Doorstop with John Alexander OAM, Liberal candidate for Bennelong - 9 December 2017

December 9, 2017
Transcripts

Saturday, 9 December 2017

SUBJECTS: Bennelong campaign, foreign influence, Sam Dastyari, AGL, Bill Shorten in New Zealand, Lucy Turnbull and campaign material.

E&OE…

JOHN ALEXANDER OAM – LIBERAL CANDIDATE FOR BENNELONG:

Prime Minister, welcome again to Bennelong. You are phenomenally popular here and congratulations for everything you achieved last week.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thanks John. It’s been great. We’ve had a great meeting with the Korean community here. We had a special message also from the Korean President, which was fantastic. And we are now here meeting dozens and dozens of John’s constituents and they understand that John Alexander has been defending them, he has been defending the small businesses of which there are so many in Bennelong. Do you know there are 17,500 small businesses in Bennelong? All of which are benefitting from our company tax cuts – most of them benefitting from the $20,000 instant asset write-off and they are family businesses. And these are the businesses that are hiring people and that is the reason why we are seeing the strong jobs growth – nearly 1,000 jobs a day in the last year.

We were talking just as we came in here with a lady who is just starting a new business and she was talking about that and how she is going to be working with the NDIS and how that is providing opportunities for her to start a business and how much she appreciated the incentives that we provide for small and medium businesses almost all of which are family owned.

So John is a driver of enterprise and entrepreneurship and jobs in Bennelong and he speaks in the Parliament for Bennelong but he also speaks with the experience of someone who really understands the importance of getting infrastructure right.

Now here in Bennelong we have seen the consequences of years of Labor government in New South Wales and Labor’s candidate, Kristina Keneally was responsible for the cancellation of the North West Metro – a vital piece of infrastructure which Gladys Berejiklian’s Liberal Government is now building. But you can see what has happened here. Labor allowed thousands, about 100,000 new apartments were approved to be constructed in Bennelong and then they cancelled the transport infrastructure that all of that additional density required. So what do you get? A lot of congestion.

Well, these projects take time to build and the Liberal State Government is getting on with the job. We are working with them and as you know, John and I and Gladys announced a new transport interchange at Macquarie Park. It is a $100 million project – we are paying the bulk of that in order to reduce congestion here in Bennelong.

But it is not rocket science to know what happened. Labor created the congestion because they allowed all of the additional development and then didn’t put in the transport infrastructure.

Infrastructure is vitally important. We are spending $75 billion on it nationally and here in Bennelong you can see together with the State Liberal Government we are taking the action to do the things that Labor failed to do and not only when Labor’s candidate was Premier, not only did she cancel the North West Metro, she paid half a billion dollars for the privilege of doing so. An extraordinary waste of public funds.

So this is critical – John Alexander defends Bennelong. He defends small businesses in Bennelong. He defends the infrastructure that we need to reduce congestion in Bennelong. He is an Australian champion and he’s Bennelong’s champion in Canberra and that is why so many people we’ve met here today are going to be voting to support John Alexander because they don’t want to take the risk with Labor, with a proven track record of failure in Bennelong, let alone the anti-business, anti-jobs, anti-investment approach that Bill Shorten is taking. The most anti-business Labor leader in generations.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, is China interfering in Australian politics?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, there is no doubt, you see with Senator Dastyari a very clear case of somebody who has taken, literally taken money from people closely associated with the Chinese Government and in return for that has delivered essentially Chinese policy statements.

JOURNALIST:

This is not a difficult question, it is about your opinion. Yes or no.

PRIME MINISTER:

I am giving you the answer, there has been foreign interference in Australian politics, plainly. And Sam Dastyari is a classic case and the real question is why is Bill Shorten allowing him to stay in the Labor Party, stay in the Senate when he clearly does not put Australia first?

John Alexander is an Australian champion. He discovered that he may be a dual citizen and so he did the right thing and he resigned from Parliament and is running again.

Labor have got UK citizens sitting in the House of Representatives still – they won’t do anything about that, but what about Dastyari? This is a man who not only delivered China’s talking points on the South China Sea after he had had his debts paid off by a Chinese benefactor, but he then - and you know what that provoke in Beijing? Complete contempt.

