Doorstop, Perth WA

24 Jun 2019
Prime Minister

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it’s a beautiful day to be here in Perth. I want to congratulate first of all Perth for putting on such a great display, despite the weather, for their first hosting of the Origin match. It was wonderful to see Perth in full events mode and it wasn’t just, as I said inside, the match itself which as a New South Wales supporter, I was obviously pleased with the result, but it was the whole week. When I spoke to the players, others involved in the event, they were just so thrilled about the way the week had run and I thought it was a great tribute to Western Australia.

But today, my  focus was very much on the need to get on with the job of driving our economy forward. As I have been  saying for a long time now - unless you have a strong economy and doing all the things that are necessary to build our economy for the future, that your ambitions in areas of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, hospital funding, schools funding, all at record levels, needs to continue the tending of our economy, to ensure that we continue to commit and implement on all of those plans, as we certainly will. A key part obviously of our economic plan is the delivery of income tax relief. Not just today, but into the future as well, so Australians know that the more effort they put in, the more opportunities they take, the more they'll be able to retain of what they earn. That's what tax relief is all about. It's all about backing Australians, that they are in a better place to decide how their money should be spent, how they should invest it, than governments. That's why we're such keen supporters of tax relief, both today and in the future. Cutting the income tax rate from 32.5 cents to 30 cents in the dollar for people earning between $45,000 up to $200,000 is an important change for the future, to banish the bandit of bracket creep - which the Labor Party is still wrestling with itself over - making sure that bandit can keep coming and taking from Australian's hard-earned.

So there is a clear challenge - Labor have suffered the worst primary vote in an election in 100 years. It's a one-in-100 year message from the Australian people that they should be backing aspiration. The Liberal and National Parties have always backed aspiration. That's where we're leading when it comes to delivering tax relief to Australians. And Labor has been dragged kicking and screaming to the table on this issue and so the test is there for them today. Their Shadow Cabinet is meeting. They should listen to the voice of the Australian people, which I thought was very clear on this point, and they should support the changes that the Government has set out. We'll be putting that Bill into the Parliament just as we put it to the Australian people, just as we outlined it in the Budget. We have been very clear about where we stand on this issue. Where Labor sits on this issue is a complete mystery. And the conniptions they have been through over recent weeks, only underscores the fact of why they can't be trusted on these issues. But we’ll get on with the job.

Also it's great to be here in Western Australia. Later this morning I'll be meeting with Mark McGowan. We'll obviously be talking about the $8 billion of infrastructure projects we're committed to here in the West. We got a good partnership, I  think, on these projects and it's important that we get down, I think, to having common understandings of timetables and schedules and getting these projects rolling out on the ground. That's the thing that is needed to ensure that we get things moving,  particularly here in the Western Australian economy. These infrastructure projects, which we're committed to heavily, the state government is committed to heavily, I think are a very key ingredient of ensuring the Western Australian economy now really does return to strength. There's great opportunity for that. We're seeing improved signs, particularly in the resources sector, and we want to see that flow through in these infrastructure investments, they will be very important.

So I’m looking forward to that meeting. We have a good working relationship with the Western Australian Government and I'm looking forward to furthering  that over the course of this term.

JOURNALIST: Are you being tempted to bring your construction projects forward to  boost the economy?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we already have, I think, a very comprehensive timetable and scope of works of infrastructure, whether it's here in Western Australia or elsewhere around the country. And to the point where I think we have really started to hit our heads on the ceiling on the available workforce and companies and others to actually deliver this on the ground. That's why it's important to set these priorities, bring forward the projects you can get moving most quickly. They really fall into that category of the urban congestion-busting projects we talked about. And those are things you can move ahead quite readily with. The larger big projects, they obviously have a lot more planning work to be done. But it is about, I think, sitting down with the Premier and making sure we’ve got an alignment of what our expectations are, what the timetables are, what the priorities are, and I think we'll have a good shared understanding of that.

