MICHELLE LANDRY: It’s wonderful to be here at Rocky’s Own today and to have the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and they’re here to make some fantastic announcements. It’s the second time that the Prime Minister has been up here in a couple of months and he’s up here in his wonderful blue bus and it’s tripping around Queensland and it’s great to see. The Coalition Government has been putting billions and billions of dollars into the road network right across Australia and in my seat of Capricornia we have spent hundreds of millions of dollars. We’ve put money into four lanes for Rockhampton to Gracemere, the Walkerston bypass up in my electorate, money towards the four lanes on the northern approach to the highway and also upgrades to the Capricorn Highway. These are very important projects for this area and it’s just part of our plan for major infrastructure for the whole of our country. You know, when we look back at fifteen long years of Labor in this electorate, they did not too much, I can tell you. And so since I’ve been elected, nearly five years now, we have put billions of dollars into this area and I’m very proud to be part of this Government. I think that we see recent projects like the Rockhampton Levy Bank and that is going to be something that will keep the Highway open. We had built… raised Yeppoon floodway. That worked very well but we need to keep the Bruce open. So all these projects actually work towards that. So I will continue to fight for this area and I will now hand over to the Prime Minister.
PRIME MINISTER: Thanks Michelle, it’s great to be back here with you again in Rocky and it’s great to be here with the DPM Michael McCormack up here in Central Queensland. And it’s great to be continuing this run up the coast here throughout Queensland and what we’ve got a very simple thing to say to Queenslanders, and that is we’re backing Queenslanders. We know that if you create a stronger economy, then you can invest in the things that make a big difference here in Queensland. And what we’re here today to announce is $800 million reasons why we are backing Queensland and particularly here Central Queensland with our investment in the ring road project here in Rockhampton. This is a project that is going to keep Rockhampton and the surrounding districts moving. This is a project that is going to mean the roads here are safer, that the roads here are less congested. We’re going to bypass 18 sets of traffic lights with four lanes, which means that the freight and the work that is connecting all parts of the Queensland economy to the south and to the north will be connected up. It means saving time, it means greater economic benefits, it means more jobs.
We’re backing Queenslanders. I’ve been listening, I’ve been hearing, and I’m doing. Whether it’s the announcement I made earlier this week down in southern Queensland where we were talking about the light rail project or up to the north where I will be heading later today, where we’re investing $200 million in securing Townsville’s water future. Or right here in Rockhampton today, where I’ve announced $800 million to ensure that this billion dollar project, with the other 20 per cent to come from the state government, and we look forward to them coming on board with this important project for Central Queensland which will deliver those jobs and keep Central Queensland moving, keep Queensland moving, keep the Australian economy moving forward. The reason we can do this, the reason we can make these investments is because our Government believes, passionately, that you have to grow your economy.
That's why we're backing the 17,000 small businesses and family businesses here in the electorate of Capricornia with lower taxes and less paperwork. It's great to be here at Rocky’s Own, a great trucking company which is not only operating here in Central Queensland but right around the country, employing hundreds of Australians, and working closely with their Australians. The way you create a stronger economy is you have lower taxes. You ensure that you bring those employers and employees together. You don't try to drive a wedge between them. And Rocky’s is a great example of that here, working closely with their employers, making sure that they're doing the training right and they’re rewarding the drivers well. Even providing private health insurance to support their workers here as part of the great Australian business. So I'm really pleased to be here with Rocky’s today. This investment that we're making today is part of a much bigger investment which I'm going to ask Michael to run you through. But we're backing Queenslanders for a stronger economy, and that will secure their future, and that's what our Government is all about. Michael?
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, MICHAEL MCCORMACK: Well, thank you, Prime Minister Morrison. What a great investment this is by the Liberal National Federal Government. $800 million. A $1 billion project. And Brian Smith here at Rocky’s Own Transport, he knows full well just how important this announcement is here today. He has 150 trucks right across this nation, but many of them based here in Rockhampton. Many of them travel up and down the Bruce Highway. He's got trucks all over our nation, he's got 250 employees. He wants those truck drivers and their rigs to get home sooner and safer. He wants to make sure that when his truck drivers leave these depots with their expensive, with their big, with their modern rigs, that they get to where they need to go in the quickest time, but most importantly, in the safest way. And this $800 million investment by the Liberals and Nationals, this announcement today is going to mean a world of difference for Rocky’s Own Transport and for all truck drivers and indeed all road users who use the Bruce Highway. And it's going to be about a 20km ring road around Rockhampton to the west of this fine city. It's going to mean such a difference.
