Well it’s been- hasn’t it been great to meet those young people. Julie and Luke and I here talking about their futures, or really they’re talking about their futures. Their futures depend on the decision that Australians are taking beginning from today and culminating on election day on July 2.
Because the choice is very clear between the Government I lead, with a clear national economic plan driving stronger economic growth and more jobs particularly for young people. Stronger economic growth gives companies more confidence, they’re growing, they’re investing - they bring on more staff. That’s the key that is absolutely the key for everything to determine the opportunity for these young people to realise their dreams and chase those opportunities. And of course we are able to hear from them, their experience, their internships, and how consistent that is with our PaTH program – such an important part of our Budget.
But Julie it's wonderful to be here in Western Australia, a state that is going through the transition that we've been talking about, from an economy that was so fired up by and pumped up by a big mining and construction boom. The mining boom continues of course - exports are at record levels, but the construction boom was always going to subside. But nonetheless, we're seeing strong growth here, unemployment levels are in fact just a little bit lower than the national average here in Western Australia. Youth unemployment is a big issue that we were talking about earlier, but above all, what we need to continue to drive is that economic growth. We are the only side in this election that has a clear plan that will deliver stronger economic growth and more jobs. Everything in our plan will do that. Our opponents, on the other hand, want to tax investment more, they want to discourage business - everything they are doing is calculated to undermine the economic transition - so important for our future. Above all, for the future of the young men and women we were just with a moment ago.
Prime Minister we're here in Western Australia and polling shows the Liberal Party could lose up to three lower house seats. How concerned are you about that and how much of an impact is the unpopular and old Liberal state government having on your polling results?
I'm focused on the future of these young people. They are not asking about polling. They are asking about what sort of job they’re going to have. They are wondering, having tried a bit of bricklaying and plumbing whether they will find the electrical trade more exciting. They are wondering about studying law or trying being a primary school teacher. They are looking for all of their opportunities and those opportunities depend on a strong economy. That will depend on the choice Australians make between now, voting today and all the way through to July the 2nd.
Prime Minister on the GST, you say we need consensus with the states to change it. But that puts you at odds with the Premier who says that the Federal Treasurer can instruct the Commonwealth grants Commission to change the distribution. Which of you is wrong and if you are right, can you point us to your reasons, the evidence of that?
I understand Colin's position very well and Julie understands it better than any of us, I guess. West Australia is very well represented in our government and indeed in our Cabinet. There is no doubt that Western Australia has had a raw deal out of the GST formula in recent years. Obviously, as you know, the formula is backward looking and so forth. It has got some peculiarities about it – about the way it is distributed. In the past, Western Australia has been a beneficiary of the GST distribution. It's important to remember that, but the key thing is we are a Federation. We raise the GST at the federal level but it all goes to the states and so any changes to the formula need agreement, consensus, among the states and territories.
Prime Minister, on national security would you characterise the Orlando shooting as a radical Islamic terrorist attack and how did the British anti-gay preacher Farrokh Sekaleshfar get a visa and what are you going to do to stop him preaching extreme hatred?
Let me deal with the preacher you mentioned earlier. He is in Australia on a valid visa. The minister Peter Dutton has asked the Department urgently to review the visa. I can just say to you that we have zero tolerance for people to come to Australia who preach hatred. Zero tolerance. His visa as you know, this is a legal matter and it has to be dealt with in the appropriate way, but his visa is being reviewed at the request, the direction, I should say, of the minister, even as we speak.
As far as the Orlando murders - atrocity is concerned, it appears that the killer identified himself as being inspired by or connected with Daesh or ISIL. Beyond that we don't have any further information. He clearly had a murderous hatred of gay people and took the shocking criminal actions that he did. The extent to his connection with ISIL is something that the FBI is still investigating and you would understand that neither Julie nor I are in a position to say any more about that than what the FBI knows and is able to say publicly.
But can I say to you there is clearly a very real risk of self-motivated, self-activated acts of terrorism of individuals who through one means or another are inspired by or claim to be inspired by terrorist organisations and terrorist ideology. That is clearly a very real risk. We take that extremely seriously. Our intelligence and security services are tireless, relentless, in monitoring the situation, monitoring the intelligence and seeking to protect us from instances like that.
