15 May 2017
Transcript - #2017104, 2017

Joint doorstop interview, Gosford

SUBJECTS: Budget 2017

LUCY WICKS (MEMBER FOR ROBERTSON):

This is an exciting opportunity to put the Central Coast on the map thanks to an $85 million investment from the Federal Government, the State Government and of course, the University of Newcastle. But of course, in addition to that, we’re also seeing improvements, the wireless mobile coverage on the train line for our commuters – our hardworking commuters – $12 million invested there for the improved mobile coverage between Wyong to Hornsby, improvements in local road upgrades and important infrastructure investments in the heart of Gosford such as the $7 million investment towards a community learning hub and also the long awaited long talked about performing arts centre in Gosford. I’d like to thank the Treasurer, I’d like to thank the Government, I’d like to thank the Prime Minister, for their determination to ensure more jobs, better infrastructure and a much better future for people here on the Central Coast. Treasurer?

TREASURER:

Thank you very much, Lucy. It’s great to be here altogether today. Once again to be back here in Gosford and from the first occasion, when I was Treasurer and we were announcing new infrastructure work in Somersby and then there’s the performing arts centre, $10 million there and here today as part of that major investment here for this new medical school and facility, some $12.5 million over the next five years. This is all the product of Lucy’s drive and vision for the Central Coast and for her to want to see young people growing up here on the Central Coast with these options for them right here on the Central Coast. The ability to study medicine and to have a career in that field, studying amongst the best in a world class university and that’s what this is providing right here on the Central Coast. We are building Australia right here on the Central Coast, just like we are all around the country. This Budget provides the important support for infrastructure works right across the country, some $75 billion worth of infrastructure investment, building Australia. And this is an important part in addition to that, ensuring we’re not just building the buildings which are going to house this important facility but the young people who will come and be part of that educational infrastructure right here on the Central Coast is incredibly exciting. So we’re excited about it. This Budget is all about doing a number of things. Firstly, it’s growing our economy to support more and better paid jobs, just like right here on the Central Coast. It’s also about guaranteeing important essential services, we’re guaranteeing Medicare, we’re fully funding the National Disability Insurance Scheme and we’re ensuring needs based funding for our kids in our schools, right here on the Central Coast. We’re putting downward pressure on the costs of living, whether its on electricity, or housing or affordable childcare and we’re living within our means. We’re living within our means and from the start of 2018-19 the Commonwealth Government will no longer be borrowing for everyday expenditure, our borrowings will be going into important infrastructure works like what we’re seeing here. And our borrowings will be going to ensure that we don’t raid the Future Fund, to ensure that that’s there for future generations. So you’re seeing the plan coming up from the ground here around us, it’s a real plan, it’s really happening right now and thank you very much for all your leadership and vision for the Central Coast, Lucy. Questions?

QUESTION:

Treasurer, if you aren’t left to compromise on the Medicare levy increase to get it through the Parliament. How will the NDIS be funded?

TREASURER:

I’m very confident that we’ll be able to work through with the Parliament to fully fund the NDIS. That’s our commitment, Australians are strongly supporting that, we’ve seen that today. Australians understand that we help our mates and this is a very practical way that we do this and we fully fund the NDIS so we’re committed to it, we’re standing there ready to work with the Parliament and I’m very confident that we’ll be able to work through to ensure that we fully fund the NDIS. This is, this has got to be beyond politics, the Government has certainly demonstrated that by our willingness to come to the centre, come to the middle and invite the Parliament to work with us to fully fund the NDIS.

QUESTION:

[inaudible]

TREASURER:

I can’t quite hear over the train so maybe one a little closer.

QUESTION:

Look, local Labor, state Labor are saying that $21 million is being ripped from the local schools as a result of the Gonski, the new funding system. I mean what do you…

TREASURER:

They’re making it up. That’s the bottom line. They are just making it up and trying to scare parents and scare kids. We are putting $18.6 billion in extra funding for schools, and you can go online to the education website and you can find out what your school is getting. The great thing about our Gonski 2.0 funding is it’s transparent, you can see where the money’s going. And it’s important that parents understand what’s going into their local schools. This is bringing all of our schools, all of our schools, all around the country to the same funding standard basis, needs based funding for our kids, whatever school system you’re in, whether it’s in the independent system or the catholic system, the private system, the public system. We are investing more in our schools and in our children’s education because that’s one of the important essential services that Australians rely on and we’re funding that in this Budget. Real money, affordable, it’s in the forward estimates, it’s all paid for in that Budget and we’re still getting back into balance in 2020-21.

