LUCY WICKS, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR ROBERTSON: Well what a fantastic sight to see behind us so many young apprentices. So many young people, having the opportunity to work right where they live, to be able to pursue the dream that they have, to pursue a trade of their choice. That’s what we want to be able to see more of here on the Central Coast; strong family businesses like this one at the Central Coast Motor Group, an outstanding local family business that has been here on the Central Coast since 1986. They have employed thousands of people in their time and at the moment, there’s around 250 people who work at the Central Coast Motor Group.
Our dream, our Liberal and National Government’s dream is to see strong local economies like the Central Coast region become stronger and grow, to see more people being able to work where they live. We do have a challenge on the Central Coast, because too many people have to leave early in the morning and return late at night to their families, because job opportunities are more available in Sydney and Newcastle. Our dream is to see more local businesses be able to grow, thrive, prosper and succeed and employ even more local people here on the Central Coast.
It’s for that reason that I’m so delighted to be joined by my outstanding friend and colleague, the Liberal Candidate for Dobell Jilly Pillon, who is herself a small business owner here on the Central Coast, a born and bred local. She’s a great fighter for our region, she knows the importance of local jobs here on the Central Coast. She knows the importance of providing more opportunities for our young people here on the Central Coast and it’s wonderful to be joined by Jilly Pillon as the Liberal candidate for Dobell, to welcome of course the Minister for Small and Family Business Michaelia Cash and of course our outstanding Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison, who of course is a wonderful friend to the Central Coast and no stranger here. He’s been up a number of times, he’s a great supporter and somebody who always listens to the concerns, the hopes and the aspirations of people here on the Central Coast. I was delighted to be able to announce some commuter car parking for our hardworking commuters, backed by Scott Morrison. It was one of the first issues that I raised when he became Prime Minister and now we have the $35 million investment in commuter car parking, 600 new car spots for Gosford and 140 new car spots for Woy Woy. This is all part of our plan to see better infrastructure and to see more local opportunities for people here on the Central Coast.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you very much Lucy, it’s great to be here with you Jilly, it’s great to have you on the team and of course Michaelia Cash, who is everywhere around the country, backing and supporting small and family businesses. It’s great when you see small and family businesses become larger businesses, like the business we’re in here today. To see the apprentices that are being employed and the opportunities people are getting here.
Last week when we handed down the Budget we handed down the first surplus that we’ve seen in 12 years. When we came to government five and a half years ago, unemployment was higher, the Budget was in deficit, debt was growing at 30 per cent a year. Over the last five and a half years - a lot like the apprentices and the workers behind us - we got under the hood, we got under the car of the Budget and we started repairing it. It’s been up on the hoist for the last five and a half years and on Tuesday night it came down off the hoist. It came down and we put the car back on the road in terms of our Budget, because it’s back into surplus.
That surplus means we can now start paying down Labor’s debt and that’s what our Budget is doing. You know, when you’re doing that, that means you can start investing more and more in the essential services that Australians rely on and the essential infrastructure. A big part of the Budget that Josh Frydenberg handed down last week, was our plan to manage population growth across the country.
Now, there are many ways that we are working to achieve the managing of our population growth. We have more sensible migration intake plans that we announced some weeks ago. I know that’s welcomed here on the Central Coast, which has been feeling the population growth pressures. It's also stronger working relationships between state, local and the Commonwealth government. It's ensuring that we're investing in the cohesion of our communities, so as we grow, we grow together, we don't grow apart. But a massive part of it, is the economic plan of investing in the infrastructure that gets people home sooner and safer, that makes that commute that little bit easier. That's why, as Lucy has just said, we've put 600 additional car spaces and car parking bays here in Gosford and 140 down in Woy Woy.
But the other thing we're doing is we're ensuring that local economies like here on the Central Coast and in regional areas right across the country, that their own economies are growing. So you don't have to get on the train in the morning, you can have your job right here. You can work, you can play, you can live your life here where you've chosen to, on this wonderful part of the Central Coast here just north of Sydney in New South Wales. That's what we want to see Australians have; we want to see them have more choices about where they live and where they work.
