9 October 2015
Transcript - #2015013, 2015

Doorstop interview, Adelaide

SUBJECTS: South Australian economy

TREASURER:

The South Australian Treasurer and I as the Commonwealth Treasurer have one clear mission and that is to grow jobs and particularly to support jobs here in South Australia and see job growth here in South Australia right across the economy. Whether we have differences of politics on things from time to time, that is to be expected. But we share the goal of jobs in South Australia. We know that this is a difficult time for the economy and we need to support South Australians as they transition and we can’t click our fingers and change the way the world works and the pressures that are there. But what we can do is show the confidence in South Australians and their ability to be able to work and save and invest and transition and to create the more agile, the more innovative economy that will be necessary to ensure the jobs of the future for our children and their children.

So it is a great opportunity to continue that conversation. The South Australian Government has already moved to try and deal with uncompetitive taxes of their own at the state level. I think that is a good thing. We appreciate the strong support we have had from the South Australian Government for our trade agreements, because the South Australian Government knows that that is going to support South Australia; whether it is in the wine industry, the seafood industry, the beef industry. Right across the board, education, community services - these are good agreements that are going to create jobs for South Australians. So we are not afraid of the future, we know South Australians can embrace the future and that’s where the jobs are.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, as recently as this week Alinta announced the closure of at least [inaudible] power stations at Port Augusta. The local Liberal MP put forward a proposition yesterday of turning Port Augusta into a greater transport hub, being east, west, north, south right at the crossroads, but it would need Commonwealth funding to turn it into a major operation. Would you consider that?

TREASURER:

Well these are issues that I am sure the South Australian Government will raise from time to time. They have the primary carriage of addressing the issues that you have raised and it really is for them to plan these sorts of responses out. What we want to do is make sure the broader picture, the broader economy is able to spur growth here in South Australia and how the state government and others can work together to tap into that, I think that is very important. But I think the issues you raise highlight the transition we are going through. We can’t pretend that that isn’t happening - of course it is happening and it is causing I think a lot of difficult for people. But you can’t just sort of jump into bed and pull the doona over your head and hope it all goes away, you have got to have positive ways of dealing with that. We need to look at all the various options but obviously the Commonwealth has to keep in mind the importance and the integrity of our own budget.

QUESTION:

This would be national highway one we are talking about, it would be part of that opportunity. Now that is a Commonwealth responsibility.

TREASURER:

You will already know that with the Northern Connector here and the South Road the Commonwealth has already just put in $778 million into that project, funding that project more than the state government is. So I think the Commonwealth under the Coalition has got good strong runs on the board when it comes to supporting road infrastructure here in South Australia. We have put our money where our mouth is, particularly on the Northern Connector project and we will continue to pursue that.

QUESTION:

What about Port Augusta Treasurer, what about Port Ausgusta?

TREASURER:

We will work through these issues as the state government wishes to raise them with us. But what is important is that we have made the commitments, we are supporting industries that have growth potential here in South Australia. The Minister for Innovation is a great South Australian in Christopher Pyne, the Minister for Education and Training, another strong growth sector, is a great South Australian in Simon Birmingham, and the Minister for Cities is a great South Australian in Jamie Briggs. So South Australia has a very strong voice at the Cabinet table.

QUESTION:

Submarines are a key issue in South Australia, particularly when it comes to jobs. The state government is making the argument that any fewer than 12 submarines is not enough to provide a continuous build, to provide a continuous industry. Is that something that is being considered in the white paper process or is it purely going to be a decision based on defence contracts?

TREASURER:

I am going to leave those matters to the Minister of Defence that is where they are appropriately addressed. I would simply note that whether it was the bringing forward of the frigate project, the bring forward of the offshore patrol boat programme which is filling that yawning chasm that was left behind by the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government - for six years they made no decisions on these procurements, none at all. They opened up this wide chasm that particularly had the impact that it has on the South Australian economy. Now we have moved to fill that void and the other issues referred to are part of a process that is underway and I will allow that process to go through its various stages and at the appropriate time an announcement will be made.

QUESTION:

You mentioned the tax cuts put forward by the South Australian Government, what do you make of those? Are they the sort of tax cuts that will do enough to stimulate economy activity or should they have targeted something like payroll tax?

TREASURER:

Well I will leave that to the state treasurer. What I am encouraged by is the South Australian Government’s willingness to actually address tax changes in their own jurisdiction. I am noticing as a very new Treasurer that there are plenty of views about what we should do about Commonwealth taxes but you know if you want to be a beneficiary of how you change the tax system to help Australians work, save and invest you have got to be a participant as well. Whether that is on the tax system or on important economic reforms that help grow the economy here in South Australia or in other states, the states are a huge part of this programme. I am encouraging the states, as I will with Treasurers next week, to be part of that reform agenda. It is an agenda that  will help people get into jobs because at the end of the day, and I will have to leave it here because we have to go, I and Treasurer Koutsantonis have one shared goal and that is jobs. That is what we will talk about today.