KEN O’DOWD MP: Good morning everybody, thanks for coming. It’s great to have the Prime Minister Scott Morrison here today, Scott Morrison. We’re here at Boyne Island actually to show how him the industry really works and the demand on the energy future for this plant. It’s essential that we have baseload power and of course with baseload power comes coal-fired power stations of the HILE type. But there’s quite a lot of issues I’ll be talking to Scott with while he’s here, but without further ado, the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.
PRIME MINISTER: Well thanks Ken, it’s great to be here. It’s great to be here at Boyne Island. This is what goes in all sorts of equipment all around the world and here it is its produced right here, some of the most practical things you can imagine. And there’s a thousand people whose jobs depend on this smelter, on this facility, both contractors and those who are permanently employed here, and in for the contractors business that they work for permanently employed in those businesses. And the reason I wanted to come here today is I wanted to see it first-hand because the Labor Party wants to push up the emissions reductions target to 45 per cent. A 45 per cent reduction. That’ll shut this shop down. That’s a thousand jobs. That will be the cost of what Labor wants to do when it comes to their plans for a 45 per cent emissions reductions target. Now we’ve got our target at 26 per cent, we made it some years ago and we’re sticking to it and we’re delivering on it. We’ve already smashed Kyoto 1 and we’re going to beat Kyoto 2. As I’ve said, we’re going to meet our 2030 targets I believe in a canter as well. And that means we can keep places like this open which are producing for all around the world.
Our Government is very pleased that our Government was able to ensure that the United States did not impose upon this operation an unfair tariff that would have cost jobs here in Boyne Island. And we were able to, as a Government, ensure against that which meant that they can keep operating and it’s also provided new opportunities because our Government is committed to opening our trade and ensuring we have bigger markets and newer markets. And so we are 100 per cent committed to keeping this Aluminium smelter open, and the way we’re going to do that is by not adopting reckless targets that will shut the coal-fired power industry down and will shut this smelter down and the thousand jobs that will be removed from here if Labor were to get their way and win the next election.
So Ken has been a champion for this smelter, he has been a champion for these jobs, and they’re jobs from all walks of life. I met a mum who has just come back to work, she has been here for three weeks. She’s got three young kids and she’s here, back working here as a smelter and it’s great and there’s other females getting employment here. About ten per cent of the workforce. As a dad of two daughters I think that’s tremendous to see. People working in process engineering and other important jobs, and right down to running things on the floor. So aluminium is a key part of our exports from Australia, but also supplying in production right around the country and it’s just great to see this operation doing so strongly and under our Government, it’ll stay open and it’ll keep doing strongly and it’ll have a big future. Under the Labor Party, they’ll shut this show down.
JOURNALIST: What did you think about the tailgaters today, how are you feeling about that Labor truck?
PRIME MINISTER: Didn’t pay any attention to them at all. And as usual, the Labor Party is lying. What has happened in Central Queensland is we’ve increased funding for the Central Queensland Health and Hospitals operation by over 20 per cent in the last two years and the state Labor government has ripped $9 billion out of hospitals and health here in Central Queensland. So the Commonwealth Government, our Government, has increased funding to hospitals and health. So don’t believe Labor’s lies. But you can believe this about Labor - if they’re elected, a thousand jobs here and this smelter will be shut down because of Labor’s reckless emissions reductions target. They won't be producing this anymore, they won’t be producing anything. They’ll shut the shop down.
JOURNALIST: Can I just get your thoughts on the Federal Government going against the advice of its own boarder experts when deciding Adani’s water scheme didn’t [inaudible] on the environment?
PRIME MINISTER: Well we’ve put the environmental approvals in place for the Carmichael project and we expect those approvals and conditions of those approvals to be complied with.
JOURNALIST: One Nation has the potential to strip votes from the Coalition in Queensland. What would you say to people who are considering voting for One Nation?
PRIME MINISTER: You can only trust the Coalition Government, the LNP here in Queensland, to run a strong economy. You can’t trust the Labor Party on a strong economy, you can’t trust the minor parties to deliver a stronger economy and you can trust our Government to deliver a stronger economy. You can trust our Government to ensure that places like the Boyne Aluminium smelter stay open and that we have sensible policies that support a strong economy. We’re the ones who have been cutting taxes for small and family businesses, we’re the ones who have been supporting our economy with tax cuts right across the board. So only the Coalition Government, the LNP, has the sensible economic policies that can guarantee the economy that delivers funding for hospitals, like the 20 per cent increase we’ve seen for hospitals and health funding here in Central Queensland delivered by this Government over the last couple of years. That comes from a strong economy. If you can’t do that, it doesn’t matter what your opinion is on any other topics and the minor parties have plenty of opinions on a lot of things. But what they can’t do it ensure that we have a strong economy here to provide the jobs and the livelihoods and the services and support which Central Queenslanders need.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, in Gladstone you’re saying that you’ve increased federal funding for hospitals here.
PRIME MINISTER: Yeah, 20.6 per cent.
