19 April 2018
Transcript - #2018046, 2018

Doorstop interview, Geelong

Subjects: Strong business conditions; Turnbull Government delivering record jobs growth; Financial Services Royal Commission

TREASURER:

Well, it's great to be here at Avalon airport, and to be joined by Sarah Henderson and the general manager here. We've been talking about the development of this very important piece of infrastructure for Victoria, and particularly, in this part of Victoria. Infrastructure is such a critical component of the Government's plans, the Commonwealth Government's, Turnbull Government's plans to ensure we have got a stronger economy, continually investing in a stronger economy because that's what generates the jobs, that's what generates the higher wages, that's what generates the support to have services that Australians can rely on, whether it's Medicare, hospitals, education. All of this depends on a stronger economy and the investments that we're making in infrastructure all around the country are all about creating that stronger economy.

Just last week, I was with the Prime Minister, of course, and we were making our announcement about the Tulla rail, well, I'm here today, and we're looking at the infrastructure needs here. I want to thank Sarah in particular for taking me down here today. You were here with Michael McCormack, I understand, the Acting Prime Minister now, and Minister for Infrastructure, having a good look at what the future is here for Avalon. It's very exciting what is happening in this part of Victoria. So pleased to be here.

The other point I quickly wanted to make about a couple of other issues, first of all, the National Australia Bank survey, out today, again shows that strong business conditions that have been in place in Australia is leading to greater investment, more confidence, more jobs, which is putting the right conditions in place for wages to lift. We also saw from that survey today that lowering the tax burden on business, specifically the response was, almost 70 per cent of those businesses said that in response to taxes lowering to the level that we're seeking to do it, they would increase wages. Almost 70 per cent of businesses said that. More than 75 per cent of businesses said they would employ more people, and more than 90 per cent of businesses said they would lift investment in their business. That's how you create a stronger economy and that's what we're focused on delivering as a government and that's why it's so important that we stick to our plan, which means lower taxes, lower taxes for individuals, for wage earners, lower taxes for businesses out there, small and medium, and of course, businesses right across the spectrum, so we can get the growth that is needed to support the jobs and the wages and the essential services that Australians rely on.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, just on the jobs figures out today, few new jobs were created and those that were, were part time. What is your message to Australians who don't have a job or aren't getting enough hours?

TREASURER:

Under this Government, over the past year, there's been more than 1,000 jobs created every single day. This is a government that has delivered record jobs growth, both for jobs in total and full-time jobs. As we go into this year, after record jobs growth, there are real signs that businesses are finding it difficult now to start getting skills in particular areas and that's why we do anticipate, and Alan Oster from the National Australia Bank said today, the conditions are now in place where workers can expect to see their wages grow in this environment. That's something the Reserve Bank governor said, it's something I've said, that Treasury have said. This is the product of an economy that's been growing and putting people into work. I welcome the fact that unemployment is at 5.5 per cent and continues to have a trajectory downwards. I welcome the fact that youth unemployment, in particular, fell in today's numbers. I think that is great news. I was down at Kardinia Park today in Geelong, not only having a kick of the footy, but seeing the great job the Geelong Football Club does in working with local community organisations inside that club. It's incredibly impressive. One of the greatest programs they do there is get young people in jobs. Good for them. So local organisations here, Geelong and elsewhere, working with young people to get them into jobs. The jobs story is that the Turnbull government has been delivering jobs. We've been backing businesses to invest, backing businesses to grow, backing businesses to employ. That's what we're seeing in the surveys and I think if we stick to that plan, then we'll see more jobs.

QUESTION:

Unions have called for an increase to the minimum wage, saying it will create thousands of jobs. Do you agree?

TREASURER:

The way you create jobs is you back businesses to invest. That's what our plan has done. That's why the jobs are being delivered and that's how they'll continue to be delivered. The union movement has only a plan for people who may currently have a job, but not for people who need a job. We are about seeing more and more people get jobs. What the union movement always does is try and ensure that new people can't get jobs in this country, it's a closed shop for them. That's no way to run an economy and that's no way to support people who want jobs and want better wages as a result of growth in our economy. A stronger economy creates more jobs, and better wages. We've got a plan for a stronger economy, unions just have a plan for stronger union bosses.

QUESTION:

With softer job numbers over the last two months, do you think it's a sign that strong employment gains are now behind us?

