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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 41701

Television Interview - The Project

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: 17/07/2018

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 41701

Subject(s): Population; Commonwealth investments in infrastructure; elections

LISA WILKINSON:

Here to sit down and talk about it is the PM, Malcolm Turnbull.

PRIME MINISTER:

Good evening.

LISA WILKINSON:

We're about to hit 25 million a couple of decades early. It does beg the question, has the Government lost control of migration?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well we’re having more babies than we’d thought we’d have in 2002. Our birth rate has increased significantly from what was forecast and we also have a lot more students, foreign students, which is one of our biggest exports and a lot more foreign tourists.

So they're big factors in the total migration figures. But in terms of permanent migration, which is basically families – almost all spouses, so Australians marrying foreigners and coming to live in Australia permanently – or skilled migration – people who bring real skills to add to our economy – that figure as you’ve just seen is actually the lowest it's been for almost 10 years.

The immigration program is absolutely under control. It's a recruitment exercise where we seek to get the best and brightest from the world in the interests of our country and our country alone.

WALEED ALY:

Can I just ask you about the figure for a second? So the prediction was 25 million would be the population and we've hit that really early but the categories you've mentioned include students and I think you said tourists. That's not part of population, so how…

PRIME MINISTER:

They are. In terms of your total population, that's the number of people that are in Australia at any given time.

WALEED ALY:

So when we say 25 million that includes all the tourists?

PRIME MINISTER:

Everyone. That’s right.

LISA WILKINSON:

Are you going to support Dean Smith's call for a Senate inquiry on this?

PRIME MINISTER:

He wrote to me on Friday about it and I'll sit down and discuss it with him. One of the things Parliament does is hold inquiries, particularly the Senate.

We do have an existing immigration committee that looks at the immigration program. We think the immigration program is working very well. You can see we are being very fussy and fastidious about who comes to Australia.

We have got control of our borders. Under Labor of course, the people smugglers, the criminals, were controlling our borders. That's gone. We're not having thousands of unauthorised illegal arrivals by boats, the people smugglers aren't making billions out of breaching our borders.

We're in control of our borders, we’re in control of our immigration program and it's a great story that we’re very proud of.

STEVE PRICE:

Are you not a bit out of touch with the public sentiment on this, though? It seems many politicians are unwilling to talk about migration, yourself included?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am talking about it now, Steve.

STEVE PRICE:

Out there in crowded highways on the way to work every day people are annoyed and angry and they would like to hit the pause button.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Steve, the most important thing if you’ve got inadequate infrastructure is to build adequate infrastructure. I've just been meeting today here in Melbourne talking with the Premier about the railway we're going to build from Melbourne out to Tullamarine Airport.

We're spending record amounts on infrastructure right across Australia.

STEVE PRICE:

Well, it is catch-up though isn’t it?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it is catch up in some cases, that’s true, but there's also infrastructure we're building in advance of population. For example, in Western Sydney: the Western Sydney Airport, the North-South Rail Link.

But you make a very fair point. Governments for too long have not been building infrastructure in advance and for the long term. I've changed that.

My city deals policy sees, for the first time in our history, Federal Government, State Government, Local Government working together and saying, "What do we want to do? Let's agree on it. Let's agree on a plan and get on with it."

We're looking forward to having city deals in Victoria in Melbourne, in Geelong, and of course we have one operating in Launceston, in Townsville and Western Sydney.

STEVE PRICE:

Last time you gave Daniel Andrews money for infrastructure he didn't build a road and blew up a billion dollars. How can you trust him?

PRIME MINISTER:

We won't be giving the money in advance. That was done before I was Prime Minister. I think you've got to make sure that the money is paid when you're working together as partners, as we will be on the Tullamarine Rail, the money is paid as the project is built, not sent in advance.

It wasn’t a great move.

PETER HELLIAR:

We know you love Newspolls. 72 per cent of voters support your immigration cull. Does that have you thinking about elections? Is there a date?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well there's an election next year. First half of next year.

PETER HELLIAR:

First half – give us a date. March? February?

PRIME MINISTER:

It will be, it won't be any later than the end of May.

STEVE PRICE:

Nearly got him there Pete.

PETER HELLIAR:

There's your headline. Back for a day and already got the headline.

PRIME MINISTER:

The election has to be done and declared by June 30 because a half Senate election. That is a requirement of the Constitution.

PETER HELLIAR:

I've read it.

PRIME MINISTER:

I know. You taught it to me. I have never seen it. You said to me, "Malcolm, there's a Constitution thingy. You should have a read of it."

PETER HELLIAR:

I emailed you a PDF and you said, “I invented the internet I know how this works!”

PRIME MINISTER:

That was the internet. You invented the ethernet.

PETER HELLIAR:

Ethernet! Can you invent the NBN or do something!

WALEED ALY:

Can I suggest that Pete teaching you the Constitution may come back to haunt you?

PETER HELLIAR:

Don’t call the election now!

LISA WILKINSON:

That’s where the whole dual citizenship thing went horribly wrong.

PRIME MINISTER:

How many countries are you a citizen of?

PETER HELLIAR:

Seven!

PRIME MINISTER:

Really?

PETER HELLIAR:

Croatia, France….

PRIME MINISTER:

How was it last night? Were you stressed?

PETER HELLIAR:

I was asleep to be honest.

WALEED ALY:

We are going to have to wrap this up, we can continue the interview in the ad break!

LISA WILKINSON:

We thank the PM for joining us.

[ENDS]

Transcript 41701