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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 40636

Joint press conference with the Deputy Prime Minister, The Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP and Treasurer, The Hon. Scott Morrison MP

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: 01/12/2016

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 40636

Location: Parliament House, Canberra


We said that this would be a term of delivery and so it is. We're delivering our National Economic Plan.

Over the last two weeks, we've succeeded in securing the passage of the Registered Organisations Bill, and the restoration of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, the two bills that were the triggers for the double dissolution election. We've secured our big superannuation reform. And we are getting on with our job of delivering on the promises we made to the Australian people.

Tonight, as you've seen, the Treasurer has been able to secure agreement with the Greens on the backpacker tax. What that has done, is provide security and assurance for farmers and many industries across Australia.

We were lectured in Question Time by the Labor Party that we should compromise and come to a resolution, and we have done so. I want to thank our Senate team and in particular Senator Cormann for his negotiations with the Greens, in assisting all of us in ensuring that we can come to that resolution. We've come to a resolution and what is the Labor Party doing? Using their best endeavours now to frustrate it, having only a few hours ago lectured us on the importance of coming to a compromise.

I want to thank Richard Di Natale and the Greens for their support and also the continuing support in the Senate, of Pauline Hanson's One Nation, and of course the Nick Xenophon Team.

This is, as I said, an example of the government delivering on so many fronts. Today, we've secured the passage of the targeting legislation. This is vitally important national security legislation that enables our defence forces to target terrorists in the Middle East, to be able to do so in accordance with the rules of war, to bring our legislation up to that standard, so they're better able to keep us safe. So right across the board, whether it is national security, economic reform, industrial reform or here, in dealing with important tax reform, we're getting on and getting the job done.


Thank you very much, Prime Minister, and I think it's really important to understand that today we have the Liberal Party working for the farmers of Mildura, making sure that they can get their fruit off the trees. We've got the National Party making sure that the blueberries can come off the field at Jubulum and Tabulam. We've got the Xenophon Team thinking about how the mangoes and working towards making sure we get the mangoes picked at Wangaratta. We’ve got the Greens making sure the cherries are picked at Young.

We have every person working towards a resolution except one group and we called them out at the start and said they're just wreckers, they don't want a resolution, they want a fight, and that was the Labor Party.

They approached this with the worst possible faith. You saw them, when they had that sort of swarmy smile - and I say swarmy, I know exactly what I'm saying, I'm not talking about a guru, I'm talking about Urban Dictionary - that swarmy smile, that conceit. That idea that they're approaching it for just one purpose; because they were going to be clever fellas and blow the show up.

So this is also a victory for the Parliament. A victory for the Parliament that we can have a constructive outcome. We promise the Australian people, we promised the Australian farming community, that we would work diligently for an outcome, that we would work as long and as hard as it took. And it has taken a long and it has been very, very hard, but we've arrived there.

So this is a good outcome. I know the uncertainty that was held out in regional areas. We felt for that uncertainty. We were furious that the Labor Party should have been decent players and said let's just get this thing parked. But they didn't. They didn't. And all the way, they just showed their lack of authenticity. They showed that what they really wanted to do was lead the nation to a fight, not take the nation to a solution.

So, you know still, as we speak, right now, even after their own statements that they would work for a resolution, you'd believe, if they were authentic, if they were honest, if they were straight, they would just say: “Okay, the game's up, let's get on and do it”. No. They're in there desperately trying to find procedural motions so once more they can blow the show up. Now, to be honest, I think that's a disgrace.

So I commend the Greens, I commend One Nation, I commend the Liberal Democratic Party, I commend the work that has been done especially by Mathias Cormann and the Liberal Party, I commend my colleagues in the National Party, and ask the Labor Party if their final message to the Australian people before they go on holidays, the final message they see here, is that there is only one group in this place, one serious group, that has got no interest in a resolution and only interest in dissent, only interest in creating problems, only interested in creating hurt, and that's the Australian Labor Party.

What I can say to regional people is we said we would find a solution, we said we would find a solution and today we're delivering the solution.


