Radio interview with Brian Carlton, Tasmania Talks, LAFM - 26 July 2018

July 26, 2018
Transcripts

Thursday, 26 July 2018

SUBJECTS: Braddon by-election; Labor lies; our plan for a stronger economy and more jobs; our plan for more affordable and reliable energy; Emma Husar; Nine & Fairfax.

E&OE…

BRIAN CARLTON:

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, good morning.

PRIME MINISTER:

Good morning, great to be with you.

BRIAN CARLTON:

It's another lovely day in Tassie. How confident are you picking up Braddon?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, Brian, you know all of history counts against us but it clearly is close. I think increasingly people in Braddon recognise that Brett Whiteley is the only candidate who can actually deliver, because he will be part of my Government. That means that the commitments he's making are commitments that will be delivered, because only the government can deliver them.

I think the point you made earlier about Labor's lies - about so many things but in particular about Justine Keay’s eligibility - is something voters have to weigh up.

She knew, and Bill Shorten knew, she was not eligible to sit in the Parliament. She sat there, taking taxpayers money for a salary, for expenses, all that time and it was only when the High Court had to basically say for the second time that they were ineligible, that they finally pulled the pin and got out.

But they hung on till the very end in the hope that they could get away with it.

Just like they hope they can get away with their lies about health. You know, they're going around saying that we've cut funding to hospitals. As I know you've heard from me…

BRIAN CARLTON:

It’s a very specific figure they’re using Prime Minister, $11 million is the claim…

PRIME MINISTER:

Yeah, well it is completely and utterly untrue. I mean the fact is our funding, federal funding, for public hospitals in Tasmania is increasing. In Labor's last year in office, 2012-13, it was $294 million dollars. In the financial year just passed it’s $418.6 million dollars. That's an increase of 42 percent. So those are the facts, they’re in the Budget papers, anyone can check them. Of course that doesn't include the $730 million dollars we paid to Tasmania at the time the Mersey Community Hospital went back to Tasmanian ownership.

So, you know, it says a lot about the character of the Labor Party, their candidate and their leader, that they are prepared to tell these shocking lies. They basically take the view that they will lie and lie in the hope that they can get away with it.

They thought they were going to get away with Justine Keay’s eligibility. Finally the High Court caught up with them the second time and they pulled the pin. That's why they're having these by-elections.

BRIAN CARLTON:

I want to come back to the credibility of the Opposition Leader in a moment on another issue. But one area, just from some of the vox pops that Sky News was doing yesterday with David Speers, as you know Prime Minister, in Braddon. What became obvious is that irrespective of which way people were intending to vote, or indeed had voted already, the success of the Tasmanian economy at the moment is known to all sides of politics. I just wonder to what extent we need to more greatly connect the economic success of Tasmania at the moment and the flow-on benefits to people in the state. Because the old rhetoric coming out of Labor at the moment - it’s hospitals and schools and all that - but somebody's got to pay for it. Somebody has got to earn the money to pay the taxes,so you get hold of it to determine how it's spent in those areas. That connection is often lost on people from what I can work out; that we've got to have a strong economy before you can have a good health system, before you can have good schools. Otherwise we just send the place broke.

PRIME MINISTER:

That's absolutely right, Brian. I mean the reason we're able to increase spending on essential services - whether it is hospitals, whether it’s schools, whether it's infrastructure, whether it's the money for the Bass Highway or the Murchison Highway, whether it's our jobs package - any of these programs require funding.

Now the reality is that we have the strongest jobs growth, last calendar year, in Australia's history.

We had 2,100 jobs created in Tasmania last month alone.

We have the lowest percentage of Australians of working age on welfare in 25 years

That is because business is investing and employing and having a go. Look at all the industries in Tasmania that are being supported by our big export trade deals. You know, all of them have been done under our government: China, Japan, Korea, the Trans Pacific Partnership, the new deal with Singapore, we're working on one with Indonesia.

You know, Shorten has opposed, at one time or another, he's opposed all of them. With the Trans Pacific Partnership when Donald Trump pulled out - this is a deal with ten other countries now, as it's been entered into - Trump pulled out of it and a lot of people thought it was a dead duck. But Shorten mocked me for persevering with it. He said I was on a “vanity project”, I was “deluded”.

Well, you know there are thousands of people with jobs in Australia and businesses that are prospering because of our trade deals because I did not give up on Australian jobs in the way Bill Shorten wanted me to. That's the real difference; I'm committed to Australians having opportunities to start a business, to grow business, to get a job, you know, to advance themselves, to realize their dreams. To do whatever they want to do with their lives. But you need a strong economy to enable you to do that. You need a strong economy to pay for all of those essential services.

BRIAN CARLTON:

One of the constant narratives you get back from Tasmanians is children and grandchildren have to leave the state in order to be properly educated or indeed get a job once they are. But in the former, in terms of the education, the investment in the university relocations in both Launceston and Burnie are no doubt going to play into one half of that equation. The other half of the equation is, I guess, making that really solid connection so people understand that as we move forward, you won't have to send your kids off to the mainland, because it'll be there'll be a job and an education here for them in Tasmania. I just don't know that we've been shouty enough about that.

