Transcript Doorstop - US Stock Exchange

Media release
20 Sep 2016
US Stock Exchange
Prime Minister

PRIME MINISTER:

Good morning. Well it’s been great to be here. Tom Farley has given us a great introduction to the Stock Exchange this morning and it’s wonderful to be here at the heart of the American economy, at the heart of the capital market - founded in 1792, almost as old as the nation itself. 

So we’ve had a lot of good discussions over the last few hours. Last night, with Jack Lew the Treasury Secretary and this morning here at the stock exchange, about the growth in the global economy, concerns about the rise of protectionism in different markets and of course there is great admiration for the strong growth in the Australian economy. At 3.3 per cent in the last year, up from 2 per cent growth a year ago, continued strong growth in jobs and our successful transition from an economy that had been fired up, as you know, from a very massive investment in mining assets during the mining construction boom, which has trailed off as it was always going to. Nonetheless, because of the resilience of our economy and the entrepreneurship and the enterprise of millions of Australians, we’ve managed to maintain our strong economic growth. It’s critically important. All of the elements of our economic plan, you can see today, around the world, are what is driving successful economies. Open markets, free trade, entrepreneurship, innovation. These were the themes of the G20, they’re the themes discussed overnight with Jack Lew and here this morning at the Stock Exchange. 

JOURNALIST: 

Mr Turnbull how confident or otherwise was Secretary Lew about the TPP’s chances in Congress?

PRIME MINISTER:

The Treasury Secretary is optimistic that the Congress will ratify during the lame duck. But obviously it remains to be seen, it’s highly political. The view that I put to him and that our Ambassador Joe Hockey has been putting to legislators - and that I have as well, and will do so later in the week - is very straightforward; the TPP is more than just economics. It is more than just trade, although that is critically important. It is a statement of America’s commitment to the region. It is a statement of America’s commitment to the rules-based order which has underpinned the prosperity of billions of people and lifted billions out of poverty. That TPP is a critically important political statement, as well as being a free trade agreement.

JOURNALIST: 

Will you be enlisting the support when you meet Michael Bloomberg later today, a Republican? 

PRIME MINISTER:

Everywhere I go when I’m in the United States I talk up the TPP. We believe it is very important, it is the economic aspect of the pivot to Asia that President Obama launched some years ago. 

JOURNALIST: 

Prime Minister, yesterday the ASX was down for three hours, have you been briefed on that? Is there any sign or advice to you that this was malicious, the downing of it? 

PRIME MINISTER:

The ASX - I have had some briefings. I haven’t spoken to the Chief Executive of the ASX about it, the Treasurer has spoken about it as you know, in Australia. The ASX has advised it was not malicious, it was not a third party. No third party involvement, it was a failure of their own systems, they’re rectifying it and they have apologised to their customers and to the market for the failure. 

JOURNALIST: 

Prime Minister the Syrian ceasefire has been called off, does Australia take some responsibility for that given the mistake that it has made? 

PRIME MINISTER:

Can I just say that it is critically important that we provide absolute, resolute support for our fighting men and women of Australia. We are engaged in a battle of life and death against these terrorists. 

You were at the UN General Assembly this morning, you would have heard Nadia Murad a Yazidi woman, a young woman, speaking there, she came to visit us in Canberra not so long ago. She talked about the way in which she saw thousands of her countrymen and women captured, women sold into slavery. She saw her family murdered by ISIL. She escaped to the West and she called on the leaders of the world’s nations to eliminate once and for all these terrorists, these monsters, as she described them, ISIL and their offshoots like Boko Haram. So our fighting men and women are doing the most important work - they are setting out to destroy ISIL and Daesh in the Middle East and that is a task we must complete. It is a very complex operating environment and we deeply regret the attack, the operation that caused the death of those Syrian personnel. We extend our condolences to their families and as you know there is a thorough investigation being undertaken into how the mistake occurred. 

JOURNALIST: 

Do you think it’s contributed? Surely the timing is no coincidence, the day after this happened the Syria government has stood up and said the ceasefire that we all worked so hard to achieve is over? 

PRIME MINISTER:

Can I just say to you, we’re here in New York in large part with the focus of the UN on refugees and migration. There are more people on the move today than ever before - as many if not more than at the end of the Second World War. So this is a gigantic humanitarian crisis. Right at the heart of much of that, is this Syrian crisis, this Syrian war. The politics are extraordinarily complex as you know. The operating environment, as I said, is extraordinarily complex. But from our point of view, from Australia’s point of view, we call on all parties to reinstate the ceasefire and ensure that we work together to achieve a resolution, because without that, without that resolution, that plea from Nadia Murad, that young woman whose people have been so cruelly persecuted, that plea will go unanswered. We need a resolution in Syria.

JOURNALIST: 

Prime Minister can I ask you about a domestic issue, in a matter of hours Colin Barnett is going to be facing a leadership spill brought on by one of his MPs. It looks like Colin Barnett does have the numbers. Do you hope that once this is resolved, that’s the end of it until the state election? 

PRIME MINISTER:

As you know unity is everything in politics. Colin Barnett is and has been for eight years, an outstanding leader of Western Australia and while the decision of his Party Room are decisions for its members, they all understand what a great leader he has been, what he offers and will continue to offer the Western Australian people and unity is everything in politics. 

JOURNALIST: 

So they should put their leadership back in the way, these would-be challengers?

PRIME MINISTER:

I’m not going to give other politicians advice on how they manage their affairs, it’s your job to give me advice on how I manage mine. But I think Colin is a great Premier and has been so for eight years. 

