PRIME MINISTER:

Good morning. Isn’t that innovation here at Qantas inspiring. To think a 96-year-old company can be so innovative, open itself up to small businesses in a way that many big companies and government departments don't. I mean Scott and I are really encouraged to see the enthusiasm. It underlines how important all of the elements of our economic plan are, to drive those jobs and growth, jobs that people were talking about downstairs, creating new jobs because of the support we're providing for business, the encouragement and the leadership we're showing in innovation and across the economy. Scott.

TREASURER:

Thank you Malcolm. It was great to see that and the jobs that are generated directly and indirectly by a large company like Qantas but working also with small businesses as well. This is the point, small business can't exist in isolation to large businesses and the reverse is true. So supporting businesses across the board is key to driving jobs and growth and that’s what our economic plan is all about. We have seen that further in the evidence of the data today which has come out in the employment figures just recently which shows the unemployment rate holding steady and participation holding as well. We’ve seen over 19,000 additional people getting jobs. Of course we know the monthly data is very volatile but what this continues to show is a strong jobs performance. That is the key. When people have a job, they have confidence. When they have confidence, they are participating in the economy and they are spending and businesses are investing.

All of this links together around the principle issue of jobs and we welcome those jobs figures today and the fact that over the last 18 months it is still very much the case that over 50,000 young people have got jobs in this country. So the plan for jobs and growth is a plan that is working and a plan that needs to stay on track and keep it on track on 2 July. You can keep it on track on 2 July by voting for the Liberal and National parties at this election. The alternative is chaos; Greens-Labor-independent chaos.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister did you have any prior knowledge of the opinion piece that Ziggy Switkowski is going to write? And now that it appears it has broken the caretaker convention is his job untenable?

PRIME MINISTER:

The answer is no but can I say to the first part of your question Ziggy Switkowski has done a remarkable job with the new board and with Bill Morrow in turning around the NBN. This was a really failed project. In parts of Australia it had ground to a complete halt. Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, there was nothing happening at all - it had stopped. Tasmania had stopped. It was a disaster, really one of the worst managed projects I've ever seen. I've seen a few over the years I can tell you. We connected or the NBN connected last month, more people than Labor did in six years. It has been a phenomenal turnaround. The board has done, the management have done a very good job.

The caretaker convention, compliance with it, if you like, is a matter to be determined by, as Martin Parkinson observed, by the head of the relevant agency, in this case that is NBN Co and that is Ziggy Switkowski. He has explained why he made the statement that he did, why he felt it was operationally necessary and I respect his decision to do so. You can see the company was being accused in the public domain of very serious misconduct which was undermining the morale of 5000 people working for it and he felt that he had to set the facts straight and he has done that. But you have to remember, he is a very experienced man Ziggy. Of course he has been the chief executive of a big government business enterprise before, Telstra, when it belonged to the government. He is one of our most distinguished corporate leaders and a very thoughtful one too.

JOURNALIST:

On the Parakeelia issue do you think that voters find it acceptable that taxpayer funds and entitlements are essentially ending up in Liberal Party coffers?

PRIME MINISTER:

Can I say to you the arrangements with Parakeelia to provide data based management services, as I understand it, have been going on for decades and a similar - I understand also a similar arrangement, at least in the past was undertaken by the Labor Party, all of course with the knowledge of the Department of Finance.

Now this is really a matter for the organisation, the Federal Director Mr Nutt has said that he will, of course, the Liberal Party will of course provide full transparency and cooperation with the Government and Finance, whoever seeks - AEC, whoever seeks to investigate it. But it is very much an entity that is managed by the party organisation, not by the Government, not by Scott or myself.

JOURNALIST:

On Arrium - Labor has promised $100 million to try and keep the company going. I know the Federal Government has said you are interested in doing what you can to help. Why are you though reluctant to make public what you could do to assist?

PRIME MINISTER:

Let me deal with Arrium now. This is a company that's been in very grave trouble in large part because of mismanagement. I have taken a very close personal interest in this matter. Again I'm not unfamiliar with situations of this kind. I have spent some time going through in detail the financials and the alternative solutions that are available to it with the administrator Mark Mentha and obviously our own advisers. Obviously I've discussed it with Jay Weatherill as well and my ministerial colleagues including Christopher Pyne and the Treasurer.

Can I say that what the Labor Party has, what Mr Shorten has announced today is a very vague offer of $100 million of support unspecified. Is he proposing to subsidise a sale to a foreign buyer? It's hard to tell. It shows very little understanding of the challenges that Arrium actually faces and very little connection with ensuring that the jobs of the 1,500 workers in the steel business and a similar number in the iron ore business are preserved. So it's a very - characteristically unbusinesslike and highly political announcement from Mr Shorten.

