1 March 2017
Transcript - #2017022, 2017

Doorstop Interview, Canberra

SUBJECTS: Racial Discrimination Act; George Christensen; penalty rates; Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority relocation.

QUESTION:

What do you make of the report regarding the Racial Discrimination Act and specifically 18C? Do you think it should be changed?

TREASURER:

As Treasurer I am focussed on how people are going to afford the price of energy. I am focussed on how people are going to afford to get into the housing market and afford their rent. I am focussed on trying to reduce people’s taxes and ensure that people can get into jobs. That is my focus and I don’t see any intersection between that issue and those priorities.

QUESTION:

But it is something you do have to consider though as a Cabinet Minister?

TREASURER:

Those processes will take their course. What I am focussed on is jobs, on growth, on housing affordability, on energy affordability, on ensuring that parents can get their children into childcare, that the Budget continues to brought back to a position of balance. Under this Government we have reduced a growth in debt by two-thirds. We have cut the rate of growth in spending from over 3.5 per cent under Labor when they left office to now under 2 per cent. Now, my job is to continue to get expenditure under control. My job is to ensure that people are investing in this country and to ensure that our businesses can be profitable so those businesses can pay their staff and employees higher wages.

QUESTION:

You have said many times before 18C doesn’t create one job – is that a message you wish you could get through to your colleagues? Stop banging on about it.

TREASURER:

I know what my focus is. That’s what I’m focussed on.

QUESTION:

George Christensen has raised concerns about the changes to penalty rates. Are you worried that someone within your own Party has concerns about that independent umpire.

TREASURER:

What I know is that the independent umpire has made a decision and the Government always said, before the last election, and after the election that we would respect the outcome of the Fair Work Commission. The only people who have done anything different to that are the Labor Party when Bill Shorten said he would support its finding and then on the other side of the election says he won’t support the finding. I have a simple question – was he lying then or is he lying now? Can you believe him on anything?

QUESTION:

Do you agree with some of your MPs that the penalty rates decision will be good for young people looking for work?

TREASURER:

We respect the decision of the Fair Work Commission and their findings I think are worth looking at. You can’t get a job in a business that isn’t open.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, the APVMA, the relocation, we are hearing this morning that staff might be working at McDonalds up in northern New South Wales. Is this rational policy making?

TREASURER:

What is important is that our regional centres have continued strong basis for growth. The Deputy Prime Minister has led the charge on getting jobs out into regional areas and this is an important part of that process. I think that is a good decision for that part of New South Wales. Where there are other opportunities to do it in other places where it makes good economic sense then that sort of decentralisation plan has long been a favoured position in many cases on both sides of politics. The difference is that we are actually doing it.

Thank you.