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Budget 2018: Transcript of doorstop: Jamisontown, Sydney: 14 May 2018: Federal Budget; terroist attacks in Indonesia; space agency; Jane Prentice

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Monday, 14 May 2018

Doorstop with Minister for Defence and Senator for NSW the Hon. Marise Payne Jamisontown, Sydney


SUBJECTS: Federal Budget; Terrorist attacks in Indonesia; Space Agency; Jane Prentice


Well, good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Can I welcome the Prime Minister to Mulgoa Road, Jamisontown in Penrith and thank Nigel McInley and his team very much for having us here at Innov8 this afternoon. To you and to Rene and Ella and Zoe and Tim and all the rest of your team, that we have had the opportunity to meet today, it is a fabulous story about business capacity and development in Western Sydney, about seeing a chance and taking it, making sure that you invest.

Almost all the local members of your team that I have spoken to here today Nigel, said: “I’ve lived in South Penrith all my life,” or something like that. It’s fabulous to see what you’ve done with the art of the possible. I know that these are relatively new premises that you are growing into and that is another key to the future development of new business in Western Sydney.

The infrastructure development that the Commonwealth is involved in, just for starters, provides enormous opportunities for businesses like Uphire, Innov8 and countless others as well.

It gives me great pride that I welcome you here this afternoon Prime Minister, to this part of Sydney, but particularly Western Sydney and particularly Penrith.


Well thank you Marise. You are the Defence Minister and you are a Senator for New South Wales but we know in your heart, that you're the Senator for Western Sydney. So it's great to be here and it's wonderful to be with Nigel and Tim and all your team. Thank you so much for showing us the great initiative and entrepreneurship you're showing. Showing how your business has grown in just a couple of years.

You're innovative, you’re investing, you’re growing, you’re providing jobs, you’re providing the jobs and growth we're seeing right around the country. You're one of the reasons why, in the last calendar year, we saw the largest number of jobs created in Australia's history. We're creating 1,000 jobs a day.

Of course, our Budget is focused and determined to deliver stronger economic growth. Because we know that enables us to pay for all the essential services and infrastructure that Australians need; whether it's record funding on education and on health, or whether it's all of the roads and rail that has been built around Australia, particularly here in Western Sydney.

What a great thing it is, that you've introduced this technology that will keep the workers who are building that infrastructure, safer. Because the object of all of that road and rail investment, is getting people home sooner and safer.

Of course, the big part of this is making sure that people have the incentives to invest. What we've seen is, by reducing company tax so far for small and medium companies, we're seeing - as you're enjoying - the benefits of that incentive. The instant asset write-off of course, for small companies under $10 million. Again, that's something you've been able to take advantage of, including other government incentives. So Nigel, I know that's been really important for you to get going, but of course, you're creating more jobs.

And of course, our personal income tax reforms in the Budget are going to deliver a tax saving next financial year - from July 1, in other words - to more than half a million people in Western Sydney. Over half of them, will get the $530 tax refund.

So, that’s real. That is putting real money into the pockets of Australian families right around the country; 10 million, of course, nationally, but here in Western Sydney, over half a million people. If you have a family where mum and dad are both earning $60-70,000 dollars a year each or something, middle-incomes, they'll get $530 each. That's half the average electricity bill here in Penrith. So you're talking about really substantial recoveries from the tax system, to enable people to make ends meet in times when many costs are going up.

But the big part of the tax reform of course, is the long-term reform. By the time it is all rolled out, by 2024/25, you will have 94 per cent of Australians who will not face a marginal tax rate of higher than 32.5 per cent. 32.5 cents in the dollar.

So think about that. All the way from $41,000 up to $200,000. So all of the disincentive currently that we find in the tax system, where people know if they get a better job or they get a raise or get a promotion or they work some extra hours, they’re going to go into a higher tax bracket and the taxman will take more of their money, that won't be the case. All the way up to $200,000 from $41,000 at 32.5 cents in the dollar marginal tax rate.

Now, I know that the Labor Party said that that is not fair. We think it's fair to encourage Australians to get ahead and have a go and invest and create jobs. But you know, just on that point of fairness, by 2024/25, the amount of tax that someone on $200,000 pays, will be nearly 13 times as much as the amount of tax someone on $41,000 pays. So the progressivity of the tax system, where people on higher incomes pay a larger proportion, or share, of tax is going to be maintained. So, the tax system retains that element, but it obviously provides greater incentives to work, to invest, to advance, to get ahead, which is what it's all about.

Now, before we go to questions, I want to turn to a sadder topic, but a very grave and important one. Marise and I have - and all of the Government have - no greater responsibility than keeping Australians safe and keeping Australians safe from terrorism.

You would have seen in the Budget that we've allocated an extra $300 million to improve the safety and security at airports, given the terrorist threat. Now, the ADF and our partners in the Middle East have done a great job in destroying and diminishing and degrading ISIL. It's lost almost all of it’s territory in Iraq and in Syria. I want to pay tribute to the men and women of the Australian Defence Force and of course, the Iraq security forces and all of our partners in that campaign.

But, ISIL is still a very, very real threat. I want to say how much we condemn the shocking terrorist attacks in Surabaya. We've seen three attacks on three churches. Another attack we've just heard of in the course of today.

Our heart goes out to all of the victims of those attacks. The people of Indonesia know that they have our utmost solidarity in the battle against terrorism that President Widodo and all of his Government and their security forces are conducting to keep the people of Indonesia safe.

Right around the world, this terrorist threat is very present. We have to be very alert to it, particularly recognising Australians spend a lot of time travelling and including in Indonesia, of course.

