PRIME MINISTER:

Great to be with you, great to be here in Small Business Week, because we’re backing small business right up to the hilt, in Cairns and right across the country.

PHIL STALEY:

Mr Turnbull, we know in just a little bit of detail so far about this morning’s announcement but can you fill in some gaps for us.

PRIME MINISTER:

This is investing $24 million in to the shipyards, and that’s going to go in to the upgrading and expanding the wharfs, floating docks and the hard stands, and bringing in power and water so that the capacity of the shipyards is upgraded in the future to deal with larger vessels. In particular the new offshore patrol vessels that will be replacing the Armidale patrol boats. They’re a much bigger vessel, there are three Armidale craft patrol boats stationed at Cairns at any time, they’re a 300 tonne vessel and the new offshore patrol boats will be between 1200 and 1800 tonne. So they’re a much bigger vessel when they arrive.

PHIL STALEY:

Okay. Mr Turnbull you’ve most likely heard concern from Warren Entsch himself about the North’s future to do with infrastructure. Little bit of, almost nothing in the budget as far as that goes. The Northern Australia Plan in place but nothing being built, is this morning’s announcement the first of more to come?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yeh absolutely, can I just say to you, the commitment to Northern Australia from our national economic plan is enormous. We have a $5 billion, Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund that will be providing loans across Northern Australia and of course Far North Queensland is a very large part of that.

You’ve already seen in terms of North Queensland, you’ve seen the benefits of our free trade agreements and the way in which we are driving closer relations with our neighbours, opening up markets, and look at the way we’ve expanded the cooperation with Singapore in terms of the training facilitates that we share - we make available to the Singaporeans here in North Queensland, they’re going to invest two and a quarter billion in the Shoal Water Bay training area and the Townsville field training area. And I know that’s not in Cairns but it’s in North Queensland and there will contractors that work between the cities in Far North Queensland will be taking advantage of that. And that’s real money, that’s not being spent by the Australian Government, but they will be assets available to the Australian ADF and to our armed forces and of course providing a lot of work and investment for local businesses.

PHIL STALEY:

Malcolm Turnbull is my guest, the Prime Minister of Australia, you are on ABC Far North right now, my name’s Phil Staley. Locally, projects that I’m certain you will hear through the day in your trip here, things like the Hann highway, the Kuranda Range road, are you getting a lot of that comment and people saying, can we, can we, can we?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yeh, certainly, I’m talking to Warren about so many of these issues, Warren has been a really powerful- is, was, has been, and is, and will continue to be, a very powerful advocate for this community. Warren’s vision which I share, is for Cairns to be a larger marine maintenance and sustainment centre, it is a, and this additional investment in the shipyards is very important, not just for the navy, but for other commercial customers in the years to come. I mean there is around a billion dollars of investment associated with these shipyard upgrades. I mean you’ve got the money we’re talking about today of course – you’ve got over the life of the patrol boats. You’ve got, this is the Pacific patrol boats I’m talking about, these are the ones that are going to the pacific island countries, that will be, their maintenance will be over $400 million over the life of those boats, and of course the upgrades to HMAS Cairns itself, we’re looking at $400 million over the next twenty years. What we’ve set out in our national economic plan is a long term clear cut plan to secure Australia’s prosperity in the future. This is, we are the only alternative at the election, the only, we are the government and Mr Shorten is the opposition, he does not have an economic plan, he’s got a number of complaints. We have a clear economic plan whether it’s innovation, defence industry, opening up big trade export deals, investment, that we’re talking about today- but every element is focused on growing jobs and growth.

We’re talking about small business, and it is good that we are celebrating small business week. We’ll if you think about this, just here in North Queensland, there are seventeen hundred small businesses with a turnover of between $2 million and $10 million, and they employ around 38,000 people. Now Labor does not want to give them a tax cut. They’re going to get a tax cut if we are returned to government, so their tax will come down to 27.5% and they’ll get the benefit of the instant asset write off on assets up to $20,000. Now that is a substantial benefit to those businesses and all of those people that work for them, those benefits, those enterprise tax cuts will benefit those businesses- they’ll invest more, they’ll employ more, the benefits will accrue, the bulk of those benefits will accrue to their workers. Labor’s opposing that, so you can see that we’ve got a clear plan for jobs and growth whether it’s investing in the shipyard here, whether it’s backing small businesses, whether it’s ensuring that we get investment from our friends and neighbours in Singapore in particular.

