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Transcript 41720

Radio Interview, Triple M Grill Team

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: 06/08/2018

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 41720

PRESENTER: Welcome to the Grill Team, Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER: Yeah, thank you very much. Great to be with you.

PRESENTER: Now farmers have been calling out for help for months now. Do you feel that you've been sort of quick enough to give them what they need?

PRIME MINISTER: Well absolutely we've been on top of this, really from the outset. I'm very keenly aware of the drought. It's a developing situation, I was out in central western New South Wales and western Queensland in early June we extended the Farm Household Allowance which is the equivalent of Newstart financially but it's more farm households who are obviously struggling to pay the bills because of the drought and we extended that from three years to four years.

We've now expanded it so that as you said a couple will get two payments of $6,000 paid in two bits in September and March that's for this year and that's recognizing the challenges we face here, a single is $7,200, I might add.

So we're providing additional support there, we're providing additional support in terms of, you know, mental health services, in community grants to get money moving in these country towns. You know you've got to remember, it's important to remember I'm sure everyone does, understand that if the farmers are struggling, that means the town is struggling whether people are supplying them with poly pipes or fertilizer or fencing or whether it's the local cafe or, you know, every shop, every part of the community suffers.

So it's important to get some money moving in those communities.

PRESENTER: Prime Minister, how dire is it out there?

PRIME MINISTER: Well it's the worst drought in eastern Australia since 1965, so the Bureau says. Lucy and I have been in the cattle and sheep business in the upper Hunter for 36 years and we've been through a number of droughts in that time. It is by far the worst that I've seen, worse than 82/83 and worse than the millennium drought which peaked in 06/07.

Part of the problem with it is, it's so widespread. So, you know it means that it goes really from central western Queensland right down, right through New South Wales even into Victoria so to buy hay, for example, in Tamworth say, you've got to buy that, bring that hay from South Australia, that's a long way.

So you know the freight component is putting up the price of fodder. The prospects for spring rain do not look good, at the moment, you know hopefully that will be confounded by a change in weather, the forecasts are not always right as we know, but it looks tough and the croppers look like they won't get a winter crop in in New South Wales.

So all in all it is a very tough situation and that's why we are there on the ground and why I'm staying really close to it to make sure that we provide the support for our farmers.

But I just I make this point, our farmers are not helpless. They are courageous, they're enterprising, they're innovative businesspeople. They understand drought is part of the Australian climate and they manage for it, but this drought is, as I said, it is longer and more widespread than any drought we've seen in over 50 years so that's why we've got to provide additional support.

PRESENTER: It’s a national crisis, that's for sure at the moment, Prime Minister. So in all this package that you announced over the course of the weekend will total about $190 million and then with some other action about $576 million.

PRIME MINISTER: Over $500 million, that's right. There's a lot of things we're doing. I mean I'll give you an example. We're spending money supporting fencing, dog proof fencing, everywhere but particularly in western Queensland where the wild dogs have basically prevented anyone, for quite a long time, from operating with sheep, from having sheep there. So we're doing that. We're providing support to eradicate weeds, we've got concessional loans. Our farm management deposit scheme where people can essentially put money, income aside in a good year and not have to pay tax on it and then bring it back into account in a tough year or in the future, all of that is providing support for farmers’ resilience.

You see what we have to do is recognise we are the land of droughts and flooding rains. We know that. That's part of the climate, it seems to be becoming more so and what we need is to ensure we provide every support to enable farmers to be resilient and respond to that climate. And they are outstanding businesspeople.

PRESENTER: Absolutely good stuff Prime Minister, it's good to see you out there supporting the farmers and getting active with this. Let's just hope we wake up tomorrow morning and it’s just absolutely hosing down right across the countryside and just continues to do so.

PRIME MINISTER: I was with Ashlea and Philip Miles at their place near Trangie on Sunday morning and I got a message about six o'clock this morning from Ashlea saying the rain was falling on the roof. I don't think it was a lot of rain but she said it was a beautiful sound.

We live in hope and pray for rain.

PRESENTER: Mr Turnbull before we let you go, I must ask you this, I'm curious. Have you ever heard of a man called Lawrence Mooney?

PRIME MINISTER: Oh, yes I have, he's the impersonator. I've not met him.

PRESENTER: What do you think?

PRIME MINISTER:  Well I guess I'm a hard one to judge. I don't think it's a great impersonation, but obviously others do otherwise he wouldn’t get a gig anywhere.

PRESENTER: I'd like to compare, I mean could you say "Point Piper" just to compare how he does it?

PRIME MINISTER: Point Piper is how I would say it.

PRESENTER: It's not bad.

PRESENTER: Lawrence was in the cricket commentary team at Triple M and you came in for one of the test matches for the Ashes. He was about five feet from you and he was so close to sort of saying hello and stuff, but he chickened out at the end because you had -

PRIME MINISTER: Oh, he should have said hello! Look, I'm flattered that he would want to go to the trouble of impersonating me.

PRESENTER: Do you drink Sangiovese Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER: No, I don't actually.

PRESENTER: Do you like rowing in the morning with Lucy and having goji berry smoothies?

PRIME MINISTER: No, I don't. I kayak, but I almost always kayak by myself actually. Lucy and I have a double that we go out on, but generally only on very calm, fair days in summer.

PRESENTER: I was concerned there for a second Prime Minister, anyway we'll let you go.

PRIME MINISTER: I paddle all year round, in winter and summer.

PRESENTER: Well, Mr Turnbull thank you so much for your time, you're doing great stuff out there. Please let all the farmers know that we're thinking of them, we're doing as much as we can here at Triple M and just look after them and give them a cuddle. They need a bit of kindness face to face, and that connection, eye contact I think is important too for our own mental health.

PRIME MINISTER: It is. I’ve got to say, you're right. I’ve got to say the love and support that is being provided by people in the city to farmers doing it tough is so appreciated. I want to thank all your listeners for their generosity. It is a very, very harsh and capricious climate we have in Australia. We are the land of droughts and flooding rains and our farmers manage that but sometimes you get these especially bad droughts and that's when they need special additional help.

PRESENTER: Well, we appreciate your time this morning Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Thank you very much for coming on the Grill Team.

Transcript 41720