Doorstop at the Sydney Growers Market with the Hon. Craig Laundy MP, Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Federal Member for Reid Homebush West, NSW

21 Nov 2017
Prime Minister


Well good morning, Prime Minister welcome to not only Reid but welcome to Flemington Markets. Great to have you here, talking with small and family business operators.


Yeah absolutely – enterprising Australians.


The profile of –  yeah absolutely – and the people that we’re not prepared to turn our backs on.

Obviously we’ve got tax cuts that we’ve got through for businesses ranging from $10-50 million moving forward. And hearing about that today, and the impacts it is actually National Agricultural- Agriculture Day.

So great to have you here on this day, interacting with people that really are the lifeblood, not only of this area but also the food, the food that we get on our tables each day.

And you’re welcome here anytime – I thought the reception was excellent for the Prime Minister this morning, people excited to see him as I am in Reid, and you’re welcome back anytime PM.


Yeah thanks Craig, and Craig understands business, small business, family business as well as anybody. And he is as passionately committed to these enterprising Australians as I am.

That’s why we have reduced business taxes for small and medium family businesses. Most of these businesses - vast majority - are benefitting from lower tax, which means they can invest more, and it means they can employ more.

And you've also seen the benefits of our middle-income tax cuts. Half a million Australians are not going to go into the second-highest tax bracket because of our reforms, because of our reforms to cut middle-income tax. And we're going to do more.

Our determination is to ensure that we have more dollars left in the pockets of hardworking Australians.

So, where our focus - got the business tax cuts under way - our focus now is on middle-income tax cuts. We've got to manage that so that we keep the budget back into balance, we're not going to walk away from that.

But what we want to make sure is that all of these hardworking Australians here, and right around the country, have more money that they can spend on their businesses, on their families, to realise their dreams.

Now, Craig mentioned its National Agriculture Day today, and that is a very, very important day to celebrate. You see the fruit and the vegetables of Australian agriculture here, here at the markets.

It's always a sentimental journey for me at the markets. Of course, I used to work at the fruit and vegetable markets when they were in the Haymarket, which, of course, was prior to 1975, which gives you an idea of how long ago it was.

But this is where Australia's finest produce comes to be sold and bought, and we met a number of the sellers and the buyers here today, we met some of the growers. We met Joe, grows lemons up on Mangrove Mountain.

We met Alex Taylor, who is an exporter and this is what he had to say. He said that not only are our big export trade deals in Asia, China, Japan, Korea, opening up more markets for him and so many other Australian agricultural exporters. But also he praised the Department of Agriculture - I'm sure that was Barnaby's hard work prior to my being the Agriculture Minister for a few weeks. But he praised the Department of Agriculture for the work that it has done in opening up the opportunities in China and negotiating all the regulatory, behind-the-border rules and red tape that can often stand in the way of exports.

So, everything we're doing is opening up opportunities for Australian exporters.

We've signed a new free trade agreement in Peru. We had very little access to that market for our agricultural exports. Now 99 per cent of tariffs have been reduced - have been removed in terms of exports to Peru. You'll see some of the fruit and vegetables here heading over to South America in the future.

Everything we do is focused on delivering more opportunity for hardworking Australians. So, whether it is tax cuts, at the business level, at the middle-income level, whether it's opening up those big trade deals, we are working, backing Australian business, Australian enterprise, Australian families.

Believe me, the enthusiasm of the men and women we've met this morning, their commitment to their family businesses, that is why we're seeing the great jobs growth.

That's why we've seen 355,000 jobs created in the last year. That's nearly a thousand jobs a day, 84 per cent of them full-time.

That's the measure of the achievement. Jobs and growth. Not just a slogan, it's an outcome. And we're seeing that energy that is driving that, and which we're backing right here at the markets.

So, happy to take some questions.


Prime Minister, when do you think you will deliver the tax cuts for middle-income earners?


Well, this is going to be our focus next year. Obviously we've got the budget coming up, as always, in May. But we are determined to make sure that there is more money in the pockets of hardworking Australians.

Look, taxes in Australia are high, there's no doubt about that. But, of course, Government has very large expenses, particularly in the pensions, social welfare, of course, defence, you know, we live in more dangerous times than we’ve been used to.

And I just want to say on that point of Defence, we strongly welcome the decision of President Trump to declare North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism.

Kim Jong Un runs a global criminal operation, from North Korea. Peddling arms, peddling drugs, engaged in cybercrime, and, of course, threatening the stability of the region with his nuclear weapons.

So, we strongly welcome that decision, and it mirrors the determination of the international community on bringing North Korea back to its senses, that we saw in Manila and Da Nang recently.


Prime Minister, you keep saying how calm you are, but putting off parliament doesn’t seem to send that message, it seems to send a message that you're running scared?


Well, the decision about the sittings is just common sense. And, in fact, I raised this with Bill Shorten quite some time ago, when we met to discuss the resolution of the citizenship issue following the High Court's decision.

The Parliament has got two major issues to deal with between now and the end of the year.

The first, obviously, is legislating for same-sex marriage. We've had a massive 'yes' vote, 62 per cent voted 'yes', 80 per cent participation rate. The Australian people have given us our directions and we have to carry them out.

The other thing we have to do is make all of the disclosures relevant to citizenship, and then consider them, and then decide who else will be referred to the High Court, if anybody. You know, the High Court's decision was not one we sought, I hasten to add, you know that, but it's one we must comply with. So, that's what we need to do.

Now, the Senate will not be finished with the same-sex marriage bill until the end of the week beginning the 27th of November. So, it won't be available to the House until the 4th of December.

So, it makes sense, just common sense, to, in effect, move the two weeks of the House sittings forward a week so that we sit on the week beginning the 4th, and, if we need, to the week beginning the 11th.

That gives us the time to do, complete that important work. So that’s what its about, it is about management, it’s about common sense, its delivering on our commitments to the Australian people.


But doesn’t parliament deal with these sorts of things, particularly passing legislation all the time? Why is this different?


Well, the same-sex marriage bill will not get to the House until the 4th of December, because the Senate will not be finished with it. So, that is the - that's the reality.

Senators ceased of the matter, they’ve got a debate management resolution which will see it, the debate concluded possibly late in that week. But their intention and objective is to conclude it in that week. And they will then pass it to the House and the earliest we'll get it is on the fourth.


Was everyone in your backbench aware that you were going to put off Parliament?


Well, this is a decision that we've taken, we've given the Speaker the advice about it. But it's obviously a decision that's been announced yesterday and been announced and communicated by the Speaker.


But was your backbench aware?


It's all in accordance with the standing orders, and it's one that will enable us to do the job and do it in a calm and measured, common-sense way.

And as I said, I raised it with Bill Shorten some time ago. I raised a number of practical measures to deal with the last few weeks of sitting with Bill Shorten some time ago. But, look, Bill's more interested in playing games than for the Parliament to do its work.


But there are some of your own backbenchers who have indicated that they weren't aware this was going to happen.


Well, everybody is aware now and that's the important thing.

Thanks very much.