Radio interview with Craig and Roxie - Bay FM 93.9

Transcript
17 Jan 2018
Prime Minister
Republic; same-sex marriage; jobs and growth; Geelong City Deal; energy; Prime Minister’s visit to Japan
E&OE

CRAIG MEDDINGS:

Malcolm Turnbull our illustrious Prime Minister, hello and welcome to Geelong!

ROXIE BENNETT:

Yay!

PRIME MINISTER:

Well hello, it’s great to be with you.

ROXIE BENNETT:

The crowd has gone wild Malcolm.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, we’ve got some great announcements today.

ROXIE BENNETT:

Exactly, that’s what’s so exciting about it. I’m a bit fan girl over you because you were the person behind the republican movement and I’m a massive republican. 

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh that’s terrific, well so am I.

ROXIE BENNETT:

I know, I know.

PRIME MINISTER:

So you voted ‘yes’ in ‘99?

ROXIE BENNETT:

I did, I was one of the ones, but anyway.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Victoria nearly got there actually. Victoria was very close to, it was just under 50 per cent. But the overall ‘yes’ vote was about 46, 46.5 across the country, yeah.

ROXIE BENNETT:

Now I’ve got an idea. There’s all this controversy at the moment around Australia Day. Why don’t we become a republic and then we can have Republic Day?

PRIME MINISTER:

You know, that’s a fair point to make and no doubt if and when Australia does become a republic, that day will be celebrated. But I think it’s really important that we encourage everyone to enjoy and celebrate Australia Day. Australia Day is for all Australians. It’s about all of us, it’s about all of our history. It’s a day that should unite us. It’s a day that begins, the celebrations begin as you know, with a Welcome to Country honouring our First Australians, 65,000 years of continuous civilization in this ancient land. Then it ends with a citizenship ceremony welcoming the newest Australian citizens. I think Australia Day has become a great national celebration of everything that is magnificent and wonderful and unique about Australia. We should cherish it.

CRAIG MEDDINGS:

Prime Minister, why are you here in our region – it’s lovely to have you here, but –

ROXIE BENNETT:

Not that we’re questioning it.

CRAIG MEDDINGS:

No, no, I believe you brought your cheque book.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well we have. We brought a $20 million cheque book today and I’m here with Sarah Henderson and John McVeigh the Regional Development Minister, to announce that there will be 21 projects in the Geelong region that are going to receive funding under our Regional Jobs and Investment Package. That’s $20 million in total, the largest one goes to LeMond Composites which is a business in Geelong, which is developing in really absolutely cutting-edge technology, carbon fibre in commercial quantities. Using technology licensed from Deakin University, this is a great example of technology from Geelong, world’s best, now being commericalised by a local company. We’re providing $5 million to support the construction of their facility which is going to be over $30 million in total. So it’s a great opportunity I think, to support the jobs of the future, the advanced manufacturing and technology and science that is so important to the future of jobs everywhere in Australia and in particular here in Geelong.

ROXIE BENNETT:

It’s kind of cool Prime Minister, when you consider that we’ve been such a manufacturing town, the old-style manufacturing, that we’re actually now stepping into the new age of manufacturing.

PRIME MINISTER:

It absolutely is. You see so many of the people involved in the advanced manufacturing in Geelong have come out of – for example – the car industry. I mean look at Carbon Revolution, that’s a company I’ve visited here before and that produces the lightest wheel-rims in the world. That is local technology, developed by local people. They’ve raised a lot of money to do it and they are producing the world’s best product. So, you may remember during the election campaign, I was able to pick up a wheel rim in one hand and lift it up above my head!

ROXIE BENNETT:

Oh, you’re so strong Prime Minister.

[Laughter]

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I’m not strong at all, that was a testament to the lightness of the wheel rim, it was a good demonstration I think.

ROXIE BENNETT:

Do you think maybe Geelong will be, we can change our name to Geelong, the carbon capital of Australia?

PRIME MINISTER:

You know you’re well on you way to being, to doing that. In terms of carbon fibre yes, I don’t think there is anywhere where there is more work being done on carbon fibre manufacturing and research. It’s again, a great tribute to the University, a reminder of how important Deakin is to the economy of the whole Geelong region.

CRAIG MEDDINGS:

Prime Minister this $20 million is fantastic, but it was promised just before the last election, in fact about 18 months ago. So does that mean maybe there’s an election in the air?

PRIME MINISTER:

No it doesn’t, I think it means that it may take a while to do the assessment properly. So you know there are 21 different projects that are getting supported, I mentioned LaMond Composites, there’s also funding going to the Royal Geelong Yacht Club to redevelop the Geelong waterfront safe harbor precinct. Again, that is more traditional infrastructure, but that’s a $19 million project we’re putting in $2 million towards that. There are tourism projects being supported. There are clean energy projects being supported. It’s quite a long list but it’s been put together with great care. This investment will support 600 new jobs. You know, when we talk about jobs and growth, it was an election slogan, it’s now an outcome. We’re creating over a thousand jobs a day in Australia, including creating jobs in Geelong.

