PRIME MINISTER: Well good morning everybody, it’s great to be out here in Epping at the Melbourne Markets with Katie Allen, our Liberal candidate for Higgins and Gladys Liu our Liberal candidate for Chisolm. Much of what is bought here it’s finding it’s way back, or out of the Prahran Markets, out into the restaurants of Box Hill Gladys and indeed all around the country. This is a powerhouse of economic activity out here at the markets. I always love coming to the markets whether it’s here or up in Sydney or other places around the country, because as you move from stall to stall, you find small family businesses, intergenerational businesses that are providing jobs, that are supporting themselves, working hard.
This is the fabric of our Australian economy and I’m always so inspired when I talk to people here about the challenges they face and the indomitable spirit they have. This is a lifestyle, this is a way of actually ensuring they’re providing for themselves and their own families and they’re doing it for generations. I mean four generations is the common refrain you’ll hear as you go from stall to stall and producer to producer. So it’s tremendous to be here, backing in small and family businesses.
As you know, particularly up in these markets, they’re businesses that were established by migrants who came to Australia either recently or going back generations and they’ve continued that tradition of hard work. People who came to Australia because they knew it was a place with a fair go for those who have a go. They are very much the values and the belief system of the Liberal Party and what we’re taking forward once again to this next election.
Now, our plan for small and family business is on the record. We’ve cut taxes for small and family businesses. We’ve given increased investment allowances. Increasing the instant asset write-off to $25,000. We’ve cut red tape when it comes to GST compliance from three page forms down to three question forms. We’ve ensured that we’re working to reduce electricity prices by having the policies that hold the big energy companies to account. These are the things that matter to small businesses and cutting red tape for small businesses is incredibly important. Now that’s what we’re doing for small and family businesses and they can expect more of it from my Government.
What the Labor Party have been announcing in recent times will be a curse on small business and family businesses; increasing their costs, increasing their taxes, increasing their red tape. Bill Shorten and Labor’s plan for small and family businesses like the ones you see here, is to basically tell them; “You choose who you’ll have to sack to meet your wages bill,” under a policy that he himself can’t even explain to the Australian people.
As I’ve talked to stall-holders here today, business is okay, but it’s tough. You know what, as our economy moves into more challenging times, now is not the time - it’s never the time, but particularly now - that you would hand the steering wheel of the economy to someone who doesn’t know how to drive one. That’s Bill Shorten.
It is a very dangerous time to be having experiments of high taxes and unexplained polices on wages on the Australian economy, because so many people’s livelihoods and jobs depend on it. These businesses have invested their lifeblood in these businesses and they’ve been doing it for generations. Our policies and our support is backing them in. The Labor Party’s policies will attack the very success of these businesses and that’s why I’m here to stand with those businesses here this morning and stand with them for their futures and defend the things that they need defended, so they can continue to be prosperous.
JOURNALIST: Wouldn’t Labor’s policies though help boost spending, and therefore boost the economy?
PRIME MINISTER: No, because Labor's policies will force businesses like the ones here and all around the country, to sack workers. I don't know how sacking workers and reducing jobs is going to help the Australian economy.
Let me give you an example. With what Labor still can't even explain today, the first people to be hit will be those who want the overtime hours, or the casuals, or the young people who are taking on jobs. They will be the first casualties of Bill Shorten's policies when it comes to the costs he's going to put on small and family businesses. I don't know where he thinks the money is going to rain down from, for them to meet these additional costs. It shows that he has no empathy and no clue about the pressures facing small and family businesses. I understand it, that's why I cut their taxes. When I cut their taxes, the Labor Party opposed me in the Parliament for years. We eventually were able to get it through the Senate and now we have been able to bring forward those tax cuts for small and family businesses down to 25 per cent and we brought that forward by five years.
So, I want small and family businesses to earn more, to keep more of what they earn, so they can pay their staff better and more, because I know that's what small and family businesses do. They will go without taking a return for themselves, to keep their employees in jobs.
What Bill Shorten is doing now is telling them; "You choose who needs to go, to enable you to meet your wages bill."
JOURNALIST: Speaking of wages, in the upcoming federal budget, how big are personal income tax cuts likely to be?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, we've gotten into that pre-Budget speculation time, that's very usual. Having been a Treasurer, I'm used to it and when we're making announcements on things in the Budget, that's when we'll do it. But I can tell you, my Government is always for lower taxes. We've legislated $144 billion worth of tax cuts for all Australians, tax relief for all Australians.
Labor at the next election wants to cut that tax relief in half by $70 billion, denying millions of Australians the tax relief that they deserve and has been legislated.
JOURNALIST: Speaking of wages, there's a suggestion in the paper this morning that restaurant and cafe owners would like to see a freeze on the minimum wage. Is there any justification for that?
PRIME MINISTER: Minimum wages should be set by the independent umpire which is the Fair Work Commission. They have a transparent process for determining that, that process is underway now. That's where these things should be determined in the proper, fair and transparent way. The last time they had a determination, it went up by over 3 per cent, that was their last determination and that's how these decisions should be set.
What concerns me about what Bill Shorten is saying is, he's either lying to Australians - that he can do something about their wages, because he hasn't explained how he's actually going to do it – or if he's telling the truth, then he is putting an enormous cost on small and family businesses that will force them to lay off staff. That is not good for the Australian economy.
Our Government is about jobs and we've got the record on jobs. Over 1.25 million jobs have been created under the policies that have backed small and family businesses over the last five and a half years. And we're going to create another 1.25 million over the next five years by keeping to those policies. The way you increase wages is you have a strong economy and lower taxes.
