Interview with Grant Goldman, 2SM

 

GRANT GOLDMAN:

People do like a personality as far as leadership is concerned. Australia has done better than any G7 economy in achieving economic growth of 3.7 per cent growth in the year till March. So that gets a tick doesn’t it? A result well above the OECD average but it was a reminder of the low growth in the global economy and the need for Australia to look out for headwinds. He says that his strong sense is what Australians are looking for most from this election is a step-up in political culture, strong, decisive, resolute leadership yet with a focus on what unites us rather than divides us. We would all look for a united Australia – no doubt about that.

On the line right now, the Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull. Good morning Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER:

Good morning Grant, great to be with you.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

How is the campaign trail going, are you tired of it yet?

PRIME MINISTER:

We’re campaigning right up till six o’clock on Saturday and we’ve got a very, very clear message. The choice for Australians is between the stable Coalition majority Government which I lead with a clear economic plan that is already delivering and will deliver more economic jobs – economic growth and more jobs. That’s the critical choice on our side. And on the other side we have the chaos, the uncertainty of a Labor, Greens, independent alliance which is promising us, at least the Labor Party is promising us, higher debt, higher deficits and higher taxes. I can’t think of anything that would be worse for investment and for employment than that.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

The other thing is Bill Shorten’s been banging on about is Medicare will be sold off. Look it’s got a lot of people confused, I mean at the end of the day, who would actually buy it? Who would want to?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it is just an enormous lie. I regret to say. It does him no credit - and the Labor Party and the unions that have been peddling it - no credit to be ringing people up late at night, very often older Australians, frightening them with lies like that. Our commitment to Medicare as an essential Government service is absolute and every year we spend more on Medicare.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

I did get a call from Julie Bishop last night at my place. I couldn’t get a word in edgeways then I realised it was pre-recorded. It’s an interesting way of getting to people isn’t it?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it is – yes, it’s all part of modern campaigning. The techniques for engagement Grant change but the important thing is to have a clear, truthful, straightforward message and that’s what we have. And what we have done is brought down a budget which brings together our national economic plan and we set out how that is going to set Australia up for these times of great opportunity. You know half of the world’s middle class will shortly be living in Asia, we’ve opened up those markets with those big free trade agreements, we’re diversifying the economy, we’re promoting innovation, we’re investing – making sure that as much of our defence dollar is invested in Australia, in advance manufacturing, in Australia and Australian jobs. And we’re backing small business and medium business with enterprise tax cuts which obviously will result in more investment, more employment, more jobs, better wages – as you can see from some of the reports in newspapers today.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

I think you’ve spotted the problem as far as jobs are concerned. People are worried about their jobs. You look at the manufacturing sector, that’s largely moved offshore and the farming sector certainly under pressure, they’re not too sure about their future as well. So you’ve got a bit of a problem there.

PRIME MINISTER:

Grant can I just give a bit of optimism there. We actually have seen some growth in manufacturing. We’re seeing growth in manufacturing in areas where the – what I would describe as advanced manufacturing where you’ve got technology like Omni Tankers in Western Sydney has got some of the best tankers, the most light weight, best tankers for carrying corrosive liquids, they’re exporting them around the world – Aussie technology, Aussie jobs, right here in Australia in Sydney – you’ve got AH Beard, well over 100 year old bed manufacturer. It is exporting now a container load of premium beds and mattresses to China every three days. That’s been opened up by our free trade agreements. And then you’ve got the – right at the cutting edge of materials technology, you’ve got companies like Carbon Revolution in Geelong in Victoria that have produced the lightest wheel rims for cars and of course that’s why – the vehicle manufacturers always try to reduce the weight of the wheel because that’s – you get much greater benefit reducing the weight of the wheel then from reducing the weight of the chassis. And these rims are literally seven kilos – seven and a half kilos – so they’re less than half the weight of the lightest aluminium alternative.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

