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Transcript of press conference: Cairns, QLD: 13 June 2014: G20 meeting; the Budget; Paid Parental Scheme and Northern Queensland



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Hon. J.B. HOCKEY Treasurer

PRESS CONFERENCE CAIRNS FRIDAY, 13 JUNE 2014

E&OE…………………….

TREASURER:

It is very pleasing to be here in Cairns with my good mate Warren Entsch and this morning

we have inspected the facilities for the G20 Finance Ministers’ meeting which is being held

in September. I am very pleased with the quality of the facilities. We went to Palm Cove, had

a good look around at venues, we’ve checked out some of the hotels here in Cairns and I am

absolutely sure that the world’s eyes will be firmly focussed on Cairns in September and the

response from Cairns will be outstanding. The G20 Finance Ministers meet five times during

the course of the year. Twice in Washington and this year in Sydney, which we’ve already

held, in Brisbane at the end of the year with the G20 leaders. But the most important

meeting, I think, for Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of the world, will be

here in Cairns in September. That will be the place where we lay down our plans to create 20

million new jobs around the world, increase economic growth around the world by 2 per

cent. We are going to lay down infrastructure plans which are going to help to build the

public/private partnerships that will deliver essential infrastructure for the global economy.

We will also be laying down our plans for the stability of the global financial system and of

course, we will be laying down more plans to address the erosion of the tax base by

companies that, somehow, are managing to minimise their taxation liability in individual

countries including here in Australia.

So, it is a massive agenda, there will also be, I expect, a number of global business leaders

that will fly into Cairns for this meeting and it will be an opportunity to showcase Cairns, to

showcase northern Australia and to showcase Australia to the world. We look forward to

working very closely with the local member, of course, Warren Entsch, to work closely with

the Mayor, the Business Council here in Cairns, and everyone else to make it an enormous

success. If we get a Cairns agreement out of the meeting in September, it will put Cairns on

the map forever, as a place that has contributed to a stronger global economy - and that is a

significant step forward.

In relation to other issues, I just want to reiterate that the Labor Party, in relation to the

Budget, is just running out the same old mantra, the same old tired mantra, about a lack of

fairness or they’re just running political commentary. I say to Bill Shorten, come up with it,

mate. Come up with an alternative to fix the mess that you and the Labor Party created. If

you think the Budget does not deliver a stronger outcome for the economy, then you give us

your alternative. Because so far, everything the Leader of the Opposition has turned to, has

been a joke. He suggested that he could re-heat failed taxation policies, and that’s been

proven to be wrong. He thinks that abolishing our Paid Parental Leave Scheme will

somehow save the Budget, but it is a self-funded scheme - it won’t make any difference to

the Budget. But it certainly helps to improve participation by women in the work force and

as such, it is going to deliver, over time, a stronger and more vibrant economy.

So, for all the critics out there, let’s have a debate about the facts and in every single area, our

Budget enhances fairness, our Budget delivers fairness. In every single area we give people

the chance to be lifters and not leaners or loafers. That is what we are focused on, building a

stronger and more prosperous economy. And as a result of that, you get jobs and if you

want to know what that means, here in Queensland, more than 35,000 new jobs have been

created since the beginning of this year. In Australia, since the beginning of this year, over

100,000 new full time jobs have been created. So, we are on track but there’s much work to

be done. Tomorrow’s jobs will come from today’s actions. Today’s actions include a Budget

that is built focussing entirely on the prosperity of Australia.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, do you agree with the Prime Minister, who in Washington, portrayed the fuel

excise as an energy efficiency price signal?

TREASURER:

Well, of course it does have, I haven’t seen those comments, but our focus on fuel excise has

been to reintroduce the inflation increase associated with fuel excise to help to pay for better

quality roads. That’s what we’re about. We have the biggest road spending program in

modern Australian history. You can’t do it on borrowed money, you have to pay along the

way and that’s exactly what we’re focussed on. I’ll just say about the Prime Minister’s

meetings in Washington: it certainly does make comments over the last week look rather

foolish, that yesterday the Chair of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, lauded her meeting with

Prime Minister Abbott. In fact, she’s visiting Australia at least three times this year, so the

suggestion that we aren’t engaging with the IMF is false. I understand that Treasury

Secretary Jack Lew was actually in the meeting with the Prime Minister in the White House. I

speak to Jack Lew irregularly, but of course during the course of the year, a number of times.

Really, it just makes a complete laughing stock of all the commentary that was around last

week, that the Prime Minister was somehow not able to have meetings with various people.

It really does make a laughing stock of that commentary.