Do you think you win any respect in Beijing or China by being able to be bought off like that for a few thousand dollars? I mean, he has provoked nothing other than contempt and then of course giving, providing counter-surveillance tips to his benefactor.

JOURNALIST:

But staying on China’s complaints-

PRIME MINISTER:

Dastyari should be out of the Senate and the question that frankly that Shorten has to answer is how can he say he’s fit to be Prime Minister of Australia if he has got a Senator who does not put Australia first and has been so easily bought by a foreign, by agents of or interests of a foreign government.

JOURNALIST:

Do you feel bullied or intimidated by China’s complaint?

PRIME MINISTER:

No. Of course not.

Look, let me tell you something – I have spent a lot of time in China. I built one of the first Sino-Western mining project in China. I have been involved in business in China for nearly 25 years. Anyone who can say “Wǒ shì yéyé”, which is Chinese for “The paternal grandfather” is clearly not, hasn’t got any problems with Chinese people or Chinese culture.

But I tell you this – modern China was founded in 1949 with this, with these words: “Zhōngguóren men zhànqǐlai”, “The Chinese people have stood up”. It was an assertion of sovereignty, it was an assertion of pride. And we stand up, and so we say: “Àodàlìyǎren men zhànqǐlai”, “The Australian people stand up”. 

And I tell you, what Labor is doing with Dastyari will result in nothing more than complete contempt for Australia and particularly the Australian Labor Party in Beijing.

China, Chinese people stand up for their sovereignty, and they expect Australian people and particularly Australian leaders to stand up for theirs. That is why we respect each other and that is why they respect me and my government. And that is why you will see nothing but contempt for the groveling and the cheap agency that Senator Dastyari has been providing and the way in which Shorten is tolerating it.

JOURNALIST:

Australians and our political system – is it safe and protected from foreign interference?

PRIME MINISTER:

We have just introduced, I have just introduced into the House of Representatives on Thursday night news laws which will create new offences of covert foreign interference will require transparency so that people who are working for foreign principals or foreign governments and seeking to influence political debate in Australia should be very transparent about it. I mean, this a free society. People, foreign governments are entitled to make their point of view known. Their ambassadors and representatives and foreign companies are entitled to make their case, but you’ve got to be very transparent about it. And covert lobbying, particularly of the kind we’ve seen recently, that is not acceptable and we are updating our laws to deal with it.

Now, the gentleman asked me about AGL?

JOURNALIST:

What is your response to AGL’s decision this morning to close the power station? Is that a rebuke of your government?

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh, not at all. Look, AGL, when AGL announced that they were going to close Liddell in 2022, some time ago, and then you will have a seen a few months back the Australian Energy Market Operator said that would create in the current circumstances a 1,000 megawatt gap in baseload power on the east coast, which we can’t allow to happen. The gap in baseload power is not acceptable. So we went to AGL and said we expect you as a major energy company to not just, you know, shut down a power station and then see energy prices go through the roof - which is obviously very good for energy companies but very bad for everyone else - we want to see, we want you to satisfy us and satisfy the Energy Market Operator that that gap in baseload power is not going to occur. One way to do that is obviously to keep the plant going for a few more years. AGL has got a plan which they have produced for the first time which they say will meet that gap. It is being examined AEMO now. And we’ll look forward discussions with AEMO.

I want to be very clear about this – I am technology agnostic about energy. My object is to ensure that Australians have affordable and reliable power so when they go to turn on the lights, the lights come on and that they can afford to keep them on and we meet our emissions reduction obligations that we’ve signed up to in Paris.

So the National Energy Guarantee does that and there are many ways you can reach that goal.

As I say, our policy is based on engineering and economics, not ideology and idiocy which I am afraid to say is what Labor has demonstrated. And if you want to see how that works look at South Australia.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, you’re here, we are a week out, Shorten is in New Zealand. Has he given up already?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, you’d have to ask him that. I am not sure what he’s doing in New Zealand. It is a matter for him I suppose. I wish him well in his travels but I can tell you I am here supporting John Alexander and proud to be here.