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I think probably that there is a transition Brian and you and your listeners would feel it more keenly than me. But I sense the mood in Tasmania has been shifting from glass half empty to glass half full.

BRIAN CARLTON:

Yeah, I’d agree with that.

PRIME MINISTER:

I think that there's more optimism, there's more confidence. I'm here to say to you as Prime Minister that the jobs of the 21st Century are not somewhere else, they’re here in Tasmania. They're here in advanced manufacturing, they’re here in energy.

Look at our big plans for hydro and renewable energy. I mean, the whole Battery of the Nation plan is going to result in billions of dollars of investment in Tasmania. It's going to result in more and more affordable energy for Tasmania and indeed the mainland. Now, that is something that has come from my Government. I canvassed all of that in a speech 18 months ago: the need for us to think, to work, to develop storage to back up renewable energy resources. This plays into Tasmania's strengths. I mean Tasmania has got the best wind assets in the world, certainly the best assets anywhere in Australia. They operate, the wind farms here, operate at different times to the wind farms on the mainland, so that's fantastic. In addition to that, of course, you've got the ability - we've identified 14 sites with the hydro scheme - where you could have pumped hydro which would enable you to store it.

Now, this is the sort of forward-thinking vision, positive, business-building, economy-supporting and driving attitude that my Government brings.

What do you get from Labor? You just get negativity and this sort of animosity towards business. I mean they are constantly seeking to undermine the spirit of enterprise, which is what of course is driving the jobs growth and the opportunities here and everywhere else.

BRIAN CARLTON:

To what extent then are you concerned about front page reports on The Australian today that Bill Shorten will not support the National Energy Guarantee, something we've spoken in detail about with the relevant minister Josh Frydenberg a week or so ago? If that disappears, if you can't get that through, we end up with what?  An energy policy vortex such as which we've been in for the past decade or so? It’s not a good outcome, wouldn't be a good outcome.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, look, the National Energy Guarantee is the key to having policy certainty, more investment and affordable energy. You know, it's not a political document, it’s designed by the Energy Security Board, five experts in the field. It's got massive support across the board, from the farmers to the miners to manufacturing to consumer groups to energy users.

Shorten wants to play politics with it but he’s got to stop letting politics get in the way of affordable energy.

What we want to see is lower energy bills. We are starting to turn the corner on that, they’re starting to come down. You know wholesale generation costs have come down significantly because of policies of my Government. But we want to keep that trend down. According to the Energy Security Board, household average bills will reduce by $550 from 2020. Now that's a lot of money. That's my focus, on cheaper electricity.

BRIAN CARLTON:

Yep.

PRIME MINISTER:

You know, Brian, to those people who say - as Labor says - that we should have more renewables, the fact is that, as Brett knows and I know, the focus has got to be on cheaper energy.

Now, the advocates for renewables say that they are cheaper than coal or gas. There are people that will make a very compelling case for that. Our policy is technology agnostic. If renewables are cheaper, as many people say they are, then we'll see a lot more renewables and everyone will be happy. We will have cheaper electricity. But that's what I want, I want to see cheaper electricity and therefore more investment, more industry, more jobs and more opportunity.

BRIAN CARLTON:

I think if the extent to which the physical network had to be re-engineered to handle variable and widely dispersed generation the economic equation would be a little different. But we'll go into that on another day. Look, you have announced one package which I found interesting and has really received scant attention throughout the Braddon campaign. This is the Job Ready Generation package, specifically for the north west of Tasmania. What I'd like you to do is talk the audience through what that actually means, $3.9 million dollars worth of spending.

PRIME MINISTER:

Right, what this is, this will involve $1 million dollars to fund the delivery of school-based pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship training. It's going to fund half a million dollars to support the Tasmanian Government’s AgriGrowth strategy which includes a couple of hundred thousand dollars for agritourism training, that's very important. $400,000 to support employers working with schools to develop pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship pathways and other elements, both in terms of agriculture and mining training.

I mean what this is all about is ensuring that workers in North West Tasmania have the skills they need to meet the growing job demands in the region. Because we see at the same time that some people will say, “Well, we want to get the unemployment rate down,” at the same time you'll have employers saying, “We can't get people with the skills.”

BRIAN CARLTON:

I hear more of the latter, for what it's worth here, Prime Minister. Can’t get the people, that’s the word I get from business.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well that’s what this is all about. We're doing this in eight other areas around Australia. The focus is to work with state governments and other training organisations to make sure, work with industry, so we go and talk to industry and say, “Where are the skills gaps, how can we help,” and provide some money to ensure that that training is provided.

I mean, it was very obvious in this area, as you say, that there is a need for more workers with the right training

BRIAN CARLTON:

Okay, because there seems to be the old – I hate to use this term – but the sort of class breakdown, if you like. But there's only one party interested in jobs creation and I just think that policy has not been talked about very much and probably should have been.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I'm glad, thank you for the opportunity to talk about it.

