Election Gets Willing As Preference Deals Announced; Turnbull Says Libs Will Put Greens Last

The Liberal Party has announced that it will preference the Labor Party ahead of the Greens in every electorate in the election.

The ALP has announced that it will preference the Liberal Party ahead of The Nationals in the rural seats of Murray (Vic), Durack and O’Connor (WA).

The Liberal Party decision is particularly important since it makes it very difficult for the Greens to make up ground in Batman, Wills and Melbourne Ports (Vic), and in Sydney and Grayndler (NSW). The decision all but guarantees that the ALP candidates will win these seats. Late last week, the Greens announced that they would preference the ALP ahead of the Liberals in the inner-city Melbourne seats.

The decision could make Melbourne difficult for the Greens member Adam Bandt, who will need to maintain his primary vote to overcome the lack of Liberal preferences.

The ALP’s preferences in the three rural seats will also prevent The Nationals increasing their numbers in the Coalition, relative to the Liberal Party. ALP preferences will be of particular value in Murray, where the new Liberal candidate, Duncan McGauchie, faces a strong Nationals contender, Damian Drum.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said today that he had made the decision to put the Greens last “in the national interest” and stable government. He said: “The big risk at this election is that we would end up with an unstable, chaotic, minority Labor-Greens-Independent government as we had before. You’ve seen, some of the old band are trying to get back together. Tony Windsor’s running, Rob Oakeshott’s running.”

At a press conference today, the Greens leader, Senator Richard Di Natale, attacked the “dirty deal” between the ALP and the Liberals. He demanded an apology from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten for the ALP’s claims in recent weeks that the Greens were doing a preference deal with the Liberals.

The Greens member for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, said that “people like Anthony Albanese have gone from fighting Tories to preferencing them”. He called on voters to reject the duopoly of the “old parties” and vote for the Greens as the “real opposition”.

Attention will now focus on ALP preferences, particularly in relation to the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) in South Australia. The Greens have not yet announced whether they will preference Labor in marginal suburban seats in Melbourne.

Preferences need to be finalised this weekend so that how-to-vote cards can be printed in time for the commencement of pre-poll and postal voting this Tuesday.

Email statement to Liberal supporters by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Today, we have made a principled decision.

The Liberal Party will put the Greens below Labor in every seat we contest.

The choice is now even more stark – a strong, stable majority government with a clear economic plan, or Bill Shorten falling across the line with Greens and Independents.

A Labor-Greens-Independent minority government would be a disaster for Australia and a return to the economic chaos of the Gillard-Rudd years.

It’s clear the Greens are dragging Labor to the left – higher taxes, more spending and weaker border protection.

My team has a clear economic plan. The Liberal Party stands for jobs and growth and we won’t compromise that.

This the right call for Australia.

Malcolm Turnbull
Prime Minister

Transcript of press conference with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Environment Minister Greg Hunt, at Centennial Park, Sydney.

Turnbull

TURNBULL: Greg Hunt, Minister for Environment, here in Centennial Park, in my electorate of Wentworth. We’re right here at the birthplace of Federation. Just behind us here, in 1901 the proclamation establishing the Commonwealth of Australia was read out. First Governor General was sworn in and the first Prime Minister and Cabinet were sworn in in this Federation Valley – as it’s called – the Federation monument. Wonderful parts of our history, of course this park itself is an amazing, unique emporium era park. Originally laid out in 1888 by Sir Henry Parks on the centenary of European settlement in Australia, and it is used by over six million people a year. It’s one of the best loved parks in Australia. I’ve spent much of my life at different times here – as a little boy and as a dad and indeed as a granddad. So I know every nook and cranny of this park and every tree.

Last year I wrote to the NSW Minister, in my capacity as the Federal Member for Wentworth, encouraging him to apply for – to ensure that the park, the Centennial Park trust applied for the Park to be listed, to be included on the National Heritage List. That would involve it being assessed by the Australian Heritage Council and if they approved it then it would require the protection under the EPBC Act, and any actions which affected the heritage values would then need to be considered by the Minister – the Environment Minister, Greg Hunt.

So I am really thrilled to be here with Greg on this beautiful day, to be able to announce that Greg has decided to start the process for the Heritage Council to consider that Centennial Park be included on the Australian Heritage List and indeed three other sites. Two in the Northern Territory and one in Western Australia, of very considerable Indigenous significance, including Kings Canyon.

Now I’ll ask Greg to talk further about those because he is the Environment Minister. I have included a few things on the Heritage List myself when I was the Environment Minister years ago. I am really chuffed to be here in Centennial Park, knowing that it’s on its way to having greater protection than ever before – and its historic significance being even more recognised then it has been to date. But Greg, over to you.

ENVIRONMENT MINISTER GREG HUNT: Thanks very much to Malcolm, both as Prime Minister and as a very enthusiastic Member for Wentworth. He has been a great advocate for heritage and for Australian history, both European and in particular Indigenous.

