7 July 2015
Transcript - #2015076, 2015

Doorstop interview with the Prime Minister and Mr Nick Varvaris MP, Wolli Creek, Sydney

SUBJECTS: Food and Grocery Code of Conduct; Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper – Stronger farmers, stronger economy; Our North, Our Future: A Vision for Developing North Australia; Budget 2015; Greece and China; future submarines project; Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption

NICK VARVARIS:

Good morning everyone and welcome to Woolworths at Wolli Creek here in the seat of Barton. Firstly, I would like to thank the Prime Minister and the Minister for Small Business for coming out to my electorate. This is a Government that is committed to supporting small businesses. We want small businesses to employ more people, to invest more, and small business is the engine room of the economy. Businesses such as this and Woolworths all the way throughout Australia employ up to 180,000 people and I would like to thank Dave and his team at Woolworths here at Wolli Creek for hosting us here today and it gives me great pleasure to introduce the Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you, Nick. It is great to be here at Woolies at Wolli Creek with the local member, Nick Varvaris, and also with Bruce Billson, the Acting Treasurer and the Minister for Small Business.

We're here to acknowledge and indeed to celebrate the Grocery Code of Conduct which has been put together after a lot of work by a lot of people – a lot of goodwill by a lot of people. This Grocery Code of conduct is all about ensuring that not only is justice done in the supermarket supply chain but that justice is seen to be done.

We've got lot of good businesses – from big supermarkets through to small suppliers. We've got to ensure that those good businesses can work constructively together, can act towards each other in good faith and that's exactly what the Grocery Code of Conduct will do, and because we have people acting towards each other in good faith in the supply chain, what that means for you, the customer, is more reliable supply, better prices and better service.

If we have good relations in the supply chain, we'll have good relations with customers and that's what it's all about: it's about ensuring that our supermarkets continue to be the best in the world because they are supplied by the best people in the world on a very good and reliable basis and this extra work that we've done to ensure that a Grocery Code of Conduct is in place, that it has been subscribed to by the major players in the sector is all part of a government which is getting on with the job.

Every day, we are getting on with the job of delivering a better life for the people of Australia: whether it be the Agriculture White Paper on the weekend with the extra money for dams, the extra money for research into agriculture; whether it be the Northern Australia White Paper with the extra money for infrastructure in our great north; whether it be the Budget with the biggest boost for small business in our history – every day, this Government is getting on with the job of delivering better services and better outcomes for the people of Australia. That's what this Grocery Code of Conduct is all about: it's assuring that the best possible product is available to the people of Australia at the best possible price. So, that's what I'm doing today. Bruce?

SMALL BUSINESS MINISTER:

Thank you. Prime Minister and Nick, thank you for having me here today.

I'm particularly thrilled to be joined by Darren and Terry and John – some of the suppliers that have been part of our discussions this morning.

The Food and Grocery Code is all about creating the right conditions for efficient businesses – big and small – to thrive and prosper. If you're a supplier you need solid ground, sure-footedness to make the investment to innovate with new products to delight customers and that's what the Food and Grocery Code's all about: getting that mutually-respecting relationship right between what's often a very large retail or wholesale supermarket business and a supplier. It is great to see that that will encourage investment, it will deliver new products and new ways of meeting the needs of consumers and it gets the relationship right because we want big businesses and small businesses that are efficient to thrive and prosper. It's part of our work to grow a stronger economy, more economic opportunities for our community and really looking to the future where these suppliers will be such a part of our story, particularly with the trade agreements that this Government's opened up.

PRIME MINISTER:

Ok, do we have any questions?

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, how concerned are you about the problems in China and Greece, those economic problems spreading to Australia and especially the plunge in the Chinese stock prices?

PRIME MINISTER:

Michael, look, the important thing is to do whatever we can to build a strong and prosperous economy locally, and again I get back to the Grocery Code of Conduct. This is about ensuring that we have the strongest possible local businesses to supply the strongest possible local businesses. We have a great supermarket system. That rests on the shoulders of great local suppliers and this is about ensuring that we continue to have very strong local suppliers, best possible product at the best possible price so that we get the best possible deal for consumers – and if we do that we will avoid the problems that we see overseas.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, will you allow Malcolm Turnbull to appear on Q&A?

PRIME MINISTER:

What we saw a couple of weeks back on Q&A was simply unacceptable and indefensible. It was unacceptable, it was indefensible, and Malcolm quite properly has been engaged in ongoing discussions with the ABC about exactly what they're going to do to ensure that something like this never happens again. Now, there is an internal ABC process underway at the moment. It wasn't appropriate for a Minister to go on there on Monday night and I want that process to be concluded as quickly as possible.

QUESTION:

So will you allow him to appear in a week?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, what I'm not going to do is give further advertisement to a programme which was, frankly, right over the top. The ABC itself said that it was an error of judgment. They then went on to rebroadcast it and, as I said, I'm just not going to give further advertisement to this particular matter.

QUESTION:

The ABC has apologised. Do you think community sentiment has not moved on?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, as I said, I'm not going to further advertise this matter.

QUESTION:

PM, are you concerned that the Chinese Government potentially has intervened in their stock market to try and prop it up given the losses that have been experienced over the last two weeks?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, again, look, I'm not going to offer a running commentary on what other governments do. My business today and every day is to ensure our country is in the best possible position to deal with whatever comes. Whether it be challenges to our economic security, whether it be challenges to our national security, the job of this Government is to make our country as strong as it possibly can be and that's why the small business budget boost was so important with the instant asset write-off which has done so much to boost confidence, and that's why today's Grocery Code of Conduct is so important. It's all about producing stronger local businesses and if we've got stronger local businesses, we'll have a stronger economy and we'll be very well placed to deal with whatever the future throws at us.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, there are reports coming out of South Australia that some MPs are concerned of a voter backlash if the contract for building submarines goes to Japan. Can you reassure them the majority of subs will be built locally?

PRIME MINISTER:

What I can say is that there is a process in place – a competitive evaluation process. It involves working with the French, the Germans and the Japanese to get the best possible submarines for our country at a fair and reasonable price and maximising the local element in the build and whatever happens – whatever happens – I can give an absolute guarantee that in the future, there will be more submarine jobs in South Australia. Whatever happens, I can give an absolute, categorical guarantee there will be more subs jobs in South Australia and I think that's what South Australians understandably want: they want a good deal for our country, they want a good deal for their state, they want the best possible submarines and that's what we are determined to deliver.

QUESTION:

PM, what do you want to hear from Bill Shorten in tomorrow's Royal Commission hearing?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I certainly don't want to offer a running commentary on a Royal Commission. The Royal Commissioner is a judge of the highest quality and distinction and he's more than capable of running an effective Royal Commission without commentary from Ministers. I think that it's really a matter for the Leader of the Opposition to explain and, plainly, there is some explaining that's needed. There are a lot of questions that have been raised by the testimony that's already been given in the Royal Commission. In the end, what we want to come out of this is honest unions that do the right thing by their members and, plainly, it seems that there have been a lot of ghosts on the rolls of some of the unions, there have been some deals that have been done to help the unions but to dud the workers, and let's see what light can be cast on all of that in the next day or so.