6 December 2018
Transcript - #2018090, 2018

Doorstop interview, Parliament House, Canberra

Subjects: National Accounts; and border protection.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Yesterday we delivered the National Accounts and the results show that the Australian economy is performing well. At 2.8 per cent through the year, the Australian economy is growing faster than any G7 nation except the United States, faster than the OECD average and a lot faster than the economy that we inherited from the Labor Party, because when Labor was last in office, unemployment was rising, business investment was in free fall, and debt was growing rapidly at more than 30 per cent per year.

What we are now doing is creating jobs, more than a million new jobs, particularly for young people. Over 100,000 young people got a job over the last financial year, female workforce participation is in near record highs, more seniors are coming into the workforce than ever before.

Our AAA credit rating has been reaffirmed and next year we will deliver a budget surplus. That's not to say that it's all clear sailing. There is some international headwind when it comes to the economy, particularly the trade tensions we have seen play out between the US and China. And obviously Australia is advocating for cool heads to prevail.

But the Australian economy is strong, and it doesn't happen by accident. The Australian economy does not run on auto-pilot. It is doing well because we have taken disciplined decisions over the last five years to bring the rate of Government spending growth down to its lowest levels in 50 years. This is the product of an economic plan that is working.

In contrast, the Labor Party have a plan for high taxes and more spending. More than $200 billion of new taxes on your income, on your business, on your property, on your retirement savings and on your electricity bill.

The contest will be very clear at the next election. A Labor Party which is proposing higher taxes and more spending, and a Coalition Government, a Liberal and National Government, which has a proven track record of lowering your taxes and creating more jobs.

JOURNALIST:

The growth is at its slowest pace in two years though, will the Government need to downgrade its forecast for MYEFO?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Look, in MYEFO all the numbers are reconciled. You'll see that on the 17th of December. But very clearly, the Australian economy is performing well and these numbers indicate that we are on the right track.

JOURNALIST:

Is the Government facing a defeat on the medical transfers from offshore detention Bill?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well this issue's not about the Government, this issue is about the Labor Party. The Labor Party is now siding with the Greens to effectively unravel what has been a very successful border protection policy that the Liberal and National Governments have put in place. Let's not forget back in 2007, Kevin Rudd told the Australian people he'd be a pale imitation of John Howard. Border protection policies would continue, he'd be an economic conservative, well very quickly the Australian people found out that that was wrong.

Well, Bill Shorten is now offering a different alternative to the Coalition when it comes to border protection and we know what failure on the borders looks like. Fifty thousand unauthorised arrivals, eight thousand children in detention, seventeen new detention centres, budget blowouts and most tragically of all, people losing their lives at sea. We can't put that at risk and I cannot believe that the Labor Party is now siding with the Greens to unravel what has been a very successful border protection strategy and policy.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, the Labor Party has said they will only support the Phelp's Bill if there's an amendment which gives the Minister oversight and the Minister will have to sign off on medical transfers even if they're ordered by doctors. If we include that amendment, then what's the problem?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, what we do know is that the policies we do have in place are working. The boats have stopped, eight thousand children have come out of detention, seventeen detention centres have been closed, we haven't had the budget blowouts that we saw under the Labor Party, and people haven't lost their lives at sea as they did previously. That's our record. We do not want to see a change in our strong border protection policy.

JOURNALIST:

Are the policies really working though if there is this health crisis and mental health crisis in these offshore detention centres, as doctors say?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

This is a really difficult issue, this is a really difficult issue, and there are never easy solutions. But, what we do know is that if you put in place a strong deterrent, if you put in place effective policies, you can save people's lives and you can also ensure that Australia's sovereignty is maintained. That's our track record.

JOURNALIST:

Just one last question.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Last question.

JOURNALIST:

You ask, well the Home Affairs Minister said there were thirteen children on that island, which had parents or family members that were deemed national security risks, now there is ten. Where are those three children and where are their families that were deemed security risks? Are they here?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Look, you will have to put those questions to the acting Home Affairs Minister. But, what I can say is that Peter Dutton and before him Scott Morrison and the Coalition Government has been very successful in putting in place a robust border protection policy, which has ensured that the boats have stopped and people haven't lost their lives at sea, that children have come off detention and detention centres have been closed, that the budget hasn't faced the challenges that it did under Labor from the favour of their policies.

This is a really difficult issue, but we have put in place a policy that has worked and now Labor is proposing a dramatic change to that, which is a very unfortunate, thank you.