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Transcript of joint doorstop interview: Canberra: 19 April 2016: ABCC legislation; double dissolution election; RSRT; education policy; Budget; Government advertising; ASIC

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19 April 2016


Doorstop with Minister Cash, Senator Seselja and Nick Georgalis Belconnen, Canberra

SENATOR SESELJA: Welcome to sunny Belconnen on a beautiful Canberra day. It’s great to have the Prime Minister here, it’s great to have Michaelia Cash my good friend and Nick Georgalis here from Geocon. It’s great to be seeing a wonderful construction project here in Belconnen town centre, an important part of our economy, delivering affordable housing for Canberrans, delivering lifestyle choices and I think it’s wonderful that we’ve got Nick who’s made some important decisions for his business so that his business can prosper and he can deliver for the people of the ACT. So with that I welcome you all and I hand you over to our Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER: Well thank you very much Zed and it’s great to be here with you and Michaelia and Nick. Thank you very much for hosting us here. Everything we’re doing is focussed on ensuring that we have strong jobs growth in Australia. That we continue successfully to transition our economy from one that was fuelled up by the mining construction boom, to one that is more diverse. To one that enhances and supports enterprise, small and medium businesses.

And you know, yesterday we saw in the Senate great leadership from Michaelia Cash and the Coalition senators and we've succeeded in saving ten of thousands of jobs. Politicians talk about jobs, we all should. But we should also deliver. What we delivered yesterday, with the abolition of the RSRT, was the saving of tens of thousands of jobs; mum and dad businesses, owner-drivers and what we're also doing is ensuring that the rule of law is brought back to the construction industry. So we brought the Senate back and they've made a decision. That's good. They've made a decision and so the ABCC will be a trigger for a double dissolution election.

And what that means is that when we go to the election, the Australian people will decide whether there should be an Australian Building and Construction Commission. You see a double dissolution election is about giving the people their say. It means it's an occasion when the House and the Senate can't agree, persistently and so then, everyone goes to the polls and the Australian people have their say.

And when we win the election, as I believe we will, we will return and the reforms to registered organisations and the reintroduction of the Australian Building and Construction Commission will be made law and what that will do is protect jobs, it will drive economic growth.

Every element, every lever of our policy is focused on driving economic growth. This is a massive industry, the construction sector, over a million jobs. The rule of law must prevail and as we were discussing with Nick earlier, if you have the rule of law in this industry, then you'll have more construction, more construction jobs, better construction jobs, more affordable housing, more affordable hospitals, schools, and roads. This is a vital part of our economic plan for Australia's future prosperity. Michaelia.


Thanks Prime Minister and today it's great to be here, thanks Nick for having us. But in particular this is a building site where Nick has chosen the terms upon which he is going to employ his employees. He will not be dictated to by the CFMEU and we've heard from Nick today all of the benefits in particular in relation to increased productivity that that's bringing to his workplace.

As we know the building and construction industry in Australia is our third largest employer. One in ten Australians depend on this industry for their job. This Government, we want to see the building and construction industry grow and that is why we are committed to the reestablishment of the Australian Building and Construction Commission. Nobody in Australia should have to work in an industry where one of the most corrupt unions in Australia has a stranglehold on it. No one should have to go to work in an industry that is plagued by bullying, intimidation and fear on a daily basis and we know that's true because currently there is 109 CFMEU officials facing the courts or the Fair Work Commission in excess of 1,000 charges. When the laws aren’t strong enough and the penalties aren't high enough to deter bad behaviour, clearly something is wrong.

If I could also just briefly comment on a text I received this morning from an owner-driver, Gordo. The Prime Minister and I met him in Melbourne two weeks ago on a Sunday.

He said to us "do you know what I'm doing tomorrow?" and we said “no, tell us Gordo” and he said, "I'm delivering my last load because the Labor RSRT has put me as an owner-driver out of business."

I received a text message from him this morning and he said, “Michaelia tell the PM I'm starting my old job again tomorrow, thanks to your Government."

This is a Government that will stand up for small business. We are a Government that believes in the mum and dads of Australia who mortgage their homes to go and buy a truck so they can be their own boss and say no to the union and last night we saw the Senate work with the crossbench and we did abolish the tribunal that was set up as nothing more and nothing less than a gift to Tony Sheldon of the TWU by former Prime Minister Gillard and Mr Shorten.

