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Transcript of joint doorstop interview: Ringwood: 3 September 2015: official opening of the Sarina Russo Job Access Ringwood office; new jobactive services to help more jobseekers into work; Bill Shorten and the CFMEU's joint plan to sabotage Australia's economic future by standing in the way of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement; Australian Coastal Shipping Fleet; Daesh death cult; Indonesia

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3 September 2015



Subjects: Official opening of the Sarina Russo Job Access Ringwood office; new jobactive services to help more jobseekers into work; Bill Shorten and the CFMEU’s joint plan to sabotage Australia’s economic future by standing in the way of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement; Australian Coastal Shipping Fleet; Daesh death cult; Indonesia.



Firstly, can I welcome everyone here to the Deakin electorate and, in particular, thank Sarina Russo for hosting us at her Ringwood Job Access Centre. I also thank the Prime Minister for being here and speaking so warmly about the opportunities that this Job Access Centre will provide and, of course, my good friend, Eric Abetz, the Minister for Employment, who is echoing those sentiments and speaking about the great work that jobactive in conjunction with great partners like Sarina Russo will provide for the electorate of Deakin.

As I said in my earlier comments, often for young people in particular, you just need that one first opportunity, that one employer who sees something in you and it can give you the confidence to go from that job into bigger and better things. This is what we are all about here today: bringing employers and potential employees together and providing them those opportunities.

So, again, I want to thank Sarina Russo for being such a wonderful partner to the Government. I want to thank the Prime Minister and Minister for Employment for choosing Ringwood as the site to launch this because we are a strong growth area, we have wonderful opportunities ahead and I think we can go forth with great confidence with this programme and this partnership.

So, thank you, Prime Minister and thank you, Eric.



Thanks, Michael. Creating employment is the best social security that any government can provide. We are very mindful of the fact that we as a Government can create the environment but it's actually the employers that provide the job opportunities. So, we as a Government set about creating the environment and then we need the assistance of organisations such as Sarina Russo to help match the jobs that are available with the jobseekers.

We now have a new job search programme in place having commenced on 1 July. All the indicators are that it is working well and there is a very real focus now on every jobactive provider to ensure that they just don't churn jobseekers through training programmes and then consider that an outcome. The outcome will be a job placement and that is the basis on which the vast majority of the payment will be made. That is what we want the jobactive providers to concentrate on: matching jobseekers with jobs out there in the community. The taxpayers who fund this expect that of us and that is why when we had the opportunity to remodel the programme, we consulted widely and sought to ensure that taxpayers got the best value for money and, might I also add, jobseekers get the best value out of the process and employers get the best possible candidates suitably matched for the jobs that they seek to fill.

So, to Sarina Russo and all the other jobactive providers, thank you for what you are doing to help create the opportunities for jobseekers to gain gainful employment. The statistics are very clear: if you are in gainful employment, your physical health, your mental health, your self-esteem, your social interaction are all improved and not only for you yourself, but also everybody in your household.

So, employment, an untold economic good as well as an untold social good, and that is why I'm so delighted that the Prime Minister is so focused on creating the environment for job creation and I will hand over to the Prime Minister.


Thank you so much, Eric, and thank you so much, Michael, and thank you, Sarina, for hosting us here and, yes, it’s great to be with Sarina Russo who’s been a friend of mine for 15 years, who apparently was a bit of a talent spotter all those years ago and I will do my best to continue to justify your faith in me, Sarina! But, it’s also great to be with Michael Sukkar, the Local Member - the Member for Deakin - Eric Abetz, the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Employment Minister.

I should, Eric, say thank you to you and Luke Hartsuyker, the Assistant Minister, for what you have done with jobactive. Jobactive, since 1 July, has already placed some 35,000 jobseekers into work. So, this is a really good outcome. That's 35,000 people, 35,000 families that have been practically, tangibly helped by this Government's jobactive programme since 1 July.

As I point out every day, this Government's focus - our relentless, overwhelming, constant focus - is on jobs, growth and community safety. I'm really pleased that there’s been 335,000 jobs created in our economy since September 2013. I'm pleased that we're on track to create a million jobs within five years. I'm really pleased about that, but obviously, I'm determined that at every point we will do the pro-jobs thing.

That's why I am absolutely determined that we will get the Free Trade Agreement with China through the Parliament well before the end of this year because trade means jobs - more trade means more jobs. I'm determined that we will change the legislation to make it easier for things like the Carmichael Mine in Queensland to go ahead because more development means more jobs, it means more prosperity for local communities and that's why I'm so determined to ensure that we have clean workplaces and clean unions because it's only in a clean workplace with clean unions that you can be confident that job creation is going forward properly and that there aren't rorts, rackets and rip-offs in the system.


So, every day this Government is focused on more jobs, and again, I say where is Mr Shorten here? Where is Mr Shorten here? When it comes to the Free Trade Agreement, Bob Hawke supports it, Bob Carr supports it, Simon Crean supports it, the Premier of Victoria, the Premier of South Australia, the Premier of Queensland, the Chief Minister of the ACT support the Free Trade Agreement. The only people who are against this export agreement are Bill Shorten and the CFMEU. Now, it's high time that Bill Shorten dumped the CFMEU and got with Bob Hawke, Bob Carr and all the other Labor leaders who know what's good for Australia. What's good for Australia is the China Free Trade Agreement, this massive boost to exports for our country in the months, years and decades ahead, and I call on Bill Shorten to see sense - to see sense and back our future. Stop pandering to the CFMEU; back our future; support this Fee Trade Agreement.