JOURNALIST: 

You mentioned the fact that the TPP [inaudible] economic aspect of the pivot to Asia, has there been any discussion of what would happen if [inaudible]?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well this is the question; “what is the Plan B”? If the TPP is not ratified in the lame duck period, then there is a general view in Washington that there is less chance of it being ratified afterwards. But we will continue to push, press, for ratification. As you know, often when you make predictions in politics you can be disappointed. Expect the unexpected. But it is a very important statement of America’s commitment to the region. 

JOURNALIST: 

Did you discuss the impact on the Australian economy with Secretary Lew of the TPP?

PRIME MINISTER:

We have talked about it. It is a benefit to Australia because it opens markets wider. So there are benefits as you know for a whole range of our exports in all of those markets. But I think the most important element of the TPP is not the particular items in it, it is a statement of a commitment to free trade - a big multilateral agreement - free trade and the rule of law in the region, led by the United States. This is a question of leadership and we are encouraging the United States Congress to step up to it. 

JOURNALIST: 

Are you saying that if the United States doesn’t ratify it, steps away from it, then it’s the leadership [inaudible]?

PRIME MINISTER:

No I’m not saying that at all. I am saying this is a very important strategic commitment however. 

JOURNALIST: 

[Inaudible] Governments need to do more to explain the benefits of globalisation [inaudible]?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes. Yes that’s a really good point and this is actually one of the resolutions at the G20. As you’ve heard me say before, protectionism is not a ladder to get us out of the low growth trap, it’s a shovel to dig it deeper. So it’s incumbent on leaders like myself and all the other leaders – leaders, not just heads of government but leaders in the media, in business - we’ve talked about that with the President of the Stock Exchange and I talked about this just a few minutes ago. It’s really incumbent on leaders to explain how critically important it is for continued economic growth, for jobs, for our prospects and our security, to maintain our commitment to open markets and free trade. Without the peace and stability delivered by the Pax Americana in East Asia, the stability that the United States has provided in East Asia over decades, over more than four decades now, without that and without that rules-based order, you would not have seen billions of people lifted out of poverty. You would not have seen strong economic growth.

Stability and peace albeit in a changing environment, is absolutely critical and it is that trade that has been so important. So we know where protectionism takes you - the United States experimented with it after the Great Depression and made the Depression so much worse. So it is very important to resist those calls, but you have to make the case. That’s why I make it every day. 

JOURNALIST: 

If the TPP falls over would you consider Australia negotiating with China and signing up to the Chinese alternative, because they’re pursuing that too.

PRIME MINISTER:

There are many - you’re talking about RCEP I assume. There are many opportunities. We already have a very substantial free trade agreement, the highest quality free trade agreement China has entered into with any comparable country. So we already have that. But we are a nation that believes in free trade. I think while there are calls for greater protectionism in Australia, they’re not as loud as they are in other markets. I think Australians understand how important trade has been - you’ve only got to look at what we’ve seen in growing tourism visitations, you’ve only got to see what’s happening with exports, particularly in the area of food agriculture, food products, and look at the massive increase in wine exports since the entry into force of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. Well over 30 per cent growth already. So you’re seeing that and that is delivering jobs.

That’s my message; that we mustn’t be afraid of the world. Open markets and free trade and the resilience that comes from our economy, our strong and dynamic economy is what has enabled us to go through this mining construction boom and not have a hard landing, and continue to have strong economic growth. 

I tell you, 3.3 per cent is remarkable. That is remarkable economic growth, it is the envy of the developed world and it is built upon trade, open markets, innovation, entrepreneurship, investment. Our economic plan is the right plan for Australia, it’s the right plan for our times. It’s not for us to lecture other countries, but we do say this; protectionism protects nobody. Protectionism is not a protection; it is a road to poverty. It is critically important that we maintain our commitment to trade and that’s why we encourage the Congress to ratify the TPP.

JOURNALIST: 

Can I just ask one quick question about the refugee summit. The US police have picked up the suspect from the Chelsea bombing, he’s a man who is a US citizen but was born in Afghanistan. How much more difficult does that make it for you, going in to a summit about refugees, about balancing the security and humanitarian needs? 

PRIME MINISTER:

The challenge that we have - you made the point earlier about the importance of explaining the benefits of trade, communicating, for leaders to do a better job at it, leaders in business, politics and the media, dare I say.  It’s also very important too, as we focus on this mass movement of people that we’re seeing at the moment, it’s very important that we focus in a very clear-eyed way on what the causes are, how we deal with them and how we ensure for example, that we deprive the people smugglers of the product they want to sell. If you want to stop people smuggling, you have to deprive them of their product. Now the only way we have been able to maintain strong popular support for a very generous humanitarian program, a very generous refugee program, is because the Australia people understand -  they know - that their Government which I lead is in control of their borders. We are in control of our borders, that is critically important. Unless you have that, you will not get the public support and the confidence you need to take the 12,000 refugees from the Syrian conflict zone in addition to the 13,750 refugees that come in through the regular program, increasing to 18,750 over the next few years. We can do that because we are in command of our borders and that is what Peter Dutton and I are going to be discussing with our counterparts from other countries. We need to ensure a global commitment to strong borders. Yes, strong borders, restoring stability in conflict zones, ensuring there are safe havens, but we need to maintain that commitment to those strong borders. Because without that, you don’t have the public license to have a generous humanitarian programme and of course you are simply providing product for people smugglers to sell and we must deprive them of that - as we have done so in Australia.

Thanks.

Ends