QUESTION:

Back on the Medicare levy, it’s not due to start until 2019 so are you just going to push it off until after the next election, if it’s not…

TREASURER:

No, I’m very confident as I said before that we’ll be able to work through with the Parliament and to ensure that we’re able to fully fund the NDIS because I believe the Parliament wants to support people with disabilities and I believe they think it should be done in a fair way, that’s what the Government has put forward. Australians are strongly supporting that and I don’t think they want to see the Parliament play politics with disabilities.

QUESTION:

What about families and carers that need certain things in the NDIS?

TREASURER:

Well, that’s why I think it will be supported.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, how do you respond to those people who don’t believe they’ll be better off under this new Federal Budget as represented in the recent polling?

TREASURER:

I’ll let others talk about those specific issues. But what I know in this Budget we’re guaranteeing Medicare, we’re fully funding the NDIS, we’re fully committing to needs based funding in our schools, I mean these are three critical issues for families all around the country. The services that they rely on and our Budget delivers it, the Turnbull Government’s Budget is delivering these important services that Australians rely on. And on top of that, we’re putting downward pressure on their costs of living and what we can see moving forward is the global economy is starting to improve and Australia is well positioned, whether it’s with our trade agreements or whether it’s the work we’ve already done on getting infrastructure projects underway or right here in the Central Coast, when I was up here a year or two ago over at Somersby not far away we were putting infrastructure works in there to prepare a whole new area. Our enterprise tax plan is already delivering for small businesses here, right on the Central Coast, including the flooring manufacturer who I visited when I was here last time or one of the last times I was here and they’re getting a tax cut. They now have a tax cut which has been legislated since I was last here, we’ve increased the small business threshold from $2 million to $10 million so we’re driving the economy forward to support jobs and better paid jobs right here on the Central Coast. But I can’t think of a better demonstration of that than the facility we’ve committed to here, working in partnership with the local medical authority together with Newcastle University which is investing in long term education right here on the Central Coast.

QUESTION:

Would you be willing to send the deficit levy if it helps Labor and the Greens to get onside to compromise on these things?

TREASURER:

The deficit levy we made an absolute commitment that it was a three year arrangement and it would come off after three years, we’re going to keep our promise that we made to Australians on that. The Labor party clearly wants to break those. I mean it is not a fair tax system when you end up having to work one day for the Government and one day for yourself with every extra dollar you earn. That’s not a fair tax system, Australia can’t be competitive with a tax system like that. Labor wants higher taxes on individuals and they want higher taxes on companies. You can’t grow your economy if you’re going to crush them like that, and so I’m not surprised that Paul Keating has slapped down Bill Shorten and called him out. And, I mean this is a retrograde step from the Labor Party and I’m pleased Paul Keating has called him out because it really is very, very bad economic policy.

QUESTION:

Just on some local issues, we constantly hear the catch phrase of the forgotten Central Coast, what’s your response to that?

TREASURER:

Well we’re standing in the middle of our, of our commitment to the Central Coast, $12.5 million right here on this site, $10 million for the arts centre, almost $9 million for the some of the infrastructure works and I’ll let Lucy run through the other long list. They’re just the things I’ve announced on the Central Coast.

WICKS:

Under the coalition Government, the Central Coast is absolutely forgotten no more. There’s 600 new jobs coming into Gosford by the end of this year. 600 new opportunities for local people to be able to work in the best region, in the best country in the world, it’s absolutely outstanding. As the Treasurer has indicated another $12.5 million to ensure that the university can recruit, attract and retain some of the world’s best leading researchers and educators for our students here in Gosford, with a Central Cost medical school for people who want to study medicine and allied health degrees as well. That’s why I’m told that $32.5 million for the infrastructure, the facility, for the medical school and the world class medical research institute and of course as the Treasurer has alluded to we’re investing in the Somersby the industrial park. We’ve committed $10 million on the table for a performing arts centre, a world class regional performing arts centre in Gosford that people have been wanting now for nearly 50 years and there’s a partnership between the council, between the state government and the federal government to ensure that that gets delivered. We’ve invested $7.2 million into fixing specific local roads here in Robertson that people have been crying out for too long to see upgraded and of course we cannot forget the important and the very vital construction that’s taking place right now as we speak on the M1, M2 missing link, that’s a saving of 15 minutes each day for the hardworking commuter who travels and leaves home early in the morning and returns home late at night to their families. Now as I said before, $12 million to help fix mobile coverage blackspots, particularly along the rail line between Wyong to Hornsby and that is great news for people who work and live here on the Central Coast.

