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Transcript of interview with Lyndall Curtis: ABC 24 Capital Hill: 2 February 2012

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Transcript - ABC 24 Capital Hill - Thursday 2 February 2012 03 February 2012 in Media

To watch this interview, please click here.


Hello and welcome to Capital Hill. First it was Toyota shedding some

jobs, now Holden's cutting around 100 of its casual and flexible

workforce. The Holden says the high Australian dollar is to blame, the

Coalition says there are some other factors as well. The Government

says it's in talks with the car maker over its long term future; those talks are close to being finalised. The

Opposition is still in discussions about the fate of its pledge to cut half a billion dollars from the car industry

assistance. Joining me to discuss this and the day's other topics are Liberal MP Jamie Briggs and Labor MP

Kelvin Thomson. Welcome to you both.


Happy New Year too you.


Well start first with the Prime Minister and the Opposition's reaction to Holden's announcement.



I am determined and Labor is determined that whilst ever Labor is here we will be making cars in Australia. It

comes down to a very simple proposition, are you for jobs or not? We are for jobs. And I reiterate that I

believe it is entirely wrong for Mr Abbott and the Opposition he leads to be anti the jobs of hard workers and to

be determined to rip money out of the industry co-investment with the car industry. We will continue to work

with the car industry we have a package available of the right size, to work with the car industry to make sure

that we continue to manufacture the cars in Australia.


The issue in relation to the car industry is one that Labor always thinks that the answer to a problem is the

quantity of the money that you throw at it, whereas the Coalition approach is the quality of the money, and that

is one of the stark differences between Labor and the Coalition in their approach to managing the issue

confronting the Australian nation.


Kelvin, your Government Ministers talk a lot about the jobs that Labors created but now there's some job

shedding going on, unemployment is creeping up. Does that show there is real pain to come, in the economic

adjustment caused by the high Australian dollar?


There's no doubt the mining boom has been causing the Australian Dollar to rise and that is adversely

affecting other industry sectors, like, manufacturing and tourism and education and so on. Now, you can

simply say, as the Opposition appears to be, that we’ll leave these other industries to it, but we disagree with

that and I disagree with that, because in the first place there are no mining jobs in my electorate, there are,

however in Australia, 200,000 jobs in motor vehicle manufacturing, and a million jobs in manufacturing overall

and some of those are most definitely in my electorate. Secondly, what happens when the resources run out?

We don’t want to become another Nauru whose economy collapsed completely once the resources ran out. It

is very short sighted to be a one trick economy.


Jamie is continued government assistance in whatever form it comes in, vital for the survival of the car

industry? Do governments have to keep tipping money in?


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Page 1 of 4 Transcript - ABC 24 Capital Hill - Thursday 2 February 2012 > Jamie Briggs MP > M...


Well no, they don't, I mean, at the end of the day what you see is that the money that's been tipped in. I mean,

Kelvin talks about this being a consequence of this terrible mining boom that the Labor Party doesn't like at all,

it is always talking in doubt, it’s always talking about it’s so-called negative consequences. What they forget to

tell you of course, is in the last decade before the so-called dastardly mining boom hit us, the automotive

sector received over $12 billion dollars of government assistance. The problem that the Labor Party and

thoughs who are advocating further co-investment and more taxpayers money for one sector and not another,

what they will never quantify for you is exactly how much money is, which will help this industry survive. There

are many factors outside of the control of this industry and it's hard any type of job goes in our economy, it’s

hard for the 500 Westpac workers who have lost their job today as well. But the Government is not going to

cull this with Westpac, for some reason this Labor party thinks that these ANWU workers deserve more

attention than anyone else in the economy. They can’t back it up with any evidence, they never back it up with

any evidence, they just make general assertions, ‘you know if you don’t have manufactory you’re not a real

economy’, and it’s just bullocks, frankly, its complete and utter bullocks.


It’s something that Holden boss said too this morning, he said that government support is necessary for the

car industry not only in Australia but in other countries too.


Well what a surprise that a company would be asking for more money from the government. It doesn’t want to

undertake the necessary reforms it needs to, as Bernie Fraser said last week. A very well known Labor

supporter made the point last week that the car industry needs to be more productive. You had the Toyota

boss today rightly pointing out the industrial relations system in this country is making it impossible for this

industry to compete and you’ve got the carbon tax that’s been put on top of it as well. The Labor Party's only

answer to this is not to reform and make the economy much more efficient and effective, is asking these car

companies how much more money they want. They don’t want to get an outcome, they don’t ever want to tell

us exactly how much it will be to co-invest which will keep the car industry here in the future - they just make

these general assertions that you have got to do it, and if you don’t do it will all disappear and it will be an

economic catastrophe. Well, tell that to the thousands of small businesses each year who never get a cent of

government assistance, who go under out of one circumstance or another, why don’t they get that money that

these people get?


Kelvin should the Government take a good look at the industry assistance to make sure it’s being spent

correctly and is furthering even the aims of the Government to drive innovation to drive industry change.


It’s certainly done that, and continues to do that but really I'm troubled to troubled to hear Jamie suggesting

that it doesn’t matter if we don't have an ongoing motor vehicle manufacturing industry in Australia. I disagree

with that completely. We need the research and the development.


That’s not what I said at all.


