Doorstop - Dalby, Queensland

Transcript
27 Sep 2019
Dalby, Queensland
Prime Minister
Drought assistance; Farm Household Allowance; Drought Envoy; RBA cash rate; Saudi-Arabian comments; Jock Palfreedman; ACT cannabis legislation; AFL grandfinal
E&OE

DAVID LITTLEPROUD:   Well, welcome, firstly, the Prime Minister who only touched down this morning, had a quick [inaudible] and up to Queensland.  Hence is the responsibility that he has borne since he became Prime Minister.  Three days after being sworn in, was in Quilpie.  We have never forgotten about this drought and we continue to be agile and we continue to consult and listen.  And today we're making further announcements on top of what we've already put out there: a commitment of over seven billion dollars.  It is real money.  It's going to go and hit the ground of regional rural communities to get these communities and get farmers through this drought. We will not stop and we'll continue to work with communities and primary producers to make sure that the response is adequate.  Let me make this clear.  It will rain and, when it rains, we're going to make a lot of money.  But we've got a lot of families to get through - through this drought and we're going to make sure we work with them.  And today is about making sure that they understand you have a government that is standing shoulder to shoulder with you.  That is going to make sure we do our utmost to support you and your community.  And can I also welcome Jack, from, a Fiver from a Farmer.  A real national hero.  $1.6 million this young man has raised.  It goes to show what a great country we live in, when a young man with one idea can do so much for these communities.  And I represent a lot of them, Jack, and I can tell you it means more than what the government gives sometimes, because it comes from someone from Sydney, just to show that they care.  And that's a fantastic thing you've done.  You should be so proud and so should your family.   To Senator- my good mate, Bridget McKenzie, to the mayor, it's great to have you here and to Dave Gooding, thank you for having us, and from AgForce, Brendan Taylor.  This is about letting the entire community, not just the Western Downs know that we are here with you.  So PM, thank you for coming.

PRIME MINISTER:   Thanks mate.  Thanks David.  Well, it's great to be here with everyone, particularly great to be here with Jack, who we flew up from Sydney together this morning.  Jack and I met on the radio a little while ago.

JACK BERNE:   Yeah.

PRIME MINISTER:   Benny Fordham and I, we set you up a bit.

JACK BERNE:   Yeah.

PRIME MINISTER: Got a good rise out of you.  But I said we'd meet and here we are, we've flown up today and thought it was a good opportunity for Jack and I to have a talk about what the government's doing because that's what he wanted to know about, and there was no better way to show that than coming here today and seeing what we're doing on the ground. It was just around about a year ago when we had our National Drought Summit and following that National Drought Summit which brought together people from right across the country, all states and territories, those in the farming communities, those who are in scientific communities, corporate sector, agribusiness, all came together at Old Parliament House and what flowed from that was a multi-channel flow of support;  whether it was on new programs in how we're managing our weather information and how we're collecting and reporting that information, what we're doing in geoscience, importantly, the significant support that was being provided through the Farm Household Allowance, extending our support on mental health, the financial counsellors, and the work we were doing there.  Our water infrastructure was – some $50 million we put into on-farm water infrastructure grants; $750 million going into water, bigger water infrastructure, larger-scale projects.  You know, we've currently got almost a billion dollars right now committed in projects, many of them underway as we speak on some 21 major water infrastructure projects around the country today.  And we've got about 50 more plus, which are being assessed in partnership with state and territory governments.  So whether it's water infrastructure, whether it's the science, whether it's the important income support that goes into communities, a big part of that plan was what we put into community organisations at two levels: the charitable organisations, not unlike what Jack's been doing, but through Vinnies and organisations- and the Salvos, we put that initial $30 million in, and we also put money into things like bores and pests and weeds. So, my point is, it has been a comprehensive response to this point in time.  The Future Drought Fund which we were able to pass through the Parliament, provides ongoing support drawing down $100 million every year to go into important water infrastructure projects and that will rise to $5 billion in the future, in terms of the overall capital fund.  So, it's been a comprehensive response.  But we said at the time that when we made our response, it wasn't set-and-forget; that we would continue to listen, that we would continue to respond and as- so long as the drought goes on, then so does our response and, frankly, beyond that.  Because then there's the rebuilding that follows after the drought breaks and taking the opportunities for farming communities right across Australia to get strongly back on their feet. And so part of that response is what we're announcing today, and we had the Farm Household Allowance review, and I'll ask Bridget to speak more to what it found.  We've got some 56 million in estimate- additional assistance will be going into farming families because of- we're going to loosen up, make more flexible, the Farm Household Allowance payments; more flexible on things like off-farm income, agistment, things like this, and to ensure that it is more accessible, more readily available.  And that will lead to some $56 million, we estimate, over the next few years which will deliver more money in the pockets of farmers right across the country as they continue to deal with what, in Queensland, has been seven years of drought. The second part is extending our community support program.  We already had over 100 councils - 111, I think, to be specific - who would receive the million dollars each to support local works in their communities; and that can be everything from water carting to important local capital works projects that keeps contractors and others locally employed.  Now, we're putting another 13 of those councils on that list and that includes councils here in Queensland, down in Victoria, across into South Australia, and New South Wales of course, where the drought is particularly severe.  And so that program continues and there'll be some 123 councils and that's another $13 million that goes into that program. The other program is backing again the Salvos and Vinnies with an additional $30 million and some additional support to help them administer this funding.  And that 30 million is just going in programs in local communities and drought-affected areas all across the country.  All up, this is around about $100 million, just over it in fact, that will be going in.  And just over 40% of that will actually be spent in this financial year - this very financial year.  So there won't be any delay, particularly on the Farm Household Allowance.  That kicks in once we get the legislation through the Parliament and that will be a high priority when we get back into Parliament in a couple of weeks from now. So that's a further response.  It's not set-and-forget, our drought response, it's ongoing.  We are listening very carefully.  That's why we're here today.  That's why my feet barely touched the ground after getting back from New York yesterday and straight back up here, to both commend Dave and his family on the amazing work they do, living through this drought.  And it's always great, even when you come to places like this and people talk to you with optimism, just like Dave was saying, looking forward to the rain, planning for it, being ready when the conditions permit, and to be able to get out there and make things happen.  And that gives us a lot of encouragement, doesn't it mate.