But I tell you what wasn't in our Budget last week. What wasn't in our Budget last week was taking the choices off Australians, by putting their taxes up. Labor has $200 billion of higher taxes, telling hard-working Australians - many I suspect who work here and in other places of the coast, buying investment properties, trying to get ahead - they'll be hit with Labor's housing tax. The thousands of retirees that live here on the Central Coast, taking their choices away, with Labor's retiree tax. The other one we’ve seen has been revealed just in the last week and a bit; it’s what Labor is doing with their emissions reduction policy, taking the choices away from Australians of what car they even are going to drive.
What we've seen from Labor is telling Australians how they should live their lives, what car they can drive, taking their money away from them in higher taxes and removing the choices that they ultimately have about how they see their way forward.
This new policy that the Labor Party has announced is concerning at many levels, not only that Bill Shorten clearly doesn’t understand the details of his own policy. And if he doesn't understand it and he can't explain it, then you shouldn't vote for it. It's as simple as that. Because what that policy does, not just the goal of a 50 per cent electric vehicles by 2030 when we're only at 0.2 per cent now – and the Coalition doesn't have any issue at all and in fact we promote the idea of people buying electric cars, if that's what they want to choose to do - it's all about choice. We are investing in getting public charging infrastructure in place, we are investing in the new technology that would see this realised, but it will be demand-led. It will be about Australians making choices about the transitions they want to undertake.
We won't go down this mandatory route, where we've got these mandatory vehicle emission standards, emissions standards of 105 grams per kilometre, where 17 out of 20 cars being sold today, would not meet that standard. It's not just the Hilux and it's not just the Ranger, but it's the Mazda 3 and the i30 from Hyundai. These are vehicles that will not measure up to Bill Shorten's vehicle emissions standards. They're the vehicles that will be ultimately outlawed under the plan that Bill Shorten is putting on the Australian people.
But when it comings also to their policy on fuels, that will also push up the price of petrol. I don't think it's fair frankly, that if you're living here on the Central Coast, if you're living in regional areas, that you should have to pay for the choices that they’re making in the inner cities. You should be able to have your choice about the sort of vehicle you want to drive, that you want to get around in on the weekend. If you want to put the under-6s soccer team in the back of your SUV, which is done by mums and dad all over the Central Coast and around the country on a regular basis - these are the choices that Bill Shorten wants to take away with the sort of policies he's talking about.
And he can't explain the details of them, that's what should be concerning. He's had five and a half years he’s been the Leader of the Opposition and he still can't explain what the economic impact is of his emissions reduction policies. We've been up-front about it, we'll continue to do that. We'll continue to keep taxes low. We'll continue to invest in the infrastructure that supports the Central Coast and communities all around the country. We'll continue to keep Australians safe and we'll continue to keep Australians together.
Now, I'm going to ask talk Michaelia to talk about what she's been doing up here on the Central Coast. There's 16,000 small and family businesses here in this electorate of Robertson alone and they've been receiving the Budget extremely well.
SENATOR THE HON MICHAELIA CASH, MINISTER FOR SMALL AND FAMILY BUSINESS, SKILLS AND VOCATIONAL EDUCATION: Well Prime Minister, it’s always fantastic to join my very good friend and sensational colleague Lucy Wicks here in the seat of Robertson on the Central Coast. But also to welcome formally to our team Jilly, our candidate for Dobell.
I love coming to the Central Coast because it really is a place where small and family businesses can thrive. It's a great place to live and Lucy and I spend a lot of time talking to small and family businesses, businesses like the one we're at here today, a family business that started in 1986 and over 30 years has literally employed thousands of apprentices over that time. But we want small and family businesses throughout Australia to know that for the Morrison Government, you are front and centre of our decision-making. We back you every step of the way.
