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Transcript 40864

Radio interview with Ross Greenwood, 2GB/3AW

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: 04/04/2017

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 40864

Subject(s): Flooding; Enterprise Tax Plan; Economic growth; Senate negotiations; North Korea

ROSS GREENWOOD:

Many thanks for your time Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER:

Great to be with you Ross.

ROSS GREENWOOD:

Could I just say that over the past few days you have been to Queensland and New South Wales with the Queensland and New South Wales Premiers to witness firsthand what has taken place in the aftermath of the cyclone and also the flooding. What have you seen?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I’ve seen businesses devastated, I’ve seen heartbreak, we’ve seen real tragedy but we’ve also seen phenomenal resilience, the generosity, the selflessness, that great Australian spirit. The state emergency services, the fire and rescue services, all of the emergency services and police, and supported by the Australian Defence Force, right through all of the flood affected areas which you know, as you know, Ross, you are going from the very north of Queensland, from Far North Queensland all the way down into the north coast of New South Wales. The impact of this cyclone has been right up and down the east coast of Australia.

ROSS GREENWOOD:

I do note that the Premier of Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk and Gladys Berejiklian, the Premier of New South Wales plus the Treasurer Scott Morrison have all said that they will hold the insurers to account if they don’t do the right things by consumers and those affected by floods. It is a bit hard because obviously there is a contract there between an insurer and their customer and the insurers will go to the letter of the law, they’ll probably be quite generous in the way in which they’re treated, but ultimately there are going to be people without insurance. People in Lismore where there have been floods despite levee banks. There are going to be people out of pocket as a result of this.

PRIME MINISTER:

That is true. But the insurers will be held to account. I’ve made exactly the same point. In fact, as soon the cyclone, in anticipation of the cyclone crossing the coast last week we were in touch with the insurers and the banks reminding them of their need to respond promptly, compassionately, considerately to the needs of their customers.

ROSS GREENWOOD:

But it is also fair to say that you should not hold out false hope to people in the idea that they might be able to get something from an insurer, or even a bank for that matter that they might not be entitled to despite the tragic circumstances that they face.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, obviously if they don’t have insurance, Ross, they’re not going to get the benefit of an insurance policy. But one of the difficulties, as you know, in the past, has been people who have been insured have struggled to get their claims assessed and their payments paid.

And also, of course, dealing with banks, it is important that banks are considerate and understanding and recognise that their customers, who have borrowed money from them, are going to have a period of reconstruction and recovery as they get their businesses in particular back on their feet.

But there is a very extensive menu of support and relief services. They are all funded jointly by the state governments and the federal government and there is support there for individuals, immediate support which is being distributed already.

There is also support for businesses including concessional loans which are at a very, very low interest rate and have a long repayment schedule. They’ve been very valuable for businesses and farmers who are recovering from these floods.

ROSS GREENWOOD:

Yeah, because I was going to say to you, it is pretty obvious that a lot of people in these flood prone areas cannot afford to get flood insurance, so as a result they get the inundation through, they get the mud through, they get all the muck, they’ve got to try and get it out. Those people are ultimately left with nothing. The question is whose obligation is it? Because if a bill is going to be more than $1 billion according to the insurance council. That’s the insurance cost. Then there is the government cost, the welfare cost that needs to be picked up. I mean, the bill is going to be massive for someone. The question is who carries the can?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, risk is borne right across the community, Ross. The government, the federal and state governments and indeed local government provide enormous support. Clearly communities provide support, businesses provide support from their own resources and of course from insurance.

But I think one of the lessons from this is that as we rebuild infrastructure we have to make sure that it is more flood proof and more resilient than the infrastructure that has been destroyed and is being replaced.

ROSS GREENWOOD:

I mentioned to you five weeks out until the Federal Budget, now quite clearly this dent to the economy as a result of the flood is going to have an impact, not necessarily in this financial year but certainly the next financial year as well. In that regard, I mean, growth, some people would call anemic, it is certainly not what you would call robust growth, to try and get the balance or the budget back into balance, not over the next four years, perhaps not even over the next five or six years.

PRIME MINISTER:

I’m glad you’ve mentioned growth, Ross, because it is absolutely key and everything policy, every element of my Government’s program is promoting economic growth. As you know, last week we secured support from the parliament for the business tax cuts which means that businesses with turnovers of up to $50 million, so small to medium businesses, about 883,000 companies and in total millions of businesses including the unincorporated businesses, these are all going to get a tax cut - for the first tranche up to $10 million this financial year, $25 million turn over the next, up to $50 million the one after that. All of that means, more money for those businesses to invest, more money to invest, to grow and to employ. It is a key economic stimulus and it is keeping Australia competitive.

But that is not all that we’ve done.

As you know, our big child care reforms will enable more families to work the hours that they want, to enable more kids to get the quality child care they need.

Right across the board - our Defence Industry Plan, our big infrastructure investments - everything we are doing - the work we’ve done to ensure that gas is available in the domestic market and a, particularly, guaranteed availability for peaking power that will put downward pressure on electricity prices.

Everything I am doing is supporting economic growth.

ROSS GREENWOOD:

I want to come back to the whole idea about growth and also income tax -

PRIME MINISTER:

Sure.

ROSS GREENWOOD:

A person goes to work today. The PAY income tax that the government collects is around is around $174 billion per year. By the year 2019-20 the government is going to paying $191 billion in social services and welfare on an annual basis. It is going to be potentially as much or more than what is actually paid in income tax by workers. Indeed, between now and 2019-20, three years’ time, it is going to be a $33 billion increase in welfare which is the same as our education budget, is more than our defence budget on an annually basis – surely that is just simply not sustainable long term and yet nothing politically can be done to try and reign that back in?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, look, it is hard. Nobody said it is easy, Ross, but the reality is that we are succeeding in getting our legislative program through the Senate.

