Interview with Lisa Wilkinson, Today Show

 

LISA WILKINSON:

It is the final day of campaigning before we get to vote in tomorrow's federal election. And joining us now with his final pitch is the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Good morning to you Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER:

Good morning Lisa, great to be with you.

LISA WILKINSON:

These polls are looking very tight today. You came to the Prime Ministership with a huge personal rating which has fallen dramatically, do you think you took this outcome for granted?

PRIME MINISTER:

Lisa - the polls are tight – it is a very close election and that’s why every vote counts and that’s why my message is very clear. Tomorrow at the polls Australians should choose a stable Coalition majority Government, delivering on our national economic plan. That is the choice I recommend because the alternative is the chaos, the instability, the uncertainty of a Labor-Greens-independent alliance.

Labor already is promising higher debt, higher deficits and higher taxes. Imagine what that will do to our economy. Imagine what that will do to the prospects for every Australian to get a job, to keep a job, to start a business, to advance their dreams in life. For mums that want to go back into the workforce after kids have gone to school - how would Labor's investment-destroying, job-destroying, anti-business approach help them? It will undermine their prospects.

Our security, our future depends on sticking to our plan, sticking together and sticking to our economic plan, a stable Coalition majority Government.

LISA WILKINSON:

Alright you have got some convincing to do because a quarter of people are saying that they are going to vote for independents or minor parties. But meantime Tony Abbott has criticised you this week for getting your policy focus wrong during this campaign. Can I just confirm that you are not considering giving Tony Abbott a cabinet position should you return to power?

PRIME MINISTER:

Lisa, wherever I have gone across Australia and I have been all over the country, as you know, criss-crossing the nation, visiting hundreds and hundreds of people and electorates and dozens of electorates - what I have heard above all is a concern about the economic future of Australia.

Australians want to know that they have strong, clear economic leadership, a clear national economic plan, we brought that all together in the Budget and that is what we presented. Every single element of it drives investment and employment. And of course, it is working, you’ve seen the jobs growth we’ve had.

LISA WILKINSON:

Okay, so would putting Tony Abbott on your frontbench help that or hinder that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Lisa, the Ministry that I take to this election is the Ministry I will have after the election.

LISA WILKINSON:

Okay, so no Tony Abbott. The question is wouldn't you be better off having Tony Abbott inside the tent out throwing rocks out rather than outside the tent and throwing rocks in, as he is tending to do at the moment?

PRIME MINISTER:

Lisa the election is not about the personality of a couple of politicians.

LISA WILKINSON:

But Tony Abbott still has a very strong following.

PRIME MINISTER:

The election is about the future of 24 million Australians.

LISA WILKINSON:

But there is still a bit of hurt there.

PRIME MINISTER:

Lisa can I tell you - when I get out in the community what Australians are talking about is their families - the future of their families, their kids, their grandkids. That is what I'm focused on. I am delivering an economic plan that secures the future of Australians.

LISA WILKINSON:

Alright let's take a look at some of those issues that reflects that. If you are returned tomorrow do you guarantee not to relook at a 15% GST?

PRIME MINISTER:

Absolutely. We have looked at the proposal to raise the GST - we looked at it very carefully. We rejected it. We said why we rejected it, because it would be inequitable. Seriously, we looked at it very carefully. We did not kick it into the long grass for political reasons. There will be no changes to the GST and we have explained why there won't be.

LISA WILKINSON:

Alright that’s a guarantee. As of today bulk billing for blood tests and X-rays are gone. If you are re-elected do you guarantee to leave it at that? No more cuts to bulk billing?

PRIME MINISTER:

Bulk billing is actually at an all-time high, Lisa. With great respect bulk billing is continuing, bulk billing is continuing.

LISA WILKINSON:

So no more cuts?

PRIME MINISTER:

Bulk billing is at an all-time high. We have kept the Medicare rebate where it is over the forward estimates. We have done that in order to be able to spend more money on health bringing lifesaving drugs onto the PBS, being able to increase our funding for frontline mental health services like more Headspaces, like more suicide prevention trials. You know what we are doing is making the health dollar go further but we are absolutely committed to high levels and growing levels of health funding and absolutely committed and guaranteeing Medicare.

LISA WILKINSON:

But no more cuts. Do you guarantee no more cuts to bulk billing?

PRIME MINISTER:

Lisa, there are no cuts to bulk billing. Bulk billing is growing.

LISA WILKINSON:

But as of today, as of July 1 there is no more bulk billing for blood tests or X-rays.

PRIME MINISTER:

With great respect, that’s not right. Bulk billing is continuing, it is continuing right across the board.

LISA WILKINSON:

But not for blood tests or X-rays?

PRIME MINISTER:

Lisa there is support for bulk billing from the doctors. Bulk billing has never been higher. Bulk billing has never been higher and bulk billing is continuing, following the agreements that Sussan Ley has reached with those particular specialists and consultants. So bulk billing is continuing. Australians are seeing very high levels of bulk billing, in fact they are the highest levels of bulk billing in our history. That is a fact. It is around 85% for GP consultations, it is the highest ever.

LISA WILKINSON:

Okay. You have guaranteed that if the same-sex marriage plebiscite gets up, that that legislation will sail, I am quoting you here, ‘it will sail through Parliament.’

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes.

LISA WILKINSON:

If that is the case why are you spending $160 million precious dollars on it when we could have just voted on it at tomorrow's election?

PRIME MINISTER:

But Lisa the election is not about gay marriage. The election is about a whole a range of issues.

LISA WILKINSON:

It’s not - but this could be a separate referendum?

PRIME MINISTER:

Overwhelmingly the election is about the economic future of Australia. It is about the economic future of Australia. Now I am offering, my Government is offering, stable majority Government and a clear national economic plan that will promote investment and promote employment. On the other hand, you have Labor proposing higher debt, higher deficit, higher taxes on investment which will discourage investment and deter employment. So it is a very, very clear choice.

As far as gay marriage is concerned, that will be decided by the Australian people at a plebiscite held after the election if we are returned to Government. You will have one vote. I'll have one vote. Every Australian will have one vote and that will determine the matter.

LISA WILKINSON:

Yeah we could have had one vote at a referendum today but let’s move on. Quite a number of MPs retiring at this election. 13 of those seats that have been left vacant are considered safe Coalition seats. Of those the Coalition has given 12 to men and just one to a woman. As a proud self-declared feminist, what’s that about?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, there are more women in my Cabinet than in any Coalition Cabinet and indeed the only Labor Cabinet that had, as I understand it, the same percentage of woman was Kevin Rudd's very last Cabinet. I have increased significantly the representation of woman in the Ministry. I am very much a proud feminist and I encourage more women to join political parties, run for Parliament and welcome - if they are elected - absolutely welcome them into the Parliament and promote them into the Ministry.

LISA WILKINSON:

All right, Prime Minister...

PRIME MINISTER:

My track record is there, it is very plain.

LISA WILKINSON:

Prime Minister we have just about run out of time. I can't help noticing that you have that beautiful Sydney Harbour backdrop behind you. If you are re-elected tomorrow which side of the Harbor are you going to call home? Point Piper or Kirribilli?

PRIME MINISTER:

We will continue living in our own house and save the taxpayer the expense of buying our groceries when we are in Sydney.

LISA WILKINSON:

Alright Prime Minister – we will have to leave it there. We appreciate you very much making time for us this morning on this very last day and good luck tomorrow.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you very much Lisa.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Can I move into Kirribilli PM?

[Laughter]

Just for a rave.

LISA WILKINSON:

That is Karl, Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER:

Right okay well thank you very much.

LISA WILKINSON:

Thank you.