Australian Government coat of arms

Prime Minister of Australia

The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP

Doorstop - Robert Poate Centre, Canberra

26 February 2016

Robert Poate Centre, Crace , ACT

Prime Minister

E&OE

PRIME MINISTER: Well thank you. As you have seen, what a great job Soldier On is doing.

The support that John and Danny have given in setting up Soldier On, and you can see the support of all the companies and individuals that have gotten behind it here at the Robert Poate Centre, is really leading the way to reintegration of our veterans into civilian life.

It is a vital part of our service to those who put their lives on the line for us. And Marise and Dan and Zed and I are really proud to be here today.

JOURNALIST: Last night in the Parliament, George Christensen likened the Safe Schools Program to a paedophile grooming his victims. Do you support those comments?

PRIME MINISTER: Let me just say this. I encourage everybody who is discussing these issues to do so in very measured language. And to consider very carefully the impact of the words they use on young people and on their families.

Now, every single one of us is absolutely resolutely opposed to bullying of children, of any kind, or for any reason, whether it is in the class room, in the playground or indeed, nowadays, on the Internet.

Bullying is absolutely unacceptable. All of us, as parents, know full well and all of us remember, having been children, what the damage bullying can do.

So our commitment is to do everything we can to ensure that children can lead their lives, whether it's in school or at home or at play, lead their lives free from bullying.

Our society, the strength of our society is based on mutual respect and that is something that must be extended to all of our children and indeed all Australians.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, will you go to an election before handing down the Budget?

PRIME MINISTER: I know and I understand that there is a continuing interest in the date of the election. You should expect - I am certainly expecting the election to be held in the normal time, which is in August, September, October. I think the general rubric is before or after the footy finals. But that’s the usual timing, that’s what you should expect.

JOURNALIST: Is that you ruling out a double dissolution election, Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER: I am saying  to you, that is what I am expecting. Obviously, there are other options available but my expectation is that the election will be held at the normal time.

JOURNALIST: Will there be a tax statement before the Budget?

PRIME MINISTER: We will be releasing statements of policy in the lead-up to the Budget on a range of issues. As you saw, most notably, yesterday, the Defence White Paper.

So the process of policy reform is ongoing. This is a reforming Government.

As you have seen already we are proposing to the Parliament, legislation which will reform the way the Senate is elected, to ensure that voters choose where their preferences go, not backroom deals between political parties.

So this is a reforming Government and, as we conclude our deliberations on particular topics, we will present them for the consideration of the people.

JOURNALIST: Have you asked Dr Parkinson to take over the tax policy formulation process? And is that a sign you have lost confidence in what the Treasurer was doing?

PRIME MINISTER: Let me deal with two things - the Treasurer has my complete confidence, as do all of my Ministers, number one.

Number two - the consideration of tax policy and of changes to the taxation system are obviously involving a number of departments. The Treasury principally, my own department of which Dr Parkinson is the Secretary, the Department of Finance, the Department of Social Security, right across the board. So it is a whole of government effort.

So, yes, Dr Parkinson is closely involved, as indeed is the Secretary of Treasury, as indeed is the Treasurer, as indeed I am, as indeed are all the Ministers.

This is - let me state this again - this is important to remember - I am leading a Cabinet Government. We consider these issues carefully. We work them through. We analyse them carefully, just as we did the Defence White Paper.

The tax matters will be considered carefully by the Expenditure Review Committee and then by the Cabinet.

You only have to look at the Labor Party's recent pronouncements on tax and the damage that will do to the value of every home in Australia to see what happens when you rush out tax policies without thinking through the consequences.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what role is there for Australia under the cease-fire in Syria that President Obama announced this morning?

PRIME MINISTER: Australia, as you know, is supporting the coalition effort in both in Iraq and in Syria – and naturally we are very strongly supportive. I gave a speech touching on this not so long ago in Washington, we are very strongly supportive of a political settlement. Indeed, it’s well-accepted and well-understood that the solution to the conflict in Syria has to involve a political resolution.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what do you make of Liberal backbenchers threatening to launch a public campaign as early as next week against the changes to negative gearing that you are considering?

PRIME MINISTER: There are a whole range of issues being considered by us in the context of the review of tax, as you would expect. And all of them, by the way, are interrelated. They have to be looked at in a comprehensive way. We're considering them very carefully. Everybody has a view, I imagine everyone here has a view, probably some people have different views, at different times. So, we are taking that all into account. We are considering it very carefully.

I just leave you with this important point to reflect on: If you want an alternative way to develop tax policy, look at what the Labor Party has done. They are proposing a change to treatment of net rental losses, negative gearing, which will have the consequences of undermining the value of every Australian home. That appears to be their goal. What impact does that have on the economy? Clearly undermines confidence, undermines families' willingness to spend or to invest.

Perfectly obvious that Labor didn't think those consequences through. Their policy is riddled with contradictions, they want to pull investors out of the established property market and funnel them all in to new houses, into new developments, a contradiction in that, the disruption is obvious. They have not thought through this issue.

Now, we are not going to take a leaf out of Labor's book in that regard. What we are going to do is consider all of these issues very carefully. Look at the consequences very carefully. And then, when we have concluded our deliberations, we’ll present them to the people, to the public and in due course we will take them to the election.

So on that note, thank you very much for being here today.

Thank you.

Ends