Doorstop - Adelaide Convention Centre

17 Aug 2019
Adelaide, SA
Prime Minister
2019 election; Pacific relationships; Global economy; Land tax; Naval shipbuilding; GetUp!

PRIME MINISTER: It’s great to be here in South Australia. Can I also acknowledge the return of three Senators including Alex Antic who it’s great to have here as part of our team and in the room I had the opportunity to thank all our members and it’s great to have a very strong South Australian team representing our Party in the Parliament and in the Government.

JOURNALIST: So it’s a victory lap here? 

PRIME MINISTER: No, this is a victory for the Australians who didn’t want to pay higher taxes, who want to follow their aspirations not the aspirations of politicians. That's what the election was about. It wasn't about the Liberal Party, it wasn't about me, it wasn't about individual members of the Liberal Party. It was about Australians who just want to get on with their lives. And to be confident about the future. Who love their country and just want to see it better. They don’t believe Australia's broken, they think Australia's the greatest country in the world to live. And they just have a positive view about our future.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, Michael McCormack's comments about fruit pickers and the Pacific region, has that just inflamed an already inflammatory situation?

PRIME MINISTER: Australia has the deepest engagement and biggest commitment of any nation in the world in the Pacific. Australians should be very proud of the way we work closely with our Pacific family. And we're there for the difficult conversations, we’re there for every type of conversation with our Pacific family. Just like any family that comes around the table we discuss all these things through. We talk them all through. And that's what Australians have always done in the Pacific. We've always been there. We will always be there. And regardless of whatever issues we have to work through at the time, our Pacific family knows that Australia will always be for them. For the simple reason is that they're part of the community in which we live and that is the view of my government.

JOURNALIST: Are you concerned about all the talk of recession in the U.S. and the impact it might have on Australia?

PRIME MINISTER: The world events at present are quite convulsing and we're seeing that not just on the economic issues but we're seeing it in the global security issues as well. And that's why it is a time for calm, it's for measured conversation. For seeking to de-escalate things rather than escalate them. And that's certainly Australia's approach as we engage with our allies and partners around the world. We knew as a Government that Australia was facing a difficult global environment particularly economically when we frame this year's budget. So these events are no surprise to our government. We knew that we would have to have an economy where taxes would be lower and people can keep more of what they earn. That we knew that we would have to increase the level of infrastructure investment which we did by $23 billion in the last budget. We knew that we would have to be taking bigger steps when it comes to the skills needs of Australians and that's something on which I think we will have an excellent partnership with the South Australian Government going forward. We knew that we needed to continue to strengthen the Australian economy and not weigh it down right across the board with what Labour were proposing which was higher taxes. That's why we delivered the budget we did. That's why we put the plan we did to the Australian people. And I think Australians were also aware of the challenges ahead and that's why they chose that plan.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister you mentioned Senator Antic before, he wrote a letter this week criticising the state government policy on land tax. Do you share his concerns? Or do you think it’s a good policy?

PRIME MINISTER: Well the Liberals are for lower taxes and the tax bill under this plan I'm advised will actually be lower. But we're all for lower taxes and that's what Liberals have always been about.

JOURNALIST: But the land tax bill for some people will increase quite markedly under these aggregation changes?

PRIME MINISTER: I'll leave those matters to the state government.

JOURNALIST: What about submarine jobs for South Australia. Certainly there has been no indication South Australia will keep the maintenance jobs. Will you give that guarantee today?

PRIME MINISTER: Well it's a process underway and I want to commend Steven Marshall for the way he's respected and approached that process. I spoke about it in my remarks today, he has great confidence in South Australia's capability. And he's engaged with that process. He knows it's a process that's focussed on the national interest. He knows that there is a lot of work here and that work is going to be spread around where it's best done and that will mean there'll be jobs for both of the states that seem to be having this conversation-

JOURNALIST: So South Australia's jobs aren't safe. That's what you’re saying?

PRIME MINISTER: No, that's what you're saying.

JOURNALIST: No no no I'm asking you will you guarantee those maintenance jobs here?

PRIME MINISTER: The process is working through that as it should. And I have a great confidence in the capability of South Australia as I do of Western Australia and the way this will be determined is not in some sort of political process. This will be done in accordance with the national interest and I really respect the way that Steven Marshall is backing the capability of his state rather than looking for political pressure or special deals.

JOURNALIST: Do you prefer the Premier’s quiet advocacy on the subs issue or do you respect the west's public campaigning?

PRIME MINISTER: Well premiers will make their own choices about how they wish to engage in this debate. It's not for me to give them coaching on these things. But I simply say is that I respect the way that Steven Marshall is not only, has confidence in South Australia's capability and he's going to let that speak for itself [inaudible].

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, just on GetUp!, what are you proposing to do [inaudible]?

PRIME MINISTER: I’ll have more to say about it as time goes on but this is no this is no longer a wolf in sheep's clothing. GetUp! is a wolf in wolf’s clothing and I think Australians are seeing that. I mean I thought their behaviour in the most recent election was disgraceful. It wasn't only the sort of misogynist attacks we saw here on Nicolle Flint but the pillorying of the Surf Lifesaving Association and taking surfing rescues and seeing it as some sort of sort of light entertainment for political advocacy and what they did re Tony Abbott. And frankly the way they engaged in the attacks on Josh Frydenberg and now we're seeing anti-Semitic attacks on Josh Frydenberg. We saw the same thing with Julian Leeser in New South Wales. I'm very concerned about the disturbing rise of anti-Semitism in Australia. I'm very disturbed about it particularly what I'm seeing. It is a very worrying trend. I believe ordinary Australians are sickened by it. I think they deplore it. We're talking about a small handful of people here I hope. And I expect, but you know, GetUp! have to be accountable for what they say and do. If they want to be in the political space, fine, call yourself a political party, you’re against the Liberal Party. We get that. That's okay. There's no problem with that. Just don't pretend you're independent and that's what they're seeking to do and I don't think they've been straight up with the Australian people at all. Australians know where Liberals stand, Australians know where I stand and they can always have that assurance. Thank you.