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Transcript of doorstop: Ormeau, Queensland: 12 July 2018: ACCC electricity review; Labor's tax attack; ATO; Longman by-election; No Jab, No Pay; State of Origin



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THE HON. MALCOLM TURNBULL MP PRIME MINISTER

TRANSCRIPT

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Doorstop with Bert van Manen MP Amaze Early Education Centre Ormeau, Queensland

E&OE…

SUBJECTS: ACCC electricity review; Labor’s tax attack; ATO; Longman by-election; No Jab, No Pay; State of Origin.

BERT VAN MANEN, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR FORDE:

Well good morning and welcome to Ormeau in the electorate of Forde and in particular I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome the Prime Minister. Welcome to Forde, Prime Minister, again - one of your what's increasingly becoming regular visits to the electorate.

So always welcome and nice to see you brought some sunshine with you. The importance of today is that it shows once again the steps that this Government is taking to make lives for Australian families easier. And I'd like to thank Phil and Lucy from Amaze childcare for hosting us here today because it shows that the childcare package of this Government is rolled out over the past - from the 1st of July, is assisting families across the electorate of Forde. Some nearly 9,000 families will benefit including families that we've seen and met here today.

So thank you again Prime Minister for coming out today. Thank you for the work that the Government is doing to make lives for families in my electorate of Forde easier every day, whether with the tax cuts, childcare changes or what we're doing in electricity. It all is adding to a positive story about what this Government is doing for the Australian people. So thank you very much.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well thanks Burt and thank you. And Phil and Lucy, thank you so much for welcoming us here and what wonderful kids and dedicated teachers and parents. You know, one of the parents were talking to here

was saying that she is, she and her husband are going to save $70 a week because of our child care changes.

You know there's going to be over a million families that will be better off as a result of our childcare reforms? Over a million. On average they'll be $1,300 a year better off. Obviously Emily, the lady we spoke to, was going to be quite a bit more better off than that. That's fantastic.

What that means is, as she was saying, that's more money to go towards the mortgage and other expenses that they have. That's on top of the tax cuts that we're delivering this year for hardworking families on low and middle income earning families. And of course with the tax reform that over the full breadth of the reform will result in 94 percent of Australians not having to pay more than 32.5 cents in any extra dollar they earn. In addition to that, of course we've reduced taxes on small and medium businesses, we've already been able to secure that, that employ more than half of all Australians.

That's a lot of Australians. That's nearly five million Australians, working Australians, are now working for businesses that have the benefit of a tax cut, which means they can invest more and employ more.

And you know, one of those businesses I visited here in Queensland just the other day - Kennedy’s Timbers which is at Narangba - and that company provided the timber, the recycled timber, that made that wonderful tree house here. Isn't that fantastic? And the local builders, Chris Rixon?

MS LUCY COOK, GENERAL MANAGER & OWNER, AMAZE EARLY EDUCATION CENTRE:

Luke.

PRIME MINISTER:

Luke Rixon was just talking to us there. He's done a beautiful job there. So there's an old bridge that's found its way into this children's playground. And Kennedy's timber is a great example of a business that's actually in Luke Howarth's electorate of Petrie right on the border with Longman so a lot of the people that will be going to vote in the Longman by-election work at Kennedy’s Timber and they have got a stronger business that is growing and is employing and investing because of the tax cuts that we've delivered.

So you can see how it all works together. Families have got more money - more money to keep, to spend on their other obligations and commitments - because about child care reforms which are targeted at hard working Australian families and middle income families. That's where they're targeted and they're benefiting. We've got a tax refund this year. $530 for over four million Australian families. Over 10 million families will pay less tax this financial year. And of course the big long term reform is the biggest reform of personal income tax in a generation.

And so it's all coming together. Lower energy prices. We're actually seeing a reduction in energy prices, if you would power shop here in southeast Queensland it's over a hundred dollars on average but there's more to go. We are committed to bringing energy prices down. That's our focus. You saw the

measures that we have been recommended by the ACCC yesterday. We're determined to keep turning the corner on energy prices.

Now, by contrast, my opponent Mr. Shorten is out in Longman today, he's in Bribie Island. A lot of self funded retirees live there. So he's going to be telling them about how he is planning to raid their savings. Can you believe that he is going to be taking up to 30 percent of the income from self-funded retirees?

Anyone with an investment portfolio that they've saved up - and it may not be a very large sum of money at all - but they've got franked dividends because they've invested in Australian shares. Bill Shorten wants to remove the benefit of that franking credit from those retirees.

It's about $5 billion a year he is planning to take from them. It's going to come out of the pockets of people who've saved up and worked hard all their lives and many of them live on Bribie Island. So when he's there I hope he can explain to them how they're going to be better off after he's taken 20 percent, 30 percent of their income. Because that's the sort of raid you're talking about when you take back, seize back that or prevent them getting the cash benefit of those franking credits.

