TRANSCRIPT: Press Conference, Wodonga, 12 April 2019
WITH: Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and The Nationals Candidate for Indi Mark Byatt
Good morning everyone, its fantastic news we're clearly on the election trail and we'll be on the election trail until the 18th, and I can tell you both The National Party and myself will be going extremely hard over that period. Fantastic to have the Deputy PM with us today, and we welcome you, Michael, to Indi on the election campaign, you've been a great supporter over the last few months and before that as well and it's great to have you here.
Yeah thank you Mark, and you've been a great supporter for this electorate as well in your previous roles in regional development, making sure that business knew it had a friend in you. And this morning I'm really looking forward to listening to the business people of Wodonga, of Indi, where they've gathered in there for a breakfast and really looking forward to telling them about our economic blueprint. Telling them about the budget last week, which obviously was very much, very much in their favour, in their court.
Fact is, businesses are already paying the lowest amount of tax they have for 79 years, since 1940. That's the lowest rate of tax that they've had to pay for decades, which is fantastic for them. But last week in the budget, we extended the instant asset write-off from $25,000 to $30,000, but we also made more businesses eligible. So businesses which were previously over $10 million were not eligible, now those businesses, the criteria has been extended to $50 million turnover. So that really is going to assist many, many more businesses, in and around regional Australia, in and around the north east of Victoria, it’s fantastic news.
And I know how much Mark is also making sure that I know that more mobile phone towers are required, for his electorate. And I know how much Senator Bridget McKenzie is fighting hard to make sure, in her role, in one of her many roles actually, but in her particular role of Regional Communications, she's making sure that the services that people need are being delivered. We need Mark Byatt, we need him in the National Party room to continue to fight for regional Australia, to continue to fight for north east Victoria. This area needs a representative, who is going to make sure that the services are delivered, to make sure that those tax cuts that we've promised, are delivered.
We have a blueprint for the future, we have an economic plan, and we're looking very much forward to listening to the business people to see how further we can make sure that they get rewarded for their hard work and efforts because at the end of the day, they're the ones putting in the work, they're the ones making sure that people are employed, and they're the ones that Mark Byatt and myself want to absolutely back all the way.
Can you tell us a little bit about the breakfast, how many have you got here and I guess from what parts, is it Wodonga or around Albury as well?
Yeah we've got about 40 or 50 business people in there, and that's fantastic because I know that they're delighted about the tax rates, I know they're delighted about the instant asset write-off, and I know that they're confident that what we're doing and saying, as far as making sure that the economic conditions for those people in the north east Victoria are being looked after, and I know they've got a friend here in Mark Byatt, who understands regional development.
When you've got somebody who’s had experience in this field, who’s got runs on the board, they know they've got a friend in him and they know that in Mark Byatt, he'll be somebody, when he gets to Canberra, he's going to be a true fighter for them.
It's been an interesting election with two sides of the Coalition, both in the same election race, so can you tell us your part of the Coalition but should Indi vote Nationals over Liberal?
Well because I've had form there as well, in 2010, I ran against a Liberal and fact is, we are united, we are in a Coalition, but when it boils down I'll always pick a Nat because I am the National Party Leader and I truly believe that the National Party represents, represents rural and regional Australia. That's our whole and sole focus. Yes, we govern with the Liberals in the national interest, but when it boils down, when it comes to the crunch, we're there for rural and regional, remote, coastal and country Australians. We're there for those people who don't want to live in the bright city lights, we're there for those people who choose to live in one of the great regions of Australia. In and around Wodonga, in north east Victoria, is one of the most fantastic regions, it's got some of the best food and fibre, it's got some of the best tourist attractions, it's got some of the best regional development potential.
We want to help unlock some of that potential, through Mark Byatt's advocacy, through his hard work, and we'll do just that. Give him the vote, and I know you'll have a winner in Mark Byatt.
Indi is obviously a seat that's going to garner, already has a lot of attention nation-wide. What are you going to do to set your campaign apart from everyone else here?
