Doorstop at Omni Tanker, Smeaton Grange, NSW

 

PRIME MINISTER:

Well isn’t this inspiring? What a great role model, what a great example of Australian technology, Australian enterprise, Australian exports. Fancy an Australian company developing patented technology that is so good it's exported to Germany, the centre of the European chemicals industry, the centre of European engineering and it's exported there to transport the more dangerous corrosive chemicals that are out being sent around the roads. This is a great achievement. The Rogers family have done so well and all the team at Omni. I am really proud to be here today with them and of course with my colleagues Angus Taylor and Russell Matheson, both champions of Sydney's west.

I want to say something else about our economic plan. We have talked today about the importance of innovation, the importance of exports. We have talked about the importance of backing businesses with the enterprise tax cuts. This is a business that will get a tax cut and additional ability to write off asset purchases immediately, instant asset write-offs. It will get the benefit of those concessions from the 1st of July if we are re-elected. It will not get those benefits if Bill Shorten becomes Prime Minister. So this is the type of business that we are backing, because it drives economic growth and jobs. As you have heard from Daniel Rogers, it has 30 employees at the moment. It's growing to 60 and you can see where the growth comes from, it comes from exports. We have opened up one big export market after another. This company will go global. If it can sell these pressure vessels, these containment vessels into Germany, it can sell them anywhere in the world. So this is a great example of Australian technology going global. Every element of our economic plan supports it.

Now Russell Matheson, as you know, the Member for Macarthur, has been a passionate advocate for improving the safety of the Appin Road. This is a very important road that comes into Campbelltown from Appin obviously. Sadly it's been the site of many accidents and indeed a number of fatalities.

We are committing $50 million, you would have seen that in The Telegraph this morning, we are committing $50 million to upgrade the vehicle separation and safety on that road and that investment will not only improve the safety of the Appin Road and of course protect the lives of the people of Campbelltown and of this region, the Macarthur region. It will also unlock 35,000 new homes. I was talking to one of the developers this morning on the train out here. 1800 homes will become available very shortly, almost immediately. 35,000 over the years ahead.

Now this is how you address housing affordability. Housing affordability is the result of there being insufficient supply of housing. You need to have more supply of housing. Of course that is house and land packages here, it's apartments closer to the city and closer to transport hubs. But what you need is more supply. So here you see an example of us working with - consistent with our cities policy - working with the State Government, working with the developers who are making a contribution to the road upgrade, so that we achieve not only greater safety, greater amenity for current users, but achieve - by putting the infrastructure in first - a very substantial increase in housing supply. Which of course addresses the housing affordability issue. So right across the board, smart investments in infrastructure, innovation, trade export deals supporting business. My government’s economic plan has every element pulling in the direction of jobs and growth and you see the evidence here, all around us.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, you mentioned company tax cuts there, why would voters find a company tax cut more compelling than a plan to properly or better fund health and education as Labor has promised to do?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well let me tell you, the one thing that we know for sure is that when you cut business taxes, company taxes, the value of that, the benefit flows back into the economy and overwhelmingly it goes back to workers, to labour. Indeed as you would have seen from the Treasury’s work last year, for every dollar cut in company tax, four dollars of value is created in the economy overall. That is why economists, governments, including previous Labor governments, have supported company tax cuts. Mr Bowen, the shadow treasurer who is now against cutting company tax, was so keen on it he went to the trouble of writing a book about it, about how important it was. Bill Shorten has spoken about the importance of it. The reality is if you cut company tax, what you do is you improve the return on investment. Therefore you get more investment. You get more investment and you get more jobs.

JOURNALIST:

Just on that same point, John Daley has said the net benefit of company tax cuts will only be half of the headline benefit and benefits are about 25 years for ordinary Australians. Is he right?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, he is wrong.

JOURNALIST:

Labor has announced that they are unfreezing Medicare rebates. Can you convince voters that your party is better for health than Labor is?

PRIME MINISTER:

We are spending more money than ever on health and the most important thing is that Australians know that every dollar we spend is fully funded. We are living within our means. We have increased funding for hospitals by $2.9 billion over the forwards. We have done so while bringing the Budget back into balance and you can see that in our Budget papers.

Frankly, with Labor it's the same old Labor. Unfunded promises, now over $67 billion of unfunded promises over the next four years. Labor is always talking about spending. But how are they going to balance the books? How are they going to pay for it? They're creating a lot of new taxes already but not enough to fill that black hole of $67 billion.

JOURNALIST:

What do you say to the Liberal Party members thinking about backing other conservative parties because of your super changes? And do you consider this will cost you votes at the election?

PRIME MINISTER:

Our super changes, there is no question - as I think I might have said to you yesterday when we last met - I will tell you -

JOURNALIST:

What’s your message to those thinking about swapping their allegiance?

PRIME MINISTER:

Our changes to super do reduce somewhat, the very generous tax concessions to people on very high incomes and with very large super balances. That is true. It enables the super system to be fairer and more flexible, particularly for people on low incomes whose super tax will be covered. They won't have to pay super tax if they're on incomes of $37,000 dollars. If they've been out of the work force for a while - and that is mostly women with family - and come back in, they can catch up with their unused concessional contributions. If they're over 65 and under 75 they can continue contributing in a way that they can't at the moment. So we're making the super system fairer and more flexible.

Yes, people with more than $1.6 million in their super account will pay a little more tax. That is about 1% of the population. But it's still a very low tax. Super remains a very attractive investment and we make no apologies for making the super system fairer and more sustainable over the years ahead.

JOURNALIST:

Are you going to change the reach rule if you are elected? Obviously you’ve come out in support of saving regional television.

