Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
Abbott admits to insensitive Brogden comments -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

(generated from captions) think that what they're doing at the moment is not in the interests of

either Telstra or its shareholders.

Paul, thanks for either Telstra or its shareholders. Paul, thanks for your time this

morning. Thanks, Barrie. Leadership of the Liberal Party was openly discussed this week at both the federal level and at the State level in NSW. But it was in NSW where the real drama happened. Not only did John Brogden depart the scene in dramatic fashion, but the elevation of Peter Debman to the leadership has set off allegations of right-wing extremists having too much power within the Liberal Party. Our program guest this morning, Health Minister Tony Abbott is of course a Sydney-based federal minister.

Minister, good morning. Good

Minister, good morning. Good morning, Barrie. A lot of politics

to talk about this morning but I'll

start with a health question and

this proposal that the national government should

government should take over

responsibility for public hospitals.

Peter Beattie's made an offer, is

it going to lead to anything?

it going to lead to anything? Well, it was a desperate offer

designed to distract attention from

the terrible problems of the Queensland public hospital system. the terrible problems of the Queensland public hospital system.

But if he is serious about health

reform, if he is serious about

trying to get one level of

government in charge of the system

government in charge of the system - and I can understand why he might

think that would make sense - there

is a process to be followed. He

ought to write to the PM and

ought to write to the PM and submitt his proposal to the COAG process

which is currently going forward.

He's saying that he ╝white╛I which is currently going forward. He's saying that he ╝white╛I wants

you to make good on your offer?

you to make good on your offer? Well, what I've said is that it

makes sense to have one level of

government in charge. If the

government in charge. If the States don't think they can do it anymore,

well they ought to ask the feds to

take charge and if he thinks that

the feds should take charge he

should write to the PM and put it

before the COAG process. And you're

persuaded that would be the most efficient way to persuaded that would be the most efficient way to go - for the feds

to take over? I certainly think it

makes sense to have one level of

government in charge of the health

system. All sorts of problems in

the health system arise from the

fact that there are two different

funders, two different groups of

people trying to cut their costs

people trying to cut their costs and avoid blame for problems. I think

that sooner or later avoid blame for problems. I think that sooner or later the blame game

has got to end and the only way

has got to end and the only way that that will happen is if one level of

government is in charge. Really,

the ball is in the State's courts

because the Federal Government has

no constitutional power to take

no constitutional power to take over the State public hospital systems

the State public hospital systems if we are ever going to do that, the

States have got to give it to us.

OK, in Federal politics how long

can the Liberal Party go on enjoying

can the Liberal Party go on enjoying the best of both worlds.

John Howard as PM and Peter

Costello - surely that's got six

months to run, tops? I think both

months to run, tops? I think both of them are doing an outstanding job

and all of us would like both of

them to continue to do the

outstanding jobs they're doing.

For how long? Well, personally I'd

like to see it go

For how long? Well, personally I'd like to see it go on indefinitely.

We have a really outstanding PM,

best since Bob Menzies and as John

Howard himself said, Peter Costello

is a better Treasurer than John

Howard was. As it stands now, it

seems there is far more pressure

within John Howard within the

parliamentary Liberal Party, far

more pressure on him to stay on

more pressure on him to stay on than to go - that's a fair raiding of

to go - that's a fair raiding of the situation, isn't it?

to go - that's a fair raiding of the situation, isn't it? Barrie, I

situation, isn't it? Barrie, I think everyone believes that the PM has

earnt the right to depart at the

time of his own choosing but it

really will be his own choosing and

John Howard being the man he is,

he'll choose a time which is good

for the country and good for the

party. Given that though, that

situation, doesn't he owe it to the

obvious successor and you among

others have said that Peter

others have said that Peter Costello is the obvious successor. They're. others have said that Peter Costello is the obvious successor. They're.

Doesn't he owe it to him to giver

him a signal that he's staying on?

He owes it to Peter to treat him

with respect and with candour and

with respect and with candour and my belief is that that's the way it's

always been between them. So Peter

Costello is still unchallenged as

the heir to the prime ministership

as far as you're concerned? Mmm.

No matter what?

as far as you're concerned? Mmm. No matter what? Look, there's a

clear pecking order in the Liberal

Party. Howard first, Costello

second and then there's a whole lot

of other people. But nothing

of other people. But nothing that's happened in the last few months,

none of the static that we've seen

over the last week or so alters

over the last week or so alters that fundamental pecking order. What if

static, though, turns into

static, though, turns into something more than that, that he starts to

demonstrate disloyalty, that he starts

demonstrate disloyalty, that he starts to contribute to

destabilisation, then what? I know

Peter very well. He is a

fundamentally decent human being.

Not only has he been an excellent

Treasurer, he's been a very good

deputy and a very decent bloke and

that's just not in his nature.

OK. NSW politics now and Patricia

Forsyth is a Liberal member of the

Upper House said on Friday night

that extremists and zealots have

got a lot of power that extremists and zealots have got a lot of power inside the

Liberal Party in NSW, and ordinary

members are being swept aside.

members are being swept aside. Yes, I was a bit bamboozled by

Yes, I was a bit bamboozled by those comments because I know my own

comments because I know my own party members. I know my State

members. I know my State colleagues as well as my Federal colleagues

as well as my Federal colleagues and I just don't see any evidence for

that. She named David Clarke, a

relatively new M LC as one of

that. She named David Clarke, a relatively new M LC as one of those

extremists and said she's fearful

extremists and said she's fearful of his power. David, I think is a very

good bloke. I think that he's done

some necessary and important work

some necessary and important work in the party organisation. I don't

the party organisation. I don't see what's extreme about David. He

what's extreme about David. He goes to church on Sunday - what's

to church on Sunday - what's extreme about that? What he wants, though,

he's against the lowering of the

he's against the lowering of the age of consent for homosexuals, he's against the lowering of the age of consent for homosexuals, he's

of consent for homosexuals, he's got strong views on abortion. That's

hardly extreme. He's got strong

views on abortion, euthanasia?