Now we have obviously have to make compromises and strike deals to do that, but the important thing is we are legislating.

When the 45th Parliament was elected last year, many people said we wouldn’t be able to get anything through the Senate because we didn’t have a majority there.

We’ve got through the Building and Construction Commission legislation, the Registered Organisations legislation - those two huge industrial reforms that are so important for economic growth, because, you know, if you restore the rule of law to the construction sector – what does that mean? More construction. What does that mean? Cheaper construction in the sense that you don’t have law breaking unions, lawless unions, like the ACTU Secretary Sally McManus would say, you don’t have to obey the law according to her. The rest of us do of course. But according to her unions don’t have to obey the law. But what we’re doing is restoring the rule of law and that will mean that we get better value in terms of infrastructure, housing, all of those things because there won’t be the rorts as there have been. Now -

ROSS GREENWOOD:

But here is the problem for you as Prime Minister, right now you’ve got the Opposition, you’ve got Bill Shorten that is coming at you hard. You’ve got the unions and Sally McManus you mentioned coming at you hard. You’ve got GetUp! coming at you hard. You’ve even got the former Prime Minister Tony Abbott coming at you hard. Here is what he said about what he describes as horse-trading on Sky News last night in regards to getting those tax cuts through:

TONY ABBOTT:

I’m very cautious about horse-trading. In the end, you’ve really got to go to the Senate and say support this on its merits and do not ask us to do something which is wrong in order to get something which is right.

ROSS GREENWOOD:

Surely that does not help your position, or your Government’s position in trying to make a strong stand to try and get that policy through our Senate? 

PRIME MINISTER:

Well we have succeeded in getting all of the tax cuts that we promised in the Budget that were going to be implemented in this term of Parliament - they are all now law.

Now we haven’t increased personal income tax, we decreased it.

As you know, we have saved half a million Australians from going into the second top tax bracket for personal income tax.

We haven’t just talked about cutting company tax, we have cut it. The legislation is passed.

We haven’t just talked about taking on lawless unions and restoring the rule of law, we’ve done it.

ROSS GREENWOOD:

Penalty rates – where will that sit?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well penalty rates is a matter for the Fair Work Commission, Ross, as you know, and they’ve made a decision on the basis that by bringing Sunday rates closer to Saturday rates, it would increase employment in the hospitality and retail sectors. So that’s the balance they’ve made. It is an independent tribunal and we support their decision.

ROSS GREENWOOD:

Okay, so how do you as the Prime Minister, how do you grab the political message when you’ve got the unions and GetUp! that will outspend your side of politics 3 to 1. Or even more potentially. You’re going to have more Mediscare campaigns coming at you in regards to penalty rates. And again, no doubt you’ll have scares about Medicare coming out on phone calls on all of this type of thing. How does your side of politics actually match that? Because you don’t have an ACTU backing you up financially?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, Ross, my job and that of all my colleagues is to set out our record of backing economic growth, backing Australians’ enterprise and driving jobs and opportunities.

Now, politics is a choice, okay, it is a choice of two sides ultimately for government. When the Labor is being asked which of their policies will support economic growth, they can’t give you an answer. They do not have one policy, not one which supports economic growth or employment.

In fact, one of their ministers Andrew Leigh was asked that very question – he used to be a professor of economics so he is very smart. He was asked that question on the weekend and he mumbled a bit and then he said: ‘Oh the NBN’. Well the NBN will be finished, it will be almost completed by the time of the next election, so that is hardly a big differentiator.

They do not have anything except more debt, more tax.

And let’s be frank, Ross, are they going to go to the next election, and they say they will, or at least the unions’ Sally McManus says they will, and she seems to be pulling the strings, apparently according to her they’re going to go to next election and take those tax cuts back from small and medium businesses.

So they’ll say to all of those hard-working Australian businesses, who are pouring all of their earnings, all of their profits back into the business to grow just like the business I was with today, Pacific Stone here in Canberra which makes, monumental masons and they make kitchen tops and table tops and benchtops. Great business –  33 employees, 10 contractors, not quite $10 million in turnover. But you can imagine, that’s been started by some partners, some tilers who got together, they’ve built it, they’ve poured everything into it. Our tax cuts will give them more money after tax to plow back into their business.

What Labor is going to do is take that away from them. And they seem to think that they can do that because they regard basically every profit, every dollar profit a business earns as belonging by right to the government. And owners and entrepreneurs and investors should be pleased that the Labor Party is prepared to let you keep anything – that seems to be their attitude.

ROSS GREENWOOD:

Okay, just one very serious issue before I let you go, and that is in regards to Donald Trump and what he says about North Korea. He says if China will not help fix what he calls the North Korean problem, the US will go it alone and fix it. And of course this is giving some indication of military action. Now you’ve had Premier Li Keqiang here last week. You know, in regards to conversations with him – do you believe that military action against North Korea is really the answer to regional security?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, the answer to the North Korea, is for North Korea to stop its reckless and dangerous conduct and the solution is to be found in continued, concerted pressure from all of the nations involved and that in particular, of course, that includes China, which is of course by far their biggest trading partner and their neighbour.
So the Chinese have a unique ability, more so than any other country to bring pressure to bear on North Korea and that is certainly our expectation that they should do that, because the conduct of the North Korean Government, it’s reckless and dangerous conduct is a serious threat to regional and indeed world peace.

ROSS GREENWOOD:

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, we appreciate your time on the program this evening.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thanks Ross.

[Ends]
 

Transcript 40864