Doorstop with Minister Nash & Sarah Henderson, Geelong, Victoria

 

PRIME MINISTER:

Well what a beautiful morning. It’s great to be here with the Minister for Regional Telecommunications Fiona Nash and the Member for Corangamite Sarah Henderson to talk about our national economic plan. We have a plan for jobs and growth. Every single element of our plan is going to drive stronger economic growth and more jobs. We have a whole innovation agenda, an innovation and science agenda and we will be seeing more of that later today when we go to visit Carbon Revolution.

What that will also remind us of, is the importance of our trade export deals. Because Carbon Revolution is as you know, a really innovative, world's best wheel-maker, exporting to markets that have been opened up by our big export trade deals. Of course here in the Geelong area we see the opportunities from our investment in defence industry and defence advanced manufacturing. That too is driving jobs and growth.

Marand, the company that makes part of the Joint Strike Fighter that we visited their Melbourne premises recently, they are based out here as well. Of course right across the community we see the support that we're giving to business, small businesses. You know there are 26,000 businesses with turnover of less than $10 million in greater Geelong. They will all get a tax cut on the 1st of July if we are returned to Government on the 2nd of July. They will get access to instant asset write-offs. So the small business men and women of this area and right across Australia will be benefitting from that.

Clearly one of the big challenges we face is youth unemployment. We all understand that. Right across the board, we are going to provide a new pathway for young people who have been out of a job for a long time, struggling to get into employment they will get some job ready training. They will get an internship, a trial and then that would make them more employable. They may get a long-term employment with a company they're interning with, or they will have the employment skills to go elsewhere.

There's 1,100 people young people between 15 and 24 in the greater Geelong area who have been looking for work or are regarded as long-term unemployed, looking for work. They are the young people that can benefit from our plans. Yet in addition to all of that, the critical thing is that we can do these great measures - create jobs and growth, undertake the measures that secure our future to ensure that our greatest opportunities can be seized by our children and grandchildren - and do so living within our means.

Everything we are talking about here in this campaign is affordable. It's all budgeted for it's all paid for. Our opponents on the other hand as you know have a $67 billion black hole of unfunded commitments just over the next four years. Whereas you see our numbers are all out there. They're all budgeted for. Confirmed in the pre-election financial outlook. All paid for.

So today we're announcing here at Anglesea the third round of our mobile phone black spots program, $60 million. Now remember in six years of the Labor Party, they did not spend 1 cent on mobile phone black spots. Yet you get out of the cities as Fiona and Sarah know very, very well, the biggest complaint about telecommunications is “my mobile phone won't work”.

So we had our first round when we committed $100 million and leveraged $380 million of total expenditure for just under 500 new base stations, which addressed 3000 out of 6000 nominated black spots. The second round which Fiona is presiding over as the Minister for Regional Telecommunications, another $60 million previously announced, we expect that to address around 900 further black spots. This third round here we're announcing today a third round of $60 million, which will bring the total commitment to $220 million. That is going to address another 900 black spots and right here in Corangamite we're looking at four locations where there is a mobile phone blackspot and it will be corrected. That is right here in Anglesea at Airey’s Inlet, at Bell Bay and Birregurra.

This is the consequence of having strong financial management, living within our means, being able to pay for these important investments in economic infrastructure. Of course Sarah has been a very strong advocate for this as she has been right across her community.

So I'm delighted to be here to announce this third round of the mobile phone black spots program, all part of the Turnbull Government's commitment to a national economic plan that drives jobs and growth. Fiona.

MINISTER NASH:

Thanks very much Prime Minister. As Minister for Regional Communications and Regional Development my aim is to help build strong and sustainable rural and regional and remote communities so that our children and our grandchildren either want to stay in those communities or come back to those communities.

The Coalition Government is continuing to invest in those regions. We're seeing it right here today with the extra $60 million going to the mobile phone blackspots program. We have already seen ten new or improved mobile phone towers right here in Corangamite, being put right across this electorate.

