Press Conference, Emu Plains, New South Wales

 

FIONA SCOTT MP:

Well good morning, we’re here at the beautiful Lewers Gallery on the banks of the Nepean River here at Emu Plains. It’s wonderful to have had both the Prime Minister here today and of course the Minister for Education, Simon Birmingham.

Today we’ve met with some really wonderful fantastic innovative Penrith business women. Women who have inspired to really create a vibrant business community here in Penrith region.

As it stands, 70% of our workforce commute every single day, for work. However, the Government’s innovation agenda and our investment infrastructure is seeing so many more local jobs built in this local area.

As we go forward, there is amazing potential for this part of Western Sydney. We will form part of an innovation corridor that will link the North-West growth centers to the South West growth center.

Already the $3.6 billion of investment that the Federal Government, together with the Baird State Government have invested in our local infrastructure is seeing a great reaction here to jobs locally. In the recent business statistics, accounting statistics, the local unemployment rate is now 4.36% in this part of Western Sydney. That is lower than the State, Sydney and the Australian averages. That over the last 12 months has been equated to be 2500 jobs created here for local people. Prime Minister, these are the jobs of the future, this is the future of Western Sydney. I’m very excited that you’re here today. I’m very excited that our plan for jobs and growth is truly going to transform this region.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you very much Fiona, thank you, your enthusiasm is as great as the women, the business women we’ve just been meeting with. And this passion for enterprise for business, and recognising as our hosts did at this great event, recognising how our national economic plan is going to drive jobs and growth into the future.

We're backing those business women - we're backing them and thousands of others like them. And their husbands and boyfriends, the men too - we are not discriminating. We're backing small business and medium business because that's the engine room of the Australian economy. And we're providing real incentive, real tax cuts. These are the tax cuts for businesses that Bill Shorten doesn't want to provide, by the way. We know that those tax cuts, that support, will drive more investment and more employment. Jobs and growth is the key.

So it's wonderful to be here, out here in Western Sydney, here at Emu Plains. Fiona, we had a lovely ride out on the train. We had a good discussion with lots of people on the train as well and it's just fantastic. Everything you're seeking to do here, the leadership you're providing, as a very experienced businesswoman yourself, highly qualified, master of business administration from the top business school. You bring to the task of representing this community an understanding of business, an understanding of economics that enables you to be a powerful voice in the Federal Parliament, on the economics committee, ensuring that your constituents and their concerns, some of which we heard first hand a little while ago, are brought to bear as we form our national economic plan, and as we set that up, completed in the Budget, laying out an agenda that will deliver jobs and growth for a 21st century economy.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, can I just clarify something on your superannuation tax concessions? If someone has more than $1.6 million in their super account or has made more than $500,000 in post-tax contributions as at Budget night, are you saying they won't pay more tax on their money?

PRIME MINISTER:

Let me start from the first one. If you have, from 2017 from 1 July 2017, if you have more than $1.6 million in your retirement account, this is the retirement account, then the amount in excess of $1.6 million will be in what's called the accumulation account. So that you would pay no tax on the earnings from your retirement account in the retirement phase, you pay 15% tax on the earnings in the accumulation account. So if you are above $1.6 million, yes, then if you had say $2 million in your retirement account, you're in the retirement phase in super, the earnings on $400,000, henceforth in the future, would be taxed at 15%.

Now, these changes - I've got to stress this - these changes that we've made to super are designed to make it fairer and more flexible. It is particularly beneficial to people on low incomes, because they have their super tax rebated or offset. If your tax on your super contributions, if you're earning up to $37,000, you don't have to pay that. That is a big plus for people on low incomes. As we were discussing with some of Fiona's constituents earlier, people who have not been able to make the full amount of their concessional contributions - and that's typically or very often women who are out of the work force with family - they can catch up. So we're providing additional flexibility there and we're also providing additional flexibility for older people.

But you're right. People in the top 1%, people on very high incomes, will pay more tax. Overall, the whole package either is beneficial or makes no difference to 96%. So it's only the top 4% where there is any change that reduces the very high concessions you already have in super.

JOURNALISTS:

[Inaudible – multiple questions]

PRIME MINISTER:

Hang on, sorry, let’s go to you.

JOURNALIST:

On the question of retrospectivity, yesterday your Deputy Julie Bishop said that she would be getting feedback on unintended consequences. Can we expect any changes to the super package?

PRIME MINISTER:

No. The super changes are set out in the Budget. What Julie was referring to was the process of consultation that always goes on with changes like this about the technicalities of the drafting. Can I just say these changes are not retrospective. Very, very clear, it is not retrospective at all.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, does your being here today for virtually an entire day of campaigning a reward to Fiona Scott for backing you in the leadership contest? And what can you do to counter the Tony Abbott loyalists who consider her a traitor?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well let me just say this to you, Fiona Scott as I just said, is an outstanding representative for Lindsay. An outstanding representative of this community. This is her home. She grew up here. She lives here. She was educated at the University of Western Sydney, where she did a business degree and then as I said, she went on to get an MBA at the top business school in Australia, at the AGSM in Sydney.