We’re talking about newer levels of manufacturing in Australia as Bob Hawke said we had to become the clever country and I suppose in many ways he was right. Look, Prime Minister the world is a pretty dangerous place right now. What do you make of the terrorist bombing that do continue on with the latest in Turkey of course, one of many in that country and is Australia that safe? I mean we can talk about the tyranny of distance if you like, keeping us safe, but I think we’ve got to do more than that don’t we?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well you are right. We cannot be complacent about security and we are relentless. My Government is relentless in its focus on keeping Australians safe. Our national security, our intelligence, our police agencies are the best in the world – certainly there are none better. And we work increasingly closely with agencies in other countries to ensure that we share intelligence and monitor the activities and movements of these terrorist groups. But these Islamist terrorist groups and the bombing in Istanbul at the airport yesterday appears to have been the work of ISIL or Daesh. That is the group of course that we are fighting to destroy in the Middle East with our allies there in the theatre with our military commitment there. But you’re right, we cannot be complacent about this, these people are murderous criminals and they seek to divide our societies, they seek to divide the world of Muslims, they seek to turn Muslims on each other, they seek to turn others – Christians and others on Muslims. They are a dangerous scourge and we have to deal with them and we do as you would have seen.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

And it’s very hard too because how do beat someone that’s prepared to kill themselves just to kill you?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well this is the evil way in which they brainwash some of their supporters, some of their people with these suicide attacks. It requires a relentless focus and I can assure you that as the Prime Minister speaking on behalf of the Government, my colleagues in the cabinet, all of our agencies, we are focused 24/7 on protecting Australians at home and so far as we can abroad from terrorism.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

Yep. Look a number of listeners have sent little questions in as I am talking to you And the one that comes up quite a lot is foreign aid. I mean we talk about the homeless people and you would have seen them in the early hours of the morning because I know you get up early like we do. 100,000 in NSW alone. Why do we give so much foreign aid and usually the call is – all this foreign aid going out and we’re not looking after our homeless people.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well we do both of course and we have made – we have continued to be a generous foreign aid donor but we are also – we have made reductions in the amount of foreign aid since we came in to Government in order – as part of a general budget repair approach, but we’re also ensuring that our foreign aid is effective and of course we are focusing it very much in our own region where of course there are important strategic and other benefits from doing so. So we’re seeking to get a better outcome for the dollars we invest in foreign aid. You have to remember that we have a vested interest, for example, in ensuring that Papua New Guinea and some of the other Pacific countries continue to develop and that they are supported through difficult times of development.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

Another call this is a good one too. We’re talking about the hostile Senate that you have encountered as part of the Coalition and now as Prime Minister, looking at changing that dynamic. Although what happens if it is a similar hostile Senate you have to deal with particularly when it comes to the [inaudible]?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Grant we don’t know who is going to be in Senate yet of course. All of the Senators are up for election and we will find out after Saturday, but clearly we will expect if we were to win the election and that of course again will be determined by the Australian people, but if we were to win the election given that we have gone to the election with such a clear economic plan, brought together in our budget, we expect a new Senate to acknowledge and recognise the mandate of the Australian people and support the passage of those measures that enable our national economic plan.

GRANT GOLDMAN:
Yeah look the bookmakers rarely get it wrong as far as elections are concerned. The Coalition with SportsBet is at $1.80 and Labor at $8, but here is my question; a lot of the polls are saying 50/50 so how do they equate that with such a difference in betting?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Grant you’d have to talk to the bookies about that.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

Well as you know they don’t like to lose.

PRIME MINISTER:

All Federal elections are close. I say to every Australian that they should treat their vote as though it is the one which determines the outcome of the election. This is not a time for protest votes or voting for independents or parties that you want to give some support to but don’t want to form Government. The only way to ensure there is a stable Coalition majority Government delivering an economic plan is to vote for a Liberal or National candidate both in the House and in the Senate. That’s the only way.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

Look you have to wear the deposing of Tony Abbott, whether you were the mainstay or others involved. You said recently on the ABC that Tony Abbott would have definitely lost the election had he still been there. Is that fair?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it was an accurate, a truthful answer to a straight question, but really the only election choice that matters now is the one between the Government, the stable Coalition majority Government which I lead and what would be a rag-tag unstable chaotic alliance of Labor, Greens and independents led by Bill Shorten. That is the choice.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

