28 August 2015
Transcript - #2015186, 2015

Radio interview on 7AD, Tasmania

JOURNALIST:

First of all, tell us about your hopes for a republic. I noticed you’re going to chair a bipartisan approach on becoming a republic. Where do you think that’ll go – where it will lead to?

TREASURER:

Look, I think it will take a while. It’s an issue that is not the priority for Australia at the moment, but it’s something that I’ve held dear for many decades and certainly was involved in the previous discussions about it.

JOURNALIST:

Would you like to be the first President of Australia?

TREASURER:

I’d like to continue to be the person who delivers jobs for north west Tasmania, mate.

JOURNALIST:

Fair enough. Now the China Free Trade deal, the unions are telling us that it’s going to cost Australian jobs. What do you say to that?

TREASURER:

Complete and utter rubbish, and if you don’t believe me, believe Bob Hawke who says its utter rubbish. Or believe the former foreign minister Bob Carr who says it’s utter rubbish. This is a classic scare campaign being fuelled by Bill Shorten. It’s all about politics for the unions. It’s got nothing to do with Australian jobs. In fact, their behaviour is going to cost Australian jobs. You can see it right here in the North West. So, I just met a lady whose son is going to start up a salmon farm here. The Chinese have agreed to remove an 11 per cent tax on our salmon exports to China under the Free Trade Agreement. So her son is starting up a salmon farm, at their farm, here in north west Tasmania. He’s going to have a much better chance with that Free Trade Agreement, and the list goes on, for berries, for a range of agricultural products including dairy. You’re going to see tariffs abolished for wines and a range of things. But importantly, I just met a tour operator who covers Cradle Mountain right down to Strahan. He said 50 per cent of his business is Chinese tourists. He said if they weren’t in this business, he would have really, really struggled. And he said ‘it’s great for my area and I’m employing more people.’ You know what the truth is, the truth is, these agreements that open up trade with other countries are to the benefit of Australians and Australian jobs, and particularly here in the north west of Tasmania.

JOURNALIST:

So the unions are saying that companies are going to be bringing in overseas labour, what’s to stop them from doing that?

TREASURER:

Well, they’ve got to advertise in Australia, they’ve got exactly the same requirements as they did when Labor was in government. That is, if they’re going to invest $5 billion here, in building new plant and equipment, they need to advertise to Australians and, if they can’t find Australian workers, then they can default to other workers from overseas. That’s exactly the same situation as occurred before. So, what the unions are doing is running a scare campaign against what was Labor policy.

JOURNALIST:

You mentioned this morning about the higher learning reforms that are going through the Senate at the moment and if they go through, there is going to be something for the north west coast, apparently?

TREASURER:

Well, absolutely right. We’re prepared to put money into infrastructure in this local region for higher education. I’ve said that to the University of Tasmania, the Prime Minister has said that as well. But we’re not going to do it if our higher education changes don’t get through, which provide an incentive to get better academics, provide an incentive to expand universities. Now, the impediment to this is Jacqui Lambie. She’s refusing to support that. And as a number of construction companies told me last night, Jacqui Lambie promised them that she would support legislation to have a strong cop on the beat in relation to the building and construction industry and she went and voted against it. And I pointed out to them that they need to go back to her and ask why, because she says one thing to locals and she says something else when she goes to Canberra and votes against it.

JOURNALIST:

Finally, you’re here today to open a new business, or expansion, of a local business. A good news story?

TREASURER:

It’s a great story. Up to $10 million has been spent on the facility. It just shows you, if you can show the whole of Australia or the local community, that you’ve got a positive path forward, if you can show a roadmap that is going to deliver jobs and prosperity, businesses will invest. Last night, I spoke to a forestry company CEO. He’s employed nine apprentices. Two years ago, I came here with Brett when he was a candidate, and there was despair in the forestry industry. And he said ‘two years ago my business is on the verge of closure, now, I’ve expanded so rapidly I’ve got nine local apprentices.’ How good is that. That’s how it’s done.

JOURNALIST:

Another good news story. Thanks for joining us this morning, enjoy the rest of your time in Tasmania.

TREASURER:

Well, I tell you what. I woke up this morning when it was dark, and I nearly froze my nose off.

JOURNALIST:

And other parts?

TREASURER:

And other parts, you can see them floating in the ocean, and now, what a beautiful day and what a great part of the world.

JOURNALIST:

Thanks for your time.

TREASURER:

Thank you.