MR DAVE SHARMA MP, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WENTWORTH: Good morning everyone and welcome to Woollahra Public School today. It's great to have the Prime Minister here in the electorate of Wentworth, as well as Sussan Ley, Minister for the Environment, and Trevor Evans, Assistant Minister for Environmental Management and Waste Reduction. One of the most important things that I hear in my electorate that children raise with me all the time is about lessening our impact on the environment, whether that's reducing our emissions, whether that's getting more of our energy from renewable sources, or whether it's lessening the waste that we use and the waste that ends up in landfill and our oceans, it’s an incredibly important issue for us here in Wentworth and all the people of Wentworth as well, which is why it's great to have this team here today, led by the Prime Minister to announce what Australia is doing to step up its own efforts to eliminate waste, reduce the waste that's going out to sea and make more use of it here in Australia. Prime Minister.
PRIME MINISTER: Thanks. Great to be here with you here at Woollahra Public School and thanks to all the boys and girls for having us here today and seeing firsthand what recycled products can mean in the hands of young children, and particularly to see the enthusiasm of those young entrepreneurs who are actually driving this forward. And to Trevor and Sussan, it's wonderful to be here with you, and I want to thank you for the great job you've been doing over these past three years where, while we've been getting on and dealing with the challenges of COVID, ensuring we have the lowest fatality rate of most countries in the world, one of the strongest economies coming through the pandemic and now one of the highest vaccination rates, keeping Australia safe in a very uncertain world. Many challenges securing our economic recovery. At the same time, we've been making good on our promise, which is to ensure that we take responsibility for our waste.
I said three years ago, our waste, our responsibility. The export ban on our plastic waste. I grew up by the beach and I know what it was like. Back in my day when I used to swim at beaches not too far from here, the surf report wasn't just about what the waves were, it was what was in the waves, and since that time there's been so much progress that has been made, and getting plastics out of the ocean is one of our big challenges as we see that, you know, the plastic islands that floating across our great blue Pacific. It's one of the most regular issues raised with me by leaders in south-east Asia, as well as our Pacific family. And Australia is doing its bit. We put in place the export ban on plastics and that means there will be around and at its peak in a few years’ time, 43,000 containers of waste that is not going up into south-east Asia, which ends up in rivers and ends up in our oceans. Australia is taking a leadership position on that to ensure that we are doing the right thing, not just by our own environment here in Australia, but in our regional environment as well to get those plastics out of the oceans. And recycling is a massive part of that. You know, for every 10,000, every 10,000 tonnes of waste that we save, that's creating jobs, creating jobs on every occasion and waste not going to landfill, but going into recycling is creating more and more jobs, in fact, three times the jobs. And so this is about jobs, but it's also about our environment.
We're turning tyres into roads, we're turning plastics into toys and we're turning plastics into fuels as well. And so this Christmas, particularly for those toys, I'm sure Santa is following the same practice as we are here in Australia to make sure that they're remaking, not just making. And that remade in Australia is is a is a brand that we really want you to look at because it's looking after our oceans, it's looking after our waterways, it's keeping things out of landfill and it's actually protecting our local environment, whether it's here in Wentworth or down in my local electorate, down there in southern Sydney or up in Brisbane or down there and on the Murray or wherever you happen to be. Remaking it Australia, Australia is taking a leadership position. You know, we've put $190 million in fostering our recycling industry here in Australia. Seventy six projects specifically which Trevor could talk about, we've attracted $600 million of private and other investment into these facilities, waste management, processing all of these, and it's creating jobs and innovation as well, using our best scientists to make sure that we can remake in Australia. So look for this and I want to congratulate all of the scientists, all of the entrepreneurs, all working together to create these amazing products to ensure that we can live in a cleaner environment of the future, both here in Australia and right across the region. I want to ask Sussan to speak a bit more about that. And then Trevor as well. Thanks Sussan.
