Doorstop with the Premier of Tasmania and the Treasurer of Tasmania

Transcript
14 Jun 2018
Bridgewater, Tasmania
Prime Minister
Bridgewater Bridge, GST, child protection, University funding, AFP officers at Hobart airport, Senate crossbench and English test
E&OE

THE HON. WILL HODGMAN MP, PREMIER OF TASMANIA:

Good morning everyone, beautiful way to start Budget Day, coming together to make a really important announcement that’s the result of a strong combination between Commonwealth and state governments that are invested in the infrastructure that Tasmania’s growing economy needs.

Welcome to Tasmania again Prime Minister, it’s fantastic to have you back and to Senators Abetz and Duniam, I’m delighted to be here with my Treasurer, Peter Gutwein and also our newly minted Member for Prosser, Jane Howlett. Today is a big day for Tasmania, when we will shortly release our Budget and it’s a Budget that will continue the momentum in our economy, job-creating infrastructure, investments in essential services, we’ll have a lot more to say about that later today. But I am able to advise that finally, we are able to confirm state funding commitments to ensure the commencement of the rebuilding, or building of a new bridge here at Bridgewater. Recently in the Commonwealth Budget, there was a significant contribution to what is a project of national significance.

In today’s Budget we will also make a commitment to commence work for the planning and approvals process, which we will get underway as quickly as possible and to have a new bridge here at Bridgewater, constructed by 2024. It is a major project. It’s one that will not only improve safety and amenity for all those who want to cross the river. But it will also be important infrastructure for supporting the ongoing strength and growth in our economy, which is one of the strongest performing economies in the country. So, I want to again acknowledge the significant contribution of the Commonwealth. This is a great indication that state and Commonwealth governments are working very collaboratively to get results and to deliver for Tasmanians. It’s also the result of the Tasmanian Budget being, again, in such strong shape and we will have Budgets in surpluses. The best performing Budgets this state has had for a very long time, perhaps ever. That’s the result of the great financial management and strong discipline that we’ve been able to apply to our Budgets. So, Prime Minister I’d ask you to make some remarks.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, thank you very much Will and it is great to be here with your colleagues, newly-minted as you said. Your first speech was last night, is that right?

MS JANE HOWLETT, MEMBER FOR PROSSER:

The day before.

PRIME MINISTER:

The day before, brilliant, well congratulations. And, with the Treasurer and Jono Duniam and Eric Abetz. Look, we committed 80 per cent of the cost of this new bridge, $461 million in the Federal Budget. What Will is doing today with his Treasurer is committing the remaining 20 per cent and that means that all the money is there to build the Bridgewater Bridge. Long talked about, promised before but it is now going to be delivered and all the money is on the table to do it. It’ll be open in 2024 Will, that’s your commitment. Good, we’ll hold him to it, we’ll be back in 2024. There better be bridge here Will.

[Laughter]

So, that’s good. Look, this is part of over $900 million of additional Commonwealth funding going into infrastructure in Tasmania in the Federal Budget.  It underlines the commitment of the Federal Government, my Government, is making to Tasmania right across the board. You saw a new five year hospital deal going out to 2024/25. That’s going to see an additional $373 million going into Tasmania hospitals. Will and I have just been at the radio station promoting the Gimme Five for Kids and it’s fantastic isn’t it?

PREMIER OF TASMANIA:

Yep.

PRIME MINISTER:

We’re providing just a reminder of how important good hospitals, first class medical care is right across the nation. We're providing the support for that as well. So, whether it is the roads bridges, whether it is the schools and the hospitals, my Government is providing record levels of funding to support Tasmania.

JOURNALIST:

Can you offer any guarantee about Tasmania’s GST share as we head into the Budget?

PRIME MINISTER:

What I've said before - I was with Will at Cradle Mountain where actually it wasn't quite as cold as it is this morning, but he is so tough! Look at him, he doesn't have an overcoat on.

JOURNALIST:

Born and bred Tassie.

PRIME MINISTER:

He is a born and bred Tasmanian! But yes, the answer is Tasmania will not be worse off in terms of dollars and cents. I know the question - just to cut to the next question - the question has been asked; will Tasmania’s share be the same? Tasmania’s share changes from year to year under the formula, but there's been a Productivity Commission report. I know the Treasurer, my Treasurer Scott Morrison spoke with Peter Gutwein last night about it and we'll be presenting the PC report later this month, together with our proposed way forward. Tasmania will be very happy with the proposal.