Bill Shorten wants to put up taxes on all Australians, $200 billion worth of higher taxes on the economy over the next 10 years. That will suffocate the economy and businesses like the ones that you see out here today.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister [inaudible] the Government’s decision to change it’s position on mortgage broker commissions, is it [inaudible] policy?
PRIME MINISTER: No, actually it was basic fairness and sitting down and consulting with the industry. There’s a very clear position when it comes to mortgage brokers and I commissioned a report from the Productivity Commission when I was Treasurer which came back and recommended basically keeping the status quo when it came to arrangements for mortgage brokers. So there was a series of advice before the Government, mortgage brokers basically help customers get the best deal when it comes to their mortgages and they’re not left basically naked to the big banks. Our concern was after having responded to the Royal Commission, having sat down with the industry to work through implementation issues on talking action on the Royal Commission, that the best thing for us to do was not to leave customers exposed by ensuring that mortgage brokers were weaker. Mortgage brokers, there’s some 25,000 people who work in mortgage broking businesses around the country and many of them are just sole operator businesses, many of them are female sole operator businesses. We want to see the mortgage broking industry continue to thrive, so under our plan they’ll have the status quo when it comes to the commissions and others so they can continue to run their businesses. It’ll be looked at again in three years and we’re backing the mortgage brokers in, because because they back the mortgage owners in - those looking to buy a home and get the best deal out of their mortgage. Labor wants to pull the rug out from under them, so I think mortgage brokers and those who rely on them can have a very clear choice; we’re backing the mortgage brokers, Labor is backing the big banks.
JOURNALIST: The Greens will say climate change is a key issue coming up to the election, what is the key issue for you, the stand out issue going into the next election?
PRIME MINISTER: The biggest issue is always, how do you continue to drive forward a strong economy? Because with a strong economy you can pay for hospitals. With a strong economy you can put 2,000 medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. You can pay for schools, you can pay for your environmental policies like our Climate Solutions Fund, our Community Environment Program which invest in the wellbeing of our environment and meeting our emissions reduction targets by 2030. Now it’s been several weeks now, almost three weeks since I came to Melbourne and I outlined in some detail how our Government is going to meet it’s emissions reduction targets by 2030. I went through it tonne by tonne.
Bill Shorten still cannot tell the Australian people how he intends to meet his reckless target of 45 per cent, that will cost wage earners some $9,000 a year, push up electricity prices at the wholesale level by 56 per cent, and cost jobs. Now, he needs to explain it. He can’t even answer the most basic question about whether he will use the carry over credits - which I’ve been very up front about, we earned those credits as a Government because we overachieved and will overachieve on the 2020 Kyoto targets. Now Bill Shorten can’t tell people today whether he’s using those carry over credits or not, to meet his targets, then he doesn’t have a policy. It is the most basic question when it comes to climate policy that I could nominate to you. It’s very simple; are you going to use them or not, Bill? Be up front with the Australian people about your climate policy, what it’s going to cost in jobs, how you’re going to achieve it. I’ve certainly done that, I’ve been very transparent about it because I think Australians deserve to know how their Government is going to meet their commitments on climate change and carbon abatement. We’ve got our policies in place and they’ll work.
JOURNALIST: [Inaudible] today about an Australian-born Islamic State bride who wants to return home with her baby daughter. Do you support her returning?
PRIME MINISTER: The great tragedy of those who went and joined up with terrorists, to support terrorist causes through Daesh and have taken their families into warzones where they’re basically fighting against Australia, is they have placed their children in this horrendous position. Now, they have to take responsibility for those decisions to join up with terrorists who are fighting Australia. I’m not going to put any Australian at risk to try to extract people from those situations. They have made their decisions and if they’re Australian citizens, if they are Australians citizens, well, there is a process for us to deal with them under Australian law and they will face the full force of Australian law should they be in a position to try to come back to Australia.
JOURNALIST: Does that mean [inaudible]?
PRIME MINISTER: Temporary exclusion orders we have put into the Parliament, which are important laws, effectively work like a probation or parole if you like, when people return, to be placed under reporting arrangements. Now I think the children are innocent victims in the terrorist acts of their parents and we’ve seen some despicable acts, Khaled Sharrouf the worst of all in what he did with his children. But you know, they’re Australian citizens, they’ll face the full force of Australian law and I am not going to put –
PRIME MINISTER: Well the Australian Government will take it’s decisions on each and every case, but where an Australian citizen is seeking to return to Australia, there are arrangements to provide for that but it would be done basically, coming back to face charges for the crimes that they’ve been involved in by supporting terrorist acts, providing comfort and support to those and encouragement and seeking to incite terrorist acts in Australia.
So, if you’re coming home, you’re coming home to face the full force of the law.
The great tragedy is how children get caught up in the crimes against Australia, of their parents.
JOURNALIST: Why have you taken such a keen interest in preselection for Reid?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, when we’re in a position about that matter, we will -
JOURNALIST: Do you hold out hope that Craig Laundy will run?
PRIME MINISTER: When I’m in a position to make announcements about that, I will.
JOURNALIST: Are you wanting to parachute someone into his seat?
PRIME MINISTER: Same answer. Thanks very much, it’s great to have Katie and Gladys here and to get a bit of a cooking lesson from Glayds on some of the produce back here as well. I want to thank these businesses, I want to thank the Markets particularly for having us here today. We’re going to back these businesses in every single day of the week. Bill Shorten would let them down.