Why? Because we understand that when a small and family business in Australia prospers and grows, they create more jobs for Australians. That's the message we are giving to the over 16,000 small and family businesses here in the seat of Robertson. In the Budget on Tuesday night, we increased the threshold of the instant asset write-off from $25,000 to $30,000. We announced it on Tuesday night and I'm very pleased to tell all of those small and family businesses out there that we legislated it on Thursday night. But what we also did, because we have a strong economy, is that we have enabled businesses now with a turnover of less than $50 million to access the instant asset write-off. This is the benefit of a strong economy. You can give these dividends back to small and family businesses and now medium-sized businesses, across Australia.
But of course we need to ensure that businesses have access to the skilled Australians that they need. That is why we have made an in excess of half a billion dollar investment in our vocational and education training system in Australia. Scott Morrison - you've heard him here today - he backs tradies every step of the way and it’s great to see a business that has employed so many apprentices over the years. In fact this morning we met Johnny, Johnny has been here for 30 years. This is the only job he has ever had. He started as an apprentice and his son has now joined him in this great family business, also undertaking an apprenticeship.
But what I worry about for people like Johnny is that the car he’s driving today, if a Labor government is ever elected, will not be the car he is driving tomorrow. In fact, if you look behind us at all of these apprentices here, 50 per cent of those apprentices will be driving an electric vehicle under Bill Shorten.
We are going to stand by our tradies and we are going to save their utes. Because we understand choice and that is what Bill Shorten is taking away from our tradies.
PRIME MINISTER: Thanks, Michaelia. I'm happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Regarding the reports that a Chinese billionaire paid to have a meeting Peter Dutton, how do you feel about people buying time with government ministers, what message does that send?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, the individual you're referring to has actually been prevented from ever returning back to Australia. So I think when it comes to our Government acting on foreign interference, we've got a pretty strong track record. I think that compares very significantly to that of the Labor Party, where Senator Sam Dastyari had to resign in disgrace, because he not only compromised himself in standing in front of an Australian Government insignia - standing there with the very individual you're referring to - that was a disgrace and he had to resign in disgrace.
So when it comes to countering foreign interference, my Government, our Government has put in place the legislation to ensure that we counter that foreign interference. We put around $36 million into our security agencies in the Budget last week, to ensure that they can be countering foreign interference and I think when it comes to these issues, our Government's record is squeaky clean.
JOURNALIST: As a former Immigration Minister, how many citizenship ceremonies are held in the offices of MPs and Senators each year?
PRIME MINISTER: It happens with members all around the country, all members can be swearing in citizens. When I was Immigration Minister, I had those powers and I did as a local member. So it all depends on each electorate and each individual member.
JOURNALIST: Why was Huang Xiangmo's family [inaudible] approved to have their citizenships bestowed [inaudible] Sam Dastyari’s office [inaudible] Coalition Government [inaudible]?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, you make reference to Sam Dastyari, I mean Sam Dastyari the Labor senator who had to resign in disgrace over his involvement in foreign interference. I mean it was an absolute disgrace. Labor's record on foreign interference is there for everyone to see and it's pin-up boy is Sam Dastyari.
JOURNALIST: [inaudible] when he made that approval, was aware of who they were or should have have known who they were?
PRIME MINISTER: All I know is Sam Dastyari had to resign in disgrace over foreign interference and behaving in a reckless and shameful way, betraying his own country.
JOURNALIST: On Adani, is the Government's intention to make a decision on the Adani mine groundwater approvals before [inaudible]?
PRIME MINSTER: The Government will make all decisions based on the expert scientific advice of organisations, including not just the Department of Environment, but Geoscience Australia and the CSIRO. So we will always make, as we have all along the way of this process, there have been many decisions made in relation to this and other projects. But in relation to this project we've always been following the advice of the scientists and we will continue to do that.
JOURNALIST: Have you counselled Senator James McGrath against issuing press releases [inaudible]?
PRIME MINISTER: When it comes to making these decisions, they’ll be made by Ministers listening to scientists, not senators listening to themselves.
