Question 1: It has been said that the main issue of this Federal Election is Growth and Jobs. Could you briefly outline the Coalition’s strategies and plans to grow the Economy and to create Jobs for Australians in general and for South Australians in particular?
This election is all about jobs and growth for South Australia.
Between supermarketing on Saturday mornings, doorknocking in suburbs such as Athelstone, Campbelltown and Paradise and phone canvassing in the evenings, it’s clear that economic stability is the number one concern for those living in my electorate. Australia needs political stability and a strong economic plan for jobs and families. The Coalition’s Plan for a Strong New Economy will provide growth, jobs and a secure future. Our Economic Plan is carefully structured to provide jobs and growth and a secure future for Australian families and will ensure that Australian families and businesses get ahead. The innovation and science programme will help young Australians access the jobs of the future in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Our defence industry plan will create thousands of new hi-tech jobs around Australia, particularly here in South Australia where I have helped secure neatly $90 billion of defence spending for the Future Frigates, the Offshore Patrol Vessels and 12 Submarines. Farmers and Australians working in small businesses will also see huge benefits from new markets for their products through export trade agreements, allowing them to take on new staff. Tax cuts, which will come into effect on July 1 will ensure hard working families are provided relief from bracket creep. And finally, a sustainable budget that ensures funding for the services Australian families need, such as health and education, are guaranteed. Our plan is already seeing results with the Australian economy growing at 3% a year – faster than any of the G7 economies and most importantly, around 300,000 new jobs were created last year, the strongest growth in employment since 2007.
Question 2: If the coalition returns to power in the coming election, how soon could it get the Budget into surplus?
Instead of outlandish promises like the Labor Party continue to make in regards to the budget, the Coalition’s 2016-17 Budget keeps Australia on a sustainable path to bring the budget back into balance. The deficit in underlying cash balance terms is expected to reduce from $39.9 billion in 2015-16 to $37.1 billion, or 2.2 per cent as a share of the economy in 2016-17. The deficit is then projected to fall to $6.0 billion or just 0.3 per cent of GDP over the next four years to 2019-20.
The Turnbull Government understands the economic challenges that Australia faces and our National Economic Plan for jobs and growth is already seeing results.
Question 3: Overseas students is the biggest service export of South Australia and one of the key exports for the rest of Australia, and in the last 2years, we see significant increases in overseas student numbers in all the States and Territories and one of the main reasons for this, as we understand, is the change in the immigration policy of the Federal Government, which began near the end of the last ALP Government and carried on by the current Coalition Government in streamlining student visa application and in the granting of post study work visa. And of course, the low Australian dollar also helps. What more could the Coalition do if it wins the coming Election? Could you outline the things the Coalition would do and explain why these would encourage more overseas students to come to study in Australia?
The Turnbull Government recognises the important contribution the international education sector makes to our economy, it is one of our top two services exports, and that is why the Prime Minister appointed Australia’s first ever Minister for International Education, Senator Richard Colbeck. International education has also been identified as one of the five key super-growth sectors that will provide economic growth into the next decade as our economy transitions. In 2015, international student enrolments in Australia reached a record high, surpassing the previous peak in 2009. There were 498 155 international students studying As part of the 2016-17 Budget, the Australian Government has committed $12 million over four years from 2016-17 to implement the National Strategy for International Education 2025. The National Strategy looks beyond traditional activities such as getting more higher education students into Australia, to diversifying offerings and markets.
The National Strategy will help to ensure that regional Australia gets a fair share of the economic, cultural and social benefits of international education.
Question 4: Changes in superannuation are a key component of this year’s Federal budget. It is disappointing that promises of no retrospective changes to those in the pension phase were set aside- the budget, among others, introduces a lifetime pension limit of $1.60 million and a lifetime non-concessional limit of $500,000 made on or after 1July 2007. Even though these changes may be subject to changes with the outcome of the election and the process of being passed into legislation, could you explain or justify the retrospectivity of these changes?
The changes that the Government is making to transition to retirement schemes will ultimately make the system much fairer.
People aged between 56 and 65 can move into what’s called ‘transition to retirement’, which allows them receive income from their superannuation while they’re still working. At the moment, the earnings on the account that is part of that transition to retirement arrangement are not taxed. Under the changes in the 2016-17 Budget, which are designed to make super fairer and more flexible, these earnings will be taxed at 15% from 1 July 2017. This is still a very concessional rate of tax. These schemes were originally intended to help older workers transition to retirement by allowing them to access their super to supplement a reduction in their salary from working fewer hours. In practice, some people use them almost exclusively to reduce their tax without a reduction in working hours.
Under our changes to superannuation, 96% of Australians in the superannuation system are either better off or unaffected.
Question 5: In your view, how could the territory conflicts in the South China Sea between China and its neighbouring countries be resolved?
It is important to first deescalate tensions and improve trust between all countries. This could be achieved by countries refraining from continuing to build artificial islands in disputed areas, engaging in coercive actions against other claimants, and militarising disputed areas by positioning missiles, naval ships and other military assets on artificial islands. Once claimants genuinely want a permanent resolution, then negotiations must be conducted in good faith and any resolution must be fully compatible with international law, especially provisions set out in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of which all claimant countries are signatories.
Question 6: How would you reconcile between “the desire to do more trades and businesses with China” and “the desire to influence to improve China’s human right policy”?
Australia has a limited capacity to shape human rights policies in other countries. Even so, the deeper the level of economic interaction and engagement with another countries, the greater our capacity to have a more honest and upfront discussion with that country on issues such as human rights and political values. This certainly applies to China.
Question 7: What is your message to the South Australian voters, especially to the Chinese speaking voters?
Come July 2, Australians have a very important decision to make; a Turnbull Coalition Government that is focused on jobs and growth for all Australians, or in stark contrast, a Labor-Greens-independent-minor party minority government which is a recipe for economic chaos, dysfunction and will take Australian back to the dark days of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd governments.
The Coalition Government has a strong economic plan for everyone in this country, particularly in South Australia and it’s the only Government that people can trust to balance the budget, create jobs and growth and ensure important services in health, education are guaranteed.