Now you were the man behind having to rescue what was a big spend from the Labor Party there is no doubt about that as far as the National Broadband Network is concerned. There have been many complaints about the fact that it is not quite working as well as expected. Has it been a failure or can it be fixed?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it is a work in progress. What we inherited Grant was a completely failed project. Labor in six years connected fewer customers than the NBN connects each month under our Government. The project had stopped, completely stopped, in many parts of Australia. It was a complete failure. So we have replaced all most all of the board, we replaced the senior management. We gave them the ability to use a mix of technologies to get the job done because the critical thing is to get it built. Now the reality is that at the moment we have right now around a quarter of all Australian premises connected - sorry are able to connect - and that’s 2.7 million. These numbers are all posted on the NBN Co’s website every week. I just pulled this up while I was talking to you. There are 2.7 million premises that can connect and a 1,081,000 that are connected. So that is the progress that we are seeing. We will have three quarters of all premises connectable by 30 June 2018 and the job will be finished in 2019-20.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

Mind you I live on the Northern Beaches I am very concerned I might be dead before we get it but that’s another story.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I am sure Grant you will ask for a couple of more years – everyone will have it in a few years.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

One would hope so. Look the fibre to the node which you finished off and I understand the costing of it was going to be astronomical but that’s put a lot of people offside saying fibre to the node is something that they will have to do at their cost if they really want it. Was that a good decision do you think?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well no let me just explain. All of the technologies that we are using are delivering very high speeds. The fibre to the node simply refers to bringing the fibre to a street site cabin, you know typically where the distribution, one of those telecom pillars stand in the street and it saves you the time and expense of the cabling and trenching and bringing the fibre optic cable into each house. Because of the modern technologies we have now we are able to deliver very high speeds up to and very close to 100 megabits per second.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

That’s without using the fibre optic cable?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yeah well you see what you’re saving is you’re saving on the civil construction. The cost of a project like this is not so much the technologies, the electronics and so forth, it is just the civil construction. It’s all of that digging and drilling and that is you know digging up streets and digging up people’s driveways, that’s what costs the dollars. What we’ve done is been able to save that and accelerate the roll-out. You see the critical thing is that people get a satisfactory, a high-speed broadband service quickly. The problem with Labor’s approach - and this is not my number, this is what the NBN Co did when they examined what their options were after the management was changed - they concluded that if they proceeded with the Labor approach it would cost $30 billion more.

It is already a very expensive project, and it would take six to eight years longer to complete and that is really the issue. So the approach that is being taken is one that is focused on the result not on the actual technology that is used. That is why we call it technology agnostic, but as better technologies and new innovations and so forth come up, a company will deploy them. In other words it is being run as you would expect in an agency that is in a Government that I lead, it is being run in a rational business-like way that is focused on the customer and is getting the right result for the customer as quickly and as cost-effectively as possible.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

Okay we’ll look at that. Now do we tomorrow have an ETS that goes into place?

PRIME MINISTER:

I’m sorry I didn’t –

GRANT GOLDMAN:

Do we have a form of carbon trading or ETS commencing tomorrow? It’s something that a lot of people have not talked about.

PRIME MINISTER:

No there is no – what we have is a series of measures, an emissions reduction fund and so forth, which is working very well to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. We will meet and beat our 2020 target but no it is the Labor Party that is proposing to introduce an emissions trading scheme. And you know nearly doubling our emissions targets. And what that will do is of course put real pressure on electricity prices. It will result in a very big hike in electricity prices and in my view for no environmental benefit because what we have since Paris we have a global agreement. We’ve all agreed, we being the countries of the world, we’ve all agreed to cuts. We’ve agreed to 26-28 per cent reductions by 2030. That is very large. On a per capita basis it is the second largest in the OECD. The American President recently thanked me and acknowledged that publicly, thanked me for the contribution that Australia has made. So what we believe is that we stick to that, we meet that target, if the global community decides to increase those targets, and I believe they will, then we will meet increased targets. But to go out no your own as Labor is proposing is not going to influence anyone else to make a change. You’re not moving in tandem with others. All that is going to do is impose a very high price on Australian consumers by jacking up the price of electricity.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

Alright so that actually means there is something in place from tomorrow. Would that be right?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well no we have measures in place today Grant. There is no – all of our climate change policies are in place and we will continue with you know tomorrow just as we are continuing with them today.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

Okay well good luck. Thank you very much and I know you have a busy day ahead. Good luck with the election on Saturday.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you very much.