Source: Prime Minister of Australia
The Hon. Peter Dutton MP, Minister for Home Affairs: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for being here today. I want to say firstly thank you very much to Dave and Donna Aplin for hosting us here today at an amazing business. I really am very proud that as the local member, we have businesses like this here where they are employing young people, young apprentices, and really contribute back to the local economy. This is a business that started out in a garage and now is a multi-million dollar business, employing locals, helping local families pay off their mortgages and send their kids to school. So it’s an incredible story of Aplin’s and of the staff here. It’s quite a really revolutionary business and to have the family involved in the business as well is quite remarkable. Prime Minister, thank you very much for being here today. This is a business that has really benefited from the Federal Government Budget and decisions that we’ve made before this Budget as well. And I think this is representative of small businesses around the country where they are going to create those jobs. And this business really relied on JobSeeker and has spoken quite openly about the downturn in their business in the run up to COVID and through the course of COVID. So PM, thank you very much for being here and I’ll invite you to say some words.
Prime Minister: Thanks Peter and thanks Dave for having us here today. It’s great getting out and talking to businesses that run our economy and put Australians into work. The COVID-19 rescission, it’s been tough, but our recovery plan to take Australia out of the COVID-19 recession is based on the men and women who run Australian businesses, the men and women who work in Australian businesses, who are having a go in some of the toughest times. And it’s great to be here at Dave’s business, just as I was at several other businesses this morning. A Mazda dealership not too far away. After that a smash repairing business, businesses over the course of the weekend making steel, involved in recycling, the minerals industry. Businesses digging in, getting through and looking forward. And this business is no different. And this year’s Budget, our recovery plan has an impact here as well. Of course, as Peter has just said, the JobKeeper program kept people at work in this business. But this business has now graduated out of the JobKeeper program, just like the two other businesses I’ve visited here in Queensland and in southeast Queensland this morning. Graduating out of a program that kept their employees together and kept their show together throughout the worst of this COVID-19 recession and now getting back optimistically on their feet. Now starting to see that business coming back. Now talking about employing people, not just holding on to people in their businesses and particularly here a number of really important initiatives.
First of all, we’re in the road safety business here and in our budget this year, $2 billion is being spent on critical road safety works that are ready to go all around the country on a use it or lose it basis with the states and territories. So we’ve put that $2 billion down every six months and you’ve got to meet your marks to get these jobs happening on the ground. There’s a billion dollars also for councils all around the country on the same basis. So I’m looking forward to seeing more of these signs on roads as we’re putting important safety works into places to make our roads safer, particularly in rural and regional areas, but in metro areas as well. Whether it’s in the Brisbane City Council area or up in Cloncurry Shire. Wherever you are in Queensland, there’s support for those works. And Dave, I’m looking forward to seeing some more orders coming in, mate, and you guys being even more busy in the months ahead, in the years ahead because of that investment.
But the instant expensing initiative. I mean, this business in particular, as so many others did well, particularly here in Queensland I’m seeing, when we extended the instant asset write off and now to complete instant expensing. That is going to boost investment. Our economic recovery plan is about bringing decisions forward to get things happening sooner. That means more people being employed and more businesses that are a part of the supply chain feeding off each other. One success of one business is also the success of another business, as we were hearing this morning. And I think that’s really, really important. Today’s consumer confidence numbers back that up. It shows that we’re 93 per cent of the way back from where we were when we had that big confidence shock as a result of the COVID-19 recession. So the plans we have put in place, the plans we are putting in place, are getting Australia out of the COVID-19 recession and its business led. Because when businesses are making decisions to invest and to hire, that’s when the Australian economy grows. It doesn’t grow by putting more public servants in public office buildings. That’s a role in the process that helps support the initiatives that roll out around the country and they do fantastic work. They do important work, but where the real engine of growth in our economy, where eight out of 10 people work, is where businesses employ people and businesses do better. And we’re seeing that right here.
But the other thing we’re doing is we’re ensuring that Australians get to keep more of what they earn. At the last election, we took to the election our pledge that we would legislate a plan that would see 94 per cent of Australians pay no more than 30 cents in the dollar in tax. Now, we took that to an election and the Australian public backed us and we went into that Parliament, Peter will remember it well, Labor opposed us and we legislated it and we made it law. And that’s what Australians have still to look forward to. But it’s also what they’re able to realise now. 2.3 million Queenslanders had a legislated tax cut last Friday. We announced it in the Budget on Tuesday and we were able to make it law through the Parliament by Friday. That’s called getting on with it. And that’s exactly what we’re going to continue to do with this plan and we want to see that benefiting businesses right across Queensland, getting Queenslanders working again because of a clear Budget plan that is delivering. Peter and I are happy to take questions.
Journalist: You mentioned getting on with the job. When you promise money or promise funding for projects or anything that is shovel ready, what do you mean by shovel ready?
