4 March 2019
Transcript - #2019041, 2019

Doorstop interview, Launceston, Tasmania

Subjects: Tasmania’s economy; cutting red tape for Tasmania’s small businesses; Australia-Indonesia Free Trade Agreement; women in the Liberal Party; and domestic violence support.

BRIDGET ARCHER:

It’s wonderful to be here this morning with Federal Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg and acting Premier, Jeremy Rockliff, as well as Senator-designate Wendy Askew and Claire Chandler. It’s an exciting announcement today, $6.4 million for small business investment in Tasmania.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, thanks Bridget. Terrific to be here with you and Claire and Wendy, and of course the acting Premier, Jeremy Rockliff, terrific that you could make it here. It’s terrific to be back here in Tasmania, here in Launceston. Tasmania is such a success story for the Australian economy. To think that when we came to Government, unemployment in Tasmania was 7.5 per cent and now it’s down to 6.2 per cent, and under the leadership of Will Hodgman, we’ve seen international tourism numbers up around 15 per cent in the last year. We’ve seen exports up very strongly across the state by about a similar number. Economic growth is running in the state of Tasmania at 3.3 per cent, the fastest in a decade. And, that is a real credit, Jeremy, to you and to Will and to your team and the leadership that you’ve shown, but also the work that we have undertaken at a federal level to support the Tasmanian economy and the Tasmanian community. And, a key part of the success of Tasmania has been the small business sector; more than 36,000 small businesses across the state are benefitting from the Federal Government, the Coalition Government, moves to cut taxes, moves to put in place an instant asset write off which has been taken up by thousands of businesses across the state. And, we are extending it and increasing it to $25,000. The work that we’re doing to increase access to finance for small business, with a $2 billion securitisation fund because access to finance for small business is critical if they’re going to employ more people and grow their businesses. And, today is another step in the right direction for small business; $6.4 million is part of the federal Government’s $300 million small business regulatory reform package, which will ensure that the red tape that is currently there is there no longer. So, for example, if you’re a small business and you’re applying for a building approval, you won’t need to go through separate applications or environment approvals, food safety approvals, heritage approvals, you will be able to do it all on one portal. We’re going to increase access for small businesses who may be at risk of bush fires in their areas by providing them with special data that allows them to mitigate against those risks. And, a whole series of other things that are going to help on construction sites with accreditation reducing the red tape. So, this is a very important announcement. $6.4 million, the spin offs for the economy will be significantly greater than that. It’s a real pleasure to be working with the State Government.   

The other thing I will say about today and its importance to the Tasmanian economy, is the fact that the Australia-Indonesia Free Trade Agreement is being signed by my colleague, Simon Birmingham, in Indonesia. This is a very significant agreement, because not only do Australia and Indonesia enjoy a close working relationship in the trade area, but we are important strategic partners and we work so closely together. Back in 1991, Australia only had one Free Trade Agreement and that was with New Zealand. And, now we have eleven, and it covers more than 70 per cent of our two-way trade with partners, particularly those in the region. This has been a Coalition achievement in agreeing to new FTA’s and that has created jobs in every state and territory, particularly here in Tasmania.

So, Jeremy, thanks for the opportunity to be here.     

JEREMY ROCKLIFF:

Well, thank you very much, Josh, and to Richard, thanks for having us once again in your patch. And, Josh, thank you for being in Northern Tasmania once again, the Bass electorate, of course of which Bridget and Claire and Wendy know so much about. Look, we welcome this announcement. This is a great announcement for small business. So, there is 36,000 small businesses in Tasmania that will be celebrating today’s announcement, but also, more importantly, the 110,000 employees. And, it’s the Government’s job to support and recognise the value of businesses right across Tasmania, which Josh has said, the key part of Tasmania’s success in terms of our economy is up to the hard-working men, women and families and employees in small business, that every day get up and service the Tasmanian community and work very, very hard. We have much to celebrate in Tasmania. On a per capita basis, we are the fastest growing state in Australia, nearly double the national average. That is through hard work and cooperation and collaboration, not only between Federal and State Government, but of course, with small businesses as well. So, thanks very much, Josh. This is a $6.4 million investment, reducing the complexity when it comes to running a small business. I pay tribute to all the people involved in small business in Tasmania and this is a very, very welcome announcement for them, and indeed, our state.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, how concerned are you about the Indonesia-Australia Trade deal being amended or scrapped before passing both Parliaments, given concerns in Indonesia and within Labor?  

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, the Labor Party, unfortunately, are very sceptical of Free Trade Agreements. That means they are turning their backs on small businesses across the community and it’s going to lead to less jobs being created. One in five Australian jobs are related to trade today. And, as I said, the work that we have done as a Coalition Government, whether it’s the Free Trade Agreement with China or with the United States prior to that, Japan and Korea, the Trans-Pacific Partnership involving eleven countries. These are agreements that create jobs. So, we will be putting the case before the Parliament to take the next step with this Australia-Indonesia Free Trade Agreement. But, the fact that it was the Coalition Government that has presided over its signing is very significant. It’s good news for the people of Tasmania, its good news for the people of Australia.

