Doorstop with Mr Jack Ma, Executive Chairman of Alibaba, Hangzhou, China

 

PRIME MINISTER:

Jack, thank you so much for showing us Alibaba today. You’ve created an extraordinary platform, an extraordinary phenomenon for commerce. It’s wonderful to see there are 1,300 Australian businesses on the platform and we look forward to many more, because you’re opening up these great opportunities in the China market and around the world for Australian small businesses and indeed those of many other countries too. So we’ve really been thrilled to be here today and see the great work you’re doing.

MR JACK MA:

Thank you Prime Minister and you really inspired the SMEs here and our customers and I think we come here today, bring a lot of ideas supporting Australia’s small, medium sized companies. We’re excited we bring Chinese tourists there, supporting the local Australia small, medium sized companies. We want to make Alibaba the gateway for Australian products to be in China, to sell to China. We are very anxious to make that things happen.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister how many jobs do you expect out of this in the next 12 months? Are there any policy decisions that you can make that will help them get online, any other things you can do?

PRIME MINISTER:

You see around Australia the way in which the export opportunities, particularly for agribusiness, is producing jobs and dare I say it, growth, in regional Australia. Tasmania being a classic example. So this is one of the reasons that our transition from the mining construction boom has been much less disruptive than many economists predicted. It’s because of that pick-up in exports. And, of course, Jack and I were talking earlier with our teams about tourism, Chinese tourism in Australia - there are 1.25 million Chinese tourists who came to Australia in the 12 months to June. Next year is the year of China-Australia tourism, so Alibaba is looking at ways to promote more Chinese visitation to Australia and we’re obviously very keen about that. Do you want to enlarge on that Jack?

MR JACK MA:

I think first, China as you know, Alibaba platform has created close to, maybe more than today, 30 million jobs for China. We believe that platform can work in China it definitely can also help the small business in Australia. Second, we want to partner with Australian Government and business community to attract more middle-class young Chinese people to go to Australia, so they will bring business to the hotels, to restaurants and bars, airports, this is what we just discuss. We think we are pretty confident to not only bring jobs but also bring the prosperity for the local businesses that are not necessarily exporting to China. So we are interested in export in China, local business there.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Ma, I know you read very widely so you may have noticed that in Australia there is a lot of focus on Chinese investment and Chinese influence in Australia and also the recent AusGrid deal being blocked. Do you think there is a lack of understanding or there is more that needs to be explained when it comes to Chinese investment in Australia?

MR JACK MA:

That’s why I encourage trade is the way to cure misunderstanding, trade is the way to improve understanding, respect, appreciation of the two wonderful cultures. Second, I believe tourism can bring young people (inaudible) about our two nations - when they travel each other, they appreciate each other more, they understand more. I think China as the leader of the second largest economy, we also want to create value for the local business of different nations. So I think time will solve the problem. We need more communication, we need more people to move around and understand products move around.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister can the NBN be stepped up at all to help people make the most of this?

PRIME MINISTER:

The NBN is the National Broadband Network Jack. Well the NBN is moving along very rapidly as you know, we inherited a failed project from the Labor Party. In the six years they activated about 50,000 premises. The last four weeks of the NBN’s work, they activated 98,000 premises. Now well over three million premises with a service available. That is well over a quarter of the total and well over now a million paying customers. So the company expects the construction to be three quarters complete by 30 June 2018 and to be entirely complete in 2019/20. It is moving at a rapid clip now and the numbers which Jack, you will be pleased to know, when I became the Communications Minister, there had been a lot of mystery about what the company was actually doing, I put all the roll-out figures up every week. Every week. Hardly anyone looks at them anymore, I think they’ve become quite boring, but it is reassuring to know that they’re there. So you know every week how much is being done. I think this is why, as we were discussing earlier, transparency with real-time data is absolutely a critical element. I said this to the G20 – openness, transparency and accountability disarms the cynics, and it reassures the suspicious. So it’s a very important part of the confidence building exercise that leaders like myself and all the other G20 leaders are focussed on undertaking.

JOURNALIST:

On a domestic issue -

PRIME MINISTER:

Is there anything else on Ali Baba and e-commerce because otherwise then Jack will leave me?

MR JACK MA:

I will leave.

PRIME MINISTER:

And I’ll deal with the political matters.

JOURNALIST:

On a more domestic issue -

PRIME MINISTER:

Well just hang on one second – Jack, thank you so much. I’ll come back and catch you after the press conference.

JOURNALIST:

Would you offer -

PRIME MINISTER:

Can I just make one observation right at the outset on a very serious regional security issue. We condemn utterly the dangerous, destabilising and provocative conduct of North Korea. Three ballistic missile launches, another nuclear test and a pattern of conduct which is plainly reckless, its destabilising, its contrary to UN security council resolutions, it’s been widely condemned. The North Korean Government should focus on the welfare of its citizens who need their welfare being attended to, in a manner, because it’s been neglected by that government for decades. This recent conduct is dangerous, its destabilising, its provocative and we condemn it.

JOURNALIST:

Just on that point Prime Minister, there’s a lot of anger in China from the Chinese Government over South Korea installing the THAAD system. Given what’s happening in North Korea, what’s Australia’s position in terms of will it try to convince China for example that this is the greater good of regional security?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I think my focus today is on condemning the recent conduct, the very recent conduct, of North Korea which of course continues a pattern of destabilising conduct.

JOURNALIST:

Will you offer Labor bipartisan support to crack down on foreign political donations or will you do anything to increase transparency?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well the donations to political parties are of course transparent, they’re disclosed. The issue of campaign finance reform will be considered by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters in the usual way and we will look at it with a very open mind. It’s a complex matter, area and it is worth looking at clearly and in a considered manner. Let me make this very fundamental point, what Mr Shorten is seeking to do is to distract attention from the very real issue, the very real failure of his leadership in not removing Sam Dastyari from the front bench. Mr Dastyari did not receive a donation for the Labor Party. He may well have done that as well. He took cash for himself. And then he expressed views on foreign policy which were utterly at odds with the established consistent foreign policy of the Australian Government which is supported by Mr Shorten. I understand Mr Shorten has said today that Sam Dastyari is only a junior member of his leadership team. Well, Mr Shorten's got to show some leadership himself. Is it acceptable for a senior politician in the Senate, in the Labor Party to be taking money for himself? This is not a political donation, this is cash for him, paying off his debts. Is he entitled to do that, then change his position or express a position which is at odds with that of the Government and the Labor party and apparently nothing happens? There are no consequences. Mr Shortens got to face up to this. As I said yesterday, I’m in China at the G20, standing up for Australia. Mr Shorten is back home standing up for Sam Dastyari and his cash for comments.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Turnbull do you have a brief comment about that spat between the Philippine’s President and the US President. The Philippine’s President has grossly insulted Obama who has cancelled the meeting. Do you think you can have friendly and open and fair talks when you’ve got attitudes like that brought to the table?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well the remarks were intemperate and I noticed that President Obama responded as he always does with careful restraint and dignity. My meeting schedule at the East Asia Summit is yet to be finalised but all of us recognise that the Philippines is a very important part of the whole East Asian security dialogue. It’s a very important player in the region. I trust that these...

JOURNALIST:

So you won’t be cancelling your meeting?

PRIME MINISTER:

We’ll see how things develop when we get to Vientiane. But I do have to say that it is very important that all parties express themselves in language that is considered, that is courteous, dare I say it, diplomatic.

Thanks very much.