Centennial Park is a wonderful historic site. It is a wonderful living historic site. And we are putting forward four new sites for the shortlist for the National Heritage List. And that’s about recognition, it’s about protection, it’s also about access to federal heritage funding. Those four new sites are of course, Centennial Park, secondly we have Watarrka or Kings Canyon National Park in the Northern Territory – one of our great Indigenous sites, as well as an amazing natural site with the hundred metre high sandstone walls. We have in addition to that we the Djulirri rock shelter in the West Arnhem area, a tremendous Indigenous rock-art site. And then we have the Moore River native settlement. And this is a place that has seen both the darkness and light. It was a sight where young children who were part of the Stolen Generation were housed. It was a site where many Indigenous Australians were housed- some frankly against their will, in the first half of the century. And so there was a dark part of our history there but it is very important to acknowledge our history, the best and the worst of it. But there was also much Indigenous knowledge exchanged there and there has been a push for that to be recognised.

All four of these sites are part of our history. Centennial Park is arguably the birthplace of our Federation. With that -from here it goes forward to the Heritage Council, but I am very confident that the hard part, the shortlisting, is done, and now they go to the final assessment.

TURNBULL: Very good. Well done. Any questions about heritage or anything?

JOURNALIST: Is there a risk that by preferencing the Greens last that you will hand some inner-city seats to the Labor Party?

TURNBULL: This is a call that I have made in the national interests. Let us be quite clear about this. The big risk at this election is that we would end up with an unstable, chaotic, minority Labor-Greens-Independent government as we had before. You’ve seen, some of the old band are trying to get back together. Tony Windsor’s running, Rob Oakeshott’s running. You have got the Greens obviously snapping at Labor’s heels trying to pull them to the left – and succeeding I might add, in pulling them to the left with higher taxes, weaker border protection, a more anti-business agenda – which is what you are seeing of course from Labor.

Now the only choice that will deliver stable government and strong economic growth, and the opportunities to get on and achieve your dreams in this, the 21st century, with all of its opportunities and uncertainties – the only viable choice is a vote for the Coalition, because we will deliver a stable Coalition Government delivering on our national economic plan.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister any time throughout this campaign that you’ve been asked about preferences you said it was a matter for the Party Director. Why is this now your decision and who made this decision?

TURNBULL: I said it was a matter for the Party organisation in consultation with the Party leaders, and I am one of the Party leaders. I am the Party’s leader, that’s right. And the decision has been taken by me with the Federal Director, Mr Nutt. But it’s a decision made by the Party organisation in consultation with the Party’s leader and that is me.

JOURNALIST: Mr Turnbull when did you make this decision and do you expect the Labor Party to reciprocate perhaps in South Australia by putting the Liberals ahead of Nick Xenophon?

TURNBULL: Well look, I’ll leave the Labor Party to make its own announcements. But we obviously made the decision shortly before it was announced. I don’t think it surprises anybody. Let’s be clear. It hasn’t surprised anybody. But there is obviously a process to go through, and we wait until we see who is nominated and so forth.

JOURNALIST: Did you make that before yesterday morning?

TURNBULL: Look let’s leave the process to the – can we move on from process to substance. The decision has been under consideration for some time, there have been many discussions about it, a lot of consultation with the State divisions of the Liberal Party. A lot of consultation with colleagues, but the decision is finally taken when it is taken and when it is announced.

JOURNALIST: Have you made a decision as to where the Liberal Party might preference the Xenophon team?

TURNBULL: We have not made any announcements about that yet, no.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, while you were at a fundraiser last night Greenpeace activists turned up with young child protestors as young as five, do you have any concerns about children being used in political activities like that at night?

TURNBULL: Well, look I read about that, I didn’t see that. All parents, I am sure, pay very close attention to looking after the safety of their children, I will just leave it at that.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister can I ask you just a quick question on Labor’s health announcement today. They are saying they are injecting an extra $2 billion. Do you think that that is money that is needed to help reduce waiting lists and hire more doctors and nurses?

TURNBULL: Let us just reflect on what Labor has done today. Now as you know, some weeks ago, I agreed at COAG with the Premiers and the Chief Ministers on a new health funding deal, which they were very happy with which supported 6.5 per cent growth in funding – it is record funding, Federal funding for hospitals, and it added an extra $2.9 billion. It’s activity-based funding. We’re focused on a national efficient price so that we’ll get better service and better value for patients and so forth.

So that was all very businesslike. At the same time, you heard from the Labor Party saying that the Coalition had cut $57 billion out of health funding – $57 billion. How often have you heard that? How often have we heard people in the media repeat it as though it was a fact? Even though the $57 billion was never there – as Colin Barnett said when Julia Gillard was talking about figures like that, he said, we all knew it was a fantasy. Everyone knew it was a fantasy, but it’s been repeated. Bill Shorten has talked about $57 billion. What does he talk about today? Two. I mean this is the Schoolkids Bonus all over again. Labor campaigns for years and years on promises and claims that they are going to provide additional funding or reverse savings measures that we have made, and then, having milked the politic cynical, milked the political benefit of that to the enth degree, then they come back and say we’re not going to do that, we are going to put in, in this case, $2 billion more.

