Transcript: Morning Doorstop Feb 8, 2017

Subjects: Defence training area; ABCC; Australia Post CEO pay; Gold Pass; Adani

 

E&OE

MINISTER CANAVAN:

 

I just wanted to say a couple of things today: that on the first day of Parliament, it's been great news for small businesses and farmers in Queensland. Over summer, I've had four separate trips to the Charters Towers and the Marlborough/Shoalwater Bay regions. I've heard numerous concerns about Defence Force proposals to acquire land in those areas, concerns about potentially the compulsory nature about it and concerns about the way these have been put forward. So I very much welcome the intervention of the Prime Minister to rule out any forced sales of property in these areas. It's a win for farmers in Central Queensland. It's a win for Michelle Landry and Ken O'Dowd, who've been pushing for this outcome and it shows that the Government does listen. These were always simply proposals that we had put forward, that Defence had put forward. They were out there for consultation. We've done that consultation, we've listened to people and then we've acted and we've taken those acquisitions off the table.

 

The other good news today for small businesses in Queensland is these changes that are mooted to the legislation last year on the Australian Building and Construction Commission. I know of so many small businesses, sole traders in Queensland who just want to get on with their job of building houses, creating jobs and making money for their own families without the standover tactics and thuggery of the CFMEU. And those small guys now will be better protected, sooner, thanks to these changes. This is what the Government wanted to do originally. We of course didn't have the numbers last year to do that. It is a welcome development that now we do and it's a huge win for small business.

 

QUESTION:

Are you disappointed though that you had to go back and make these changes?

 

MINISTER CANAVAN:

Oh look it'd be ideal if we could just do things on day one, but you don't always get what you want and politics is the art of compromise. We've had to, of course, be willing to negotiate with Senate crossbenchers on a range of measures including these. We've shown and proven ourselves as a Government in the last six months that we can deliver a lot through the Senate, including budget savings, including Senate reform earlier last year and then the Australian Building and Construction Commission. These have been hard things to get through but they have been done and the arrangements that were put in place last year would have been positive, particularly over that two year phase-in period. Now we'll just get those benefits sooner thanks to the evidence that's been put forward to Senator Hinch over the holidays. He's clearly been listening to his constituents over Christmas as well and also the hard work of the Minister, Michaelia Cash.

 

QUESTION:

What do you think of the pay packet for the Australia Post CEO?

 

MINISTER CANAVAN:

Well look, this is not a decision of Government. It's not the Government's decision, it's not Cabinet's decision, it's not any minister's decision on this pay packet. It's a matter for the Australia Post Board. They'll be here - or representatives of Australia Post will appear at Senate Estimates in a couple of weeks’ time. That's the accountability mechanisms we have in this parliament and I'm sure some Senators will be putting questions both to Mr Fahour and to the Australia Post representatives to justify that pay packet.

 

QUESTION:

Are you happy that the number was released?

 

MINISTER CANAVAN:

Look my understanding is that certainly I've seen Mr Fahour's salary being reported before, so I don't think it's unusual to be transparent in this regard. I do think that executive salaries of senior public servants, senior executives in Government-owned corporations should be made public.

 

QUESTION:

Are you pleased to hear the Gold Pass is being scrapped?

 

MINISTER CANAVAN:

Look I think that this change is a reasonable one. I do think that there is a great and legitimate concern from people that the money we've spent here sometimes has not been as best as we could do. There were clearly changes needed to be made and I fully support the Prime Minister's decision to immediately scrap this perk. It has been abused by some unfortunately, that's always the case that it's the few that wreck it for the many. I'm sure there are legitimate reasons for former politicians to use these flights for charity purposes and for representative purposes, but that clearly wasn't always the case and it's time for this change to be made.

 

QUESTION:

Has there been any progress on whether the NAIF could grant that $1 billion loan to Adani for the railway line?

 

MINISTER CANAVAN:

Look as was reported last year, the board of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility has done an initial assessment of the Adani company's proposal. They have decided to take that through to the next stage, to what they call a Strategic Assessment procedure - kind of a due diligence type process. It will now be a matter or working through that process over the next few months. We expect Adani to be seeking to make a decision one way or another on this project in the next few months, perhaps by mid this year. And of course it will be at that time that they'll be seeking a decision one way or another from the NAIF and I will wait for their decision. They're the independent board that we've established to make those decisions.

              

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