Doorstop with the Hon. Niall Blair MLC, NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water and Minister for Trade and Industry

Transcript
17 Nov 2017
Prime Minister
Jobs figures; Manus Island; Same-sex marriage; Cyber security
E&OE
Economy and Finance, Business and Employment

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, what a great Australian family business story.

Congratulations Elie and Robine and what a great story. You know, 18 months ago, Aniss was telling Niall and I that they had 40 employees in this business. Now they’ve got 140 and by the beginning of 2019, they will have 440.

This investment here, is what is enabling that growth. That is, investments like this - not many much bigger, I suspect, but a lot smaller investments in Australian businesses - is what is driving that great growth in jobs.

Nearly 1,000 jobs created every day over the last year, 355,000. 85 per cent of them are full-time and we have had the longest monthly run in jobs growth for 23 years. It is fantastic.

This is what it's all about. It's about opening up big markets for Australians to export to. It’s about ensuring that businesses can keep more of their after-tax profits to invest, because when they have that, small and medium businesses and family businesses, as they invest, they grow and they employ. This is what it is all about.

Jobs and growth, an election slogan last year. It’s an outcome today. That's what we're seeing.

Of course, you couple that with affordable energy which will flow from the National Energy Guarantee that is starting to set the scene for stronger and stronger growth in jobs. At the end of the day that is what it is all about. Unemployment, 5.4%. We would like it to be lower, but it is the lowest it has been since January 2013. That shows that the economic leadership we’re providing, is delivering.

Now Aniss, tell us about the way in which you’re growing the business into the big markets overseas and how you’re using the scale this plant gives you to really grow into those huge opportunities?

ANISS CHAMI:

Well firstly thank you very much Prime Minister coming and opening our beautiful facility. Today we felt you reinforced that wonderful message you just gave. You definitely supported us just with your words in what we’re trying to achieve here.

Our business flourished because of a lot of international demand for Australian-made complimentary medicine. The fact that the country has the knowledge, has the ability, but just needs the right investors, the right type of people to have the guts to just do it.

We wanted to show that we’re one of those families, we’re one of those people. This facility will give considerable power to Australia. It will allow it to manufacture close to 20 billion doses, tablets and capsules, which should be able to supply a lot of international markets that have now become dependent on Australian-made complementary medicines.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well that is fantastic and Niall, come here, Elie founded the company in 1989 - come up to the microphone Elie and tell us - you founded this company. You have a vision for a great family business and now your children are taking on the leadership and making it even bigger, fulfilling your vision. How do you feel about that?

ELIE CHAMI:

Exactly. Well, as I mentioned to you earlier, we did start in '89 exporting product, buying and exporting and the vision was to continue on into manufacturing.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yep and now you’re doing that.

ELIE CHAMI:

We are doing it now and it gives me more pride that I've got the family involved. They know their way, they are going to continue on for maybe the next generation. I can see it there and the good thing, we achieved what I was dreaming for from day one when I first started.

PRIME MINISTER:

That's what we all hope for and what you've done with Robine and your children, extraordinary determination. You know, we've got great commitment from the State Government. Niall is here, the Minister for Trade and Industry. Niall, we were talking earlier about the Australia ASEAN summit that is going to be held in Sydney in March next year.

Now I’ve just been at APEC in Vietnam and we signed a big new trade deal, a free trade deal with Peru. Of course we're working on more trade deals, working on the TPP to keep that momentum underway. Just huge interest in Australian exports, in everything Australian, whether it is in Vietnam, whether it's in China, whether it's in the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore.

Tell us how you see the State Government supporting Australian exporters - or New South Wales exporters in your case - into Asia?

NSW MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INDUSTRY:

Well, we know that potential that ASEAN in particular presents to companies like Vitex here today. This is an advanced manufacturing story in Western Sydney that is going to service the world from this quality facility.

The investment in the new technology, the advanced manufacturing innovation that we see here, but also the skills that come with that, is something that the Government is absolutely focused on here in New South Wales. But also the transport and the logistics opportunities that we see in Western Sydney. Obviously with Western Sydney Airport coming on board, it’s going to allow more businesses like Vitex to be able to take these quality, Australian products to the rest of the world.

That's what today is about, celebrating one of those companies that will continue to be a giant on the global scheme, right here in Western Sydney.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, it's great, Niall and you're right, I mean the transport infrastructure that is being largely funded by the Federal Government, built in partnership with the State Government here. That's why you're located here, isn't it?

ELIE CHAMI:

Absolutely, absolutely.

PRIME MINISTER:

And the airport, we’re getting underway with that.

PRIME MINISTER:

We are going to build the Western Sydney Airport and that will again, as Niall says, offer the opportunities for more exports, for manufacturers like yourself in Western Sydney.

ANISS CHAMI:

Absolutely. Looking forward to that.

PRIME MINISTER:

Terrific. Well, this is a great Australian story of enterprise, investment and commitment. A great Australian family business. Well done to the Chami’s, good on you.

ANISS CHAMI:

Thank you very much.

PRIME MINISTER:

Robine, great job. Okay, do we have some questions?

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, on another issue?

PRIME MINISTER:

Just before you get started on another issue, I did say to Elie there could possibly be one question that is actually related to the visit. Is there anything about Vitex you wanted to ask?

JOURNALIST:

I wouldn’t mind asking Aniss a question.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, good, that's right. Come in, Aniss.

JOURNALIST:

Why did you pick Western Sydney? What does it offer that helps you?