The short answer is, I haven’t seen the detail of their announcement. The fact of the matter is, we have a hospital funding arrangement which was entered into between the Commonwealth – signed by me as Prime Minister, and the Premiers and Chief Ministers. Activity-based funding – national efficient price, $2.9 billion, 6.5 per cent growth. It is responsible, it is record funding, and above all it is affordable.

The lesson that we have seen from the last week is that Labor cannot live within its means. They are claiming, in what surely must be, even by their standards, the most incredible proposition. They are saying that they will run higher deficits for each of the next four years and then, miraculously, like Houdini, leap out of that black hole of debt and deficit and bring the budget back into balance in the fifth year. It is laughable.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, ultimately Labor is offering to spend more on schools and hospitals then the Coalition is. So how do you sort of convince voters that your big plan, the company tax plan, will benefit them more then things like funding for schools and hospitals- things they ultimately see on a day-to-day basis?

TURNBULL: Let me tell you, what Australian see on a day-to-day basis is whether they can get a job. Some people, of course, work for the Government. And of course if they work for the Government they might think that they are immune to economic strength. Well let me say to you, the strength of the economy underpins the viability, the sustainability, of every single person’s job. And I’d say to all of you, would you rather work for a business that is doing well, that is investing, that is growing, or one that is struggling? One that is struggling to pay the bills? I think we all know the answer.

If you want to have strong economic growth, if you want to have the opportunity to get a pay rise, to keep your job, to find a better job, to start a business, then you need strong economic growth. Even if you work for the Government, even if you are public servant, you’ve got to make sure – you have a vested interest in a strong economy because a strong economy means that governments have more revenues.

See this is the fundamental problem with Labor, the bit that they don’t get is that everything depends on economic growth. If you have a slowing in economic growth, if people are unemployed, if companies are not investing, if companies are laying off and pulling back, then tax revenues go down and whether you work for the Federal Government or the State Government, or you work for the ABC – there are not going to be the revenues, regardless, of the political complexion of the Government, to pay you. And so everything depends on a strong economy. Everything Greg and I and my colleagues have presented, will deliver stronger economic growth. There is no question about that. You don’t have to take my word that cutting business taxes will result in stronger economic growth. Take Paul Keating’s, take Bill Shorten’s, take Chris Bowen’s. That is what Labor, when it was more realistic, used to talk about and used to do.

What they are now doing is setting out to slow investment. They are increasing taxes on investment. And if you increase taxes on investment, guess what – you get less investment. You get less investment, you get less jobs.

JOURNALIST: On private health insurance, can you explain why the Government decided not to look at having higher rates of fees for smokers or overweight people, and why haven’t you looked in to this plan at limiting the amount of taxpayer funds that subsidise things like natural therapies?

TURNBULL: As Sussan Ley said this morning, our Health Minister, what we’ve done is reviewed private health insurance, consulted very widely – thousands of Australians have provided feedback. And as you know, we’re going to ensure that the private health insurance plans are simpler, so that people understand precisely what they are getting. That is very important. But you know it has got to be consumer centred, it has got to be customer focused, so that people are getting the insurance for the services and the therapies that they need, and that they believe will give them value.

One of the points that Sussan made on television this morning was of course some plans provide support for gym memberships and support promoting activity and healthy lifestyles. Well that is all very important part of preventative health too. So I think what we’ve got is an approach to private health insurance that is customer focused – consumer focused.

What Labor has done has always sought to pull money out of private health, they don’t like private health, they prefer the public health system, and every time they get the chance, as Tanya Plibersek has said – wherever they want to find some savings, they raid private health insurance. Well, half of Australians have private health insurance and that is why we continue to support it. We want to make sure it is more straightforward, the plans are simpler, people can understand more clearly what they are buying and we’re doing that.

JOURNALIST: Just on Townsville today..

TURNBULL: Today, as you know is a sad anniversary, it’s the 20th anniversary of the Black Hawk disaster in Townsville. As you know, eighteen of our servicemen were killed in that from the special air services and other regiments. It was a tragic incident – the worst peacetime disaster in Australia’s history.

There is a ceremony being held today in Townsville and indeed in other parts of the Australia, in Sydney and indeed in Perth. Both Bill Shorten and I will be in Townsville today – Bill was there this morning, I’ll be there later on today and this evening. Each of us as you know, we put out a joint statement honouring this very sad anniversary and each of us will lay a wreath at the memorial when we are in Townsville. Bill will do it this morning while he’s there, and I’ll be there later on today. Thank you very much.

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