22 April 2016
Transcript - #2016057, 2016

Joint doorstop interview, Wodonga, Victoria

Joint interview with
Sophie Mirabella
Federal Liberal Candidate for Indi

SUBJECTS: Visit to Indi; Sophie Mirabella – Liberal Candidate for Indi; Wangaratta; the Government’s response to the ASIC capability review; Financial System Inquiry; Turnbull Government’s action on Multinational Tax Avoidance; Bill Shorten and Labor’s $100 billion additional tax burden; abolition of RSRT; Bowen's big boast on banks fails to survive a day; Shorten's 'little list' exposes reckless populism

TREASURER:

It's great to be here in Wodonga and it is great to be here supporting Sophie and I am very keen to ensure and to recommend that getting Sophie back into Parliament is the best thing that could happen for Indi, it is the best thing that could happen for regional Victoria. To have someone who would be part of a Coalition Government, supporting a Coalition Government to do the things that is so important; to support the transitioning of our economy, whether it is in regional areas like this, in our capital cities, in remote areas. The transitioning of our economy as we move from the construction and investment phase of the mining boom to a more diversified economy. What we are seeing is organisations like this, Mars here in Wodonga, continuing to go from strength to strength. This plant here, where I have had the opportunity to be briefed today over 500 employees are producing some 130,000 tonnes of product, $50 million of additional investment which is a sign of confidence in the production that is occurring here and it is a real showcase for, I think, how a manufacturing business that has been here for coming up to 50 years in production next year can really lead the way. It has been the hard work to those who work here that has actually won that investment and is ensuring that this plant continues to go from strength to strength.

Now, to continue to support that you need members like Sophie who can be part of a Coalition Government, support the initiatives of a Coalition Government to ensure that we continue to support our transitioning economy. I can guarantee you that if Sophie is elected for the Member of Indi once again, 100 per cent of the time Sophie will be supporting a Coalition Government in the measures that we are taking. Sadly, I can't say that for the current Member of Indi who on some 70 per cent of occasions has actually voted against the Coalition while we have been in Government, particularly on very big issues like immigration and asylum policy and things like that. It is very important that we can have the members in the Parliament who have the great strong track record here on the ground to enable us as a Government to do the things that are important to support growth and to support jobs here.

So, it is great to be here with Sophie and see the work she is doing. Recontesting here in Indi for the Liberal Party as our Liberal Candidate, she has our very strong endorsement and our very strong backing and I am very hopeful that she will be able to come back into the Parliament and be part of that very strong team that she was a part of before the 2013 election.

Sophie would you like to say a few words?

SOPHIE MIRABELLA:

Yes, I think it is great to have Scott, a good friend and the Treasurer, here in Indi and to have an opportunity to really see first-hand something that is very dear to this government's heart which is innovation. Here at Mars they are absolutely innovative at the work place level, at the production level and a real example in the manufacturing sector of how to do it and really growing our exports in the domestic market is fantastic to see.

It is also an opportunity for the Treasurer to be on our home turf, to speak directly with businesses to see innovation and education are going to see [inaudible] down the road so we can showcase how we are dealing, in an innovative way, with students who fall through the cracks. So, that is fantastic. So, it's a great opportunity for us here locally to speak with and put our concerns directly to the Treasurer.

TREASURER:

I am glad that Sophie raised that issue of youth. Youth unemployment now is lower than it was at the last election. In the last 18 months more than 50,000 additional jobs for young people have been created. So, this is the dividend of jobs and growth, this is the dividend of good strong economic management. You can't take it for granted, you have to do the things that continue to build that. Just here and talking to the plant today these sorts of products which they are producing here they recently had a delegation from China off the back of the FTA and they are expressing great interest in what the opportunities are here. We have got significant export markets already being serviced out of this plant here. That combined with innovation, you know it is not just small start-ups that are involved in innovation. We have talked a lot about the need for innovation to grow business and to grow jobs. That isn't just about hi-tech start-ups in the cities. It is about what we have seen here with the way this plant has dealt with waste management. It was only three or four years ago that you had multitudes of trucks rolling out of this plant pouring thing into landfill, every day and now it is done and they have done it ahead of time and they did it through the innovation of what they called, the associates here, it is all the members of the team here and it is their innovation. Going and developing the innovative programs and the innovative machinery and things that have enabled them to do that. So, that is a great win for this part of the world, for this region. It is also a great win for the company and I know the associates here and the staff here and the employees here feel really proud of what they have been able to achieve and I say good on you.