Congratulations to Sarah Henderson who has been relentless in pushing for those towers across this electorate. With these four new towers targeted, these four new locations targeted, we're going to see an expansion of that mobile phone connectivity right across Corangamite.

We know that communications and technology is going to be so important to build our regions into the future. We see it in agriculture, with our farmers who are now downloading YouTube instructions to fix machinery and sitting in their lounge rooms or their utes using their mobile phones to run their irrigation systems. We see it in small business in the regions and now with this additional funding, more small businesses being able to connect and to be contactable permanently, which is so important. For small businesses like accountants, who are now going to be - where they might not have been able to be before - connected to their colleagues in the big cities through teleconferencing.

We see innovation all the time in the regions. Innovation is not just a city word or a city thing. Innovation is happening out in our regions consistently as well.

This is a stark contrast today with this announcement. $60 million going to the Mobile Phone Black Spot Programme, $220 million now under the Coalition Government going to mobile black spots. Under Labor in 6 years of government, not one cent was spent on mobile phone black spots. Zero. That just shows the disregard that the Labor Party has for the regions.

There is a stark contrast and a stark choice for the people of Australia to make on the 2nd of July. The Coalition, with a plan for the future, investing in our regions, making sure we are delivering jobs and growth and providing stability for Australians. Compared to same old Labor, which will be same old Labor - Greens - Independent chaos. We're just going to see higher taxes, more waste and more debt.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you. Thank you very much.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, when will you announce your election costings?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, our Budget has only just been published and the PEFO has confirmed all of that and any further promises we make shall obviously be fully costed.

JOURNALIST:

A week before the election?

PRIME MINISTER:

They will all be announced in due course. But at this stage, if I may say so, the real issue is the flagrant wastefulness and recklessness of the Labor Party, outspending us by 20 to 1 in this campaign. ‘Billion Dollar Bill’ keeping on joking, making jokes about the spend-o-meter. He thinks it's a joke spending all our taxes, that's what Bill thinks, another billion here, another billion there. That's what Bill Shorten thinks is terribly amusing, the spend-o-meter. Hes got a $67 billion black hole just over the next four years. He has no way of paying for it other than by even higher taxes than the ones he's proposing.

We've got to be very frank about this. Every measure that we propose will drive economic growth and jobs. There's no question about that.

What measure, what policy does Mr Shorten have that will result in any economic growth? Let's go through them. He's going to increase the tax on investment by 50%. Do you think that - capital gains tax - do you think that will result in more investment or less? Clearly less. Less investment, less jobs.

He wants to deny small businesses here and around the country of tax cuts. What happens when you cut company tax? You know you get more investment and more jobs. You don't have to take my word for it. Chris Bowen wrote a book about it, arguing the company tax should be reduced to 25%. The hypocrisy of the Labor Party in this area is extraordinary.

They have a series of grievances and complaints. They want to spend more here, spend more there. They have no way of raising the money other than by generating taxes and everything they have is going to reduce economic growth, it’s going to slow employment, it’s going to stifle enterprise and if you do that you will have not have the tax revenues to pay for the schools and the hospitals and all the mobile phone black spots and the roads. You won't have those revenues.

Everything we have depends on a strong economy and Australians know every policy of ours is going to drive economic growth. Labor has nothing to say on that except spend, spend, spend - another turn on the spend-o-meter by ‘Billion Dollar Bill.’

JOURNALIST:

The figure today that’s being spoken about, $67 over 4 years, $200 billion over ten. That appears to be based on anything Labor's ever expressed concerns about. It's not based on firm Labor policies, is it?

PRIME MINISTER:

I actually have all of the details here. I don't think you want to go through them.

JOURNALIST:

What a surprise.

PRIME MINISTER:

What a surprise. Let me say to you it is based on the things that they have blocked, the measures of ours they have denounced and said should be reversed and of course the promises they've made. So it is fully documented over many pages.

JOURNALIST:

[Interrupts] It’s based as well…

PRIME MINISTER:

Please, let me finish. The Finance Minister and the Treasurer will go through it in more detail although I'm happy to go through it in the most minute detail with you if you like.

