CHRISTIAN PORTER: Welcome out to Ellenbrook. It is really good to have you all out here in the heart of the Pearce electorate. We are out here today selling the initatives in the Turnbull Federal Budget and how they will be affecting local people here in Ellenbrook and throughout the great 14,000 square kilometres of my electorate. No better person to help sell that message and help explain the benefits to Western Australia than Julie Bishop. I might, before getting Julie to say a few words, just note that you are basically standing in infrastructure central for Australia at the moment. Behind us is the billion-dollar NorthLink Project – 80 per cent funded by the Federal Government. We funded 50 per cent of the extension of the freeway, north up to Hester Avenue, and now we are extending it further up to Romeo Road. Again, half funded by the Turnbull Commonwealth Government. You have also of course got Ellenbrook Rail which is now actually going to be a reality with real money in a real budget because Malcolm Turnbull sees the great need we have for congestion busting infrastructure in WA. So I am enormously pleased Julie to have you here. This is now an infrastructure hotspot for Australia. There is more investment in the area that surrounds us now than there ever has been in the history of this area and it makes me enormously proud to have played my part with Julie and with other members of the Western Australian team, getting this congestion busting infrastructure money into WA. Julie, thanks very much. Great to have you here.
JULIE BISHOP: Thank you, Christian. I am delighted to be with my Cabinet colleague and West Australian colleague Christian Porter in his electorate as we talk to local people about the impact of the Turnbull Government’s Budget on local businesses, on local schools and local services. This Budget delivers according to the Liberal Party's timeless values. We are living within our means as a government. We are reducing spending, yet investing in essential services, essential infrastructure, productivity enhancing infrastructure. We are providing tax relief to Australians who want more of the money they earn to spend as they want to spend it, and that way we have also got a path back to surplus. We are the only party with a credible path back to surplus and now we can start the long and arduous task of paying back Labor's debt. This is a responsible budget. Today we were at Ellenbrook School and we are delighted to confirm there will be extra funding for school students across Western Australia - an additional $1.7 billion for Western Australia schools – and that meant a $2,000 increase per student at Ellenbrook. It is good news and we are getting a strong reception from people who recognise that this as a responsible Budget and it is right for our times.
JOURNALIST: Ms Bishop, why has the Liberal Party chosen not to contest the seat of Perth and Fremantle?
JULIE BISHOP: The seat of Fremantle has come up as part of a number of by-elections caused by Bill Shorten's broken promise to the Australian people. Let's remember that he looked the Australian people in the eye and said that none of his members had any problem with their citizenship, and now we know that at least four have. We are facing by-elections in Queensland, in South Australia and Western Australia as a result of Bill Shorten’s broken promise, his broken guarantee to the Australian people. In addition, in the seat of Perth, there is a by-election at the same time. There is also now a by-election at a state level in Darling Range. We have limited resources. We also know that the seat of Perth is a Labor stronghold. A government has not won a by-election off an opposition seat since 1911 so we have got to be realistic. Even at the height of the anti-Western Australian campaign of the Rudd-Gillard government when they had the mining tax, and the carbon tax, and border protection out of control, the people of Perth still returned a Labor member to the seat of Perth. Even when we had 57 per cent of the 2-party preferred vote, the electors of Perth still returned a Labor member to Perth. We are being pragmatic about it. We are having to fight by-elections across Australia as a result of Bill Shorten misleading the Australian people about the status of the citizenship of his members, and we will focus on those by-elections. Also, we are focusing our efforts and our resources on the general election which will be held in 2019.
JOURNALIST: Christian Porter - how much of a drag is the GST, or has it been on you? You promised to fix the problem – you haven’t. How much responsibility do you take for that?