ANISS CHAMI:

We chose Western Sydney because we were looking for a workforce that can be trained, that are not already trained. We needed a workforce that is able to learn a completely new way of doing things.

Western Sydney also had the infrastructure. You couldn't build something of this magnitude, for example, in Sydney CBD. It had to be Western Sydney and with the connection of the M4 and M7 being at its intersection and the fact that the airport - as the Prime Minister and the Minister have reiterated - will be built in our backyard, this is all conducive for our way of working.

JOURNALIST:

You said your policies have helped contribute close to 300,000 jobs into this area, what are you talking about? Where are those jobs?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, it is 355,000 jobs nationwide. It has been very strong jobs growth in New South Wales too, I might say. The unemployment rate in New South Wales is very low relative to the rest of the country and that's a tribute, look, it is a tribute to strong, economic policies that encourage investment and employment.

Every policy of ours is designed to do that. It's also a tribute to the work of the State Government, but above all, it is a tribute to the enterprise and the passion of families like the Chami’s that are getting in, backing their judgement, borrowing money, investing money and creating jobs.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, the New Zealand Government now are dealing directly with Papua New Guinea on the refugee offer. Is there anything Australia can do, I guess almost to intervene on that and could it potentially damage relationships with New Zealand if they go around you?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I'm not going to speculate on what the New Zealand Government may or may not do. The position is this; there has been an offer from New Zealand for many years. It was originally made by John Key to Julia Gillard, to take 150 only, of the refugees that Kevin Rudd put on Manus and Nauru.

Now, as you know, Labor comprehensively failed on border protection. They undid John Howard's very successful policy.

They were warned not to, but they did.

They thought they knew better than John Howard.

Kevin Rudd certainly thought he knew better than Howard and you had 50,000 unauthorised arrivals and we had 1,200 - at least - deaths at sea.

Now, we have had well over 1,000 days of no boat arrivals, no successful people smuggling ventures. The boats have been stopped. We're not complacent, the people smugglers are very determined and we are going to do everything within our power to ensure that those boats stay stopped. Because we are a very compassionate nation, we take in a large number of refugees, but we decide which refugees to take.

We are not going to outsource - as Labor did and would do so again if they had the opportunity - we are not going to outsource the protection of Australia's borders to people smugglers. These are the worst criminals. We are not going to do that, so that's the fact.

Now, if the New Zealand offer - we thank them for making that offer, as I said at Kirribilli House when I met with the new Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern - we thanked them for the offer. They've kept it outstanding. But our focus is on completing the resettlement arrangements with the United States, which, of course, covers up to 1,250 refugees. So it's already under way. As you know, a number of people have gone to the United States and more will follow. So we'll complete that and then when that is complete, then we can reconsider the New Zealand proposal.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, do religious freedoms need to incorporated into the Dean Smith Bill or amended in separate legislation down the track? And if separate legislation, is there any guarantee that will -

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, look, I think the Bill that's being debated in the Senate - Senator Smith's Bill, does include important protections for churches and for ministers of religion. It doesn't impose any restrictions on religious practice or religious speech or preaching or anything of that kind.

Freedom of religion is a critically important right of all Australians, it is part of us. It is recognised in the Constitution. So, the protection of freedom of civil rights and freedom of religion in particular is one that is very important. But I have to say I do not see it as being threatened or impinged in any way by the Smith Bill.

But having said that, it is a free vote, as you know. Members and senators can propose such amendments as they wish and they will be debated on and voted on and some will be successful, others won't be, but we will get this done.

We've got a very strong message from the Australian people. We've got the instructions; they want us to get on with it and get it done.

JOURNALIST:

You want it done by Christmas, is it possible that you might try and get the marriage Bill side of it through before then and then look at the religious freedoms debate after that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, it's important that the marriage Bill be dealt with as quickly as possible. I'm very confident it will be dealt with before Christmas.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, what do you make of reports Nationals senators are organising for a banking Royal Commission to be co-sponsored by other parties?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, look, I've seen those reports. As you know, we have made enormous reforms in the area of banking and the financial services sector generally. We're seeing much greater accountability and you've seen some examples of that very recently. We've given more money and more teeth to the regulators, including ASIC and APRA and we're ensuring that people have a streamlined way of dealing with complaints that they have with respect to their financial service provider, whether it's financial advisers or banks.

So we're putting all of those steps in place. All of the recommendations that a royal commission would be likely to make are being undertaken now. I'm focused on protecting Australians, customers of Australian financial institutions right now.

So that is why we have not established a royal commission which, of course, would not compensate anyone. It would simply be, a royal commission is an inquiry which would go on for quite some time and would make some recommendations. But we're getting on with the job now, we're taking action now and Australians can see the benefit of that right now.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Turnbull, do you still think there needs to be a serious investigation into the hacking of Christopher Pyne's Twitter account?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, the answer is no. I think it's pretty clear what's happened and it's not the first time that somebody has used his password and I just say to everybody, it's a good reminder, change your password frequently, make sure it's not your dog's name, you know, or your birthday.

The other thing, too - and this is very important - is always, where you can and for most of these applications and services that's available, use dual authentication or dual verification, where you’ll get, to bring a new device on to use the application, you get sent a one-time code, typically to your mobile phone or another app. That's a very important way to ensure that even if someone does guess or get access to your password, they can't connect their device to your application.

So I will leave you all with that advice on using technology safely and encourage you all to be cyber-safe at all times. Very important.

Thank you.

[ENDS]