Doorstop at Austal Shipyard, Henderson, Western Australia

 

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, how awesome is this. Australian jobs. Australian workers. Australian technology. Building some of the most sophisticated naval vessels in the world, right here in Perth.

These vessels exported to Amman. This yard, Austal ships, has built 250 vessels and 200 of them have been exported. This company, Austal, represents exactly what we are seeking to achieve with our defence industry plan. It sums up the objectives of our national economic plan - jobs and growth, driving advanced manufacturing, exports, technology, jobs and growth. We're seeing them right here around us here at Henderson and, as you know, we have committed, contracted for Austal to build 19 and up to 21 Pacific Patrol Boats - $282 million. These ships will be built here in Perth, in Australia, out of Australian steel. They will go out to our Pacific neighbours improving and enhancing the security in our region. And the skills these workers will continue to develop will enable them to grow their business, grow their exports, grow the jobs.

This is the future of Australian industry and jobs, advanced manufacturing, supported by our enterprise tax cuts, supported by our trade export deals, supported by our policies on innovation and science. You can see it brought together here today, it's brought together with an energy, an innovation, a commitment to Australia and its talent - its talented people, its talented workers whom you've met here today.

Boy, I'm proud every day to be Prime Minister of Australia but how proud am I today, surrounded by these great workers and these great achievements here at Henderson.

This is our future, jobs and growth, and our national economic plan lays the way.

JOURNALIST:

Are projects like this enough to fill the void left by the end of the mining boom? If not, which specific industries are the jobs going to come from?

PRIME MINISTER:

Our economy is transitioning from one that was pumped up by a mining construction boom and nowhere more so than in Western Australia. Western Australia is leading the way in that transition and it's leading the way with advanced manufacturing such as we're seeing here. It's leading the way with investment including investment being made by the Federal Government. We're investing $3.5 billion into infrastructure here. You would have seen just the other day half a billion dollars going into the railway link out to the airport. But right across the board we are seeing strong investment.

This is a very innovative state. This a state filled with technology, great R & D and the science and the tech that you're seeing here at Henderson - we're surrounded by it, this is an export business.

What John Rothwell has done here, as a great leader of Australian industry, as a great ship builder, he has taken Australian technology and created Australian jobs and built a global business and I am delighted that we are supporting Austal and they are providing these 19, up to 21 Pacific Patrol Boats and they'll be built right here and we expect the Offshore Patrol Vessels, of course after the first two are built in Adelaide, they will be built here at Henderson as well.

JOURNALIST:

Did you invite the Premier to attend today? Will you see him while you're in Western Australia? And what do you say to critics who say you don't want to stand near Colin Barnett right now because he's politically on the nose?

PRIME MINISTER:

This is an announcement, a national announcement, this is an announcement about our national economic plan, it's about our defence investment strategy, this is all about Australia - Australia's commitment to defence here and defence advanced manufacturing.

JOURNALIST:

How concerned are you Prime Minister about a backlash here in Western Australia to its dwindling share of the GST? We've even got the Liberal State Treasurer suggesting that Western Australians vote against your Government in a bid to try and get a better deal.

PRIME MINISTER:

Let me say to you that we have committed - Western Australians know this - we've committed half a billion dollars this year, half a billion dollars last year to top Western Australia up. The GST formula has resulted in Western Australia getting a very low share and we acknowledge that and we've made that good and the formula will deliver Western Australia a higher share in the years ahead and they understand that as well.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister just considering that this is a significant announcement for Western Australia, why is your Liberal candidate not here with you?

PRIME MINISTER:

This is a national announcement. I'm the Prime Minister and I hope he's out there engaging with the people of Fremantle and doing some good door knocking. Very character-building. I've done it myself.

JOURNALIST:

Do you agree with his views that same-sex marriage could lead to polygamy?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I do not.

JOURNALIST:

On milk prices, I just have a question about milk prices. Barnaby says they're too low. Sarah Henderson has accused processors of corporate thuggery. Do you agree with them?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look the ACCC is dealing with these issues, as you know. We've strengthened the section 46, or in the course of doing that to ensure that large companies treat smaller ones and smaller suppliers more equitably, but I'm not going to go beyond that. This is something the ACCC has in hand.

Now look, can I just say this is such an exciting announcement for Australia's future. These are jobs. This is Defence. This is the technology that builds our future and I'd look forward to some questions on that.

JOURNALIST:

While this is good news for this shipyard, what about the Victorian shipyard that faces 150 job losses later this year?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well can I say it is clear that for Australia, for our ship building future, naval ship building, we’ll have two ship-building locations - two shipyards, one in South Australia and one here. South Australia for the larger vessels, smaller vessels here. And that is clear that's where the overwhelming focus will be. Of course there will be maintenance done around the country, a lot of the maintenance, in fact almost all of the maintenance for the Pacific Patrol Boats will be done in Cairns. Much of the maintenance for the Offshore Patrol Vessels will be done in Cairns so there's maintenance done everywhere. But in terms of building these vessels, the major vessels in South Australia at Osborne and the smaller vessels here at Henderson.

JOURNALIST:

[Inaudible] argued that Indigenous recognition in the Constitution is a divisive political force. How can you have someone like that on your team?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I don't agree with that but this is an issue on which there is a wide range of views but my own view is that we should recognise our first Australians in our Constitution and that is, I might say, the view of the Government and the commitment of the Government.

