Interview with Michael Bailey, 4RO

Transcript
14 Oct 2020
Prime Minister
E&OE

MICHAEL BAILEY: We’ve got the Prime Minister of this great land of ours on air, Scott Morrison. Good morning to you, Scomo, how are you? 

PRIME MINISTER: I'm very well, Michael. It's great to be up here with Michelle Landry, too. 

BAILEY: Yes. I tell you what, she's doing a terrific job. Gee, isn't there some money being pumped into the Singaporean Army outpost? It's just amazing, isn't it? 

PRIME MINISTER: Well she's been a key advocate in this area, making sure this is getting to the local businesses and local contractors as well. But we've got, we're we're we're really getting underway here. I mean we've got too many of the contracts now moving and getting people in place. We've got 30 companies that have been engaged in central Queensland for the delivery of the design phase, and that's in the order of some $55 million dollars. But then there's all the many other things that I was with the runners of Beef Week last night, and had a good chat to them. And they’re thrilled about the money we're putting in for Beef Week, which I know is just, you know, a tremendous event up here. It's not just known, can I tell you in central Queensland, we know about Beef Week, a lot further south than that, too. And we’re pleased to be supporting that. But you know, there’s Rookwood Weir, there’s the Urannah dam. It just goes on. Michelle has just been an absolute factory for churning out the support for central Queensland. 

BAILEY: Oh, yes. She never she never leaves any stone unturned, that's for sure. When it comes to our favourite Capricornia. Look you flew into town for a reason, Prime Minister, what was that? 

PRIME MINISTER: Well, this is to communicate with people in central Queensland about how the Budget is going to deliver, for you know, bringing Australia out this COVID-19 recession. There are so many different measures. Whether it was, you know, the mining services business yesterday, we’re meeting with other businesses, the instant expensing, the work for- the job hirer credit, JobMaker job hirer credit, the bringing forward of the tax cuts, which is really important - 2.3 million Queenslanders are getting those tax cuts, which we made law last Friday, 2 million of them on low to middle incomes. But then the Budget specifically, I mean, we've got the Rocky stadium, which Michelle announced. Of course, there were plenty of advocates for that stadium. And there's no doubt about that. I mean, we welcome all the advocacy we had and there were many champions of that project. But I can tell you, the government doesn't get to make that decision and put that in unless they're in the government. They are the government. And the reason that's the case is because of the people of Capricornia, that put Michelle Landry into Parliament once again. 

BAILEY: Yeah look that’s what it’s all about. So those tax cuts, only, you know, not only just for you and I, but also the businesses. When do they actually take effect from?

PRIME MINISTER: Oh well the business ones take effect immediately. 

BAILEY: Immediately. 

PRIME MINISTER: Yep.

BAILEY: So people should actually go see their tax agents straight away and say, hey, hey, hey, there's money in the can?

PRIME MINISTER: Yeah, there's two parts of it. There's for businesses, there's the immediate expensing of all their capital expenditure. So there used to be a thing, well there still is, the instant asset write off, that was capped at $150,000. And I remember being up here some years ago, over at Coxons Radiators, and they were one of the businesses that were benefiting from that broader plan that we had in place. Now we've just taken the cap off completely. So big engineering and heavy machinery equipment that mining companies and others are going to be spending on. And that's going to draw a lot of support out of local contractors, I mean people like Coxons actually, locally. And many others are going to benefit from that. We're trying to just encourage businesses to bring forward their investment decisions. I mean, particularly in central Queensland and areas of the mining industry, they are being able to push through this crisis. And this will mean they'll be able to bring forward expenditure and get on with it. And that means lots of jobs, lots of apprentices, lots of trainees, and enabling central Queensland to push forward through coronavirus.

BAILEY: When do you think JobKeeper will actually start to go down to the fact that people who don't want to work will actually have to start going back to work because there are so many vacancies in our region and they can't fill them because of JobKeeper. They're earning too much money. I find that bizarre. I would rather work for a living than than just take money from the taxpayers. But anyway, that's just my thoughts. 

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I think that view would be shared broadly, and that's already started to happen. I mean, JobKeeper already changed at the end of last month, so did JobSeeker. It was, it fell, JobSeeker fell by $300 dollars a fortnight. People can still earn that $300 dollars and not have their payments affected. So, you know, we did sort of both there, keeping the supports in, but also giving people the incentive to work. So we're looking to see how that plays out over the next couple of months. JobKeeper has already been reduced back to $1,200 and for, $750 for those working less than 20 hours a week. So we've already started the transition out of it Michael, we’ve transitioned to not just, you know, we've been keeping people in jobs, some 3 million people supported by that. Now we're getting, we're working to get people into jobs, which is what the hiring credit, the JobMaker hiring credit is about. And we've seen 760,000 jobs come back into the economy since the pit of the recession. The COVID recession.  And that's a great outcome. But we need to get more people back into work. 

BAILEY: And of course, tourism is bleeding no matter where you go across this great country of ours. You know that very well. The borders, you have no control. But do you see them lifting soon so we can get some normality back into our tourism game, I must say, the locals have been supporting, you know, the tourist operators all over Queensland. You know, they're going gangbusters, but we need the cream on top to survive. 

PRIME MINISTER: There's no doubt about that. And that, you know, New South Wales residents being able to holiday in Queensland would obviously be good for the tourism industry, New Zealanders who will start holidaying in New South Wales from the end of this week 

BAILEY: Yes.

