is. If you were to put up a set of international comparisons about where we are and what our growth prospects are, these are very, very strong. This is an economy which has been in positive growth now for more than 20 years, unmatched by most economies in the world. Secondly, you look at an unemployment rate which is less than half that of Europe. Thirdly, you look at what monetary policy has done in this country with the lowest rates interest rates we’ve had in 60 years. And then you look at all that having been achieved on the basis of one of the lowest debt to GDP and lowest deficit to GDP ratios anywhere in the world. And for the future, what I have been saying throughout this election campaign is that the future is never identical with where you've just been in the past. So international economic circumstances are changing. One of the things you have got to avoid doing is what the British Conservatives did when they came to office in the UK. A massive fiscal austerity drive which threw the British economy into recession. At this point, this delicate point, of global economic circumstances unfolding, the last thing Australia could afford to do, is by taking a $70 billion sledgehammer to the economy, which would pose a real risk of throwing this economy in that direction through wrong fiscal policy. That is the policy which has been supported, by and large, in the statements put out by Mr Abbott. We don't share that view. We believe that our responsibility is to support jobs, to support industry, as well as to continue to build the vital economic and social infrastructure of the future. You do that right, and at the same time, maintain a rational fiscal policy response to these delicate global circumstances, work in conjunction with monetary policy, and on top of that, be very attentive to the cost of living pressures of consumers and there is a road for us to chart in the future. We know what that road needs to be. We've outlined the policies for doing that, we talk about building new industries and diversifying the economy, not having all our eggs in one basket. Outlining a productivity plan for the future, as well as maintaining these other critical investments, I believe we can navigate the shoals which lie ahead and there is no economy better equipped to do that than this Australian economy.

JOURNALIST: Did you get a bit of a boost from the polls this morning and why do you think the decline in Labor’s vote has been around?

PM: My job as the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister's job as well, is to argue the case as to what is the best set of plans for this country's future. And, whether you have been engaged or not for the last several weeks, what we have done every day is say: Here is our plan for building Australia's future. Here is our plan for building new industries. Here is our plan for building jobs for the future. Here's our plan for managing cost of living pressures for the future. For building your schools, building your hospitals. And at the same time, the infrastructure of the future as well, while managing, to the greatest extent we can, cost of living pressures felt right across Australia. We're out there, very plainly about what we want to do and the contrast, I believe, Australians are focusing on. Let me repeat today's core contrast. We say that if you were to build a high-speed rail link from Melbourne to Brisbane, by 2035, you would spend less than what Mr Abbott proposes to spend on his unaffordable and economically irresponsible paid parental leave scheme. I believe the Australian people are focusing on those clear points of contrast.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, on Syria, Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, said today that it’s unlikely we’ll see US troops on the ground. Does that suggest that we might see some targeted strikes and if so is Australia prepared to commit to that?

PM: The first thing in responsibly responding to the Syrian crisis is to take things one step at a time. Secondly, weapons inspectors are critical in that overall equation, in determining the nature of weapons used and to the greatest extent we can, those responsible. As I indicated in the statement I made in Canberra yesterday, all the indications are pointing in the direction of chemical weapons having been used, and in the direction of regime complicity. But we have not yet available to us, the evidence for final conclusion on that point. Therefore, the burden of proof lies with the regime. The burden of proof lies with the regime to disprove that they were not responsible for this horrendous act of mass murder of 350 men, women and children. You've seen the pictures, I've seen the pictures, they turn your stomach, and 3,600 people injured. This is 2013. This is not the Somme. This is not a mustard gas attack one hundred years ago when people may have wondered what would happen. We know the history of chemical weapons. We know what they do to people. These are horrendous deaths. The position of this Australian Government, is we will do all within our power - all within our power, to act with the international community to bring those responsible to justice, and if these matters are established as those of fact, then to participate with the international community in an appropriate set of international responses.

