Photo: AAP Image
MINISTER COLEMAN: Well good afternoon and welcome to Padstow and welcome to Galvatech, a fantastic Australian family business located right here in Padstow in the middle of Sydney. Galvatech has been here since 1974 and currently employs about 60 Australians in manufacturing and galvanising of steel products here in the Padstow area. I want to thank John Bagley and Darren Bagley for having us here today. It’s been great to show the Prime Minister around and to learn a bit more about this great business, Galvatech. So good to see you all and I’ll hand over to the Prime Minister.
PRIME MINISTER: Well thanks very much, David, both as the Member for Banks and Minister. John and Darren, it’s great to be with you here today at the business that has been your lifeblood for a generation. It’s been passed on to the next generation, and together what you and Anne have achieved, both here in this business, and clearly raising a family and doing everything you’ve done here says everything we all know about Australian small and medium sized family businesses. Employees who work here, some 60 of them, many of them have been here for decades. That’s provided the provided the consistency the opportunities in life – they’ve gone to weddings, they’ve gone to all sorts of things of their staff. That’s what family and small and medium sized businesses are like right across the country.
You know fairness in Australia is about you get a go if you have a go. And John and Darren have been having a go and they’ve been getting a go, and we want to see those principles, those values continue to be encouraged in this country. That’s why as Treasurer I introduced lower taxes for small and medium sized businesses and was able to get that through the Parliament. That’s why we were able to get lower personal taxes for all employees, but particularly for those on low to middle incomes who are working right here in this business. We believe Australians should keep more of what they earn. That when they have a go then they get a go and they are the values and the principles that will drive my Government. Now, I should stress that the announcement that I made with the former Prime Minister, Mr Turnbull, last week absolutely holds. We will not be going ahead with the full component of the enterprise tax plan. That matter, we took to the last election, we sought to get it through the Parliament, and we will not be taking the full enterprise tax plan forward that we presented to the Parliament. The Senate has had its say on that issue. What I know in politics is that you have to respect that once it has reached that conclusion. We sought through every opportunity that we had to try and ensure that all businesses in Australia had more competitive tax rates. This Senate and this Parliament has ruled its verdict on this question. But what I will be doing with Josh Frydenberg, with Michaelia Cash, with my Cabinet team, is bringing forward a new competitive tax plan for small and medium sized businesses just like John and Darren’s here in suburban Sydney. Because I want to make sure that they continue to get a go because they are a having a go.
So we are backing in business. We are backing in businesses like this one to ensure that we can continue the strong jobs growth that we’ve been able to achieve. I have served in the Abbott Government where I stood with Tony Abbott to stop the boats. I have served in the Turnbull Government where I stood with Malcolm Turnbull where we’ve kept our economy strong and we got people into work. And my team is standing with me now to continue all of that work and to ensure an even stronger Australia where we have a strong economy, where we keep Australians together and we keep Australians safe. Happy to take questions but it’s great to have you here John and Darren. They’re going ask a whole bunch of questions about plenty of other things so it’s great to have you here. Congratulations on what you’ve achieved.
QUESTION: Will you be referring Peter Dutton to the High Court over the constitutional question under Section 44?
PRIME MINISTER: That's a matter I have been in close contact with the Attorney-General on and I’m taking his advice on those matters and the Government will deal with those matters inside its own processes.
QUESTION: So you’re not saying that you will not refer…
PRIME MINISTER: I am saying that I have been consulting with the Attorney-General and we are dealing with those issues within our internal processes and I would not have appointed Mr Dutton to the important role he has without having considered those matters.
QUESTION: Is it not a matter of concern…
PRIME MINISTER: Now this is not a one-on-one interview and there are lots of other questions and lots of other journalists.
QUESTION: …concern that the Minister who is in charge of the Federal Police is right now… on the Solicitor-General's advice, it is impossible to state the position about the constitution eligibility with certainty – there is some risk. Is there not a problem for Australia that the minister in charge of the Federal Police is under a legal cloud?
