Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was in Busselton on Wednesday to meet with community volunteers and announce $1.5 million in federal funding towards the Busselton Jetty project.
Mr Turnbull is the third PM to visit Busselton and the first one in 71 years following in the footsteps of Ben Chifley in 1946 and Stanley Bruce who was the first to visit in 1927.
This is what the PM had to say to the media while he was in Busselton:
I am here today to announce that we will be committing $1.5 million in federal funds into the Busselton Jetty Project.
And we are delighted to do that. It is part of the Building Better Regions Fund announcements that will be made later in week but I wanted to take the opportunity in announcing this today.
This is all part of a really substantial renovation, I suppose, development of this precinct. It has got enormous opportunity in terms of activating tourism potential and of course it is a big part of building the commercial and tourist opportunities in this region.
Busselton Margaret River Aiport
Another part of that of course is the airport.
We talked about that when we were [at the Busselton Margaret River Airport] and there is real concern that the $56 million in total that was committed from the Barnett government is not going to be honoured by the McGowan Government.
So I will take that up with Premier McGowan this afternoon when I see him and of course there is $10 million committed to the project from the federal government.
That is a very important part of the infrastructure here and like the jetty, it shows the passion and the commitment of the local community, the Federal Member, the council, all the business leaders – you can see how passionate they are about the South West and how they are determined to make sure that it has the infrastructure it needs and of course, so are we.
Prime Minister do you think that Mr McGowan might be more inclined to honour the pledge from the Barnett government if you were to fix the GST?
He should honour the pledges that have been made but it is a very important investment. I’ll take it up with him when I see him.
Mr Turnbull, if Premier McGowan does cut funding from the airport expansion will the Federal Government stand up and make up that funding?
What the important thing for him to do is to honour the commitment that was made by the state government.
Look, this sort of thing should not be a political issue.
I mean really it is obvious that an area like this, the South West, needs an improvement in its transport infrastructure. We were there with Mr Walsh who has got a big exports, beef exports into China.
A better airport will enable the South West to bring in more tourists, send more produce out – it’s going to be vital for jobs in this region.
You look at some of the reports from the HILDA Survey that have been in the news today about low income growth, low wages growth and that is real challenge for many, most Australian families, but what is the answer to that?
The answer to that is more economic growth, it is more investment and more jobs.
Every policy that my government has is focused on encouraging more investment and more employment.
You know, whether we are investing in economic infrastructure like this, whether we’re investing on economic infrastructure on a huge scale, over $7 billion across the state - $10 million into the Busselton Airport – whether we are reducing company tax and business taxes so that businesses have got the incentive to invest, everything we’re doing is encouraging investment and employment.
The Labor Party on the other hand has declared war on business.
It doesn’t want investment and if you don’t have, if you’re not backing business, if you’re not backing investment you won’t get any jobs I can tell you.
Meth problem in the South West
Will Bunbury be the trial site for your testing, drug testing of welfare recipients?
Look, I can’t confirm. The locations for those trial sites will be announced in due course.
We’ll just wait until they’re announced.
Can I tell you, we are waging a ferocious war against ‘ice’ at every level, both in terms of criminal justice system and catching the criminals and intercepting the meth that they’re trafficking but also providing record amounts of support to rehabilitation and education.
But it is a huge health challenge, a huge social challenge and it obviously needs a response that is multi-dimensional.
You know, as Ken Lay says: ‘You can’t arrest your way to success here’. That’s an important part of it, law enforcement is a key part of it but obviously there is the social aspects and health aspects as well.
I can assure you it is a big issue. Forrest MP Nola Marino and I talk about it a lot.
Can I ask you on a federal issue too – there is an impression this afternoon that you’ve dodged the question about a postal plebiscite.
I’ve been asked a few questions about that and I’ve dealt with the issue.
We have a policy. I am for the policy we took to the election.
That is our policy. It has not changed. That’s my commitment.
You talk about jobs but your PaTH program here has just created 25 jobs in the South West since its launch. Is this disappointing?
It is early days.
It is actually a very exciting project, policy.
It is innovative. It is a new program and I think it is important to get behind it and support it.
Now we saw yesterday the Australian Hotels Association announce that they are going to take up 10,000 interns over the next four years.
So that is 10,000 young Australians who are on welfare who will get an opportunity, will get the opportunity to work, they’ll get the experience of work and many of them, I hope all of them transition into full time employment.
The program is showing real success and it should be encouraged.
I mean, what could be more important than getting young people who are on welfare and are at risk of being there for a very long time into employment?
Labor’s campaigning pretty hard on inequality. Labor said this week it was a key voter concern. What is your government doing to address that?
Economic growth is the answer.
If you are concerned as we all are about low wages growth, about ensuring that Australians have the opportunity to realise their dreams as I was saying to the kids today, to achieve they want to achieve, you need a strong economy.
You get a strong economy by ensuring that you are backing business and supporting investment. That’s where the jobs are going to come from.
Now what does the Labor Party want to do? They want to put up company tax. They want to put up personal income tax. They have got no plan to encourage investment or employment. Not one policy.
Look, you don’t have to take my word for it. Take Bill Shorten’s. He was on the radio on your radio station with Fran Kelly, the ABC and Fran said to him: ‘What have you got Mr Shorten to encourage investment and employment?’
And he thought for a while and he said: ‘Well we support more public transport’. Well that is terrific. We all support more public transport. We are putting a lot of money into that too.
But you know something, you’ve got to back business.
You’ve got to encourage small and medium businesses above all and we have succeeded already in reducing tax on small and medium companies up to $50 million turnover and that encourages them to invest more and employ more.
Now it is pretty simple. If you’re not going to encourage investment, you won’t get employment.
Labor’s upping taxes, upping both personal and company and what that will do is discourage investment. It’s got to. I mean, it follows as night follows day.
WA’s GST share
PM, Mark McGowan has said given you’ve come empty handed of the GST you should’ve stayed home, sent the money you’ve spent on airfares to the state government and the state would be better off.
He’s also raised concern about the Census fail and has said that that has compromised the data set. Could you respond to both of those comments?
As far as the ABS matter, I think I addressed that when you asked me that question earlier today and the my Treasurer Scott Morrison and Ben Wyatt have talked about that. There are some legal issues associated with it.
As far as generally with Mark McGowan, I mean, you know what, I mean if he’s making these sort of belligerent remarks to the media, you know what will happen, I’ll see him this afternoon and he’ll be very charming and he’ll say: ‘Oh look I had to say all those things for the media’.
But I’ll tell you something, in the real world which we should all operate in, you don’t have to say things you don’t want to.
Now, I get on well with Mark McGowan.
I have shown him every courtesy and I think the people of Western Australia would expect him to be courteous and persuasive and not issue bellicose, belligerent remarks in advance of a meeting that he’s requested.
You know, would anyone do that if your object was the persuade someone to be more cooperative or collaborative? Would you do that? No. It’s a bit pointless really.
But I’m sure that he’ll be very charming when I see him and I will be too.
I’m keen to work cooperatively with him and I can tell you I know enough about WA and Western Australians that they want governments, politicians to work together not have a go at each other through the media.