These are not extreme positions.

There would be lots of people

There would be lots of people inside the Labor Party who share those

sorts of views. Kevin Rudd goes to

church on Sunday as I understand

things, does that make him an

extremist? No look, what's really things, does that make him an extremist? No look, what's really

happening is that we've got a State

parliamentary party which has been

in Opposition for a long time.

Inevitably there's a bit of

Inevitably there's a bit of pressure on preselections, as there should

on preselections, as there should be if people have been in opposition

for a long time and a certain

for a long time and a certain amount of lashing out is going on now by

people who feel under pressure.

people who feel under pressure. But no-one has a right to stay on any

frontbench forever, particularly in

frontbench forever, particularly in Opposition, and no-one owns their

preselection. So if the NSW Liberal

Party is moving a bit to the Party is moving a bit to the right

you don't have a problem with that?

Certainly it seems if the young

Liberals are moving to the right?

Well, there's nothing wrong with

Well, there's nothing wrong with the young Liberals supporting the

young Liberals supporting the Howard Government. In fact, for years the

young Liberals tended to oppose

coalition governments in office and

it's nice to see the senior party

and the junior party lining up

together for a change.

and the junior party lining up together for a change. I mentioned

David Clarke - as I understand it

you addressed a meeting of the Ken

Hurst branch and you said this,

"Wherever you hear that David

"Wherever you hear that David Clarke is doing bad things, you know he is

really doing a great job.

really doing a great job. " ╝Yellow╛Yes, I do go to the Kent

Hurst branch and that sounds like

something I might have said. Beyond

that I'm told that you something I might have said. Beyond that I'm told that you praised

that I'm told that you praised David Clarke but not a word of praise for

John Brogden who had resigned 24

hours previously? Well, I praised

John Brogden in public that very

day. Everyone feels very

day. Everyone feels very sorry for

John Brogden. He did what he

shouldn't have done, but having

shouldn't have done, but having done the dishonourable thing he did the honourable thing

the dishonourable thing he did the honourable thing and subsequent

events are just tragic. That's

events are just tragic. That's what I said during the week and I'm

I said during the week and I'm happy to say it again now. Keeping in

to say it again now. Keeping in mind that that speech at the Kent Hurst

branch was 24 hours after John

Brogden had attempted to take his

Brogden had attempted to take his on life, did you begin your remarks by

saying, "I just want to make it

clear I have never told an

inappropriate jokes and I never inappropriate jokes and I never make inappropriate gestures to

inappropriate jokes and I never make inappropriate gestures to women"

inappropriate gestures to women" ? The point is that I made a speech

The point is that I made a speech to the Kent Hurst branch of the

the Kent Hurst branch of the Liberal Party and the guts of that speech

was to say, "Look, we need to move

on from the trauma and tragedy of

the last couple of days," and one

the last couple of days," and one of the point s that I made was that

Barry O

the point s that I made was that Barry O 'Farrell had shown the n

kinds of gifts of character that we

need to see more of. Did you make

those characters and do you think

that's a way that a Health Minister

in particular ought to behave? Do

you think you lacked a bit of

sensitivity there? Look Barrie, I

have never claimed to be the

have never claimed to be the world's most sensitive person. Well, let's

go back to lunchtime on the same day. Now this is just go back to lunchtime on the same day. Now this is just 12 hours

after John Brogden was rushed off

after John Brogden was rushed off to hospital. You're now a guest

speaker at another function and I'm

told you asked about a particular

health proposal and you said this.

"If we did that we would be as dead

as the former Liberal leader's

political prospects. " Did you say

that? Look Barrie, I was at a

fundraising gathering. It was a very

fundraising gathering. It was a very small gathering. And I was no

doubt commenting on a particular

political proposal. But

inappropriately surely, and

particularly as Health Minister?

Well Barrie look as I said, if you

want to accuse me of insensitivity,

by all means. I have never claimed

to be the world's most sensitive

person. In retrospect do you think that's something you should now

apologise for? Barrie,

that's something you should now apologise for? Barrie, if it would

make people feel better if I

apologised I'm always happy to

apologise. I don't believe in

standing on my dignity. But you do accept they were inappropriate?

Bar ri, lots of people say lots of

things. The mere fact that I know

about these things, what does that

say about the State of the NSW

Liberal Party right now? The NSW Liberal Liberal Party right now? The NSW Liberal is in a difficult position.

They've lost a lot of elections.

They've just lost their leader

They've just lost their leader under difficult and tragic circumstances.

One of the problems with the NSW

Liberal Party is big flapping ears

and big wagging tongues and people

making a lot of unattributed

poisonous comments about others.

poisonous comments about others. Now I think that the sooner all

Now I think that the sooner all that ends the better. That's why in the

end politics is a test of character

and I'm pleased that Peter Debham

for one and Barry O 'Farrell for

another are men of good character

and they're determined to put all