THE HON. SUSSAN LEY MP, MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT: Thanks very much PM, and thanks Dave, for having us at Woollahra Public School, where it's an absolute joy to meet some of your local entrepreneurs, also people who are making things from recycled plastic in Australia for sale in Australia, and that is absolutely fantastic. We know that when we came into government, we saw those stockpiles of waste on the docks. The famous mountain of glass in Melbourne. Prime Minister, you said it's our waste, it's our responsibility and then we did something about it. We took practical action. And on the 1st of December, was the third of our waste bans for export of whole tyres. Before that, glass, mixed plastics. So already we're starting to see this recycling revolution that's taken place over the last few years. And it's pretty exciting because it isn't just about finding another destination for what was previously landfill. It isn't even about burning waste and turning it into energy. It's about new, recycling green manufacturing processes. New commitments coming from overseas, innovative procurement we haven't seen before, the jobs, the manufacturing, the industry, that is true microeconomic reform. But when I travel regional Australia and I see plastic processing and plastic and plastic sorting in small country towns and jobs as a result, I'm reminded of the twin benefits of our recycling agenda, which are jobs, and for me, as a regional MP, regional jobs are fantastic. 10,000 over the next 10 years we predict, but also protection of the environment, because if you don't have plastic going into landfill, you don't have it going into the ocean. You actually have it made into something that adds value. You have so many wins. And we don’t want everything being dumped in landfill, giving off harmful greenhouse gas emissions, we don't want plastic to end up in our ocean. Dave's constituents are absolutely passionate about their beaches, and cleaning up and making sure, [inaudible], so a lot of national and international agreements on plastic. But to see it right here in the eastern suburbs of Sydney and how it really makes a difference is absolutely fantastic. And I know Trevor, you've seen it all over Australia.
THE HON. TREVOR EVANS MP, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR WASTE REDUCTION AND ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT: Thank you Sussan and good morning, everybody. There has never been a federal government that has stepped so heavily into the recycling space. And I'd like to pay tribute to the Prime Minister for his personal passion and his interest in the policy area of recycling. It's been mentioned today that the federal government has put $190 million of direct investment into new recycling facilities around the country. It's worth noting that if you add that together with the contributions of other governments and of industry, there is a $1 billion transformation taking place in Australia's recycling facilities right now. And what that means in practical terms is that close to 80 new or expanded recycling facilities are being built or switched on around the country right now in every state and territory. To understand what that means, there's a project in western Sydney not too far away from here, which will be taking used tyres, crumbing those tyres and turning them into things like playground safety equipment or indeed into the surfaces for new roads. There's new projects which are taking old glass and old glass bottles, turning them into fantastic new glass products. There's projects taking paper and cardboard waste and turning it into the next generation of fantastic products that use fibre. About a quarter of the projects around the country are in regional and rural areas, and there's a fantastic plastics processing facility that's being built in regional New South Wales at the moment, due to be turned on very early next year, which will be taking old plastic bottles, the plastics out of everybody's recycling bins and turning them into new things, including some of the products that we've been fortunate enough to see here today. And on that note, I'll just say it's close to Christmas. It's a time when all Australians are seeing a little bit more waste than they would in other times. The consumer campaign that we're here talking about and launching today is coming at a fantastic time, and I'd encourage all Australians to think again when they're looking at the bins and they're deciding whether to put something into the recycling bin or not. That little decision can make a huge difference in terms of jobs, our environment and our Australian economy. Thanks everyone.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, just a question on the environment, if I may. The Business Council and the Australian Industry group that supported Labor's 43 per cent emissions reduction target. Do you think they've got it wrong?
PRIME MINISTER: No, no, I don't agree. I mean, Labor said at the last election and since the last election that they thought 45 per cent was the wrong decision. And apparently, 43 per cent is the right decision. I think, and that's just the opening bid from Labor. I mean, for Labor to legislate if they were to form government, they would have to do that with the support of the Greens. So 43 per cent is just the opening bid for Labor. And you know what the Greens’ target is, it's 75 per cent. So vote Labor, you vote Greens and you vote for the Greens targets.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, the gentleman on your right called in a speech in September for a 40 to 45 per cent cut in emissions by 2035. Do you disagree with Dave Sharma on that?
PRIME MINISTER: That's not the government's policy. I respect Dave's commitment to this area. But what we're doing is we've got the right balance in our policies and our policies are about meeting and beating out targets and meeting and beating those targets is Australia's record. We've cut emissions by more than 20 per cent, and one of the ways we're doing this is exactly what we're talking about today. When you're not putting stuff in the landfill, you're actually reducing emissions. That's why we've made re-use, that's why we made recycling one of the important parts of our manufacturing initiative. Our modern manufacturing initiative identifies recycling as one of our key manufacturing industries going ahead. And when you've got companies like VISY, who are world leaders in recycling out there in western Sydney. I was out there where we put one of our supports in, to ensure that they've been able to retool and redo their lines out there, for glass with manufacturing, glass recycling. That same glass is going into the Tooheys bottles, which have been also made here in the New South Wales. And of course, you've got the paper recycling carbon recycling, which is causing a recycling revolution in other parts of the world, an Australian company doing that. So Australia gets the runs on the board, whether it comes to reducing emissions or recycling. We're doing the practical things that make a difference. Others talk about it. We do it. And we're also doing it by getting electricity prices down. Under Labor, electricity prices doubled. Since I was elected at the last election, electricity prices have come down by 3.2 per cent every year, on average. Every year, for three years. So under our policies, we're reducing emissions and we're reducing electricity prices. Under Labor, we know what happened. Taxes went up, prices went up, and they didn't achieve what they were hoping to on emissions reduction.