QUESTION:

Mr Morrison, Sophie last night revealed that $10 million was withheld from the Wangaratta Hospital when she lost her seat of Indi. I know you weren't the Treasurer then, but can you confirm that and is that money still on the table?

TREASURER:

I think this has been a gross mischaracterisation of what has occurred. There was no public commitment, no public commitment to that hospital funding before the last election. All of the public commitments that were made by the Coalition before the last election when Sophie was the member and obviously the candidate have been followed through on. So, we have met those commitments. Sophie is a keen advocate for health services here whether it is in Wangaratta or anywhere else and I can assure you that working as part of a Coalition Government she is going to be in a much stronger position to advocate for the needs of the local community when it comes to health facilities and services. So, I think this issue has been grossly mischaracterised in the reporting of this. The Government has followed through on the public commitments that were made before the last election here in Indi and it is a credit to Sophie that she was able to secure those public commitments before the last election. Because the fact that they have been rolled out over the last two and a half years is the direct consequence of her legacy as the former Member for Indi. We want to see more of that in the future. That is why we would love to see Sophie back as a Coalition Member supporting the Coalition 100 per cent of the time in the Parliament as opposed to just 30 per cent of the time as the current Member for Indi. I mean, we are going into what will be a very tight election. We all know that. I remember the 2010 election very clearly. I remember when people like Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott led their people to believe that they would be supporting Coalition Government's if there was ever some issue about the balance within the Parliament. I have no doubt that if you vote for Sophie that you will get a Coalition Government. You cannot be guaranteed of that with the independents, particularly with someone who was so close, and remains so close, to Tony Windsor.

QUESTION:

Behind the scenes was the money being considered for Wangaratta Hospital before Sophie lost the election?

TREASURER:

There was no public commitment and that means that is not an election commitment and it is not something that the Government would have proceeded with on the basis that there was no public commitment. We honour our election commitments. One of our election commitments was more generally across the economy was to have a fair dinkum inquiry into the financial system and we did that. This week we announced not only the follow up from that inquiry but the capability review of ASIC. So, we follow through on the commitments that we make and we have followed through on the commitments, public commitments, that were made here in Indi. Anything else is just the Labor Party and others just seeking to play politics on the eve of an election.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible] $10 million?

TREASURER:

There was no public commitment for that.

MIRABELLA:

There was no public commitment for that and all of my public commitments have been funded. In that situation [inaudible] was decided locally, it is such an important issue not to fall into the pork barrelling arguments, but for me to wait till after the election. Now I lost the election. I left it to the new member to carry on the campaign to get funding for hospitals. I can't deliver something when I am not there as the member, you know that is the situation. What I can commit to is if I am re-elected to fight damn hard to get that money in a Turnbull Coalition Government and I am sure Cathy will make that same commitment. The question for the people of Indi and Wangaratta is, in a Turnbull Liberal Government who is going to be able to get that funding for our local needs. That is the real question.

QUESTION:

So for the next four years if Cathy McGowan, say, is re-elected can Wodonga and Wangaratta expect our hospitals to be funded or will we miss out again?

TREASURER:

Well, most recently the Government at the COAG meeting we secured a new arrangement with the states which is increasing our support for the hospital system, the health system more generally to the value of $2.9 billion. Now, that is a significant commitment of the Turnbull Government, working with the states to deliver health services right around the country. We will continue to roll that out as part of that agreement and Sussan Ley, the Health Minister, who is not too far from here, is responsible for that very program. So, I am sure you would know that she has a keen interest in regional services here working with Sophie as well as she did for so many years when the two of them worked so well as a team. So, what we do as a Government though is we make commitments that we can afford and that we can deliver. I have come down here today to be with Sophie to learn about the exciting things happening here at Mars. We are going off to the Too Cool for School Program to look at what is happening with youth unemployment here and the programs that are there – these are issues that are of particular interest to me. We haven't come here to splash money around like the Labor Party will promise. I mean Bill Shorten is adding a $100 billion plus tax burden to the Australian economy over the next 10 years. He is not putting up taxes to reduce the deficit; he is just putting up taxes so he can throw money around before an election and after. If you can't control your spending, you can't control your taxes and that is Bill Shorten's problem. He will tax you and tax you and tax you because he can't' stop spending money. Now, we are exercising the discipline on expenditure and we will follow through on the public commitments that we make before elections as we did at the last election, as we will do at this election.