Which after all was tax that's already been paid. So it is a completely legitimate, fair arrangement which puts them on a level playing field with companies and funds and people with large investment portfolios. So it's a shocking assault on self-funded retirees.

He might also explain to a few businesses why they're going to have to pay more tax under a Labor government and how that's going to be good for them. And he can also explain to people on middle incomes why they should pay more tax under a Labor government. And then, when he's finished explaining how much more tax he's going to get people to pay in Longman and how he's going to raid the savings of the retirees, he can explain how Labor's energy policies - which have created so much havoc in years past, as the ACCC describe - how Labor's energy policies with an absolutely reckless Renewable Energy Target is going to push up energy prices and so people on Bribie Island and right through Longman and right around Australia will have to pay higher energy prices thanks to Labor's folly.

So you can see what we're doing. Bert and I and our whole team are focused on ensuring that Australians pay lower taxes, lower energy bills, get more support with their families. Labor is about higher energy bills, higher taxes. You know that means? Less investment, fewer jobs and lower wages.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, when do you expect those power bills to drop based on the ACCC's…

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, we've already seen a reduction from our policies already. It's a small one, but we've turned the corner and we'll continue to do more. But the ACCC estimates that across the National Electricity Market about 24 or 25 percent by 2020-21 if all the measures are introduced.

I think they've made some very good recommendations there and we'll be working through them with the states because you know energy policy is very much a partnership between the Federal Government and the states.

JOURNALIST:

How strongly will you deal with retailers if they don't play ball?

PRIME MINISTER:

I've already shown how determined I am with the retailers. I pulled them in twice. I pulled them in twice and I required them to contact all their customers and tell them whether they have got better deals and where there are better deals, whether they are on the right deal or not.

You know there are there are thousands of families around Australia including here in southeast Queensland who are now saving hundreds of dollars a year, three, four sometimes five hundred dollars a year simply by getting on the right plan.

Now, one of the very good recommendations that the ACCC made was that there should be one default plan that is standard and that when retailers offer discounts it's referenced to that one default plan. Because at the moment, as anyone I think we all know, the electricity offerings can be very confusing and that does not help the customer. So we need clearer competition, it's got to be much more of a level playing field. There's a lot of good recommendations the ACCC have made to ensure that.

Lower prices is what it's all about. I would say to you there's a lot of debate about this policy and that policy and this technology and that technology is all extremely important and interesting but the test, the only test, is will it reduce energy prices? That's what Bert and I are committed to do.

That's what Josh Frydenberg our Energy Minister is working day and night on.

Everything we're doing, right across the full breadth of our policies, is to ensure we do everything we can to keep turning that corner to reduce energy prices

JOURNALIST:

When the ACCC talks about government underwriting large supply contracts, I know you said technology agnostic, but are we to interpret that as being potentially baseload power?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, what they're talking about is firmed or dispatchable power. So that means it is power that is available when you want it.

So, yes you could describe it as baseload power. Baseload is really a description of demand, you have baseload customers, like an aluminium smelter or a big corporate customer. So dispatchable power is what you want. It’s the power that can be delivered as and when you need it. It’s a vital part of the National Energy Guarantee, the NEG.

What that will require when it's adopted is for retailers to have a necessary percentage of their energy mix in dispatchable power.

We’ve go to maintain reliability, that goes without saying. So you've got to be able, when you flick the switch, the lights have got to come on and stay on. But also you've got to be able to afford to keep them on.

That's why getting prices down is the key priority. That is the focus of everything we're doing.

Lower energy prices is what we're about. We've made some good progress but there's a lot more to be done.

JOURNALIST:

Will that progress include perhaps a proposal for the government to fund coal? Do you expect to take that to the Cabinet in the coming months?

PRIME MINISTER:

We are not in the business of subsidising one technology or another. We've done enough of that. I mean, frankly, too much of that has been done. But let's not get into, you know, energy history here.

Going forward, the subsidies should come to an end and they're winding down, including the Renewable Energy Target, and we should simply allow the technologies to compete. And what we want to have is the outcome of lower prices.

There a lot of debate about the inputs - you know, this technology, that fuel, this fuel - they're all inputs. What we're focused on is the output. Reliable and cheaper energy. That's what it should be all about.

I can tell you what Labor has got is a set of policies that have been proved to deliver unreliable and expensive energy.

You only have to look at South Australia, an extreme case, where Labor policies resulted in the least reliable and the most expensive electricity in the country.

JOURNALIST:

The Australian Taxation Office has made an announcement that there are $8.7bn of unpaid taxes out there. Are you surprised by that at all?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well look, we are the Party of lower taxes and you know we have reduced company taxes, we reduced personal income taxes. Labor is the Party that wants to jack up taxes on everything. They want to raid seniors’ savings, they want to jack up taxes for businesses and individuals, they want to go after trusts, they want to tax investment, they want to increase capital gains taxes.

