GEOFF HUTCHISON:

Prime Minister, good morning.

PRIME MINISTER:

Good morning.

GEOFF HUTCHISON:

If its Tuesday it must be Perth. Now you haven’t spent much time in WA during this campaign. The last time I think for about 14 hours and that didn’t even include a photo op with the Premier. Will you meet with him today?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes. I’ll be seeing him later today. He is a very good friend and a good Liberal colleague so looking forward to seeing him. This is a very important day here in Perth and across Australia because this is the first day Australians can vote in this election in pre-polls. This is a day of momentous choice. A choice between my stable Coalition Government with a clear economic plan that will deliver more jobs, more opportunities, stronger economic growth and on the other hand a dysfunctional chaotic unstable alliance of Labor-Greens-Independents with the most anti-business agenda we’ve seen from Labor in generations.

GEOFF HUTCHISON:

Prime Minister, beyond all of that will there be a photo with Colin Barnett today?

PRIME MINISTER:

I certainly look forward to it.

GEOFF HUTCHISON:

The reason I ask the question of course is our impression is that you’re campaigning attention has been elsewhere. Strategically is this an acknowledgement that perhaps you are expecting to lose some skin, some seats, in WA?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well you know I am focused on the choice for Australians Geoff. The critical thing is to remember here as West Australians go to vote right across the State is that what we are seeking to do is ensure that we continue a successful transition from an economy, that as you know very well here in Western Australia, was pumped up by a big mining and construction boom and one that has to transition to more diverse sources of growth. Western Australia is right in the forefront of that. All of the elements of my economic plan; innovation, it is a great centre of technology and innovation here in Western Australia, trade, the big trade export deals, Western Australia is benefitting immensely from that. Of course not just resources, but primary industry, tourism, services, right across the board is benefitting from that. Of course this is a very enterprising state. This is a state where business, Western Australians understand that jobs are delivered by the private sector and by business and that’s why we are providing tax cuts for businesses starting off with small and medium businesses. As you know from July 1 this year if we are re-elected businesses with a turnover of less than $10 million will get a tax cut. If Labor were to be elected they would be denied that.

GEOFF HUTCHISON:

Prime Minister sorry to interrupt. On the subject of innovation, can you promise a faster, better internet experience than Labor can?

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s certainly going to be a lot faster can I tell you. The Labor Party effort in Western Australia is a classic example of what went wrong. You may remember that at the time of the last election, the construction of the NBN in Western Australia had ground to a halt. Virtually nothing had been built. The tractor had essentially imploded. We had to start from scratch. Now what we have been able to do is, now, reach a point where as of the 2nd of June there were 2.6 million premises across Australia and at which 265,000 are in Western Australia, that can get access to the NBN and over a million with them actually are connected. 90,000 as of June 2 in Western Australia. Do you know in the last month Geoff we connected more premises to the NBN then Labor did in six years. Their lack of management capability, their sheer breathtaking incompetence resulted in us inheriting a project that was failed.

A lot of people listening to us this morning have been involved in big projects in Western Australia; they’ll tell you that normally, bad projects only get worse. This is one where we have actually improved it and we’re getting it built. It will be available at a quarter of all Australian premises within a few weeks. It will be available at three quarters of them in two years and it will be finished in 2019/20. What Labor’s talking about now are changes to the project which will disrupt it and add many billions of dollars to the cost and we can’t afford that. We can’t afford any more politicking with this. We are getting the project built and that is what Australians expect me to do as their Prime Minister. To get on and get the job done. That’s why I’m asking for three more years to deliver on our national economic plan.

GEOFF HUTCHISON:

Now we would expect Labor to respond to that to say they need to make changes to the NBN because they don’t believe that the NBN you are providing will future-proof this country but I would like to just…

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Geoff can I just make one point about future proofing. Can I say to you the NBN is getting high levels of satisfaction from its customers. It’s got over a million connected customers. So we are not theorising anymore we actually have a very large percentage of the population connected. They are getting very high levels of satisfaction and response. The speeds that are being offered are satisfying the customers and of course in the future, networks evolve, technologies change. The idea Labor’s got – a very naïve and unbusinesslike view of technology. They talk about future-proofing. The truth is you don’t know what the future holds. What you’ve got to do is to build, get this network built as quickly and as cost effectively as possible and that’s what we’re doing. So what Labor is proposing will take much longer and cost much more. We’re getting the job done, a job that they have failed and then in the future, of course, new technologies will come along and it will be upgraded – no doubt, in manners that we may not foresee today.

GEOFF HUTCHISON:

Prime Minister, stay with me. My guest is the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. 1300 222 720. If you are connected to the NBN I would very much like to hear a response from you this morning. Prime Minister yesterday you were in Townsville promising $100 million towards a new stadium. I think Labor had made a similar gesture. Peta Credlin was on television last night describing it as ‘pork barrelling.’ Now you probably passed by our new stadium on your way into the city today. Is the Federal Government going to commit money to that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Geoff we’ve made very substantial commitments to Western Australia in terms of infrastructure. Can I just make a couple of observations? We have $3.4 billion of infrastructure commitments in Western Australia through to 2019/20. As you know we recently announced $490 million to go towards the Forrestfield Airport Link and of course we have $1.2 billion going in to the Perth Freight Link as well as with many other WA road projects.

GEOFF HUTCHISON:

I’d like to discuss the Freight Link in just a moment but it is a bit of a yes or no question. Will you be providing finance Federal finance for the building of this stadium?

PRIME MINISTER:

No. We have not made any announcements about that and I’ve got no plans to do so.

GEOFF HUTCHISON:

No plan to announce or no plan to do it?