JOURNALIST:

There has been some nasty things going on in the campaign. We’ve seen some flyers, very negative about Keneally. Are you worried that this is just going to turn into a very nasty campaign in the last few days?

PRIME MINISTER:

I don’t know what you’re talking about. But the facts about Kristina Keneally are very, very grey. I mean let’s be quite clear – she failed the people of Bennelong as Premier. There is no question about that. She cancelled the North West Metro. She enabled massive development and didn’t build the infrastructure to enable the community to remain liveable. It was a colossal failure in policy. I think everyone recognizes that. So she failed Bennelong then.

We’re talking about national security a moment ago – Kristina Keneally has made it very clear that she believes the people on Manus should be brought to Australia, okay? Now, if we were to do that, the people smugglers would start up again. We know that. We absolutely know that. Labor did that once before. She, her statements are already being used by people smugglers to encourage people to get back onto their boats

The prospect of Kristina Keneally being elected, let alone a Labor government is exactly what the people smugglers want, believe me. The only way to keep the boast stopped is to ensure that we say we have a very generous humanitarian program, we take a lot of refugees in but we decide who they are. And if you come on a boat with a people smuggler, you won’t get in. That’s the only thing that works. Kristina Keneally is undermining that and Bill Shorten when he appointed her as his candidate knew that.

JOURNALIST:

Just back to China’s remarks-

PRIME MINISTER:

The lady here – please.

JOURNALIST:

Lucy is here with you today.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, she is!

JOURNALIST:

She’s very popular with the Australian public. Are you bringing out the big guns?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, she is magnificent. She is deservedly popular and she’s been talking to people right through here. I love Lucy and everyone else does too and I can understand why.

JOURNALIST:

Sorry – I was next. How would you describe China’s latest remarks?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I’m not sure what remarks you’re talking about.

JOURNALIST:

The foreign ministry.

PRIME MINISTER:

You’ve had almost all of the questions – now you had one more?

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, I understand that the Labor Party has made a complaint about some of the election material being handed out today – the scratchie cards. Have you seen those scratchie cards?

PRIME MINISTER:

I have yeah, yeah. I think they’re very good because they’re a good way of making sure that people understand that voting Labor here in this by-election is taking an enormous risk and they are an enormous risk, and everything to lose. So, betting on Labor is a losing bet and much more at risk, and you can see that the only thing they can rely on is lies.

Kristina Keneally started her campaign on a lie didn’t she?

JOHN ALEXANDER OAM:

Absolutely.

PRIME MINISTER:

About the waiting at the, was it Ryde?

JOHN ALEXANDER OAM:

Yes, claiming that she had been on the phone for an hour which is absolutely untrue.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yep, no-one was on the phone for an hour. So she started off her campaign with a lie and that was proved to be and Labor is still running around saying that we are cutting Medicare. Do you know what we’re doing to Medicare? We are guaranteeing in. We have passed legislation to guarantee Medicare. Do you know what we’re doing with schools? We are spending a record amount on schools including in Bennelong.

So Labor, they only have lies to put out there. They have no positive policies. Look at all those small businesses we talked about – Labor wants them to pay more tax.

Imagine the lady that Lucy and I were talking to on the way in here who is starting her new business – she’s thrilled that she knows that because it’s a small business she’ll be paying less tax than she otherwise would be. She’s delighted with the incentives that we’ve offered.

Labor wants to take them all away. They want to say to her instead of we admire your enterprise, we’re backing you – they want to pull the rug out and jack up taxes. Shorten has said he wants to have a class war. He wants to have a war on business. Well I’ll give Bill, I hope he’s paying attention over there in New Zealand, but I’ll give Bill a tip – if you want to have more jobs you need more investment. And 86 per cent of all jobs are in the private sector and half of all private sector jobs are in small and medium companies, almost all of which family owned like the ones around here.

We are getting behind business, we are getting behind jobs, we are getting behind investment and you’re seeing the results. Nearly 1,000 a day in the last year, many of them here.

So thank you all very much and remember - John Alexander, Australian champion, Bennelong’s champion.

Thank you.

[ENDS]

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