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Politics

  • Written by Press Conference


MR TREVOR RUTHENBERG, LNP CANDIDATE FOR LONGMAN:

Well morning folks.

Welcome to Caboolture, welcome to Longman. This is a fantastic day for local jobs. This is a fantastic day for our community.

Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thanks Trev and Shane, great to be here with you here at AKD Softwoods.

Now, you know one of our big economic priorities is to process more timber in Australia. We export far too much timber and we don’t process enough of it here. We export far too many logs, is what I mean.

Now right here, we have here in this plan, which AKD Softwoods has acquired, we have the opportunity, they have the opportunity, to double the production of this plant - 450,000 cubic meters a year and to add another hundred jobs.

We are providing $10 million of support through our Regional Development Funds. Because this is a great example of where you can combine industry - a sustainable industry - in a regional area, creating more jobs.

You know, we’ve got huge growth in this region. Huge demand for all of these softwood beams which are going to go into trusses and houses and they should be produced here. There are pine forests, a plantation, just to the north of Caboolture. Right now, most of those logs go on trucks down to Brisbane and overseas, creating congestion on the roads.

But depriving 100 people of the opportunity to work here, that’s what we’re enabling. This plant, expanded, will be able to produce 450,000 cubic meters and it’s a great example Shane – I’ll get you to add to this – because it’s a great example of how innovation and technology secures Australian jobs in manufacturing.

We were just talking to Darren, who started here 30 years ago. He was saying in those days they had more people working here, 300 people working here, but they were only producing 80,000 cubic metres. They weren’t competitive, they were not competitive and so they ended up investing in more technology, in more automation.

We’re seeing more of that now, so what they’re going to have as a result of this $50 million program, $10 million of which we’re providing, you’ll have a plant that produces not 80,000 cubic metres, but 450,000 cubic meters and employs 200 people. So you can see what you provide. You provide enterprise, investment, commitment, technology, innovation and you create more production, you become more competitive, take advantage of the big opportunities we’ve got around the world and you create more jobs. So it is a fantastic combination.

Now an important part of it is that this is a family business. AKD belongs to four families, started in the timber industry quite a few years ago, a long time ago. This business has grown, in very large measure by reinvesting its retained earnings.

So, you can see why we are seeking to reduce business taxes. Because it enables businesses to retain more of the money they make and then they invest it back into their business and what do you get? More jobs.

Our economy is powering along; we’ve had record jobs growth last year, the highest jobs growth in our nation’s history. We’re bringing the Budget back into balance a year earlier. We’re able to provide increased funding for all of our essential services. We’ll shortly be going out to the Bribie Island Road, where we’re putting $20 million in to relieve black spots on that road.

But that’s only part of our multibillion dollar infrastructure investment in Queensland and around the country. We’re investing more in infrastructure than we ever have before.

How can we do that? We can do that because we have a strong economy. Because we have record jobs growth, the lowest percentage of people of working age are on welfare in 25 years. All of that means more Government revenues, it enables government to do more for you, to deliver the essential services Australians need and to provide tax relief, as we have done, personal tax relief.

All the workers here will be paying less tax this financial year than they were last financial year because our personal income tax plan has gone through the Parliament, as you know, just before we got up at the end of the winter sittings.

So all of this was working together to deliver a stronger economy.

Now, what’s the threat to that? Well the threat to that is Bill Shorten.

He wants everyone to pay higher taxes. Whether it is retirees – he wants to go after their savings. Whether it’s businesses, large and small. Whether it’s individuals. Whether it’s trusts, family businesses, property investors or whether it is family-owned companies.

So right across the board, Bill Shorten is a threat to our economic growth. That’s why we’re asking everyone here in Longman to vote for Big Trev.

Big Trev will stand with me, and our team in Canberra to deliver the stronger economic growth we need.

But on a less political note, I’ll ask Shane to talk about the importance of this investment and this expansion. Shane?

MR SHANE VICARY - NATIONAL CEO, AKD:

Well I’d like to thank the Turnbull Government for unlocking this potential and also Rick and I’s- the Caboolture employees here. You know we’ve got 100 fantastic employees, and they’ve really given us the confidence to make this investment. It is another 100 jobs and those 100 jobs will be processing Australian logs for an Australian company to build houses here in Australia. Not just in Australia, but right here in Queensland.

So we’d really to thank you for that, it’s fantastic for you to provide that support.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it’s great Shane, it’s a great story. Australian logs, Australian jobs processed here in an Australian sawmill and then going out the door to build Australian homes for Australians here in Caboolture.

MR SHANE VICARY - NATIONAL CEO, AKD:

Look our mantra is to be internationally competitive, it’s that innovation and technology that we’re deploying with our investment which will see this facility be one of the premier facilities in Australia.

PRIME MINISTER:

It fantastic, well congratulations and congratulations to all the team here. They’ll have over the next couple of years as you do this expansion – how long will it take you to complete it do you think?

MR SHANE VICARY - NATIONAL CEO, AKD:

I reckon it will take us about two and a half years.

PRIME MINISTER:

Two and a half years. So there’ll be double the numbers, we’ll be able to come back?

MR SHANE VICARY - NATIONAL CEO, AKD:

I reckon we’ll have double the numbers inside 12 months and the whole plan will come together over two and a half years.

PRIME MINISTER:

Brilliant, that’s great. Good job.

Okay, so some questions? Hang on, gentlemen here.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister can the LNP win Longman without strong preference flows from One Nation voters?

PRIME MINISTER:

We are focused on winning here. The reality is this, that this is about whether you support Bill Shorten's anti-business higher taxing agenda or whether you support Big Trev and my agenda, my government's plan for a stronger economy, which is working and which is delivering.

