Welcome. It's wonderful to be here with the Premier, the Trade Minister, the Tourism Minister and my colleagues, Eric and Andrew, local members here in northern Tasmania.
Can I just say, here we are, focused again on our national economic plan and jobs and growth. Yesterday we were in western Sydney with an innovative engineering company that is exporting tanks to Germany to hold corrosive fluids, corrosive chemicals. Australian technology forging into those markets - exports, investment, jobs and growth.
Here we are in Tasmania, surrounded by this great company, Josef Chromy - this great winemaker, an extraordinary story of success, Mr Chromy’s enterprise and the great work he's done in promoting his business and Australian wines. Then we've also met with so many other Tasmanian exporters from seafood, to honey, to snacks, right across the board and what they're all doing, is fulfilling the objectives of our national economic plan of driving growth and jobs and particularly taking advantage of those big open markets that we have opened, that our Government has opened, particularly China, Japan, and Korea. We heard about the great success of the honey exporter in the Korean market and the way Josef Chromy’s company here has succeeded so well in Japan. Then of course, the great opportunities in China.
All of these companies are growing. They're all adding jobs. They're all making further investment and many of them are among the nearly 1,000 Tasmanian businesses that have turnover between $2 and $10 million a year. Do you know those companies employ around ten percent of all Tasmanians employed in the private sector? Not working for the government - ten per cent.
Those companies will get a tax cut from the 1st of July if we are returned to government. But they will not, if Mr Shorten is returned to government.
Every single measure, every lever, every element of our economic plan - whether it's investment, innovation, tax concessions, tax cuts for business, whether it's our big trade export deals that's been such a huge driver of growth here in Tasmania - every single one of them is focused on jobs and growth and we are surrounded by it here today. Enterprising Australians, enterprising Tasmanians, storming the big markets of the world with the best food and wine in the world. They're doing that because we - their Government, my Government - is opening the doors of those big markets to them.
We're announcing today further movement in that area. We are going to open up more markets. Steven Ciobo will describe how the next stage of our trade agenda will open up more markets for all of these exporters, will make it easier for our exporters to deal with government, to do their work, cutting red tape, flinging wide the doors of opportunity - that's our commitment. It's our national economic plan and its object is jobs and growth. As we've seen and are seeing today, here in Tasmania and around Australia, we are delivering.
I’ll ask Steve Ciobo to say more about our new trade agenda.
MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT:
Thank you very much, Prime Minister. Well today I'm very pleased as part of the Turnbull Coalition Government to bring the focus to the next stage of the Turnbull Government's national economic plan. We have a plan to drive jobs and growth and we've witnessed here today and we see it all across Australia, so many examples of where Australian businesses, both small, medium and large, are being advantaged and investing as our economy continues the transition from resources and energy, towards a more diversified economy.
The reason they're investing in their business, the reason they're creating more employment, the reason they're driving economic growth, is because we've opened up export market opportunities for them.
You all know the story about the success that the Coalition has had with respect to Japan, Korea and China. What the Coalition is absolutely committed to doing, should we win the election on July 2, is to opening more markets.
We're going to put a strong focus on concluding free trade agreements with Indonesia, with India, with the regional comprehensive economic partnership countries - 16 countries that will be coming together for a regional agreement. We're putting a focus on concluding a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union.
Each one of these agreements creates opportunities for our country's business sector, to employ more Aussies, to invest in their business. They will be materially advantaged as a consequence of the Coalition's proposal to reduce their taxes, so they can invest more in businesses and employ more locals.
An example is this business here. Josef Chromy, under the Japan Free Trade Agreement, has seen over the past 18 months a 60% increase in their sales into Japan. That's just one illustration of the way in which small to medium businesses across Australia are being advantaged.
I conclude by highlighting that there is a clear difference on July 2 with respect to trade investment. That’s this; only under the Coalition, have we been able to secure the free trade agreements that have made a real difference to driving jobs and growth.
The Labor Party for six years stood stagnant, unable to secure deals, unable to ensure that our nation was in a stronger, trading position. The Coalition has delivered preferential market access into those three key Asian markets but we're going to continue doing more of the same. Continue it with Indonesia, with India, with the European Union, with opportunities through another significant regional agreement under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership - agreements that will underpin Australia's economic growth and are consistent part of the Coalition Government's national economic plan.