Now, we know that the $10 billion investment that the Liberal and Nationals have put into the Bruce Highway and are putting into the Bruce Highway has, already, since 2013, seen a 32 per cent reduction in fatal accidents along the Bruce. And I know how delighted that Lou O'Brien was when we made that announcement for the section D, section of the Bruce Highway. And Michelle Landry is absolutely ecstatic with the announcement we have made today. But it only happens, it only happens because we've got a strong economy and we're able to afford these things. But it also happens because of strong advocacy from members like Lou O'Brien and particularly here in Rockhampton, from the member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry. And I know how hard she fights for upgrades under the Regional Growth Fund for the levy bank. I know how hard she fights for little projects, for medium-sized projects and for large projects such as the Rockhampton ring road. That when it starts construction, it's going to create hundreds of jobs, but it's also, when completed, going to get truck drivers like the ones that Brian Smith has, at Rocky’s Own Transport, home, sooner and safer. That's what Michelle Landry represents. She represents infrastructure, she represents jobs, she represents delivery. That’s what we do.
We don't just talk about it, we deliver it, we build it. And when it comes to infrastructure, right up and down the Bruce, right throughout Queensland, particularly rural and regional Queensland, I know that members like Michelle Landry are going to be in there fighting hard for more delivery to ensure that we have safer roads, better connectivity, getting the wonderful products that we’ve got in rural and regional Queensland, indeed right throughout Australia, to markets quicker so that we can take advantage of those free trade arrangements.
But most importantly, getting our truck drivers home safer, making sure that other road users also understand that this infrastructure build that we're embarking upon, part of a $75 billion record decade-long infrastructure investment by the Liberals and Nationals, make sure that we get the infrastructure that we need, make sure that we get the infrastructure that is going to create jobs and create more safer options for our truck drivers and for all road users. So well done Michelle. Absolutely proud of you. Your continued delivery for Rockhampton and for Capricornia is to be admired, and congratulations to you for your continued advocacy for the residents, not just of Capricornia, but, indeed, all of Queensland.
PRIME MINISTER: Good on you, Michael. As I said, this project is fully funded in our Budget - 100 per cent fully funded. This isn't a promise. We're doing it. We're doing it. It's funded. We're doing it. Ok, happy to take questions. Let's talk about the ring road and other sort of local projects first and then happy to cover other issues as normal.
JOURNALIST: So if you're not re-elected, will you still build the road? Would the road still be built?
PRIME MINISTER: It's in the Budget. I mean, the only way that this road cannot be built is if any other government were to reverse that in the future. The money is in the Budget. It's in the medium term provisions and in the Budget in the forward estimates. So this money is locked in. It's voted in, it’s there, done.
JOURNALIST: So how important is that $200 million from the state?
PRIME MINISTER: Well of course it's important. This is a partnership. We're kicking in 80 per cent of the project to make it happen. And of course, we'd be expecting the state government to stump up and do their share, and if they didn't, I think they'd be letting Central Queenslanders down terribly.
JOURNALIST: The Labor candidate for Capricornia this morning said they had to drag the LNP kicking and screaming to support this project. What’s your response to that?
PRIME MINISTER: Oh, that's a crock. That's what that is. I mean, they never put a dollar into it. This is what Bill Shorten does. He runs around and he hints at projects and he says he might do it and all the rest of it. I'll tell you what we've done. I’ve put the money in the Budget. We actually put it in the Budget and the money is real and it's there. At best, they only hinted that they might do 50 per cent of the project. It's a phoney promise that. That’s all you'll get from Bill Shorten. Bill Shorten makes promises all over the country. But I'll tell you why you can't trust Bill Shorten to deliver one thing that he says, is because he can't run a strong economy. Labor are terrible when it comes to managing the nation's finances. I remember first election that I ran in back in 2007, the Coalition government, a $20 billion surplus. Labor turned it into a $20 billion deficit pretty much straight off the bat. That's what Labor governments do. They can't manage money, and that means projects like this get put at risk if a Labor government is elected because they can't run a stronger economy. They're going to put $200 billion worth of higher taxes on the economy. Things like abolishing negative gearing as we know it and putting up capital gains tax. I don't know if you know, I was telling Michelle this this morning. There are more people who have negatively geared investments living in the electorate of Capricornia than living in my electorate of Cook in southern Sydney. You know, the miners up here, and you know we support the mining industry. I'm happy to say that here in the middle of Rockhampton, I’m happy to say it in Pitt Street in Sydney or down on Collins Street in Melbourne or out in Fitzroy or anywhere else. We back the mining industry. And those miners have gone and worked hard and they’ve invested in properties all across the country to secure their own future. And Bill Shorten wants to put all of that at risk. If you can't run a strong economy, you can't fund health, you can't fund Medicare, you can't fund affordable medicines and you can't fund the ring road project here in Rockhampton.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, how concerned are you that the recent turmoil within the Coalition is going to negatively impact your local members in this area like Michelle?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, I don't agree with the premise of the question so I'm not concerned at all.
