MICHAEL SPOONER:

The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has made himself available to join me on Mid North and Coffs Coast Mornings today. Prime Minister - good morning to you.

PRIME MINISTER:

Good morning it’s great to be with you.

MICHAEL SPOONER:

Now tell us you’re showing an inordinate amount of interest in the seat of Cowper. Are you concerned about losing it?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well we want to hold every seat but we have a great member there in Luke Hartsuyker and very determined that he is returned. He is a local, he is very committed - he understands the North Coast and Mid North Coast. He is a very, very passionate representative and I have worked very closely with him, when I was Communications Minister and before that as Shadow Communications Minister. I have worked very closely with Luke.

MICHAEL SPOONER:

If it comes to pass that Tony Windsor wins New England and Rob Oakeshott wins Cowper, two seats next door to each other, will you be able to work effectively with them?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I think everyone has to think very carefully about how they cast their vote in this election. There is a very clear choice. On the one hand you have the Government I lead, a stable Coalition majority Government with a very clear economic plan that we have laid out comprehensively in the Budget and which we have been campaigning on which is delivering and will continue to deliver strong growth in jobs. It is all about jobs. It is all about Australian families being able to get a job, get a better job, for a mum - kids have gone off to school - to be able to work more, to perhaps go back to work full time, work a couple more days. For somebody who doesn’t like working for someone else, to go and start their own business. That strong economy is not an academic thing it is real. We are delivering that. We are delivering stronger jobs growth across the country as we know from the numbers and we want to be able to continue to do that.

The alternative is what? Instability, uncertainty, Labor-Greens-independents, the same sort of fiasco we had under Julia Gillard. What we know already from Bill Shorten, what they have fessed up to already, is that they are going to run higher deficits, higher debt, higher taxes. What do you think that’s going to do? What do you think that will do for growth?

MICHAEL SPOONER:

Prime Minister you’re announcing final election costings today and you’ll unveil further spending cuts. What will the quantum of those cuts be and where are you going to make the cuts?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well that will all be announced later in the day by the Treasurer but as you will have noticed we have not been making promises at the furious spend-o-meter rate of the Labor Party. So everything, all of the details will be revealed later today but Australians will see that the promises we have made during the election, the additional promises we have made during the election - which are modest in scale compared to Labor - they are very responsible and they are all fully funded and they will come in within the envelope of our Budget.

MICHAEL SPOONER:

Labor has unveiled new FOI figures today showing a sharp drop in apprentice numbers in several marginal electorates. Now here on the Mid North Coast we’ve got our very high unemployment particularly among youth almost over 20 per cent. Why have you allowed apprentice numbers to drop in marginal electorates and what are you going to do to fix the problem?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well this is a legacy problem we inherited this from the Labor Party. They cut about $1.2 billion from funding for apprentice employer incentive payments, to support apprenticeship between 2011 and 2013. Now obviously there is a lead time and that is basically been the cause of the drop off in apprentices. Now the good news is that we have stepped in. We have increased support for apprentices and employers and we are starting to see results. So I can give you some encouraging numbers.

MICHAEL SPOONER:

Wouldn’t it help –

PRIME MINISTER:

Let me just give you these numbers because it’s very rare you get good news and it is good to have it occasionally.

MICHAEL SPOONER:

Okay.

PRIME MINISTER:

So new apprentices in traditional trades are up under my Government. Construction trade is up 35 per cent, carpenters up 25 per cent, joiners up 28 per cent, bricklayers 14 per cent, electricians 11 per cent, glaziers, plasterers and tilers up 29 per cent and plumbers up 57 per cent. Now that is showing a pick up but it will take some time for those numbers to build up again.

MICHAEL SPOONER:

Could the Government take the lead and set the example by mandating a certain proportion of workers on major government building sites be Australian apprentices?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well can I just say to you that we obviously provide very strong support for apprenticeships and the best way to do that is to have a strong economy. Again it’s one of the fallacies that the Labor Party has that they think that you can just assume that you’re going to have strong economic growth. Now what these guys are going to do - if you think about all of the small and medium businesses on the North Coast and the Mid North Coast - they are going to get a tax cut over the next term of government if we are re-elected. But they will not under the Labor Party.

Across Australia there are 2.2 million Australians who work for businesses between $2 million and $10 million a year that will get a tax cut on July 1 if we’re re-elected but won’t if Labor is. You know just in the electorate of Cowper there are 18,000 small businesses with a turnover of less than $10 million who will get access to lower tax rates if we are re-elected. Now when you do that, when you reduce company tax, obviously you increase the return on investment so you get more investment, you get more jobs. What Labor is doing is increasing taxes on investment, jacking up capital gains tax by 50 per cent, they’re denying small and medium businesses tax cuts and of course they’re banning negative gearing which will itself restrict - other than on new dwellings – which will restrict investment once again.

It’s a pretty toxic combination if you think about it. Higher deficits, higher debt and higher taxes. Now what I’ve said there is not rhetoric, they’ve owned up to that, so that’s what they’re presenting. Now that cannot, in these uncertain times, coupled with all of the instability of a Labor–Greens-independent type of alliance, how can that support strong economic growth? How can that help young people in Cowper get a job? How can that encourage an employer to take a chance, make an investment, take on a kid that hasn’t got any experience and is going to take a bit of time and mentoring. How are they going to do that in an economy that is being trampled on and held down by higher taxes?

MICHAEL SPOONER

Okay – how can you though Prime Minister genuinely request people to vote Luke Hartsuyker when he’s had 12 years in the position. He’s had various jobs and employment portfolios and unemployment has slowly but steadily risen on his watch. He’s had a chance to fix it - why do you think he needs one more shot at it to fix it?