JACK BERNE:   Yeah.

PRIME MINISTER: So what do you think about being up here?  This is about the fourth or fifth district you've been to?

JACK BERNE:   Yeah, it's really amazing and thank you very much for taking me up here.  It's a great experience because I come from the northern beaches so there's no farms around.  I live on the beach and I'm very fortunate for that.  Um, but to see how bad it is out here and seeing where all the money goes is really amazing, just to help out the farmers that really need help.  So thank you for having me.

PRIME MINISTER: Good boy.  Top bloke.

(Applause)

PRIME MINISTER: Bridget, come and tell us more about the allowance program -

BRIDGET McKENZIE:   Yeah, sure.  Well, our future is in bright hands, isn't it, when someone like Jack really stands up and - and calls us all to action.  Dave, thanks for having us and lovely to meet your next generation on this farm.  And our government's doing everything we can do to make sure that farming families like yours are able to continue to produce fabulous, safe, clean green product that we love to enjoy here at home but, importantly, are going to increase in the export to markets around the world in the coming decades. As Agriculture Minister, I'm in charge of the Farm Household Allowance.  This is our government's number one program to get money onto the tables, into the pockets and bank accounts of our farming families who are doing it tough.  And we have continually adapted this program over the four years that it's been in place.  But following the review instigated by David Littleproud last year and made public in May, our government's responding to each and every one of those six recommendations in a very fulsome way.  We're radically simplifying access and eligibility criteria to Farm Household Allowance. When I'm out on the ground talking to farmers, as far as I can remember, there is sort of a lot of chatter out there around how difficult it is to apply for and "You'll never be eligible", etcetera, etcetera.  Well, it's actually not true.  And for those, over 34,000 farmers out there across rural and regional Australia who are eligible, I would ask you to get in touch with your rural financial counsellor and make sure you're going through the process and the simplified assessment process that we're instigating on the back of this review to ensure that that happens. We're also making some changes to how we assess and treat on-farm and off-farm income, off-farm asset classes and also, if your farm's making a loss, how we treat that in combination to actually sort of flatten out the variability of income that's heading into farm households, as they're having to traditionally do that fortnightly reconciliation with Centrelink, which has driven everybody mad.  So we're getting rid of that, making sure that you will have certainty around your payments. And we're also recognising that you just don't go through one drought in your lifetime as a farmer in this country.  Every couple of decades we do it tough as a community, and so rather than this form of assistance being only available four years out of your entire lifetime, we're making sure that you can access this vital payment for four years in every decade, which really, I think, goes to the reality of farming in a country like Australia, because we don't want to make sure that you're on Farm Household Allowance for your entire career but that it is a much needed stopgap and support to ensure that your farm and your farm business can get back on to a sustainable footing, which is why we're also announcing today an additional, out of our contingency funding, $740,000 to give those regions who are doing it specifically tough, getting more rural financial counsellors and services rolled out in places like here in David Littleproud's electorate, down in Central West New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Northern Territory and South Australia; making sure that farmers that need that financial assistance, to make those tough decisions in times like this when you're going through hardship: Am I going to get serious about succession planning?  Am I going to make system changes on farms to make this business sustainable going forward or am I going to sell up and do something else? And our government has a suite of measures to assist you to do all of those because we want you sustainably farming, going forward and making the best decisions for your family and your businesses.  So, as the PM said, we are not a government that does this lightly.  We are embedded in the future of rural and regional Australia communities and agriculture, not just now in the drought but for decades to come and we are tireless in our efforts to do that.  Thank you.

