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Transcript of doorstop interview: Brisbane Markets: 27 August 2013: Small Business Deregulation; Paid Parental Leave; Syria; Boat Buy Back Scheme

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The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP Shadow Minister for Communications and Broadband

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Doorstop with candidate for Moreton, Malcolm Cole - Brisbane

Subjects: Small Business Deregulation, Paid Parental Leave, Syria, Boat Buy Back Scheme



We’re here at the Brisbane Markets with Malcolm Cole who is the LNP candidate in Moreton. And we’re here talking about jobs and small business in particular with the chairman of the markets, Tony Joseph and Peter Kedwell who’s the proprietor of the Buzz Café behind us. Jobs is a key focus, the key focus of our whole economic strategy. We are determined to make it easier for small business to do what it does best, creating jobs and opportunities and wealth for Australians.

Small business is the engine room of the economy. That’s why we’ll be cutting company tax by 1.5 per cent. That is why we’ll be having a root and branch review of the competition laws to look at the pressure on small business from some of the bigger players in the corporate world. It’s why we’ll be abolishing the carbon tax. It’s while we’ll be cutting $1 billion a year out of the cost of red tape and regulation.

You know red tape and regulation affects businesses of every size but as you’d know Tony it affects small businesses the most because the owner or the boss has to do all of that compliance himself or herself. The big end of town can delegate it to an army of bead counters and lawyers. So getting that regulation and red tape off the back of small business is vital and it’s vital for this electorate.

Now Malcolm has been telling me, this is a two Malcolm show here I might say, but Malcolm Cole has been telling me about the very troubling growth in unemployment here in Moreton during the six years of Labor Government. Why don’t you talk about that Mal?


It’s really an unemployment crisis that Labor has given Moreton. In every single area of this electorate unemployment is now higher than it was when this government came to office. In every part of Moreton unemployment has gone up under Labor. So what we need to do is take pressure off small businesses. I run my own small business actually, based here at the markets at Rocklea.

I understand the red tape that you’re talking about. I deal with it every day and I know the clients and the other business owners that I talk to are feeling the same pinch, the heat from the carbon tax and the 21,000 plus new or changed business regulations that this government has bought in over the last six years. So there’s a lot of pressure on business and that is flowing through to a reluctance to employ people. We need to get government off the backs of business, get government out of their pockets and let business owners do what they do, create strong and sustainable jobs.


That’s right. Do you have some questions?


What’s the plan, how will you help improve jobs in this area?


Well just as we’ve been describing, reducing tax, the carbon tax and company tax, getting regulation off the backs of small, well big business as well, but small business in particular and also by ensuring that the system works for small business. One of the big concerns that we hear all the time is about the dominance of the big retailers for example, of Coles and Woollies. It’s got big implications for producers, primary producers, whether they’re in the fruit or vegetable business or in livestock, wheat and so forth, all across the whole supply chains there’s concern about that.

Now what we’re going to do is have a root and branch review of the competition laws so that small business feels that there is somebody looking out for them. There has been a real sense of being forgotten, small business sense, of being forgotten during these six years of Labor Government.


Can I say something there? The important thing in this industry is we’re dealing with a product that is a living product and once it’s picked it’s got to get to the shelf as quick as it can and the biggest problem we’ve had in this industry over a number of years now is being slowed down by red tape as you were saying.

And we need to move our products through the system very quickly and by what you’re saying there is music to our ears. We would like to see just a free go at getting our produce to the customers without any hold up whatsoever and it has been held up by different types. We’ve got a code at present time that means, we believe that that code should be there, but it should be freed up in some way and that needs negotiating now.


Well I will tell you what we’re going to do with regulation. We’re going to look at every aspect of Federal regulation and ask the question: What is the objective that this regulation, this element of red tape seeks to serve? What’s the policy objective? Is that policy objective relevant any longer? And if it isn’t, that regulation should go. If it’s still relevant - and in many cases it will be, perhaps in most cases it still will be - then the question is, is there a more cost effective way of delivering that policy objective? Can we do this in a smarter and cheaper way, both for Government and business? And a big part of my responsibility in a Coalition Government if we are elected will be to use the digital economy, the digital platforms to deliver that. One of the disappointing aspects of the Labor Government is that they’ve talked endlessly about the National Broadband Network and built hardly any of it. They have spent billions of dollars and delivered hardly any of it. But what they haven’t done is taken the Government - the business of Government - on to digital platforms.

We will ensure for example that every Australian and every Australian business has the opportunity to have, at no charge to them, a digital mail box. An electronic pigeon hole, if you like, which will be an address for which all Government communications will be directed. So obviously it’s an opt-in scheme, it’s not compulsory. But that would mean that a small business would be getting all of their communications from Government - we’d bring in State and Local Governments - into that one electronic mailbox.

And that will ensure that nothing can get lost. You can imagine the huge savings in mail and paper and all of the compliance and administration there. That’s just one aspect policies we’re going to bring to bear to make it easy - easier - for the small businesses here and right around Australia to do their job.


The Government has flagged that businesses will only have to file their GST maybe only twice a year instead of every quarter. Is that something the Coalition will consider as well?