JOURNALIST:

Will you guarantee we won’t be worse off?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well you have to wait and see for the proposal but what I'm saying to you is, Tasmania will not be worse off, will not be getting any less money, out of the project. You will not be going backwards in terms of the financial support it gets.

JOURNALIST:

Will it be as well off as we are today though?

PRIME MINISTER:

I’ve just answered that question.

JOURNALIST:

UTAS is looking like being one of the hardest hit by the funding freeze, they're potentially losing a $177 million. What do you advise they do?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I don't agree with that. We're putting an extra $150 million into the University of Tasmania as you know and we have the big relocation of UTAS, the University of Tasmania in Launceston, a huge project.

In terms of the funding, there will be an additional billion dollars going into universities over the next four years from the Federal Government. You've got to remember that what we've seen over recent years is that universities’ revenues from the Federal Government have been increasing much more rapidly, by about 15 per cent, than the cost of teaching, about nine per cent.

So, the universities have been putting a lot of money away into other things; into salaries, into administration, into marketing. So, what we're saying is, the universities should take very substantial surplus they’ve been running at and putting it into supporting students and teaching.

JOURNALIST:

Are you concerned by talk, some universities are already talking about potential of places being cut, is that of concern to you?

PRIME MINISTER:

Universities have the resources to provide the places that they need to provide but they’ve really got to focus on doing a good job at teaching and in particular on completion. That’s particularly an issue in Tasmania. Making sure that when the kids are enrolled they complete their courses. That's very important, that’s part of their job.

They've got to take a very keen interest in that, to ensure that people who start courses are engaged with the teacher, that the teachings is of a quality that keeps students interested, keeps them engaged and gets them out of there, whether it's with a bachelor's degree or sub-bachelor's qualification.

JOURNALIST:

What’s your reaction, Prime Minister, to vision and photos that have come out today of Australian Defence personnel with swastikas in Afghanistan?

PRIME MINISTER:

Completely and utterly unacceptable. It was reported in 2007, that incident and the flag obviously was removed and the personnel involved were disciplined.

So the Defence Minister will have more to say about that, but the incident was wrong. It was wrong. It was absolutely wrong and their commanders took action at the time.

JOURNALIST:

Will you bring AFP officers back to the Hobart Airport?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it depends, it’s a question of the security required. We’ve got limited resources of the AFP across the country. Their judgement is that the security environment at Hobart Airport does not require an AFP presence. So that’s their judgement. That’s their expert judgement, I’m not going to substitute my own views for theirs.

If you were to, say, take AFP resources from say Melbourne of Sydney and take them to Hobart, you’d be taking resources from an area where there is a threat, to one where the AFP says there isn’t. You’ve got to remember, Tasmanians travel all over Australia and travel all over the world. So the AFP has to deploy their counter-terrorism forces in a way that keeps Australian’s safe, from every part of Australia.

We’ll just take one more.

JOURNALIST:

There was confirmation this morning, that Senator Brian Burston has left One Nation and will sit as an independent. What’s your reaction to that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, we will work with the crossbench, whichever party or affiliation they may be with. We treat all -

JOURNALIST:

Are you surprised?

PRIME MINISTER:

I’ll leave the commentary to you. But as my senatorial colleagues here know - and they work very hard to get the support of the crossbench to our legislation – we treat senators with the greatest respect, regardless of their party or affiliation. We seek their support for our legislation and we have over the last few years, had a great deal of success.

Treating people with respect, seeking to persuade them, listen to their point of view, reach a compromise where necessary, that’s all about getting things done.

JOURNALIST:

Why should migrants have to pass the basic English test to be Australian citizens?

PRIME MINISTER:

I didn’t hear all of your question, but it is plainly in everybody’s interest that everyone ideally should have English language skills. So, we have the most successful multicultural society in the world. It is based on integration and the key to integration is obviously, English. That’s the national language, that’s how you can engage in the economy, in society and education.

So, it’s in everyone’s interest to do that and we understand that there have been some concerns raised about the level of the English test and we’re looking at that, to make it more like a sort of conversational English at a sort of primary school level, being the initial goal. I think that’s reasonable. Alan Tudge is working carefully with a lot of the migrant communities.

But everyone should recognize that we all have a vested interest in being able to converse and engage in our national language. So we don’t make, there is no need for any apologies for saying this. It’s perfectly obvious. If this is an English speaking country, then we want everyone to be able to achieve their best in our great nation and they can do that by being able to speak with each other and indeed listen to the very wise political commentary from our Australian media.

On that note – before we freeze – we’ll love you and leave you.

Thank you.

[ENDS]