Thank you, Prime Minister. As I have updated you on several occasions, the Government has always been looking to get an outcome. But not any outcome; an outcome that is based on acting in good faith and arriving at a sensible and reasonable position. The 15 per cent tax rate and making sure that that is what the rate is set at, will ensure that farmers won't have to be able to operate on multiple tax rates and people owning cafes or restaurants or pubs or things out in regional Australia, that there will be one simple tax rate, whether you are a seasonal worker or whether you are a backpacker, at 15 per cent. We move to that 15 per cent as the next step in the genuine attempt to compromise, to ensure that we had a rate that actually was consistent with other areas of the tax system.

We welcome the good faith of the Greens now, in working with us to achieve that outcome. We said very clearly that the bill would not go back to the Senate unless we could find the support in the Senate to support the tax rate at 15 per cent. The Greens came to us on this issue and enabled us to achieve that by adjusting the DAS payment - which is the rate of tax applied to the superannuation funds that are paid in by backpackers when they are in Australia - to reduce that from 95, as was the previous arrangement, down to 65. Now, that is a cost of $55 million, that is less than the $60 million and more that the 13% tax rate, but pretty much consistent with that rate, and so that was a better way of achieving this result, by ensuring we had the consistency of a 15 per cent rate, but were able to move to accommodate that.

Now that, combined with the additional commitment that is being made in relation to Landcare, these matters will be addressed, like they always are, in between a budget and MYEFO and these matters will be addressed in a way that the Budget is preserved when I hand down the budget In the MYEFO statement on the 19th of December.

Can I also add my thankyous in particular to those crossbench Senators who dealt with us in good faith. Pauline Hanson's One Nation, and Nick Xenophon's NXT team, and Senator David Leyonhjelm, we appreciate the way they had supported us at the 15 per cent rate. In addition to that I also thank the Greens for their engagement with us on this issue. Can I also thank my Finance Minister who we work very closely with, Mathias Cormann and I are a very strong team in pursuing these issues and once again on this issue as it was, this time, last year, actually, on the multinational tax avoidance arrangements we were able to secure through the Parliament in very, very similar circumstances.

The Labor Party playing politics, working against having multinationals pay their fair share of tax, and today they were working against an even lower rate for foreign workers. So I thank Mathias for that and I'm pleased to see the bills on their way to the Senate and this thing done.


Prime Minister this appears to be actually costing the budget around $275 million. Wasn’t it supposed to be a budget savings bill, it’s now costing taxpayers.


I'll leave the Treasurer to answer that.


These arrangements will ensure that we'll achieve over 70 per cent of the revenues that were set out in the budget. In the 45th  Parliament, it's about getting things done, and you've heard me say often and the Prime Minister, that 80 per cent of something is better than 100 per cent of nothing. Well, today it's 70 per cent of something rather than 100 per cent of nothing.


Was it worth the pain?


70 per cent of those revenues in and legislated means that I can say to the credit agencies that the 45th Parliament is passing budget measures. This takes the budget improvement measures above $21 billion and that's just since the election. That demonstrates that the persistence of the Government, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, myself, the Finance Minister, the entire team is there to get this stuff done.

Now, that sends a very strong message - a good message - on the last day of Parliament sitting to the ratings agencies that the Government is making the 45th Parliament work, particularly for the Budget.


Prime Minister, have you been disappointed at the way in which some of the Senate crossbenchers have, you know, possibly double-crossed you, or at least shifted in position over time, and does that make you concerned at all at the prospect of getting some of your agenda through next year, including most importantly, the enterprise tax plan? Can you really get it done with a Senate crossbench like this?


Well, I'm optimistic about our prospects next year. I know you sometimes think my disposition is overly sunny, but it's an optimism born out of experience. Look how much we have got done this year. So much legislation has been secured through the Parliament, in circumstances where we have only 30 seats of our own in the Senate, a large crossbench. We've been able to secure the passage, for example, of those very controversial industrial reforms, they were resisted and opposed root and branch by the Labor Party. The lobbying, the ferocity of the campaign to pressure the crossbenchers was extraordinary. I mean, you all would have witnessed that. We managed to secure the passage of both of those bills. We've managed to secure a resolution on the backpacker’s tax and we are working through our agenda.