So I'm here with Fiona. She is a formidable member of our team. Fiona talk about what you’re doing to represent Penrith again and Lindsay because this is, the intellect you bring to bear, the experience you bring to bear and the passionate advocacy is so important as we've built our national economic plan.

JOURNALIST:

Perhaps Fiona you could explain the superannuation tax?

FIONA SCOTT MP:

Well the Prime Minister did actually quite explain it with a journalist earlier.

JOURNALIST:

Well could you tell us which way you voted in September because it seems to be an issue for Mr Abbott's supporters in this seat that you became a traitor by voting for Mr Turnbull? Can you clarify here in front of us all which way you voted because I don’t think you have on the record before now?

FIONA SCOTT MP:

I take my role as a Parliamentarian very, very seriously. In that, the solidarity of the party room is absolutely crucial. I don't leak from the party room. I don't intend to start leaking from the party room. I have never disclosed how I voted and frankly I never will. Because I think it's important for Members of Parliament to be able to take the trust of their communities and the trust of their community is taking your vows and your oaths very seriously. People who do choose to do those things - that's a matter for them. But for me, I hold my own moral code and I hold myself to those regards and I'm not going break what I think is a very important oath to both the Party...

PRIME MINISTER:

Can I just say, Fiona, yes, good on you, Fiona, someone just said. That's right. Fiona's spoken courageously there and frankly. Let me just say to you those party-room ballots are secret ballots and they're secret for a reason. And so that people can confidentially make a choice. Some people say how they vote. Whether they're saying whether they’re telling the truth who knows? The position of greatest integrity with a secret ballot whether it's in a party room or whether it is in an election is for people to cast their vote you know privately and confidentially. That's how the system's set up. What you've said is consistent with that and has the highest integrity.

JOURNALIST:

[Multiple questions] Prime Minister Western Sydney, just how critical is it to your fortunes?

PRIME MINISTER:

Sorry?

JOURNALIST:

The seat of Lindsay has been won by the party that formed government since 1984. How important is the seat for you for your fortunes? Are you worried about it and is it a must-win seat?

PRIME MINISTER:

This seat is important for Australia's fortunes. This seat, holding this seat, Fiona holding this seat as the Member for Lindsay is absolutely critical for the future of Australia. It's critical because if we hold this seat, then we will be returned to Government, and then we will be able to carry out our national economic plan.

Our national economic plan sets out a range of measures and you know what they are. Innovation, investing in our advanced manufacturing through our big defence programs, re-equipping our armed forces so that we do so in a way that we support jobs and growth and technology here. Opening up the big export markets in Asia, as we have done, and opening up more. Singapore opened further only a week ago. And you've seen what we're doing with enterprise tax reform, making super fairer. Giving businesses, the businesses that these women run, giving them the incentive to do more, to invest more, and to employ more. And of course, we're bringing the budget back into balance. Living within our means. Everything we are promising whether it is in education or in health or in infrastructure and the $3.6 billion of Western Sydney infrastructure that you mentioned a second ago all of that is fully paid for.

Our opponents have $62 billion of promises over the next four years for which they have not identified a source of funds. So what's that going to be? More taxes? Think of the chaos that Labor is foreshadowing. Think about it. We have from Chris Bowen, the Shadow Treasurer, yesterday, at the Press Club, saying that after 100 days of winning office, he will bring down a mini Budget. So we won't know for 100 days after Labor wins the election, were they to do so, we won't know what the new taxes will be. And you know what that is, he will say, if they won office, they would come in after 100 days, they'd say "Oh dear, things aren't quite as we expected. We’re going to have to jack up taxes even more than we told you." Can you imagine that.

And then on the other hand we have a prospect of the coalition with the Greens. Well, Mr Shorten says he won't enter into a deal with the Greens. Just remember what Nick McKim said, the Tasmanian Green who formed a formal coalition with Labor in the Tasmanian Government. And he said yesterday, “Oh yes the Labor Party always say that before the election. They said that in Tasmania too. But a few weeks after the election, there I was sitting around the Cabinet table." We know what Labor will do. If they need to do to a deal with the Greens, they will do it.

Or of course you could have Tony Burke's other multiple recipes for chaos from Labor, saying “Oh well we'll just go straight back to an election if we don't like the result.” Really?

The only way we can be sure of delivering the jobs and growth that Australia needs, the stability and the leadership that Australia deserves is to return my government on the 2nd of July, so that we deliver our national economic plan, every single lever of which, whether it is youth employment, whether it is giving women a better deal on super, whether it is providing incentives to small and medium businesses, or whether it is innovation, every single element of what we are proposing is going to deliver jobs and growth. And that's what we need. The opportunities have never been greater. They've never been greater. But there are uncertainties. Strong leadership. A clear vision. A clear plan. That's what we have. And that's what will deliver us the success that our children and our grandchildren deserve in these exciting times.

Thank you all very much.

E&OE…