Arrium, Whyalla Steelworks makes structural steel. Its customers, its biggest customers are Meriton, Brookfield Multiplex, Lend Lease, Grocon. It is the builders and the contractors, the people that are building apartment buildings and building office buildings and of course building roads and other infrastructure, they are its customers. Now everything Mr Shorten is proposing in this election is going to undermine the customers of Arrium. Everything he is proposing. You have heard from the property sector what his proposed ban on negative gearing will do to the property sector. It will knock - it will pull the rug out from under the property sector, send values down and rents up. It will undermine the business cases of all of those developers because the whole basis of their business is having strong demand for property. Mr Shorten is proposing to pull a third of that demand out and he's banning negative gearing, not just on established residential property but on commercial property as well. So he's pulling demand out of that business, which means you undermine, as he will do, you undermine the customers of Arrium and you undermine Arrium itself. Whacking up capital gains tax by 50 per cent, that is a tax on investment. That will discourage investment in precisely the buildings and the infrastructure to which Arrium provides the steel.

So his policy, far from encouraging economic growth and construction and jobs, is going to undermine it. Then if you look at the construction sector overall, we know that it costs on large projects and infrastructure at least 30 per cent higher than they should be because of the lawlessness of the CFMEU, because the rule of law does not apply. If you want to have more construction and you want to have more jobs, then you bring the rule of law back into the construction sector. That's one of the issues this election is all about, that is one of the triggers for the double dissolution, restoring the Building and Construction Commission. Mr Shorten, who of course is totally beholden to the CFMEU because they give so much money to the Labor Party, as you have seen how much they are spending in this campaign - that's CFMEU money and Mr Shorten is beholden to them and that is why he will not support the restoration of the rule of law to the construction sector. So his policies are actually undermining the demand for Arrium. So he can talk about $100 million, in a vague and unspecified way. It doesn't address the needs of that business today and his policies undermine its prospects in the future.

Now in terms of specific things we've done, we've taken a very tough line on anti-dumping, as you know. So what we've done is ensured that the ability of foreign steelmakers to dump steel, cheap steel in Australia, is pushed back. We've done that, we've taken that on. We've brought forward the investment of the Australian Rail Track Corporation, the Adelaide Tarcoola section, which is a substantial additional order of rail lines which of course provides additional demand for Arrium.

What we have also of course done, unlike Mr Shorten who wants to increase a tax on carbon emissions, increase an energy tax. What we have done, we abolished the carbon tax and we have exempted Arrium from the RET. We have already provided, as the administrator Mr Mentha acknowledged this morning on the radio in Adelaide, we have already provided very tangible support for this business. We will have more to say about it. As I said, it's a matter I take a very keen interest in and I've had a number of discussions, very detailed discussions with Mark Mentha about it.

JOURNALIST:

Peter Dutton has said he understands there is a push from conservatives to have Tony Abbott returned to the frontbench. For the sake of clarity for voters both in Warringah and around the country, is there a push underway? Do you believe there is a position for Mr Abbott and will you rule it out now?

PRIME MINISTER:

Can I say to you, as I've said before, the Ministry that I'm taking to the election will be the Ministry after the election if the Australian people choose to return my Government to office. Can I just say that we know that people are voting today, the election - voting has started, the big day is July 2 but voting has started. I say to every Australian that there is a very clear choice here, a national economic plan, every element of which delivers growth and jobs and we have seen evidence of that today. A strong, stable Coalition Government delivering a strong, clear economic plan. On the other hand, we have the chaos of Bill Shorten, the Labor Party, the Greens, independents, Rob Oakeshott running again, Tony Windsor running again, talk about their ministry. I can tell you what my Ministry will be if we win the election, it will be the Ministry as it is today. Who will be in Bill Shorten's ministry? What portfolio will Adam Bandt demand as part of the deal with the Greens?

TREASURER:

He will be deputy treasurer.

PRIME MINISTER:

There you go. That’s the uncertainty and the chaos that Labor offers. I say to every Australian, as you go to vote, treat your vote as though that is the one vote that decides the election. As you vote, vote for the party that you want to govern. This is a critical choice. This is going to be a close election. They are - all federal elections are close, as we know. But this is a time of great moment for Australia. There has never been a clearer choice in a generation. This is the most anti-business Labor Party platform that we have seen. We’ve seen Labor has declared a war on business and the first casualties are jobs. We have a clear policy for jobs and growth, a stable government and that's the choice we urge Australians to make on July 2 and right up to that date if they are voting early.

JOURNALIST:

Are you confident of a win.. [inaudible]? We have heard Peter Dutton say Mike Kelly is a real prospect of winning Eden-Monaro. How important is that bellwether for you and is the re-emergence of the TPV issue in a way damaging Mike Kelly?

