Well, we’ve had a very good meeting here this morning, here at Morgan Stanley, which it’s head of course, James Gorman, is an Australian. We’ve had a good discussion with a number of business leaders about investment in Australia, about the state of the global economy, prospects for growth both here and in our region. A very constructive discussion.
I have to say that the contribution Australians make to business and enterprise in the United States is very, very strong.
Of course we saw that last night too at that wonderful, warm evening, where we acknowledged and thanked those great veterans of the Battle of the Coral Sea, that battle where Australian and American sailors and aviators turned the tide of war.
To see those men of the Royal Australian Navy, the United States Navy, standing there, so proud, receiving the thanks of everybody in that room and all Australians and Americans, for what they did when they were just teenagers – 17, 18 years of age. Those guys turned the tide, saved Australia, turned the tide of war and began the return of the United States and her allies, Australia and others, to recapture the territories taken so dramatically by the Japanese in the first part of the war.
So it was a wonderful, warm evening, for the thanks and recognition of those veterans. Of course it was great for Lucy and I to meet with the President and Mrs Trump. Again, that was more family than formal. It was a very, very warm encounter and a great evening.
Could you please just flesh out what you spoke about with the President? The main topics and what you discussed?
We discussed a whole range of issues. Of course, the big national security issues – North Korea, the Middle East in particular. We talked about the relationship, the alliance, we talked about its history and its strength, its enduring strength. We talked about the economy. We talked about trade and investment. We talked about tax. So it was a good, broad discussion. We talked about immigration, as the President acknowledged. So it was a good, broad discussion.
But above all, it was an opportunity for us to get to know each other face-to-face. We have backgrounds that are similar in many respects, businessmen that found our way into politics. We’ve also got a lot of friends in common too. So it was very, very warm – as I said – more family than formal.
On immigration, did he ask your advice on how Australia has managed to stop the boats? And on Islamic State, did you discuss the timeline to defeat the terrorists in the Middle East?
Well can I just say on migration, Australia’s policies are well understood. Of course, we talk about our immigration policies which are built on a foundation of saying that it is the sovereign right of the Australian Government – elected by the Australian people – to decide who comes to Australia and how long they stay and the terms and conditions on which they stay. So that is our sovereign right.
We are the most successful multicultural society in the world. That is my claim as Australia’s Prime Minister. The foundation of that is a migration system in which the Australian people have confidence that their Government is completely in control of. That is what we’ve established and that is what we maintain and that is what’s understood by others.
But we don’t ever presume to advise or counsel other countries on how they should manage their affairs. That is a matter for them. But the principles of our immigration policies and our border policies are very, very well understood.
The President has some interest in adopting some similar policies?
Well again, I’m not going to buy into American domestic policy. But our policies, our approaches are very well understood and have been successful.
What was the message from CEOs here to you Mr Prime Minister, about Mr Trump’s economic agenda?
The move to reduce business taxes is really welcomed. This is an absolute, proven recipe for stronger economic growth. You know, this is why of course in Australia we have an Enterprise Tax Plan where we are reducing company tax progressively from where it is or has been, from 30 per cent down to 25 per cent. As you know, we’ve secured passage through the Senate of legislation to reduce tax down to 25 per cent over time for companies with turnovers of $50 million a year or less. Collectively, that includes firms, businesses, that employ around half the Australian workforce, the private sector workforce. So that’s a substantial reform. We’ve got further to go.
Now, why do we seek to reduce company tax? Why does the Trump administration seek to reduce company tax? It’s pretty simple. If you increase the return on investment, you get more investment. If you get more investment, you get more employment.
That is why, right around the world, business taxes have been reduced. You’ve seen what’s happened in the UK, it’s heading down to 18 per cent. You’ve seen what’s happening with candidate Macron in the French presidential elections, promising to reduce company tax even further than is already underway in France. Around the world, it’s a global trend to reduce business taxes in order to promote more investment and hence more employment.
Prime Minister, you’re heading back for the Budget, and on just a domestic matter, reports in the weekend papers that you’re going to put a ban on television gambling advertising up until 8:30 at night and five minutes before and after the start of play. Is that true and do you expect a big blowback from the sporting codes and the TV networks?
Well, parents around Australia will be delighted when they know that during football matches, cricket matches and live sporting events before 8:30, there will be no more gambling ads. You know, there are no gambling ads allowed before 8:30 generally, but there’s been an exception for a long time, of live sporting events.
Now what has been, what is being announced, is an agreement to ban gambling ads prior to 8:30 during live sporting events other than racing. This will be welcomed by Australian parents right around the country.
Did the President discuss with you increasing Australia’s military commitment in the Middle East as we really try to obliterate Islamic State?
We didn’t discuss any changes to our respective commitments, or at least to Australia’s commitment in the Middle East. As you know, we have a very intense engagement with the United States on these matters. We have the third-largest foreign commitment to the battle against ISIL in the Middle East. Our forces are working together and integrated intimately, as I saw when I visited our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan just in the lead-up to Anzac Day. I thanked them for their services and I met US commanders there. The cooperation, collaboration, could not be closer.
Prime Minister, can you give us an indication of the differences between a meeting with President Obama and a President Turnbull (sic)?
Well the two Presidents are obviously very different men. But I have been delighted and honoured to meet with each of them. The relationship between Australia and the United States, the alliance, is so strong, so enduring. It’s built on millions of people-to-people ties. It is family and in many respects of course, it is a family matter.
It is built on almost a century of shared service and sacrifice. You know from the mud of the Battle of Hamel in 1918, when American forces were led into battle by the great Australian General John Monash, to victory again, another battle that started to turn the tide of war. From then through to the waters of the Coral Sea to the sands of the Middle East today, Australians and Americans stand shoulder-to-shoulder, in freedom’s cause, today as their parents and grandparents did before them. As we always will.
Because we are two nations united by a commitment to shared values; freedom, democracy, the rule of law. Values we cherish so much, that we will always be prepared to fight for them. Thank you very much.