JOURNALIST: I spoke to a voter last night at the pub who said exactly that, exactly that, that they wouldn't vote for the LNP because of the instability. They also said that you short of skolling a beer at the pub wouldn’t convince them to vote for the LNP again. How worried are you?
PRIME MINISTER: I think that you have to stop talking to Labor voters. Or the Greens.
JOURNALIST: That was a former LNP voter.
PRIME MINISTER: I'm sure they were. I'm sure they were.
JOURNALIST: So you’re not concerned at all about these seats?
PRIME MINISTER: What I'm concerned about is people who work right across the country getting home on time.
JOURNALIST: But these particular seats?
PRIME MINISTER: Well people are concerned about getting home on time and spending time with their family and getting home safely. They're concerned about their health services. Did you know, in the local health services here, hospitals and health services here, the Commonwealth Government, our Government, the Liberal National Government, has increased funding to the Central Queensland hospitals and health service by 20 per cent over the last couple of years? The state Labor government has ripped out $9 million out of local hospitals and health services here in Central Queensland. So we've increased investment in health, we’ve increased investment in infrastructure. We've increased investment for the car park at the hospital, $7 million we put into that. So we're investing in the things that are making a material difference to the lives of people here in Rockhampton, in central Queensland. A material difference to the lives of people who live up in Townsville in terms of securing their water future.
A material difference to those who are living on the Gold Coast with the light rail project, which has been transformative to that city. We're delivering in terms of drought support and assistance for Queensland farmers and communities that have been terribly affected by drought. The first place I went was Quilpie and Longreach. We're delivering $1 million to every single council and shire that is drought-affected.
$30 million extra being put into charitable support to ensure that we can reach out and support the towns and communities affected by drought here in Queensland. That's what people are worried about. That's what they're focused on. Retirees are concerned about the fact that Bill Shorten wants to take thousands of dollars, rip it out of their pockets, with his shameful retirees tax. People who own homes and people who rent are worried that under, and they’re rightly worried, that Labor's abolition of negative gearing as we know it, will mean that rents will go up and property values - the one asset that Australian families invest in more than anything else - will go down. I mean, they have a plan for economic wreckage when it comes to their $200 billion of higher taxes. So I'm worried about those things. The Canberra bubble is worried about personalities, politics and identity issues. And you know, politics is not a soap opera and shouldn't be. It's about serious issues like roads and hospitals and education and a stronger economy. And that's what I'm focused on.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, you’re headed to Gladstone for a party fundraiser. How is this not just a campaign trail to fill the LNP’s coffers?
PRIME MINISTER: I'm there to go to the aluminium smelter today.
JOURNALIST: So you’re not going to a party fundraiser lunch? Are people paying to have access to the PM?
PRIME MINISTER: I'm meeting with supporters all around Queensland. And I don't make any apologies for that. One of the reasons...
JOURNALIST: So no $5,000 a plate to sit beside you?
PRIME MINISTER: We’re raising funds for our campaign to make sure Bill Shorten never becomes prime minister in the country. And you know what, I'm getting great support for that campaign and I welcome it. I'm here to actually bring together our supporters and they're coming back. You know, you talk about last night at the pub. I had a family come up to me and said, “You know what, I walked away from the LNP and I'm back now, I'm back 100 per cent.” And I've been getting that message wherever I've been from the Gold Coast, all the way up to here to Rockhampton and I’m getting the same message when I was up in Cairns some weeks ago. And I know that Michael was up there not long ago and getting the same message from Queenslanders. Queensland LNP supporters and members and voters are coming back to the Liberal and National Parties because they know about what we believe and what we’re committed to and what we're delivering for them.