Joe will be making an announcement about that in due course.


Malcolm you’ve said your paid parental leave scheme -- it’s reasonable to say it’s too generous -


Sorry -


Why do you think it’s reasonable to say that? Is it too generous?


No, no. Our paid parental leave policy is a very generous policy. I am a supporter of it. I think it is going to be the best, the most generous paid parental leave scheme in the world and we are very proud of it. What I was saying yesterday is that I respect people who have a different point of view. What I have found over years is that if you want to persuade people to change their minds, the first thing you have to do is treat them and their opinions with respect. So what I was saying yesterday, as I supported and emphasised the strong support for the paid parental leave scheme, was simply to say that I respect and understand the views of those who say it is too generous.

They’re entitled to that point of view. We disagree with it and we can demonstrate that our paid parental leave scheme is not only fully funded and costed but is a very worthwhile productivity measure. But just because you respect someone - look I know where Kevin Rudd’s coming on this. Kevin Rudd does not respect anyone’s views except his own.

So he thinks that because I respect someone’s views of people that disagree with me, that’s somehow or other remarkable. Well it is not. Normal people in the real world - which Kevin doesn’t inhabit most of the time - the normal people in the real world say: Well you’ve got a different point of view, I respect your view. You’re entitled to express that. Here’s why I’m going to convince you to come over to my side. I’ve found over the years that’s a more persuasive way of getting your message across than treating everybody that doesn’t agree with you as though they’re an idiot which is Kevin Rudd’s approach.


The times are tough. Is it economically responsible to give women who are on $150,000 a year $75,000 under your scheme?


Well, you’re asking me about the terms of the paid parental leave system. The proposal is that it is a workplace entitlement scheme. So obviously like every other benefit whether it’s sick leave or holiday pay it is going to be paid in accordance with your earnings so that’s why there’s a differential rate depending on your income. The questions are, is it costed, is it affordable? Yes to both of those.

Will it make a big difference in terms of productivity? Of course it will! It is basically, if you like, a transfer from big companies, the biggest companies to small business and to mothers and to women. That is really what it amounts to. I mean if you’re a woman working for one of the big companies who pays paid parental leave already may not make much difference to you in net terms. But if you were working for a small business one of the firms here - it will make the world of difference.

So what it does is it levels the playing field. So it’s a big productivity benefit, a big productivity driver and it drives enormous equity though our system. Yes it’s expensive, yes it’s very generous. But that’s a good thing isn’t it? Aren’t we investing in our families? Isn’t that a good thing to be proud of investing in?


Can I just say as a small business owner as well that I think that my staff are entitled to the same entitlements on leave as women who work in the public service, women who work in large corporations. And there’s a lot of small businesses like mine who would like to be able to fully fund a maternity leave scheme including with superannuation. I think that it’s absolutely fair and I’ve got to say I’m always astounded that we’ve had this argument for a decade about the need to have a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme, well now we’re going to get one if you elect the Coalition on September 7.


What did you make of Tony Windsor’s comments on Australian Story last night that you would have made a better leader than Tony Abbott would?


Very flattering, very flattering but he may not have either my or Tony Abbott’s best interests at heart in making those comments.


Mr Turnbull do you have any comment about what’s going on in Syria at the moment? The US and Britain are likely to possibly make a strike. I mean, if you’re in government what will Australia do?


Well, if we’re in government that will be a responsibility for the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister and I won’t be either but I would just say that I think that more generally the revelations about the use of chemical weapons is shocking. I endorse everything that has been said in condemning it both by our leaders and indeed by those in Europe and North America.

Obviously the global community - there has got to be a careful process and they satisfied that chemical weapons were used and indeed who was responsible for them. So I think the Americans are taking an appropriately deliberate approach to this. This is not something you want to be seen to act rashly over. So I’m very comfortable with the approach that’s being taken.


The Coalition’s boat buy back scheme. Indonesia doesn’t like it, some people have said it’s crazy. How is it going to do work and do you support it?


Well of course I support it! Look, we’re in the middle of an election campaign. There’s going to be a lot of politics right across the board on this issue. I’ll just say this, let’s cut through all the rhetoric and political argument to the facts.

Here they are: When we lost office in 2007 the boats had stopped for years. John Howard put in place measures that stopped boats. Fact. Kevin Rudd came into Government and decided to change those measures and he said it wouldn’t have any effect on the rate of unauthorised arrivals. He was wrong.

We said he was wrong at the time and he has been proved wrong to an extent that I think even his critics didn’t imagine would be so survive. So this flood of unauthorised arrivals, of people smugglers, of drownings at sea, billions of dollars, hundreds of lives lost - that is Kevin Rudd’s doing. That is a fact. That is an inescapable fact.

Now the Australian people know that we have a commitment and a capacity and an experience and a track record in dealing with this issue. And we will use a range of measures - announced already by Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott - to stop the boats once again.

But the real question is on border protection: Who do you trust? The team that protected our borders in the past and stopped the boats or Mr Rudd who opened the floodgates that undermined policies that worked for years. Kevin Rudd is the architect of the people smuggling business. There has never been a better friend to the people-smuggling business than Kevin Rudd.

Thank you very much.


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