Well good morning. We’ll be meeting again later in the day with the President but I want to address Barnaby Joyce’s resignation.
Barnaby has resigned as deputy prime minister, as you know, effective eight o'clock on Monday. I want to thank him for his service as a minister and as deputy prime minister over our years in government.
He has personal issues that he has to address, as he said, and he feels he cannot do that from the despatch box.
I want to say that the Coalition between the National Party and the Liberal Party is strong and enduring. The issues that have been the subject of public discussion over the last two weeks have not been issues between Nationals and Liberals.
We have a 95 year old political alliance, the longest in Australian history, and it is absolutely enduring and I look forward to now obviously to working with the new leader of the National Party who will be elected on Monday.
Prime Minister how much do you think that Mr. Joyce's resignation had to do with you telling him that he should consider his position and that his behaviour was appalling?
Well Barnaby made his own decision to take leave to reflect on the circumstances and deal with personal matters.
Do you acknowledge that it would have been better for your government if he resign more than a week ago?
You're asking me to engage in commentary. He's made his decision to resign and I have a letter from him to that effect and again I thank him for his service really as a minister I look forward to working with his successor.
Is there a sense of relief that this is over?
This is really a very personal matter for Barnaby. He has to deal with, as he said, he's got to deal with some, personal issues to deal with a complaint that's been made about him. And as he said, he believes he cannot do that from the despatch box. I think he's taken, the right decision. The judgment that he's made in resigning is the right one for himself and his family and as I said we thank him for his service and look forward to working with his successor.
What wounds will have to be soothed by that successor?
Well, there are no issues between the National Party and the Liberal Party in relation to this at all.
The issues have related to Barnaby, certain issues relating to his conduct.
It's caused bad blood though.
You may well assert that but I do not accept it or agree with it. The alliance, the Coalition between the Nationals and the Liberal Party is very, very strong and as I said has endured for 95 years which is quite a long innings.
Has it damaged the government overall?
Those are the comments, those are the sort of insights that you will no doubt offer.
I just want to say this, that the Australian people recognise that the economic leadership that we are providing has delivered 403,000 new jobs last year. Some of the biggest jobs growth in any year – 16 months of continuous jobs growth.
We are working hard to continue to deliver lower taxes for business because we know and as we discussed with Secretary Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin yesterday, most of that benefit flows through to workers more jobs and better paid jobs. You've seen the enormous fillip the US economy has been given because of President Trump's tax reforms. We're seeking to achieve similar economic benefits from reducing tax on business. You do that, increase the return on investment, you get more investment you get more employment, you get more jobs and better paid jobs.
We're starting to see beginning slow signs, or early signs, I should say of stronger growth in real wages in Australia. Now that is the jobs and growth that we promised at the 2016 election and we're delivering on that.
So that's the government's focus. I recognise issues --
This has shifted the focus though hasn't it? It's taken the sheen of the positive news.
Again those who want to talk about it will do so.
My focus is on the things that matter for Australian families, businesses, for family businesses, the incentives they have now to invest more and employ more are real. And while, we talk about the sheen and distraction and all of the commentary we can't get away from the fact that we've seen 16 months of continuous jobs growth, 403,000 new jobs.
Believe me, if you're out there looking for job, if you're worried about whether your kids can get a job. If you're thinking about starting a business and are worried about whether you'll be able to get it going you know how important that economic growth and that investment is. That's what matters and that's what we're delivering.
That's what my government's economic leadership is delivering. We're going to do more of it in the course of this year. I look forward to discussing these economic issues and other vital issues vital to our security and prosperity with the President later today.