Thanks and welcome to Tasmania to the Prime Minister and to Minister Ciobo. It's wonderful to be here with my federal colleagues, Minister Richard Colbeck, Andrew Nikolic and Eric Hutchinson and to be in one of Tasmania's great businesses, one of many. It's wonderful to be here at Josef Chromy and to be here with some other very innovative, enterprising Tasmanian businesses that are booming through an incredible growth in our export trade. It's wonderful to see further work being done to open up markets for overseas exports for Tasmanian and Australian business and congratulations to the Federal Government.
It's true to say that a jobs and growth agenda sits beautifully with Tasmania. Our economy is growing at the fastest rate it has in six years. Our unemployment rate is now down almost a full point since the last state election and Tasmania's business confidence ranks amongst the highest in the country. It's of course largely down to the great enterprise and innovation of Tasmanian business. But with Liberal Governments in Tasmania and nationally supporting a jobs and growth agenda, it's a large part of the reason why we are seeing such a turnaround in Tasmania's fortunes.
Free trade agreements have been instrumental in this and in China for example, we've seen growth of 18% in export trade opening up new opportunities. It's very much part of what our agenda here in Tasmania is as well because our products are a must have and Tasmania is a must see destination so it's wonderful to be working with my federal counterparts to assist Tasmanian business in that endeavour.
Thank you, Will. Can we start off with questions about the trade policy and Tasmania?
Mr Turnbull, given that you've arrived at this winery today and that the owner is an immigrant who arrived with little English and fleeing an impoverished country, were you a bit embarrassed about the previous comments of your Immigration Minister, given that?
We are the most successful multicultural nation in the world. Josef Chromy’s story, like so many other migrant stories, have made us what we are. We're inspired by Josef and we're inspired by thousands of other Australians with the same migrant tale, the same tale of fleeing persecution and creating us - our nation. As I said, the most successful multicultural nation in the world. Something that every Australian, every one of our 24 million should be greatly proud.
So do you apologise on behalf of Mr Dutton for his comments?
Can I just say to you, we've got a great story about Tasmanian jobs and growth here, let's focus on that and then we can move onto other national issues.
Despite the free trade agreements, dairy farmers around Australia but also here in Bass are doing it hard. Are you talking to Labor about some aid to dairy farmers?
Yes, thank you. The dairy farmers of Australia are doing it very tough. Very, very tough. The drop in the price for milk, the price that they're receiving initially from Murray Goulburn and now, of course, Fonterra, the drop was enormous and it was unanticipated by the farmers and it's hit them very hard and we, as a Government, are very, very conscious of how tough they're doing.
So this is what we're doing. We've made available farm household assistance that is now available to dairy farmers affected by this change of circumstances.
The ASIC and the ACCC are investigating the conduct associated with this. They're investigating Murray Goulburn's dramatic change in the price being offered.
At the same time because we are in caretaker, we are consulting with the Labor Party, with a view to making further assistance available to dairy farmers.
This has been a very dramatic reduction in price and it's had a very harsh impact on dairy farmers. We understand, we empathise with the trouble they are going through and the hardship they're going through but we're also going to put in place the measures that will enable them to get through this. Long term demand for milk products globally is very strong so there are some particular circumstances that occurred in the market that gave rise to this dramatic drop in price but long term the dairy industry is a strong one and long term the prospects are good and we will ensure that the dairy farmers are given all the support we can give them to get through this very difficult patch.
Prime Minister - did you or anyone acting on your behalf…
I know you're interested in that but we are in Tasmania and can we focus on Tasmanian and trade issues just for a little bit longer?
Labor committed $150 million to the relocation of UTAS, will you match that?
Can I just say that Eric, Brett and Andrew have been very, very powerful and eloquent advocates for the northern campus, you know, the expansion of the university and I just want to say with particular respect to Richard Colbeck who is also responsible for international education, that improving the educational and expanding the educational facilities available to Tasmanians and available to visitors and overseas students is a very, very big part of the Tasmanian economic growth agenda and it's a big part of our agenda too.
