Speaking with Karl Stefanovic from the Today Show

May 4, 2016

E&OE…

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Malcolm Turnbull, PM, Good Morning to you.

PRIME MINISTER:

Good morning Karl.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

When are you going to officially call this election and get it over with?

PRIME MINISTER:

You don't have long to wait, you don't have long to wait. The election - The Parliament will be dissolved and the election called before the 11th of May and the election will be on the 2nd of July.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Okay, so it will be, what, this weekend, Friday or Saturday?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I'll leave some scope for speculation there but you don't have long to wait.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

That's the easiest question I am going to ask you... Is it Friday or Saturday?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yeah, well there you go Karl. All in good time. Within days that's for sure.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

All right, you know that we have got to book accommodation and all that. With respect, how can the Australian public take anything in this Budget seriously when you are going to call the election and you may not be there in two months?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well the Budget is our economic plan, Karl. I mean this budget sets us up for the future. We are successfully transitioning our economy from one that was pumped up by mining construction boom to one that has got more jobs, more diverse jobs, that’s founded on taking advantage of the big open markets in Asia that we have opened up with free trade deals. It’s going to benefit from our innovation agenda our defence industry investment and what we are providing in the Budget the incentives business and enterprise to get on and invest. Those small businesses that will enjoy, if we are returned to government, a tax cut immediately in the next financial year, they employ over three million Australians. 3.4 million Australians And of course, those tax cuts will continue to develop over ten years until they apply to all- Australian companies, all businesses and the tax rate is 25 per cent. This is a very big incentive for growth, for investment and for jobs.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

You may not be Prime Minister in two months though.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, Karl, that is in the hands of the Australian people. We are approaching an election and there will be a very clear choice. Who do you trust to manage our economy through this challenging time? This time of transition. What Scott Morrison and I and all our team will be saying to the Australian people, you see our economic plan, you see how it will encourage, growth, drive growth and jobs and investment, give us the chance to deliver on that plan, to carry it out, and we can do that if we are returned to government.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

See here's the thing, I mean there is a ten-year plan on company tax reform, amongst other things. What government has delivered on an economic plan for this country in the past ten years? Is there any wonder that most Australians think our politicians are full of it?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Karl all I can tell you is that we have a clear economic plan, it is deliverable and if we are returned to government at the election we will deliver it.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Tax wise, how much better off are you under your own tax concessions?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well as I think that everybody who earns over $80,000 is around $300 a year better off. But the important point of view from this is the budget is very fair. You see people on higher incomes, that include me of course, are seeing a very big scale-back on their benefits under superannuation. So people on higher incomes, with large superannuation balances, especially those in the retirement phase, which obviously does not include me - but I'll get there eventually, those wealthier Australians are going to pay a lot more tax. Net - net, this has been a Budget where we have taken from the wealthier end of the spectrum, in the area of superannuation concessions, and we have reinvested that into backing small business, backing enterprise and in ensuring that superannuation works better for people on lower incomes and in particular, for women. You see, women almost invariably have much lower superannuation balances than men because they have interrupted work patterns because they have taken time out with family and kids. We are giving greater flexibility here, not simply by paying the, or taking the tax off superannuation contributions for people earning under $37,000, but also by giving people who come back  into the work force the opportunity to catch up and, if you like, catch up on their concessional entitlements to contribute to super.

Also for older Australians, at the moment you can't make concessional contributions to super after you are 65. Well a lot of people work well past 65 and we want them to. That’s good, so they can continue doing that now until they are 75.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

See it’s a tough sell isn’t it. And it’s an awkward sell when the Prime Minister is getting relief from tax but 75 per cent of Australia isn’t?

PRIME MINISTER:

Karl, every Australian benefits from this Budget. There are benefits for people right across the spectrum. Let me just make this very clear, every Australian benefits from a strong economy and strong growth. You look at all of the measures here will continue to deliver that strong economic growth. And then you look at the changes that we are making to ensure that unemployed youth get a real start into a job with an internship. I mean, what Scott Morrison said last night - I think that you have got to give him credit - he was straightforward, he was honest, he said "look, youth unemployment is a huge problem, we know that. The pressures we have had to date have not worked well enough. I'm proposing something new, something that is different that will ensure that is different that will ensure that young people get the training that young people get the training that they need to make them job ready. That employers have the incentive to give them a go. That the young people have the incentive to do it and you will find over the, the 125,000 young people that take advantage of this over the next four years, a substantial percentage of them will find a job and become employable because the best way to be employable is to be employed and we are looking forward, we are looking forward to considerable success from that." That is tackling a very big social problem.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Alright, you have to move money out of your own allocated pension to comply with the new $1.6 million cap? And all of our politicians with a defined benefit scheme do the same?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, all of the changes that we are making to super generally will apply to people on defined benefit schemes, as it happens I am not one of them because I came into the Parliament in 2004. But all of the provisions apply to every superannuant. So yes, the reduction in the caps, the increase in the tax for superannuation contributions for people earning over $250,000, they obviously apply to me. So the point is, the reality is that overall people on high incomes like myself and, indeed, yourself Karl, will be paying more tax one way or another as a result of this. Yes, there is a benefit for everybody who earns over $80,000, but for people on high incomes they will be paying more tax because of the very big changes, the very foundational changes to superannuation to make it fit for purpose.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Two quick ones before we go, we know that you need to move on – there is a lot to do. The Reserve Bank rates decision was handed down to the Budget speech, as you know. The Reserve Bank obviously feels and thinks that the Australian economy needs a little bit of a help. In terms of what you are doing, are you doing enough given what they have done yesterday?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think that the Reserve Bank responded in exactly the way you expect them to. You’ve got to remember, the Reserve Bank’s target, has an inflation target. And so, therefore, when you get inflation going backwards, as it did, it is natural they are going to respond by reducing rates. I think it is worth noting that the Governor said in his statement that Australia was transitioning well from the mining-construction boom to a more diverse economy. So he recognised that transition. An important point too, is that he noted a real softening in the or steadying in the property market, which underlines the danger of some of Labor's policies, which will absolutely pull the rug out from under the property sector. So I think it was, as you would expect, our Governor of the Reserve Bank, Glenn Stevens, is one of the most outstanding central bank governors in the world.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Do you need a drink of water PM?

PRIME MINISTER:

I have had one, yes I have been doing a lot of talking Karl, it goes with the territory with my job.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

If you need to have a drink go ahead, just leave five bucks there for us at the Channel Nine cottage.

Bill Shorten was on our show a little bit earlier in the program, he said that he can be Prime Minister in two months. Will you be Prime Minister in two months?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am quietly confident that the Australian people will give us another term in Government. But you can't take anything for granted and it is a two-horse race and it's a choice. It's a choice between me and Bill Shorten. Who do Australians trust to manage this transition from the mining-construction boom to the new economy of the 21st Century? Who do they believe has the economic plan to ensure that they, their children and their grandchildren will have great jobs and great opportunities in the future? We have laid out our economic plan - it is a plan for jobs and growth. We believe the Australian people will share our vision for a strong economy and great opportunities in this 21st century economy.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

It sounds like an ad and so it begins. PM – thanks so much for your time today - we appreciate it.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you Karl.

Ends

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