Simon Birmingham: Scott Morrison has provided strong leadership for Australia in terms of greater, better, stronger market access for Australian farmers and businesses to be able to sell their goods and services to the world and in terms of a more stable global economy. Discussions that Scott Morrison had with world leaders, especially with the European Union and the UK were about advancing the interests of Australian farmers and businesses to sell more products to the world through our free trade agreement negotiations. Our government has the best track record of any government in Australian history at successfully negotiating free trade agreements. Scott Morrison was building on that on the weekend as well as joining other leaders in urging China and the United States to engage in constructive discussions to lay down arms in their trade war and to actually make sure that we have more open economies that can better support the flow of investment, the flow of goods, the flow of services, and that leadership played dividends in terms of the truce that has been called. We encourage those two economies, countries to continue to talk, to continue to make sure that they pursue the efforts that are necessary to not disrupt global economic growth but support a more open economy in the future.

Journalist: Minister was the decision made to delay the election to May to hold on to power for longer?

Simon Birmingham: The timing of the election for the next election was settled at the time that the last election was called. It is simply the case of applying the basic arithmetic that is attached to the Constitution and the electoral laws of Australia as to when the next election is due.

Journalist: But Malcolm Turnbull has said this morning that he was going to hold the election on March 2 why the change?

Simon Birmingham: That’s the first I’ve heard of that but that is of course a matter for the Prime Minister to make sure that they determine when the election is and Prime Minister Morrison will set the date for the next election as his right as leader and that will be held in the normal course of events at the normal time in accordance with Australia’s Constitution and electoral laws.

Journalist: Is this latest intervention from Malcolm Turnbull just unhelpful?

Simon Birmingham: The next election will be a choice for the Australian people like every single election is. And we will be urging the Australian people to look at the issues and the things that affect their families, their lives, their circumstances, and after five and a half years of Liberal Government, people can look and say do I, my kids, my grandkids have a better chance of getting a job today than I did five and half years ago and the emphatic answer is yes. Will I be paying less income tax than I was under Labor or would under Labor and the answer is yes. Are small and medium businesses paying lower taxes than they were under Labor or would under Labor and the answer is yes, are retirees going to pay higher taxes under Labor then they will under a re-elected Liberal-National Government and the answer is yes. So we’ll be making sure that the Australian people know on the issues and policies the choice is stark. They’re better off under us and they will be better off under us, than under a higher taxing and higher spending Labor government.

Journalist: Minister, Malcolm Turnbull said on the radio this morning that he’s not a miserable ghost because he hasn’t remained in Parliament like the others.

Simon Birmingham: He’s a friend.

Journalist: You don’t think that his comments have been in any way damaging?

Simon Birmingham: I’d rather that we would be always talking about the issues and the policies that matter to the Australian people and that’s what I’ll be doing day in and day out.

Journalist: What’s your message to him, you’d like him to pull his head in and sort of stick out of these affairs, they’re a major distraction?

Simon Birmingham: If I have any message for him I’ll make sure that I pick up the phone and convey it to him privately.

Journalist: Where is Peter Dutton this week?

Simon Birmingham: Peter had a health issue last week and I’m not sure of his status in that regard, I’d have to check-in.

Journalist: Should Craig Kelly’s pre-section be protected?

Simon Birmingham: Craig Kelly’s pre-selection should be determined as with any pre-selection in the New South Wales division of the Liberal Party in accordance with the rules and constitution of the NSW division.

Journalist: So there should be a vote then?

Simon Birmingham: It should be determined in accordance with the rules and the constitution of the New South Wales Liberal Party and that’s a matter for the NSW Liberal Party. Thanks guys.

Media enquiries

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