Doorstop

Transcript
10 Sep 2016
Micronesia
Prime Minister
E&OE

PRIME MINISTER:

Well the Leaders' Retreat has just broken for lunch so I can say that we’re having very, very good, very friendly discussions.
 
It is really good to be meeting, dealing with important issues  but in a very informal way, with the leaders of the Pacific Island Forum. This is our neighbourhood and we are committed to playing a leading role in supporting the region, in maintaining peace, stability, economic progress, prosperity, promoting trade, promoting development. Australia’s role is very much appreciated, I have to say that. So it’s been a very good discussion, we’ve dealt with a lot of issues. Climate change is obviously a very important one and the announcement I made yesterday about additional funding for climate change adaptation and resilience is very much appreciated.
 
So it’s been a very good discussion, this is our neighbourhood. We have a very strong vested interest in supporting it’s progress and development and our role is very much appreciated. It is really appreciated. We sit around that table, bigger countries, smaller countries as equals, and have a very frank discussion. I’m delighted to be part of it today.
 
JOURNALIST:
 
Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has shunted his Foreign Minister by email while he has been here at this meeting. That is an almost Australian level of brutality.
 
Is he not sending a very loud message to this forum about what he thinks?
 
PRIME MINISTER:
 
The Minister, Mr Kubuabola, is now the Defence Minister. But he is still there representing Fiji at the forum and he’s doing a very good job and making a very good case for Fiji’s interest. So the ministerial arrangements in Fiji are a matter for Fiji, but I can assure you that the Minister is representing his country very ably at the meeting today.
 
JOURNALIST:
 
Prime Minister did you have any discussions with Nauru and PNG about the detention centres?
 
PRIME MINISTER:
 
Yes we did. I thanked both leaders for their cooperation in joining with us and battling the scourge of people smuggling. Their cooperation has been very important and we appreciate it.
 
JOURNALIST:
 
Prime Minister can I ask you about these missile tests in North Korea, your Trans-Tasman friend John Key today says China should be involved in talking to Kim Jong Un to try to engage with him. Is that something that you think would be helpful?
 
PRIME MINISTER:
 
The latest North Korean missile tests are a dangerous, reckless, provocative act. They’ve been described as maniacal by the South Korean President and it is hard to disagree with her. This is yet another shocking disturbance of peace in the region and a real threat to all of the prosperity that we share in the region which as I’ve said in Hangzhou and Vientiane is founded on peace and stability.
 
And yes, the UN Security Council has dealt with North Korean issues eight times this year, we’ll deal with this again and with John Key and all other world leaders. We call on all parties, all nations, including China, to ensure that the sanctions against North Korea set down by the security Council are actually enforced. We have to make sure that North Korea is not able to get the resources further to develop it’s nuclear program. It is a very serious threat to world peace. It is a rogue state, a regime that seems bent on this irrational, dangerous, provocative conduct and the global community needs to be utterly united against it, against this action and ensure that every measure that the UN Security Council has set down, is enforced to the letter.
 
JOURNALIST:
 
Prime Minister what is your first order of business when you get back to Canberra?
 
PRIME MINISTER:
 
Well we have Parliament sitting on Monday as you know. We have a very big programme. We’ve obviously got all of our legislation that we introduced last week and we’ve got further matters to deal with.  The critical issue for us now is to ensure that we continue to deliver on our national economic plan. You know we set out in the election campaign, off the Budget, a clear economic plan for jobs and growth. We set that out. Big historic reforms to superannuation, historic reductions in business tax. We’ve set out our savings measures in the Omnibus Savings Bill, these are vitally important, living within our means, bringing the Budget back into balance over time. These are the big economic agendas we have to deliver on and of course, we should not forget that my Government had the courage of it’s convictions, I had the courage of my convictions as Prime Minister to take the ABCC Bill and the Registered Organisation Bill to the people in a double dissolution election. You know it would have been easy to let that go into the long grass and just say: “Oh well, the Senate wouldn’t pass it. But I took that on, dissolved both Houses of Parliament, made those trigger bills and we will continue to press for that legislation to pass and we’ll be taking that through the House as you know and then into the Senate. If the Senate fails to pass it then we have the option of taking it to Joint Sitting as well.
 
