Transcript of doorstop interview, South East Melbourne
WED 16 MAY 2012
Subject(s): Community Cabinet; Family payments; Household Assistance package; Schoolkids Bonus; Afghanistan; Poker machine reforms; Queensland tent embassy protests; Convergence Review; Craig Thomson;
PM: I’m delighted to be here at The Basin at this community house, and thank you to Heather and everyone who has made us feel so welcome here today.
I'm here with Laura Smyth, the Member for La Trobe, and a little bit later today we will have a Community Cabinet so that local community members in this area can come and talk to me and Cabinet colleagues about the work of the Government and what's on their minds.
Laura is very shortly to go and open a new school building so if she has to duck out, please excuse her. I'm also here with Greg Combet, the Minister for Climate Change and Jenny Macklin, the Minister for Families.
Today is the day that money will first start to flow through to families resulting from carbon pricing. Everybody knows that the price on carbon will start on 1 July. The price is paid by big businesses that generate carbon pollution.
There will be some flow-through impacts for households of less than a cent in a dollar, but we are making sure that family payment increases, pension increases and a tax cut flows, so that people can see money to help them with the household bills.
Six million households will come out square or even in front as a result of these payments. And today is the first day that these new payments start to flow.
1.6 million families will see coming into their bank accounts from today a lump sum which is for their family payments. Up to $110 for families on Family Tax Benefit A, that's per child, and up to $69 for families on Family Tax Benefit B, per child.
After these payments have flowed over the next couple of weeks, then pensioners will start to see money flow into their bank accounts, and on 1 July people earning less than $80,000 a year will see a tax cut. Most of them will see a tax cut of $300. So families will see these payments start to flow.
In addition, as a result of the budget from last week, whilst we brought the budget to surplus we've deliberately made available new payments to families because we know many low- and middle-income families around the country are finding it hard to make ends meet.
So before 30 June people will see a Schoolkids Bonus. Over $400 for primary school students, over $800 for secondary school students. And there are further family payment increases to flow as well.
This is our way of ensuring that with our strong economy, with the budget coming to surplus, that we are sharing the benefits of the resources boom right around the nation with Australian families who are doing the hard work of raising the next generation of Australians.
To give people a family example about the kind of money that will flow through as a result of putting a price on carbon, if we take an example of a family with two school-aged children and an income of $85,000 a year, they will see an extra $1,000 in tax cuts and payment increases. So money will start to flow from today.
I'm very happy to take any questions.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, how will your Government get over the perception that Afghanistan is a money pit, given your announcement today of another $300 million post-combat dollars?
PM: Look thanks for that question, which is an important one. As a nation, we have invested a lot in Afghanistan. We have been there to make sure that it is never again a safe haven for terrorists.
That means very brave men and women have gone from Australia to fight in Afghanistan. And some of them have paid the ultimate price. We have lost Australian lives in Afghanistan.
Having spent so much time and lost so much, we want to see Afghanistan in the days beyond this period of Australian soldiers being there being a country which can provide for its own security.
The province we're working in, Uruzgan province, is now going to go into transition. What that means is that local Afghan forces will increasingly take security leadership of that province as they are taking security leadership around the country.
From 2015, Afghan forces will be leading security across the nation of Afghanistan. That's going to cost some money to sustain those forces, just over $4 billion. Australia is prepared to play its part in meeting those costs for Afghan forces.
So yesterday when I spoke to President Obama he and I discussed Australia's contribution of $100 million a year for three years starting in 2015. So that money will go to assist with making sure that Afghan forces are there providing for security in Afghanistan.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what can you tell us about Andrew Wilkie's latest proposal on pokies and what's the Government's view?
PM: As it happens I’ve brought the world's greatest expert with me, so I’ll hand over to Jenny.
MINISTER MACKLIN: Well we’re still in discussions with Mr Wilkie about the legislation that we have drafted. This will be the first time a national government has proposed legislation to deal with problem gambling in the Federal Parliament.
I'm still waiting for Mr Wilkie to indicate whether or not he will support that legislation. When I spoke to him last week he indicated to me that he was still giving it consideration.
JOURNALIST: Minister, what are your comments on today's tent embassy protest in Brisbane?
MINISTER MACKLIN: I understand from the media that there have been some issues in Queensland, obviously people do have the right to peaceful protest, we do need to make sure that people are able to put their point of view in a peaceful way, but otherwise I'd really have to get further information both from the Queensland Government and the Aboriginal people.
I don't have any further information other than that provided by the media.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, can you give an assurance that the leaked Kevin Rudd YouTube (inaudible)?