There's been an attack in Paris, as you know, which ISIL has laid claim to. The police there are treating that as a terrorist attack at this stage. So, while there has been considerable success against the terrorists in the Middle East, the battle against terror is far from over. The threat is very real. We've had 14 plots, terrorist plots, disrupted here in Australia, including one that would have brought down an A380. So it's a very, very serious threat. It's one we are absolutely committed to meeting and as you know, we are always putting more resources behind our agencies to keep us safe, whether it is in terms of better laws, stronger laws, better technology, or more financial resources.


Prime Minister, acknowledging the [inaudible] Daesh in Syria and Iraq and what we have seen in Indonesia, are you concerned about the tactics and techniques that we are seeing emerge?


Well, the attack in Surabaya is a shocking, a shocking, shocking, cowardly attack. We condemn it utterly. It appears to be that a man used his whole family - his wife, two daughters, two sons - between them split up and performed suicide attacks on three different churches. It almost beggars belief. The brutality, the barbarity, the inhumanity, the blasphemy of these terrorists strains our ability to believe it. But it's there.

These people are the worst of the worst. They are threatening civilised nations. They're threatening civilised way of life. They're threatening people's harmony and religion. They are debasing and defaming Islam, as President Widodo has often said. We condemn them. Our hearts go out to the people of Indonesia and of course, I have today written to my very good friend, President Jokowi, conveying our heartfelt sympathy.

But above all, our resolute solidarity.


Prime Minister, just in relation to the Australian space agency, $345 million annually that’s worth. We only get 0.8% of that currently, can we catch up with what we are offering, what we have on the table or are we going to be light-years behind?


Yes we can and we will. Look, the space sector is actually a multibillion-dollar industry in Australia already. Having our own space agency will enable us to better coordinate the many opportunities that exist, both for international cooperation, for international partnership and investment. It is, by its very nature, a very international business.

There's a lot of very enterprising work going on in Australia. We have a big space sector of course, not least because we've got such a large share of the world's land mass. That is an opportunity that we're determined to do more of.

It’s all part of our Innovation and Science Agenda. Innovation is the key and you can see what Nigel and Tim have done here. Everything they're doing is innovative. You've got to be faster, smarter, more innovative to remain ahead and succeed. Some of the technologies we were looking at a moment ago are an example of that.


Just back on the Indonesian bombings, have you a chance to speak to the President and what practical assistance will Australia provide? Also on that, do you think it is time Australia raised the terror alert level?


Well, the terror alert, the alerts for travelers, Australian travelers to Indonesia is constantly reviewed, as you know. That’s reviewed independently by our security agencies.

As far as the President is concerned, I have written to President Jokowi. We speak regularly, we are very good friends.


Just with regards to not running in preselections, not running Liberal candidates [inaudible] Party do you have any regrets that you are not running in those elections?


You're asking about the by-elections in Western Australia? Well, look, that's a decision for the West Australian division. They've got a state by-election coming up which they are focusing their attention on.

There will be a general election, an election in every House of Representatives seat in the first half of next year. These by-elections are of course, the consequence of the Labor Party's failure to get their house in order

The fact is that it was obvious, it was plain, that last October, that the four members of the House of Representatives who resigned over citizenship last week, were not eligible to sit in the House.

Three of those were Labor members. Bill Shorten gave us a “rolled gold guarantee” that they were eligible.

Well, like all of his guarantees, they're purely tactical and political.

You cannot believe “unbelieva-Bill” on citizenship any more than you can on the Budget or on tax or on public finances.


Can I just ask about Jane Prentice? Will you act to save Jane Prentice?


Jane has done a fantastic job and is doing a fantastic job as Assistant Minister for Social Services. She's done extraordinary work, particularly with the disability sector. She's a good friend of both of ours. We both lent her our support in the preselection, but the LNP has a very much grassroots preselection system. There were 370 people attending, 370 members of the LNP, I'm told only 18 of them were from the state council, so that was overwhelmingly a local members' decision. That is how the Liberal Party around the country operates, but particularly in Queensland, where you have a very strong, grassroots tradition.

One of our Cabinet colleagues was challenged in his preselection just a little while ago and he was successful in retaining his endorsement. We’re very sorry to see Jane's been defeated in her preselection, but this is the consequence of having a grassroots political party. You have to win the support of your local members to be re-endorsed. That's something all of us have to do.


Just one on tax, PM. Peter Costello said today: “How can you guarantee tax cuts in 2024 when it is two elections away?” Also, should there be a spending cap?


Yeah, let me just say to you, we have the lowest rate of spending growth of any government in the last 50 years, including the government Peter was Treasurer in. That's just one point, so we have brought spending, brought back the rate of spending growth. The second point is this; governments have to plan for the long-term. Every tax reform is one that is set out for the long-term. When every tax change is put in place, it continues until it is repealed or amended or varied in some point in the future.

So, what we have is a Budget that is bringing us back into balance a year earlier, with a small surplus. We have turned the corner on debt. Net debt this year, this financial year, will peak as a share of GDP. Over the forward estimates it will then reduce by $30 billion.

So, we’ve got a very significant turnaround in our debt, because of the discipline we’ve been able to bring back into the Budget process.

But it is really important that Australians see their Government is planning for the long-term, whether it is building the roads and rail we need for the 21st century, whether it’s with the tax system that we need for the 21st century. Whether it’s ensuring we make the investments, the long-term investments over many decades that we need to re-equip our armed forces.

So we make no apologies for being a Government with a vision and a long-term vision to secure Australia's future. To secure our security and indeed our prosperity for all of us, not just our generation, but for Ella's generation and the generations that will come after hers.