Press Conference with the Treasurer, Hon. Scott Morrison MP

Transcript
24 Jan 2018
Brisbane
Prime Minister, Treasurer
The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership; Jobs
E&OE

PRIME MINISTER:

The announcement overnight that the Trans Pacific Partnership is going ahead is great news. It’s great news for jobs. More trade, more exports, means more Australian jobs.

The momentum that we have built up here in Australia, that saw the largest annual jobs growth in our history – 403,000 jobs - is being maintained and enhanced by this great new trade deal.

A quarter of our exports go to the countries of the TPP 11, including Japan, Canada, Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore and others. It is a big deal. A big trade deal at a time when many people said it couldn't be done, after the United States pulled out, after President Trump was elected.

Nobody was more pessimistic about it, more lacking in enthusiasm, more lacking in confidence for the enterprise of Australians than Bill Shorten.

Bill Shorten said the TPP was dead and we should down tools and stop working to keep it going.

Well, we didn't take his advice on the economy, on this or any other matter Scott.

TREASURER:

That’s right.

PRIME MINISTER:

No, we're not going to start doing that, because he has got no polices that support investment or support employment.

We stuck with the TPP. There have been some hills and hollows and some twists and turns along the way since the APEC meeting in Lima in 2016, after it was known that President Trump would pull out. We’ve stuck with it and with great support and great leadership with the countries in the TPP 11, especially of course Japan where I was just a few days ago, we've seen that leadership.

Now we look forward to the legal documents, the treaty, being signed in Chile next month.

So it's a great outcome. It will mean billions of additional exports and thousands of additional jobs.

That's why it's been welcomed by the farmers.

It's been welcomed by the Minerals Council.

It's been welcomed by the industry groups that support businesses, large and small.

Because they know that more trade, more exports means more investment and more jobs and that is our commitment.

More jobs and better jobs for Australians, more and bigger opportunities for Australian business.

TREASURER:

Well, congratulations, Prime Minister, this is a big deal for the Australian economy. This is a very big deal for the Australian economy in a year of opportunity for the Australian economy.

What a way to start the year, by securing this big deal that, as the Prime Minister said, continues to add to the job growth that we've seen. More than 1,000 jobs every day last year and the opportunity to continue to grow that this year.

I want to particularly commend the Prime Minister and Minister Ciobo for their tenacity in pursuing this deal. Prime Minister and Minister Ciobo were like dogs with a bone on this thing. They just were unrelenting in pursuing it.

We had Bill Shorten and the Labor Party, who were about as enthusiastic about trade as a wet blanket. They don't understand the importance of these things for the strength of our economy.

Trade is part of our national economic plan. Reducing the taxes on Australian business and on middle-income Australians by ensuring that we're investing in economic infrastructure, that we're supporting start-up new businesses as we've already been doing.

We’ve already delivered tax cuts for small businesses. We're investing in our defence industries to drive growth. This is where the growth comes from and the trade deal, the big deal that we have been able to secure through the Prime Minister and Minister Ciobo working through the economic leadership of the other nations adds to that growth.

Bill Shorten, you just can't trust him on the economy, because he doesn't follow through. You need the tenacity – the dog-with-a-bone-like tenacity of the Prime Minister and the Government that will not allow these opportunities to pass us by.

In the year of economic opportunity in 2018, you need a Government - as you have - that is going to pursue these opportunities, just like all Australians will.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, how many jobs will this deal create?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, it will create thousands of new jobs. As you know, you would have seen some of the endorsements from, for example, the Minerals Council has said that this deal with boost exports by $23 billion and our national income by $12 billion by 2030. That represents thousands of jobs, particularly in regional Australia.

I mean, the additional market access that we've achieved, particularly for our agricultural exports and services as well. But just focusing on agriculture for a moment, we've already got improved access for beef for example to Japan, a huge market, multibillion dollar market, that access has accelerated. We've accessed markets where we didn't have free trade agreements like Canada and Mexico, big markets as well.

So it follows like night follows day; you get more trade, more exports, more jobs.

It's expanding the opportunity for Australian business. Again, that's why it's been so well received and that's why it was so important, despite all of the difficulties and complexities, to keep at it until we could land this TPP 11 with 11 of the 12 original countries.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister will you be meeting with President Trump in this first half of this year to encourage him back into the TPP?

PRIME MINISTER:

I certainly would encourage President Trump and the United States to come back into the TPP, but I have to say I don’t think there’s any prospect of that. It’s important to recognize that President Trump made a very straightforward, a very committed election promise not to proceed with the TPP. When he became elected, he's fulfilled that.