JOURNALIST: Why did you make a captain's pick in the seat of Reid and approve Fiona Martin?
PRIME MINISTER: Because I think she's an outstanding candidate and I think she’s going to do a fantastic job. With the retirement of Craig Laundy so close to the election, we're not going to waste any time, we're just going to get on with it. She's going to do a fantastic job.
JOURNALIST: Are you confident in her ability [inaudible]?
PRIME MINISTER: I'm very confident in her ability.
JOURNALIST: Just on the Central Coast, obviously there's been a few big announcements here in the region following last week's Budget. How come it's taken until an election year to, I guess, deliver these things, here in the region?
PRIME MINISTER: Well I'm going to invite Lucy to talk to this as well, but I said before that we have a plan for managing our population and whether it's the more than $40 million that we've invested in the medical campus here - I've been up here numerous times - whether it's the investments we've been making up in the industrial areas, or the investments we've been making in the education precinct and the medical precinct here, whether it's the jobs that we've been bringing up out of big agencies like Human Services and the Tax Office, putting them here in Gosford. I mean this has been a continuous job of creating, here in Gosford on the Central Coast, a self-supporting, dynamic, future-focused economy, that gives people living on the Central Coast the opportunity to work on the Central Coast, not just live here. The person who has driven that from the day she was elected as the Member for Robertson is Lucy Wicks.
This has been Lucy's plan and her vision to see an economy that has gone from 5.1 per cent unemployment, to 4.6 per cent unemployment here in the electorate of Robertson on the Central Coast. What has driven this has been Lucy's vision for the Central Coast, being a confident, self-supporting economy that is driving jobs at the local level. That Gosford doesn't just exist as some sort of satellite outpost of Sydney, but as a thriving economy and community in it’s own right. Under Lucy's term as the Member for Robertson, we've seen Gosford go ahead in leaps and bounds. We’re working closely together with local authorities, with the state government and I think it's been paying real dividends here. And with Lucy, she's got a million more plans. She's always in my office, when I was the Treasurer, when I was the Minister for Immigration, when I was Minister for Social Services.
LUCY WICKS, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR ROBERTSON: Sorry, not sorry.
PRIME MINISTER: She's in there every single day and she is such a great champion for the Central Coast, just like Jilly will be. She's been a tremendous advocate and campaigner when it comes to road safety, when it comes to organ donation. People know that about Jilly here on the Central Coast, they know her form when it comes to doing things she believes in. This pair are going to be an absolute dynamic duo.
LUCY WICKS, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR ROBERTSON: Thank you Scott and to respond further to the question, I don't think this has got anything to do with an election year because these are not election commitments. These are Budget commitments, these are in the Budget. They are costed, they are fully funded, they are going to be delivered. Why did it take until 2019? Because we have a surplus, because we have a Government that has gotten on with the job of doing what we said we would do. Now, thanks to the fact that we are in surplus, the Budget is back in the black, we can deliver so many of the things that people on the Central Coast have wanted for years. For years we have been crying out for more commuter car parking. Scott is right, the Prime Minister is right; I would love to see the need for less commuter car parking, because I would love to see the jobs actually being available here on the Central Coast.
My ultimate dream is to see the Central Coast as a region where we're known for reverse commuting; not for commuting to Sydney and Newcastle, but for having people from those cities commute here to the Central Coast, because this is where the jobs are. That this becomes the new jobs growth hub of New South Wales and indeed one day perhaps even around Australia, that's my ultimate dream. That’s part of my plan for Robertson. But the reason you’re seeing the commitments that have been announced over the last couple of days, over the last week or so, is because of our strong, responsible economic management and the Government is listening and the Government is funding the important, essential projects that people here on the Central Coast want. Whether it be commuter car parking, whether it be the new innovation and health jobs precinct here in Gosford, building on what we've already done with the Central Coast Medical University and Medical Research Institute. Another $18 million to really take the Central Coast forward, to really see the Central Coast and Gosford in particular known as a region of world-class excellence, of opportunity, of aspiration and a place where young people don't have to go to Sydney or Newcastle to be able to pursue their educational aspirations, but they can do so right here.