JOURNALIST: Mr Rudd, you acknowledged yesterday that you didn't have a mandate for the Carbon Tax or the Government didn't have a mandate for the Carbon Tax. Why then did you vote it, and what other elements of the past three years' policy do you feel the Government didn't have a mandate for?

PM: I think what we had a clear mandate for, mate, was acting on climate change. And we have. We as one of the first steps of this Government in 2007-08, I remember going to Bali, was to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. The rest of the world community had been waiting for a long, long time for Australia to step up to the plate. We did. The second thing we had a mandate to do was to increase the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target, MRET, to 20 per cent by 2020. If you want to look at a

single instrument of policy which is now driving the clean energy revolution right across Australia, that's it. We also had a mandate to put a price on carbon. I noticed what Mr Abbott said the other night in the debate in Brisbane, that there was some criticism of my actions on that matter. He, Mr Abbott, jumped into bed with the Greens to block an Emissions Trading Scheme, two occasions in the Senate. For goodness' sake. We made our position clear about moving to a floating price, and we intend to do that. Alex.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, the Retailers Association have launched a campaign against shopper dockets with petrol discounts, today calling on whoever wins Government to review them. They’ve called them an abuse of market power, do you share that concern and would you review the use of them?

PM: My overall concern is always the cost of living pressures on working families, and so I want to have a close look at what the RTA, the Retailers Association of Australia is saying, and, I think, Alex in fairness to your question, I'd rather give a considered response to it once I've looked at their particular submission. I want to go to other questions who haven’t asked yet, and I’ll go to the one behind you. Thank you.

JOURNALIST: Tony Abbott is talking about lowering the threshold for the Foreign Investment Review Board. How do you think that will be seen in China and elsewhere?

PM: Well, with Mr Abbott's policies on these questions, we always need to work out precisely what the detail is. Can I just say that on the question of the use of investment, domestic or international, this has always been a relatively open economy. But I make no apology whatsoever in terms of my passionate commitment, some would say my economic nationalist commitment, to building Australian industry in the future. We often get criticised, the Deputy Prime Minister, myself and others, for believing in something called industry policy, for believing in something called manufacturing, for building our own industries. Now that involves a level of co-investment with government. Guess what? We're prepared to accept that criticism. More broadly then, what I would say is that our deep commitment lies with how we build the industries of the future, investment is necessary from at home and abroad but we will be putting always the needs of Australian industry and Australian jobs first. That's why we're elected, that's what I'm passionate about. When you talk about industry turbocharged by infrastructure, not just by the National Broadband Network, not just by a high speed rail link from major cities of north and south, but also by the huge industry spin-off of that and these projects will work on the basis of carefully considered applications from others to co-invest as well.

JOURNALIST: Can I just ask the Deputy PM a question, about a decade ago in opposition you said the need … about 10 years ago you said a second Sydney Airport was overdue. The time for studies was over. Now you're saying we still need to go cautiously despite the fact there's many more people now living in Sydney. How is it less urgent than it was 10 years ago?

DPM: I don’t think I’ve been cautious about this and I want to put a context here. No-one was talking about a second airport for Sydney prior to 2010 when we announced

