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Transcript 41617

Radio interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

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: 09/05/2018

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 41617

Subject(s): Citizenship, Federal Budget, immigration and national security legislation

BEN FORDHAM:

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull joins us live on the line, Prime Minister good afternoon.

PRIME MINISTER:

Good afternoon Ben. Great to be with you.

BEN FORDHAM:

Great to be with you.

Let me start with Bill Shorten’s rolled gold guarantee that none of his employees would fall foul of Section 44. Today he's lost four MPs over this issue, so what can we make of his rolled gold guarantee?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it's like any of his guarantees it's not worth a cracker.

You can't trust Bill Shorten. You can't trust him to be straightforward with the Australian people on matters of citizenship and you certainly can't trust him with your money.

If you're a self-funded retiree he's going after your savings. He's going after higher taxes everywhere. This is a bloke who wants to raise over $200 billion of new taxes and fails to recognise that the only reason we're able to give the tax relief we're giving in this budget, the only reason we can spend record amounts on schools and hospitals and infrastructure, is because we've got a strong economy.

And yet every policy he's got is going to undermine that. So there's a lot at stake in the next election.

BEN FORDHAM:

Alright still on the dual citizenship is Bill Shorten’s rolled gold guarantee any different from when you told Parliament that Barnaby Joyce was qualified to be in Parliament and that: ‘the high court will so hold’?

PRIME MINISTER:

Ben it is completely different. I mean we made a submission to the High Court in Barnaby Joyce’s case and Canavan's case that they take a particular approach to this citizenship issue and they didn't accept the submission to the Solicitor General. So, you know they made that ruling there.

Now it was very clear, at the very least, from the time of the Canavan decision in October last year that these members who have announced their resignation today, but not yet resigned, these members were ineligible. It was very, very clear.

The high court did not make a new ruling today or a new interpretation and if any of your listeners who are interested in this, they want to have a look at the high court's decision. If you look at paragraph 30, you'll see they make it very clear that all they are doing is applying the principles set out in the Canavan case last year.

So, these people have been sitting in the parliament for months and months.

BEN FORDHAM:

Earning taxpayers money too.

PRIME MINISTER:

And they still haven't resigned. They still haven't resigned. They’ve stood up and said they're going to resign. Tim Hammond, who you referred to, who’s the MP, Labor MP from Perth who says he wants to get out of Parliament for family reasons, he hasn't lodged his resignation either. But the three Labor members that are actually still sitting in the house, still presumably drawing a salary, still presumably enjoying the entitlements that come with being a member of parliament. They've stood up in the house today and said they are not eligible to sit in the house.

BEN FORDHAM:

So get out of there.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well to be honest with you Ben, I was very surprised when I learnt during question time that they had not in fact resigned. I assumed that they made their statement and then you know dropped in a letter of resignation to the Speaker.

BEN FORDHAM:

We could be looking to four by-elections to clean up this citizenship mess and then five all up if you include Tim Hammond, you know Prime Minister there's always the option of taking the whole nation to an early election in August, it would save us some time and some money.

PRIME MINISTER:

The Australian people expect their parliament to run a full term so that and the next election will be in the first half I should say of next year.

BEN FORDHAM:

Well I know you've said that's your plan. So that's set in stone?

PRIME MINISTER:

That is absolutely our plan, absolutely.

BEN FORDHAM:

I know it's set in stone though because you're quite definitive in the way that you just said that the election will be held in the first half of next year.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, that's right.  Look Ben.

BEN FORDHAM:

You know what I'm saying as opposed to plans. It's good for people to have certainty Prime Minister that's all. So it's nice for people to have certainty there won't be an election this year.

PRIME MINISTER:

Correct, that’s right. Correct.

The Australian people expect me to get on with the job of delivering the economic leadership we promised in 2016 at the election and we're delivering that. Record jobs growth, stronger government revenues, enables us to provide tax relief to hardworking Australian families. And of course it enables us to guarantee the essential services we all rely on in health and education, infrastructure and so forth.

BEN FORDHAM:

Let me get to the tax cuts because that's the thing that most people will be wanting to know about. Bill Shorten is saying that he's only prepared to pass stage one of the income tax cuts right now. Scott Morrison says he won't break them up. It's all or nothing.

You guys said the same about the company tax cuts and then you changed your mind so you might have to do the same here, right?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Ben, it's all part of a package and it's designed to provide tax relief immediately to families on low incomes and middle incomes. And then that relief expands and then by the end of the process you get to the point where - which I think is a great reform - I mean I think where we are headed with this personal income tax reform is really vital for our economic future.

What it is going to do is mean that 94 per cent of Australians will know that if they earn an extra dollar the most tax they will pay is thirty-two and a half cents on that dollar. Now you know you've had plenty of people, experts and others on your program, Ben over the years saying: ‘oh there are too many disincentives for people to do over time’.

BEN FORDHAM:

No doubt.

PRIME MINISTER:

‘Wouldn't it be better if the tax system was flatter’.

Well this will mean from $41,000 right up to $200,000. The marginal tax rate will be 32.5 cents. That is a huge reform and so we are very committed to it.

BEN FORDHAM:

I know, I know, I know you're saying it's a whole package but as I said you did say the same thing about company tax cuts and that was broken up in the end surely you're not going to stop Aussies from getting that tax relief as you just described it?

PRIME MINISTER:

We're committed to the whole plan Ben and I tell you we are committed to it. It’s a very compelling plan.

