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ABC News 24: Business Today -

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19 AUGUST 2010

Subjects: Election Campaign; Tony Abbott's reckless budget costings; Tony Abbott's cuts to health
and PBS;

PM: Well, can I say on a cold day, I'm fired up, I'm here with the Deputy Prime Minister and
Treasurer Wayne Swan and I'm here with our wonderful local member, Mike Kelly and it's been a great
pleasure to be able to talk to people who are working here about the very big issues in this
Federal Election Campaign. And what I would say as we draw towards Election Day, that the choice in
this election campaign is becoming clearer and clearer - between a strong economic plan for the
future and Mr Abbott having no plan. And of course yesterday was a day dominated by the risk that
Mr Abbott poses to the Budget surplus. Yesterday, Mr Abbott had his Shadow Ministers release their
so called costings in this campaign. He didn't even bother to go himself. Mr Abbott has spent $38
billion during the course of this campaign and he hasn't had his costings checked by Treasury.

What we know is that a major modelling aid outfit in this country, NATSEM, a body that Mr Abbott
himself has said is reputable and the best in the country, has looked at just one of his policies,
the education tax rebate, and they found a costings error of $377 million. They found that the
policy is going to cost 50 per cent more than Mr Abbott claimed. That is not the only problem.
There is the $800 billion black hole in the national broadband policy that Mr Abbott has announced.
And that is not the only problem. He is ripping money out of the contingency reserve and somehow
pretending that that doesn't hit the Budget bottom line. The costings that Mr Abbott announced
yesterday are littered with holes and I just ask people to contemplate this. If he can get one
policy 50 per cent wrong and he doesn't have to go far wrong on the rest of the 38 billion before
that is a real risk to the Budget surplus and the Budget bottom line.

That's a risk that Australian's shouldn't take. And the risks go on because Mr Abbott, yesterday
also announced some savings, he's clutching around for savings because he knows his budget figures
don't add up and buried in the material that was released yesterday, is a $1 billion up to the
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, a billion dollars taken away. Well that is going to push the price
of medicines, it is going to put the price of medicines up for everyone. It's going to put the
price of medicines up for pensioners, a billion dollars out of the pharmaceutical benefits scheme.

Now of course this comes from a man who has a track record of cutting health. When in doubt Mr
Abbott always cuts health, he ripped a billion dollars out of our public hospitals, he capped the
number of GP training places meaning we are short of GP's now and now he has gone back and he is
saying let's have another cut in health and push the price of medicines up, well I say don't risk

And standing here today with the working people that I have met today, including some young
Australians who are working here using their skills, apprentices getting a start in life, getting
that all important ticket that is going to give them the ability to get the jobs in the future. Mr
Abbott yesterday announced a billion dollar cutback in incentives for apprenticeships. Well, my
approach is a different approach. I believe in investing in health, I believe that Australians
should get decent health care, I believe in investing in trades and education, that's why I will
build trades training centres, that's why I will pay apprentices more to complete their
apprenticeships. Mr Abbott will take a billion dollars away from apprenticeships, that's going to
mean less chance for young people to get the apprenticeship that they need to get a start in life.

The choice in this election campaign couldn't be clearer, I'm going to spend the remaining days and
hours in this election campaign continuing to say to the Australian people, if you want a plan for
a strong economy, if you want investments in education, skills, trades training and health, if you
want the technology of the future, the national broadband network, then go and vote for it on
Saturday. Don't take the risk with Mr Abbott, the risk of the return of WorkChoices, the risk of
cuts to health, the risk of the price of medicines going up, the risk of cuts to education and
trades training and the very real risk that the Budget he is proposing doesn't add up, the very
real risk to the Budget surplus.

JOURNALIST: Can you promise us that you are not going to (inaudible)

PM: Look, I have heard about this, about Mr Abbott and what I can say is I hope Mr Abbott does go
on a long campaigning swing and I hope he meets every pensioner in Australia, and I hope he looks
in their eyes and says I'm the man who is going to put the price of medicines up, the price of
medicines up that you need, that's my plan as Prime Minister, I hope he meets every pensioner in
the dying days of this campaign and he is honest enough to say that to them, that he stands for the
putting the price of their medicines up.

JOURNALIST: What is the strategy for your final 36 hours in the campaign?

PM: Well, I will be campaigning hard around the country as you have seen me campaigning hard during
the course of this election campaign. Of course I have been out there meeting Australians , meeting
Australians in all sorts of circumstances talking to them about the issues that matter to them and
the feedback is very, very clear indeed. People care about jobs, they care about the strength of
the economy, they care about taking that pay packet home, they want a strong economic plan for the
future, I have that plan. They care about the quality of their child's school, they care about
their young people getting a chance, their teenagers getting a chance to be an apprentice. I have
got the plan to do that, they care about health, they want to see more doctors and nurses, I'll
train more doctors and nurses. They want the National Broadband Network, the technology of the
future. Mr Abbott says no to all of that, he is a risk to all of that.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister you are urging voters to vote for you on Saturday, you have rarely
uttered the word Labor, are you ashamed of the Labor brand?

PM: I have had this question on the Neil Mitchell show today, and I laughed at it then and I'm
going to laugh at it now. Is anybody under any illusion in this country that I'm not a member of
the Labor Party, I'd be very surprised. I've been a Labor Party member all of my adult life, I'm
campaigning for the re-election of the Gillard Labor Government.