PRIME MINISTER:

Every seat is important. This is a close election. All federal elections are close, as we know but this - it is a close election and every seat and every single vote counts. That's why I say, when you go to vote, treat your vote, wherever you are voting, as though that vote is the vote that decides the Government, as though that is the one decisive vote. Every single vote counts.

TREASURER:

Can I make one point on that particularly on the issue of TPVs, I had some experience with that. It was August 2008 when Kevin Rudd abolished Temporary Protection Visas. That's when the madness started. That's when the boats started to come. You change a policy like that, it was actually the change to Temporary Protection Visas and abolishing that started those boats. The fact that the Labor Party are going to not learn from that lesson and they voted against the restoration of Temporary Protection Visas in the Parliament, in the House, in the Senate and remain doggedly to the position they will abolish them if they come back into government, that tells the people smugglers everything they need to know about a Labor government on border protection.

PRIME MINISTER:

Can I just add to that. Scott and I and all of our team begged Kevin Rudd not to do that. We begged Labor not to change the border protection policies they had inherited from the Howard Government. Of course Kevin Rudd had gone to the 2007 election saying he would turn boats back. He promised that he would stick to our policies. He abandoned them and we saw the consequences. 50,000 unauthorised arrivals, 1200 deaths at sea, of which we know. How many more do we not know about? It was a tragic and shocking error and it just demonstrates that you cannot trust the Labor Party on border protection.

JOURNALIST:

What do you make of Bob Katter's latest election advertisement where he is shooting opponents dead? Do you think it showed bad taste? Do you believe him when he says he didn't know about the Orlando shooting when he released that advertisement?

PRIME MINISTER:

The advertisements were in the worst of taste and Mr Katter should apologise and withdraw them.

JOURNALIST:

KPMG modelling has showed that there would have been an economic benefit if you cut the company tax rate within four years. Why are you choosing to make companies like Qantas, which create jobs, wait ten years?

PRIME MINISTER:

Let me explain that. It is a very considered decision. Scott and I spent a lot of time working on that and we applied both good economic research and insight and also our own experience of the business world because we know what makes business hum. We do. We understand business and we relate to it.

Now with larger companies, they make very long term investments. Alan Joyce was talking earlier about the very long lead time into buying aeroplanes. You’re talking about up to a decade by the time you make the decision and over that time you progressively pay for it and its brought into service. So because the biggest companies have much longer lead times – if they see that there is a tax cut coming down the track as it is under our plan eight years out, as they make decisions today they will do that with a future tax cut in mind because they know that when those investments have been made and they’re generating profits from them they’ll be paying tax at a lower rate. Whereas you see with a smaller business, they are making because of the scale in which they are operating they are making much more short-term decisions so you see our friends from Botanica Juices downstairs, they are making some new expansion and investment - they are going from eight to 16 employees. So what we are providing with them, they are a business they said with a turnover of a bit under $2 million a year, so they are clearly growing, they have got big export opportunities thanks to our free trade deals and as they grow they will get that encouragement because from July 1, if we are re-elected, the tax cuts will be available in the first year to businesses with $10 million turnover or less. So that would include Pepe's Butter and it will include Botanica as they continue to grow.

JOURNALIST:

We are nearly six weeks into the campaign. We haven't heard much from Tony Abbott. Do you feel like you’re out of the woods forever? A Kevin Rudd repeat of what happened in 2010?

PRIME MINISTER:

All of our candidates are doing a great job in explaining and selling and talking about our compelling plan for national economic recovery, for jobs and growth, for strength. What we are doing is ensuring that Australia will continue to be strong and resilient. We can't under estimate the potential headwinds there are. We were talking yesterday about a BREXIT - about the UK leaving the European Union. Now that's obviously a matter for the British people but that clearly will provide some uncertainty in global markets. It will provide a shock. You can understand how important it is for Australia and Australian businesses to have strong economic leadership, capable economic leadership, stable government and a clear national economic plan. To go to your question how important it is for business to know that there is a strong, capable, economic leadership that is offering support for business, not just today but over the years into the future.

JOURNALIST:

About tomorrow's Facebook debate, what do you think voters will get out of it?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well engagement. We are seeking to be an innovation nation. I do my best, others can judge, to be an innovative Prime Minister. The platforms that most of you are actually pounding away on your iPhones, you are all connected on your smartphone, that's how most people connect to the internet nowadays most of the time and so my desire was to make sure the debate enabled us to engage with as many people as possible. But we will find out. It will be good. I believe it may be the way of the future but the fact is you are all proving my point with your dextrous thumbs and fingers as you hit those online keyboards.

Thank you all very much.