PRIME MINISTER: No, I don't accept that at all. I have discussed this matter directly with the Attorney-General and I would not have taken the decision that I have taken without having had those discussion.
QUESTION: Julia Banks has publically condemned your party colleagues for bullying and intimidation. Did you try to discourage her from quitting, have you spoken to her and are you ordering and inquiry into bullying and intimidation within the Liberal Party?
PRIME MINISTER: Well I have no truck with bullying or intimidation in whatever form it is. I said the other day when it comes to keeping Australians safe - that means everything from what we do on our borders through to ensuring we speak out on things that prevent bullying in the classroom or anywhere else. I am the father of two young daughters and I have in truck with that sort of culture or behaviour. One of the things we are moving quickly to do is ensure we restore that strong culture in the Liberal Party and bring the party together and show the stability and unity that is necessary, that Australians are looking to me to provide. I have spoken to Julia today and I spoke to her yesterday as well. I think the events of the last week, they have been quite dramatic events, and all Australians looking in, I know, would have been pretty disappointed, more than disappointed, with those events. They should also know that those events take a pretty high human toll inside the parliament. It is a very robust discussion and I know Julia has been very concerned about that and she has raised those concerns with me. I want to thank her for ruling out the position that she would be leaving the Parliament. I want to thank her for strong vote of confidence she has given me in remaining in the Parliament to support my Government going forward. As you know, Cathy McGowan today has issued a statement saying that there will be her support for confidence in the House of Representatives until the Wentworth by-election in the event that that is called once that is concluded and the writs are returned and then we will sit down and talk again. So I thank Cathy McGowan for her support. I have had a similar verbal assurance from Bob Katter as well so my first job has been to restore stability and get the Government back and working and my Ministers are out there doing that today, including Minister Dutton and the Attorney who are up in Queensland dealing with the Five Eyes meeting at the current time. So I thank Julia for that and I will look closely at these issues and I have been talking very directly with my colleagues. I have laid down the law to my Cabinet. I have laid down the law to my Ministry and to the parliamentary secretary ranks of my Government. They know what I expect and I have every confidence they will live up to what I expect.
QUESTION: What are you doing by way of an investigation? Will it go to the party Secretariat? These are two women that have made these claims, these allegations, do you know the men involved and what are you actually doing?
PRIME MINISTER: The Minister for Women and I have discussed this matter as well today. I will continue to do that with Kelly O'Dwyer but what is important right now is Julia's welfare. I know she is going to take a bit of time out between now and when the Parliament comes back. My first concern is for her welfare and wellbeing and she is taking the time to ensure that that is taken care of and she has my support fully in that. So what am I doing right now? I'm supporting Julia and reaching out to Julia and giving her every comfort and support for what has been a pretty torrid ordeal for her and I will continue to consult with my colleagues about ensuring that there can be no question about the culture of the Liberal Party. There should not be and certainly under my authority there would have been absolutely nothing of that sort taking place.
QUESTION: Are you speaking directly to the three men?
PRIME MINISTER: Well you are making reference about three individuals and those allegations have not been made. I act on facts, not on allegations.
QUESTION: Has the Chief Whip received a complaint?
PRIME MINISTER: The Chief Whip hasn't raised that with me, no.
QUESTION: Prime Minister, the voters in the electorate have called the leadership spill disappointing. What do you make of that?
PRIME MINISTER: I missed the first bit of that.
QUESTION: The voters in Ms Banks' electorate called the leadership spill disappointing. What do you make of that?
