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Source: Prime Minister of Australia

Samantha Armytage: Prime Minister, good morning, welcome.

Prime Minister: Good morning.

Armytage: Last week’s polls showed strong support for the Queensland Premier, is that why you’ve hit the campaign trail over the weekend?

Prime Minister: I am here for jobs and to create jobs and yesterday, we announced the opening of a major facility in defence manufacturing, employing hundreds and hundreds of Queenslanders in jobs. The Budget is about jobs, that’s the sole figure I am focused on, is getting more and more Australians into work as a result of our COVID-19 recession recovery plan and that is what we’re here talking to Queenslanders about this week. 2.3 million Queenslanders have a tax cut from what we legislated last Friday, 2 million of those are on low to middle incomes. We’re going to get Australia out of recession by getting Australians back into the work, by incentivising those businesses that employ 8 out of 10 Australians. You want Australia to get back on its feet again, you’ve got to get businesses investing in hiring and that’s what our plan is doing.

Armytage: What are Queenslanders telling you? Because this is a highly political campaign and a really important time for Queensland. A lot of debate around the border. Are Queenslanders saying to you that they support the harsh lockdowns or do they think Annastacia Palaszczuk is playing politics in a pandemic?

Prime Minister: That is a matter for the state election. What I am focused on is our Budget and how that is helping Queenslanders get working again and getting back into work. I mean, the borders, I know, have strong support in many parts of the country. I understand that. They have to be for health reasons but they should only be there for as long as they have to be because while they do provide some benefits, of course we recognise that, at the same time, borders always come at a cost and you have to balance those two things up and they are important matters for the state government to consider.

Armytage: How is the LNP looking in particular in country areas? Are we going to see a two-horse race in this Queensland election where the country areas go one way and the south-east corner of Queenslander goes another?

Prime Minister: I will leave that to Mark Riley and other political commentators. As I said…

Armytage: What is your internal polling telling you?

Prime Minister: I wouldn’t know. I’m not part of the Queensland state election, you would have to ask the Queenslanders who are involved in that. I’m here talking to Queenslanders about how our plan is getting back into jobs and the only way you can get people back into the jobs is if you get those businesses to invest and hire again.

So whether it is the hiring credit we are putting in place, or whether it’s the incentives for businesses to immediately expense all their capital equipment. I have been to businesses across the weekend up here in Queensland, manufacturing businesses, talking to women who have gone into apprenticeships in the steel industry, in the recycling industry, in the defence manufacturing industry. I mean, the facility we opened yesterday, Rheinmatall, they are building the Land 400 boxers, these are the new armoured vehicles. There are 140 going to be built specifically here in Queensland. The investment in this project is massive and that is advanced manufacturing. The most advanced land-based military vehicles complex in the world of its type. That is how you create jobs, that’s how you create manufacturing jobs.

Armytage: Yes, these are amazing pictures we’re seeing from the weekend in Queensland. Now, Simon Birmingham has indicated Europe and the US might not be an option for Aussie travellers in 2021, that Australians may not be able to travel until 2022. How far off could it potentially be and what sort of bubble could we see with New Zealand or the Pacific?

Prime Minister: Well, New Zealand starts very, very soon, on Friday I believe. And we have been working towards that over the last fortnight. But also, I have talked to Pacific leaders, they are keen but we also want to ensure that we get no COVID transmission into those Pacific Island communities. Their health systems are different and we have got to be very careful about the risk and they want us to be careful also. Further afield, places like South Korea, Singapore and Japan, we have had good discussions with them. I think that is a bit further off, but you only need to look at what is happening in Europe at the moment, where they are going through a horrific further wave of COVID-19 and of course we have got to be extremely careful about that. Tens of thousands of Australians have still gone overseas, I think the figure now is around 60,000 throughout the course of the last six months and exceptions that have been provided for people to travel overseas for compassionate reasons or employment reasons and we understand that and the safety and health rules are put in place for that. But there are still more work to go there, Sam.

Armytage: Ok, Prime Minister, while we have got you, we have to talk about Newspoll. There is a new one out this morning. It shows widespread support for your Budget from last week, 4 out of 5 voters back your tax cuts. 42 per cent believe the Budget is good for the economy, 20 per cent say it is bad. Are you pleased with these numbers?

Prime Minister: I am pleased that Australians are seeing that it is a plan for recovery from the COVID-19 recession. That is what it is intended to do. The numbers I’m most interested in are those jobs numbers. This is a Budget for all Australians. We’re trying to get Australians back into work, we’re trying to get Queenslanders back into the work and the policies that support that. It is a plan for doing that job as well as building for the future and whether that is, as I said, in manufacturing or in the services industries or other parts of the economy, we just want to see businesses investing and hiring again and that is why the Budget brings forward those decisions with tax incentives to get Australians working again and particularly get businesses out there and employing and hiring and investing again because that is where you will get an economic recovery from.

Armytage: Prime Minister Scott Morrison, thank you for your time today. We appreciate it.

Prime Minister: Thank you, Sam. Great to be in Queensland.

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