ALAN JONES:

…I think the electorate will make an athlete out of you yet. Did you ever imagine it’d be this arduous?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look it’s been a longer than usual campaign Alan but it’s important and the reason it is eight weeks rather five as you know is because we’re having a double dissolution election because there are two important pieces of industrial legislation – the restoration of the rule of law in the construction sector by bringing back the Australian Building and Construction Commission and then the Registered Organisations Bill which requires unions and employer organisations to be accountable in the same way that companies are, public companies are. Those bills were blocked twice by the Senate by Labor and the Greens and the independents and the only way we can get these vital bits of reform, elements of reform passed, is through a double dissolution election and a joint sitting thereafter so that is the reason for the longer campaign – it wasn’t something I chose for any other reason.

ALAN JONES:

Yes, yes. Do you think the electorate understands the very important maths of this – I mean basically that Building and Construction Commission reinstatement is about reasserting the rule of law and I was making the point the other day – I mean we’ve got 150,000 young people start in this industry every year and the first sniff they get of business in the work place is the kind of corruption outlined by Dyson Heydon. Now if you can’t get the numbers in both the Senate and the House of Representatives – I’m not saying that you won’t – I’m simply saying you need the numbers to be able to get these things passed.

PRIME MINISTER:

We absolutely do and that’s why any vote for Labor – Greens or independent is a vote for the chaos and dysfunction of a Parliament in disarray and a minority Labor – Greens - independent government –we’ve seen that film before and it wasn’t a very pretty one so that is why I am saying to every Australian. The vote for a stable Coalition majority Government bringing in the economic plan that we need to secure our future, continuing to deliver on that – that has to mean a vote for a Liberal or a National candidate. Any other vote runs the risk of all of the instability and chaos of minority government.

ALAN JONES:

If I could just say to my listeners by way of amplification of what the Prime Minister is saying – and you’ve heard me say this a million times – but this is so important because the construction industry has almost 20 per cent of young people working full time – 20 per cent in building and construction as I said, 150,000 kids start an apprenticeship at the age of 15 exposed to a culture that Dyson Heydon described in the Royal Commission as systemic corruption and unlawful conduct including corrupt payment, physical and verbal violence, threats, intimidation, abuse of right of entry permits, secondary boycotts and breaches of fiduciary duty. So what you’re saying and I think a lot of people are saying Prime Minister is that no industry should be allowed to operate with that malignant culture.

PRIME MINISTER:

Alan – absolutely. I want to stress that most people who work in the construction industry are honest hardworking law abiding Australians. What we are talking about here is a couple of unions but in particular the CFMEU which of course is providing enormous financial backing to the Labor Party – this is why Bill Shorten is so unwilling to stand up to them in the same way of course Bob Hawke stood up to the Builders Labourers Federation years ago – he is totally beholden to them and the problem with the CFMEU is that it is essentially standing over employers – they don’t care about breaking the law, they’ve got over 100 officials before the courts on more than 1000 charges of breaching the law and we used to have a tough cop on the beat, the Australian Building and Construction Commission that John Howard set up and of course Labor abolished it so that…

ALAN JONES:

And of course – should I make one other point Prime Minister – one other point here – they don’t care how much the courts fine them –they’ve got the fines built into their business model.

PRIME MINISTER:

That’s right and that is part of the reform of course is to increase the fines, increase the supervision and ensure that employers that construction companies are not able to do these deals with the CFMEU and ensure that they can’t buckle and give into them.

Look this is not an anti-union issue and I don’t have an ounce of ideology in this at all. This is about nothing other than promoting our economic plan for jobs and growth and if you have a law abiding construction sector – you’ll have more construction – you’ll have more buildings built, more roads built, at prices tax payers can afford and you will have more jobs in construction.

ALAN JONES:

Absolutely – simple as that.

PRIME MINISTER:

It is.

