Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Interview with Deborah Knight: Channel 9 Today Show: 29 January 2019: jobs pledge; Newspoll; resignations; independents; election timing



Download PDFDownload PDF

UNCLASSIFIED

The Hon. Scott Morrison MP Prime Minister

TRANSCRIPT

INTERVIEW WITH DEBORAH KNIGHT, CHANNEL 9 TODAY SHOW TUESDAY 29 JANUARY 2019

SUBJECTS: Jobs pledge; Newspoll; Resignations; Independents; Election timing.

E&OE…

DEBORAH KNIGHT: Prime Minister Scott Morrison is this morning kicking off a busy week in Queensland pledging to create 1.5 million jobs as part of a major economic pitch from the Government. The details will be unveiled in a headline speech today in Brisbane as a new opinion poll gives the PM quite a welcome boost and Scott Morrison does join us now from Brisbane.

Prime Minister good morning to you.

PRIME MINISTER: G’day Deb

DEBORAH KNIGHT: Have you got a bit of an extra spring in your step today? The best Newspoll result since you took over as PM. It still shows you losing but it must be good for you and the troops to get some good news?

PRIME MINISTER: Well the good news I’m announcing today is our pledge for 1.25 million jobs over the next five years.

They’re the numbers that matter. People getting in jobs. We’ve got an outstanding record of job creation, over 1.2 million since we were first elected and we’ll accumulate another 1.25 million jobs over the next five years and we’ll do that by exactly the same way as we’ve got the jobs so far.

Lower taxes, backing small business, investing in infrastructure, getting the budget under control, supporting new industries, particularly the defence industries and expanding our export markets. That's the plan that's delivered the jobs to date and I'll be updating and revising that plan today to take us forward to 1.25 million jobs over the next five years.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: Well an ambitious target and you do need strong immigration rates to achieve growth like this, but many voters want immigration cut because of big congestion issues in many of our cities. How do you achieve both those things?

PRIME MINISTER: Well you get the balance right, which is what we’ve been, you know, attempting to do, and in the future, you know, congestion in our cities that also can slow the economy down.

When tradies and small businesses are spending more time in traffic jams than they are on site, or particularly it is better for families to get rid of congestion because that means parents can get home, help their kids with their homework, actually have a family meal around the table.

That's why I'm announcing further measures today to support congestion-busting infrastructure here in South-East Queensland out of our congestion- busting fund that I announced in this year's budget.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: Well you are certainly on a campaign blitz through Queensland this week, but Bill Shorten beat you to the punch. He was on the hustings already in his Bill Bus. Is winning Queensland really crucial to winning government?

PRIME MINISTER: Well we can all talk about buses. He had his tax bus up here last week. I was up in Cairns last week. I mean whether it is Queensland, whether it is Victoria, whether it is Western Australia, there is an important decision Australians are going to make at this next election, and that is: What sort of economy do you want to live in for the next decade? Under our Government, we’ve got the track down -

DEBORAH KNIGHT: And is Queensland key here though?

PRIME MINISTER: A weaker economy is not good for Medicare.

Well of course, but every seat, every area of the country is important but Queensland is a place where we’ve got great support, have had in past elections and we’ve earned that support and I'm up here explaining to Queenslanders all through the week why they can continue to count on us to deliver the jobs and the infrastructure and busting the congestion that will improve their lives into the future.

We have got it done ‘til now. Labor said we couldn't hit our jobs target back when we got elected in 2013. They said we couldn't stop the boats as well. We did both and we will keep doing that into the future.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: I know you’ll be campaigning directly in Peter Dutton’s seat, he’s facing a real challenge in Queensland but you are also losing a lot of your colleagues at the moment. Three ministers announcing that they won't be contesting this election. Speculation that more could also follow. How much of a blow is it to you to lose such experienced hands heading into a poll like this?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, first of all, this is not unusual. In fact, the number of retirements going into this election is no different to previous elections. It is actually a little less, actually and I think it’s disappointing that the Labor Party, and in particular Bill Shorten, has sought to cast doubt on the genuine personal family reasons why our members have retired.