PM: Yes, I can.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, Tony Abbott earlier today described the carbon tax in his words as a ‘gratuitous assault on Australian businesses.’ How do you respond to this?
PM: Well Mr Abbott is always full of colourful praises, what he’s never full of is solutions. All Mr Abbott ever is is negative about our nation's future. And having a clean energy future is important for our country. We have an economy that generates a lot of carbon pollution.
To seize all of the opportunities of the future, we need to move to cleaner energy sources. Like sunshine, like wind, other forms of renewable and clean energy and that's what carbon pricing will do.
JOURNALIST: What about the manufacturing sector? We’ve had local politicians saying it's going to cost at least 500 jobs in the local area.
PM: Well I’d be very careful of claims that are made and I'll turn to Minister Combet for a comment as well. Be very careful of claims that are made about carbon pricing, because we have seen the Opposition out there with all manner of false claims to try and scare people.
I mean they have claimed that, you know, the world will come to an end on 1 July and I can guarantee this for you, 1 July will come and go as a very ordinary day in Australia, so don't believe all of the false claims.
For manufacturing, this is a pretty tough time and it's a tough time because of the strength of the Australian dollar. We've seen an Australian dollar trading at $1.05, $1.10 against the US dollar.
Now that's got its upside for Australia but it certainly puts pressure on manufacturing, and many businesses are still re-gearing to make sure that their business model can work with a very strong Australian dollar.
Here in this community, where we are now, there are some businesses that have suffered from that pressure, but there are a number of other businesses that are expanding jobs in manufacturing even with the Australian dollar at the strength that it is now.
Minister Combet's job is to be working with industries around the nation, but particularly manufacturing, so that we can support manufacturing and ensure we've got a diverse strong economy for the long-term.
And I'll just get Greg to make a comment on that.
MINISTER COMBET: Thanks Prime Minister. Well the first thing to bear in mind when you hear these claims of course, is that it's going to be a bit under 500 companies around the country who are the only ones that will have a liability under the carbon price mechanism.
The overwhelming majority of manufacturing firms will not have a liability under the carbon price mechanism. So that when you hear these claims, they're sometimes made by people wishing to engage in political debate about the issues.
I spent yesterday afternoon with quite a large group of people representing manufacturers in the south-eastern part of Melbourne and we had a good lengthy discussion about the pressures that they're confronting, but also the opportunities that they have with changes that are taking place in the economy and the growth in our region.
And there's a great future for manufacturing in this country, but we've got to become more efficient, more productive, more competitive, and take advantages of economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region. And the Government has a lot of policy mechanisms in place to help manufacturers achieve that.
JOURNALIST: Minister Combet, just in regard to the arrest of Rebekah Brooks, does this mean anything for News Corp in Australia, and do you think (inaudible). I’m from Fairfax!
PM: It’s broadly under-industry.
JOURNALIST: Do you think that it’s testament that there needs to be public interest tests in Australia? Feel free to answer, any of you!
MINISTER COMBET: I think it’s possibly one that my boss should answer.
PM: I’m not going to make comments about legal matters at home or overseas. We’ve, through Minister Conroy, released the Convergence Review which makes a set of recommendations about media including questions of fit and proper person tests as I understand it.
We’ve said that we will take the appropriate time to consider the Convergence Review and respond to it.
JOURNALIST: Is Craig Thomson out of the woods yet? (Inaudible)
PM: I understand the AEC – the Australian Electoral Commission – has made a statement today. Minister Gray will issue a response to that from the Government.
PM: Look, I’m advised Minister Gray either has or shortly will put out a statement. As I understand it this is twenty-something page report. I haven’t had the opportunity to read it myself.
In the broad I think it makes some recommendations about generally how disclosure matters should be dealt with and that they will go to the relevant parliamentary committee for further study and inquiry, and as I understand it they also find that Mr Thomson has not breached the Electoral Act. But I’ll have Minister Gray deal with the specifics of it.
PM: Mr Thomson is not a member of the Labor Party, his membership is suspended, and it is a member of the Labor Party who will represent Labor in Dobell at the next election.
JOURNALIST: Will that election definitely be in 500 days?
PM: I understand some grand excitement has been caused by me using the terminology ‘500 days’ during my speech yesterday. Can I assure the people of Australia that the election will not be on Grand Final Day in 2013, and that’s because I will definitely be at the MCG cheering the Bulldogs on to a very notable victory.
I’m sure that’s exactly what will happen on Grand Final Day next year!
Thanks very much.