JOURNALIST:
 
Prime Minister your counterpart from New Zealand John Key said this morning he was eager for New Caledonia and French Polynesia to join an expanded Forum. Has that come up in the discussion this morning and how did you react to that suggestion?
 
PRIME MINISTER:
 
The discussion is a confidential one of the Leaders' Retreat so let’s await further discussions on that. We will certainly be very mindful of the consensus in the room on those issues.
 
JOURNALIST:
 
Prime Minister there is a feeling when you talk to people here that Australia has taken it’s eye off the ball in the Pacific. When you look at Fiji, it’s found new friends in China and Indonesia and that’s paid off for it – its’ got the Presidency of the General Assembly of the United Nations now, a fairly big deal for that country. Will you commit to coming to these meetings as Prime Minister from now on?
 
PRIME MINISTER:
 
Certainly it’s my intention to attend these meetings in the future. My presence here today speaks for the seriousness with which we regard these forums and indeed our engagement in the Pacific.
 
I said yesterday that our approach to the Pacific is being enhanced, I talked about a step-change and you see that with our commitment on the security level with the new Pacific Patrol Boats. You see that with the enhancement in aid for climate change adaptation and resilience. Right across the board we are engaging with our Pacific partners, with our neighbours, just as we have done with the Solomon Islands of course, with the Ramsay intervention, we are engaging with them constructively, creatively and specifically. Because each nation is unique. Each nation has needs separate and sometimes similar but different, all different to some extent.
 
Can I just touch on climate change for a moment, I made the point yesterday that in terms of the challenge of climate change, we have a global problem, which is reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which we all have to play a part in. No one nation can do it by themselves. But then we also have the issue of adaptation and resilience. That again is very specific, nation to nation, there are similar problems but each of them is different from one locality to another. So that’s why we’re working in a very granular and detailed way, with the nations of the Pacific, to ensure that they are best able to proof themselves and be resilient in the face of climate change.
 
JOURNALIST:
 
Prime Minister will you have a glass of champagne for your anniversary?
 
PRIME MINISTER:
 
I’ll be certainly celebrating the anniversary but can I say to you that it has been a year of considerable progress and considerable achievement. When I became Prime Minister I spoke about the importance of economic leadership, I spoke about the importance of ensuring that we remain a prosperous, first-world economy with a generous social welfare safety-net. In other words, that we have the means to afford all the things we have come to expect from Government. That depends on economic growth. I set out a series of measures which will support that, beginning with innovation, moving on to the big investment plan associated with the Defence White Paper, dealing with industrial reform which I mention a moment ago.

Dealing with tax reforms, ensuring our superannuation tax system is fit for purpose, that it works better to support older Australians, self-employed Australians, women, people on lower incomes, and that we have the resources that enable us to reduce business taxes, because obviously by reducing business tax, you increase the return on investment hence you get more investment. We’ve introduced also really innovative programs to bring long-term young unemployed into the workforce with the PaTH program.

In addition to that of course continuing with the big government projects, the NBN. I turned that project around when I became Communications Minister and now it is rolling out. In the last four weeks, as I think I said to you yesterday, the NBN connected 91,000 premises, versus 50,000 premises connected by Labor in six years. So all of that is solid economic progress and the score is on the scoreboard. We’ve got strong economic growth, our economy is going well, jobs are being created, our economic performance is the envy of most of those countries around the G20 table. There are very few developed nations that have economic performance as strong as Australia’s and we have come off this massive mining construction boom, after which many economists predicted we would have a hard landing.
 
So it has been a year of great achievement, of real economic growth which Australians can feel, they can see it, it’s palpable. They know they’re getting that strong economic growth, the jobs are there, they’re seeing the performance in their businesses, in their occupations. But there is a lot more to do, that’s why we’re calling on all parties in the Parliament, Opposition, crossbenchers, members of the House, members of the Senate, to support us as we reach across the aisle to deliver the resolution to some of these very challenging economic issues, to ensure that growth continues to build. You can say so far so good. But there is a lot more work to do.
 
Thanks very much.
 
Ends