DAVID KOCH: Prime Minister, good morning to you.
PRIME MINISTER: G’day.
KOCH: Plenty of sweeteners in the Budget for working Australians. Is it a bit too soon though? We’re still in budget deficit, $4 billion this year, $7 billion next year. Have you bought that relief forward too much?
PRIME MINISTER: No, because what this is about is entering Australians that keep more of what they earn. The reason we’re back into surplus, is yes, we’ve kept spending under control, yes we’ve kept taxes under control, but it has been about the hard work of Australians. They’ve been going out there and working hard and small businesses working hard. That’s why they also have tax relief with that instant tax write off up to $30,000, businesses up to $50 million, family businesses. That’s what has been driving our economy forward and the best way to deal with the difficulties ahead, is to ensure that our economy is strong and that Australians, whether they’re working for themselves or they’re working for others, that they’re getting the incentive and reward for their effort.
That’s how to make a stronger Australia.
KOCH: Okay tax is one side of it, but the other side is wage increases. Look, you’ve have had record jobs growth, no denying that. Unemployment is so low, but we're still not getting the pay rises are we? Is that going to change?
PRIME MINISTER: Well as the Reserve Bank Governor only said only this week, what we have seen is an improvement in real wages, but there’s still a long way to go and you're not going to get better wage increases without a stronger economy.
You’re not going to get better wage increases from an economy that is weighed down by higher taxes.
That’s why we are keeping taxes low. That’s why we’re supporting small and family businesses, so the economy can grow. We’re investing in the congestion-busting infrastructure that gets tradies out of the traffic jams and onto the site, where you can actually earn. You’re not going to have better wage growth in a weaker economy, where there would be $200 million in higher taxes from the alternative being put forward by Labor.
KOCH: See, these budget surpluses, which look impressive in the years going forward, just terrific, they’re all dependant on maintaining a strong economy. But the Treasurer even in his speech said we're facing really difficult economic conditions in the next few years, particularly from overseas. Do you think you can deliver those surpluses?
PRIME MINISTER: Well we can. I mean the last two Budgets were better - when I was standing here last year, we bettered what we said we were going to do by $10 billion. It was the same the previous year. So we have form on doing better than what we’ve outlined in the Budget, that’s what we have been able to achieve and I think that’s why Australians do trust us. You’re right, we're facing some difficult times ahead and now is not the time to hand the economic wheel over to others who don't have to drive. It’s to keep us going in the direction we're going, because the next decade, the decade we will all live in and our children will live in, the opportunities we’ll have and the businesses we’re responsible for, these are things that are going to be conditioned by the economy people live in. That’s why we need it as strong as possible.
You don't make an economy stronger by taxing it more or having reckless emissions targets which only put the price of everything up.
KOCH: Big infrastructure spending. What, $100 billion over the next few years? I’ve got to say, you must be a fan of Utopia, the TV series because you’re creating a National Fast Train Authority. It takes us back to that series. Big infrastructure in regional areas, which need the jobs growth?
PRIME MINISTER: That’s right, this infrastructure plan is all about two things. It’s about managing population growth for the future. So the Fast Rail to go from Melbourne to Geelong - and the other projects which we’re now examining - but that Melbourne to Geelong one we’ve put the $2 billion down for that and we’re going to get on with that project. That’s about our satellite cities, that’s about congestion-busting in our cities, dealing with pinch-points and chokepoints that are actually tying up our economy. We’ll make sure that people can get home sooner and safer, to spend time with their families.
Out in the regional areas it’s about linking the farm to the port and to the markets.
PRIME MINISTER: It’s about connecting our regional areas with our major centres. It’s also about making our roads safer. But the thing I love about investing in infrastructure is, it creates jobs. It creates jobs particularly in regional areas. I mean the money we’re putting into the Princes Highway down on the south coast of New South Wales, that’s not only going to make what is a notorious stretch of road - which I know very well – much, much safer, but it’s also going to support local jobs and the local economy as well. So Warren Mundine I know will be very pleased about that.
KOCH: So this is obviously a marketing document for the upcoming federal election, it’s dependent on you getting re-elected. You can almost say anything at the moment and then backtrack later if you are re- elected.
PRIME MINISTER: No, no.
KOCH: Are you going to guarantee all these measures? We have heard fast train plans for the last 20 years and none of them have ever got up. Are you guaranteeing everything in this Budget if you get re-elected?
PRIME MINISTER: Absolutely. At the last Budget, I said we were going to do the Melbourne Airport Rail Link and we have signed the heads of agreement with the state government there in Victoria to achieve just that. We said we were going to start work on the Western Sydney Airport and we’ve not only done that, but it’s now called the Nancy Bird Walton Airport and we're getting on with that.
Our record David, is of delivering these things. What we promised at the last election and what we’re promising at this one will be that.
But I want to pick you up on one thing. What this is, is a plan to keep our economy strong over the next 10 years. It’s a plan to build our economy, to secure Australia's future. The economy being strong is what delivers what has already been a more than 60 per cent increases in hospitals spending, in school funding for state schools and public schools, already that’s what we have achieved. A 27 per cent increase in funding for Medicare. Medicare bulk billing is now at the highest level we have seen in this country, because of a strong economy and a Government that values Medicare.
I’ve got to say, the thing I'm most proud of in this Budget, David, is the $461 million we are putting in to combat youth suicide.
PRIME MINISTER: This is something all of us I think –
KOCH: Totally agree.
PRIME MINISTER: One in four Australians struggle with mental health issues and for our young people, we’ve got to take this on. That’s what a strong economy and a surplus Budget does; it means we can take on these challenges, while funding drugs for leukaemia. That is what a strong economy is about.
KOCH: Couldn’t agree more with you on that point. Prime Minister you’ve got a very busy day ahead selling the Budget, appreciate you doing it live and first here on Sunrise, have a good day.
PRIME MINISTER: Thanks a lot David.