CHRISTIAN PORTER: It is obviously a very, very hard problem to fix, and I think that when I look around – myself and my colleagues, Julie and Mathias - what we have managed to do is $3.6 billion worth of compensation money prior to this Budget. Another $3.2 billion in this Budget. We've managed to commission a Productivity Commission Report, which is the first authoritative national report that says that the present system needs fixing and that there are very significant deficiencies. Probably, most importantly of all, is we have managed to smoke out Bill Shorten and Labor, and they have said, unequivocally, that they will never, ever do anything to change and fix the formula. There is still much more to do, but if you're asking whether we believe that we are in there fighting every day - we believe that we are - because we are. We've not achieved everything that we would want, but we've achieved more than any other group of people in the history of this problem. So there's more to be done, but our record, I think, is a very positive one.
JOURNALIST: While the Foreign Minister is standing next to you, do you want to debunk those rumours that you're trying to steal her seat?
CHRISTIAN PORTER: Julie, don't worry! Julie's out here helping me. I'm helping her. Look, it was reported recently in the news that someone approached me about these types of issues. I unequivocally said: “No”. My office is down the road. My home is in the electorate. This is where I live. It's a place that I love. My commitment is to the electorate, and you can see that commitment written in the billions of dollars that I have managed to achieve with the help of great advocacy from Julie and from my colleagues to build better lives for people in my community. I'm not going anywhere.
JULIE BISHOP: My preselection is coming up shortly, and I am the only candidate for preselection in the seat of Curtin. Christian is the only candidate for the seat of Pearce. He is doing a magnificent job as the local member and the feedback I got today, particularly from the local business people, is that Christian Porter is delivering for the seat of Pearce.
JOURNALIST: Ms Bishop, there has been an intervention in Ian Goodenough’s seat in that preselection. If it is good enough for Ian Goodenough, why not for Jane Prentice?
JULIE BISHOP: I can only speak on behalf of the State Division, well in relation to the State Division here in Western Australia, and steps were taken in relation to the seat of Moore by the State Division. The LNP Division in Queensland - I can't speak for them. That's a matter that the Queensland LNP deals with, but it is a reminder to us all that these pre-selections can't be taken for granted. We all have to work very hard to maintain connection with our local community. Jane Prentice is a dear colleague of mine. She's been an outstanding Minister, particularly in the area of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and I look forward to supporting more female candidates in upcoming elections. Thanks to Bill Shorten, we have a number of by-elections to contest.
JOURNALIST: Does the Liberal Party have a women problem, and if so, what is being done about it?
JULIE BISHOP: I'm the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party. I've been the Deputy Leader for 11 years. I'm a female. I'm the first female Foreign Minister. It look a Liberal Coalition to deliver the first female Foreign Minister, and the first female Defence Minister in Marise Payne. We of course would like to see more women in Parliament. I certainly encourage more women. Kelly O'Dwyer, the Minister for Women, has set up the Enid Lyons Fighting Fund to ensure that we can get more female candidates into politics. But at the end of the day, we want to see the best people - we choose our candidates on merit and we want to ensure that they best represent the interests of the local people.
JOURNALIST: Peter Dutton says 50 per cent of pre-selectors were women and they voted to dump Jane Prentice. So, is it women dumping women?
JULIE BISHOP: It is a pre-selection in a seat in Queensland. I am not going to run a commentary on every preselection because thanks to Bill Shorten we now have a number of by-elections where we want to see females standing, as well as males. We want to attract high quality candidates. I should point out, in Queensland, recently George Brandis stood down and he was replaced as a Senator by Amanda Stoker – a female replacing a male.
JOURNALIST: Mr Porter, are you convinced by Anne Aly’s correspondence from the Egyptian embassy about her citizenship issue and if not will you be pursuing the matter further?
CHRISTIAN PORTER: We place great and proper reliance on notification information that comes from embassies, so as far as I am concerned that notification from the embassy is to be read at its face value – yes, I accept it totally.
JULIE BISHOP: It does raise questions about the Members of Parliament that Bill Shorten has known for months were not eligible to sit in the Parliament, and yet he refused to the refer them to the High Court. This again goes to Bill Shorten’s credibility. He cannot be trusted. He cannot be believed. He looked the people in the eye, the Australian people, and he said time and time again there were no questions about any of his members, and all the while he knew that at least four were ineligible to sit in the Parliament.