We need the engineering skills that come with having that industry. Furthermore, Jamie implies that the

Government is providing financial support for manufactory but not in other areas, that is again untrue because

according to the Australia Bureau of Statistics the financial support provided to the mining industry in 2009/10

exceeded a billion dollars whereas that for manufacturing was around $887 million dollars, so more in

government are very for more in subsidies for mining than manufacturing.


That is simply not true.


There is also substantial Australian Government support for agriculture, for tourism, for other industries as

well, the point is we shouldn’t be a one trick party, we should have it diversified economic base.


Jamie, Tony Abbott outlined at the Press Club earlier this week saying he wants government to be smaller

and should a Coalition government be looking at industry assistance across the board?


Again, there's no evidence, of what Kelvin just put to, the suggestion that mining industry somehow gets

subsidies is completely misleading. What we have said for a very long time, is that the auto manufacturers in

this country - and we are talking about one stream of manufacturing, it does not mean all manufacturing at all,

in fact most manufacturing doesn’t get assistance. We’re talking about one small, three multi-national

companies in effect; get large wads of cash from this Government and for a very long time the Howard

Government pursued transitional assistance which is right to help them adjust which actually puts aside this

argument that this is all driven by the dollar and remember $12 billion over the last decade. The problem now

is that the Labor Party is changing the terms of this and they favor one industry over another, and that has

dire consequences for those industries. I mean, where is Kelvin saying the 500 Westpac workers and I’m sure

there is some in his electorate, why are not important? Shouldn't the Government be co-investing in Westpac

today? I mean this is the farce of the argument. Ultimately, government has a role in our economy, but it's not

picking winners. And that’s what the Labor Party wants to do, the party of pink batts wants to pick the next

successful industry in the Australian economy.

Page 2 of 4 Transcript - ABC 24 Capital Hill - Thursday 2 February 2012 > Jamie Briggs MP > M...



Of course, Lyndall, the finance sector jobs are important as well, but the fact is that Australian Government

policies have keep unemployment in Australia much lower than that in other countries which will affected by

the global financial crisis in much greater measure. We have done well in steering Australia through the global

financial crisis.


That’s that dastardly mining industry…


The problem here is that the policy of the Coalition is suggestion taking $500 million dollars out of the

automotive industry is doing damage right now, because people in Detroit and Tokyo and so on look at what

is happening in Australia and the prospect that an Abbott government may remove this money so the

Opposition needs to clarify this issue ASAP.


If we could move on, Kelvin, I couldn't let you go without asking a couple of questions about the Labor

leadership. There are senior figures in the Government who are frustrated with the continuing speculation but

there are no denying some Labor MPs, some Labor MPs are talking about it, what would your message be to

those Labor MPs who are looking at the primary vote and getting nervous about the Labor Party’s position

and maybe even thinking of a leadership change?


Lyndall, at any point in the political cycle - Labor Party, Liberal Party, over time whatever leader, any energetic

journalist can always find half a dozen members of the political party who would like a change of leader. We

have a caucus of 102 members; it doesn't mean a change is going to happen.


You were quite scathing of how things were under Kevin Rudd on the day that Julia Gillard took over the

leadership, it may be hypothetical but what would your view be if Kevin Rudd again sought to take over the



I think it is hypothetical, Lyndall, and I'm not going to fuel it by adding my own commentary to it. It is quite

clear to me that Julia Gillard enjoys the support of the overwhelming number of members to the Caucus and

so the leadership speculation is frankly idle. And we’ve got much more important things that we as a country

ought to be talking about.


Jamie, as you look at the leadership speculation that is going on about the Labor Government, is there a risk

that members of your own party sit back and think your chances of just riding into office is getting easier every



Well, quite obviously, Tony Abbott is not doing that. He gave a long and detailed speech two days ago, it was

an excellent speech about his economic direction if he was to become Prime Minister. We don't take anything

for granted but what really is concerning is that Labor Party is involved in this bitter public knife fight, with

Ministers calling other Ministers prima donnas, accusing them of not being loyal team players, when

remember the person they're talking about is the Foreign Minister of our country. I would hope that our

Foreign Minister is working in part of a team and part of a government policy, it does I think show that there's

major concern out there, the eye is off the ball, the Labor Party side, that the, "We are us" speech Julia Gillard

gave last year obviously doesn't include all members of the Labor Caucus.


Does it put more weights on your side to make the economic case to come up with firm figures on how you

would fund your policies?


We're doing that, we are working that through, Joe Hockey and Andrew Robb, the Shadow ERC is working

through line by line, looking at each budget proposal we've made, tough decisions. The half-billion dollars

we've removed from, we’ve proposed to be cut from the auto assistance is a good example of that, that was

an area from where we found some savings and will work through and find savings because we know it's

important to find to get the budget back into surplus and to pay down Labor’s debt, to have governments role

in our society where it's needed and not extended beyond that.


That's where we have to leave it, Jamie Briggs and Kelvin Thomson. Thank you very much.


Good to talk with you


Thanks Lyndall.

Page 3 of 4 Transcript - ABC 24 Capital Hill - Thursday 2 February 2012 > Jamie Briggs MP > M...


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Page 4 of 4 Transcript - ABC 24 Capital Hill - Thursday 2 February 2012 > Jamie Briggs MP > M...