You find a tax and the Labor Party will want to increase it.

So we're in favour of lower taxes. But - and this is a big but - paying tax is compulsory.

So we don't believe in a self-help approach to tax reform, everyone's got to pay their tax. Whether it's an individual, whether it's a small business or it's a multinational.

Now listen, just by the way on the multinationals; we've introduced the toughest multinational tax avoidance laws in the developed world, and in the last financial year we brought back into the tax net $7bn of revenue from multinationals.

I can assure everyone who is watching us here today, that we are doing more than any previous Australian Government, and indeed any other government of a developed country, to make sure the big end of town, the multinationals, pay their tax.

Everyone has to pay their tax.

JOURNALIST:

Will you do a crackdown though on small income earners who are perceived to be actually cheating in their taxes? Another $8bn in the kitty would be pretty nice.

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I've seen that estimate and again it's up to the Australian Taxation Office to enforce the tax laws. It's important that everyone pays their tax.

But you know, that we are committed to lower tax - but as I said, it's got to be fair.

So it's critical that everyone pays tax in accordance with the law; whether it's an individual, a small business, a medium sized business or a big business. And we are, on the multinational side of things, as I said, we've made very considerable strides.

It’s one of the reasons why - by the way - we've been able to bring the Budget back into balance a year earlier. It’s one of the reasons why we've been able to provide additional funding for childcare and infrastructure and health and schools, because we’ve got a stronger economy. Because we are ensuring that people pay their tax in accordance with the law that enables us to have lower taxes, a stronger economy, delivers record jobs growth.

Do you know we've got the lowest percentage of Australians of working age on welfare in 25 years and the highest jobs growth ever last year?

So that is the economic growth, the strong economic management, that enables us to do all of those things. Bring the Budget back into balance so these little kids like young William, who was helping us with the flag, is not going to have to pay off a huge burden of debt that his parents and grandparents have run up before him. So we’re or bringing the Budget back into balance but we're also able to reduce taxes and fund essential services like childcare.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, we are at a childcare centre today, there’s a report that’s come out that’s said some 2,000 kids on the Gold Coast aren’t vaccinated. Your take? Is that acceptable?

PRIME MINISTER:

You know we have a very strong ‘No Jab, No Pay, No Jab, No Play’ policy.

MS LUCY COOK:

And our centre supports that and we don’t accept children unless they’re vaccinated, or on a plan.

PRIME MINISTER:

Okay well there you go, Lucy’s taken a strong stance.

MS LUCY COOK:

We are not in a majority compared to the multinationals.

PRIME MINISTER:

Okay, well said.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister you’ve spoken a lot about Longman earlier. But you’re not there today or yesterday,

PRIME MINISTER:

It's a big country.

[Laughter]

JOURNALIST:

Should we read into that, about your level of confidence?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, you should read that I’m Prime Minister for all of Australia and all Australians and it's a big country and the business of Government goes on.

We've got the by-elections going on and I'll be back in Longman next week.

But I tell you there's a very clear message for the people of Longman today, that Bill Shorten is there. Bill Shorten is there planning to jack up their taxes, raid the retirees on Bribie Island’s savings. That's what he's doing, he's going there to Bribie Island and he's going to be raiding their savings.

I've met with them. I've met with these seniors, I can tell you they're not happy - surprise, not surprisingly.

Bill Shorten is going to raid their savings, jack up the taxes of businesses that employ their children and grandchildren, threaten the jobs of their children and grandchildren and in addition to that, he's got ill-thought-out energy policies which have been described and denounced by the ACCC very comprehensively.

He's going to continue them and you know what that’ll do? It’ll do exactly what it's done in the past, it will jack up energy prices.

So we've got the right approach; lower taxes, stronger economic growth, more jobs, higher wages, more funding for essential services because we've got a stronger economy and lower energy prices.

Thanks very much.

JOURNALIST:

Did you expect to be celebrating a rugby league win last night? Can’t let you go without asking about it.

[Laughter]

PRIME MINISTER:

There you go. Alright, well thank you.

Well as a New South Welshman, I was sorry to see the Blues lose.

But I have to say congratulations to New South Wales on the series. But Queensland deserved to win. They dominated the game. They dominated in possession and in territory. I think it was a spectacular game.

It was great to be there. I had the Prime Minister of PNG and Solomon Islands there as well, so there was a bit of Rugby League diplomacy going on as well.

But those two intercept tries were two of the most spectacular tries you could ever hope to see and to see one for each side was amazing.

So it was a very strong game, congratulations to Queensland, congratulations to the Blues and it was great to see Slater the man of the series.

[ENDS]

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