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Transcript of interview: 7XS, West Coast Radio: 9 July 2018: visit to Queenstown; Avebury Mine; payroll tax; Braddon infrastructure funding; TAFE; and AFL



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THE HON. MALCOLM TURNBULL MP PRIME MINISTER

TRANSCRIPT

Monday, 9 July 2018

Interview with Mike in the Morning, 7XS, West Coast Radio

E&OE…

PRESENTER:

Will Hodgman MP and Liberal candidate for Braddon Mr Brett Whiteley all in the studio holy heck. Gentlemen what an absolute pleasure, Prime Minister lovely to see you in the studio. Welcome to Queenstown.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you very much, great to be here. We had a great night last night at the Empire. Saw lots of, lots of locals, didn't we, it was fantastic.

PRESENTER:

That was a question I was going to ask, what was the vibe and the questions most often asked of your good self by our locals? What was, what seemed to be a highlight of an issue?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well everyone was very committed to the community. I was really struck by how much optimism there is. We went over and had a look at the Paragon Theatre, the old cinema, and it was really, really terrific to see Antony and Joy's enthusiasm for that old venue and what they're trying to do there.

But generally I felt here, with Will and with Brett and with Brooksy, the enormous enthusiasm and positivity. Great confidence, I think people really feel that the whole state and the coast are on the move.

PRESENTER:

Well you also get struck by the amazing history in Queenstown don't you?

PRIME MINISTER:

You sure do. You sure do. And mining, it's a mining town and we're going to Zeehan today for a very big announcement, to announce the reopening of a mine. That’s good news.

PRESENTER:

Are we allowed to mention the mine?

PRIME MINISTER:

You can.

PRESENTER:

If I may, because it's Avebury Mine and you're over there this morning and this is going to be a major announcement and please Prime Minister, tell us how much is going to be into the coffers at Zeehan.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it's - the mine is reopening and Will why don't you tell us about the -

PREMIER HODGMAN:

Yeah sure.

PRIME MINISTER:

Because it's a Tasmanian company that's going to be doing it.

PREMIER HODGMAN:

Yes and Dundas mining are going to be announcing today a commencement of works to restart operations there from 1 August with, we hope, by January next year back to full operation, 200 new jobs.

The state government's providing payroll tax relief to Dundas Mining to provide them with a bit of support and reduce the tax burden to provide this incentive and to get this mine back up and running which will be great news for the region.

PRESENTER:

And I see Premier when you mentioned 200 jobs, that is just so welcoming for the West Coast.

PREMIER HODGMAN:

It is. And we believe in our mining sector, it makes up about 50 percent of our export value. So important for our state but really important for this region and we're working obviously with CMT as well to get a full restart.

Their works, preliminary works of course, underway supported by the state government just to show that the state supports the mining sector, the people it employs in these regional communities here on the West Coast and we want to do our bit but we're very optimistic with renewed confidence in the mining sector that it will be reciprocated by these companies.

PRESENTER:

And also Prime Minister I noticed because Braddon is seeming to be a political money pit at the moment which is certainly good news for us and I see a smile on your face.

PRIME MINISTER:

It's appreciated?

PRESENTER:

Yes it's really, it is appreciated because the West Coast is getting looked after. I know that I spoke with Federal Communications Minister Mitch Fifield about 700K coming into Rosebery and with Brett was there. And I think, you know that's for communications in regard to mobile because there's been a lot of drop outs, let's face it, sometimes you don't have the best mobiles. So there's quite a bit of federal money coming our way.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well there is, we announced yesterday we're putting $60 million into the Bass Highway, Will is putting in 40 so that's $100 million to upgrade the Bass Highway. We’re putting $10 million into the Murchison Highway and that was very much appreciated at the Empire last night because everyone's using that highway all the time.

We're also putting the extra money in to deal with mobile phone black spots and of course the NBN will be turning on in six or eight weeks from now.

Look can I just, to make a political point but not in a partisan way but just as a matter of fact. We have funded and, you know, started, got underway hundreds and hundreds of mobile phone black spots right around Australia since we came into government in 2013.

In the six years Labor was in, they did not spend one cent on mobile phone black spots. Not one. It was a program under the Howard government. And then when Tony came, brought us back in in 2013 and under his Prime Ministership and mine we have continued to fund mobile phone black spots and we'll continue to do that.

But it was something that was completely neglected by the Labor Party so just, for reasons I don't understand, because they're so important. But that's the fact, that's the record in fact.

PRIME MINISTER:

If I may, jobs coming to the West Coast and Zeehan's great. What about Queenstown if I may. I don't know who would like to answer perhaps your good self Premier. I know there's $3.9 million for training, will a share of that training -- oh Brooksy sorry you're here as well!

ADAM BROOKS MP, STATE MEMBER FOR BRADDON:

Yeah I'm here as well, hard-working local member.

PRESENTER:

Indeed. We've got training and it's important I think because getting people back you know off unemployment back into the training, back into the workforce and especially for Queenstown.

PREMIER HODGMAN:

Yeah look very much so. And what we are doing is a great partnership with TAS TAFE but also working very closely with your local council here, the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and also the community services sector, TASCOSS, to bring together a true partnership to get more people into work to identify opportunities in industry and mining's an obvious one, forestry, but also our tourism sector which is blossoming across the state including here on the West Coast.

So it’s really about getting young Tasmanians adequately skilled to provide to employers what they need and to ensure that people are able to stay in their local community and get good jobs here.

PRESENTER:

And I noticed Liberal candidate for Braddon Brett Whiteley, you put your hand up there, because I can't see you behind the screen, I'm so sorry!