JOURNALIST: You previously lost this seat, you previously lost this seat to an Independent with a stronger stance on climate. What makes you think that your 30 to 35 per cent target will be enough to hold this and other key seats?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, you're right. Back in in 2018, that's what occurred. And then in 2019, with the exact policies we took to that election, which I have honoured in this term, we were able to get Dave Sharma elected. And that's also because Dave does such a great job here on the ground. You know, at this election, it's a - next year - it is a choice. It's a choice between the Liberals and the Nationals and Labor and the Greens. And at the end of the day, someone's going to be chairing Cabinet and that's going to be me or Anthony Albanese. Someone's going to be chairing the National Security Committee of Cabinet and making decisions about keeping Australians safe in our region against some of the greatest threats we've seen since before the Second World War. And someone - either me or Anthony Albanese - is going to be chairing the Expenditure Review Committee. Now, I've got plenty experience chairing those, through some of the most difficult decisions this country's ever made. And these are the choices. Elections are about choices between two alternatives. And that's the choice that Australians have to make. And here locally, who you choose locally - whether it's a Member of the Government in the form of Dave Sharma or anyone else - the only way you can ensure that we can secure our economic recovery and keep Australians safe in these uncertain times is supporting the Liberals and Nationals candidates. And here in Wentworth, that's as true as anywhere else in the country.
JOURNALIST: Do you think Gladys Berejiklian would be a good candidate for Warringah?
PRIME MINISTER: I think she’d, I think she'd be great. I think, as I've said before, the way that Gladys Berejiklian has been treated over these events, I think has been shameful. I've been very clear about that. Anthony Albanese thought that was the right thing to do to Gladys Berejiklian. I don't think it was, and I look forward to her, she’ll make her own decision in her own time about what she would like to do, of course. If she wished to join our team, she would be very welcome, but I have no doubt that whatever Gladys sets her mind to, she'll be a great success in whatever choices she wants to make going forward.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, she's being investigated for turning a blind eye to corruption and for breaching her own Ministerial Standards. Now, you're someone as Prime Minister who pays a lot of attention to Ministerial Standards. I've seen two Ministers go and one Minister stood aside. Given this cloud is over her head, what message does it send if you support her running for Warringah at this election?
PRIME MINISTER: I don't agree with the way you've characterised it. I mean, there's no suggestion of criminal conduct by Gladys Berejiklian ...
JOURNALIST: She's being investigated for turning a blind eye.
PRIME MINISTER: … I mean, we've seen plenty of these things and we’ve seen, you know, recordings of private conversations, detailed, intimate things that were paraded around in the media. What was that about? Was that trying to, about shaming Gladys Berejiklian? I thought that was awful. I thought it was just awful. I have no doubt that, you know, Gladys will have her own reflections on these things, but the way she was treated publicly over this, I just thought, and I have no doubt that many of my fellow residents here in New South Wales felt pretty much the same way ...
JOURNALIST: So she didn't breach her Ministerial Standards?
PRIME MINISTER: … I think this is a great opportunity, if Gladys wishes to run, but again, that's up to her.
JOURNALIST: But she didn't breach her Ministerial Standards?
JOURNALIST: [Inaudible] do you think she should still be running?
PRIME MINISTER: What I found is that Gladys was put in a position of actually having to stand down and there was no findings of anything. Now, I don’t call that justice ...
JOURNALIST: She chose to resign, though, didn’t she, Prime Minister? She chose to resign.
PRIME MINISTER: … What I saw is a, is a pile on and, you know, we're all pretty used to pile ons on our side of politics. I see them all the time. We’ve got thick skins. We know how to deal with it. And Gladys certainly knows how to. She's a person I've always found to be of great integrity, and if she wants to have a crack at Warringah for the Liberal Party, I suspect the people in Warringah would welcome that. I’ll let the people decide ...
JOURNALIST: So the ICAC finding doesn’t matter?
JOURNALIST: If you win another term, Prime Minister, will you be ...