ROXIE BENNETT:

Well speaking of advocacy, I’d like to advocate for two things. First of all I want a republic, if you could sort that out, thanks?

[Laughter]

And a really quick thank you for the same sex marriage bill, we do really appreciate that, yay!

CRAIG MEDDINGS:

Yeah, well done. We love that.

ROXIE BENNETT:

Kudos.

PRIME MINISTER:

That was great wasn’t it? A great way to end the year and great that every Australian had their say and they said ‘yes’ so emphatically.

CRAIG MEDDINGS:

Just on that Prime Minister, as a member of the LGBTI community myself, I’m wrapped with the outcome but I’ve got to say I wasn’t so wrapped with the actual process. It did hurt a lot of people along the way, I actually got so angry I went outside and ripped the television antenna off the side of my house, because I saw one of those dreadful commercials from the ‘no’ side.

ROXIE BENNETT:

 [Laughter]

Geez, he doesn’t get out very often.

CRAIG MEDDINGS:

You know the ones, but it really did hurt some of the stuff that the ‘no’ side was saying. There’s maybe a perception out there that maybe the Government don’t understand just how hurtful that actually was to some members of the LGBTI community. Are you worried that may come back to bite you at election time? Because it seems like a lot of younger people signed up to vote, which is great to have new younger people on the electoral roll, but I’m wondering how many of those people may actually be Coalition voters. There’s also a lot of people who – I can tell you, I know – who are very angry and very hurt by that whole process. The outcome was terrific and we all celebrated and everything but it was a sort of hurtful process. Are you worried about that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well no, I’m not concerned by that I’m thrilled that more people have enrolled to vote. We want everybody, every Australian citizen over the age of 18 to be on the electoral roll so we always welcome more enrolments. Look, I’d just say I understand the hurt you felt. But what an amazing affirmation it was, that you had 80 percent participation and 62 per cent voted ‘yes’ I’m mean I’m sure you were hurt by some of the ‘no’ advertising as you said you have been. But boy, what a big affirmation.

ROXIE BENNETT:

Yeah.

PRIME MINISTER:

What a big hug 62 per cent of Australians gave you. So, you know, I hope you put the television antenna back on.

[Laughter]

CRAIG MEDDINGS:

Don’t worry I’ll put it back.

PRIME MINISTER:

Before I go, before I go, we’ve been talking about some other things. I want to mention another very important thing I’m doing today. We are signing a memorandum of understanding with the Victorian Government about City Deals, in particular about a City Deal for Geelong.

What we have done – and this is an initiative of my Government – is for the first time, ensure that the federal government, state government and local governments can work together in planning and investing in city infrastructure. So we’ve got a city deal underway in Launceston and Townsville, we’ve got a heads of agreement we just signed for Hobart and we’re working on one in Western Sydney. The next one, we want to be Geelong. What we want to do there is ensure that, rather than three levels of Government being rather like ships passing in the night, that we’re working closely together, agreeing on what the objectives are. Of course, there all about making cities more livable, driving investment and jobs, making sure transport, you’ve got the right investment in transport infrastructure, coordinating all of that.

I’ll be signing that memorandum of understanding with James Merlino today.

CRAIG MEDDINGS:

It is the catch-up on Bay 93.9, it’s a quarter to six, we’re talking to the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Now it was a pretty tough year on and off for you, of course we had the citizenship fiasco which has sort of enveloped all of the parties now, pretty much. That’s going to drag on into this year but what are your hopes for this year politically? Hopefully now that the marriage equality thing is done and dusted that’s out of the way, because that was stealing a lot of oxygen from the government being able to get their message across.

So what are the things you would like to achieve this year?

PRIME MINISTER:

The most important thing is to continue to deliver greater opportunities for all Australians. To deliver on strong jobs growth, strong economic growth. We want to put more money into the pockets of hard-working Australian families.

That’s why our next priority in terms of tax reform is going to be middle income tax cuts. You know obviously the timing of those and the extent of them is going to be subject to how the budget develops because we’ve got to bring it back into balance by 2020/21.

But I want all Australians to understand - whether it’s in terms of tax, whether it’s in terms of services, whether it’s in terms of energy where your fellow Victorian Josh Frydenberg’s been doing a phenomenal job as Energy Minister - what we have to do is ensure that we put more money into the pockets of hardworking Australian families to ensure that they can realise their dreams, get on and achieve their goals and do so protected from the rising costs of living. That’s what we’re seeking to do.

ROXIE BENNETT:

Now Prime Minister, we’ve actually met before. I was a member, I am a member of the Leaders for Geelong program, but our cohort went to Canberra back in 2010, might’ve been 10 or 11. We went to your office and we were chatting to you and you had to go because you had to catch up with your wife. I have a feeling it might’ve been your anniversary.

Now you and your wife are very close, how do you cope when you’ve be all over the place and you don’t get to see Lucy so much?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, we spend as much time together as we can. You know yesterday, we’re celebrating our 38th wedding anniversary in March I might say.

CRAIG MEDDINGS:

Congratulations!

ROXIE BENNETT:

Wow! Less for murder!

[Laughter]

CRAIG MEDDINGS:

Roxie!