Scott mentioned the achievement about this time last year. What we've got is an approach that enables us to secure, by respecting the crossbench - and we respect them all, we're not going to start complaining about the crossbenchers - we respect the crossbench. They are all entitled to vote as they please and it is our job to persuade them that our propositions are worthy of their endorsement.


Isn't it embarrassing to have the party of Black Jack McEwen rescued by inner-city Greens?


Look I think that once more, politics is about getting things through. What I think is important for my people, for people in regional areas, is they're going to get their fruit picked, they are going to get cash coming in, that money is going to go into the towns. This is the purpose, why we need this complementary labour, not replacement labour, complementary labour to get the job done.

I mentioned before Jubulum, the Aboriginal community near Jubulum, we need up to 1,000 backpackers to come in and pick the blueberries. Now they don’t live in the town, there’s not enough people and they have to come from somewhere. So I'm happy to work with those who want a positive outcome. What I do ask this question, in the Labor Party's approach to wreck the joint, not only were they willing to walk away from the Australian people and from a reasonable negotiated settlement which has now been proven by the fact that the Greens, and One Nation, and the Liberal Democratic Party, and the Liberal Party and the National Party are all on the same page. That says something.


And the Nick Xenophon team.


And the Nick Xenophon of course, the Nick Xenophon Team.  But not only that, the Labor Party were prepared to walk away from their own principles; in their purpose of attack against us they were willing to make a compromise against the Australian worker. They were willing to say, "No, we will put the Australian worker aside, you are just a pawn, you are a pawn to play a game in politics in this Parliament." I believe strongly,  that's what the Australian people dislike with an intensity.

Then when you make a statement, as Mr Shorten did, he said, "Oh, well, we're going to work to a solution" and if you challenge him - and we did. We said, "We will hold you to that to see how you go". You know what he did; the first opportunity, he turns back into the wrecker. I think we're starting to learn more and more and more about the Leader of the Opposition and his real modus operandi.


Just back to this deal - I don't understand that if Richard Di Natale has characterised it correctly, that if with the super changes you've got an effective headline rate of 13 per cent and you've had to give the Greens $100 million for Landcare, why you would opt to do that deal when you had the numbers for a 13 per cent tax through the Senate.


Well Land Care is a great investment, it really is a great investment. It supports so many groups across the country, so many volunteer groups. We're very pleased to be able to do that, extremely pleased, actually.

As far as the overall - the deal on the tax, as you've heard from the Treasurer, this is a saving, but of course it does preserve for all time that 15 per cent rate. So it's a very important statement of principle, it's a very important agreement and it demonstrates - once again-  that we can make the 45th Parliament work. We do so by collaborating with other parties, large and small, with all members, and we seek their support, because the Australian people elected every member of the 45th Parliament, and they expect us to get on and do the job.

On that note …


I'm sure I'm going to find it exceedingly difficult to sell to the Australian farmers $100 million in Landcare.


Treasurer do you regret not agreeing to the recommendations of the Colbeck Review ahead of the Federal Budget that could have circumvented this mess?


No, those measures would not have achieved the outcomes we have today. This is a better for the budget and I think it’s a better outcome in terms of tax simplicity. We've been able to achieve more than 70 per cent of what was in the original 15/16 Budget. There remain other unlegislated measures the Government will continue to pursue, measures we've introduced particularly on the Enterprise Tax Plan and we will get into that next year.

Just today, we introduced the section 46 competition law amendments and there will be more of those to follow. There will be more measures to follow on crowdsource funding next year as well. So there will be a big legislative agenda next year, but no, I don't.

This is a measure which preserves the 15 per cent headline rate, that’s what it is, a 15 per cent headline rate, which is easier for farmers to administer. It is the same as the seasonal worker rate, we put that forward as the common sense compromise and we had common sense agreement to it by those who were engaging in common sense in the Senate.


Thank you all very much. And Merry Christmas.


Transcript 40636