Transcript of joint doorstop interview, Adelaide
FRI 20 MAY 2011
Subject(s): Walk to School Day; Minerals Resource Rent Tax
PM: I’m having a fantastic morning at my old primary school. I’ve brought with me Chris Evans and also Senator Don Farrell, we’ve all walked to school together with some very enthusiastic kids. This is where I went to school in Mitcham, Mitcham School, it was a great school then, it’s a great school today.
I’ve had a fantastic time talking to the kids, walking with the kids, addressing school assembly and also talking to the staff here. It’s really been very heart warming to get to come back to my old school.
I’m very pleased that we’ve been able to make a difference to this school through our Building the Education Revolution program. More than $5 million of investment, but I was still able to locate my old classroom, though it looks a bit different than it did in the days that I was here at school.
This is part of the major investment we’ve made in schools right around South Australia, around $1.4 billion has gone in to make a difference to more than 700 schools, 2000 projects. We’ve been doing things like building new classrooms, almost 300 of them. We’ve been doing things like building new school halls, around 230 of them. We’ve been building new libraries, 170 more of those and it’s all about making a difference for a child’s education.
There’s nothing more important to the future of our nation than what’s happening in schools like this one today. I said to the kids when I spoke to them at school assembly, that for me what happened in this school made a difference to the rest of my life, having great teachers who inspired a love of learning, a love of reading, teachers like Mr Crow, who was a Deputy Principal here and I’ve had to opportunity today to meet some of his family members.
So, it’s been terrific to be here – a big thank you to everybody for having me here and for everybody who’s engaged in Walk to School Day, it’s a tremendous thing, getting the kids out walking to school. Today is officially Walk to School Day, where we say we want to keep kids active and healthy, but we want kids being active and healthy on more days than Walk to School Day. So congratulation to all of those parents and volunteers that make walk to school programs like walking school buses work, that’s a tremendous thing to do and is helping to keep our kids fit and active.
I’m very happy to take any questions.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, on a separate issue Western Australia has increased their mining royalties. What impact will that have on the Federal Government?
PM: Well, first and foremost, let me say what the Minerals Resource Rent Tax actually means for Western Australia, is it means more infrastructure, more support for businesses, for companies, particularly small businesses, by reducing the tax that they pay and it also means more support for superannuation for working Australians.
I would say that today we can say that the campaign that was run in Western Australia against the Minerals Resource Rent Tax by members of the Liberal Party has now turned out to be a pretty hollow campaign. It’s Premier Barnett that is now increasing taxation on mining companies. Now the Treasurer said, this is an own goal by Premier Barnett and Wayne Swan is right, this is an own goal by Premier Barnett. He knows how GST works and he knows under the current system that this means that GST money will be moved away from Western Australia as a result of the work that an independent body does, the Commonwealth Grants Commission.
He knows that’s going to be the result because he’s been complaining about Western Australia’s treatment under the GST and I’ve actually acknowledged that we do need to take a good look at it and I’ve joined with Premier Barnett in making sure that the whole system is reviewed.
But what Premier Barnett has done will actually end up costing Western Australia, they’ll lose GST and they’ll also lose infrastructure funds that would have flowed from the Minerals Resource Rent Tax.
I am accompanied by our most senior Western Australian representative, so I’ll actually turn to him for some comments as well.
MINISTER EVANS: Thank you Prime Minister. Look, I just wanted to make the point that this decision by Colin Barnett, the Premier of Western Australia, it exposes the complete hypocrisy of Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party. At the last election they campaigned against the Minerals Resource Tax, they promised to oppose it in the Parliament and they did so on the basis that West Australian miners could not afford to pay more, they could not afford to pay the extra tax and we have now the Premier of Western Australian exposing that hypocrisy by increasing taxation on mineral companies by $2 billion.
So, the argument that somehow our Resource Rent Tax could not be afforded by mineral companies is completely blown out of the water. The hypocrisy of the campaign against the tax is revealed and we have the Liberal Premier increasing taxation on mineral companies, not just the big companies, as would occur under our profits tax, if you like, but all of those companies will pay increased royalties, as a less efficient tax, a less fair tax. But all of those companies who donated to a Liberal Party campaign to oppose the resources tax have now been let down, if you like, by the decision of the West Australian Premier to increase taxation on mineral companies by $2 billion in West Australia alone.
So, the opposition’s campaign against the tax is completely undermined, completely exposed for what it is, another scare campaign and the reality is the WA Premier concedes the Federal Government’s position, which is the big miners could afford to pay more tax in Western Australia in order to support investment in community services in our state.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, do you admit that it will leave a black hole in the Federal budget?
PM: Well, the biggest risk to the Federal budget surplus is still Tony Abbott and his reckless and negative conduct in the Australian Parliament. I mean we’re still waiting for Mr Abbott to actually reply to the Budget, he’s done everything but and Joe Hockey, his Shadow Treasurer went to the National Press Club and didn’t really reply to the Budget either. The only person who’s tried a budget reply is Malcolm Turnbull and in all of that he was telling us that Tony Abbott’s scare campaign against carbon pricing is a scare campaign and Tony Abbott’s plan won’t work and will blow the budget.
So, first and foremost, Mr Abbott has to come clean and say will he in the Australian Parliament oppose our budget legislation, which will get the budget back into surplus in 2012-13 as promised. We will deliver that budget surplus and, as a result of the actions of Premier Barnett, of course we will have to deal with questions like infrastructure funds for Western Australia.
JOURNALIST: It will leave a black hole though?
PM: We’ll bring the budget to surplus in 2012-13, exactly as promised.
JOURNALIST: What impact will this have though, how many million dollars (inaudible).
PM: We will be adjusting infrastructure expenditure for Western Australia to protect the Federal budget, the budget is coming back to surplus exactly as promised.
JOURNALIST: The mining tax is a big part of the budget, the budget surplus, so is the budget then not fragile after this move by WA?
PM: The Minerals Resource Rent Tax legislation will be presented to the Parliament later this year and we will work to get it through the Parliament. The budget will come back to surplus in 2012-13; we’ve worked hard to make the responsible decisions to get that done. The real risk here is Tony Abbott’s irresponsibility, he goes around promising all things to all people and he can’t make it add up, he’s never been able to make the budget add up. Flood package from Tony Abbott earlier this year, didn’t add up, an $11 billion black hole in his election costings and last budget his budget reply was a big black hole too.
So, we’re still waiting for Mr Abbott to say, will he do the responsible and pass the legislation that gets the budget back to surplus, as promised.
JOURNALIST: Do you think WA’s decision might reinvigorate the war on the mining tax?
PM: Well, I actually think to echo what Chris Evans has said, this is undermined the Liberal Party’s campaign against the Mineral Resource Rent Tax. The Liberal Party went to the last Federal Election saying to everybody in this nation, but must particularly the people in Western Australia, that mining companies couldn’t pay more tax and here they are, the Liberal Party imposing more tax on mining companies – what a hollow campaign.
JOURNALIST: Will you be stripping the GST (inaudible)
PM: We don’t do that, it’s an independent body that works out GST distribution, the Commonwealth Grants Commission. Premier Barnett is very familiar with how this body works, he’s complained about the way the GST is distributed and I’ve said I do think the matter needs a review and we’re created that review, working with Premier Barnett and other Premiers and Chief Minister’s around the country.
But Premier Barnett knows how this independent process works and that’s why what he’s done will cost Western Australia, because he knows that through the independent process GST money will be moved away from Western Australia because of this decision and I suspect he also knew that we would act on infrastructure for Western Australia because of this move.