Prime Minister: Well, it’s different for the size of the project. And what I’m talking about with the projects we’ve currently got in the program I was just referring to, and that’s $3 billion and they’ve got to be pretty much ready to go. Now, that means they can still be in planning, but they need to be able to move into these projects for a scheme that is focused on the urgency of the spend. And that’s why in those programs, we did it on a use it or lose it and councils and state governments will have to meet their marks. And if they can’t get the money spent in that period, well, we’ll give it to another state. We’ll give it to another council and someone else is prepared to get on with it. And so with sort of the smaller projects like that, there’s those arrangements. But on larger projects, it’s based on what the states tell us about what they can bring forward. It still may be in some planning phases or the late stages, but it’s over a different timeframe over the next year or two or so. But importantly, we want it to happen as soon as we can. This, our economic recovery plan from the COVID-19 recession that we’ve laid out in this Budget, is about bringing those decisions forward, bringing business decisions forward to invest, bringing government decisions forward to build, bringing business decisions forward to hire people right across the economy, and bringing forward decisions of Australians, getting tax cuts to be able to spend that money in the economy or young people taking up apprenticeships. I heard the story this morning. It was up at Caboolture Smash Repairs. It was, we’ve been down there working away, putting these plans together for many, many months. Peter’s been just an integral part of that process, as well as on the national security front. But I met Ian up there at Caboolture Smash Repairs this morning. He was going to have to let four young people go in his business. He already had the letters written and his wife was feeling absolutely sick at the prospect of what he was going to have to do. This was a small family business. Then the Treasurer and I walked out in the courtyard in Canberra and we announced JobKeeper. All of those four young people kept their jobs. And I can’t tell you how that made me feel, that we know that that program meant so much to that business. Now, they not only kept those four, they’re now putting more on. They’ve graduated out of JobKeeper and they’ve got a new contract because they kept this staff on and they’re set. They’re set. That’s what our plans are doing.
Journalist: Prime Minister, Senior Liberals are standing by New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Is she the victim in this situation?
Prime Minister: Gladys is a, been a tremendous Premier and she has my absolute support. And I thought she showed a lot of courage yesterday. But I also thought she showed a lot of humility, which is the Gladys I know. You know, we’re all human. And particularly in those areas of our lives, and Gladys is an extremely private person, and a person of tremendous integrity. She’s a great friend. And I know she’s been getting many messages of support from her friends and colleagues and including from me from yesterday and Jenny. That would have been really tough to have that all out there in front of everybody yesterday. I just thought she showed a lot of strength to deal with that and to deal with the choices that she’s made in her own life. And how she just dealt with it yesterday, I thought was a real credit to her and to her family as well. And I want to thank particularly Dom Perrottet and Brad Hazzard and the whole team down there in the New South Wales Government getting in behind her. And certainly they were the messages we sent yesterday.
Journalist: Do you concede that she’s erred in her judgement by continuing this relationship, after-
Prime Minister: Look, Gladys has made her statement on that and I support her and her statement. What I do note is that she’s shown the way, particularly when it comes to how to grow a state like New South Wales and get the balance right between how you’re managing COVID and how you’re growing your economy, I said yesterday, New South Wales has had a 70 per cent turnaround in their employment since the pit of the COVID recession, 70 per cent. In Queensland it’s been 44 per cent, in South Australia it’s also close to 70 per cent. And I think the way Gladys Berejiklian has led New South Wales in this crisis as part of the National Cabinet, she’s been a key figure that I’ve relied on so many occasions. And I’m really pleased with what she said yesterday. I’m thrilled that, you know, I can guarantee you one thing, Gladys is someone who keeps on keeping on.
Journalist: Prime Minister, is it a good idea for politicians to invite political donors to fundraising events during an election campaign?
Prime Minister: All political parties should comply with the laws. The laws are different in different states. They’re different at federal levels, they’re different at a state level. Everyone should comply with the law. It’s pretty straightforward.
Journalist: Prime Minister there are reports that China is blocking the import of coal, do you, what are your thoughts about that?
Prime Minister: Well, I’ve seen those reports and the Trade Minister has had a bit to say about that this morning. They, and we’re looking at those reports and obviously raising those issues as appropriate with the relevant authorities. It’s not uncommon for domestic quotas to be in place in China. That often happens, particularly when it comes to coal in China, that they do have their own coal industry. And it is not uncommon that from time to time, the Chinese government will have domestic quotas to support local production and local jobs in China. So that is not a new thing. And I’d just seek to condition how people look at those reports. That is not uncommon to see that. And I can only assume, based on our relationship and based on the discussions we have with the Chinese Government, that that is just part of their normal process.
So you’re having a good go, there’s a few others here I’m sure there’s some local journos too?
Journalist: Prime Minister, is there a chance that this ban could be challenged by Australia, and would it be a breach of the WTO?
