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Transcript 41503

Radio interview with Craig Zonca and Rebecca Levingston, ABC Brisbane

Photo of Turnbull, Malcolm

Turnbull, Malcolm

Period of Service: 15/09/2015 to 24/08/2018

More information about Turnbull, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 14/03/2018

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 41503

Subject(s): Land 400; Dora the Explorer

REBECCA LEVINGSTON:

Prime Minister, Good morning.

PRIME MINISTER:

Good morning, great to be with you.

REBECCA LEVINGSTON:

You’ve had a look at the tanks now, they’re at Enoggera Barracks. Can you describe them for us?

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s like a tank, it is lighter than a tank obviously - the big main battle tank, the Abrams tank - but it is what’s called a combat reconnaissance fighting vehicle. It has the very powerful armament, it provides the firepower, the lethality, but also the protection that our soldiers need. Our duty is to ensure that our soldiers have the capabilities to complete the missions that we send them on, but also provide them with the protection to ensure that they can return home safely once the mission is completed.

CRAIG ZONCA:

Prime Minister what got Queensland over the line, because they were up against Victoria, two different vehicles were being considered. What got the vehicle over the line that will be built here in the Sunshine state?

PRIME MINISTER:

It's absolutely on merit. The decision to recommend - there was only one recommendation - a very, very exhaustive tender process and examination testing. As Marise Payne, the Defence Minister said today with the two competing vehicles the Rheinmetall vehicle and the one from BAE, we shot at them, we tried to blow them up, we tested them in heat, in cold in every possible scenario and the Rheinmetall, vehicle which will be manufactured here in Queensland, was by any measure, the leading candidate. So, it was absolutely on merit. It is a question of, the question is to make sure the vehicle has the capabilities and the lethality, as one of the troopers said to me today, and of course the survivability, because we have to protect our troops. You know, Ben made the point earlier that the vehicles are designed to operate both in what is called asymmetric warfare; so that's like a situation in the Middle East where you're dealing with terrorists and your focus is on improvised explosive devices for example and also in a conventional state on state battlefield scenario, combating an army with similarly equipped to us.

REBECCA LEVINGSTON:

Prime Minister I've heard you use that word lethality a couple of times this morning.

PRIME MINISTER:

That’s killing power, killing power.

REBECCA LEVINGSTON:

Killing power?

PRIME MINISTER:

That's exactly right, well that's their job. The job is to have those vehicles and all of the armament systems that we equip our defence forces with, to be able to destroy the enemy. That is what it's about, it’s force on force.

REBECCA LEVINGSTON:

The Prime Minister of Australia is Malcolm Turnbull, in Brisbane this morning making the announcement at Gallipoli Barracks at Enoggera, that Queensland has been awarded a $5 billion defence contract. On that lethality, killing power, no one's going to argue that, you know, jobs aren't good. They are, the economic boost that's been promised with this contract also good, but for you, Prime Minister when you reflect on what this says about global conflict and instability, is there a kind of more of a dire concern that comes along with a development like this?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, you know the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, as the RSL motto says. The most important aspect of a strong defence force is deterrence; so if Australia is well defended, if our ADF has the capabilities that they need in the 21st century to keep us safe then others, other countries, other terrorist groups or other people that seek to do us harm, will be deterred from doing so.

REBECCA LEVINGSTON:

Does it, does this?

PRIME MINISTER:

You have to, you have to prepare to defend yourself and the better you are prepared to defend yourself, the less likely you are to be tested.

REBECCA LEVINGSTON:

Does a contract like this ramp up Australia's obligation to be involved in international conflict?

PRIME MINISTER:

No I don't think it is. I don't that's connected. I mean the fact is that Australia, we have an obligation, my most solemn obligation is to keep Australians safe. That is the first duty of every government and every prime minister and every president. It is absolutely my first job and first duty. So what we're doing is ensuring that our ADF whether it's the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, has the capabilities to keep us safe in the 21st century. That's why we're investing $200 billion over the next decade in our defence capabilities, it’s critically important.

