Good afternoon. On a very non-political note happy Mother's Day to all Australia's mothers. We love you all so much. Your love has made us what we are. Happy Mother's Day.
Now, I have returned from visiting the Governor-General as you have observed. The Governor-General has accepted my advice to dissolve both houses of Parliament effective tomorrow morning, and call an election for both Houses, a double dissolution on 2 July.
At this election Australians will have a very clear choice; to keep the course, maintain the commitment to our national economic plan for growth and jobs, or go back to Labor, with its higher taxing, higher spending, debt and deficit agenda, which will stop our nation's transition to the new economy dead in its tracks.
We live in a time of remarkable opportunity. We live in an era when the scale and pace of economic change is unprecedented through all of human history. The opportunities for Australia have never been greater. There are many challenges. But if we embrace this future with confidence and with optimism, with self-belief and a clear plan, then we will succeed as we have never succeeded before.
Our economic plan for jobs and growth is as clear as it is critical - to support this transition to the new economy of the 21st century.
It is the most exciting time to be an Australian. These are exciting times. But we must embark on these times, embrace these opportunities, meet these challenges, with a plan and we have laid out a clear economic plan to enable us to succeed.
We have set up an Innovation and Science Agenda which will ensure that right across our nation we are more innovative in business, in academia, in government, ensuring that we are able in these times of rapid change to meet them with the agility and the ingenuity and the imagination that makes for success.
We are ensuring through our Innovation and Science Agenda that our children have the skills of the 21st century, and that our researchers and scientists, the best in the world, are collaborating with Australian business and industry so that we see more of the fruits of their work in Australian jobs and Australian enterprise.
We have laid out a Defence Industry Investment Plan which will equip our armed forces with the capabilities they need to keep us safe in this century. And we will develop and build those capabilities so far as we can right here in Australia.
Every dollar we can spend in Australia we will. And we will do so by investing in Australian advanced manufacturing, in Australian technology, in Australian science, in Australian industry creating thousands of high-tech jobs right across our nation.
And we live in a region that has seen the most remarkable growth. Little more than a generation ago, China was an impoverished nation barely part of the global economy. It is now the world's largest or on some measures the second largest economy. That is just part of the changes we have witnessed.
In a few years more than half of the world's middle class will be living in Asia. The opportunities for Australia are enormous. But we have to have the means to seize them. And we have established export trade deals right across the region with Korea, Japan, and with China itself.
With the Trans Pacific Partnership and only a few days ago enhancing our Free Trade Agreement and military cooperation with the Republic of Singapore.
That is providing jobs and economic growth right across Australia in services, in tourism and education, in agriculture, right across the board, opening those markets has created enormous opportunities for jobs and growth.
A vital part of our plan is to ensure that young Australians get into employment, that young Australians, particularly who struggle with getting started in a job, develop the employability that will set them up for life. And we have set out, as you have seen in our budget, a youth employment plan that will help more than 100,000 young Australians into jobs with the PaTH program preparing them to work as interns to get that experience, to get into employment.
Our tax system is a key part of our plan. It is one of the biggest influences the Federal Government has on our economy. We are reforming our tax system to make it more sustainable and fit for purpose in the 21st century.
We have established and are establishing the toughest anti-avoidance laws in the developed world. We believe in lower taxes. We do. But it is not optional to pay them.
Multinationals will have to pay their fair share in Australia. The laws we are setting in place are the world's best.
And we are providing tax relief for Australian businesses with our enterprise tax plan, beginning with smaller businesses with a turnover of $10 million or less and then working up so that after 10 years all Australian companies will be paying 25% corporate tax rather than 30, making our tax rate more competitive, providing the incentives for investment and for jobs.
We are providing relief for middle income earners, so that people in the middle income bracket do not move into the second highest tax bracket, in the way they otherwise would. Our reforms to superannuation, which affect only the 4 per cent of highest income earners, in any negative way or adverse way, these reforms make our superannuation system fairer and more flexible. 96 per cent of Australians will either be unaffected or better off. People on low incomes, under $37,000, will have their tax offset by our new reforms on their superannuation contribution.
Women, in particular, who have been out of the workforce will be able to come back in and catch up on unused concessional contributions. And older Australians will be able to contribute past the age of 65 and self-employed people will be able to contribute in the same way as if they were employed. These are critical reforms to make our tax system fairer, more flexible and fit for purpose. Everything we are committed to, with record spending on hospitals, on health, on education and infrastructure, is fully funded. Every single one of our commitments is paid for.
Now the double dissolution that the Governor-General has agreed to is, as you know, brought about because the Senate has twice refused to pass legislation relating to the accountability of unions and employer organisations, and most critically, has twice refused to pass legislation to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission. The reestablishment of that commission, in particular, which will be the consequence of us winning this election, if the Australian people so decide, that will restore the rule of law to the construction sector, which employs a million Australians. It is a vital economic reform and critical to our continued success.
Now, our national economic plan is already reaping rewards for Australians. We are seeing business confidence and growth at higher levels. Last year, the economy grew 3 per cent in real terms. Over 300,000 jobs were created, last year, the highest since 2007. And 26,000 new jobs were created in the month of March alone.
That is the record that we have established already, and we will be seeking the mandate of the Australian people to continue and complete that national economic plan, because that is the key to us achieving and realising the great opportunities of these exciting times.
During this election campaign, my opponent, Mr Shorten, will undoubtedly make very big promises, or continue to make very big promises of higher spending. And I ask Australians when they hear these promises, from him and from Labor to remember that Labor has no credible or coherent way to pay for them, other than through more debt and higher taxes. The choice cannot be clearer at this election.