JOURNALIST:

On reconciliation, the local member here, sorry the Labor Member here, Tammy Solonec wants to scrap Australia Day and move it to Wattle Day on September 1. She says it's too divisive. What are your thoughts on that?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think Australia Day's fine. This is obviously - I'm sorry that ship-building isn't of much interest to you. Can I just say to you that Australia Day is fine. Are there any questions about Australian jobs?

JOURNALIST:

Your company tax cut plan, it's said that will drop billions in to the US Treasury's coffers. Is that true?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, it's not true. Can I say to you that it is very very clear - there is one thing that is crystal clear, that if you cut company tax the biggest beneficiary is labour, is workers, is employees. Ken Henry made that point in 2011 under the Labor Government, that is why Labor proposed to justify a cut in company tax when they were in Government, that's why Chris Bowen advocated it in his book. The Treasury paper from last year made it clear that for every dollar of company tax you cut you add $4 to the overall economy and it's pretty straight forward. You cut company tax, you return - you increase the return on investment, hence you get your investment, hence you get more jobs.

Let me put a contrast here compared to what we're doing and Mr Shorten. So what you are seeing here today is an investment in naval shipbuilding. You're seeing the Australian Government, my Government, making a commitment, a contract to build these ships, and as you know we are in total committed to constructing 54 vessels including the submarines and the future frigates and the Offshore Patrol Vessels. We have done that in two and a half years of Government. In 6 years of the Labor Government, they did not commission one naval ship from one Australian shipyard - not one. And that's why there have been job losses. That's why there has been a decline in the labour force, because they abandoned their commitment to naval ship-building.

I ask you this - do you imagine that Labor can be trusted to continue, having done nothing in six years, if they were to come back into government? Could you trust them to provide the support for the Navy that we have done - when they did nothing in six years - any more than you can trust them on border protection? Torn apart on border protection?

Mr Shorten says he's on a unity ticket with me. Well, he's not on a unity ticket with his own party and it's not just a number of candidates and backbenchers that are at odds with him. His whole party is at odds with him. You need commitment, you need conviction to keep Australia safe and Labor lacks that.

Then you turn to the economy. You asked about jobs and investment. Everything Labor is proposing will undermine investment. They're going to increase capital gains tax, that's a tax on investment. You tax investment more, you'll get less of it. They're opposed to cutting company tax. There are thousands and thousands of businesses, companies here in Western Australia that would get a company tax [cut], will get a company tax [cut] if we are returned to Government, on 2 July, that will not and that means there are thousands of jobs that will not be created in Western Australia if Mr Shorten is elected.

He is a threat to the economy. He cannot be trusted on national security and you see again today the division over penalty rates. Our position is quite straight forward - there is an umpire, Fair Work. We will abide by their rulings. Mr Shorten said a while back that he took the same view but then he was disowned by Kim Carr and Brendan O'Connor because of course we can see what they're doing.

What Labor is doing is quietly crab-walking to a position where they can do a deal with the Greens. That's what this is all about. Labor knows they're going to sell out to the Greens. So that means a weaker approach to border protection - that's one of the Greens' asks - a higher carbon tax, higher taxes on business and of course ignoring any ruling that come from Fair Work, unless it suits the Greens.

This is the process, the gradual process of Bill Shorten selling out to the Greens and he may say that it's all a dream. Well as Adam Bandt said ‘dreams do come true’ and the Greens' dreams have come true in Tasmania when Labor said they wouldn't do a deal with them and they came true with Julia Gillard when she said she wouldn't do a deal with them.

JOURNALIST:

On Friday night’s leaders' debate you cited Aussie John Symonds on negative gearing but in 2013 on Q&A he said negative gearing does need to be looked at. He said, "It leans very highly to the high income earners and that needs to be brought into line." Haven't you both changed your tune on this and why is that?

PRIME MINISTER:

No. Can I be very clear with you? The vast majority of people who are negative gearing properties - that is to say they're offsetting a net rental loss against their personal income - have got taxable income of $80,000 or less. That’s a fact. There's about 87,000 of them in Western Australia alone. These are people that according to the Labor Party - they're policeman, they're nurses, they're teachers - these are people on average incomes, these are people on middle incomes. Bill Shorten says they're all dreadful property speculators and can't be trusted. What Shorten is proposing on negative gearing is a policy as John Symonds has said, as the real estate industry have said, which will smash the value of properties and it will drive up rent. It will drive up rent. There is 240,000, and more, households in Western Australia who rent. More than a quarter of a million households in Western Australia that rent and they will pay - every single one of them will pay higher rents if Labor wins government. Because what they're proposing will drive up rents, as it did in the '80s by the way. Again the extraordinary thing about the Labor Party is that they ignore experience. They are going to go back and make the same mistake on negative gearing that Keating did which he had to reverse and of course you can see they're set again to make the same mistake with border protection.

It is the same old Labor. Weak on the border. You can't trust them on the economy. You can't trust them on national security. How can you seriously believe anything Bill Shorten says about ship-building when in six years in government they did not order, even the design of one naval vessel from one Australian yard? It's the same old Labor. With my Government, Australians know we have a clear economic plan and it drives jobs and growth. It invests in our Defence industries. It invests in innovation and it supports investment because we know investment brings jobs and growth.

Thank you very much.

E&OE