I just want to make this point. If the Labor Party disagrees with any of these points, then they should correct them. You see, you get Chris Bowen who you may remember the fact was the last time he appeared with a beard. You may remember the last speech he gave in the House of Representatives he became - he turned purple almost, he was so agitated and I think after that he decided he should shave off his beard so people wouldn't recognise the hyperactive shadow treasurer. But you know today on AM for example, he said that our cuts to company tax are unfunded. What complete nonsense, they’re in the Budget. They’re actually all set out in the Budget and even over the ten year medium term outlook they’re all taken into account. Of course the medium term outlook projects the Budget coming back into surplus and staying there. So you know this sort of recklessness with money, this carelessness with the facts is another reminder of why it’s the same old Labor, and they simply cannot be trusted with money.

JOURNALIST:

They are spending money on health and education which are two issues people really care about. How will Australia look different and have better services under you, what can you promise?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well you’ve asked about health and education and we are spending more on health and education than ever before and will continue to do so. But what we are doing is spending in a manner that is effective. The Labor Party takes the view that whenever there is a problem, the only solution is throw lots more money at it without counting whether that money is well spent, without counting whether it’s effective. You’ve seen with the way in which we are managing the health budget and the education budget, we are aiming to get better results for patients, better outcomes for students and do so living within our means.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister what about mental health? Here in Corangamite, the number of people who die from committing suicide outstrips the number of people dying on the roads. Will you commit to trying to lower that toll and to signing a pledge from the National Mental Health Commission trying to reduce the impact of these.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well thank you for raising that. Suicide is a national tragedy. It’s something I am very keenly aware of. You may not be aware but my electorate of Wentworth includes ‘the Gap’ at Watson’s Bay, which is the place in Australia, regrettably, where more people take their lives than anywhere else. Suicide and suicide prevention has been a very keen personal interest of mine and I’ve come to learn a lot about it, particularly through my discussions with Professor Ian Hickey who talks and writes about what he calls the ‘mental wealth of nations’. There is no doubt that mental health or mental illness is an enormous cost on our community. A tragic cost obviously, on the individuals who take their own lives and on their families. But also a huge economic cost as well. So yes, that is why we are putting more money than ever, particularly into frontline primary health, mental health services. Headspace as you know, Fiona is very familiar and in fact I might ask Fiona to talk about this because this is a gigantic issue in regional Australia.

The mental wealth of Australia is a vital national priority. I can assure you I am very, very keenly aware of it. The shocking reality that in my own neck of the woods, my own electorate in a place where all of us were on the weekend - we were there just metres away, at Watson’s Bay - that is a place where more than any other location in Australia, people take their own lives. We’ve done a lot of things to discourage that, we’ve gone to great lengths to change the landscaping, change the fencing, ensured that there are counselling services available. It’s a huge challenge but I can assure you my Government is keenly aware of the issue of suicide and the issue of mental health overall. It is a drain on the nation, economically, emotionally. Of course the end, the tragedy of suicide, there are so many great Australians that work so hard to battle it. Jeff Kennett of course is one here in Victoria that you’re familiar with. But this is a very heartfelt issue I can assure you. It’s a tough issue. We will leave no stone unturned in our effort to improve, protect and advance the mental health of Australia, the mental wealth of Australia. I’d ask Fiona to talk about it particularly in her context.

MINISTER NASH:

Thanks Prime Minister and particularly for regional areas this is a real concern. Having travelled around regional communities for many years now, there is no doubt it’s a priority for people out there. What we did as the Government last year as you’d be aware, following a significant review of mental health, was change the focus of mental health care delivery. So taking it away from that silo, Canberra-driven approach, to a more local, regional approach through the primary healthcare networks. We know that when we get people out in the regions who, on the ground, understanding issues locally, were far more likely to get better health outcomes.

So that has been a significant change in the way we are approaching the delivery of mental health services and we believe will be far more effective in targeting those people out in our regional communities who are so badly affected by mental health issues.

JOURNALIST:

So Minister will you sign that pledge that we were just talking about? Supporting the National Mental Health Commission?

