PRIME MINISTER:

Well it has been great Warren to be here and seeing how much employment we’re going to see grow here. The opportunities for a long term marine maintenance and sustainment business here, you can see the opportunities all around us.

Just talking up there with the owners of the shipyards here and their management they’re very excited about this $24 million investment. It’s going to really upgrade the facilities here and ensure that together with the up to $1 billion over the long term that we’re investing in the upgrades at HMAS Cairns and in the sustainment of the Pacific Patrol Boats over their life.

This is a long term commitment, which will create the potential for these shipyards to do even more in the years ahead. We’ve got great opportunities obviously here with defence, with border protection, with commercial vessels, with superyachts, fishing vessels, reef operators.

This is a really important, a critically important part of our marine industry here right here in Cairns and I’m delighted to be here Warren. I know how excited everyone is locally, we’ve had the Mayor and our candidate for Kennedy Jonathan Pavetto. Senator Macdonald is here. Where’s Jonathan? There you are good on you Jonathan. It’s a great North Queensland team and we know that we’re getting this money which Warren has fought for so well, it’s going to make a very big difference to jobs and growth here in Cairns.

JOURNALIST:

Warren has also fought for Pacific Patrol Boat tenders, is this a bit of a consolation prize given Cairns real disappointment to miss out on that?

PRIME MINISTER:

The sustainment and maintenance of the Pacific Patrol Boats over their lives is over $400 million so you can see - as Olav was pointing out on our tour with Ray and Robyn Fry going around Norship - as Olav was pointing out, the money, the price for constructing a vessel is very valuable. But the sustainment of that vessel goes on for decades. So the sustainment of these new Pacific Patrol Boats, the new generation, will be done here in Cairns over the life of the vessels which is decades.

JOURNALIST:

What's your response to Peter Dutton's comments about the asylum seekers and that they're just taking our jobs?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well can I just say this to you - we have the most successful multicultural society in the world. The most successful multicultural society in the world. We have a very generous humanitarian program, which as you know we are increasing over the next few years to 18,000 a year and of course in addition to that we're taking 12,000 refugees from the Syrian conflict zone.

Now, the reason we are successful is because we invest an enormous amount of money into the settlement services, to make sure that our refugees who come to Australia get the language instruction, all of the support to enable them to integrate into Australian society and move into employment and take up those opportunities.

So we invest more in settlement than many other countries do. So it is - it's very expensive. We don't begrudge the money but it's important to get it right.

Can I just say we are going to do have another doorstop in Townsville and this is really for the local Cairns media. Any more questions from Cairns?

JOURNALIST:

What’s your plan for local jobs creation apart from the project here today?

PRIME MINISTER:

Can I just say to you that this is obviously a very important centre for employment. But as I was saying on your local radio this morning, right across North Queensland, right across Leichhardt, right across Kennedy, there are thousands of small and medium businesses that will benefit from our enterprise tax cuts.

There are 38,000 people in North Queensland alone who are working in businesses with turnovers between two and ten million dollars. Now, if we are re-elected on the 2nd of July, they will get a tax cut from the 1st of July. They won't if Labor is elected.

So all of those businesses if we are elected will have more money to invest and if they invest more, then you will get more growth in jobs.

So everything we are doing, every single element of our policy, is focused on delivering more jobs. I mean you've seen the big investment that we've secured from the Singapore Government into the Townsville field training area and the Shoalwater Bay facilities, which is $2.25 billion upgrading ADF facilities which will be used for part of the year by the Singaporean armed forces, but will provide $2.25 billion of work for local contractors here in North Queensland.

So right across the board, our big export trade deals, investment in defence facilities, advanced manufacturing, enterprise tax cuts, ensuring that young people who are long-term unemployed get the opportunity to get back into work right across the board, we're backing jobs and growth here in North Queensland.

Thanks very much.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Entsch you called the decision to build patrol boats in the West ‘stupid’ or something similar. Could you qualify what you said, do you stand by it and does today's announcement offset it?

WARREN ENTSCH MP:

Well I can tell you that when I made that comment, my advice had come from the unsuccessful proponent. I had not been briefed in relation to the reasons behind the decision. As a result of my serious concerns I raised, I was actually given the opportunity of talking to the decision-makers, defence people, out of the defence contractors. They opened it up full transparency which I have since revealed, which shows quite clearly the variation in price which I wasn't aware of

It also has shown me, when you mentioned a booby prize in relation to maintenance, I think we've actually got the top shelf here, because the cost of building was - the cost of the contract was only $208 million. We've got over $400 million worth of sustainment here.

That $280 million, by the way, and I think this is important to realise, once you get all the information provided to you, that $280 million is for a one-off over about three or four years, and there is the next time we're going to have boats of a similar type, is in about 30 years’ time, when these boats wear out. And so you will have a huge void there, whereas by moving in not only on the sustainment and the maintenance of these vessels, but actually raising capacity to allow us to do the offshore patrol boats and a whole range of others including civilian vessels, means to say that we've actually got the winning ticket here in the lotto and...

JOURNALIST:

It's not a stupid decision at all?

WARREN ENTSCH MP:

No. But when you start looking at the facts, the information that was provided to me was not provided as it should've been at the time. If I would've been briefed I can assure you that my reaction would've been very, very different. I appreciate the fact that when I spoke to the Prime Minister about this, he facilitated an opportunity to open up and we've seen exactly what the reality was. And I think that Cairns is a major winner here. This is a billion dollar investment overall. We're talking about - it's not just about building, it's about education, because we now need a marine engineering degree, we've got the only marine college outside of Tasmania here, all of these things, we can bring into this precinct to capture major opportunities for our region. This is long-term sustainable stuff.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Entsch Any thoughts on Peter Dutton's comments calling refugees extra...

WARREN ENTSCH MP:

I haven't seen that comment. I will actually have a look at it but at the end of the day, the Prime Minister's across it, I am not.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thanks very much.