JOURNALIST: Yet we don’t have a paediatric facility for orthopaedics here, with a fracture clinic providing tele-health services for children who have broken limbs. Do you think that that’s delivering for our region?
PRIME MINISTER: Well you’d have to ask the Queensland state government why they cut $9 million out of health funding here in Central Queensland. So they run the hospitals, we’ve increased funding by over 20 per cent here in Central Queensland over the last two years. So if the state government has got to pull resources out of health here in Central Queensland, well you know, they’ve to be accountable for that. We’re stumping up, we’re doing the right thing, whether it’s on the ring road project where I was earlier up around Rocky today or whether standing here today saying we’re going to stand up for the Boyne Aluminium Smelter and not see the Labor Party rob a thousand workers of their jobs here, because that’s what’s at stake if Labor gets to put in their 45 per cent emissions reductions target. They will sell these jobs out to try and appease inner-city green groups in the major capital cities down south. That’s what they’re about, they’re not about protecting the jobs here. They’re about sipping almond lattes with green-left groups in inner-city suburbs is Sydney and Melbourne.
JOURNALIST: A Grattan Institute report found that most Aussies will retire with enough super. It’s recommended though loosening age pension tax...
PRIME MINISTER: I know what you’re referring to, yeah.
JOURNALIST: You know what I’m referring to. And tax brackets as well, tax breaks. Is that something that you’d consider?
PRIME MINISTER: Yeah we’ve got no plans to change the legislation when it comes to the SGL and that’s been in place for some time. We want to make sure that Australian workers actually get these additional increases which goes to their future superannuation and particularly we want to make sure that they’re getting further support through their weekly pay packets and that’s the only way that you’re going to deliver that is with a stronger economy. I mean, Labor wants to tax the economy more. They want to slow the economy down, they want to take a big, dripping wet blanket and throw it over the Australian economy with higher taxes, negative gearing abolished as we know it. I mean, up here in Ken’s electorate, just like I was in Capricornia this morning, people who are working here, they have investment properties. It’s as prominent here as it is in the major cities in the country and what that means is that people have been investing in saving for their future, and Labor’s got their big tax baseball bat out and they’re going to whack their savings, they’re going to come and whack their futures, they’re going to come and whack their jobs with ridiculous emissions reductions targets which are only going to drive businesses out of business and Australians out of jobs.
JOURNALIST: Mr Morrison, last night at the pub I spoke to a Gladstone local...
PRIME MINISTER: Yeah I heard you about the pub last...
JOURNALIST: I’ve got another one for you, last night at the pub I spoke to a Gladstone local who has been voting for Ken for years, loves Ken but says he can’t vote for him at the next election because of all the instability with the Coalition. What do you have to say to Ken about that?
PRIME MINISTER: I think the ABC should stop coming up to press conferences and repeating the lines of the Labor Party every time I step up to the microphone. Yep?
JOURNALIST: Just on sharks, should the drum lines and nets be [inaudible]?
PRIME MINISTER: Look this is a very serious issue and let’s not forget that, you know, we’ve had some tragedies here in recent days. And I feel for the families of those who have been lost in these tragic attacks. This is a matter for state governments have to tend to. I’m not going to make their job any more difficult by offering a public commentary on this. We’re happy to support in any way we can but I’m going to leave that to the state government authorities to manage this carefully in partnership with local communities and take the advice they need to take and to ensure that they’re providing the protections that are necessary because, particularly up here in Queensland, these things are important for our tourism industry and people need to have confidence that they’re being managed well. I’m not suggesting they’re not, I’m just saying I’m going to let the state government get on with their job and they can expect whatever support they need from us to help manage that carefully.
JOURNALIST: Were you aware of the Memorandum of Understanding that the Victorian Government signed with China before it was signed?
PRIME MINISTER: No I was not.
JOURNALIST: And does it represent a national security concern?
PRIME MINISTER: Well as I’ve said on a number of occasions, we’re getting on with business with China as a Government. Marise Payne is up in China now, the Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, he’s been up there. You know our record on trade. I mean one of the reasons we’ve been so forthright on trade is to be ensure that we protect things like the Boyne Aluminium Smelter. We made sure as a Government, and I pay tribute to the former Prime Minister and the former Trade Minister Steve Ciobo who did such great work to ensure that tariffs were not slapped on our products here coming out of this smelter. Now that not only ensured that this smelter can continue to export their product to the United States as they do, but it also meant that they could take new opportunities by doing exactly that. Our Government is committed to stronger trade, more open trade, great relationships with our partners. China is a great trading partner of Australia, we have a comprehensive strategic partnership with them. We’re getting on with business with China. I’ll be visiting with those leaders of China as I go up to APEC and the East Asia Summit and what I expect to find there is a very healthy working commercial relationship which will continue to deliver jobs and economic opportunities for Australia, which means we can pay for Medicare, we can pay for pensions, we can pay for affordable medicines and we can deliver the essential services that Australians rely on. But it’s been great to be here with Ken, and we’ve got to get back on the bus. Great to see you, thank you.