PRIME MINISTER: Well it is disappointing. I wasn’t supportive of it. I have come into the role to provide the stability and direction for the Liberal Party and the Government. That is what I put my hand up for, and for my country. I have stood up to serve my country. As I said I served my country under two Prime Ministers and been able to achieve a great deal with those two Prime Ministers and I intend to put my own mark on this Government as well. There is a continuity issue here. There is continuity from border protection, to job creation, and where I intend to make Australia an even stronger country in the areas of our economy being strong, of Australians being safe and bringing Australians together as I bring my own party together. What I'm doing right now is I am introducing myself to many Australians. They want to know who I am. They want it demonstrated to them that they know that I'm on their side. That's what I will be doing in the weeks and months ahead. I have already said clearly I'm focused on the priorities of the drought. That's where I was up in western Queensland earlier this week. I met with the National Farmer's Federation yesterday and talked through those sensitive issues. I met with Angus Taylor yesterday on the critical issue of getting electricity prices down. Here, right here at Galvatech, they have seen their power and gas bills go through the roof. The actions of the Government that I was part of to ensure that gas did not go offshore and stayed here and we secured the gas supply of this country. I was as much part of that decision when it was made as ensuring that it sticks now as Prime Minister today. I am going to be the Prime Minister for getting electricity prices down. Angus Taylor is the Minister for getting electricity prices down and that is a core focus of my Government particularly in the early days.
QUESTION: Labor are refusing to offer Malcolm Turnbull a pair in the lead up to the by-election. Will you be able to govern with such a small majority?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, the short answer is question. Of course Mr Shorten and the Labour Party are going to try and disrupt, they’re going to try to create instability, they are going to try to make hay. Bill Shorten is taking this next election for granted. Bill Shorten is sitting there wondering what curtains are going to be put in his office and he is wondering about who he is going to appoint to be Governor-General. Those are not things I am thinking about at all. What I am thinking about is lower electricity prices, I’m thinking about the drought, I’m focused very much on resolving the issues around school education. I am very focused and will be taking briefings from our new… working with our new assistant minister for the NDIS about the NDIS being delivered on the ground. I am focused on the NBN and its roll out and making sure that that momentum is continued. I am focused on the things that are going to impact on Australian's daily life right now. Bill Shorten can take the next election for granted if he likes. He can behave in that way, that's up to him. I am introducing myself to Australians as I move around the country so people know exactly where I stand and the values and beliefs that I hold dear and that will drive me every day I have the privilege to serve in this office.
QUESTION: [INAUDIBLE]… some Indigenous leaders and members of the Indigenous community don't believe he is the best person for the job. Are you ignoring what they are saying?
PRIME MINISTER: What I've been talking to the former prime minister about, Mr Abbott, has been a role, which I am very pleased that he has responded positively too, which is about getting Indigenous young people into school. What more important job could there be for that for those Indigenous young people. I am sure there is not a person in the country that would not agree that doing something to ensure we keep and get Indigenous young people into school, Indigenous kids into school, is something we should all work on. I would say, that's what we've got to focus on.
QUESTION: Do you think he is a representative voice for the indigenous community?
PRIME MINISTER: I do. I have known Tony Abbott a very long time. I have worked with Tony Abbott alongside him on some important portfolios. I remember a number of visits I made with Tony to central Australia on many issue, many years ago when I was a shadow housing minister and we walked from town to town and we sat in the dust, there were no cameras around, we were just sitting in the town camps in Alice Springs, I have been in Bamaga with him, I’ve been in the Torres Straight with him. I know how passionate Tony Abbott is about changing generationally the life circumstances for Indigenous Australians. One of my areas of passion has been the Clontarf Foundation. That is all about getting indigenous boys into school and having them have a different path in life. When you focus on the outcomes, which I know is what Tony is doing, that makes him the right person. Just like, for me, focusing on those outcomes, that is where we need to go. So with that…
QUESTION: The Sharks… [INAUDIBLE]
PRIME MINISTER: Well, you know, they have fronted up on this issue and I'm always going to be a passionate Sharkies fan but everyone has got to play by the rules. That is an important culture and value for us too. You have got to play by the rules. That is for the NRL to sort out. My job is to run the country. I will leave it to Peter Beattie to run the NRL and I’ll leave it to Flanno and all the boys down there to make sure they are doing the right thing and I'm sure they will have a great win against the Bulldogs this weekend.