ALAN JONES:

Look, I always say my listeners are some of our best researchers – two issues are emerging in the last couple of the days other than debt which I’ll come to in a moment. If I can just take the first Prime Minister – there is outrage and I mean the word outrage in the last 48 hours over this performance by Murray Goulburn who have announced another milk price cut. The new price now 33 cents a litre which is way below the cost of production. It used to be 37.4 cents a litre. The argument being ‘oh well there is a fall in demand for milk’ and yet we’re told that we’ve been cleaned out of milk baby formula earlier in the year because of China demand.

Can I make the point to you because I know you’ve provided $578 million in concessional loans but these poor coots don’t want more debt? They want a fair price, farmgate price for their product. It is in crisis. There is a special clause buried on page 140 of the Murray Goulburn unit trust prospectus which gives the company’s directors the right to cut dividends to investors in favour of paying more to farmers - end quote - in normal circumstances – this is in the Murray Goulburn prospectus – quote, “abnormal circumstances to protect Murray Goulburn’s milk supply and profitability and support its supplier base.” What can you do for the farmer beyond the loan factor? Can someone talk to this Murray Goulburn mob and say well look it’s on page 140 of your prospectus to protect the supplier base? You’re eroding it and destroying it.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Alan, the measures that you described in excess of $500 million in loans and other benefits available we put those in place. If we are re-elected what I will do is with Barnaby, we will sit down with the management of Murray Goulburn and the directors and really go through these issues. We are in caretaker at the moment, as you know we are a few days out from the election but there are a number of elements in the way these dairy farmers have been treated that is very, very troubling.

ALAN JONES:

Yes, see the contracts PM – I know you’ve got a lot on your plate – but the contracts allow, these are restrictive contracts – they allow the processor and I might that Fonterra, Burra Foods and Bega Cheese have now followed Murray Goulburn in dropping the farmgate price, but these contracts allow the processor to change the milk price at will and retrospectively give the processor total control over supply and prevent the farmer from selling their milk to anyone else. I’ve spoken to Rod Simms about this and I know he is looking into it but it takes too long to resolve this and meanwhile these people go to the wall.

PRIME MINISTER:

Alan – again I haven’t gone through those documents in the detailed way that you have but it is a, this is a matter of real concern to the government. It is a real concern to Barnaby – he’s Agriculture Minister and Deputy Prime Minister as well and myself. We will sit down with them and we’ll get a briefing from them.

ALAN JONES:

Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER:

We’ll find out – we’ll get to the bottom it.

ALAN JONES:

I’ll drop you a note on what these farmers are saying to me PM – I’ll drop you a note on what the farmers are saying to me because they are really up the farmgate. The other thing people are talking about I’m not too sure anyone has got an answer here – we talked about this before – young people and housing and I mean you know because you’ve got a son who’s gone through universities and whatever but by the time they pay off their HECS debt, and then they pay rent and they’ve got to save for a deposit – they are saying look I’ve heard everything said in the election campaign but basically I’ve got no chance of ever owning a home. What is the answer to these poor coots – I mean it is really, really tough.

PRIME MINISTER:

Alan the issue with housing affordability is particularly acute in Sydney – and I mean its acute in other parts of Australia too but it is particularly acute in Sydney. It is the consequence of a failure of governments to allow enough new dwellings to be built. They have not allowed, they have not zoned enough land for redevelopment

ALAN JONES:

Supply.

PRIME MINISTER:

It is – absolutely – this has been looked at – you remember years ago I got Chris Joy and Josh Gance to look at it with the Menzies Research Centre, you know well over a decade ago. The Reserve Bank’s looked at it – top economists around the world have looked at it and other markets. It is pretty straight forward – the problem, solving it is not straight forward – the problem is we are not building enough.

ALAN JONES:

But see there are people you know, you and I know the same people.

PRIME MINISTER:

I have answer to this by the way. I’ll tell you what the answer is.

ALAN JONES:

Yep.

PRIME MINISTER:

The answer is and this is a new approach of mine, this is an initiative of the Turnbull Government, that we have a cities policy where we are setting up what we call city deals. We already have one underway in Western Sydney and what that means is that we will work together with the state government and local government and other big stakeholders for example in Western Sydney - obviously the university of Western Sydney and so forth and the aim is to agree on the objectives that we want to achieve which clearly must involve an increase in the supply of affordable housing and make sure that everything we are doing is pulling in that direction. There’s been far too much, historically far too much.

