Radio Interview with Steve Mills and Basil Zempilas, 6PR

Transcript
09 Aug 2018
Prime Minister
GST, by-elections, Banking Royal Commission, Donald Trump and Emma Husar
E&OE

BASIL ZEMPILAS:

We’re delighted to welcome the Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, not only to the studios of 6PR - the new studios of 6PR.

PRIME MINISTER:

Very smart Bas.

BASIL ZEMPILAS:

Thank you Prime Minister. But also….

PRIME MINISTER:

Nothing’s too good for the workers.

BASIL ZEMPILAS:

Back to WA. It’s good to have you back in the West.

PRIME MINISTER:

It is it’s great to be back here and it’s great to be back after we’ve got the GST issue resolved. It’s a fair deal for WA. It’s been long coming, we know that, but we’ve got it done. We’re able to do it and make it a better deal for every state.

Every state and territory is better off and we’re only able to do it because we’ve got such a strong economy. WA is playing a bit part in that. More growth, more jobs, more revenues.

STEVE MILLS:

It’s great, it is great. We’re talking 75 cents basically, is that right?

PRIME MINISTER:

That’s the floor. Yeah, that’s the floor.

STEVE MILLS:

So we can’t go below 75, we’ve been as low as mid-30’s even lower.

PRIME MINISTER:

Absolutely, you got down around 30 per cent and of course we topped it up. We put in extra money every year but that was a band-aid solution. We needed a permanent resolution of this and so what we’ve done and I’ve got to pay tribute to my West Australian colleagues, Julie and Mathias, Christian Porter, Michael Keenan, Michaelia Cash, you know you’ve got a great team in the Federal Parliament and they all work together and we’ve been able to deliver additional federal funding to top up the overall bucket.

STEVE MILLS:

How do we believe you? How do we know that this is actually going to happen? How do we know that we’re going to get exactly what you’re saying today?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well because you can always trust us.

STEVE MILLS:

Can we?

PRIME MINISTER:

Totally.

STEVE MILLS:

We’ve heard Prime Minister about GST in the past, and we are heading towards election mode so excuse me for being cynical but it is possible that actually get 75 cents.

PRIME MINISTER:

You’re entitled to be cynical but you should be, you should give me this credit. No one’s accused me or my government of breaking any election promises. Everything we committed to, everything we promised at the last election we’ve delivered. We have not broken any promises, we’re very careful about the commitments we make. The funding is there, the commitment is there and the real question, political question, is when’s Bill Shorten going to come out and support it? Back it. Because he has not done so.

STEVE MILLS:

But it’s 75 cents, that’s terrific, but why can’t we get the full dollar? What’s the reason why we can’t, what we raise why can’t we get?

PRIME MINISTER:

The way the Federal system works is a system of, they call it Horizontal Fiscal Equalisation, but it basically means that you distribute Federal raised money between the states so as to ensure every state is able to offer, combined with their own resources, comparable levels of services. So that means states with weaker revenue base, South Australia, Tasmania obviously the Northern Territory in particular, in effect get subsidised from revenues from the other states. It’s always operated like that.

Western Australia used to be a big beneficiary of it in years past in fact. But the problem with the way the formula was working was that it had just gone beyond what could be reasonably regarded as fair. I mean, my point was it didn’t pass the pub test in Bunbury and frankly it didn’t pass the pub test in Burnie in Tasmania either. Because to say that someone’s getting 30 cents in the dollar that’s just outrageous so that’s what I stood up and said, I called it out, I was the first Prime Minister to do so in 2016. I said we would move towards reaching agreement on a floor and that is what we have done and we’ve done it in a way that ensures that every state and territory is better off and we’ve been able to do that by putting in a substantial amount of additional federal money to top up the overall GST pool.

STEVE MILLS:

Would you ever ramp it up? Do you think we should go beyond 10 per cent, I know we have to have agreements amongst the states but it has been suggested that the government could actually override that. Would you go to an election and say look, we need to raise it. We want to raise it to 15 per cent in order to say, let’s get rid of all the other taxes which are weighing down a lot of small business, and we don’t have those anymore. Would you ever consider that as a platform?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, we’re committed to lower taxes. We’ve reduced business taxes, we’ve made big reductions in personal income tax. I mean, in this state alone, there are thousands of businesses that are benefiting from lower company tax and of course in terms of income tax, there’s over a million Western Australians will be paying less income tax this financial year because of our reforms. Do you know by 2024-25 when our full reform is complete, 94 per cent of Australians will not pay more than 32.5 cents on any extra additional dollar they earn. So, this is a huge personal income tax reform. We’ve got that through the Senate and of course we’ve already passes tax cuts for small and medium businesses.

STEVE MILLS:

But your company ones haven’t been through.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well they have been.

STEVE MILLS:

Will you walk away from those.

PRIME MINISTER:

We’re committed to them. Let me say Steve we’ve already got them passed for businesses with turnovers of up to $50 million, that’s over a quarter of a million WA businesses and do you know that businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million employ more than half of the private sector workforce. So they’re a big part of the dynamism and energy, I would say the biggest part, of the dynamism and energy of our economy that’s growing so well at 3.1 per cent.  Strong growth.

BASIL ZEMPILAS:

Prime Minister you’re obviously proud of this GST solution that you’ve been able to put together for the West in particular. Why didn’t you run on it in the by-election in the seat of Perth? In the heartland of the state you’re so proud of this deal you put together for. Some Liberals in this state have said it was cowardly not to run.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, Bas, they’re two safe Labor seats, right?

BASIL ZEMPILAS:

It was winnable Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER:

Basil, with all due respect, by-elections always swing against the government. They’re two safe Labor seats. The state division decided in their wisdom, it wasn’t my decision it was their call, to focus their resources on the state by-election in Darling Range which they won with an over nine per cent swing.