JOURNALIST: What about industrial relations reform, how expansive do you think that might be during this term?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, under our Government, the days lost to industrial disputes has fallen by 40 per cent compared to what it was under the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government. So the changes we have been making in this area, and there's more changes we want to make - I referred to  those in my presentation this morning - there is still a strong agenda of legislative change that we want to make, and we'll be presenting that again to the Parliament. So, you know, Anthony Albanese he can jump up and down about John Setka all he likes, but the real question is will he actually support legislative change to make sure that thugs in militant unions have no place in the union movement? They still take the militant union's money, they still take their resources at the elections, they  still jump to the tune of their factional delegates at party conferences. So, you know, John Setka is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to militant unionism in this country. And so if they're serious about this issue, and if they want to return more, I think, to the pragmatic approach that we saw during those Hawke-Kelty sort of days, then it is incumbent upon them, I think, to support what I think is responsible pragmatic reform in that area. And Christian Porter, he'll be speaking to employees and employers across the states and looking to find practical things that can be done to ensure there's a shared workplace. As I go around small and medium-sized businesses, which are largely non-unionised workplaces, I mean, I bump into people and I say, "How long have you been there?" They go, “I’ve been working here twelve years, eighteen years, seven years.” These are businesses where there's cohesion, where there's a shared understanding that the success of the enterprise is their success. I'm keen to see that collaborative, common effort that we see in those businesses writ large across the Australian economy. I'm quite certain that we can find ways to achieve that with the flexibility that today's workers demand.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, should states be setting their own emissions target reduction schemes?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, all I know is that when any target is set that is not responsible and there are not clear policies and mechanisms that achieves it, all it tends to do is crush business and investment confidence and cost jobs. So I think we should all be working together to create jobs, not cost them. And the Government sets our overall emissions reduction targets. Ours have been consistent for many years now. What's more important is we're meeting them. Our 2020 targets, we will not just meet, we will exceed by 369 million tonnes of abatement, and similarly we'll meet our 2030 targets. So I think, you know, we all agree we need to take action on climate change, and we're taking responsible and effective  action.

JOURNALIST: What's the plan for rehabilitating [inaudible] the children you repatriated to Australia?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I can confirm that the Government has been working closely with international agencies and our partners overseas to repatriate eight young Australians, and that has been a very sensitive operation. I particularly want to commend Marise Payne, the Foreign Minister, and our DFAT officials, I think, for the excellent work that they have done. I set some clear markers for this before the election to our officials and that was Australians was not to be put in harm's way. That we would carefully consider each and every case. There is no blanket policy here, every single case is assessed on its merits. There are a range of processes that one has to go through. Most significantly, the whole issue of identity. But these are not matters that government agencies are unfamiliar with. We have kept a very low-key approach to how we have been addressing this issue. That has been in the interests of the safety of those involved and those who are assisting us in this task. The opportunity now is for these young children who are coming back to Australia, they can't be held responsible for the crimes of their parents. I mean, the fact you would take a child and put them in a conflict zone like this is despicable and I find it disgusting. But the children can't be held responsible for that. And where we have carefully considered their cases, then we have taken action to safely repatriate them and we'll consider any other such cases, particularly in relation to the  security issues. But as you rightly nominate - when they come back to Australia to ensure there's the support within the community, and the programs and services that means that they can fully integrate into a happy life in Australia, that's what we want for these kids. They have got off to a horrible start in life as a result of the appalling decisions of their parents, and they'll find their home in Australia and I'm sure they'll be embraced by Australians and as a result of that embrace, I'm sure they'll live positive and happy lives.

JOURNALIST: When will they return and what will happen to them? In regards to Yasin Rizvic's children, they reportedly have no family in Australia, so how will they be resettled?

PRIME MINISTER: I'm not going to go into individual cases, I think we need to protect the privacy of the families and the individuals and timetables around these issues are things we will keep close to the operational arrangements that have been put in place. It is sensitive, it is delicate. I think Australians would agree that we need to show compassion in the cases of these children, but at the same time, Australians would equally expect the Government to exercise all the care that is needed to ensure the security issues are well addressed in the decisions that we have made. That's what we have done.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, just quickly on Israel Folau, do you support GoFundMe’s decision?

PRIME MINISTER: I think that issue has had enough oxygen. Thanks.