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Transcript 41090

Doorstop with Rick Wilson MP, Member for O’Connor

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: 02/08/2017

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 41090

Subject(s): Schools funding; national security; same sex marriage; GST; wave generator

Location: Albany, WA

RICK WILSON MP – MEMBER FOR O’CONNOR:

Ladies and gentleman, welcome to all of you to Albany and it’s an enormous pleasure for me to invite the Prime Minister and to have the Prime Minister accept my invitation to come and visit Albany. I wanted to display or put on display our wonderful schools that we have here in Albany and talk about some of the funding improvements that we’ve achieved in the Prime Minister’s Government but also to enjoy these fantastic views.

Prime Minister – over to you and thank you very much for being here.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you very much Rick and what an amazing centre this is. You know, just walking through this centre, reminded of the sacrifice and service of the men and women who served a century ago in the First World War and the Anzacs of today, who serve today to keep us free.

We were looking at a beautiful sculpture done by a local sculptor of a Light Horseman and his horse, giving his horse a drink of water before the charge at Beersheba and standing next to us was a man, a serviceman himself whose grandfather had served in the Light Horse. So, you could imagine how moving it was for him.

This is a place of reflection and a place when we must remember not only the service of those that kept us free but the service of the men and women who are keeping us free today. And that is why the relentless focus of my government, my top priority is to keep Australians safe.

We have the best defence forces, the best security, police, intelligence services in the world and every day we are giving them more support, more resources, more legislative tools to keep us safe.

As we’ve seen just over the last week, a terrorist plot to bring down an aircraft has been thwarted. That is due to the relentless focus on keeping Australians safe. The price of liberty is indeed a term of vigilance and that is what we are committed to.

Now here in Albany, of course, we’ve been to ASHS, Albany Senior High School and what an inspiring group of young people they were. The brightest blazers and even brighter minds.

I was so thrilled to see them and to be able to say to them that because of the school funding reforms that we’ve recently passed, Western Australia will no longer be getting the raw deal it had under the Labor government.

School funding from the Federal Government in Western Australia is going to double over the next decade, and that’s not a special deal for Western Australia, that’s just treating Western Australia fairly on the same basis as everybody else.

And the school funding from the Federal Government for that school, for ASHS, Albany Senior High School will go from around $2,400 a student now to about $4,800 over the decade.

Now that’s additional resources but obviously what we need to ensure is that we get the right outcomes, the right educational outcomes from that funding. We’ve put in $23 billion of additional money over the next decade into schools. We need to get the results that match that.

We’ve seen a mixed bag of results, not good enough from the NAPLAN results announced today and that’s why we’ve got Gonski 2.0 underway. The second stage of David Gonski’s review is to examine how we can best spend our money or spend our money better to ensure that we get better results and you would have heard the Education Minister Simon Birmingham talking about the way we’re getting, we’re ensuring that teachers are better qualified, that we keep the best teachers in the classrooms, that we make sure that teachers have the right qualifications in their role.

It’s an important exercise. Gonski 2.0 I think in many respects will be just as important, if not more so, than his first review - the principles of which of course are now implemented in our school funding reforms.

It is great to be here in Albany. I am honoured to be here with Rick. He’s a phenomenal advocate for this community and for his electorate, right across his electorate but particularly here where he lives in Albany and in the great southern. Thank you.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, one of the four men who were arrested in the Sydney terror raids has been released. Are you being kept across what is happening?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes.

JOURNALIST:

Are there any updates that you can give us?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am constantly in touch with this operation as I have been from the very outset actually, from last week, but I don’t have any more operational details I can reveal to you at the moment. There will be a lot more said if and when charges are laid.

JOURNALIST:

What does it say that one of these men has been released?

PRIME MINISTER:

It says one of them has been released. I wouldn’t draw any conclusions beyond that.

I know my circumspection is disappointing but you can understand there are very big issues of public safety at stake here and so you’ll forgive me if I’m circumspect. More will be said and more will be revealed at the appropriate time but at this point it is very important that I respect the integrity of the investigation process.

My focus, relentless focus is on keeping all Australians safe.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, just on the NAPLAN results – some have said this shows some decline in certain areas suggests that the government pumping more money into the school systems is not achieving the outcomes it should.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, we certainly - you have got to spend the money in the right way, Sarah. There is no question about that. But, it is important now that we have got a national consistent needs-based funding model.