ALAN JONES:

Too much bureaucratic red tape Prime Minister. You and I, we won’t name names, you and I both know and it’s a state issue, two developers honest as good as they come, beautiful stuff, they build beautiful stuff, you and I know both of them. They could tomorrow put another 20,000 units on the market and they’ve been waiting four years to get the green light.

PRIME MINISTER:

This is part of the problem.

ALAN JONES:

God.

PRIME MINISTER:

See this is where, if we work with the state and local government, instead of just being like an occasional ATM, if we work constructively with them then we are able to bring the influence to bear that will ensure that you get more housing supply. Because that is, I promise you, that is the problem.

ALAN JONES:

Definitely, definitely.

PRIME MINISTER:

The markets where there is a better market response and developers are able to get on - then prices are more affordable.

ALAN JONES:

But they’re out there waiting, they’re out there waiting and the bureaucracy keeps getting in their way. PM can you put your hand on your heart and say that you – I’ll be asking Mr Shorten the same question – serious, about budget repair because ten years ago Peter Costello said “debt free, debt free.”

PRIME MINISTER:

Well he was better than debt free - he had cash in the bank.

ALAN JONES:

Cash in the bank. But now you’ve brought down a budget very recently. You increased the tax grab by $21 billion. You increased spending by $19 billion. You’ve added $85 billion to the national credit card over the next four years and then you’re saying, righto over the forward estimates, $1,858 billion of expenditure and we’ll save $1.7 billion. Which is 0.9 of a per cent. Now aren’t we pushing our young people under a bus? I see you carting your little grandson around, surely we’re not going to ask him to pay for the greed and extravagance and waste of our generation.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Alan this is what it’s all about. This is the issue of fairness.

ALAN JONES:

It is. It is.

PRIME MINISTER:

The issue of fairness. We have got to bring the budget back into balance and we’ve got to bring those deficits down to balance. We will do that and we’ve got that set out. Over the next four years we come down to a bit over $5 billion in deficit and the next year we are in balance.

ALAN JONES:

But you’ve added $85 billion over the next four years.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well that is because it takes a while to adjust, I mean - we’ve got to remember that we inherited a shocking fiscal state from the Labor Party. They ran up $240 billion in deficits. They’re in complete denial about it. You remember when Wayne Swan got up on budget night?

ALAN JONES:

Four successive budgets, yep.

PRIME MINISTER:

He couldn’t even mention the deficit word. Then in 2010 he talked about “the four surpluses I deliver tonight,” went on to promise a surplus 366 times and of course then left us with a budget in structural deficit and a mountain of debt. And then they have opposed every measure that we’ve had –

ALAN JONES:

That’s right but see haven’t you got to be able to outline where you’re going to cut this expenditure? We can’t go on the way we are. Tony Sheppard said –

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Alan all of our savings are in the budget. You see the advantage of having an election campaign that begins pretty much straight after the budget is that everybody knows what our policy is. Our national economic plan is not something that is imprecise - it is all set out there in the budget.

ALAN JONES:

I don’t want to give you indigestion Prime Minister but the budget hasn’t got through the Senate yet and that’s got to be presented to the Senate.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well we haven’t elected the Senate yet.

ALAN JONES:

I know.

PRIME MINISTER:

I know people are already predicting what the Senate might or might not do, but I think we should wait until we’ve actually got the senators elected. I’m confident that the Senate, or most of the senators, enough to pass our measures, will recognise that if we are returned to Government on the 2nd of July - which of course is in the hands of the Australian people - if we are returned to Government, we’ve gone to this election, it has been a long campaign, we have set out in the Budget fully costed, fully funded, what we’re seeking to do and I expect the Senate to respect that.

