Photo: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts
MEMBER FOR ROBERTSON, LUCY WICKS: Good morning everyone. It’s fantastic to be here at Six Strings Brewery with Ryan and Chris, two outstanding local guys who have been having a go, giving it a go, getting ahead and growing year on year since they first started their business over five years ago. They now employ fifteen people here on the Central Coast, they use a local product to produce an outstanding, well several outstanding beers actually. It’s a fantastic venue, fantastic place to be and they of course are benefitting like so many other small businesses here on the Central Coast from what the Government is doing to support small businesses in terms of our company tax cuts, in terms of particularly here of course the alcohol excise changes that we’ve made to make sure that small brewers like this do compete on a level playing field. And of course importantly the instant asset write off which has been a great success here on the Central Coast. So it’s been wonderful to introduce Scott Morrison to Chris and Ryan to showcase one of our wonderful local businesses and to talk about some of the benefits of a growing economy to people and places here on the Central Coast. Scott?
PRIME MINISTER: Thanks a lot. Well Chris and Ryan here, they’re living the dream. They are living the dream here on the Central Coast. And they’re doing it by running their own business here on the Central Coast, and they’re living their dream by employing fifteen other fellow people here form the Central Coast. And this is what people aspire to on the Central Coast. To be able to live, work, play and raise a family, all here on the Central Coast. And business succeeding here on the Central Coast is critical to achieving the lifestyle and the goals that people have on the Central Coast for their future, and Lucy has been a champion of jobs here on the Central Coast. Whether it’s jobs and the relocated jobs up here to Gosford with the tax office or in other government departments, whether it’s the jobs that have been created by the record rollout of the NBN here up on the Central Coast at 98 per cent. You know, in areas where the NBN has been connected, we are seeing a twenty times rate faster growth in female-based businesses. That is actually giving families greater choices, including here on the Central Coast, where home-based businesses can be established and be supported by the massive infrastructure rolling out that we’ve doing here on the NBN.
But at the Brewery today, they’re not only just benefiting from the fact that they’re a small business which has clipped over $2 million in turnover and as a result under our changes, they remain a small business. So as a small business, they continue to get the pool depreciation provisions, they get to do GST on a cash basis. They also get the lower rate of tax that has already been legislated for businesses of this size up to $10 million, indeed all the way up to $50 million in turnover. They get the instant asset write off, which our Government has championed. One of those - you tell me what they’re called - one of the fermentation vessels is the technical term. Around twenty grand that is eligible for the instant asset write off. Our Government is backing small and family and medium sized businesses like no Government ever before. And what that is doing is enabling businesses to realise their dreams, to start their own businesses, to be successful in their businesses, to employ other locals, and it's really important in areas outside the big cities. Because it's those small and medium-sized businesses which are the heart and soul of those local economies.
But the other thing we're doing obviously here for breweries is the announcement I made in this year's Budget. And that ensures that the rebate that comes back to companies like this, which was previously capped at $30,000, goes up to $100,000. And there's no longer, there will no longer be the different excise rates that apply to smaller kegs as opposed to larger kegs, and what that means - what that means - is Six Strings can actually compete with the big brewers, they can compete with the big multinational brewers, and they don't have to pay higher rates of excise when they put their kegs, whether it's in a local pub here or elsewhere around the country. And these guys are working all the way up and down the east coast and they are even taking on the passionate brewing market of South Australia in the home of Coopers as well. Talk about really going into that territory and being ambitious for your business.
So, all these things we're doing to back small and family businesses, because if you don't do that, you don't have a strong economy at a national level. You don't have a strong economy at a local level. And if you don't have a strong economy, you can't afford to pay for things like schools, or hospitals, or Medicare, or affordable medicines. Because of the strong economy that our Government has been presiding over, that's why we can commit $24.5 billion in extra school funding over the next ten years. It's the strong economy that guarantees the promise on essential services like schools.
Happy to take questions on small business, and then we will excuse these guys because I’m sure they’ve got work to do this morning if you wanted to cover any other political issues. Anything on small business or local issues here on the Central Coast? Questions on the Central Coast? Well you’re doing such a fabulous job there, Luce. Anyway, well thanks guys. Great to have you here today. It was great to sneak a sip this morning. Thanks for the tips on the pour, it’s a great skill to have. Fantastic, look forward to coming up on a Friday night one time. I think that will be a lot of fun. Ok well we might move to the political questions, if that is what you would like. You're welcome to join us and stay, I mean it’s up to you guys.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, should religious schools be able to turn away students on the basis of their sexual orientation?
PRIME MINISTER: Well they already can. That is the existing law. That is the existing law. And so the report in today's Sydney Morning Herald forgot to mention one critical factor, that the existing law enables schools to do exactly what was in that report. So, that's not a change. That's actually backing in an existing law.
JOURNALIST: As an individual, do you believe it is fair that a child could be rejected from school because...
PRIME MINISTER: Well it's the existing law. We're not proposing to change that law to take away that existing arrangement that exists. So, I think there's been a bit of confusion about this. I'm sure it wasn't wilful. But what the report... we have a report that's been provided to the Government. It's a report to Government, not from Government. It's a report that the Government will be considering and developing a balanced response to, and we will do that in our orderly process, taking it through Cabinet. This has not been through Cabinet at this point. It hasn't been considered by Cabinet. So, we'll take it through that orderly process, and we will come out with our response to the Ruddock Review. But I want to make it clear that what was reported today is existing law. Existing law.