Whether it be the incredibly important announcement we made just yesterday of $9 million to establish the Glen Centre for Women, to really make sure - this is one of the most important projects in the Budget, I believe, Prime Minister and I want to thank you for your personal support of that as well - to make sure that we have, the first of it’s kind, a culturally appropriate drug and alcohol rehab centre for Indigenous women and other women. Really helping them to be able to make sure that their future is not defined by their past. That was an incredible moment yesterday.
Whether it be being able to deliver a new radiotherapy machine for the outstanding cancer care clinic at Gosford, $3.8 million to make sure that cancer patients don't have to go on a waiting list. Or $8.5 million to upgrade the Umina precinct park, which is something people on the peninsula have been crying out for for a couple of years now.
PRIME MINISTER: See I told you it was a long list, I told you it was a long list.
LUCY WICKS, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR ROBERTSON: We could continue.
PRIME MINISTER: You asked the question.
LUCY WICKS, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR ROBERTSON: I'll stop.
PRIME MINISTER: All of this depends on a strong economy of course and having a Government that knows how to manage money.
People know that Labor don't know how to manage money. That's why they stopped listing drugs on the affordable medicines Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme when they were last in government. That's why they drove us into deficit. That's why they drove us into debt.
You know, now we're back in the black and we’re able to invest in this and a whole range of other projects. $461 million for what I know is a really important project for the Central Coast, $461 million to combat youth suicide and youth mental health challenges around the country. There is not a community in the country that is not touched by the curse of youth suicide and youth mental health issues. That's everything from building up our young people to have strong mental health, good mental health, just in the same way as they have good physical health. From the youngest of ages, the programs, whether it's Smiling Mind, to Headspace, these are programs that are going to make our country healthier and when our country is healthier, it's stronger. When our economy is stronger, that's what we can invest back in.
You know, we face many challenges ahead. Australia is the best place in the world to live, but our future depends on keeping our economy strong. That's what our Budget last year did. That’s true, last year and last week too! So anyway, we’ll take one more and then we have to get moving.
JOURNALIST: Just lastly, obviously back to Dobell, it's a seat you lost at the last election. Jilly officially announced today, I guess [inaudible] a big advocate here on the Central Coast. Do you hope Jilly is going to do the same and get [inaudible]?
PRIME MINISTER: Yeah sure Jilly, come forward. I'm so pleased to see Jilly selected and endorsed as our candidate and to see yet another female candidate endorsed. Since I've become Prime Minister around half of our candidates who have been selected have been women. That has happened through our choices, our decisions, our selection processes and I really welcome that. I know Jilly's story and I know the advocacy that she has pursued on behalf of Banjo, but also on road safety, on organ donation.
Jilly is a fighter. She is a fighter and the Central Coast needs fighters for the Central Coast and to make sure that their communities are getting the resources and the support that they need. I know your form and there's going to have to be two permanent seats in my office, one for Lucy and one for Jilly, because they'll be knocking the door down as Lucy always has. I really do think they're going to be a tremendous team if they're given that opportunity at next election. I think there's a great choice here. The choice is about having your choice at the end of the day.
We want you to have the choices that you want for you and your family. People have decided, made the choice, to live here on the Central Coast. People have decided they actually want to buy a car that can tow a boat, or their tinnie, or a caravan or a trailer or whatever they want. We want them to have the choices, for people to have the choice to keep more of what they earn. I think money in the hands of an Australian, is going to do a better job than money in the hands of the government. That's why I think it's better that they get to keep more of their earnings.
The real choice between Labor and Liberal at this election, is that we believe you should keep your choices. We're not going to take your choices away from you. We're going to give you more choice and that's what Jilly and Lucy stand for here on the Central Coast.
It's been great to be here with you and particularly to meet Johnny and I'm glad to see he's dragging his son out of bed every morning to get here on time and we'll take it from there.
Thanks very much.