QUESTION:

Mr Morrison, can we expect to see any other members of Cabinet down here in Indi in the lead up to the election?

TREASURER:

Well, I don't control everyone else's diary and I am sure that Sophie will get great support and I am very pleased here to give her my support today as I have on many other occasions. I enjoy coming down here when I get the opportunity to see what is happening in a successfully part of regional Australia – it is very encouraging. To see the investment – $50 million of private investment going into the manufacturing industry here in Wodonga, not out of sympathy but because of productivity by people doing the work, by winning that investment for this community and for this plant. The productivity levels just walking through this plant knowing over three years it is going to double in production on one particular line in the space of three years! That is extraordinary, an extraordinary performance. No wonder they have captured the attention of the board of directors who oversee the company more broadly because of the hard work and the performance that has been gained. That is how you secure jobs in regional Australia by doing what the associates here, as they call them, and the employees here at Mars have been able to achieve. Our Budget, which will be handed down in a few days' time, will be focusing on backing in Australians like those employees of Mars working right here in the electorate of Indi in Wodonga; backing them in because they are ones who are making this successful transition of our economy possible.

QUESTION:

Mr Morrison, just a few questions for national media. Kelly O'Dwyer says there will be a register of Australians owning shell companies. Does that also cover people who own shell companies overseas?

TREASURER:

Well, I refer you to Kelly O'Dwyer for those announcements. I have been travelling down here today but I will leave those – I am sure she has covered those off completely. I will leave that with the Assistant Treasurer who has responsibility for those matters. What you will find from us is taking the absolute right approach when it comes to transparency; when it comes to ensuring that people pay their fair share of tax in this country. It was only last December when we as a government put legalisation into the Federal Parliament to ensure that multinationals paid their fair share of tax on what they earn in this country and the Labor Party voted against it. We put the legislation in; we secured its passage despite the Labor Party. Let me say one other thing, the other things we got through the Parliament just the other day and particularly through the strong advocacy of Sophie was the repeal of the RSRT. Sophie led the charge down here amongst owner truck drivers to ensure that their voices were heard in Canberra and boy was it heard. The horns were heard, the trucks were seen and the advocacy of those owner truck drivers with Sophie's very strong support – not jumping on the bandwagon at the end but there at the start when people thought it wouldn't be possible. That is the sort of strong advocacy you need and we saw the result of that in Canberra this week when we were able to abolish Bill Shorten's Tribunal that seemed to have no other purpose than to support unions rather than truck drivers and to drive owner truck drivers out of business.

QUESTION:

Mr Morrison, one for our Traralgon office as well, just with banks putting money into ASIC. What will it will mean for the Traralgon ASIC registry?

TREASURER:

Well, the ASIC registry is a separate matter to the announcements I made this week but that is another part of ASIC's operations. What the announcements we made this week was over $120 million, $121 million specifically funded by the banks themselves – which I note again we were able to insure and gain commitments, and public commitments from the banks yesterday that that money, that those charges would not be passed on to consumers. The Labor Party said that wasn't possible – could never be done. Chris Bowen boasted about this just a couple of days ago and his boasts came to complete ruin by the end of the day. We have been able to get the banks to pay for these changes, to beef up ASIC, to ensure we have that tough cop of the beat. So banking consumers here in regional Australia, or in the capital cities or remote areas of the country, can have the assurance that there is a commission that has more than the powers of a royal commission in ASIC on the job looking after the interests of the banking consumers. But equally of ensuring the integrity of our banking and financial system that is so critical to the functioning of our economy. Now, we learnt yesterday that Bill Shorten hadn't even jotted down a 'little list' of the things that needed to be on his royal commission until he got in the back of a comcar on the way to have an interview with Neil Mitchell yesterday. So, I am assuming that when they considered this it was a blank sheet of paper. I mean what is next? Have we got to wait for him to jump on a tram before we get a terms of reference from this guy? He has cobbled this together on the run and to pretend that just saying royal commission and banks is a policy – that doesn't help anyone. That is just playing politics with peoples genuine pain about the negative experiences they have had with banks. It is cynical and it is not what you would expect from someone who thinks they can be responsible for managing a $1.6 trillion economy. That is why we have remained focused on the job we have to do in ensuring we have a tough cop on the beat. It is funded by the banks not by the taxpayers, by the banks to ensure we have that tough cop on the beat to protect those consumers.

Thanks very much.