This is the first time in the history of the Commonwealth, by the way. This is a very, very big reform.

Labor had 27 different deals. Western Australia was particularly unfairly treated.

So a school in Western Australia, for example, in exactly the same circumstances as one in, say, New South Wales, would get less money per student. There was no sense or logic in that. That was just the way that the Labor Party did all of those deals.

So we have now got one funding model. That is a gigantic structural reform. Very important. But now we have got to get the educational bang for the taxpayers' buck. That is the critical thing. That is what Gonski 2.0 is all about. 

So no-one can say we are not spending enough money. No-one can say we are not putting substantial resources into it. Look at the school we have just been to - their federal funding per student is going to double over the next decade. That is a big hike in funding. Now, what we now have to do is make sure we are getting the best teachers with the best qualifications so that our kids can be top of the class.

JOURNALIST:

Sue Ellery has said that –

PRIME MINISTER:

I’m sorry. Just start again could you?

JOURNALIST:

Sue Ellery, the State Education Minister has said the state will be receiving $93 million less from the Commonwealth for education in the first year. How are your numbers so different?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am sorry, but the funding for Western Australia is going to double over the next ten years. There is no question about that.

The state was really hardly done by, relative to other states, under the Labor model and the growth is particularly strong, very high growth, with WA Government schools.

Now that is not because it is designed to favour WA Government schools, I hasten to add. The problem was that you had such an unfair deal from the previous Labor government.

So in six years, all schools will be getting precisely the same needs-based, fair, consistent funding across Australia.

If they have got the same needs and the same circumstances - you know if it is a government school in one part of Australia it will be getting 20 per cent of the Student Resource Standard from the Federal Government just as it would in any other part. That is only fair. But, it has been a gigantic reform and obviously not without some considerable effort by Senator Birmingham and the rest of our team to get it through the Parliament.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, do you support holding a postal plebiscite on same-sex marriage?

PRIME MINISTER:

Our policy, as you know, is to hold a plebiscite to give all Australians a say. I understand the interest in the media about this. I am pleased it has taken a while to get to a question on that. Yesterday that was the only subject of inquiry. But, our policy is very well-known to give all Australians a say.

The only reason that say has not been had is because of Bill Shorten's highly political opposition.

Never forget, in 2013 he turned up at the Australian Christian Lobby and said he supported a plebiscite on this. So there’s no issue of principle here with Shorten. He’s playing politics as he always does.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister you used to support a free vote, so in terms of consistency your position has changed and now you have –

PRME MINISTER:

Hang on, I went to the election as Leader of the Coalition and as Prime Minister promising there would be a, we would not support a vote and if there is a vote it would obviously prompt, our proposition was there would be a free vote on same-sex marriage in the Parliament if the Australian people approved of it in a plebiscite. That was our policy.

So there was a condition precedent, as the lawyers might say to that. Now that has not been satisfied. The reason for that is because of the opposition of the Labor Party and for no other reason.

JOURNALIST: 

Do you think a postal plebiscite would fulfil that election promise?

PRIME MINISTER:

Again, thanks for the inquiry. Our policy is very clear, I’ve stated it many times and that is the government’s policy.

JOURNALIST:

So are you ruling out a postal plebiscite?

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you. What’s your question?

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, you’re meeting with Premier Mark McGowan this evening, will you be able to give him any comfort on the $2 billion GST black hole caused by the new ABS census data?

PRIME MINISTER:

I know there are some technical aspects to that which have been discussed between Treasurer Scott Morrison and the State Treasurer Ben Wyatt, so I think we’ll be focused less on the ABS issue than on the overall issue of the lack of fairness in the share that WA gets out of the GST.

Now this is a very important issue here, as I’ve said many times. It doesn’t pass the pub test. It certainly doesn’t pass the test in any pub in WA.

Now I am the first Prime Minister to have acknowledged that there is a problem here. We are the first government, it began under my predecessor Tony Abbott, to provide in effect top-up funding to WA out of the federal budget to try to address some of this unfairness. We’ve committed over $1 billion to that. But what we do need to get is a fairer distribution of the GST and one that’s recognized as fair across the country.

So we have the Productivity Commission examining the formula, but you know what - Mark McGowan has now got a big opportunity and a responsibility to take this up with Bill Shorten and the Labor states. The biggest opponents to any change of the GST formula are his Labor state colleagues and Bill Shorten.