PRIME MINISTER:

I tell you, I was in Hobart yesterday. I met Will, I was there with the Premier Will Hodgman and we were walking around the waterfront there and we met a young couple who were on their honeymoon in Hobart. They were from Sydney and they asked me what advice I could give them and I said: “Well, keep loving each other and invest time with each other. Spend as much time with each other as you can.”

And I said to them, as you start your married life together inevitably you’ll get distracted with work, you’ll get distracted with children. There’s lots of things to take up your time, but you’ve got to make sure that the partner you married – your husband, your wife – who is the most important person in your life on that wedding day, remains so throughout your life.

Keep investing that time in your relationship. I think that’s a big part of our marriage really over the years. But I think it is the glue that keeps couples together I think over a long time.

ROXIE BENNETT:

Where were you when I needed help a couple of marriages ago? Geez Malcolm.

[Laughter]

Now before we let you go, we won’t turn you into a marriage adviser, but will advocate for a giant statue in Geelong of – we’ll call it the Giant Malcolm – and you can be holding that carbon rim up above your head with pride. We will be carbon fibre capital of the world!

CRAIG MEDDINGS:

Woohoo!

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I think you’re well on the way. Again let’s give a big shout out for Deakin University and the great research they’ve done. This is absolutely 21st Century cutting-edge advanced manufacturing. It’s not happening somewhere else, it’s happening in Geelong.

CRAIG MEDDINGS:

Prime Minister, last night or yesterday I actually received a notice from my gas company to say that the bills are going up again. I know that you’ve done some work last year on energy bills.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yep.

CRAIG MEDDINGS:

We’ve got two 39 degree days coming up this week in Geelong. To the people of Geelong who are struggling to pay their energy bills, have to use the air conditioner this week, what do you say about those? Also you know the bills just seem to keep going up no matter what the government seems to do.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yeah well there’s a couple of things. Absolutely in the here and now make sure you get onto your retailer and get a better deal, get onto energymadeeasy.gov.au which is our government website. Compare the deal you’ve got from your retailer. Thousands of Australians are getting better deals, saving hundreds of dollars a year, right in the here and now. So that’s something you can do right now.

In terms of gas, you’re absolutely right, we took some very strong action last year and really threatened to impose export controls on gas from the east coast, which is not you know something that I was particularly comfortable in doing as a Liberal Prime Minister believing in free trade and so forth. But we had to do it, because we had a shortage of gas on the east coast.

You know we’ve had a combination of things that have happened. In the past gas exports were allowed out of Queensland from the east coast, without any steps being taken by the then federal Labor and Queensland Labor Governments to protect the domestic market. So we ended up with more gas being exported than frankly we could afford. We had a shortage here.

We’ve now addressed that and there is more gas being made available into the domestic market, so that’s good.

But there is a big issue in Victoria I have to say, and that is that the state government here will not allow gas development onshore, whether it is you know fracking or whether it is conventional gas exploration on shore. Now there’s a lot of gas in Victoria and you know your suppliers from the Bass Strait are obviously declining. Victorians will end up paying more for gas as time goes on, because its got to be hauled down from Queensland. You’ve now got the situation where AGL is looking at building a gas import facility so that LNG can be shipped from other parts of Australia, or indeed other parts of the world, into Victoria when you’re sitting on top of a lot of gas here.

So a big part of more affordable energy, more affordable gas is for these bans on gas development in Victoria being lifted.

ROXIE BENNETT:

Prime Minister, just really quickly we know that you’ve got to go, because you’re here today –you’re off to Japan tonight, so konichiwa. What’s happening there really briefly?

PRIME MINISTER:

Right, it’s the annual leaders talks. I’m meeting Shinzo Abe there of course, he was in Australia last year.

Top of the agenda is trade, economic development in the region. As you know we have a free trade agreement with Japan which is seeing more exports to Japan all the time. It’s a really important part of our whole economic growth agenda.

We’ve also focused on developing more free trade in the region. So Prime Minister Abe and I are strong supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Regrettably the US pulled out of that after Donald Trump became President, but we are working to keep that free trade agreement underway with the remaining countries, the other 11 countries that were part of it originally.

So you know, free trade exports means jobs. You understand that in Geelong. This is a region that is a big exporter, whether it is of agriculture or whether it is of carbon wheel rims, the most advanced technology.

So trade and exports mean jobs, and they mean jobs in Geelong.

CRAIG MEDDINGS:

Prime Minister I have one more very quick question, this will take you 10 seconds to answer. What is your favorite part of being the Prime Minister? What is the best thing about your job?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well there are so many it’s hard to identify one. But I’d say right at the top of the list is getting out and meeting so many Australians. I love meeting people. I love meeting people for the first time. I love catching up with people again. It is a great privilege to see so much of our country all the time and so many Australians, talk to them, listen to them, get the benefit of their wisdom.

If you love Australia, you love Australians as much as I do this is the best job.

CRAIG MEDDINGS:

Prime Minister on behalf of myself Craig and Roxie, and all of us here at Bay 93.9, thank you for being so generous with your cheque book and with your time.

[Laughter]

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you so much.

[ENDS]