Can I also say to you that we have since 2014, there have been 42 arrests of people connected with terrorist incidents, there have been nine major terrorist operations disrupted - this has been a very key focus of our Government. We have provided our intelligence and security services with all of the additional legal tools they need to do their job and, as you know, at the last two COAGs I have raised with the states and we are taking the lead on a very important change which would involve people who have been convicted of serious terrorist offences and imprisoned, being kept in detention, in preventative detention after the end of their sentence if a court concludes they remain a threat to society.
This would be a new legislative measure. It is something I raised at the first COAG I attended as Prime Minister and we are following the discussions at the last COAG, the Federal Government is taking the lead on drafting that and if we are re-elected, we expect to present legislation that can be enacted by the states and the Commonwealth, of course, to ensure that that occurs. We will leave nothing aside in our determination to keep Australians safe.
We will always be relentless in giving our security services the resources they need, our police and intelligence agencies the support they need, cooperating with our allies and our intelligence partners. This is a global threat. We have to take it very seriously. I can assure you speaking for the Foreign Minister and myself and all of our Government, we take it very seriously and Australians know we will leave nothing aside in our determination to protect them.
Might a Turnbull Government ever oversee both constitutional recognition for the First Australians and a treaty with the First Australians and what is your response to Bill Shorten essentially supporting the possibility of both last night?
Well I was disappointed in Mr Shorten's remarks last night. For this reason, the path of constitutional change is a difficult one, as I know from my own experience. It requires bipartisan support and enormous public support. Bipartisan support is not enough to secure success. Now there is a very high degree of public support for constitutional recognition of our First Australians. There is a process going on which has bipartisan support. There is a Referendum Council that the Leader of the Opposition and I have both jointly appointed. We have been working in a very consensual, bipartisan way to achieve that. That does not guarantee success I hasten to add.
Now to introduce another element, a treaty, the terms of which is unknown, the nature of which is unknown, adds a level of uncertainty that puts at risk the constitutional recognition process. Mr Shorten should have more discipline and more focus on ensuring we maintain support for constitutional recognition rather than introducing other concepts which will, in my view, undermine the prospects of getting the very high level of public support you need for constitutional recognition of our First Australians.
Do you agree that the colonisation of Australia can fairly be described as an invasion?
Well I think it can be fairly described as that and I’ve got no doubt – and obviously our first Australians, Aboriginal Australians describe it as an invasion. But you know, you are really talking about a historical argument, it’s really an argument about a word. The facts are very well known. This country was Aboriginal land. It was occupied by Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years, 40,000 years. Some of the most ancient works of art are rock carvings - in the world - are here in Western Australia.
I remember ensuring they were protected on the National Heritage List when I was the Environment Minister up on the Burrup Peninsula. So this was and is and always will be Aboriginal land.
The issue is now, how do we achieve that practical reconciliation? How do we achieve that? A key part of that is constitutional recognition. The First Australians are not recognised in our Constitution as being the original inhabitants, the original custodians from time out of mind, in our Constitution. So it is deficient in that respect. That is plain. I think most Australians recognise that and understand that.
What we have however, is a complex process to achieve constitutional change. I know from my time leading the republican movement, changing the Constitution is not for the faint-hearted and is not easy. So I guess what I'm saying to you is that what we want is a practical outcome. We want to see our First Australians recognised in the Constitution in a form that speaks for and inspires our First Australians and that they can see as recognising their unique role as the First Australians and at the same time can secure the support of the majority of Australians and the majority of states, of all Australians, because that is required to affect constitutional change.
I just say that it is very important as leaders for us to focus on the goal and have the discipline to do that. See, if you want to achieve constitutional recognition of our First Australians - and we do, our Government does and I believe Mr Shorten does as well - then we should focus on that. We've got to be very careful about creating issues whether they come in the course of a discussion where it may be gratifying to a particular audience to indicate support for one proposal or another. We have to be very careful that you don't set hares running that undermine the real goal, which is to secure overwhelming consensus of Australians, an overwhelming majority for constitutional recognition of our first Australians.
That is our objective and it should be Mr Shorten’s objective and he should ask himself whether his remarks of last night advance that goal or perhaps put it at risk.