New South Wales, a Liberal state, has recommended a change to the GST formula. Don’t take my word for it, it’s there, they’ve made a submission to the Productivity Commission.

You’ve got the Western Australian Federal MPs and Senators made a completely wishy washy submission to the Productivity Commission which recommended nothing. But Mark McGowan is the Labor Premier of Western Australia - he’s got to start standing up for Western Australia within the Labor Party. He’s got to start - you know, I’ve been making the case for Western Australia to the state Labor Premiers. What’s Mark McGowan doing? He should be able to have more influence with them. He should be able to have influence with Bill Shorten.

So I’m going to, hopefully, this afternoon in the friendliest and kindest possible way, in the most helpful way, encourage him to put a bit of steel in his spine and have a go at Bill Shorten and get the Labor Party on board.

But what really needs to be a review of the GST so that all Australians will be able to say yep, that’s fair. That’s what we want to achieve.

JOURNALIST:

Mr McGowan says that you have the power to step in and change the formula of distribution. Are you going to have a pretty robust conversation around this with him when you meet?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, look I don’t know what he’s - I’m not going to have a debate with Mark McGowan through the media.  What I’ve just said here, I’ve said to him privately, I’ve said to him at COAG, I’ve said to him in front of a room full of premiers and chief ministers. If he believes Western Australia is getting a raw deal, he should be taking that up with Anastasia Palaszczuk, Labor Premier of Queensland, with Jay Weatherill, Labor Premier of South Australia, with Dan Andrews, Labor Premier of Victoria and above all with Bill Shorten, the Labor Opposition Leader.

JOURNALIST:

But do you have the power to intervene?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well the GST has always been a matter that has been dealt with by consensus between the states and the territories and the federal government, of course. That was it’s whole genesis.

You know, he has got, Mark McGowan has got to be prepared to stand up for Western Australia. He’s got to be prepared to stand up for Western Australia with the Labor Party.

He can’t just be, you know, somebody that wants to get someone else to do all his advocacy and his fighting for him. This is a time for him to see how courageous he is and how prepared he is to stand up for the West within the ALP.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister I know you don’t want to talk about the same-sex marriage issue, but your MPs, a group of MPs are agitating this and agitating it quite publicly. Have you spoken to them directly and asked them to not do this?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I speak to my colleagues all the time. I speak to them more regularly than I do even with distinguished members of the press, Sarah. So you can imagine how often that is. I talk to my colleagues all the time and we often have discussions about policy issues and they are best done privately in the Party Room.

I am not going to get into a public debate about internal party issues and discussions here.

JOURNALIST:

Would you answer a local question?

PRIME MINISTER:

I would love to answer a local question. That would be good.

JOURNALIST:

In Albany we are blessed with exceptionally large waves.

PRIME MINISTER:

Right, good.

JOURNALIST:

And the state government has stumped up $14 million for an experimental wave energy generation -

PRIME MINISTER

This is with Carnegie, is it?

JOURNALIST:

Not necessarily, it’s a tender.

PRIME MINISTER:

A tender, okay.

JOURNALIST:

But $14 million is probably not going to be enough.

PRIME MINISTER:

Right.

JOURNALIST:

The idea is to create an experimental wave energy generator which will feed into the grid directly for 12 months. Is that something that the Commonwealth would be prepared to co-fund?

PRIME MINISTER:

The commonwealth has put money into wave technology in the past, as you know. We have both the Clean Energy Finance Corporation which invests in clean energy projects and we have ARENA, which is a, at the more, if you like, innovative end of the spectrum, which puts in money by way of grants. So there is plenty of opportunity for federal support. But you’ll find there has been a history of federal support for wave energy projects.

Innovation is at the absolute heart of my government and in innovation in every area. So innovation in technology and energy is vitally important and we welcome it. After all, the biggest renewable energy project in the nation's history, at least recent history, is Snowy Hydro 2.0 and we have that under way.

JOURNALIST:

So do you think that there’ll be more money?

PRIME MINISTER:

They’ll have to, I am sure they are doing it by the way, they will be making an application to ARENA, which is the Australian Renewable Energy Agency or the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. There are plenty of resources in both of those places to support projects of that kind. They have had support, wave energy projects have had support, from the federal government before, going back - if my recollection serves me right - back to the days when I was Environment Minister.

Okay. Thank you very much.

[ENDS]

Transcript 41090