Prime Minister: Well, I think it’s important not to get ahead of ourselves here. As I said, the arrangements they’ve put around domestic quotas in coal production is not unusual. At the moment these are speculations and the Trade Minister is running that [inaudible].
Journalist: Prime Minister, is the Federal Government doing enough to bring stranded Australians back home during this coronavirus pandemic?
Prime Minister: Well, we’re moving heaven and earth, frankly. And with Howard Springs, we’re concluding arrangements up there. I’m also concluding arrangements with airlines. But already of the just around 4,000 that I mentioned that were in an urgent situation, we’ve got almost a thousand of them home since I made those remarks. I was getting an update on the progress of that this morning. Look, we are just quietly getting on about that. Our consular officials around the world are linking up getting people onto planes, we’re freeing up places in our hotel quarantine. This Friday, there’ll be Kiwis coming to Australia on holiday. And that does two things. Well, it’ll be good for New South Wales, the Northern Territory and the ACT. If Queensland doesn’t want to apply two weeks quarantine on Kiwis coming into Queensland, they’d be able to benefit from it as well. So that’s a matter for the Queensland Government. And New Zealand has a very good record when it comes to their COVID arrangements, but they would be able to do that. But the other key part of it is that it doesn’t- it is freeing up spaces in the New South Wales quarantine for more Australians to come home. So we’re working on the air capacity to get people back. We’re getting people who are triaged on our lists to get them onto those planes. We put $65 million dollars into a support fund. And Peter and I worked on that together some months ago to try and get more and more people onto these seats, to get them home, to maximise the number of quarantine places available. And that New Zealand decision, I want to thank Gladys again in New South Wales for taking the decision on the Kiwis, which meant Australians coming back from New Zealand also won’t be taking up places. So we’re getting people home and we’re working to that commitment that I gave earlier.
Journalist: What do you make of Anthony Albanese saying he’ll consider repealing stage three of the tax cuts?
Prime Minister: Well, first of all, I’m not surprised that Anthony Albanese wants to take away people’s tax cuts. And let’s think about it. These tax cuts mean that if you’re earning $50,000 dollars a year, then you will be paying 30 cents on every extra dollar you earn, not 32.5 cents. That’s important. Now, these tax cuts are designed to ensure that 94 per cent of Australians won’t pay more than 30 cents in the dollar in tax. Now, this is just a reheat of Bill Shorten with what Anthony Albanese’s saying. I mean, they had that argument at the last election and the Australian people made their decision on it. So what you can always know from Labor, when you hear that they want to spend more, always know that they want to tax you more. That’s how it works with Labor. That’s how it always works with Labor. Spend with one hand, take it back on the other. And- but, you know, I have no confidence in any plan that they would put forward. When you can’t even understand that the COVID-19 recession was caused by COVID-19 then how can you have any confidence in an alternative plan that can’t even get that one simple fact right.
Journalist: What about IR reform, how much do you think employee groups are a roadblock to IR, the ACTU says that worker’s rights are being infringed?
Prime Minister: Well, I wouldn’t share that view. And I think it’s been good though, that both employee and employer groups have been working together under the Attorney-General’s stewardship now for many months. When I first announced that, and we have been working through what has come back from that process, but there’s one objective of that, and that is to get people into jobs. And that is the rule that we’ll put over it as a Cabinet, as Peter knows, and we look at all the proposals that came forward. I just want things that can get more people into work. Now, it has been good that during the period of the COVID-19 recession that we were able to agree to more flexible arrangements, which I know kept people in jobs and knowing that that has kept people in jobs, I want arrangements that are going to get people, even more people into jobs. And so that is our objective. And we will be looking at that carefully. But, you know, on things like the waterfront, for example, we talked about here before, and Peter, you might want to comment on this, but we need our waterfront to be at its best at the moment. Supply chains are under enormous pressure both on going out and coming in, and being able to get access to the inputs you need to your business, but also, you know, to keep the crayfish going north and all the rest of it, we need things to be at their best. Whether its airfreight or elsewhere. And Peter’s responsibility in border protection and particularly the Border Force, I think is critical to keeping that going. So, Peter?
The Hon. Peter Dutton MP, Minister for Home Affairs: Well, it was an important point that David made today. He’s got workplace health and safety gear that’s stuck on a port and can’t get that out to work sites to keep workers safe. And that’s because the unions are holding up these ships and this very vital part of the economy from doing its business. And that means that if those workers can’t perform the work on the job site, then that business is not getting paid and they’re worried about their own employment arrangements. So that’s the real society impact of the union’s decisions. And that sort of militant behaviour I hoped was in the past. But we need to make sure that we can get the goods, including medicines, everything else, off those ships and out into communities. Otherwise, Australians suffer.
Journalist: Minister Dutton, are you confident that you haven’t broken any donation laws?
The Hon. Peter Dutton MP, Minister for Home Affairs: Absolutely.
Prime Minister: Ok. Thanks everyone.