JOURNALIST: So you're comfortable with a school expelling a student because they are gay or lesbian?
PRIME MINISTER: It is existing law.
JOURNALIST: Are you going to make the report public? At the moment, you’ve got a big leak today, will the Government publicly...
PRIME MINISTER: Well I don't comment on things like that, other than to say the Government has received the report and of course the report will be released in due course. And it will be released with a response from the Government, once we're in a position to advise our comprehensive response to that report, and once we've carefully considered and respectfully considered all the measures and recommendations and proposals that have been put forward.
JOURNALIST: NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has called for the migration level in New South Wales to be halved. How feasible is that proposal?
PRIME MINISTER: Well look, I welcome the input from all the states and territories on what their own population plans are. In Tasmania, and the Northern Territory, and Western Australia and South Australia, there they are looking to have stronger population growth. And I understand why New South Wales and in Victoria, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, and I would say equally here on the coast, where there are also population pressures here on the Central Coast, whether they would not want to see those population pressures. In the current planning year, New South Wales had actually requested more than 5,000 additional migrants into New South Wales. Well, I’ll take it from those comments from Gladys Berejiklian that she will now like those assigned to states like South Australia and other places and we can do that.
Our current permanent immigration levels are running just a little over 160,000. That was the level of permanent immigration that was running at the time of the conclusion of the Howard Government. And so those levels have been pretty consistent for some time. They used to be a bit higher than that, in terms of what the permanent intake had been a few years ago. That's come down somewhat over the last year or so and I expected it to sort of remain at about those levels. But we want to work close which the state and territory governments on their population plans and to make sure that our migration programs work in with those migration plans. But, look, that doesn't give any state government a leave pass on dealing with the pressures of population. The infrastructure has to get built and it has to be done efficiently, and it has to be done in a very timely way and to ensure there is as little disruption as possible. So, businesses - small businesses - don't get impacted by the management of those projects.
JOURNALIST: What did you make last night of the turnout of Sydneysiders at the Opera House?
PRIME MINISTER: I didn't see it to be honest but I think that issue has had plenty of oxygen. And you know, it’s a new day. I respect the views of all Australians, but you know what? We're all entitled to our view and we can sort of just express our view. And I think what people are hopefully are getting from me is, look, I'll say what I mean. I will tell you what I think. Everyone's entitled to their view. It wasn't a decision for the Commonwealth Government, but I don't have any problem in saying the same thing in one part of town and saying the same thing in another part of the country. What you'll get from me is my honest view and I will put it forward, and I won't be saying something different in one part of the country to another part of the country. I will leave that to Bill Shorten. He's the expert at telling two different stories on two different sides of the country.
JOURNALIST: One more question just relating to Labor. They have committed $14 billion extra for public schools over a decade. Is the Government open to lifting its contribution to public schools, given its deal with the Catholic and Independent school?
PRIME MINISTER: We have committed over $24 billion in extra funding for schools across the country. What Bill Shorten has committed to is $14 billion of higher taxes for Australian families. I mean Bill Shorten's plans... every time you see Bill's lips moving, promising to splash money around, understand you're paying for it. He is increasing your taxes. So, that's at least $14 billion in extra taxes. We know that he is going to pull around 200 and more billion dollars of higher taxes over the next ten years. Bill Shorten is going to tax you more. Higher taxes on housing, higher taxes on small and family businesses, like this one, higher taxes on peoples' retirement savings, higher taxes on what you earn on higher income taxes, higher taxes on what you save. In all areas, Bill Shorten is going to tax you more.
You will pay more under Labor, and, you know, we can afford to put in place the additional investments we're putting into schools. For all schools. For state schools, for independent schools, for Catholic schools, because we are running a strong economy and we know how to manage a Budget. We're bringing the Budget back into balance. You know, you can promise whatever you like, but if you can't run a strong economy, if you can't run a Budget, then you can't keep your promises. And that’s why Australians can't trust what Bill Shorten says. Labor can't manage money. They can promise to spend lots of it. But they can't manage money. And at the end of the day, Australian families will always end up paying more under Labor.
JOURNALIST: So there will be no more extra money for public schools?
PRIME MINISTER: Over the last ten years or so - and more - the Commonwealth's contribution to state school has been raising five times faster than state governments' contribution to funding state schools. And you know what Australian parents want to know? I'm a parent with my kids at school. So is Luce. We're putting all this extra money into the schools and we should, over $24 billion we're putting in. But parents want to know - are you getting value for money? Parents want to know how that money is being spent? Is it being spent well? You're not hearing anything from Labor about how they are going to spend the money. They are just splashing money around before an election. I mean they have already announced this before, and it’s all paid for with higher taxes on Australian families and Australian pensioners and Australian superannuation… superannuants. But they don't explain how the money that is already being spent is going to get better outcomes.
Look, as a parent with my kids at school, I just want them to get better outcomes on their education like all parents do. And the money we're going to invest is going to deliver on that because it's going to bring about important changes about how education is managed all around the country. Labor's just splashing your money around, that they're taking out of your pocket to try and get themselves elected at the next election. We will carefully manage the budget. We will run a strong economy, and we will make smart investments in our schools for the benefit of parents and their kids to ensure they get the best education. Thanks very much.