BASIL ZEMPILAS:

Do you think it was the right decision not to run a candidate in the seat of Perth?

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s their call. There was no way we would have won in Perth. You spend a lot of money, we’re going to have an election, we’ll have Liberal candidates in Perth and Fremantle and in every electorate around the country. At the Federal election, the general election, which will be held in the first half of next year so we don’t have long to wait.

STEVE MILLS:

So you’re concerned about retaining seats here aren’t you? That’s why you’re here for three days?

PRIME MINISTER:

I’m here because I’m Prime Minister of Australia and Australia’s a big country and West Australia is a vital part of this country and that’s why I have to be here.

STEVE MILLS:

So you’re a former banker. You’ve made a lot of money in your life and that’s well done to you. You’ve been following the Royal Commission on the banking and now we have a bit of a listen to what’s been happening with our superannuation money. Do you kind of hang your head and think how the hell would it get to that point?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look I’m very disappointed. I’ve always been, in my banking career, on the investment banking side. In the deals business, in the M&A business, as opposed to the commercial lending business that you’re talking about here. But whatever type of financial work you’re in, the type of work I used to do or the type of work financial planners do or banks do, you’ve got to put your customer first. You have a solemn, sacred, legal duty to put your customer first and what’s happened is that has not happened and that’s the big change that’s got to occur.

STEVE MILLS:

Giving advice to dead people is just reprehensible.
 

BASIL ZEMPILAS:

Well it’s criminal.

STEVE MILLS:

Should they face criminal charges or would you like to see those people go to jail?

PRIME MINISTER:

Anyone who has breached the law should be held to account. The commitment of my government and my personal commitment is that we will hold those who have done the wrong thing to account and we will do everything we can to ensure that wrongdoing does not reoccur.

BASIL ZEMPILAS:

Prime Minister, what can you tell us about the President of the United States? A lot of people appear very worried about him you’ve met him a couple of times.

PRIME MINISTER:

He’s big. Big guy.

BASIL ZEMPILAS:

Big guy?

PRIME MINISTER:

He’s very tall.

BASIL ZEMPILAS:

Is he as smart a guy as his critics would lead us to believe?

PRIME MINISTER:

Donald Trump is a big charismatic personality. He’s been a very successful businessman. He’s very persuasive as you can see. What you see is what you get. He’s big. You know, you don’t kind of get the entire impression I think on television naturally but he is, he must be six four or something like that.

STEVE MILLS:

Is he likeable?

PRIME MINISTER:

I get on very well with him. President Trump and I had not dealt together, Donald Trump and I had not dealt together prior to him becoming President but we have a lot of friends in common and a lot of people that I’ve worked with very closely over the years know him, in some cases knew him, because they’re no long with us like Kerry Packer for example. Donald knew Kerry well, obviously Rupert Murdoch he knows very well and there are plenty of people - Greg Norman - we’ve got a lot of friends in common as it were so in that sense we began our relationship not as people that had done business together in the past but we knew enough about each other at a personal level from common friends to understand each other.

STEVE MILLS:

Sydney MP Emma Husar said she’s not going to run for the next election, are you going to pursue her?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well she’s made a decision not to run for the next election, the real issue now is for Bill Shorten to be up front and tell us and be fair dinkum about what did he know about this and when did he know it and what did he do about it?

STEVE MILLS:

So, if there’s Parliamentary entitlements that have been used incorrectly. Will you make sure that that’s pursued through the Parliament.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well there’s an Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority, IPEA, which I set up. Which is designed to ensure that Parliamentary Expenses are dealt with properly and it’s responsible, independent of politicians, to investigate those matters.

But the real question is for Bill Shorten, look he’s a former trade union leader he claims to have been a great champion of the workers and looking after workers. You’ve got people here who worked for Emma Husar who claim that, made complaints about abuse and harassment. Really, what was Bill Shorten doing about them? They were working for someone that was in his party room. So where was the champion of the workers when people were being allegedly mistreated in this way?

BASIL ZEMPILAS:

Prime Minister we’re just about out of time. 30 seconds or so, why should the people of the West give you another shot at government next year?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well we have delivered the environment that has enabled the strong economic growth in jobs growth last year we had the largest jobs growth in the country’s history. That’s delivering the revenues, additional revenues, which are providing the essential services we need. We’re spending record amounts on schools, on hospitals, on roads, on public transport and infrastructure here in Western Australia and we have sorted out the GST issue. So we’ve got to the point where we now have a fair deal for WA, every other state and Territory is better off and the only reason we can do that is because of the strong economy that gives us the revenues to cover these costs.

STEVE MILLS:

And you’ve got to hope the people of WA actually trust that you’ll do what you say you’re going to do.

PRIME MINISTER:

Again, I ask you, what promise have I broken? Every commitment I’ve made at the election we have delivered. I’m very careful about what promises I make and when I make a promise and a commitment I deliver it.

BASIL ZEMPILAS:

Prime Minister we’ve got something to deliver to you. The ceremonial plaque, only the highest ranking guests on the 6PR Breakfast Program are presented with the “Wake Up with Millsy and Bas” Wood Carving.

Maybe for the Lodge, maybe for Kirribilli, maybe in the back seat of the limo?

PRIME MINISTER:

If I hung that at the back of the bed, it might fall off and send me back to sleep again.

[laughter]

BASIL ZEMPILAS:

You’d be sleeping with us Prime Minister!

[laughter]

Thanks for coming in.

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s terrific, it’s good to be here and the new studio is great.

STEVE MILLS:

Thanks Prime Minister.