PRIME MINISTER:

We have got no- we have not, we’re not proposing to announce a - make a commitment to funding the stadium in Western Australia.

GEOFF HUTCHISON:

Back in April, just on the subject of the Freight Link you agreed to give WA an additional $260 million. This for a tunnel that would essentially go to the Stirling Highway, High Street intersection in Fremantle. You will well be aware of the arguments from critics who say that this is a $2 billion project that doesn’t reach the port and they also argue that the port will reach its capacity in less than ten years. Can you explain why you think this really is worth proceeding with?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Geoff this is a, this project has been given the highest rating by Infrastructure Australia. It has strong support from the business community here in Perth. We are clearly guided by that.

GEOFF HUTCHISON:

And that’s it?

PRIME MINISTER:

We have an expert body called Infrastructure Australia, assesses infrastructure projects, this has been given a very high rating as a project by Infrastructure Australia. It has strong support from the business community. You know it had my colleagues, particularly Mathias Cormann, the Finance Minister talking about its significance. It clearly is, every meeting I’ve had in Perth with business leaders, with people that are involved in driving the exports from Western Australia that are committed to building the jobs and the growth in Western Australia are strongly of the view that this is a project that needs to be supported.

GEOFF HUTCHISON:

And Fremantle is that port -

PRIME MINISTER:

It has the support of the Western Australian Government. You know, it’s important to understand Geoff that and this is getting back to the point you raise about the stadiums earlier, my Government has a very different approach to cities than previous Federal Governments. We will be entering into and we’ve announced the first will be with Townsville and there will be others – I would hope to have one with Perth as well and with other cities in Western Australia. What we need to have is what we call a City Deal where we come to an agreement, an understanding at a fairly high level of course as to what the objectives are for the future of a particular city or region and then we ensure that the city government, local government, state government and the federal government are working together in coordination to support that. Now that has not been the case in the past. There has been a lot of ad hoc decisions made and lack of coordination – even frankly between the agencies, different agencies of state and federal governments. Now the Townsville announcement yesterday you’ve described as a $100 million for a stadium and $100 million will go to fund a stadium integrated entertainment complex there but it is part of a revival, a whole integrated revival of Townsville itself. The City of Townsville which as you would know has been very hard hit by the downturn in the commodities cycle and obviously the closure of the nickel smelter. It has been very hard hit. It too is an economy, a city that is in transition and urban renewal and revival is very much key to that.

GEOFF HUTCHISON:

Alright. Prime Minister I know your time is precious this morning, so I think I have one more question. I imagine when WA is on your travel agenda, there’ll be the inevitable GST question - the ‘it’s not fair’ question. I want to put something to you that your own Senator David Johnston said on this program yesterday. He said that the Grants Commission is punishing Western Australia for not having pokies. His fellow panel member Alannah MacTiernan made the point that $5 billion worth of gambling taxes is collected in the eastern states and not one cent is counted as income yet of course our iron ore revenue is. The question is shouldn’t those gambling dollars be treated as revenue because the argument is that we are being punished because we have a socially responsible position of no pokies? Different rules in different places and our GST share is poor accordingly.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well let me respond to that in this way. The sharing of the GST is a matter that has to be agreed between the states and the territories obviously. The formula is backward-looking and so Western Australia is getting a lot less now than would appear to be fair. Because it is based on, it’s taking into account, the very boom years of iron ore royalties three years ago. So that’s the reason. There is no question that Western Australia has had a raw deal. That is why we have for the last two years out of the Federal Government’s revenues - not at the expense of the other states - we have contributed an extra $500 million in each of the two years.

GEOFF HUTCHISON:

But we need reform, not special one off payments. Don’t we?

PRIME MININISTER:

I don’t disagree with that. But what we need to do – and this is one of the things we will set out to undertake after the election – what we need to do is get a consensus between all the states and territories as to how these revenues are shared. You have to remember that in years past Western Australia did very well out of the formula. It’s done very poorly or had a very inadequate share in recent times. It’s clearly exposed problems with the way that the formulas operate but it is not something that the Federal Government can by decree change unilaterally. So it is something where we have to build consensus between the states and the territories. Now we have corrected the inequity to a very large extent by the grants that we have made. The most recent being to the airport, Forrestfield Airport Link that I mentioned earlier. So we are very, very alert to it. You know Western Australia has a very strong delegation in Canberra, in terms of our Party Room, in terms of our Cabinet. We have great new candidates, you know we have Jeremy Quinn running in Perth and we have Matt O’Sullivan running in Burt. We have very strong candidates running in seats here as well as our Members. You know we obviously have Julie Bishop, Mathias, and Christian Porter –

GEOFF HUTCHISON:

Alright.

PRIME MININISTER:

You’ve got a very strong West Australian delegation, Michaelia Cash –

GEOFF HUTCHISON:

Perhaps on this point Prime Minister -

PRIME MINISTER:

You have powerful advocates in Canberra and I can assure you Western Australia’s interests are extremely well represented but the critical issue Geoff, the critical issue this week is the issue for Western Australians, for all Australians, it is the one of economic growth. Whether it is money for a road, money for a stadium, whether its money for an airport link, whether its money for a hospital, whether it is the money you can generate to enable a new family to realise their dreams, to start a business, to have a better job, everything depends on strong economic growth. We have a plan for that. We absolutely have a plan for that.

GEOFF HUTCHISON:

Alright Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER:

You know I was talking to Ken Wyatt about this only yesterday -

GEOFF HUTCHISON:

Prime Minister with respect, I do understand -

PRIME MINISTER:

He understands the choice West Australians have.

GEOFF HUTCHISON:

I do understand, I don’t mean to be rude. I do understand that today is a day of campaigning but I thank you for your time this morning.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you so much Geoff.