We have an economic plan for growth and jobs. Every single element of it is designed, is calculated, determined, to deliver stronger economic growth and more jobs for Australians. On the other hand, our opponents are promising to increase income tax, they are opposing a tax cut for Australian businesses. They are proposing to increase capital gains tax by 50 per cent, a tax on investment.
Now, all of us know that if you want to have less of something, you increase the tax on it. That is how health organisations justify and urge governments, as we are doing, to increase the tax on tobacco. Labor clearly wants to have less investment. They are increasing by 50 per cent the tax on investment.
After three years they have learnt nothing from the failure of the Rudd- Gillard-Rudd years, in which Mr Shorten, of course was a leading player. And reports, repeating the policy failures of the Labor era in government we see one experiment after another, one failed experiment after another.
We see Labor now proposing to ban negative gearing on every single asset class except new dwellings. This will deliver a massive shock to the property market at a time, as the Reserve Bank Governor said only a few days ago, property prices are moderating. It puts at risk the investments of millions of Australians. It stands in the pathway, blocking the road to entrepreneurship.
Under Labor's plan, not only will the tax on investment be increased by 50%, but a person who seeks to get started in business and borrows money, and has no capital other than their own, their human capital, under Labor's plan that person will not be able to offset any losses they have against their personal income. But a wealthy person, of course, will be able to offset it against their investment income. So, Labor, claiming to speak for fairness, but in really speaking for nothing more than increasing taxes, stands in the way of Australians getting ahead.
Unlike the Labor Party, Australians know we can be trusted to keep Australia safe and secure.
The human capital. Under Labor’s plan that person will not be able to offset any losses they have against their personal income. But a wealthy person of course, would be able to offset it against their investment income. So Labor claiming to fairness, but then really speaking for nothing more than increasing taxes, stands in the way of Australians getting ahead.
Unlike the Labor Party, Australians know we can be trusted to keep Australia safe and secure. Our Defence investment plan and our re-equipment of our armed forces is making up for six years of neglect under Labor.
And we know all too well, the shocking and tragic experiment Labor conducted in Government which saw 50,000 unauthorised arrivals by sea and over a thousand drowned at sea. We will maintain our border protection policies. Australians know that we will keep our borders secure. They know that the Coalition, totally united, is committed to keeping our borders safe. And when we do so, as we have done since we returned to Government, what we do is underpin the confidence that Australians have in a Government that controls its own borders. In a Government that is able to manage an immigration system, a humanitarian program, and build towards – as we have done so successfully – the most successful multicultural society in the world.
So the question is clear; do we stay the distance with our national economic plan for jobs and growth? Or do we go back to Labor, which has no plan, only politics, only a recipe for more debt, more spending, more unfunded promises, every measure they have proposed so far, absolutely calculated to stand in the way of investment, to stand in the way of jobs.
These are exciting times for Australia. These are times for confidence, for optimism, for a clear plan and we will be seeking a mandate from the Australian people on the 2nd of July. I will be seeking a mandate from the Australian people, as the Prime Minister of this country, to carry out this plan because we know that it will lay the way, clear the way for us to have the greatest years in our history. These are times unprecedented in opportunity. There are uncertainties. There are challenges. But with a clear vision, a clear plan and confidence in Australia and its people, our greatest days surely are ahead of us.
Prime Minister how many debates will you have with the Opposition leader and will you commit to an early debate in the campaign?
We haven’t discussed debates but I look forward to having a number of them.
Should we be disappointed with the Coalition that its taken 2 ½ years for most of you economic plan to be enunciated let alone put into place?
We have set out a clear economic plan and we have laid it out. It is working. The results are there to be seen in strong economic growth. Australians understand that every plan can be judged on its results. And we have strong growth, strong job growth. But it will be put at risk if Labor’s job-destroying investment-deterring policies are allowed to become the policies of Australia.
What is the positive effect of your centrepiece business investment, which you say Labor would want to drop?
As you reduce business taxes, company taxes in this case, and of course as we reduce the tax on unincorporated businesses as well, what you do is promote and incentivise investment. The relationship[ is very clear and direct. That is why many people in politics including leading figures on the Labor Party, including the shadow treasurer, have promoted the idea of reducing company taxes. The way we are doing so is carefully calibrated to ensure that we provide the earliest benefit to smaller businesses because they have the agility, the quick decision making ability, to create new investment and jobs sooner. This is a very carefully considered plan for real growth in jobs and the economy and economic activity. There is a very direct relationship between reducing business taxes to a level that makes them more competitive in the world. Indeed, in our region. And it will pay a substantial dividend in jobs and growth.
The central claim from Labor against you is that your economic plan takes money from families and is unfair. We've had almost three years of debate now
about fairness in policy. The central claim against you is your policies are unfair. How do you respond to that?
Our plan, our budget, our economic plan, is fair. Not just to Australians today, but to the generations that will come after us. What Labor left us with was a mountain of debt and a trajectory of structural deficits that imposed a larger and larger burden on our children and our grandchildren. Every measure we have laid out, every single one, will deliver stronger economic growth and more jobs. Economists may debate how much growth, how many jobs. Time will tell, but every single one is pulling in that direction.
Every lever of our policy is pulling in the direction of jobs and growth. And yet you look at the Labor Party - everything they are doing, increasing the tax on investment, refusing to relieve the burden of tax on Australian businesses, despite having advocated for it in the past, imposing new taxes. Everything Labor is doing is absolutely calculated to stop our economic progress in its tracks. And that is why we are asking the Australian people for the privilege of governing this country for three more years to secure our prosperity, to secure our future.
Thank you very much.