ALAN JONES:

But I just would say one thing and I hope you remember it, I’m talking to you as a businessman now. When you sit down at that Cabinet table after July 2, you surely have to remind everyone that in spite of everything that’s been said, you just brought down the fifth biggest budget deficit in our history. That’s got to be turned around or we’re pushing kids, our next generation, intergenerational debt, putting them under a bus.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Alan, absolutely - as a father and a grandfather I am acutely aware of the importance of ensuring that we do not load our kids or grandkids up with a mountain of debt. This is the problem with Labor, what they’re promising, just to be very clear about this, just think about the context. Here we are, we’ve got Brexit, we’ve got international uncertainty, we’ve got markets turbulent.

What Labor is proposing is more debt, more deficits and wait for it, higher taxes. Higher taxes on investment. So what they’re doing is not only burdening those children and grandchildren with more debt to pay off, they’re also increasing taxes on investment and business, which of course will result in less investment, less business and less employment. Now what we need to have is a pro-growth, pro-business economic plan - which we have – every element of which is going to deliver a brighter future for those kids and grandkids, because we’ll live within our means and we are encouraging businesses to invest and grow.

ALAN JONES:

Right well let’s just take that encouragement issue. You and I – and thank you for what you’ve done – a little outfit called Oakey. Marise Payne was there I know, but it’s got worse since I spoke to you last Wednesday because early this year the US Environmental Protection Agency released a set of guidelines for safe human exposure to these two chemicals. And yet the Australian Environmental Health standing committee set their own guidelines earlier this month and our safe level is 75 times higher than that of America. These are chemicals that have been linked to cancer and birth defects. And since I spoke to you last, Brad Hudson, the local father, because of the water, has been diagnosed with testicular cancer linked to one of these chemicals. His five year old daughter recorded in her blood these chemicals 30 times above that of an average Australian. You said you’d have blood tests you said you’d have counselling, but you did say you’d look into buying back, voluntarily acquiring these properties, when these people bought it not knowing the toxicity and the damage. I ask you again, can you give a commitment that you will immediately seek to do that.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Alan there were three things that we have talked about. Providing, obviously at no cost, voluntary blood testing and we are doing that. Again, those that seek it, mental health and counselling services and we are doing that. Now on the acquisition of property, what we are doing is establishing the health reference values, there is some work being done at the moment, I was speaking to Marise Payne the Defence Minister about this last night. I expect that work to be completed within months, that’s to say well before the end of the year. Once that is completed then we are able to respond to the question of acquisition of property that has been adversely affected. But it’s something we’ve got to proceed carefully with because we are talking about clearly, taxpayers money and we’ve got to make sure that we understand precisely what properties have been affected, how they’ve been a ffected and then we can make some decisions.

ALAN JONES:

You wouldn’t like to have your little baby daughter diagnosed in the way these people are.

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh Alan it is clearly a nightmare and the anxiety.

ALAN JONES:

It’s horrific, the fear of every parent.

PRIME MINISTER:

Plainly but the difficulty is I think with a lot of this, is that we don’t know enough about it. One of the important things to do is make sure we

ALAN JONES:

Keep it on the agenda.

PRIME MINISTER:

Keep it on the agenda yeah.

ALAN JONES:

Well one final thing. It’s your last chance before Saturday, just a very brief answer to you and you’re not surprised by what the question is, but what do you say to farmers whose livelihoods have been destroyed by coal seam gas mining or open cut coal mines? I mean people on the Darling Downs, farmers, 6,100 coal seam gas wells have now been approved. What do you say to these people?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Alan what I say firstly is that as a person with Lucy that - as you know - has owned farming country for many years, I understand the importance of ground water and I understand the damage that mining can do to agricultural land. We have got to get the balance right. We have a water trigger as you know under the EPBC Act which we obviously use and investigate. But the fundamental fact of the matter is, the management of –

ALAN JONES:

I don’t want to cut you off - I got in to trouble last week for cutting you off.

PRIME MINISTER:

This is fundamentally, as you know, in the jurisdiction of the state.

ALAN JONES:

We’ll keep in touch on this issue, can we?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes we will.

ALAN JONES:

Thank you for your time. Thank you for your time, maintain the energy, good luck on Saturday.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you very much Alan.

ALAN JONES:

The Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull.