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Transcript of doorstop: Northlink Interchange, Perth: 10 August 2018: Northlink project; WA infrastructure funding; GST; Ben Roberts-Smith; Great Barrier Reef; National Energy Guarantee; remote housing

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Friday, 10 August 2018

Doorstop with Attorney General the Hon. Christian Porter MP

Northlink Interchange, Perth

SUBJECTS: Northlink project; WA infrastructure funding; GST; Ben Roberts-Smith; Great Barrier Reef; National Energy Guarantee; Remote housing.



First of all PM, welcome. It’s great to have you here. So we’re at effectively the halfway mark of the Northlink project and I want to welcome the PM here today to mark that very significant event. From about 13-14 in the out years of the budget cycle, the Federal Government, with the Prime Minister’s leadership, has invested about $11 billion in infrastructure in WA.

In my electorate of Pearce, there are about 2.6 billion reasons to welcome the Prime Minister here today and this is one of them that we’re standing on. My electorate starts just a kilometre or so up that way and Northlink is going to make a massive difference.

But I just wanted to, while I have you here PM, is to thank you. We have $160 million investment in the Joondalup health campus in my electorate, $350 million on Yanchep rail, $500 million on Ellenbrook rail, $108 million - all of this Commonwealth money - on the extension of the Freeway north up to Romeo road, $220 million on the Bindoon bypass, $270 million on the Great Northern Highway upgrade and the

immense project that we are standing on today is an $820 million investment in a project just over $1 billion.

This is the single biggest road project in the history of main roads in WA. PM, for the people in my electorate it’s going to mean 16 fewer sets of traffic lights. We get rid of 21 speed limit changes. It’ll halve the time for people in my electorate, at Ellenbrook coming into Morley. It will also mean that for the first time we take really heavy vehicles out of the Swan Valley which can only increase tourism, in what is one of our peak tourist spots.

And as we go further north to Muchea there will be an enormous opportunity to create jobs through logistic and transport infrastructure because we are creating an employment hub based around Northlink out at Muchea.

So the importance PM of what you have done is enormous to the people of my electorate, to the state. And all of that money, $2.6 billion in Pearce, $11 billion overall is in complete addition to the $4.7 billion fix to the GST - the long term fix to the formula which Prime Minister if I might say so we’ve been working on for five years and you are the individual who made that happen.

So to say that I am delighted to have you here is an understatement of all proportions.


Well thank you Christian, thank you so much. I would like to say how proud I am to be here. This Northlink project is a billion-dollar project, 80% of which, in fact $820 million of which, is being funded by the Federal Government.

This bridge is just another stage, as Christian said, it is about the halfway point in the completion of the project which is going well. We’ve just been talking to the builders and they expect the project to be completed by this time next year. This is what we can do with a strong economy.

Whether it is the additional money we put into the GST pool to enable us to deliver justice for Western Australia on the GST, an extra $4.7 billion as Christian said out to 2026-27, but ensure that every state and territory did better as well, to be able to do that, to be able to find $11 billion in infrastructure in Western Australia and right around the country, what you need is a strong economy.

That is what we have delivered. We said we would deliver jobs and growth in 2016 and last year we had the record jobs growth in Australia's history. We’ve got GDP growth at 3.1%, we’ve got the lowest percentage of Australians of working age on welfare in 25 years.

And all of that is made possible by a stronger economy. Right now, the Energy Ministers are meeting and making good progress towards the National Energy Guarantee. Again, that is going to reduce energy prices across the east coast and the National Electricity Market.

We are determined to do everything we can to encourage stronger economic growth, more jobs, that’s why we have been able to reduce company taxes and we see, yesterday I was with Steve Irons at Thermo King West talking small business here, family business here in Perth, taking on apprentices, investing and getting ahead.

That is what is happening here in Western Australia and right around the country. It’s that strong economic growth that only our Government can deliver because we are the only side of politics that has a plan for jobs and economic growth. The Labor Party, under Mr Shorten, is at its most anti-business, anti-jobs, anti-investment, most high taxing state the Labor Party has been in a generation.

There is no bigger threat to the jobs of Western Australians than Bill Shorten and it is great to be here with Christian and all my West Australian team, standing up for jobs, investment and a fair deal for WA on the GST, which we have delivered.


Prime Minister are you aware of the allegations against Ben Roberts-Smith published today and were you aware of them prior to their publication?


I am aware of the allegations, complaints have been made to the police and they will be dealt with appropriately. Obviously I can’t make any comment on the specific matters because they are being dealt with by the police.

But I just want to say that we have zero tolerance for violence against women and children. I just want to repeat what I say at every opportunity. While not all disrespect of women ends up in violence against women, that is how all violence against women begins.


You shared a stage with him back in April, would you be comfortable doing so again?


