Radio Interview with Brian Carlton, Tasmania Talks, 89.3 LAFM

Transcript
16 May 2018
Prime Minister
Cradle Mountain; Braddon by-election; GST
E&OE

BRIAN CARLTON:

The Prime Minister of Australia Mr Malcolm Turnbull who is in Devonport as we speak. Prime Minister good morning welcome again to Tasmania Talks. How are you?

PRIME MINISTER:

Great to be with you Brian.

BRIAN CARLTON:

Are you wearing a Cradle Mountain bomber jacket today? Just as a lot of interest around the office given the $30 million announcement today which is much welcomed.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, yes I was wearing my Cradle Mountain Jacket which I acquired here many years ago. I tell you what I needed to because it was very cold up there at Dove Lake this morning when we were making the announcement.

BRIAN CARLTON:

There's been a lot of excitement in and around this project, Prime Minister, in our part of the state. It is seen as the jewel of the crown for the northern half of Tasmania anyway. The concept has been around for a little while now. Why apart from the by election have you decided to push the button on the on the $30 million funding at this point? Is it just the by-election?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, it’s not just the by-election. We’ve obviously been looking at it for some time. We've put a million dollars into the preparation of the business case as you know for the whole master plan. So we've been providing support for it in the past. I always expected that subject to, you know, the continuing commitment of the State Government and development of the master plan that we would be likely provide this support. We’re now in a position to announce that and it’s good to be there. I want to acknowledge Brett Whiteley, our candidate in Braddon who was there. We were there with the Premier, with Richard Colbeck, our Senator and Steven Martin the Independent Senator who has been also a very strong advocate for this and I want to thank him for his advocacy and support as well.

BRIAN CARLTON:

It's interesting a couple of media releases or announcements that would usually be owned by the Government in this case came out of media releases from Senator Steve Martin. Have you offered him a position on the Liberal team?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, no, no we haven't. I haven't done that. Not a word of any such offer. But I can say to you though that we work very closely with the crossbench. You know one of the reasons we've been able to deliver so much in this Parliament since the 2016 election is because we work with, respectfully, the crossbench. We seek their support and make our case to them. That’s part of operating well in the Senate. You saw Mathias Cormann our Senate Leader was here yesterday announcing funding for the coastal walk. Again he was there with Steve Martin. A good demonstration of the way in which we're always happy to work with the crossbench to get our agenda and our programme through the Senate.

BRIAN CARLTON:

How disappointed are you, Prime Minister, that we're in a situation where we need to go off and have five by elections based on this - well four of which on this dual citizenship issue? It's massively inconvenient apart from anything else - hideously expensive - are you generally disappointed that we find ourselves in this position at this time?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I am, but I'm particularly disappointed that Bill Shorten gave a rolled gold guarantee that his members were eligible to sit in the Parliament and he did that after the high court had stated in October in the Canavan case that if you were a dual citizen at the time you nominate, you’re not eligible. The court couldn't have made it clearer. Shorten and his colleagues including Justine Keay hung in there – Justine Keay - even though it was clear she was not any longer eligible to sit in the Parliament. I know you held her to account on your program here many times.

She continued to draw a salary, she continued to spend Parliamentary expenses even though the highest court in the land said in plain English that if you weren’t – if you are a dual citizen when you nominated you weren't eligible. The Court said it again in the Gallagher case last week and finally these members finally did the right thing and resigned.

I mean look at the contrast with our side. When our people went to the court, initially sort a ruling that was adverse, they resigned.  Barnaby Joyce’s case, Fiona Nash's case – they were out.  Barnaby ran again and got re-elected. John Alexander didn't bother going to court once it was clear he couldn't establish he wasn't a UK citizen. He resigned. Went to a by-election. Stephen Parry, the same – resigned. So it's a very, very different approach.

Bill Shorten with his rolled gold guarantee demonstrated you can't trust him. He’s got two big problems you know, twin problems, trust and tax. Over $200 billion of additional taxes. You clearly can't trust him on citizenship or anything else.

BRIAN CARLTON:

Just back on the citizenship issue. One of the one of the salient factors to me - whether it was taken into account by the High Court or not was the intention at the time the nomination forms were completed by the potential candidate. Now in the case of the example I've been using - the really easy one on the radio is the difference between say Jacqui Lambie who had absolutely no clue that she was a dual citizen when she completed that application form. To be sure didn't take any steps to find out but nonetheless was not aware.