PRIME MINISTER:

The answer is yes. It is our policy to change the reach rule.

JOURNALIST:

Can you understand why the sons and daughters of migrants and indeed migrants themselves may be offended by the tone of rhetoric coming from the Government on the issue of immigration?

PRIME MINISTER:

We are an immigration nation. Barely a day goes past when I don't celebrate that we are the most successful multicultural nation in the world. We are built on immigration. We glory in it. There is no country in the world - we are great at knocking ourselves, Australians, we are very critical - there are many things we can be very proud of. This great company here, its’ exports, an example of great pride. Let me tell you our greatest assets are not under the ground, they're the men and women walking around on top of it. Our greatest assets are the 24 million Australians and we are the most diverse multicultural society in the world. We have done that, we have achieved that, with remarkable harmony. We have done that because we have been able to do a number of things.

As immigrants have come into Australia, including refugees, we have made sure that they are settled and that they get the services and support, language skills, training so they can integrate with us into our society and get on and get a job and build up their lives and pursue their Australian dream. At the same time we have also ensured that right across the board, at least when we've been in Government, that we keep our borders secure. This is, you know, part of the deal. Part of the foundation of our success as a multicultural society is for Australians to know that the government that they elect determines who comes to Australia and that you are not outsourcing your immigration policy to people smugglers - which is what the Labor Party did.

Now, I know Bill Shorten will no doubt issue another plea and say we shouldn't talk about that. It's a fact. 50,000 unauthorised arrivals under Labor. 1,200 people drowned at sea. We came into government. We have stopped that and our immigration program is controlled. Whether it's the refugee program or the general program, it is controlled by the government, as it should be. That is the foundation of our success as a multicultural society and can I tell you there is no more, there is no greater admirer of our multicultural society, of the enormous range of faiths, religions, races, ethnic backgrounds, cultures than me.

I revel and I rejoice in the diversity of our nation.

JOURNALIST:

The Appin Road announcement today, it seems to be the same as Labor's yesterday. Are you a bit red faced it's a day late?

PRIME MINISTER:

It's very important infrastructure and it is going to unlock 35,000 new homes.

JOURNALIST:

There's new reports in the AFR today suggesting the Government struggled to sell its Budget. Is that why both you and Minister Dutton are focusing more on border protection because you believe that issue will win votes?

PRIME MINISTER:

Can I just say to you that I've dealt with this issue when it's been raised with me. I am here talking about exports. I am here talking about innovation. I am talking about growth and jobs. So that is my focus. But when people raise this issue obviously I respond to it.

Clearly I know the Labor Party doesn't want anyone to talk about their weakness on border protection. I understand that. But it is a real concern for Australians. The fact is that Bill Shorten leads a party that is hopelessly divided. He has dozens of his candidates who do not support his policy or what he claims to be his policy. It is perfectly clear that the Labor Party does not have the leadership, the conviction or the commitment, to keep our borders secure. They are hopelessly divided and riven on this. You even have the Deputy Leader of the Labor Party Tanya Plibersek, saying that she supports Labor's policy which is apparently different from our policy. Whereas I thought Bill Shorten was trying to have people believe that there was not a cigarette paper's difference between my position and his on this. It's quite clear that Tanya Plibersek thinks there is a difference.

JOURNALIST:

I think you made an important distinction yesterday and again today by arguing that you oppose Labor's humanitarian intake or doubling of it, on the basis they we have to invest heavily in each person coming to properly settle them in the country. If Labor fully costs putting 27,000 people a year in Australia at the same cost you put 13,750, will you then support Labor's policy or, if you won't, on what grounds will you object to it?

PRIME MINISTER:

Tim let me respond to that in this way. This is a very serious issue. A very, very serious issue. You may have heard Amanda Vanstone talking about it this morning on the radio. She was citing the importance that previous Labor immigration ministers have recognised of ensuring that the immigration intake, particularly the refugee intake, is done in a way that is well managed so you don't create the problems that you see in so many other countries. We have a very substantial humanitarian intake. It is rising under our policy from 13,000 to 18,000. In addition to that we are bringing in 12,000 from the Syrian conflict zone. So that is a very substantial increase. We make an enormous investment in English instruction, in all sorts of services to ensure that the refugees that come here are well settled. Look, many of them have - are highly educated or a number of them are highly educated and have good English skills. Of course many of them, as Peter Dutton observed, are illiterate in their own language. So there is a range. But the point is that you’ve got to make sure they get the support and the services. There's no point bringing people in and forgetting about them which is what a lot of other countries do.

Now we believe we've got the balance right. We believe it's generous. We think what Labor is proposing is too much. It will strain the system both in terms of giving good settlement services and in terms of the budget. What the Greens are proposing - and of course this is what Labor is doing, let's be clear, Labor is crab-walking to the left in order to get closer to the Greens - the Greens of course want to quadruple our refugee intake. Of course they have given no thought to what it's going to cost or how you're going to integrate those people.

We are committed to multicultural Australia. We are committed to an immigrant nation which is what we are. We are committed to a generous humanitarian program but we've got to do it properly and Australians expect their Government and their Prime Minister to manage that process well and that is what we are doing. What Labor is proposing is just political. Bill Shorten is only interested in the politics of this issue. You can see the way he leapt on it yesterday to demonise Peter Dutton as a means of distracting attention from Mr Feeney's rather careless accounting for his real estate interests. That was all politics yesterday. We are focusing on governing and ensuring that we continue to build and remain the most successful multicultural society in the world, founded on immigration, founded on a compassionate humanitarian program. Thank you all very much.