The one thing I'd say to owner drivers though is this - a vote for Labor is a vote to restore the RSRT and I can assure you that Malcolm Turnbull, Barnaby Joyce and all of the Turnbull Government, we will work to ensure you are back on the roads and you never have to see the RSRT again.


Thank you Prime Minister. We chose to have a company specific EBA for a number of reasons and one of those was to be able to engage some of the best talent in the industry. Our company specific EBA allowed to us pay more to our employees without the oncost of nominated suppliers, subcontractors employment and insurance providers which in turn allowed us to be a more profitable business.

The flexibility of not having lock down weekends and effectively providing 20 extra trading days per annum allows us to be a more productive and efficient company. The oncost associated with what

was nominated in contractors, subcontractors and insurance providers, was not helping the business, was not permitting us to grow and be prosperous.


Thank you very much, next.


Prime Minister just to be clear and notwithstanding the cooperation the Minister just referred to from the crossbench, are you sticking to the July 2 date for the election?


My intention is after the budget, at an appropriate time after the budget has been delivered, I will be asking the Governor-General to dissolve both Houses of the parliament for an election, which I expect to be held on 2 July. But I just want to be very clear that we are governing. We have a lot of decisions to make, not least of which is the Budget, the most important economic policy statement of the year. So we have all that work ahead of us and we will be doing all of that and making a lot more decisions between now and when I expect both Houses to be dissolved.


Why is it still expect? You've announced previously in the court yard at your own press conference that it will be on July 2. Now you're saying you expect?


I have a very strong expectation but I'm paying due respect to his Excellency the Governor-General.


Labor has accused you this morning of reports that the Government is going to launch a taxpayer funded advertising campaign to sell measures in that budget. Can you confirm whether or not you will use taxpayer funds to spruik the Government's Budget measures and is that appropriate to do?


Well no decisions have been taken in that regard.


For certainty, wouldn't bit easier if you said the election will be on July 2?


What I've said is accurate and constitutionally correct and I don't need to say it again.


When the mums and dads of Australia come to vote on July 2 or whenever else -


It's a very good assumption Lenore. You've made riskier forecasts than that.


Will they know for sure how much extra money or whether you're offering extra money for schools funding over that next term of Government and will they know with clarity what your higher education policy is, whether it's the one that's in the budget now or is it a new one? Will they know school and will they know higher ed?


You can be very safe in assuming that our education policy will be clearly set out in between now and the election.


Including whether there's extra money for schools?


As I said, it will all be set out between now and the election.


Prime Minister, do you really think that the mums and dads of Australia are going to be as seized with the building industry as you are? How do you make the link between what we see here today, and the ABCC, and their lives?


Well, there are a million Australians that work in the construction sector. The majority of them are small businesses actually. Self-employed people, trades people and so forth. I think Australians understand that it's important that the rule of law prevails in every part of Australian industry. They understand that they're paying too much for schools and hospitals and roads, because of the lawlessness in in the construction sector. They understand that the laws should apply and that this is a key economic agenda.

But I can tell you that this is the restoration of the ABCC, is a very important part, but it is a part, of our economic plan. Which is, every element of which - from innovation, from free trade, from competition reforms - every element - our defence White Paper, the investments we announced yesterday - every element of our economic plan is focused on delivering jobs. And we are delivering jobs, you see the jobs. You see the jobs growth last month, you see the jobs growth last year. You see the strong business confidence, the people are confident, businesses are confident, and that's why they're hiring. Because they're confident in our economic plan and you will see in the budget further elements of that economic plan laid out on the 3rd of May.


The Department of Innovation has put out an $8 million tender for advertising from April 17 to the 30th of June, this on top of the money we've already spent advertising the ideas boom. Is this an appropriate use of that $8 million in a period that will be in an election campaign?


All Government advertising is appropriate and cleared with quite a thorough process. Mark Riley…


Will you re-establish the money cut from ASIC's Budget and give it a particular brief to look at the banks?


Mark, we as you know, there was, we undertook last year a capability review of ASIC. That was a very thorough review, that’s been provided to Government and the Treasurer will be making a response to that shortly.

Thank you all very much indeed.