7 February 2015
Transcript - #2015017, 2015

Doorstop interview, Putney Hill Development Site, Ryde

TREASURER:

I am here with my good mate and electoral neighbour John Alexander who is going to tell all of you a bit about this development and then I will talk a bit about foreign investment and major new initiatives that Tony Abbott has announced in that area and then we will go to questions. Over to you JA.

JOHN ALEXANDER:

Well, this is a development by the Fraser Group who worked very, very well with the community addressing various traffic issues. There are some 780 dwellings here, which go on top of the 540 just up the road at Top Ryde, and another 500 going up there shortly. So, there is an awful lot of development here – some 3000 apartments currently have been approved at Meadowbank just down the road. This has been a very successful development – it has been selling off the plan, and we are very pleased to have them investing and employing people in our electorate.

TREASURER:

Residential construction in NSW is at record levels and right around Australia overall at levels we haven’t seen for many years. We welcome the investment, we welcome the construction and we welcome the jobs. Last year, 600 new jobs were created everyday in Australia, compared to 200 per day under Labor the previous year. One of the things that is driving this massive construction boom is foreign investment.

Of course, as a nation we welcome foreign investment in brand new residential real estate developments. It helps to create the jobs that help to drive our economy but as Tony Abbott says, there have been some people that have been abusing our laws. Foreign investors are not allowed to own existing Australian residential real estate. So, I say again, foreign citizens are not allowed to own existing Australian residential real estate without approval. There have been abuses of this process.

We are going to toughen up the laws to go after those people who are breaking our laws and remaining foreign citizens owning existing Australian residential real estate. In addition, following further consultation with colleagues and with stakeholders, we will soon be announcing the introduction of the Agricultural Land Register and the requirement for all purchases of agricultural land to be subject to approval over a certain financial point. So, we are actually delivering tougher laws on foreign investment but at the same time, ensuring that we continue to welcome record levels of foreign investment into Australia. Okay, over to you for questions.

REPORTER:

Mr Hockey, where are you going to be next Tuesday?

TREASURER:

I will be in Canberra like everyone else next Tuesday. Can I say before – I will pre-empt your question, if I may? The leadership team has my absolute and unqualified support, and why? Because the Australian people voted for stability. The Australian people voted for certainty. We don’t want to end up like Labor and the Australian people expect us to get on with the job of governing the nation?

REPORTER:

How damaging is something like this though, to the Government?

TREASURER:

We have got to get on with government. It is hugely important that we get on with the job of government. Now, this week, I will be discussing with colleagues and stakeholders, new rules and laws in relation to foreign investment. It is important that the Australian people have confidence in our foreign investment regime and we are very focused on engaging with key stakeholders, welcoming foreign investment and, at the same, ensuring that that foreign investment complies with Australian laws.

REPORTER:

Would you be willing to work as Treasurer under Mr Turnbull?

TREASURER:

I am absolutely committed to serving as Treasurer of Australia under Tony Abbott. He is a good man. He is a genuinely good human being. It is a very difficult period to govern anywhere in the world. Difficult decisions are being made by governments everywhere but you know what, you have got to stay firm. You have got to stay on course. You have got to be stable. You have got to be focused. That is the only way you can address some of the challenging issues that every country in the world is facing at the moment?

REPORTER:

[Inaudible] Malcolm Turnbull about his position come Tuesday?

TREASURER:

No, I am not getting into gossip and I haven’t.

REPORTER:

Does the Prime Minister need a resounding vote of confidence on Tuesday to give you that stability which you say [inaudible]

TREASURER:

Look, JA is obviously a tennis legend but as someone who has played on a number of teams, I’ll pass to him and he can express a view.

JOHN ALEXANDER:

Obviously that is the desired result and that is the result that I think we will get. I think it will be an endorsement of a vote of confidence in the current team that was duly elected, and in part, were elected because of the chaos of the previous Government and we won’t fall into that same trap.

REPORTER:

But if it is a close result, then Mr Abbott is not going to have that stability or that certainty that you want?

TREASURER:

Don’t accept that at all. Don’t accept that at all. We have got to get on with the job of governing the nation. There are lots of difficulties running any nation in the world, and there has been massive instability in countries around the world. Australia does not want that instability. Australian’s do not want that instability. Sure there are many people that have understandable grievances and they're upset about things, I understand that. But it is hugely important for the sake of the nation that there be stability and that's what I expect the Liberal Party room will provide this week.

REPORTER:

Mr Hockey, have you spoken to Scott Morrison since the spill-motion was announced?

TREASURER:

I am not sure that I have – I might have. I am not keeping – I speak to colleagues all the time. Can I tell you, I speak to colleagues all the time. We all speak to each other, don’t we JA?

JOHN ALEXANDER:

Yes, on a number of issues…

TREASURER:

On a number of issues, that’s right…

JOHN ALEXANDER:

[Inaudible] challenge we talk about is the return match [inaudible] in squash.

TREASURER:

That’s right, yeah. Let’s not go into that. We are getting on with government.

REPORTER:

Mr Hockey, if Tony Abbott remains Prime Minister after Tuesday, a spill has been organised against him; the prediction is there will be further spills. What's your message to anyone that wants to challenge this again, if he maintains [inaudible]

TREASURER:

The only message I have is a message to the Australian people that we're getting on with governing the nation and that's why I'm here with John Alexander talking about dealing with unlawful foreign investment. We want money going into construction jobs in Australia. We want foreign investment, but we also want to make sure that everyday Australians have a fair opportunity to own their own home. Okay, anything else?

REPORTER:

Tony Abbott says he's not calling people to garner support; are you?

TREASURER:

I’m not seriously, I'm not getting into commentary on these things. Anything else, guys? No.