JOURNALIST: That’s interesting because the AFR is actually reporting today that this trip is going down, quote: “Like a turd in a well.” Are you actually feeling positive about this trip?
PRIME MINISTER: I don’t focus on the narks in Canberra. I don’t focus on the narks in Canberra, I focus on families here in Rockhampton. And what I know they need is they need this ring road project and we’re committing to it. So you know, I’m glad to be out of the Canberra bubble and you’ve clearly got a hotline to the Canberra bubble on your phone there as they’re feeding in the questions to you. But you know, the AFR can say that if they want. Not too many people are reading the AFR up here in Rockhampton. I’ll tell you what they’re reading - the front page of the local paper which says that we’re investing $800 million in a project that is only going to drive their region forward.
JOURNALIST: I’ve got a question for the Deputy Prime Minister. Do you want Barnaby Joyce as a candidate?
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Look I support Barnaby, he’s doing a wonderful job as the drought envoy and a great job as the member for New England and he has my support. He’s got the support of the Partyroom.
JOURNALIST: I understand he’s the only one who’s nominated. Has he been endorsed?
PRIME MINISTER: Well he’s going through the normal vetting process that I, that Barnaby, that every other National Party member, I know Michelle Landry has been through it. There are different timelines for different members but he’s going through the normal vetting processes as is the case with all National Party candidates. Whether they’re a candidate, whether they’re a sitting member, or indeed whether they’re the Deputy Prime Minister as I am. I went through the same vetting process and you have to fill out a long and involved form and you have to make certain undertakings. I’ve done that, Michelle has done that, and Barnaby is going through the process at the moment.
JOURNALIST: I’ve just got a question for the Prime Minister if that’s alright. This tour has been labelled a listening tour in some respects but last night there was an invite only event. Is it possible to be able to listen to potential voters if these events are invite only?
PRIME MINISTER: Well yesterday I walked through a crowd of 6,000 people down in Caloundra at the Melbourne Cup and it was in the general admission area. I walked through the pub last night and had the same chat with people in the pub and then I walked into another event. So I’m bumping into Queenslanders all over the place and you know, what I am doing here is I’m listening, I’m hearing and I’m doing. All three things. I mean the commitments we’re making to infrastructure, the commitments we’re making to family and small businesses. The commitments we’re making to not put up their taxes but in fact to drive taxes down. I mean the Labor Party wants to restore a whole new level of the tax system. Under our plan, under our legislated plan, 94 per cent of Australians won’t pay more than 32.5 cents as a marginal rate in tax. The Labor Party wants to abolish that. They want to restore the 37 cent tax rate if they’re elected. That’s what they’re promising. They want to take our $144 billion tax relief plan and chop it in half and turn it into a $70 billion plan and say to Australians who are going to work hard for the next ten years that you’ll face bracket creep. Under our plan that we’ve legislated in the last Budget, the majority of Australians under our plan will never face bracket creep because we’re abolishing an entire tier of the tax system. We’re getting small and family business taxes down and we’re not going go and rip off retirees by taking back their tax refunds, which is going to affect around 5,000 retirees and other Australians here in the electorate of Capricornia. And not to mention the 9,500 who will have their investments hit, their negative geared property investments, they have worked hard for. So we’re for lower taxes, we’re for a stronger economy. Bill Shorten is for a weaker economy, which means less jobs and not being able to fund the things that matter to all Australians.
JOURNALIST: You’re campaigning here in the midst of a NSW election. Are you actually going to go down to NSW to help out the candidate down there?
PRIME MINISTER: In NSW?
JOURNALIST: In NSW, yep.
PRIME MINISTER: No, no, NSW election, that’s in March.
PRIME MINISTER: So you’re talking about the Victorian election?
JOURNALIST: Victoria, sorry.
PRIME MINISTER: No well I’ll be down there soon.
JOURNALIST: Speaking of the NSW election, do you welcome Mark Latham’s return to…
PRIME MINISTER: Well you know, Mark Latham, it’s a bit like the Bachelor. He’s been handing out roses to the Labor Party, to the Liberal Democrats, and now he’s handing out one to One Nation. Who knows who he’ll go home with. Thanks very much.