Now, you've raised a very important point, one of keen interest to my colleagues, one of keen interest to us and you can count on us having more to say about that between now and the election.
So you won’t commit to it today? Would it be the full $150 million?
We'll have more to say about it closer to the election. We've got 6 weeks to go.
Why can't we know now?
We'll have more to say about it closer to the election.
Labor says 4,000 Tasmanians have lost their jobs since you became PM, what do you say to that?
Well Tasmania, as Will Hodgman was saying, the growth in the economy and jobs here has been strong and I should note it has been driven very largely from our economic plan.
It's all very well for Mr Shorten to complain about - to make these allegations. He's good at that but the reality is there is nothing, not one element of the Labor Party's agenda for this election that will create one job or one dollar of economic growth, whereas everything we have set out in our economic plan will deliver economic growth and jobs and it is delivering it now and it will deliver more if we are returned to government and have the opportunity to complete the fulfilment of this economic plan.
If you consider compare and contrast, if I may, just for a moment. Do we all agree that we want to have more investment in Australia? I think we do. More investment, more jobs. That's true. So what we're doing is we're cutting company taxes, particularly starting off with small and medium businesses like those run by the men and women who - inspiring men and women - we saw here today. What will they do? They will be able to invest more and employ more. What's Labor doing? Labor is denying those businesses that relief and at the same time jacking up taxes, banning negative gearing to discourage investment, increasing capital gains tax. What's that? That is increasing the tax on investment by 50 per cent.
What happens if you increase a tax on something? You get less of it. Bill Shorten clearly wants less investment and I can tell you, if you have less investment, you will have less jobs. Our agenda drives jobs and growth. Shorten's agenda will stand in the way of employment. It will reduce employment and it will absolutely reduce growth because he - everything he's proposing - whether it is trying to oppose the restoration of the rule of law in the construction sector, whether it's increasing taxes on investment, whether it's denying businesses a tax cut, everything Labor is doing is going to slow growth and slow job growth, everything we're doing will drive economic growth and jobs.
Prime Minister, the AFP says that these leaks about the NBN have been under investigation since December last year. Did you or anyone in your office or anyone in your government, have knowledge this matter was under investigation?
Well the first I heard of the AFP investigation was yesterday, when I was advised by the Justice Minister shortly after he'd been advised by the Commissioner but let me just make this observation. We are dealing here with a matter of law enforcement. We're dealing here with a matter of the Australian Federal Police. As you've heard from Commissioner Colvin - the AFP acts independently of government and so it should. The NBN Co. made a referral of a matter of concern, of illegal leaking of confidential commercial information. They made that referral to the AFP. The AFP made an independent decision to investigate it and they made an independent decision as the Commissioner noted, to undertake the various operational activities that they did yesterday. Now what Labor is doing, is seeking to attack the integrity of the Australian Federal Police. That is a shameful thing to do. Labor should be ashamed of themselves. You know, you can't trust Labor on national security. We know where they stand - or don't stand on border security. Now we see them attacking the integrity of the Australian Federal Police. The only thing we should do with the respect to this investigation is to let the Federal Police do their work and I'm not going to make any further comments on it.
As Prime Minister, my job is to ensure that the AFP does their work free of political pressure or involvement, a matter has been referred to them, they've made the decision to investigate it, they've made the decision to execute warrants and conduct searches and they should do that in accordance with their own judgement and come to their own conclusions.
Is Mark Dreyfus fit to be Attorney-General in this country given that he's asserted that these raids have undermined confidence in the ALP?
Mr Dreyfus is given to inflammatory statements and they are not normally what you would regard as consistent with somebody who is seeking to be the first law officer of the Crown, you're right, seeking to be the Attorney-General. The fact of the matter is the AFP acts independently of government. Mr Dreyfus knows that and what he has sought to do is to try to, everything he has said to suggest the AFP has been acting other than independently, he knows is wrong. He knows they act independently of government. They always have done, they always will do and you've had the Commissioner, Andrew Colvin, making an account for the AFP himself this morning.
Just in light on this, not directly on the investigation but in light of this, in your time in federal politics, have you or any of your staff members ever leaked a confidential government document - ever?