TREASURER:

You said there’s $4 million also, you mentioned it but that’s more than that actually for the roads to recovery and in the Budget I announced that there will be a further round of the building better regions fund. Now, that’s $200 million for building better regions and there is just over $470 million of which that forms a part for even more significant local, regional infrastructure projects. What I love about the Central Coast and Lucy’s leadership in the Central Coast, is the Central Coast has a strong passion and vision for its future and what we’re doing here is we’re investing in their plan. They have a plan for the future within the Central Coast, what we’re standing is a big part of that plan like the many other announcements we’ve made. And we’re backing in the Centrals plan, the Central Coast’s plan for growing their economies for more and better paid jobs right here on the Central Coast.

QUESTION:

How is the ATO building progressing? We’re seeing it go up, but what stage is it up to and when’s it due to be finished?

TREASURER:

I’ll let Lucy update.

WICKS:

Look, it’s fantastic that it is on time and it is on track. Our commitment was never about a building it was always about our jobs and of course in the lead up to the September 2013 election we committed 300 jobs. We doubled it in the first Budget delivered by the coalition Government because we know how important it is to see more local job opportunities for local people here. There’s 600 opportunities for people to be able to work locally by the end of this year. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing the recruitment ads coming along, but I’m looking forward even more to seeing 600 people getting a coffee, picking up their lunch, grabbing the after- news the mornings’ newspaper or going and shopping in the Imperial Centre and the many other and supporting the many other businesses in Gosford that will stand to benefit from this direct injection of jobs to the Coast.

QUESTION:

What proportion of those jobs are going to be local though?

WICKS:

So the Tax Commissioner has already indicated that the vast majority of these jobs will be local jobs, will absolutely be local jobs and that has been confirmed.

TREASURER:

Every single one of them will be adding to the economy here on the Central Coast, every single one of those jobs will add with greater economic activity and supporting more jobs, more beyond just those direct ones here in the Central Coast.

QUESTION:

On the aged care building I think there was also a plan for other Commonwealth agencies or departments to go into that building, any idea yet what they may be?

WICKS:

Well we’re certainly looking forward to seeing these 600 new jobs and 600 more people coming in to Gosford every single day by the end of this year.

TREASURER:

So we’re on track. Now it was great to be here…

QUESTION:

Excuse me, Treasurer, just a request from Channel Ten Canberra, have you got any comment to say just about the Newspoll, the new Newspolls that have come out this morning?

TREASURER:

Well, I mean, we’ve got one poll which has been very supportive of the Government’s position, the other ones hasn’t been as enthusiastic but what I do know is this, you know Budgets are large documents and we’re up here today talking about specific issues for the Budget that relates to the Central Coast and I think as Australians get to have a good look at this Budget and understand a lot more of the detail. I mean, unlike journalists in Canberra who will consume the Budget in the space of about 24 hours, frankly Australians have got a lot of other things to do and they’ll be absorbing it over time and that’s why it’s a good opportunity to be out here today and explaining yet another important measure that was in the Budget.

This morning I was meeting at a breakfast with the Australian Council of Social Services and we were talking about the increased funding we have for homelessness and the increased tax support we have to develop affordable accommodation and social housing around the country, as well as our super savers account that we announced on the weekend, again from the Budget, and I know that will be of great help to people here on the Central Coast where you can save, if you’ve got an income of $70,000 – you’re saving $7,000 a year for just over a few years – just over three years, what you will end up is $7,000 better off and that’s an important tax cut for first home savers.

So as Australians are getting more and more across the Budget what we’re seeing is them support it more and more. I mean, Australians are there to help their mates, they’re also there, they want to be focused on their situation and their needs and they know I think as time goes on that they can see this Budget fairly focuses on those needs. I also particularly welcome in all of those surveys today it demonstrates the big heartedness of Australians, they’ve got right behind the need to fully fund the NDIS and they know it has to be paid for and they’re showing a preparedness to do that job in a couple of years’ time. That’s why I’m confident about how the NDIS full funding will proceed, because already Australians are showing just how big a heart they have and let’s just hope the Parliament can match their big heartedness. Thanks very much.