the joint study between the Federal Government and the State Government. The fact is that we would have a second airport up and running right now with jobs being generated had the Howard Government not ripped the money out that had been allocated by the former Keating Government. So what I want to do is when it comes to infrastructure and when you have projects that go for more than a term of office, because if you make a decision today, you can't have an airport operating in the next three years. You can have construction started perhaps, but you can't actually make a decision and have it operating in the next day. What you need is a level of bipartisanship. I've worked towards that happening. I've worked towards both the Federal Government and the State Government cooperating. That's why we had unanimous findings of a report that was chaired not just by my department, but by Sam Haddad the head of New South Wales Planning. When that report came out, the New South Wales Premier said a second Sydney airport not only should it not be in Sydney, it should not be in New South Wales. That was a farcical position that essentially was saying no to jobs and no to economic growth in Sydney and endangers Sydney's position as a global city of the future. Now, this Friday, I will be welcoming into Sydney the first flight back by Air India. My Indian counterpart Minister Singh will be on that flight. That shows the potential that is there for growth in jobs and economic opportunity because of the growth of the middle class in our region. A very important part of the Asian Century White Paper is taking advantage of that growth. So growth from China, growth from India, in spite of what some newspapers have reported, there's still slots available. For China, for example, 5,500 seats are available every week right now, so enormous opportunity. But we need a second airport for Sydney. I've had a considered approach to it. I make no apologies for that, because what I'm about is actually the construction and delivery of a second airport, rather than the announcement being the end in itself. And in order to do that you've got to bring people with you. You've got to also have a bipartisan approach. And I must say, that's why I've worked unashamedly with people such as Joe Hockey and Scott Morrison to achieve that outcome.

PM: Just also to add to what the DPM has just said, you know how we've been talking all through this election campaign about building the industries of the future? We've been talking today about the role of infrastructure in all of that. For goodness' sake, building the tourism industries of the future is a huge employer, real jobs for Australians. Middle-class markets in China and India and prospectively Indonesia are going through the roof. With China in the period that we've been in government, the DPM as the minister responsible for aviation policy has worked through a whole series of agreements with Chinese airlines not just Air China but China Eastern, China Southern, Hainan Airlines a few others I have probably forgotten. We now have stacks of services and this is so critical for employment in so many of the regions which your various new outlets will serve. Central Coast, South Coast of NSW, Sunshine Coast where I grew up in Queensland. Gold Coast, Far North Queensland, WA, Cairns, you know, this is critical stuff. It's real jobs. I go back to the question about priorities. This election is about priorities. We're building these industries of the future. The fact we now have resumed at last a direct air service between Australia and India, a country of 1.1 billion people with a middle class going through the roof and we're about to have the resumption of regular airline services is an unabashed good news story for Australia. On the other side of the priorities can I just say this: that's what we’re on about, the jobs of the future, what I see from Mr Abbott is cut, cut, cut in order to fund crazy policies like his paid parental leave

policy. By the way on that score, someone drew to my attention just before I came here a great intervention in this paid parental leave debate by the Shadow Treasurer. When asked - not the Shadow Treasurer, it's Mr Turnbull, the shadow minister for -

DPM: … wrecking the NBN.

PM: Yeah, for wrecking the NBN, so Malcolm Turnbull when he’s talking about the paid parental leave scheme this morning in Brisbane, he says: “sure everything’s got to be paid for, it's a choice Greg” - Greg being the interviewer. I mean it really is a choice. And then Mr Turnbull goes on to say: “and when people say the paid parental leave scheme is too much, or it's too generous, that's a reasonable objection”. Unquote. So Malcolm Turnbull today effectively torpedoes Mr Abbott's entire case on the paid parental leave scheme. As a senior minister, alternative minister, senior leader within parliamentary Liberal Party, he has said that this scheme is in his own words too much and too generous. The Liberal Party as of today, two weeks before an election, is split right down the middle on Mr Abbott's core priority objective. It's as simple as that. Not only are they split down the middle on it between Mr Turnbull and Mr Abbott, they are split also amongst others in the Liberal Party. You’ve heard what former Senator Minchin had to say the other day about it and of course, the National Party saying if it came to a vote they'd cross the floor. Here we are, two weeks before an election, core policy, the paid parental leave policy, $22 billion unfunded, unaffordable, unfair, reckless, and a party which wants to be the government of Australia split down the middle on it? I mean this is a remarkable day in this entire election campaign. And I conclude my remarks with this today: this paid parental leave scheme, there are many, many problems with it. But the core point is this: this scheme benefits a small group of people, but everybody, I repeat everybody, ends up paying for it. And that principle will apply across-the-board to all areas of policy if Mr Abbott becomes the Prime Minister of this country. Thanks, folks.

ENDS