But his job it to look after the best interests of the United States. My job, our job, is to look after Australia and we have no doubt that - it's obvious, isn't it - we're a trading nation, we’re an exporting nation. The more markets we can open up for our farmers, for our manufacturers, for our miners, for all of our professional services, tourism and so forth, all of that creates more jobs here.

Australians are equal to the best in the world. The bigger and wider the playing field we can run onto, the more we will score.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, what provision is there in this new agreement for the US to join at a later date? Will they get the same deal as they would have if they never walked away? Will there be any penalty for them abandoning this agreement?

PRIME MINISTER:

The way the agreement is structured is so that the Americans can effectively, America can dock back in, which is obviously what everyone would hope for at some point in the future. Also we look forward to other countries joining the TPP; Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea for example, have all expressed strong interest.

We are firmly of the view that a free and open Indo-Pacific, open markets, free trade, the rule of law, encouraging investment and trade through our region is manifestly in our national interest and in the interests of all of the countries in the region. So we hope the TPP 11 becomes bigger over time, but at this stage, what we've been able to do is to conclude the negotiations on the TPP 11 and it will go forward, as you've seen, including with the support of Canada - and Prime Minister Trudeau has confirmed that - and the signing is planned for March in Chile.

JOURNALIST:

Will the laggards face any penalty whatsoever, or will there be opportunities –

PRIME MINISTER:

We're interested in opportunities. We’re interested in opportunities and the aim is to have, certainly, a look forward to the US docking back in, as I said, in the future. But President Trump's position is very clear so that's not going to happen in the short term.

TREASURER:

You've built it and they're welcome to come.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, are you concerned Labor will refuse to ratify the deal? Is there the possibility that Labor could unwind it if Bill Shorten wins the election?

PRIME MINISTER:

Bill Shorten is a threat to jobs in Australia. He does not have one policy that would support the investment of one dollar, or the employment of one new employee.

He wants to increase taxes on businesses, large and small.

He wants to increase taxes on individuals.

He has no plan for investment or growth.

He has been a critic of free trade agreements.

Yet it is obvious that a nation like Australia needs free trade, needs more markets to deliver the opportunity, the investment and the jobs that we need. You know, we're seeing the benefit of our free trade agreements already, particularly here in Queensland. We're seeing the benefit of them and this is more free trade opportunities.

This is a massive deal. We'd like it to be bigger. As you asked earlier about the US; yes, it's a pity the US is not part of it but it is a very valuable deal nonetheless and it's going to create a lot of opportunities.

TREASURER:

Can I just add to that, Bill Shorten is a serial offender as the Leader of the Opposition on the Australian economy. We saw initially that he was against the Chinese Free Trade Agreement. He's been working against us seeking to lower taxes for Australian businesses so they can earn more, employ more people and give people higher wages.

He ridiculed the Government continuing to pursue the TPP. He made jokes about it.

Well Bill Shorten has become the butt of his own joke when it comes to the TPP because the Prime Minister and the Trade Minister worked to get this done. That's what it's about when you're trying to create opportunities in this year of opportunity.

PRIME MINISTER:

Steve Ciobo has been doing an outstanding job as Trade Minister, obviously following on from Andrew Robb, a hard act to follow, but we've already secured a Free Trade Agreement with Peru and now the TPP 11 is a very big breakthrough. It's something I said earlier, I acknowledge the great work and leadership that Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan, has shown in his determination to ensure this goes ahead.

But, you know, you talk about Labor and the threat to the economy and jobs. Just yesterday, here in Brisbane, I was out at the Eckersley Print Group which is a family-owned printing business started in 1971. All of its growth has come out of retained earnings. It's not a huge company, it's not a big multinational, it's a good Aussie family business.

We have reduced company tax for businesses with up to $50 million turnover and so they're benefitting from that. As Tom Eckersley said, they're able to retain earnings to invest into the business and of course our PaTH program, which is giving young people who’ve been struggling to get into the workforce an internship and training, their Eckersley group has taken advantage of that. We met two new, young apprentices there who have benefitted from that. Over 4,600 young people have got jobs in Queensland alone - over 16,000 across the country - because of the PaTH program.

Who is the most ferocious critic of the PaTH program? Bill Shorten and the Labor Party.

So you know, all of the initiatives we're undertaking, are delivering higher levels of employment. They're delivering jobs. It's not just theorising about it or speculating; the proof is there in the employment figures.

So a great year last year, 403,000 jobs. We're looking forward to a strong year this year and I must say getting the TPP 11 done is a very good way to start the year for more jobs, better jobs, more investment, stronger economic growth in Australia.

Thank you all very much.

[ENDS]