Interview on Sunrise

20 Mar 2019
Prime Minister
Plan for Australia’s future population; jobactive reforms; Social media

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE: Prime Minister, good morning, welcome.

PRIME MINISTER: Good morning.

ARMYTAGE: Now, you have said it’s your job to have a plan for managing our population, we agree with you. So will you be successful in directing migrants to regional areas? And what support in these regional areas once migrants get out there?

PRIME MINISTER: Well you’re, Australia does need a plan for population growth management, that’s one of the things I said when I became Prime Minister and that’s what we’re releasing today. The way we are encouraging people to go into the regions is through a number of points. First of all, for students going into the regions, they will get an extra years work right should they study in a regional area. So that’s population going into regions that can actually support regional economies. We should also be clear here that the regions we're talking about are out of the big cities, so it includes Adelaide, it includes Darwin, it includes places like Newcastle. So we’re talking about other urban areas, we're not talking about outback towns, but where there are opportunities in those places, of course that is encouraged.

The skills test, the skills points test, you will get extra points for going out into the regions as well. There are more occupations listed under our skills program in these areas than there are in the big cities, so it is very much an encouragement program and incentive program. And at the end of the day, if you're looking for permanent residence and you have a visa that has you in a regional area out of the big cities, then obviously, if you come and live in the big city, then you won't get a permanent visa. So there is very a big incentive to stay with the program there.

But when people get jobs in these areas, and we only talking about people going into places where there is the jobs, where there is the services and opportunities, where we have got a lot of shires and councils around the country saying to us, “we want people”. I was in Adelaide yesterday with Premier Marshall, he’s saying we want more people, so this facilitates that.

DAVID KOCH: Now the Opposition has questioned the timing of this immigration announcement, given what we’ve seen in Christchurch. Does that wash with you?

PRIME MINISTER: No it doesn’t. I think it’s disappointing. I made it very, very clear - this is about managing population, it’s about infrastructure investments, it is about congestion busting on our roads, it’s about actually having social cohesion programs which I’m announcing today, which is about bringing more Australians together. It is a plan to work with the states and territories. They will get an increased say about the intakes in their states and territories from less than a fifth to more than a quarter. It’s about managing our population growth and I think to conflate it with other issues is very disappointing. I can understand why Labor would be sensitive about this given Mr Daley's comments in New South Wales, I found those comments about Asian immigrants to be very upsetting and offensive and I think Mr Shorten should disassociate himself from those comments.

ARMYTAGE: OK, now sweeping changes to the welfare system are also going to be announced today. Job hunters are going to be allowed to search for work on their home computer or smartphone, there is a new app coming. How will that help jobseekers?

PRIME MINISTER: Well we’ve already had more than 1.25 million jobs created since we were first elected and one of the reasons we’ve been able to do that is through these services. We’re increasing greater flexibility into jobactive to mean that we still have clear rules and clear standards. But the plans will be more targeted to those individuals, it’ll be different in rural areas where there may be different opportunities in city areas. So it’s a more flexible plan giving people more tools, both helping those people find jobs and those people looking for jobs. But our economic plan is creating jobs. Another 1.25 million jobs over the next five years and that’s on top of the 1.25 million since we came to government.

KOCH: You have appealed to world leaders to crack down on social media platforms following the Christchurch Mosque attack. What you want them to do?

PRIME MINISTER: I want the social media companies to use their technology to ensure that instantaneously, their platforms cannot be used as weapons by terrorists. If they can geotarget an ad to you based on something you’ve looked at on Facebook within half a second - it is almost like they are reading your mind - then I'm sure they have the technological capability to write algorithms that screen out this type of violent and hideous material at a moment’s notice. They built these things, so they should have the technology to make them safe and we need to act in concert with other countries.

I was speaking to Jacinda Ardern about this last night, I will be seeking to speak to others. There was a meeting up in Japan yesterday that we participated in and I welcome the support that we are getting the support from other countries there. I think there will be a groundswell on this and as we go forward to the next G20 meeting, if we can act together as we have to make sure they pay their taxes, I think we can make sure we can act together to ensure that they keep our citizens safe. These tools are good, they can be very positive, connecting families - I don't want to touch any of that, I just want to make sure that these platforms cannot be weaponised by terrorists to spread their hate and their violence.

ARMYTAGE: Yeah let’s hope they’re listening and they start using it for good and not for evil. Prime Minister, we have to leave it there, thanks for your time.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks guys, good to talk to talk to you.