JOURNALIST: Whose decision was it then Prime Minister to not have the word Labor in front of you or
behind you at your campaign launch?

PM: Oh Mark, honestly, honestly, gee.

JOURNALIST: Whose decision was that?

PM: You know, I stood in front of a backdrop, I gave a speech from my heart, I gave a speech of my
own words, I must admit it never occurred to me that I needed to say Labor every two or three words
for people to realise I was from the Labor Party, heavens above.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, did you say, I didn't quite hear before you were talking to the workers
before - did say that the scrapping of WorkChoices was the greatest moment of your life?

PM: I said -

JOURNALIST: You did, you did - did you mean you weren't prouder when you became Prime Minister?

PM: Oh look, I said, I think I said, I'm happy to be corrected, but I think I said, one of the
proudest moments of my life. Obviously, I have across my life had a number of things that I can
celebrate. I certainly celebrated getting rid of WorkChoices, it was the right thing to do for
working Australians and I don't want to see us as a nation go back to the days that people used to
go to work and wonder is this the day? Is this the day I get an individual contract shoved in my
hand that rips my penalty rates away, I am proud of getting rid of WorkChoices.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister (inaudible) Mr Abbott for spending the $38 billion (inaudible) -

PM: Well look, I'm getting stuck into Mr Abbott because his figures don't add up, I'm getting stuck
into Mr Abbott because he hasn't had his figures properly costed by Treasury. I'm getting stuck
into him in circumstances where he has spent $38 billion during the course of this campaign. We
have spent $3.8 billion, Mr Abbott has spent ten times more. So now, so now, he has spent ten times
more, that's on his own figures before we get to the Budget black holes that he has got. Like the
huge blow out, a 50 per cent blow out, in his education tax rebate, like the huge blow out in the
National Broadband Network costing that he has produced. Like the rip off in the contingency
reserve because he has spent so much money, so recklessly during this campaign, he is now thrashing
around looking for cuts, desperately trying to make it add up. Now he hasn't made it add up, but he
has certainly nominated some dangerous areas for cuts. Putting the price of medicines up a billion
dollars out of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, Australians can't risk that.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, Mr Abbott not being there for the costing releases today, you were also
absent from (inaudible)

PM: Oh look, let's just take a bit of a reality check here, the way in which costings get done in
election campaigns, if you comply with the Charter of Budget Honesty, then what happens is you
submit your stuff to Treasury, Treasury puts it on a website and then they put their checked
costing on the website. So there is no moment when you stand up and go, here they are. They are
periodically coming out during the campaign, that's what happened in 2007. Mr Abbott deliberately
created yesterday's moment of unveiling a revelation because he has refused to put his costings
into Treasury. If he had done the right thing, then they would have been posted up periodically on
the Treasury website. But no, he built up this great moment of drama, he said they had gone and got
an accountancy firm, he said the accountancy firm was checking all of their costings, and then he
doesn't even bother to go himself, because he knows their costings are a shambles and a risk to the
Budget surplus.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, have you decided yet who your Finance, Defence and Foreign Ministers
will be after the election, don't voters deserve to know who those key positions going into voting
day on Saturday?

PM: Well what voters want to know is the policies and plans that you stand on, who has got the
strong economic plan. I have got the strong economic plan for the country's future, Mr Abbott has
no economic plan but he is full of risks. And can I say on this question, it is not clear to me
what Mr Turnbull is going to play if Mr Abbott is elected as Prime Minister on Saturday.

JOURNALIST: So have you not decided yet or - ?

PM: Look, my focus is on Election Day and let me just be very clear about this. This is tough and
tight and in the balance, every voter (inaudible) every voter so Election Day is my focus, I will
be campaigning all the way through on the issues that matter for the future of Australians.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) surely we have the right to know who your Ministers are going to be if you
are re-elected?

PM: Well, a step at a time, I'm saying to the Australian people when they go into vote on Saturday,
that I have the economic plan for the future, the responsible investments in education, in health
and I will build the National Broadband Network. I have got the vision for the future of this
country, I'm asking Australians to vote for that. I'm asking them not to take a risk for the return
of WorkChoices or punching the Budget surplus down through Mr Abbott's recklessness. That's the
choice in front of Australians. If I'm re-elected on Saturday, if I'm re-elected I will pick the
best (inaudible)

JOURNALIST: lease and your flat in Canberra?

PM: No.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) laughter

PM: (inaudible) I think that says it all you need to know about reporting questions in this
campaign. Yes Latika (inaudible) someone who (inaudible)-

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

PM: Look I think, that the circumstances of each campaign are different. Obviously in this campaign
the economy has been front and centre, the world has been through the biggest economic shock since
the great depression, there are signs that fragility still in some parts of the international
economy, that's why the economy is at the centre of this campaign.

JOURNALIST: You don't want to see a (inaudible)-

PM: I think the reality is that you know, Leaders during the course of an election campaign, will
always come to arrangements and exchange views about debates, how they should be held, when they
should be held. I believe in this campaign, that it was important for Mr Abbott to debate on the
economy, we had an opportunity to do that last night, he didn't use it, I was very happy to speak
to the people of Brisbane to take their question and response to their concerns and that's what I
did last night.

Before our friends here get even wetter I think we better make a move.