BEN FORDHAM:

So if you can't get your way on tax cuts due in 2022-23 you're not going to deliver them for July 1, 2018?

PRIME MINISTER:

The real question for Labor is why are they going, for purely political reasons, why are they going to deny Australians on $70,000 and $80,000 a $530 tax break?

Imagine you've got it you've got a couple, you know a policeman and a teacher, that's over a thousand dollars that's real money.

BEN FORDHAM:

Yeah I’ve got all of that. But both sides agree on the tax cuts coming in on July 1. So, if both sides agree make it happen give us the tax cuts.

PRIME MINISTER:

It is all part of a package and you can't you cannot break the stages up in the way you describe because one flows into the other. Stage two ensures that the tax refund in stage one becomes permanent. So it's all it's all locked together. And when you look at it then you'll see it as a very, very compelling proposition. I'm confident that it will pass the Senate.

BEN FORDHAM:

I know I've only got you for five more minutes. Your healthy budget figures are based on maintaining our immigration intake at about 190,000 a year. So, without that it doesn't look so strong. So does that mean you can't afford to listen to the concerns of people in Sydney who say look we can't sustain the current intake?

PRIME MINISTER:

I'm glad you asked me about that. Look the 190,000 figure is not a target - it's a ceiling, it's a cap, right? We can't go beyond that.

We do not take into Australia as an immigrant anybody that we don't need or don't want. The immigration program is run in the interests, the national interests of one country and one country only and that's Australia. And so what we do with that permanent program as you know it is, there are some several thousand children that come in as overseas adoptions, but it is basically family reunion which is overwhelmingly husbands and wives. Australians go overseas get married to someone who is not Australian and they come home. Fair enough. The other two thirds is skilled and we have we have tightened up all the eligibility on that to make sure that we are not taking into Australia any skilled migrants other than those that we need.

BEN FORDHAM:

I'm just getting to that to the question on whether or not we're relying on that strong intake for economic growth. Treasury forecasts economic growth to accelerate from 2.75 per cent to 3 per cent 2018-19 onwards. How much of that is driven by immigration?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Ben you can't break that out like that because it's not just a question of numbers. It's a question, it's not the quantity of immigrants it is the quality.

So, we use the skilled migration program.

BEN FORDHAM:

But the numbers clearly count in your forecasts.

PRIME MINISTER:

Ben the focus of it all is on ensuring that the program is run in the national interest of Australia.

BEN FORDHAM:

I understand that but the budget doesn't look at quality it looks at quantity.

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh no, the Budget makes assumptions about economic growth. I mean the Budget makes assumptions about productivity and all of that, all of that when I say the Budget does, the forecasters do that make the GDP estimates.

BEN FORDHAM:

It's the numbers, it’s the numbers of new arrivals in Australia that play the big factor there in terms of economic growth does it not?

PRIME MINISTER:

Ben this is all - in terms of skilled migration - what was happening under Labor and of course Bill Shorten being the champion in this area - was skilled migration visas temporary visas were being given to people to flip burgers. It was ridiculous. So, we should only be bringing in as skilled migrants, whether permanent or temporary, whose skills are really needed.

Now there are some parts of the economy where there are real skill gaps and you need to bring in someone from overseas to make sure that all the other Aussies in the business can stay in a job and keep the show going.

BEN FORDHAM:

I think you know the concerns that I'm talking about, people where they feel like their cities are being clogged in congestion and hospitals and schools and everything else and they feel like they need some relief there, but you're not going to give that relief obviously.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, hang on wait a minute. We have we came in under the 190,000 figure last year. We set it up under my government. It's been set that 190,000 figure is a ceiling. It's a limit. It's not a target. We should not take one person into Australia that we do not want or need. Full stop.

BEN FORDHAM:

Let me just get this before I let you go because I'm on a strict clock here. In July last year you announced laws allowing the military to help in the event of a terror attack. Let me just play you what you said. This was from 10 months ago.

PRIME MINISTER:

“The measures I'm announcing today will ensure that the ADF is more readily available to respond to terrorism incidents, providing state and territory police with the extra support to call on when they need it. We have to stay ahead of the threat of terrorism. There is no place for set and forget or for complacency.”

BEN FORDHAM:

So there is no place for set and forget or complacency we need that extra support in place, 10 months later. We don't have it. Prime Minister and I think you'd agree that if God forbid there were some terror attack in the heart of Sydney and there were three or four locations going on and the police commissioner Mick Fuller wanted those procedures in place and clear guidelines on how the Defence Force could get involved. Ten months later after that announcement we don't have the legislation. How far off is it?

PRIME MINISTER:

A couple of weeks. It'll be introduced in a couple of weeks is the latest advice I've had. There's been a lot of consultation with the states and territories and that's quite appropriate because it involves, you know, their agencies and their sovereignty as well.

But this is, I can assure you, that the Australian Defence Force is always there to support state governments. We've got existing laws in place. What we're doing is refining them and improving them. And you know for example ensuring that the pre-emptive call out can be done for not simply for aviation security.

BEN FORDHAM:

Sure. So those improvements are only weeks away?

PRIME MINISTER:

They're only weeks away, yep that's my advice.

BEN FORDHAM:

I was told I had you ‘til 20 past and it's 19 past and 25 seconds so there you go.

PRIME MINISTER:

Good on you. Thanks a lot.

BEN FORDHAM:

Good to talk to you.

[Ends]

Transcript 41617