Well we're going to act on the blueprint that we've already achieved, and the Nationals in government have done a great deal. I've outlined the business tax cuts that we've done, that happened, the business tax rate went down when I was a Small Business Minister. We're going to invest in more mobile phone towers, we've got more money on the table for mobile phone towers. We've got $500 million on the table for more water infrastructure.
I know the drought is biting hard, and it's biting hard right throughout north east Victoria, indeed right across Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia. We've got $7 billion on the table, already as far as assistance is concerned, and we stand ready to offer more assistance. We can, we must, we will, provide that assistance. But we're there for regional Australians, particularly those in the north east Victoria area.
And I'm only just up the road, so I'm looking forward to having a neighbour here in Mark Byatt, so we can chew the fat, maybe half way, maybe a Henty or somewhere. But I know, that having a near neighbour in Mark Byatt and having a National Party representative here in north east Victoria is important, not for us, but it's important for the people in this area. They need a fighter, they need somebody who’s going to get to Canberra and put their interests first, and he will do just that.
The mobile black spots scheme, the instant asset write-off scheme, they've already been really talked about leading up to their campaign, and we're only in day two. How are you going to engage people in the electorate now? What can we expect from your campaign?
Well the fundamentals of a campaign haven't changed over the years, that is to get out in the electorate and start talking and listening to people in the community and I think that's where you get your priorities from. But from a Nationals’ point of view, we are for the regions, that's at the core of what the Nationals are about, and I think if we can transition that into the regional outcomes like massive infrastructure, like supporting rural councils with the $2.2 billion safety and road infrastructure program. $1.1 billion of that going directly into rural roads and rural councils and $500 million of that going into black spots.
So they're the sorts of programs I think that make a difference in communities, they build on those feeder roads into our major road networks, and some of our small rural councils really struggle in that space to maintain their assets. There's a massive backlog of asset maintenance and repairs that's required, and The Nationals know that, and we'll be there, we'll be supporting those councils and therefore supporting those communities.
Each and every one of the councils in Indi is going to receive a boost, a significant boost in their road's funding, they're Roads to Recovery funding, so that they can make the decisions, at a local level, about which indeed streets, it even gets down to streets, that can be maintained, that can be funded under this Federal Government Roads to Recovery initiative. That only happens when you've got The Nationals in government. It only happens because we started that initiative many years ago under John Anderson, and we've continued it on. We've fought hard, we've made sure that it's in the budget and we've given it a significant boost in this year's budget. And Mark's mentioned the funding right across the nation, $100 billion of infrastructure that I oversee. That significant funding is going to regional areas. It's also going to metropolitan areas of course to bust through some of the urban congestion. But there's a lot of it, a significant amount of it going to regional areas, through the Roads of Strategic Importance, which is not necessarily funding the national highways, but indeed those secondary roads, those feeder roads, those byways.
They make such a difference when you can reduce the pinch points, when you can reduce supply chain inefficiency, and when you can get goods to port, goods onto rail, goods onto intermodals. Now that makes such a difference when you can improve those roads, I know Mark has been a great advocate for better roads, and we're delivering.
Helen Haines made a comment the other day that the major parties are throwing money at the campaign, we see a big sign behind you. What else can we see from The Nationals, is TV advertising, how else are you going to have a crack at this?
Oh well look, Mark will most of all be out at town hall meetings, he'll be out, getting out and about and meeting and greeting people and making sure they know that he cares, that he listens, and when he gets to Canberra he'll act. He will make sure that he acts upon what he's heard, but he's been doing this not just in the campaign, and he won't be just doing it for the next five weeks. He's been doing it for many years past, he's been in the regional development space, he's somebody who has strong ties to this area. He's a local, through and through. That's what we need, Indi needs a fighter, they've got it in Mark Byatt.
Nationals have in the past got about that 20 per cent mark, I think it was slightly under in 2016, what's different this time?
Well we're going to get a whole lot more.
That's the key objective. Alright, very good.