DAVID LITTLEPROUD:  I might just ask the Mayor of Western Downs, this million dollars that is going to go into further in regional councils.  Well, one of them is right here, Western Downs.  This is a stimulus that's about driving the business sector in town, keeping people employed and making sure there's a legacy out of what's being built out there. 

MAYOR PAUL McVEIGH:   Thanks David.  Well, first, a very, very big thank you to the Prime Minister.  What a great effort to be flying back from America last night and to be here in our paddocks in our region today.  And we thank you too, Minister McKenzie and Minister Littleproud.  I see everyone out here shaking flies off at the moment and that's - we call them harvest flies, for anyone that doesn't know that.  And, unfortunately, Prime Minister, as you've been down the paddock, there'll be no harvest this year in our region and across heaps of the states, across the eastern parts of Australia. So a very, very big thank you to the Federal Government and to our Prime Minister and to our Ministers. They've actually made an effort to come here and look for themselves how devastating this drought is not just to our farmers, to our towns and everywhere we see the impacts of drought.  We do need assistance and need the million dollar grant that we are receiving today. I do thank the Federal Government but, as a council, we will use that wisely. We will look at our capacity to be able to employ more people and also a lot of the mental health issues that are really resonating at the moment in our community for people who are really struggling. We are very, very proud farmers.  I'm a fifth generation farmer.  We're very, very proud farmers to be part of our agricultural land.  And our community is struggling.  It's a step.  If it gets worse, we'll have to do another step but I'm sure our Federal colleagues are well aware of that.  What they've done today is another step in supporting our communities, our regional communities.  And I do thank very much our Federal Government, especially you, Prime Minister: a tremendous effort to come back from America and be here with us today in what is a critical situation.  So, once again, thank you very much.  We do look forward to working more with Federal Government and utilising this million dollars very well in our community.  Thank you. 

DAVID LITTLEPROUD:   David, did you want to say anything?

DAVID GOODING:  Yeah.  I'd just like to say thank you very much for coming to our farm and releasing these packages because it does help the farmers that are in need.  It does give them hope.  And, um, that is a positive thing because, like Paul was just saying, is saying, the mental issue is very tough on farmers with maintaining a level of positiveness with the way the weather's been for so long.  But I can assure you it will rain.  We've just got to hang in there.  People like Jack here that is raising this money, I can assure you the charities that he is raising this money for and it's going out to, it is going to the people that need it.  And that is a great thing.  So those - those little gifts, those little bits and pieces are a big help to those that are struggling.  And it's not just farmers, it's our communities, um, which concerns us as well. We - my son was at a windscreen shop yesterday just getting a truck windscreen fixed and they said - he said, "Oh, you guys been going alright?" and they said "No, when it's dry, people don't go in and get a coffee and they don't break their windscreens.  So, no, we're very quiet also."   So it's a flow-on effect across all industries in our towns.  We need our people in our towns to get through this as well.  So thank you for these grants, and we all appreciate it very much, thank you.

DAVID LITTLEPROUD:   We've got Brendan Taylor from AgForce, a State representative body for farmers.  Brendan, do you want to say something about the package mate?

BRENDAN TAYLOR:   Yeah, sure.  Look, we commend the Federal Government for this announcement today.  Funding for our regions in these dire times is always welcome.  And, you know, just to echo the sentiments of the mayor and David that, you know, when farmers do it tough, the whole communities do it tough and it flows right through the communities.  And we need keep our communities strong and viable for when it does start to rain again, so that we can get back to doing what we do best and that's producing food and fodder.