Whether you get distracted or taken in by Labor's extraordinary lies that they've been telling here in Longman, saying we cut funding to the hospital - a complete lie. We've been increasing funding to hospitals in Queensland year on year and of course in the future, the next 5-year agreement offers an extra $7.5 billion of funding for public hospitals in Queensland.

We're putting more money into essential services and the only reason we can do that that is because we have a stronger economy. That is the bottom line.

Bill Shorten is the threat to that. So a vote for Labor in Longman is a vote for Bill Shorten. This is really about whether you support Labor's anti-business, higher taxing threat to our economy, and our essential services. Or whether you will back our plan, my government's plan, for a stronger economy which is delivering, as we're seeing in the jobs' growth, as we're seeing in the strong economic growth.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister if you and Trev win here in Longman will you take the company tax cuts back to the Senate.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, we will certainly be taking the company tax cuts back to the Senate, absolutely.

Look, you know, Shorten wants to wage a war on business. It's a nasty, dishonest envious attack that he goes on. That's his mantra now. He lies to people, he does backflips or belly-flops is probably a better way to describe it.

Look at Patsy, who rang up when he was on Brisbane Radio, from Caboolture to complain about the dreadful lies he's been telling here. People are getting fed up with him. But he really is operating on the basis that he thinks he can succeed by attacking businesses, by attacking enterprise, that is what drives the economy and the jobs' growth we need.

I mean, my government is pro-business. We are. But that means we're pro-worker. It means we're pro-jobs. It means we're pro-strong economic growth, it means we're pro having the money to put into essential services.

You cannot afford to spend money on the Bribie Island road or supporting local industries or on lowering taxes - you cannot do any of these things unless you have a strong economy. It is those lower business taxes and lower personal taxes that unleash the enterprise and gets people to get on with it.

Remember - it is their money.

JOURNALIST:

When do you think the voters of Longman will care about going to the polls? Are you worried about voter turnout in the by-election?

PRIME MINISTER:

We always have high turnout in Australia. You know, voting is compulsory, but Australians are used to voting and they take their voting responsibilities seriously.

I think there’ll be a strong turnout here.

JOURNALIST:

Trevor do you agree?

MR TREVOR RUTHENBERG, LNP CANDIDATE FOR LONGMAN:

Yeah, absolutely. Certainly as we are door-knocking, there's no question people are now switching on, starting to look at the candidate, look at the issues and I reckon we will have a very high turnout actually.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister do you welcome One Nation’s decision to preference the LNP above Labor and would you like One Nation to put the LNP above Labor in the general election?

PRIME MINISTER:

We welcome all preferences.

But we are here to encourage everybody to vote one for Big Trev, vote one LNP.

JOURNALIST:

Now Prime Minister, the Queensland Premier, amongst other premiers, about the GST, says the devil is in the detail. Are you hiding a devil?

PRIME MINISTER:

[Laughter]

Not at all. Look, we encourage  - and I spoke to Annastacia the day before yesterday, in the evening. I had a good chat to her. All of our books and calculations are open to be examined. The heads of treasuries, you know, the top civil servants have been talking today, all of the modelling is available.

Of course, we encourage the states to go through all of the numbers. They're basically the Productivity Commission's numbers, I should say, so that's where the forecasts have come from.

I'm sure they'll be satisfied. This is a great deal for Queensland. We estimate Queensland will be better off by about $518 million out to 2026-27.

It’s a deal that’s a fairer deal on the GST and every state and territory will be better off, including Queensland.

JOURNALIST:

But do you think those Premiers are just playing politics at the moment, and they’ll get into the money pot later?

PRIME MINISTER:

Let's perhaps leave the politics to one side for a minute.

Every Premier and Chief Minister is entitled to go through the numbers carefully.

But the reality is, as you can see, is that we're putting a substantial amount of additional federal funding into the GST pot, as it were. So we're making the cake larger, and that enables us to have a fairer and more sustainable distribution model.

But every state and territory will be better off, including Queensland, which will have out to 2026-27, on the forecast that the PC has done, about $518 million.

JOURNALIST:

The New South Wales Treasurer didn’t seem very happy with your plan. He says that their effectively propping up inefficient states like Queensland, there’s no incentive for them to reform their tax base and so on. Does he have a point?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, the New South Wales Treasurer - needless to say - speaks up for New South Wales, and has offered some criticism of other states.

But while I'm happy to be very partisan at Origin time as a New South Welshman, as far as GST is concerned my commitment is to make sure it is fair for every state and territory right around the country. And that's why we have developed this reform, which ensures that every state and territory is better off, that we will have a floor of 75 cents - so no-one will get less than 75 cents in the dollar on a per capita basis - and I think that passes the pub test. And, of course, the injustice of the way the system has worked and how it's affected WA will not be repeated in the future.

But I'll leave the Premiers and the state Treasurers to compare their respective efficiencies between themselves.

JOURNALIST:

Can I just quickly ask you about Jenny Macklin?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, thank you.

Well, look, I see Jenny Macklin has announced her retirement from Parliament. She's had a very long and distinguished career in the Federal Parliament. We'll miss her in the next Parliament, but I wish her well in her retirement from politics.

JOURNALIST:

And West Pennant Hills, just that horrible tragedy there in Sydney, it must just break your heart? 

PRIME MINISTER:

This is a heartbreaking, heartbreaking crime. Two children killed, murdered, it appears by their father, who has subsequently taken his own life.

It's a terrible, terrible tragedy and our hearts go out to the mother and to all of the family, and we mourn the loss of those young people. And just, pray that those who have been so, so hurt by this shocking crime, can find comfort in prayer and the consolation from friends and loved ones.

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