PRIME MINISTER: ...because they don't have to quarantine into New South Wales. If that was available in Queensland, and then that could, that could happen immediately, too. But look as a government and as a Prime Minister I've left that decision for the premier. The borders have played a role, particularly when they were brought in, post July when the Victorian wave hit. I mean, prior to that, the Premier and I were actually working to open the borders. She was committed to opening them in July. There was a, everyone was on the same page there. The opposition here, the premier, myself. We were all looking to open those borders in July. But everything changed after that. And so the borders came in. They played a role. But our only position on the borders has been, it's got to be based on the health advice and be transparent about that. And there just can't be double standards. But they they do come at a cost. You can't ignore that. I mean, protecting health does come at a cost. And the cost has been very severe for the tourism industry. And they should only be there as long as they absolutely have to. It's always been my view, and that's a judgement for the government. And they've got to weigh that all up and get that right and apply it without having a double standard. 

BAILEY: Yeah I know that Mary Caroll, Capricorn Tourism, you know, she's begging for the borders to open, but she always says it's up to the health authorities, I suppose. Roll on October 31, Halloween. Maybe something will change after that. What do you reckon, Prime Minister? 

PRIME MINISTER: Well, look, I know certainly if Deb Frecklington becomes Premier. I know she wants to manage both the health and the economic issues in this crisis. And you’ve just got to look south of the border. I mean, since the pit of the COVID recession, you know, the bottom point, we've seen 70 per cent of the jobs of New South Wales come back, in Queensland it's been 44 percent, in South Australia, it's been 70 per cent as well. So, you know, they're doing things differently in those two states and they're getting different outcomes and they're managing the coronavirus extremely well. And the Queensland health system can manage it. I mean, we've done the review all around the country and Queensland, you know, has a good contact tracing system. So no criticisms of that. And so you’ve got to balance up the health with the economic. That's the judgement, and the premier will make it and has been making it and our government has just been working to try and get as much of the economy moving as possible. 

BAILEY: Now, a personal question for you, Prime Minister, because you've been working 24/7, 7 days a week. Are you okay? 

PRIME MINISTER: I'm fine. That's very kind of you to ask. Always better when I get to get out of, you know, I’ve been locked in Canberra for a long period of time this year. But it's what is what it's great to do, Michael, is to get out of Canberra. Nothing wrong with Canberra. But to get up here and to see how our Budget is working on the ground. I mean, I met some young apprentices yesterday. And, you know, people, some have moved to the area, some grew up here in Rocky they’re getting jobs in the mining services industry, they’re getting trades, diesel mechanics, things like this. And it’s women, it's young girls coming out of school. It's middle aged, sort of older age of apprentices. And we've got an older apprentices scheme which gives about a $4,000 subsidy. We've got a, we've got a up to $10,000 dollar wage subsidy for people aged over 50 who've been unemployed for more than six months. And just to see all these programmes being used by local businesses, it really is reassuring. And to hear the stories about JobKeeper that I've heard throughout Queensland these last few days, people who would have lost their job and they kept it, the businesses are now stronger. Those businesses are now off JobKeeper and they're pushing ahead. It's great to see it working on the ground. 

BAILEY: I don't care how much money the government is spending. I reckon you're doing, and this is just me personally, I might add, I think you and your government are doing a terrific job making sure this country stays afloat. And I don't care how much money gets spent. I think you're doing the right thing. And I can see the road to recovery taking shape as the weeks roll on. And surely you must get that vibe as well?

PRIME MINISTER: You know, I do. And then this, I mean people talk about assumptions in a Budget. The only assumption I make in the Budget, really at the end of the day, is the Australian people.

BAILEY: Yes.

PRIME MINISTER: I mean our Budget is an investment in them. It's not the government solving the problems, it’s the government stepping up to help Australians at a time of great need so they can get back up on their feet and start running again. That's the assumption I make that Australians will do that, that they’ll, when they have a go, they'll get out there. We'll give them one, they’ll get out there and have that go. And that's what I'm seeing up here in central Queensland. Certainly what I saw down south, too. I see it all around the country, I was in South Australia the other day. Same thing. People know it's tough and they know that, you know, you can't, you can't prevent everything that happens in a terrible pandemic like this. But they know we're putting everything we can at this to ensure Australians get back on their feet. But we're counting on them to take it forward. You don't bake spending, this spending for the next decade or more. You just get people back up on their feet and know that Australians will push on. 

BAILEY: And I think Australians are really appreciating that. Look, I know you got to fly, so to speak. Where are you off to next after you leave Rockhampton?

PRIME MINISTER: We will go a bit further north before the end of the week. We've got National Cabinet on later in the week, so I'll have to return to Sydney for that at the end of the week. But no, it's been great to move through the area and it's particularly good to be here with Michelle Landry. She really is an amazing local member. You say I don’t rest, I tell you she never rests for central Queensland and Rockhampton. She is just a dynamo. And. And there is just so much whether, you know, the ring road that’s coming, and Rookwood weird and all of these things, the stadium. I mean, that's Michelle. She's amazing. 

BAILEY: It certainly is. And Scott Morrison, of course, the Prime Minister of Australia. You're more than welcome to return to Rockhampton as many times as you like, please. Because we like the big announcements. We like the money that always follows. And next time, make sure you pop into 220 Quay Street, we will have a cup of tea together. Okay?

PRIME MINISTER: Sure, good on you. Thanks Michael.

BAILEY: Okay, thanks very much there’s Scomo, the Prime Minister of Australia.