Justine Keay was aware that she was a dual national when she filled out the form. That to me is a substantially different thing. That goes to integrity, and I question any political party that will simply re-endorse a candidate with that track record who's been forced to quit by the High Court under those sort of conditions.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it's a very valid point that you’re making. You know, she was a citizen of the United Kingdom when she nominated. She knew that and she signed the form and she said she was in compliance with the Constitution which she clearly wasn’t. The matter was put beyond any doubt in October last year by the High Court and she should have resigned then. And you're right, it absolutely goes to integrity. You have to ask yourself; how can you sit in the Parliament with integrity, drawing a salary, using entitlements when it is very clear the High Court has made it clear and said so expressly that if you are a dual citizen at the time you nominate you're not eligible. It’s in the Canavan decision of last October. After that, it was Bill Shorten who then gave a rolled gold guarantee that they were all eligible. I mean, he was just hoping he could get away with it.

BRIAN CARLTON:

Yeah and as I have - the fish rots from the head there I think Prime Minister. Many of the Members including Justine Keay were under instruction, you will probably, find to maintain the rage, not to embarrass the leader so to speak.

PM the six - actually no - the by elections under the conditions we're having them are almost impossible for the Government to win. Yet I get a sense that you are a little bit confident that you might just pick Braddon up from the Opposition. It would be, what, the first time in nearly a century wouldn't it? 1920 I think in Kalgoorlie.

PRIME MINISTER:

1911 was the last time the Government won a seat from the Opposition in a by election. So the odds are absolutely against us. Obviously we contest every election to win. And Brett Whiteley will be working tirelessly to win back the support of the people of Braddon. But you know we have to be realistic about expectations. In by elections there's generally a swing against the government. So that's just that's the reality.

BRIAN CARLTON:

The Speaker of the House is responsible for issuing the writs for the by election. Have you offered any advice as to when that might happen? When are the by election is going to be, Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well that's a matter for the Speaker. He is consulting with the Electoral Commission. What he does is; he consults the Electoral Commission and you know they consider all sorts of factors including public holidays, school holidays. Then he consults the party leaders but it's basically in The Speaker’s hands and you know I'm sure he'll be making a decision before too long.

BRIAN CARLTON:

There's no possibility that the by elections will be held off sufficiently long - because there's no real timeframe in the Constitution to push the button on these things. Is it possible that it will hold off to the point where we might just do it as a general election early?

PRIME MINISTER:

Ah well I wouldn't have thought there's any prospect of that. The general election is due to be held well before June 30 next year. We should expect there to be a general election in the second quarter of 2019.

BRIAN CARLTON:

So the by elections will definitely go ahead in the next month or two?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I would expect so yes. Again I want to pay due respect to the speaker. It's his call but yes I expect the by-election to be held in the near future. Certainly not put off until 2019. I don't think there's any prospect of that.

BRIAN CARLTON:

Ok. Notwithstanding the fact we don't know the dates of the by elections yet, will the Productivity Commission report into the GST carve up be publicly released prior to the poling?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I don't know when the by elections will be held, so you're right. But we will, we’ve got the report. It is over 400 pages. We're going through it and we'll be releasing it in weeks not in months. I just want to say with respect to Tasmania - repeat what I've said today with the Premier. Tasmania will not lose any dollars or any cents as Mathias Cormann said yesterday out of any changes to the GST.

BRIAN CARLTON:

How can you make that guarantee when neither you nor the finance minister have read the report?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well because we know, well again the reason is because we will make sure that that's the case. So if there is adjustment to the GST and I expect there will be -

BRIAN CARLTON:

So you’ll offset will you Prime Minister? So if the productivity commission rules out say that billion dollars over four years that was mooted you'll make that up from other areas of the budget?

PRIME MINISTER:

We will make sure that Tasmania does not receive less dollars than it has received in the past from the GST. We've done it. We've topped up Western Australia on the GST. So we will make sure that the money, the dollars and cents, that you receive is not diminished by any changes.

BRIAN CARLTON:

Prime Minister I very much appreciate your time today. I hope you enjoy the rest of it in Tasmania. I know your visits are relatively brief. Hopefully next time when you're down you can pop in and have a chat, and maybe take some calls from listeners? I’d like that.

PRIME MINISTER:

I'd love to do that Brian, thank you very much.

[ENDS]