PRIME MINISTER: Just, settle down. Everyone’s excited today. I’m quite calm, but you guys probably need to take a bit of a chill today.
JOURNALIST: If you do win another term, will you be making any cuts to Government spending and beginning Budget repair in the next term of Government?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, as the Treasurer who brought the Budget back into balance, people would see how I did that. What I did was I increased employment in the Australian economy. See, there's no great secret to this. You get people off welfare and you get them into a job. They go from taking a payment to paying taxes. And that was the predominant way through which we patiently rebuilt the Budget after the last effort when we came to Government from Labor and they left it in a complete mess. I notice Anthony Albanese, he's running around saying, ‘Everything's going to be free. This is going to be free. That's going to be free. It's all going to be free.’ Whenever Labor tells you something's going to be free, I guarantee you, you'll end up paying for it every single time.
JOURNALIST: Will the vaccination program for five to 11 year olds happen before the 10th of January, so that kids can be double dosed before they go back to school?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, we've been moving as quickly as we can. We've been preparing for this. We've only just had the decision to approve those vaccines. And this Friday, I'll be sitting down with the premiers and chief ministers and they’ll be further briefings on on the rollout of that program. We're talking about the vaccination of our kids, and particularly with kids, you know, we're always going to apply the appropriate care in making those decisions. And these are also decisions and choices that parents are going to make about their children's vaccinations. So we've ensured that they can have great confidence about the vaccination of their children and, and that program will be in place, and we'll be doing that in partnership with the states and territories, in giving children that opportunity to get vaccinated before they go back to school.
JOURNALIST: Just on that, with COVID, Prime Minister, New South Wales and Victoria have indicated …
PRIME MINISTER: You've been very patient, Charles, I’ll give you a question.
JOURNALIST: … New South Wales and Victoria have indicated they will not pursue a zero strategy …
PRIME MINISTER: Who, sorry? I didn’t hear that, sorry.
JOURNALIST: New South Wales and Victoria have indicated they will not pursue a Omicron zero, net zero strategy. You know, with families wanting to visit other family members interstate this coming Christmas, what's your message to other state and territory leaders?
PRIME MINISTER: Keep moving forward. That's my message. I want to particularly commend Premier Marshall, who made a very good decision, a careful decision, a well-considered decision. The Chief Medical Officer was also very supportive in ensuring that South Australia had all the information that they needed to have to make that important decision. We’ll be discussing these things further this Friday, as you'd expect us to. We were waiting and have been waiting for some more of the evidence to come in on Omicron. But, you know, we're going into 2022 looking through the front windscreen, not through the rear vision mirror. We’re going to make decisions about what's coming ahead, not what’s gone before. And this virus has been changing over the entire course of this pandemic, and we've been making sensible, balanced, evidence-based decisions. By the end of this week, we'll be knocking on the door, if not having walking through it, on 90 per cent double dose vaccination rates all around the country. And that's an extraordinary achievement by Australians. It meant, it meant the crowds could be back there at Bathurst on the weekend. It means that Australians are able to come together, and we've got to stay the course, hold our nerve, and keep moving forward confidently into 2022, because 2022 is going to be a year of great opportunity for Australians. But we need to secure our economic recovery and keep making the sensible, balanced decisions on economic management, which our Government is known and trusted for, and on national security, in 2022, that are very important because of the uncertain world we live in. But it's going to be a clear choice. Charles.
JOURNALIST: PM, Queensland looks like it will get to 80 per cent this Friday.
PRIME MINISTER: Yeah.
JOURNALIST: Is that a better day to open up than the date that was scheduled by Premier Pałaszczuk?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, look, I’ll leave, ultimately these are decisions for premiers at the end of the day on public health of that nature. All I know is, of course, that the Doherty scientific analysis that was done showed very clearly that once you get past 80 per cent, then it is a real game changer, once you hit that. And we've seen that in New South Wales, we've seen it in Victoria, we've seen it in the ACT - these states living confidently with the virus, living, you know, every day as we get closer, together with the virus. And that's why we can come together this Christmas because of the great work that Australians have done, which means as we approach the end of this year, and I'll finish on this, that we have, once again, one of the lowest fatality rates of any country in the world when it comes to COVID. We have one of the strongest economies - 350,000 jobs coming back just in the last five, six weeks as our country, as our economy springs back out of those lockdowns. And we have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. That sets up Australia for 2022. You can't take anything for granted. You've got to keep looking through that front windscreen. Don't look in the rear vision mirror. This this is about a real choice about who can secure Australia's economic recovery and keep Australians safe. Thanks everyone.