First today we need to reflect on the flight last night from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur, which was turned back after a very distressing incident. I want to praise the crew and the passengers for their quick and prompt actions to make sure that the situation was resolve and resolved well.
Of course the plane returned to Melbourne – it was en route to Kuala Lumpur – but returned to Melbourne and the Victoria Police in conjunction with the Australian Federal Police then took the person involved into custody and the Victoria Police and the AFP will have more to say about that today. But I just wanted to say what a distressing situation that must have been for the passengers and the crew and to praise them for their actions. They were very quick, very decisive and very courageous.
Last night was a great night for small business. As the Small Business Minister, I was delighted the instant asset write-off legislation went through the lower house, went through the House of Representatives. It is so important, that legislation, for Australia’s 3.2 million small businesses who employ 5.6 million Australians. They’re responsible, those small businesses, for $380 billion to the gross domestic product of our nation. They keep our nation ticking.
To ensure that extension by 12 months to the instant asset write-off programme is something that I have fought for. It’s something that certainly, on my nationwide small business roadshow, we heard that this is what the small businesses of Australia wanted. And the Treasurer Scott Morrison on May 9 provided that tremendous boost for Australia’s small businesses.
What it enables them to do is to buy capital equipment up to $20,000, which improves their efficiency, it improves their productivity. It even improves their staff’s morale, and perhaps even more importantly gets more customers through the door. On my roadshow I heard that Australia’s small businesses wanted it and we as a Government have listened. The Treasurer listened and reacted in the Budget on May 9.
Of course, Budget Day was a great day for small business, because that’s the day that also enshrined into law the 27.5 per cent tax rate, not just for small businesses with a turnover of up to $2 million, which is what it was previously, but now up to $10 million.
The Liberals and Nationals understand that turnover doesn’t equal profit. Labor doesn’t get that. We do. We know Australia’s small businesses open their doors very early of a morning, close them very late at night and work damn hard for and on behalf of their communities and for and on behalf of our nation.
When our small business sector is strong, so too is our nation, and that’s why we have lowered the tax rate to 27.5 per cent. That’s why we have changed the definition of a small business up to a $10 million turnover. And last night we passed through the lower house, through the House of Representatives, that very important Bill which now goes to the Senate to extend the instant asset write-off programme by 12 months.
Last night of course we also heard of more leaks. More divisions within Labor. More leaks about yet another Labor policy failure. And that is the citizenship programme. The citizenship programme which Labor is very much divided on. And of course, there is only one side of politics you can trust when it comes to border security, border integrity, and that is the Liberals and Nationals.
Under Labor’s watch we saw 55,000 people put in detention, including 8,000 children. What we also saw was Labor invest far more in detention beds than they ever did in hospital beds. That was a legacy which Labor should never be proud of.
But we have heard more divisions within Labor about the citizenship programme, about the citizenship test. And that is something for Bill Shorten to decide – whether he’s going to get on board with the Government and make sure that Labor should follow our very sensible policies, make sure we pass our policies that do indeed ensure that our border security is as it should be. And that is safe and secure.
Just like our Budget – a fair opportunity for all and security as number one.
Are there any questions?
What do you think of Tony Abbott’s idea that Australia should have special terror courts for Australian jihadis returning from conflict zones?
We are investing record amounts of money into our nation’s security. I know that Dan Tehan is doing a fantastic job with cyber security. I know that Michael Keenan and other Ministers – who are the relevant Ministers – are doing a very important and a very good job making sure that our borders are safe and making sure that whatever we can do in the security space is done.
Because the first role of Government is to protect its people. The Australian Government is doing that. And we are doing everything we can to ensure that, indeed, our borders are safe, that we are on top of everything involved with anti-terrorism measures. So I know our Government is spending record amounts of money and I have every faith in the intelligence and security operations of our nation, and indeed the Government’s role in this.
Does this include considering special terror courts?
Well I know the relevant agencies are doing a body of work on this at the moment. I know there are many people with different opinions, but one thing is for sure, and that is that the first role of Government is to make sure that our nation’s borders are safe and secure, our nation’s people are safe and secure and that is what we are doing as a Government.
Where do you stand on the remarks made by Duncan Lewis that there is no connection between refugees and terrorism?
Everybody can have their own opinion. I know the first order of priorities is to make sure our borders are safe. I know we are spending record amounts of money in the relevant Government agencies. I know that Dan Tehan, that Michael Keenan and the relevant Ministers responsible and the Prime Minister, of course, are doing everything they can to make sure we keep our borders safe, we keep the safety and security of our nation’s citizens number one and we will continue to do that.
So you don’t have an opinion on those remarks?
No I don’t.