They are the same as Tim Hammond in Western Australia. He’s only been here for a term and he’s taken his decision not to contest for the Labor Party at the next election because of family reasons-

DEBORAH KNIGHT: They’re not rats leaving-

PRIME MINISTER: Michael Keenan has been-

DEBORAH KNIGHT: They’re not rats leaving a sinking ship?

PRIME MINISTER: No I think that’s a very offensive way to put it to people who have made deeply personal decisions for family reasons.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: Well former Deputy-

PRIME MINISTER: I'm about family values and I respect family values and when my members are taking personal decisions for those reasons, just as Labor members have done, I'm not going to cast aspersions on them and seek to take political advantage of it like the Labor Party has. I think it is deeply disappointing that it’s been cast in that light.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: Former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson though is urging Coalition MPs who are considering retiring to think very hard about the impact of their decisions. In terms of those leaving, are they putting self-interest in their families before the real prospect of losing this election and before the future of the country?

PRIME MINISTER: Their decisions have nothing to do with the next election and its result. Their decisions have to do with deeply personal family issues which they have raised with me which are exactly the same reasons why Kate Ellis from South Australia has decided not to contest this election, why Jenny Macklin, a longstanding member of the Labor Party, is not contesting this election.

I mean there are members on both sides who have made these decisions for deeply personal reasons and I respect that. I'm disappointed that Bill Shorten can't respect it when it’s not people on his own side of politics.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: In terms of the timing of the election, are you still committed Prime Minister to delivering the budget in April before calling the election?

PRIME MINISTER: Yes.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: How is your diary-

PRIME MINISTER: And it will be the first-

DEBORAH KNIGHT: Looking for May?

PRIME MINISTER: And it will be the first, and it will be the first surplus budget in 12 years and that is the mark and that is the proof of what we’ve been doing and why we’ve been able to achieve a stronger economy.

It has taken us a decade and more to get back to where we are now after the economic havoc that was wreaked by the Labor Party last time they got in and replaced John Howard. It’s taken us all this time to get back.

That's why the decision people make at this election is very important. They will be deciding the economy they will live in for the next decade and I want it to be stronger. That's what my plan is delivering and will deliver.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: So should we expect a May election then?

PRIME MINISTER: Yes.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: OK, we will get our diaries cleared.

PRIME MINISTER: I don't think there’s any great surprise about that, I mean the maths are pretty simple after-

DEBORAH KNIGHT: Well things could change.

PRIME MINISTER: I said last year there would be a Budget in April. I haven't changed my view about that. Why would I?

We are going to deliver the first surplus budget that we’ve seen from a Government since there was a Liberal Government last in power under John Howard. So you know that's what we have been able to achieve and I made that pretty clear. I'm a pretty up front sort of person, Deb.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: OK, well, we’ll clear our diaries for May.

I just wanted to ask you too about the independents. We are seeing a lot of them entering the fray this election with reports now that MP Julia Banks who quit the Liberals after you toppled Malcolm Turnbull could actually challenge Greg Hunt in his seat of Flinders as an independent. How big of a threat are they, independents like Julia Banks in Victoria, Zali Steggall up against Tony Abbott in NSW. Are they a real concern?

PRIME MINISTER: Well if you vote for an independent that won’t give you a stronger economy. If you vote for Labor party you won't get you a stronger economy. Only the support for our economic plan that has delivered over a million jobs, that has actually had the highest rate of youth jobs growth in a single financial year on record. Only our plan is delivering that and I’d just pick you up on one thing.

I took over this leadership because it was vacant. I had no part in those events as you know Deb so I don’t think it’s fair to suggest that I had a hand in that because the Australian people know I didn't. I supported all the way through.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: Alright, well Prime Minister we look forward to speaking to you during the course of the campaign and we look forward to May and seeing what that result does deliver. Thank you for your time this morning.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks Deb. Good to be here.

[ENDS]

Contacts: Press Office, (02) 6277 7744 The Hon. Scott Morrison MP, Sydney