Subjects: Visit to Western Australia; the Coalition’s commitment to defund Labor’s Environmental Defenders Office funding; floods in North Brisbane; the Prime Minister’s shocking betrayal on the stage three tax cuts; the Prime Minister’s lack of leadership and credibility; Labor’s cost of living crisis; Dunkley by-election; PNG.
Good morning, everyone. Thank you very much for being here this morning.
I want to say thank you to our hosts at the breakfast this morning. It was an opportunity to talk about what is an amazingly vibrant economy here in WA. There are many people in the mining sector who sacrifice a lot of time away from their families, who contribute to the local economy here: the money that they spend in retail stores and in many sectors helps make this a very vibrant economy, and we should celebrate it more.
We should talk more about the WA powerhouse. The Federal Government should be doing less to try and stop that from taking place. The Environmental Defenders Office is a body which has been funded by the Albanese Government to try and attack mining companies, and to try and stymie new developments, and to try and revisit approvals that have already been given. They’ve obviously been discredited in the recent Federal Court case, but the Federal Government’s had nothing to say about that. They haven’t withdrawn the money.
So, if a Coalition Government is elected at the next election, we will defund that body because it is a bunch of radical environmentalists who are not approaching the situation objectively. They don’t have the best interests of Western Australians at heart – and we think it needs to be defunded, and that’s exactly what we’ll do if we win Government.
So, I’m pleased, really pleased to be back here in WA. Unfortunately, it’s a truncated visit because I’m heading back to my electorate where there’s been significant flooding overnight, unexpectedly. There are some disturbing images out this morning. I’ve spoken with Premier, with the local Mayor, and there is a lot of information on my Facebook page and social media of services with contact numbers for local residents who have been affected that they can contact. We’ll be providing updates in relation to that.
It’s been a very unexpected event and it’s impacted a lot of people, some of whom have been evacuated from their homes in the early hours of this morning. So that’s a dire situation, and I’m just pleased that there’s no reported loss of life, but there will be a lot of businesses and families and households and others that are devastated by this inundation.
I’m happy to take any questions.
One of the items on the agenda for Shadow Cabinet today was the stage three tax cuts. Have you reached a position on whether you’ll support those or whether you’ll seek to amend what Labor has proposed?
Well, we’ll make an announcement in due course but we’re worried about a huge black hole in Labor’s costings. We’re worried about the fact that the tax cuts under Mr Albanese – which was of massive broken promise – will result in 510,000 Western Australians facing a tax increase. Let’s be very clear about this: people, half a million of whom, here in WA alone are going to face higher taxes. Which means that they’re going to spend less money at restaurants, they’re going to spend less money at tourist destinations, and they’re going to spend less money in shops, and that has a knock-on effect right across the WA economy.
So, I think the Prime Minister – after having promised it on 100 occasions – we now need to test his credibility in relation to negative gearing, and tax on the family home. Because the Prime Minister interestingly, and if you look at the Treasurer’s words in relation to the question he was asked about negative gearing, he uses a very cute form of words – as the Prime Minister did in Parliament – which I think gives rise to more questions than answers. I don’t think that Australians want the Bill Shorten style attacks on negative gearing, because many people use negative gearing to provide support for their retirement, to provide an additional income, and it provides a home to somebody who can’t afford to buy that home.
So, Labor’s in favour of unions and super funds owning homes and renting them out and no cap on that, but they’re not in favour of Australians investing their hard-earned money to provide support to the housing market. So, I think there is a lot to play out in relation to this debate, and I think Australians have been staggered by the fact that their Prime Minister looked them in the eye and bluntly lied to them.
When can we expect Shadow Cabinet to reach a position on stage three tax cuts?
Well, we’ll make an announcement when we do.
Understandably so, given you’re going back to your electorate, does that delay your announcement on a position?
Well, we’ll have an announcement in due course. I wasn’t planning on making an announcement this week, in any case. So, we’ve got a lot of work that we’ve done, just to look at the forward estimates numbers – the medium term and into the out years as well – and question marks about whether Labor’s policy is properly costed, question marks about whether it’s inflationary. We know that the Prime Minister deliberately omitted from his speech the fact that $28 billion more in tax will be paid. So, we’re weighing all of that up, and we’ll make an announcement in due course.
What does Liberal polling reveal about how the Dunkley by-election will play out?
Well look, I’ve seen the reports by Phil Coorey today, and I think the Prime Minister has panicked. I think it’s obvious when you look at the design of the stage three tax cut broken promise – what he’s replaced it with – it’s squarely designed to try and shore up their numbers in Dunkley. That’s as plain as day.
The Prime Minister told further lies at the National Press Club the other day when he said it had nothing to do with Dunkley. He’s worried about his leadership. You’ve got Bill Shorten there who’s biting at the bit – who, I can tell you, his aspiration in life is not to be a Cabinet Minister in the Albanese Government – let’s be very frank about that. I think there’s a dynamic playing out here in the Labor Party Caucus at the moment, which is why you’re seeing this next stage of tax changes around negative gearing and the family home.
The Prime Minister doesn’t have a mandate for any of it, and for Australians who have invested in good faith, or are saving up to buy a house or to invest in property, the uncertainty that they’re creating at the moment is unforgivable, but it’s what Labor always does. They can’t manage the economy, and I think the Prime Minister has a lot of questions to answer, because I just don’t believe that Australians can trust him anymore.
Just on Papua New Guinea, there’s reports that PNG is in early talks with China on a potential security and policing deal. What do you make of that?
Well, when we were in government, we put record funding into the region and including into PNG because we are a trusted, long-term friend. We’ve gone through war, in many dark days where those troops from Australia, from the US and elsewhere in our region at the time of the Second World War worked very closely with the amazing troops from PNG. Kokoda is one of those battles where every young Australian child is taught the detail of what happened there and the work of the Australian soldiers and the PNG soldiers together.
So, we’ve got that history with PNG, and that should be the underpinning for the continuing trust. I welcome Prime Minister Marape’s visit to Australia. He’s always a welcome friend whenever he comes. We will support the Government in whatever actions they’re taking to make sure that the relationship is consolidated. Because, as the Prime Minister points out, we’re living in the most precarious period since the Second World War. We should be very mindful of that and we should be speaking with a common voice, and we are, and we’ll stand with the Government in support of their programmes, which will further consolidate the relationship with PNG.
Thank you very much.