CHRISTIAN PORTER: Also, Anne Aly has done what the Parliamentary Register required. This Parliamentary Register was of course sought by Bill Shorten and created by the Government. It sets the same standard rules for every Member of Parliament, and importantly, that part of the form for the Parliamentary Register says that you need to have evidence of the conclusion of the renunciation process – not merely note that you started it. Now, Anne Aly, when the registry first came into being had indicated that she had started the renunciation process and it has taken her quite some time to evidence that it was completed. I think the question now becomes: are there other Members of Parliament? I believe there may be two members of the Labor Party who evidenced the commencement of the renunciation process, but not the completion of the renunciation process. The Parliament Register has to be abided by. It is time for those two to abide by the Register.
If I might just, while I have you here, raise one local matter – I have been going through the state budget which was handed down this week and state budgets are something that I am reasonably familiar with. One of the critical projects for my electorate is the extension of the freeway north up to Romeo Road. Previously the Federal Government had been the majority funder of the first part of the extension up to Hesker Avenue. The extension up to Romeo Road is utterly critical for the northern suburbs of Perth. It is something that the Turnbull Government in the infrastructure package that was delivered just weeks ago has committed $108 million to, and as I thumbed through the State Budget looking for the partner money from the State Government, I was astonished to see that it was not in the state budget. Now, the $3.2 billion that we committed was meant to be partnered on a whole range of projects with the state government. In almost all cases the money appears in the state budget, it is just astonishing and inexplicable that the freeway extension north to Romeo Road does not appear in the state budget. Now I hope, as good members of the media you will put this question to the State Government. Do not accept rubbish around the need for a business case or final planning. The argument always was when the extension to Hester was completed, that perhaps it should’ve just been extended right out there when the trucks were on the road because whilst a very large project, the planning was very advanced, the contracts have clear precedent because of the extension out to Hester. There is partner funding from the State Government for a whole range of projects that we funded where the business cases are not yet finalised but are before Infrastructure Australia. I am just at a loss as to why this critical project is not in the state budget. The only thing I can think of is that it is one of those classic accounting tricks to try and make the State Government books look better than they actually are. This should be in the budget now. Construction should start essentially straight away which means that the State Government money should be in the budget, and I hope that you guys can help me get to the bottom of it.
JOURNALIST: Ms Bishop, today’s Newspoll showed a slightly closer race than it has looked for a while. Is there any temptation to go to an election this year?
JULIE BISHOP: The Prime Minister has said that the election is due next year and it will take place next year. I think the Newspoll reflects the fact that we have a tale of two competing visions for Australia. Ours, contained in our Budget, to give Australians a fair go, give them an opportunity to invest more of their money, provide the essential services that they need but put the national accounts back in to order, get the Budget back into surplus so we can start the arduous task of paying off Labor’s debt. Whereas Labor’s budget is just a typical Labor big-spending, unfunded-spending, high-taxing, burdening future generations with debt. I think the Australian people now have a very clear choice between the responsible approach in economic management and national security – the Turnbull Government – and the profligate spending, high-taxing, high-spending, burdening future generations with debt of Bill Shorten’s opposition.
JOURNALIST: Will you update travel advice to Indonesia amid these latest blasts?
JULIE BISHOP: We are deeply concerned by the latest spate of terrorist attacks. We condemn these cowardly attacks over the weekend. There are in fact reports that there has been another attack that has taken place today. Innocent people have been murdered in these attacks. The Australian Government will continue to work very closely with the Indonesian Government to ensure that the perpetrators are held to account, and that we can prevent terrorist attacks as best we can. We work very closely with Indonesia and in law enforcement, in security, intelligence, counter-terrorism generally. We express our deepest condolences to the families of those killed and hope that those who have been injured recover soon. Australia must be ever alert, ever vigilant to ensure that we can prevent terrorist attacks taking place on our soil.
JOURNALIST: Does Australia have any plans to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem?
JULIE BISHOP: No.
- Ends -
- Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
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