So we do live in uncertain times, but you know something? We always have. So it’s always been important to make sure we have the means to keep us safe, but to ensure that the men and women we send off into harm's way, not only have the capabilities to do the job, but also as far as we possibly can, we can ensure they come home safely.

CRAIG ZONCA:

Prime Minister still on the defence for a moment then after half past nine we're speaking with Vice Admiral Philip Sawyer, who is the Commander of the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet based in Japan, but obviously has a wide remit over the Pacific including looking at tensions in North Korea and what's going on in the South China Sea. What role do you see Australia applying in, in keeping the shipping lanes protecting the shipping lanes of the South China Sea open for all.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well we exercise freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight throughout the region, including through the South China Sea, all the time. We obviously work very closely with our allies and in particular of course, the United States.

REBECCA LEVINGSTON:

Prime Minister, it's pretty difficult to make a segue between super tanks and Dora the Explorer, so we're just going to splash right in if that’s ok?

PRIME MINISTER:

You will leap across, to Dora.

REBECCA LEVINGSTON:

Yes. Thank you, Prime Minister Queensland has got about 48 hours to sign a multimillion dollar contract to have the children’s show Dora the Explorer shot on the Gold Coast but it’s reliant on the federal Treasurer to prove increasing a tax offset by 16 and a half percent to 30 percent that's got to be done by Friday. The Premier of Queensland is furious, she says hundreds of jobs are in the balance and our reputation on the international stage as well.

Why won’t Scott Morrison give the green light for Dora?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, we examine all of these applications for a tax break on a case by case basis. You know, all of them have a cost, I mean, Annastacia Palaszczuk could do more herself too, she’s obviously in direct touch with the producers of the film.

But we already have a very substantial tax break to encourage people to make movies in Australia and many do. On a case by case basis, we can increase that, but it's always open to the state government to do more. I mean I notice she's raising this issue today, this, is on a day when we are committing to the largest single acquisition in the history of the Australian Army. With these combat reconnaissance vehicles going to be constructed here in Queensland, that's going to be providing hundreds of jobs and billions of dollars of investment, not over the three months it takes to make a movie but over a decade.

So you're talking about a long term investment that the federal government is making into advanced manufacturing here in Queensland, which is going to have a spinoff benefit. That happens when you invest in the defence industry in Australia and this is one of the big reforms of my Government. We have always spent a lot of money on defence. The Labor Party neglected during their six years, didn’t commission any naval ships for example. We've got a big $200 billion defence re-equipment program.

We need to have that. The big change in addition to that, is we are spending more of that money in Australia, we are building the ships in Australia, we are building the tanks, as you've described the combat reconnaissance vehicles in Australia. That's critically important, because it doesn't just create jobs in the construction of the defence capability, but of course it’s out into the community. You will get other advanced manufacturing enterprises associated with it. So this is about ensuring that we continue to get strong jobs growth we've seen, you know 403,000 jobs last year, 100,000 of them were in Queensland.

CRAIG ZONCA:

So Prime Minister, I'm taking that as a no on the incentive to get Dora the Explorer to Queensland. There won't be any further offers on the table?

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s a matter that these applications go to the Treasurer and he considers them in the usual way, on case by case basis. I just want to emphasise that in terms of the long term economy, advanced manufacturing economy in Queensland - the announcement that we have made today is not something that creates jobs for a few months, this is about creating hundreds of jobs and with billions of dollars of investment over a very long time over decades. This is a long term permanent increase in the advanced manufacturing economy here in Queensland really important.

REBECCA LEVINGSTON:

Prime Minister thanks for your time this morning.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thanks so much.

REBECCA LEVINGSTON:

Malcolm Turnbull, the Prime Minister of Australia in town today to announce a $5 billion dollar defence contract.

[ENDS]

Transcript 41503