PHIL STALEY:

Well on that Mr Turnbull if I can ask you about that, one of the things that is holding us I suppose the far north Queensland area back, the youth unemployment rate. You’ve alluded to some of that, but doesn’t the Northern Australia plan rely too much perhaps on overseas investment, as this far, hasn’t been forthcoming?

PRIME MINISTER:

I’m glad you raised youth unemployment. Right here in Warren’s electorate of Leichardt there are 3,000 young people between 15 and 24 in search of work. Now, and across north Queensland there’s 11,400 in search of work. Now we have, in our national economic plan, as set out in the budget, we have a new youth path employment program, and this is the prepare, trial and hire programs. What we are going to be doing is offering young people who have been out of work, struggling to find work, struggling to get into the habit of work, if you like, of employment. We are going to offer them job ready training – six weeks of that and then we will find them an internship and we will provide the employer with an incentive to take them on. They will get an incentive to do it and what that will do is get more young people, including young people here in Cairns used to going to work, used to getting up early in the morning to go to work, used to turning up on time and that will make more of these young people who have been unemployed for a long time employable. Now they may stay and get a long term job at the firm they are doing the internship with, or they may go somewhere else but it’s a new approach and it gives you an insight into what our commitment is – you know, we are focused, determined to bring down that level of youth unemployment. We are committed to jobs and growth. Economic growth. Backing the shipyard here. Backing small business here and around Australia. Getting young people into jobs. Jobs and growth is the key.

PHIL STALEY:

But isn’t that again reliant on that overseas investment for the much larger projects? Aquis for example, we are needing somebody to come forward with half of the money to access the Northern Australia plan and it hasn’t happened. What’s the plan to change that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well we make Australia a more attractive place to invest in by bringing down the business taxes. I mean, the case, the economic case for reducing company tax, and we’re going to reduce it over ten years – it will come down for every company. We are starting with small companies, or smaller companies now of course and then over time it will build up and all companies will be paying 25% tax. The reason for that is because you lower business taxes, you increase the return on investment so you get more investment. You know, it’s pretty straight forward. If you want more of something, lower the tax on it. If you want less of something, increase the tax. So we increased the tax on tobacco because we want people to smoke less. If you want more investment, lower the tax on business and that’s what we’ve done in the Budget. We’re doing it in the Budget and of course, I have to say without being too political, if you look at the Labor Party, well what they are proposing to do is put up the tax on business. They are going to put up the tax on energy, they are going to put up the tax on capital gains so that’s an extra tax on investment and they are opposing reducing company tax so you can see that everything we are doing, everything that Warren and I are committed to here is focused on, and we’ll deliver, more economic growth and more jobs. And that’s the direction in which we’re pulling. And it’s a clear consistent economic plan. What Labor has got is this, they are offering to spend more here, spend more there, raise more taxes – they still haven’t identified enough taxes to pay for the black hole of spending they’ve talked about but it is a series of complaints. It’s not a plan for economic growth and jobs.

PHIL STALEY:

Finally, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, I’m certain you’ve read the local newspapers and might have heard the situation that has taken place over the last week in Aurukun and some of the problems in that remote Aboriginal community where financial aid is probably not the answer. I wonder if you’ve had a chance to look at that situation and can comment on that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well look I haven’t been to Aurukun but it’s an issue that I talk about a lot with indigenous leaders, with Noel Pearson, who I know well, and of course with our Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion and of course with Warren – you know Warren is very familiar with these communities, many remote communities of course he represents, particularly in the Torres Strait. Look these are big challenges – we’re very focused on it. We are, as I said in my Closing the Gap speech in Parliament, our commitment is to work with Indigenous communities, to work with our first Australians rather than if you like telling them what to do. So we need a very collaborative approach and we are seeing, I think there is, we are seeing progress but as you know and your listeners know better than anyone, it is hard work and big challenges but our commitment is there.

PHIL STALEY:

Malcolm Turnbull, I really appreciate your time this morning. Thank you

PRIME MINISTER:

Thanks so much Phil.