Tim, I'm not going to get into a sort of an interesting fishing expedition of yours. With great respect, no - let me be very clear about this. What we have is an AFP investigation which is being conducted independently of government and it should be allowed and it will be allowed, to be completed independently of government. The Labor Party should be ashamed of themselves for attacking the integrity of the Australian Federal Police. The police should be - must be - allowed to do their job. The police are in the front line of our national security, domestic security. It is critical that the police act independently, as do our national security agencies. They do, they should be respected, and I am not going to engage in any political discussion about this. The police are doing their job. They're doing it independently. They're doing it with integrity. I respect them, I believe all Australians respect them and so should the Labor Party.
Just to follow Tim’s question there. Given the level of your office and given the fact that Andrew Colvin said there are a number of investigations going on at the moment; shouldn't Australians know that the top office in the land won't be involved in these investigations down the track? They're voting for you at this election.
Can I say to you, I can only speak for my own time as Prime Minister. There has been no suggestion that I've ever heard of any leaks from my office. So that's the fact. We run a very tight ship. Now having said that I know that all of you journalists are determined to find gaps in even the tightest ships but that is my commitment.
Now can I just say, I just want to make one other observation because it's also relevant to Tasmania, if I may say so, which is where we are in case some of the visiting media have forgotten. This is a state where at the time the Labor government lost the election in 2013, the construction of the NBN had completely stalled and failed. In other parts of Australia it hadn't even got started in any meaningful way. We inherited a project that was completely and utterly failed. Now normally, melancholy history of experience in the world, people who have been involved in big projects will understand what I mean, normally bad projects get worse. It is very hard to turn them around. We have turned around the NBN by putting in new management, new board, a new approach. What we have done is we are now very close to completing one quarter of the whole roll out. There is well over 2 million premises in Australia that can get the NBN. There's nearly a million that are actually using it. We are adding, as you can see them, they're posted on the NBN website every week, complete transparency. It is powering ahead. More than half of Tasmania is now covered and Tasmania will be the first state to be completed.
So we are getting on with the job. Now if we had continued with the Labor Party's approach, this is what the consequence would be. Australians would have waited at least six and as much as eight years longer to get the service built and it would have cost them $30 billion more. So we're delivering the NBN sooner, much sooner and at much less cost and so, as you know, as I said, there are nearly a million customers out there, it is becoming one of the reasons it's not in the headlines in the way it used to be, is because it's being built. It is a good, reliable utility and right across Australia, particularly in regional Australia, where the satellite is now becoming available, and of course the wireless broadband has become so successful, fixed wireless has become so successful, especially in Eric's electorate here in Tasmania. What we're seeing is real development, real progress, so we, at the NBN, I can tell you the turnaround of the NBN was remarkable because usually bad projects get worse. It is being built and completed much faster and at much less cost than it would have been under Labor.
Are you concerned you might lose your Tourism Minister considering he's fifth on the Senate ticket?
I'm looking forward to a very, very substantial vote for the senators in Tasmania and Senator Colbeck will receive, as will all our Senate ticket, very strong support because Tasmanians know that my Government and my Senate team stand for jobs and growth here in Tasmania as well do right around Australia.
On Tasmania's tourism industry can we expect any funding announcements this campaign? Perhaps the Cradle Mountain cable car?
We'll have more to say, we've got 6 weeks to do. Tasmanian tourism is growing, it is growing very well.
I might say, as you might have heard me say earlier, when I was in Beijing recently with Lucy, we spent quite a bit of time with President Xi Jinping and his wife and he spoke so warmly about his visit to Tasmania. It was the last Australian state that he visited, because he visited all the others in his travels down here. He reminded me that I hadn't visited every Chinese province. I reminded him there is more of them than there are Australian states. He's such an enthusiast for Tasmania and next year, which is going to be the China-Australia tourism year, I know that Tasmania is going to be a very high priority. So I think Tasmanian tourism is going to get stronger and stronger and I can assure you with Steven and Richard at the helm federally, we are absolutely committed to strong tourism growth here in this beautiful part of Australia and on that note, thank you all very much.