PRIME MINISTER:   Any questions?  We'll take some questions.  Let's just stay on the announcement and then we're happy to go to other matters and we'll give Jack a leave pass on that one.

JOURNALIST:  Prime minister --

JOURNALIST:   You mentioned making it easier for families and farmers to access this.  How much is it about the farmers encouraging them to stick their hand up and - and accept the help that's on offer? 

PRIME MINISTER: Well, that's why making it easier, I think, is a big part of it.  I mean, there are - there are many reasons why often people in rural communities and farmers won't reach out and sometimes, you know, they - they feel like they shouldn't and my message to them is you should.  You work hard.  This isn't - this isn't welfare.  This is really just helping people make sure that they maintain a viability. I mean what we are doing here is important assets for our country, our farming assets, they’re lands, they can remain productive; that they can stay on the land is really important to Australia.  So it's an important investment, and so we would encourage them to reach out to those financial counsellors.  That's why this package includes, as the previous ones had, support for those financial counsellors.  Now, those counsellors, I think, have been angels in these communities.  They've done a tremendous job just helping people make sense of a lot of these forms, but also their own financial planning and - and for many farming communities, some hard decisions some of them are having to make.  And so we just want to help them by providing the right support network for them to make those - those often very difficult decisions.  So, look, it's a mixture of both things.  It can be a bit complicated, the process, so we'll ease that up.  Some of the rules have been a bit tight.  So, as Bridget said, particularly how you treat off-farm income, that's been an important thing to recognise and change, both on assets and income. Also, this - this program provides additional payments for those who are going through some reskilling as well.  Some of the decisions they're making about maybe boosting their capability for off-farm income or even potentially career transitioning, and potentially moving off the land.  And if that's the decision they're making then we want to have supports that help them make that decision.

BRIDGET MCKENZIE:   One of the ridiculous things - can I just? 

PRIME MINISTER: Sure, Bridget --

BRIDGET MCKENZIE:   Is that 80% of farmers have partners, and right now, if you want to apply for Farm Household Allowance you and your partner have to fill in the paperwork separately.  So a very simple quick change we can make, you know, ASAP, no legislation required, is actually to make sure one partnered couple make one application.  So there's a lot we can do both within Centrelink offices now whilst we wait for legislation to get through.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, you've just returned from the United States -- a place where farming is subsidised.  I know for a fact, I've been there myself this year, that farmers get a cheque for lost income from extreme weather conditions.  Is that something the Australian Government would consider? 

PRIME MINISTER:   Well, look, we have a different means of income support here in Australia than they have in the United States and that's what we're talking about today.  We have different systems and we have different trading arrangements with other countries, and our access to markets, whether they're in Japan or China or Korea or Indonesia, our access to those markets is incredibly important.  I mean, the prices you get, and the markets you can sell them to, when you do get a bit of a break are massively important.  And we're not going to do anything that would jeopardise access that our farmers have to these important markets.  So we'll find other ways to provide that support, and today we're talking about 100 million.  And I said around 40%, just over that actually in this year alone, and if there needs to be more, there'll be more.  I've made no secret about that and I think today's announcement is further demonstration about resolving that.

JOURNALIST: Would you consider --

JOURNALIST: I know the announcement has been welcomed by farmers but there's still some concerns about long-term drought planning.  We still don't have a national drought policy.  Is that something the government will look at? 

PRIME MINISTER:   Well, no, I don't agree we don't have a national drought policy.  We do have a national drought policy.  It was launched at the National Drought Summit last year.  I went through the vast array of measures that form part of that, everything from looking after people's mental health to [inaudible] water infrastructure grants because there's 21 water projects currently committed to, almost a million dollars.  So we have a very broad-ranging response in terms of the long-term national water grid which is being stood up next month and that's just being established now.  I mean, that will complete the broader planning and the priorities for other major water infrastructure projects all across Australia.  So this has been a $7 billion now, plus an extra $100 million today response that has been rolled out over the last 12 months.  So I call that both strategic, comprehensive and very focused on both the short-term immediacy needs of farming families and the longer-term future for agriculture in this country. 

JOURNALIST: You've just said if there needs to be more, there will be more.

PRIME MINISTER:   Yeah.

JOURNALIST: Is there a timeline in which to make that decision in? 