QUESTION:

If this $6.4 million is being added to a suite of initiatives already funded at the national level, how is it going to directly help Tasmanians? 

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, it’s going to help them in a very practical way. So, small businesses will have less red tape to navigate when they are getting a building approval. Small businesses will have less red tape to navigate when they’re looking to water infrastructure on their properties. Small businesses will have less red tape to navigate when they’re mitigating against bush fire risks, and construction companies will have less red tape to navigate when they’re accrediting contractors and others who are working on their properties. So, working with the State Government, we’ve come up with this suite of initiatives. The Federal Government is investing and ultimately, that means more jobs and less paperwork for small businesses across Tasmania. 

QUESTION:

But, to be clear, this is part of a national funding…

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Correct…

QUESTION:

It’s not, $6.4 million isn’t just for Tasmania?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

No, the $6.4 is just for Tasmania. There is a $300 million pool that will obviously be going towards small business regulatory reform initiatives around the rest of the country.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, there will be seven women in Cabinet if you win the election. Will the Party ever consider quotas or do you think this goes far enough?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Look, my preference has always been for targets. And we have a target in the Federal Liberal Party to increase the representation of women. But, the fact that Linda Reynolds is now the seventh female in the Australian Cabinet and that this is a record number of women since Federation in the Australian Cabinet, I think this is a real positive development. And, Linda has been an outstanding Member of Parliament, she has written on a whole host of areas and she has shown real leadership in terms of dealing with the floods that we have recently seen in Queensland. She brings to the table experience in the military, the rank of brigadier, and I think her elevation is a reflection of her dedication and her professionalism. The fact that we are standing here with Claire and Bridget and Wendy, women who are bringing to the table real experiences in other walks of life. Bridget has been involved in the farming community and Local Government and will make a fantastic candidate here. The other thing that I will point out is that, you know, the Liberal Party is attracting women to run in marginal seats like the seat of Macnamara and yesterday I launched Kate Ashmor’s campaign, she runs a local law firm, she’s been head of the local community bank, a long association, and she is putting her hand up to win a seat from the Labor Party in Macnamara. And, then, in the seat of Higgins, I was very pleased to see Katie Allen win the nomination there. Katie Allen is a Professor of Paediatrics at the Royal Children’s and the University of Melbourne, a fellow at the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. It says something not only about Katie Allen being prepared to put her hand up for public life, but it says something about the Liberal Party that we can attract women of the calibre of Katie Allen and Kate Ashmor and the women who are here today to run for our seats.   

QUESTION:

Treasurer, how concerned are you about the impact of the minor parties and independents in the upcoming election?

JOSH FRYDENBERG: 

Well, minor parties and independents always play a role in every election, some states more so than others. But it is important for Australia that we have the stability of government. And that is why we will be saying to the people of Australia; vote one for the Coalition, whether it’s your Liberal candidate or your National Party candidate. 

QUESTION:

Should the minimum number of women in Cabinet or a Shadow Cabinet be the new norm for the Coalition from here on?

JOSH FRYDENBERG: 

Well, I think the numbers will increase overtime, just as they have. And the women, who are side by side with the Prime Minister in Cabinet, are women who are making an outstanding contribution and they are making outstanding contributions as Liberals, as Nationals, as members of the Liberal Party.

QUESTION:

Do you think Linda Reynolds was appointed on merit after an extraordinary career? Why is she being appointed to Cabinet weeks out from the election?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, as you know, Steve Ciobo, has retired from that portfolio and people on both sides of politics have made their announcements about their own careers and for different reasons. And no one should begrudge that. So, an opportunity came available with Steve Ciobo’s announcement and the Prime Minister saw fitting to put Linda Reynolds in that role and she is already acquitting herself.

QUESTION:

Julie Bishop said she would have beaten Bill Shorten at the next election. Do you agree?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Scott Morrison will beat Bill Shorten at the next election. Scott Morrison is showing real leadership across the country, whether it is here in Tasmania with the response to the recent bushfires or in Queensland with the floods, or the announcement that was made here the other day about a second interconnector between Tasmania and the mainland, or ensuring Tasmania becomes the battery of the nation providing renewable power across to the mainland as well as providing for Tasmanians energy needs. These are policies, these are announcements that are going to make real differences to people’s lives, they’re going to continue with the strong jobs growth that we have seen across country. Bill Shorten has an economic plan, which will lead to fewer jobs, higher unemployment, lower growth and $200 billion worth of new taxes, and taxes on the people of Bass, including those who are currently getting the benefits of their franking credit. Taxes on the people of Bass who either rent their house, or own their house, they will see it worth less under the Labor Party and will end up paying more for their rents. This is the Labor’s Party way, higher taxes, which will mean lower growth and less jobs.

QUESTION:

What about Julie Bishop though, do you agree with her?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, I believe that Scott Morrison is going to lead us to victory at the next election. He has shown great leadership and strength in that role.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, is the government planning to match Labor’s $60 million support package for victims fleeing from domestic violence?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, the Labor Party is playing catch-up in this very important area. We have already announced more than $300 million of new initiatives in additional funding to support victims of domestic violence, whether it is security upgrades, emergency accommodation, support for the helpline, we have announced a series of initiatives and we will continue to roll more.