BRETT WHITELEY, LIBERAL CANDIDATE FOR BRADDON:

I just want to add to that what an exciting announcement it was last week with Simon Birmingham where we announced $750,000 to start up what is going to be an Australian first, Tasmanian advanced welding training centre which will provide funds for the Tasmanian Minerals and Energy Council to buy five simulators to actually simulate welding accreditation.

They're going to be mobile units, they'll be coming down to the West Coast. It's a huge announcement in relation to making sure that our tradesmen are currently as upskilled as they possibly can be. So that was an exciting addition to the works that Will just mentioned.

ADAM BROOKS:

I might just add there too. I mean, the exciting thing about not only having the PM at the Empire having a Boags or two with us and of course the Premier's always up here having a Boags and Brett, a really hard worker for the community.

CMT is obviously the biggest gig in town in Queenstown and we're working every day to get that reopened and back up and running, but we've also been able to focus on diversifying the economy through adventure tourism, training our kids so that they have a career here and they can stay here and that's a really important thing for the West Coast so that generations don't have to leave, they can stay here.

So our engagement with education, with industry by creating jobs but also by providing the investment through mining in particular, is just going to be a really good outcome for the West Coast. And I think today's announcement is such an exciting one. I can’t wait.

PRESENTER:

I think it's a very exciting announcement. I've spoken to Peter Walker the General Manager, of course, of Copper Mines Tasmania and he has suggested that it's 18 months to two years perhaps that they can reopen and more copper can be found, more money and more income and I think that's important. But quickly, your 43 point plan, Premier, more jobs for regional Tasmania and you've got the regional benefits three year tax relief to businesses migrating, is there anyone that you've probably pushed towards Queenstown? That would be nice, it's just a suggestion.

PREMIER HODGMAN:

We certainly will and I should also mention in this year's budget we've established a fund to support mining companies to explore further. It's obviously a significant cost, there's a risk attached so we want to again provide state support for businesses to increase their exploration activity and that's for established mining companies here, but for new businesses coming into regional Tasmania we will also provide payroll tax relief.

We've already got the most competitive payroll tax regime in the country and I think we need to be as competitive as we can but we think there's an opportunity to target investment into our regional areas, provide that incentive and support more job opportunities. So that's a new program underway and we look forward hopefully to some good results out of that.

PRESENTER:

If I may PM, because I know that we're time crazy here, but I just want to mention Bill Shorten's pledged $25 million for the AFL and I'm thinking how serious is that ever going to happen? And I do know that we do want and I know that all gentlemen and ladies in this room would like to have a Tassie AFL team, so maybe Prime Minister more money to the AFL for a Tassie team and perhaps when?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, we're not in the business of funding football teams and I don't, I think Bill Shorten was really treating Tasmanians with contempt there. I mean he said he had $25 million he promised to spend on what? Hadn't even spoken to the AFL about it. Clearly not serious. I have actually spoken to the AFL about, to Gill McLachlan and urged him to get behind with their enormous resources, a Tassie team. So I’ve taken, after talking about it with Will and others, I've gone in there and gone into bat, as it were to mix sporting metaphors, for Tasmania.

In terms of what we can do, we do provide funding, from time to time, to support stadiums and sporting infrastructure. So if the right proposal came up we'd certainly look at that. But in terms of - I mean, Shorten - it was just a thought bubble and he hadn't even spoken to the AFL! Mind you, mind you of course - I was impressed actually yesterday, I was disappointed, I was impressed and disappointed.

I was disappointed that he confused the north west coast of Tasmania with the City Circle Line in Sydney. When he said he is going to invest money in the highway between Wynyard and Circular Quay. Wynyard and Circular Quay of course are two stations on the Sydney Circle Line. He got Circular Head mixed up with Circular Quay. But I have to say for a Victorian it is good that he does actually know what the train stations are in Sydney.

But he seemed pretty confused. But basically the AFL, I think Tassie, it would be great if Tassie did have a team but I don't think it's the business of federal government to be putting money into a particular football team. You can see -.

PRESENTER:

So a flippant comment by an our opposition leader.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yeah I think it was it was flippant. But stadiums, sporting infrastructure, we provide support for them from place to place around the country.

PREMIER HODGMAN:

Yeah, I mean talk about kicking it out on the full. It costs somewhere between $40 or $50 million a year to run a football competition, say $25 million dollars for whatever Bill Shorten is proposing isn't going to give Tasmania a team of our own.

PRESENTER:

If I may Will, how did your team go?

PREMIER HODGMAN:

Yeah, weekend gone, yeah good win by the Cats over the Swannies. That's Malcolm's team so…

PRESENTER:

I'm a loyal Geelong supporter! Well done to them over the weekend. And what about Queenstown Crows? They've done well, I just thought I'd throw that at you. What a great team in the local league.

PREMIER HODGMAN:

We're about to take the Prime Minister down to see this world famous football ground, because I don't think he quite believes it.

PRESENTER:

Thank you, you read my mind!

PRIME MINISTER:

These must be the toughest players ever!

PRESENTER:

Oh they are! And they're right up there at number one, top of the ladder too. Gentlemen, the Honourable Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister, Premier of Tasmania, the Honourable Will Hodgman MP, Liberal candidate for Braddon Mr Brett Whiteley, Adam Brooks MP. Look thank you gentlemen and staff for coming in. I really appreciate your time and all the energy to be in Queenstown, it's greatly received.

[ENDS]

Press Office of the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister, Canberra