PRIME MINISTER:   Well, there are - there's a budget update at the end of the year of which this will now be incorporated into.  There's a budget next year, and there's a budget update after that, and there's a budget after that.  So the government regularly makes these decisions and we do it on the basis of listening to what's happening with farming communities around the country.  Remember this, what we've announced today, is a product of the review we initiated late last year into how the Farm Household Allowance was working.  When we first were responding to this, that was a big issue and it wasn't something you could just flick a switch and it would fix overnight.  It needed some careful listening and analysis and we've done that and now we're able to make these changes.

JOURNALIST: So councils that have missed out on that $13 million, is there a chance they could be added to- receive a million dollars? 

PRIME MINISTER:   We do it on the basis of the assessments we get about the future projections on weather, and what their current needs are, and we make those – that’s why we've added another 13 today and we started out with under a hundred in the first round - it was 75, I think --

BRIDGET MCKENZIE:   Yeah.

PRIME MINISTER:   -- when we first kicked it off.  So it's gone from 75 to 123 since we initiated this program.  So where it needs to be placed, it will be.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, you've spoken very strongly about the gravity of the situation, the drought crisis.  We've learnt in recent days that your Special Drought Envoy, Barnaby Joyce didn’t file a final formal report about the drought.  Is that good enough for drought-affected farmers?  Do you think they deserve more? 

PRIME MINISTER:   Well, Barnaby, when I appointed this role, provided constant reports.  I mean, I didn't ask him to write a book.  I asked him to give us some advice on what he was hearing from farmers.  And that's what he did.  And he did that through quite a bit of correspondence with me and meetings with me and he presented all that to Cabinet.  So, that was his job.  It wasn't to be an author and a publisher.  It was to actually give us some candid feedback from drought-affected communities around the country.  And he did his job and he - and he did it well and I thank him for that.  And so I think, you know, I think people are getting a bit caught up in the semantics of a final report.  There were plenty of reports, I can assure of that, as there was from the National Drought Coordinator General and - and we're working through our response to his suggestions as well.  So, yeah, I think people have over-analysed that issue.

JOURNALIST: Will you be making all of those reports to [inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER: Well, they've all gone into Cabinet and the normal processes will apply as to what applies to Cabinet documents.

JOURNALIST:  We can see them in 30 years?

PRIME MINISTER:   It's the Cabinet.

JOURNALIST: Do you think considering the amount of paperwork farmers have to go through to get the Farm Household Allowance that a text message is really an appropriate way to report to Cabinet? 

PRIME MINISTER:   Well, you said a text message, not me.  I said he wrote to us.  He presented reports-

JOURNALIST:   He said he wrote text messages.

PRIME MINISTER:   Yeah, well, he did.  And Barnaby is a, you know, a master of all forms of communication.  He spoke to me on the phone.  He spoke to me in my office.  He presented to Cabinet.  He wrote me letters about this issue, which is what I asked him to do.  So it was a pretty comprehensive set of advice that we received and I was very pleased to receive it.  It has informed much of what we've done.  I mean, one of the key issues that Barnaby raised with me and - and with the team, was the issues around off-farm income and how that was impacting on families. Now, here we are today, making major changes as a result of that.  So I'd say he was pretty - pretty helpful.

JOURNALIST: Do you think 100 million package announced today is enough for 80,000 farmers around the country? 

PRIME MINISTER:   Well, it's not just 100 million today.  It's seven billion that we've announced over the last year.  So it's -

JOURNALIST: But you don't have a seven billion in the bank -

PRIME MINISTER:   -- seven billion plus -

JOURNALIST: -- do you? 

PRIME MINISTER:   Sorry? 

JOURNALIST: You don't have seven billion in the bank today for drought.  That's building up over time?

PRIME MINISTER:   That is building up over time but already, you know, we've had hundreds of millions already which has been provided through the Farm Household Allowance, through the Drought Communities Program.  This is money that's already there.  It's already in communities.  This is another 100 million on top of that, and there's the 100 million drawdown that starts from 1st of July next year as well, which is going into water infrastructure.  So this is a constant investment.  Constant.  And we're responding and we're listening, carefully, to how this drought is playing out on the ground, and responding each time.  So we listen and then we act.  And we're going to keep doing that.

JOURNALIST: One on another topic if possible?

PRIME MINISTER:   Sure. We can go off - yeah, off this in a second.  Is it on this issue? 

JOURNALIST: I've got something separate.

PRIME MINISTER:   That's alright, yeah.

JOURNALIST: Separate also.

PRIME MINISTER:   Okay.

JOURNALIST: I have one final question, if that's okay related to drought.