You know there is a big difference between us and Labor at the moment. It is more marked than it's ever been. There was a time when the Labor Party used to talk about jobs and used to talk about aspiration. You know, ‘the ladder of opportunity’ and things like that.

Shorten now is just representing Labor as a party of grievance. As a party of resentment and envy. It's a very negative approach.

It’s our side of politics that is talking about investment, reducing tax. We’re reducing business taxes, we’ve reduced personal income tax, encouraging people to get on and have a go, encouraging employers to invest and hire, encouraging business to export and providing the opportunities to do so.

So you’ve got on the one hand, from Labor, grievance and all of that negativity. From our side of politics, you've got aspiration and opportunity. It’s a big difference.

BRIAN CARLTON:

Just to the politics very briefly if I may Prime Minister. The assertion by Bill Shorten, the Opposition leader, that he was not aware of an internal Labor Party investigation into allegations of, well, pretty ordinary behaviour by Emma Husar who is the Labor Member for Lindsay, in Western Sydney. Do you buy that? 

PRIME MINISTER:

It's very hard to believe that you'd have a lawyer, that the Labor Party would appoint a lawyer to investigate conduct in a Federal MP’s office that was apparently as grave and concerning as this and that neither Bill Shorten nor Tanya Plibersek would know about it.  It really does stretch credulity.

BRIAN CARLTON:

But it does, it does a little bit when you consider that a year ago from now Sam Dastyari, who was then as you know, the sort of Labor ‘fixit guy’ - no longer in Parliament for very known reasons – was sent into Emma Husar’s office to try and clean up the employment issues that were there.

It's hard to imagine how that could have happened and given Ryan Liddell’s close relationship with Emma Hussar - a senior staffer in Shorten’s office - that he didn't know. It just, again, it defies credibility.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yeah.

BRIAN CARLTON:

But if he didn’t, what does it say about his capacity to run a political party? Or a government?

PRIME MINISTER:

It shows that he's certainly not paying attention. But I think I think most people would find his assertion that he knew nothing about it as being very, very, very hard to believe.

PRIME MINISTER:

The announcement this morning just finally Prime Minister, if I may, the announcement this morning of a so-called merger between the Nine Entertainment Network and Fairfax. Any regulatory issues you see there?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, it will have to go through the ACCC and all of those matters. But I look I understand the parties expect it not to face any regulatory hurdles. It's obviously been made possible by the changes in media ownership laws that we made. I think, to be frank, I welcome the announcement. Fairfax is a great Australian company, newspaper company. The Nine Network, of course, was the first television station to be on air with Bruce Gyngell, remember, doing the first broadcast. In fact I used to work for the Nine Network in the past, my journalistic and legal past.

I think bringing them together will strengthen both of them. I think it will strengthen both of them. As you know, television and online and print journalism, it's a very tough, competitive environment nowadays. The arrival all of the online news services has made the media so much more competitive than it used to be, whether it's the competition for newspapers or whether it's the competition in the television area with streaming services like Netflix.

So I think bringing them together enables two strong Australian brands with great, very long traditions to be able to be more secure. So on that basis I welcome it.

BRIAN CARLTON:

When in our part of the state, the two newspapers, the only two that service the geographical north of Tasmania are The Examiner and The Advocate, both Fairfax. Do envisage the regional newspapers, particularly, having any loss of service? Loss of employment, journalists being sacked, I mean? Are we going to lose some localism Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER:

I couldn't see any reason why you would. I think the merged group will be stronger because it's merged. Generally though, my observation has been that the economics of regional newspapers has held up. Whenever I go around I talk to the editors about their businesses. My sense is that the economics of regional newspapers has held up better than their metropolitan counterparts. That’s to say local advertising revenues have held up better that the sort of national and metropolitan advertising you get in papers like The Age or The Herald or The Courier Mail or The Telegraph and so forth. So I think that's one thing they’ve got going for them and, you know, when so much of the media is national, if not international, regional voices have got a vitally important role to play. They've got a compelling proposition for readers and listeners and viewers because, of course, you know the most important news to everyone is the local news.

BRIAN CARLTON:

I guess if you're, if you're at the helm of a company that is losing money hand over fist, your natural reaction is to pull back on the sorts of services that are available to your readers. In other words, a number of journals out there working for example. If you're profitable, at least you can perhaps look to redress that.

Prime Minister, I wish you all the best for the weekend. I'd like to be able to do so to the Opposition leader but the boycott persists, just in case you were wondering.

[Laughter]

I thank you for your time, we'll do it again soon.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well thank you very much and Brett Whiteley is the only candidate that can deliver for Braddon. All the other issues aside, he's the only one that can deliver for the people of Braddon.

BRIAN CARLTON:

Appreciate your time this morning, thank you.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thanks a lot.

[ENDS]

Press Office of the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister, Canberra

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