JOURNALIST:

[inaudible] Isn’t an alternative to a GP co-payment $7 [inaudible]

TREASURER:

Well, people already pay to go and see the doctor, but not everyone pays. What we’re doing

is we are asking more people to pay so we can build the biggest medical research fund of its

kind in the world. And if we do that we find the cures for dementia and Alzheimer’s,

perhaps Cancer. Medical research is Australia’s great opportunity. We may not build a Silicon

Valley in Australia for computer software and so on, but we can build the equivalent of a

Silicon Valley for medical research, a global hub. Here in Cairns, tropical medicine is a huge

issue, and Warren has talked about that on numerous occasions and our investment in

medical research can create the jobs of tomorrow but most importantly it makes the long

term of our health system real. Now, people, pensioners already pay $6 for the first 60

scripts they get from the doctor, $6 for the first 60 scripts - that’s $360. And what we’re

asking Pensioners to pay is $7 for the first ten visits each year, after that it’s free. So, the

contribution they make to go to the doctor is far less than what they have to pay for the

scripts that they get out of the doctor. And out of that there is compensation. We’re still

giving them the Clean Energy Supplement and we’re still increasing the pensions every six

months. And by inflation at the moment, which is higher than male average weekly earnings.

So, in fact, pensioners are going to be far better off. But I haven’t met a pensioner yet that is

not interested in seeing a better quality health system that gives them better opportunities.

That’s why we are doing this, because we need to build a stronger health system.

JOURNALIST:

Middle Eastern countries are threatening trade sanctions against us because of your

Government’s decision to refer to Israeli settlements as disputed territories. Is this

something that you’re confident that Barnaby Joyce is understanding?

TREASURER:

Look, the fundamental point is our position has not changed. Our position has not changed

at all in relation to matters in the Middle East. It hasn’t changed, and I am confident that

when some of those interested parties see the full details of what’s been said, and the context

in which it was said, they’ll understand that there has been no change in policy.

JOURNALIST:

But Mr Joyce’s comments have still caused a…

TREASURER:

They weren’t actually Mr Joyce’s comments I think your referring to, they might have been

Senator Brandis’. You’re asking me about comments I haven’t heard if they are in relation to

the Minister for Agriculture.

JOURNALIST:

He said this morning that he leaves foreign affairs issues to people smarter than him. Is that

appropriate?

TREASURER:

That’s Barnaby. It indicates the humility of the man, it’s the humility of Barnaby. Any

others?

JOURNALIST:

But given that foreign affairs issues may affect farmers, I mean, is he…

TREASURER:

Well, can I tell you, Barnaby is doing a fantastic job, I was just in Cloncurry and they, the

Cattleman’s dinner, they were so relieved that a change of Government that has now

facilitated live cattle exports, at increasing levels. And new markets like Thailand and

Vietnam are opening up, for live cattle exports, the best friend of the farmer is Barnaby.

Barnaby is doing a terrific job.

JOURNALIST:

[inaudible]

TREASURER:

Well I hope they’re not, I mean people are entitled to make a point.

JOURNALIST:

[inaudible]

TREASURER:

Well, I mean, that’s a matter for the Queensland Government, whether that’s the case or

not, we’re working very closely with the Queensland Government. I had a meeting with the

police this morning about security arrangements. Look, Australians are very good tolerant

people. I think there will be individuals that are entitled to make a point, but obviously if

they’re engaging in disruptive behaviour by throwing projectiles, whatever they might be, I

think that’s unruly behaviour and should be properly dealt with in any circumstances, it is

assault.

JOURNALIST:

We’ve seen renewed conflict in Iraq, are you concerned that fuel prices might rise, and if so

do you think that puts pressure on the Government to reconsider fuel excise?

TREASURER:

Well, you can’t make long term policy on the day-to-day spikes or falls in oil prices, if you

did that you’d be ripping your hair out. It’s the same with the level of the Australian dollar.

You’ve got to lay down policy that is in the best interests of the nation for the medium and

long term and that is exactly what we’re doing. We’re not going to respond to individual

daily movements or weekly movements in prices of oil, gold, currencies or interest rates.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think Australia can help with a potential military intervention in Iraq?

TREASURER:

Well, I hope there isn’t any need for a military intervention and I think that is the common

view, but we’ve never walked away from doing the heavy lifting in the global interest. We’ve

always been a participant, we’ve never been a spectator because ultimately, if you’re a

spectator, when you need help, people don’t come to your aid in that sort of situation.

JOURNALIST:

But your Government says we’re in a Budget emergency.

TREASURER:

We’ll do what’s right and national defence comes first. Alright, thanks very much.

[ENDS]