I’m not going to make any comments on the specific case. It’s being dealt with by the police in the appropriate way.


Has any advice been sought on whether the VC can be revoked if there is any evidence --


Again, I am not going to comment on the specific case. You would understand this is a serious matter, these are serious allegations, they have to be dealt with by the police in the appropriate way.


How closely are you following the SAS investigation that’s currently underway?


I am very, I am certainly being updated on that by the Defence Minister.


Prime Minister, could you talk to us about the story on the front page of the Australian today about the Great Barrier Reef Foundation that two directors may have been hosted at your home?


Well can I just say that Kristina Keneally, is obviously having done her best to wreck New South Wales is now trying to undermine the largest single grant of funding to support the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

The decision taken by the Cabinet process, in the budget process, to provide funding to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation - it is a partnership - it’s been widely welcomed in the scientific community, in the Reef community. It’s a very reputable organisation. The submission was presented in the normal way by the Department of the Environment and went through a full Cabinet process and, indeed, has been legislated by the Parliament.

In fact it is through the passage of the Appropriation Bill. So it’s a very, very appropriate, thorough process and it is a great grant which will go a long way towards maintaining the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.


Do you think it passes the pub test though?


Well it has gone through the Cabinet process, it passed the Cabinet test and it passed the Parliament test. It has actually been legislated by Parliament. It is in an Appropriation Act.


But you talk about the pub test with the GST which obviously didn’t pass the pub test. Are you confident that even though it has gone through those processes --


Well the answer is yes. Everyone should be supportive of protecting the Great Barrier Reef. This is a very substantial investment that has been made to protect the Great Barrier Reef, it’s a partnership with the Federal Government, the Queensland Government is represented as well.

It’s subject to a 100 page partnership agreement. There is a leading panel of scientific experts to supervise the investment of the funds in the projects. It will protect the health of the Reef.

This has been widely welcomed by the Reef community and the scientific community and the money will be spent with that very high level of supervision and oversight and scientific leadership.


How well do you know Mr Stephen Fitzgerald and is that relevant in your view?


Well the answer is it’s not relevant but I can’t recall the last time I met Stephen Fitzgerald. He was employed by Goldman Sachs at the same time as I was but we didn’t even work together.

This is an attempt, promoted by Kristina Keneally, who was one of the worst Premiers in New South Wales history, was exposed for that, wasted billions of dollars in her mismanagement of that state and now she is trying to smear what is a very responsible decision, taken, as I said, in the Budget process through the Cabinet system.


How was the figure of $444 million reached though, was that part of the proposal from the Department?


The Environment Department, through its minister obviously makes a submission in the Budget process, it goes through the Expenditure Review Committee. It is a thorough process. It is then included in the budget. It is now part of an Appropriation Bill which has actually been passed by Parliament.


On the energy guarantee, how will you assess the mood of the party room on Tuesday. Will it be voices, show of hands or a secret ballot?


Well we have a discussion and the party room makes decisions by consensus. But there is very strong support for the National Energy Guarantee. It has been considered at different stages by the party room in the past and will be, Josh Frydenberg will be bringing back the outcome of the meeting, together with the relevant federal legislation to the party room next week.


You’ve been here in Pearce today, you were in Swan yesterday, is that a sign you are nervous about these seats ahead of the next election?


Look Australia is a big country and Western Australia is the biggest single part of it. So I get around the nation. It is great to be here in Western Australia and it is great to be here after we’ve been able to sort out this GST issue which I know has been a problem for a long time and I have never run away from that.

I gave a speech back here in 2016 pointing out the unfairness of it. But of course it is challenging to get it resolved it in a way that ensures that all states and territories are better off at the same time as you give a fair deal and a just deal for Western Australia.

Now we have been able to do that and I would like to thank Christian and my West Australian colleagues for the support they have given and the encouragement they have given. But we have been able to do this because we have a strong economy, because we are driving stronger economic growth and we’re doing that with lower taxes, we’re doing that with more investment in infrastructure. We’re doing that with more free trade agreements and of course we’re doing that by doing everything we can to reduce energy prices and we are starting to see real success on that measure, including at the retail level.


Just quickly Premier Mark McGowan said yesterday that you’d care more about this funding stoush with the state government on remote housing if it affected people in marginal seats. Can you respond to that?


The negotiations about remote housing are ongoing. We have provided substantial funding of another $130 million, paid recently, as I described yesterday. But look it is a negotiation that is going on with Nigel Scullion, the Minister.

You have to remember that housing is a core State Government responsibility. I am standing next to a former Treasurer of Western Australia. It is a core State Government responsibility. We have provided support for remote housing and we continue to do so but, obviously, we will always have to have a negotiation with the state and what we are waiting to see, so Nigel Scullion tells me, is for the State Government to say how much it proposes and is prepared to commit to spending on remote housing.

Thank you all very much.


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