TREASURER:

We've had record jobs growth over the last 12 months, that has been running and it's still running at about 3 per cent a year. Now, when we came to government, the jobs growth was 0.2 per cent. 0.2 per cent. That's what Labor left the economy with jobs growth. Under the Turnbull government, we've got jobs growth of 3 per cent. We've got jobs growth running at the highest level in terms of the number of jobs created in a 12 -month period, on record. More than 1,000 jobs a day, with youth unemployment falling, unemployment now at 5.5 per cent, and we want to see that keep going down. When it comes to jobs, the Turnbull government has delivered, is delivering, and will continue to deliver. We'll continue to do that because we believe in investing in a stronger economy and a stronger economy is what our plans are about, and that's why we need to stick to that plan.

QUESTION:

If we can just go to the live export trade, Treasurer, sheep have been dying on ships en route to the Middle East. For decades government after government have tried but failed to fix the problem. Is it time to ban the trade?

TREASURER:

The Agriculture Minister and others have more than adequately covered those issues and I'd refer you to their comments.

QUESTION:

On the banking royal commission, given the gravity of the evidence given by the AMP to the Banking Royal Commission, are you glad you finally agreed to it?

TREASURER:

The Government has been taking action in the financial sector, is taking action and will continue to take action. We weren't going to wait around until a commission was conducted to do something. We are already doing something. On the issue you referred to, and particularly AMP as I said yesterday, ASIC was already investigating and have been working with the royal commission. I find what has come out of the royal commission, as I said yesterday, deeply disturbing, and that these types of behavior, this despicable behavior, does carry jail sentences under the Corporations Act and I think that highlights how important it is. We've been getting on with making sure the penalties are up to scratch, we've had an enforcement taskforce working on that task for some time now, to see what additional improvements can be made. We put well over $100 million into ASIC to improve their resources to do what they need to do. We have strengthened their powers. We've got a new deputy commissioner of ASIC, starting very shortly, whose job is to prosecute in these areas. Our plan was to ensure we took action immediately, not wait. And that's what we've done. Now, the royal commission is now underway, we ensured that it had a broader terms of reference. The Labor party didn't want that. The wanted a very narrow terms of reference. We have a wide terms of reference, it will include superannuation, it's included insurance, and the Royal Commission will make recommendations at the appropriate time. In the meantime, we're going to keep getting on with it. We have legislated the Banking Executive Accountability Regime. That's now law. Now, the difference between the Labor party and the Government on this issue is the Labor party had a political line. They don't have a policy. They still don't know what to do in the banking and financial industry. They didn't even have a terms of reference for it. They had years to come up with one, and came up with nothing. What we did is we put it in place wide terms of reference, we've been taking action, we'll continue to take action when it comes to the abuses that are occurring in the banking and the financial system but at the same time, we will work to restore and ensure confidence in that sector because it's critical to our national economy.

QUESTION:

A bit more on the banking royal commission, Treasurer, is it already pretty clear that the time allocated for the royal commission is insufficient, given the revelations that have occurred so far?

TREASURER:

Commissioner Hayne is doing an extraordinary job. We've got the right commissioner with the right terms of reference. As a government, no, we did not rush into this. We did not enter into this lightly. For us, it wasn't a political game as it was for the Labor party. We took this very seriously when we finally took the decision that we did. If Commissioner Hayne were to come forward at some future point and make a recommendation about what he needs, or the resources he needs or the time he needs, then of course the government will listen very carefully to the Commissioner. I don't think he'd be coming forward recklessly at all. He would be coming forward on the basis of necessity and you'd expect the Government would respond positively to such a request. That's for the commission to determine. That's not for anyone else to determine. He is best placed to understand what the time requirement is going to be. He was aware of that time requirement when we set it. I think he's got about it at a cracking pace. He is a Commissioner who is no show boater, and neither are any of the others who seem to be working on this. They're not there to make names for themselves. They're there to get a job done, and to ensure that confidence can be restored in the culture and behaviour. I should stress this - the banking and financial system in Australia is a strong banking and financial system. There are no systemic issues associated with our banking and financial system that have been identified here, or are likely to be identified. We have one of the strongest, most capitalised banking systems in the world. It is one of the key strengths of our national economy. I think it's important as we go through this process that we separate those issues out. There are clearly cultural and behavioural issues the government was aware of because we were already acting on those issues and we'll continue to act on those issues. But we should not confuse that with any issues of systemic risk in the banking and financial system. They are completely different issues and it would be very dangerous to confuse them. The Government certainly doesn't and I'd caution others from doing the same.

Otherwise, it's been great to be here in Avalon and I look forward to the exciting things that are happening here, Sarah, and working together with the Avalon airport here. I've been very impressed by what I've seen and we look forward to working through issues around infrastructure requirements here in the weeks ahead.

Thank you very much.