Mr Abbott, on that Free Trade Agreement, without renegotiating the deal, can you make it explicit in legislation that Chinese projects have to undertake labour market testing?


But it is already absolutely explicit in policy. It is already absolutely explicit in policy. The China Free Trade Agreement, as is abundantly clear, as has been written and reported on many occasions, is identical - absolutely identical - to agreements that were done in government by the Labor Party. So, if it was right for them in government, why is it somehow wrong for them in Opposition? They are just playing politics here. This Government has a plan, we are sticking to it. Labor is just playing politics and they should drop the silly politics and back this country, back our workers, back our exporters and dump the CFMEU.


Prime Minister, the Treasurer says that Australia is not headed for a recession but are you concerned by yesterday's slower growth figures?


I can understand why people are anxious because, plainly, we've seen bad news in China. China's growth is still strong, but it's slower than it was. I'm pleased that growth is picking up strongly in the United States, I'm pleased that Europe seems to be finally going forward. So, there are good things as well as disturbing things happening in the world economy, but again, it just makes it more important than ever that we make every post a winner, that we don't try to sabotage the China Free Trade Agreement, that we don't try to sabotage the Carmichael Mine, that we don't support dodgy union officials, that we support clean, honest workplaces and that's what this Government is doing every day.


Can you guarantee that Australians will get the first opportunity on any Chinese projects in Australia?


Look, the whole point of our labour market laws, the whole point of our immigration laws is to protect Australian jobs, and nothing changes with our 457 arrangements under this Free Trade Agreement. Nothing changes to our labour market laws under this agreement - nothing changes. That's why people like Bob Carr say that this agreement is good for jobs - very good for jobs - and the Labor Party should stop telling xenophobic lies. They should stop telling racist lies about this agreement. They know it's in Australia's best interests. They absolutely know it's in Australia's best interests. They should stop playing politics with it, get on, back our future, back this export agreement.



So you are guaranteeing Australians will get first opportunity?


There can be no placement of people in jobs under 457 arrangements, under labour market agreements, without labour market testing, and it's only if there aren't Australians that can do the job that we get other people coming in to do them.


Can you guarantee no Federal Government official - informally or formally - advised Bill Milby from North Star Cruises to consider taking his company’s vessel off the Australian register and re-register it so he could lay off Australian crew and hire a cheaper foreign crew?


Well, obviously, I don't know what is said in every single conversation right around Australia, but I can absolutely guarantee that this Government would never encourage anyone to do that. I can absolutely guarantee that this Government would never encourage anyone to do that. What I can guarantee is that this Government is determined to reverse the laws on coastal shipping, that the former Labor government put in place, under which the number of vessels engaged in our coastal shipping trade dropped from 30 to 15. The share of our freight carried by Australian coastal shipping declined from 27 per cent to 17 per cent, and the costs of Australian coastal shipping went up by 60 per cent-plus. We want to see an efficient, effective, Australian shipping trade - that's what we want to see and that's what we're determined to deliver.


Prime Minister, Australia's peak Jewish body has criticised your comments to Alan Jones this morning suggesting I.S. is worse than the Nazis. Do you think that you should have spoken more carefully?


Look, I'm not going to get in to the business of trying to rank evil, I'm not in the business of ranking evil, but I do make this point, that unlike previous evil-doers, whether we're talking about Stalin or Hitler or whoever that tried to cover up their evil, this wretched death cult boasts about it. Every day we see new atrocities broadcast to the world, atrocities of an unspeakable inhumanity, and that's why it's absolutely vital that the decent people of the world unite against this death cult and do everything we reasonably can, as quickly as we can, to disrupt, degrade and ultimately to destroy it. This is a menace to the world, an absolute menace to the world. It’s a menace to the people of the Middle East, it’s a menace to the people of Australia. The idea that we should allow the consolidation of a terrorist state in northern Iraq and eastern Syria is just incomprehensible.


Prime Minister, do you still stand by those comments that you made that you said I.S. is worse than the Nazis?


I think you're trying to put words into my mouth, I stand by what I said, not by the interpretation that other people might want to put on it.



When was the last time you had a conversation with Joko Widodo?


Look, I spoke to the Indonesian President, as you know, on a number of occasions in respect of some Australians who were on death row in Indonesia. There has been communication backwards and forwards between myself and the President since then. I'm looking forward to meeting the President again sometime - I suspect several times - between now and the end of the year, given that the conference season is upon us. We've already had Australian Ministers going to Indonesia because it is a very important relationship to Australia. It is a strong relationship. I'm delighted to see that the live cattle trade appears to be returning to normal again, indeed appears if anything to be increasing.

So, look, it is a strong relationship, it is a good relationship. Occasionally there are ups and downs, but certainly under this Government there will be no gratuitous offence given, there will be no shocks like the overnight cancellation of the live cattle trade in panic at a television programme. We want to be Indonesia's trusted partner. We want to be the place that Indonesians naturally choose if they want an overseas education. We want Indonesia to be one of the places that Australians naturally choose, if they choose to holiday in our region, we want the very strong security partnership to continue to increase, and we want Australian and Indonesian businesses to naturally look to each other's country as a place where they can do business and succeed.

Thank you.