PRIME MINISTER:

Luke Hartsuyker is a very capable and experienced man with strong business experience and strong and extensive parliamentary experience. It’s very important to remember that he is part of a Coalition team. If you want to have stable majority Coalition Government, if you want me to be the Prime Minister of Australia, delivering on my economic plan, if you want me to provide the stable economic leadership that I’m doing now in these uncertain times, then the only way to do that is to vote for Liberal or National candidates. In Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker is there as the sitting member, a very capable, experienced member of our team and one that I encourage all of the voters in Cowper to support.

MICHAEL SPOONER

Well speaking of stability, in among the Coalition ranks there’s a degree of instability about gay-marriage. Some insist that they will still vote governed by their conscience, no matter what the plebiscite result is. In that context, can you understand why some people question the whole point of even having a plebiscite in the first place?

PRIME MINISTER:

I can certainly understand people questioning it but it’s a thoroughly democratic procedure. If the plebiscite is passed, the legislation will sail through the Parliament. I mean there are people that will definitely vote no in the plebiscite, that would support it in the Parliament. The least of all of the concerns that one might have about this issue, the least one to be concerned about is what would happen in the Parliament if the plebiscite is approved by the Australian people, it will sail through, absolutely sail through.

MICHAEL SPOONER

My guest this morning is Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. You said to Sarah Ferguson last night that the Coalition would have lost the election by a substantial margin under Tony Abbott, how large a defeat do you think you were staring at?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look I wouldn’t speculate on that but I think she asked me a straight question, I gave her a straight and honest answer. I can only repeat or refer you to what I said. The critical thing to bear in mind though in this, particularly in Cowper, is that Rob Oakeshott, whatever his personal qualities, is not part of the stable Coalition team that we need to form a majority Government to bring the nation together, to deliver on our national economic plan.

MICHAEL SPOONER:

But we’ve heard Prime Minister -

PRIME MINISTER:

Votes for independents are votes for a Parliament in disarray. It’s the last thing we need, it’s the last thing people looking for a job in Cowper need. They need a strong economy so that employers are confident and are investing and are taking on new staff.

MICHAEL SPOONER:

What do you say then about your strong, stable team when it is in the news this morning that one of the Coalition’s - someone in the Coalition registered a domain name address in Rob Oakeshott’s name? Now why would they do that if they’re not trying to damage him in anyway?

PRIME MINISTER:

That’s the first I’ve heard of that, I don’t even know whether it’s right.

You know these are all - there is a lot of distractions floating around and you’ve got to be, whether you’re the Prime Minister, or whoever you are, everyone at the moment has got to have a clear vision, a clear line of sight. The question is for Saturday, do we want to have stable Coalition majority Government? Or do we want to have the chaos and disarray of a Greens-Labor-independent alliance? More debt, more deficit, higher taxes and that’s before the Greens and the independents have submitted their log of claims to Labor. So it’s a pretty clear cut choice and what I am asking Australians to do is to cast their vote for stability, for leadership, for an economic plan for a majority Government. That’s what the nation needs right now, more than ever.

MICHAEL SPOONER:

Brexit – just lastly on Brexit. The implications for Australia, the European Union is our second biggest trading partner and Nigel Farage has said he is going to look towards our points system of controlling our borders. What implications do you see for Australia?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well in terms of trade, we will obviously have to renegotiate, or will have to negotiate a trading agreement with the United Kingdom because at the moment our trading relations with them are dealt with through the European Union. So there is going to be a lot of work to do and I’ve already been discussing that with the New Zealand Prime Minister John Key. If we are re-elected I’ll be meeting with him very shortly after the election to work together on it.

This is a very, very big momentous change in history. This is a very momentous decision. You can see it’s having huge implications in Britain, they’ve already had their triple AAA reduced down to AA. You’ve seen the political turmoil there. It’s a reminder that, you know, in this world of enormous opportunism, particularly for exports - particularly into Asia where half of the world’s middle class will soon be living - in this world of great opportunities there are also big uncertainties and risks. That’s again another reason why we need stable majority Coalition Government and a clear economic plan which we have and we’re the only party that have that. It’s only the Liberal and National Parties that present a clear fully funded economic plan all set out in the Budget. All fully funded, ticked off by Finance and Treasury and the Pre-election Fiscal Outlook so these are very hard numbers that we are presenting.

MICHAEL SPOONER:

Okay if Luke Hartsuyker wins in the seat of Cowper, will you restore him to the Ministry that he was dropped from fairly recently? Also if Dr David Gillespie was successful in retaining the seat of Lyne, is there a portfolio somewhere for him - a place in the Cabinet? Especially with his extensive knowledge of health and medicine?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well they are both extremely capable members and all of our members make a very important contribution whether they are ministers or not. Some people are ministers for a while and then they stop being ministers and they become ministers again.

So it is very much a team effort – you should never imagine that backbenchers or people who aren’t in the Ministry are not playing or making a very important and influential contribution. Both Dr Gillespie and Luke Hartsuyker are two members that make a very important contribution but as I’ve said elsewhere, the Ministry I am leading at the moment is the Ministry we will have after the election. Obviously you know there is always changes in the future but I am not planning any changes to the Ministry immediately following the election.

MICHAEL SPOONER:

No changes, okay – now just lastly Prime Minister on election night, where will you be?

PRIME MINISTER:

I will be in Sydney.

MICHAEL SPOONER:

Thank you for joining us today, appreciate the opportunity to speak with you in this election.

PRIME MINISTER:

Great to talk to you, thanks so much.