PRIME MINISTER:   Yeah, sure.

JOURNALIST:  Prime Minister, would you consider a drought levy on fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and dairy, given the current drought crisis and increased costs that farmers wouldn't normally face? 

PRIME MINISTER:   So you're saying a drought levy to go back to the farmers? 

JOURNALIST: Yep.  Exactly.  When you go to the supermarket, you pay an extra few cents or dollars to go direct to the farmer?

PRIME MINISTER:   As I said before, what we do is we channel our income support through the programs that I've announced.  That's the - that's the efficient measure which we've chosen to do this.  The agricultural sector has levies on a range of different things for various purposes and that's actually run by industry, as you’d know.  But that is not a measure that the government is considering, because we're providing the financial support direct out of the budget.  See, we'll be in a surplus budget this year.  And it was a while ago actually when the terrible floods hit Queensland, Brisbane.  The government had to put a levy on because their budget was in deficit and they couldn't afford to actually provide the support. Now we can afford to do this because we've done the hard work of getting the budget back into surplus.  So we don't have to go and tax people to help our farmers.  We can just help them and that's what we're doing here.  And so we'll continue to do that.  But it shows the wisdom of good budget management to get your budget in shape.  It means you can respond and you can support people, whether it's from, you know, natural disasters such as floods and effects like that, or longer-term natural events like drought.  On that, I'm going to thank particularly Jack.  Good on you, mate.  Well done, mate.  And the other guys John, David, the Mayor and AgForce for being with us and we’ll take another more general questions and we'll catch up with you in just a sec.

JOURNALIST:  [Inaudible] further cuts to interest rate [inaudible] RBA might not actually help the economy and there's a further risk that further cuts will hurt consumer confidence? 

PRIME MINISTER:   I agree with the independence of the Reserve Bank in being able to set decisions on cash rates without prime ministers offering to give any external advice to them.

JOURNALIST: On Saudi Arabia, Riyadh's Ambassador to the UN has given a speech.  He labelled Australia racist and guilty of human atrocities.  Given those remarks, will you reconsider your commitment of a navy ship to their region to protect their assets? 

PRIME MINISTER:   No.  We joined 20 other countries, I think it was, in calling out human rights abuses like we do all around the world and that’s what we've always done, that and will continue to do that and we also condemn the outrageous attacks on the Saudi refineries as well, appalling attacks, disgraceful attacks.  And so we call things as we see them and we have in both cases here our commitments in the Strait of Hormuz as part of the maritime construct is you know, we make commitments, we keep them.

JOURNALIST: Why do you think Australia was singled out in that speech the other day? 

PRIME MINISTER: You would have to ask them.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, as Prime Minister, what are you doing for Jock Palfreeman? 

PRIME MINISTER:   Working very, very closely with the government.  Our Foreign Minister is engaging directly on these matters and like in any of these very sensitive consular cases they are never assisted by public commentary.

JOURNALIST: Will you be intervening in the case and contact your Bulgarian counterpart directly? 

PRIME MINISTER:   Well, I’d just refer you to what I just said.  We are directly engaging with the government and the Foreign Minister is doing that with her counterpart and it's best that there's no further commentary on these issues it never helps resolve these situations.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible] on the ACT’s decision to legalise recreational cannabis use, [inaudible] public servants and policy makers recreationally using cannabis in the ACT?

PRIME MINISTER:   Well, it's a decision that's been made recently by the ACT Government.  The Attorney-General has already had a bit to say on this issue and I'd reinforce what he has already said.  And the government will look at this issue and consider it, and we'll do that carefully and patiently, it doesn’t come into effect for some time, so I think there's ample time for us to do that as a government.  And so we'll be considering that in the months ahead.

JOURNALIST: What's your personal view on the law?

PRIME MINISTER:   Well, where I have personal views, I'll express them in the Cabinet as the government makes a decision.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible] who are you backing this weekend?

PRIME MINISTER:   Well, I'm with Jack.  We're both Sydney boys.  So obviously I don't follow AFL, as people famously know.  It's always a grand spectacle, the AFL Grand Final, and I'm looking forward to going down there and Dan Tehan and I'm sure Greg Hunt and a few others will be very upset, saying- I think they'd expect me to be supporting GWS.  But, you know, they've got a lot of great fans.  I mean, Chris Bowen is the Shadow Treasurer, he's a big GWS fan.  So it will be probably one of the few occasions where we're on the same team tomorrow, I suspect.  Fantastic. Cheers.