MINISTER NASH:

Well I absolutely pledge to doing everything we can as the Government to address this issue. When you’re talking to people out in communities that are so badly affected, particularly when it is coupled with issues of drugs. As you know the Government and I, Michael Keenan, have done an enormous amount of work putting forward the Government’s response to the issue of the misuse of ice and the scourge that is on our regional communities. A lot of these issues are intertwined and we have to look at them wholly. So I absolutely pledge to continue the work the Government's doing in all of those areas.

JOURNALIST:

The choice for voters, if I can put it simply, seems to be to take your policy which is $50 billion of tax cuts for business, which will take some time to work their way through the economy, but will benefit jobs and growth in your words, or Labor's up-front payments to places where they can see it work pretty well immediately, in schools and hospitals. Why should people wait?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, Mark, Labor does not have any - there's no element of their plan that will promote stronger economic growth. What Australians are concerned about is, how do we ensure that we have a strong economy in the years ahead? How do we ensure our children and grandchildren in this time of unprecedented change, and opportunity - but also unprecedented challenges - how do we ensure that we transition our economy in a way that delivers strong economic growth and jobs? We have a plan. We have a clear economic plan. Labor has no plan. All they have is a proposal to spend more money in almost every area, to raise taxes in a manner that will reduce economic growth and slow employment. They have a spend-o-meter, we have a national economic plan.

JOURNALIST:

Reports today out of this area about a mother of five who is looking like being deported back to England for a criminal past. Is this one of those situations where the Minister should step in or special consideration should be given?

PRIME MINISTER:

We don't comment on individual cases, although the facts of this case are fairly well known. Let me explain what the situation is. If you are in Australia on a visa, as this lady is, so you're not an Australian citizen, and you have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of more than 12 months, then your visa is automatically revoked and you have to go. You are in a position, however, to apply to have that reconsidered and make an application to the Minister and there are various criteria, family ones being an obvious one, which can be taken into account. But the consequence of this law, and it's an automatic revocation, has been that a substantial number of people with very serious criminal records have been required to leave Australia. In that sense Australia has been made safer. I believe, this law has the support of the overwhelming majority of Australians. But any individual, including the person you mentioned, is of course, able to make an application to the Minister. Thanks very much.

JOURNALIST:

Justin Trudeau, have you spoken to him [indecipherable]

PRIME MINISTER:

I've spoken to Justin Trudeau but not on that subject but I can say to you we are, my party, my Coalition, my Government, is united on this issue. Can I tell you the issue of border protection is a critically important one. We do have the most successful multicultural society in the world and it's a great credit to every one of the 24 million Australians that we do. But it depends upon Australians being satisfied, with good cause, that their Government determines who comes to Australia and that their government controls the immigration program, including the humanitarian program and it is not outsourced, as it was under the Labor Party, to people smugglers. Now it is a fact - Mr Shorten objects but it is a fact - that his party is completely divided on this issue. We know that. It is perfectly plain. Literally dozens of his candidates, indeed including parliamentary colleagues, do not agree with the position Mr Shorten takes, which he claims to be on a unity ticket with my Government on this issue.

You know, Kevin Rudd said the same thing in 2007. Kevin Rudd said he was going to be strong on border protection and turn back the boats and look what happened. I was Opposition Leader at the time, I begged him not to do so. I really begged Kevin Rudd not to do so. But he pressed on because that's what the Labor Party believes, that's what the Greens believe, that's their constituency. We know what happened. 50,000 unauthorised arrivals, 1,200 drownings at sea and we've had to set the border protection rules back to rights.

We've done that. But I can tell you it's a very serious, critically important responsibility of national security. Our multicultural society, which in many respects is our greatest achievement - how remarkable is it that we have such a harmonious society in a world with so much tension? - that it depends upon a government being in command of the borders and the government determining who comes to Australia. My Government is in control of the borders. Border protection is secure under my Government. You cannot say the same about Labor. They are divided and they will fail if they come into government again, just as they did under Mr Rudd, and Julia Gillard.

Thank you very much.