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Transcript of joint doorstop interview: Artarmon, Sydney: 22 June 2012: Child care; asylum seeker boat tragedy; Mary Jo Fisher; Minerals Resource Rent Tax; Julia Gillard's carbon tax; Umar Patek



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WARRINGAH

22 June 2012

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR JOINT DOORSTOP INTERVIEW WITH THE HON. JOE HOCKEY MHR, SHADOW TREASURER AND FEDERAL MEMBER FOR NORTH SYDNEY ARTARMON, SYDNEY

Subjects: Child care; asylum seeker boat tragedy; Mary Jo Fisher; Minerals Resource Rent Tax; Julia Gillard's carbon tax; Umar Patek.

EO&E..............................................................................................................................................................

TONY ABBOTT:

It’s great to be here in the electorate of North Sydney with Joe Hockey, my friend the Shadow Treasurer, the local member. I want to thank Norma Burke and her team here at the Butterflies child care centre for making Joe and me so welcome. Look, we’re both parents. We’ve both got kids. We know what it’s like to try to juggle work and family. We know how important it is for families to have child care which is affordable, which is accessible and which is flexible. We know what it’s like because Joe’s going through that now. I’ve been through that.

We have a pretty good child care system. We have a lot of good people who are working very well with the kids of Australia, but it’s important not to rest on our laurels. It’s important to try to ensure that the system in the future can be better than it is now. Importantly, child care has got to meet the agenda of families, not just the agenda of government. That’s why earlier today, I met with senior representatives of the child care

sector to talk about the best possible terms of reference for the Productivity Commission inquiry that the Coalition will have urgently should we win the next election.

Child care is important for families, it’s also important for our economy. If our economy is going to flourish, if families are going to prosper, they’ve got to have in the future the child care that really meets their needs. I think over time that does mean more flexible forms of child care. I think it does mean better access to in-

home care as well as more access to high quality centre-based care. So, this is our position. I think it’s very important that the families of Australia understand that things can be better and they will be better under a Coalition government.

Before I throw to Joe, I probably also should just note that there is a tragedy happening to the north of Christmas Island. I think all we can say today is that this is a terrible, terrible tragedy. Our deepest sympathies have to be with everyone involved and caught up in this tragedy and our support and encouragement for all the rescue personnel who are doing their best to minimise loss of life; a terrible, terrible tragedy and our hearts go out to everyone affected by it.

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JOE HOCKEY:

Thanks, Tony and I totally agree. It’s great to be back at Butterflies. I opened it only a couple of years ago. It’s great to see it full and Tony’s absolutely right. We all want, as parents, some flexibility. It’s very hard to live in a city these days and not have both parents working, which is really hard and therefore you need maximum flexibility when it comes to child care. There’s no 9 to 5 working day anymore for many Australians and therefore it’s not as simple as one would have said would be just a few years ago. So, child care is a priority. It’s also hugely important for the economy. It cuts to our productivity and because it does go to our ability to do our jobs everyday, it is so important that it be as flexible as the expectations of our employers. So, I know Margie has spoken to Tony about it. She’s spoken to me about it as well about the importance of flexible child care. This is what is going to help to make life easier for everyday Australians and certainly not make it harder. That’s why Government sitting in Canberra getting all its information and wisdom through the air conditioning in Parliament House should not be the sole determinant of what child care is about. It’s got to be about what parents need and what parents want. So, well done mate.

TONY ABBOTT:

Ok, thanks Joe. Any questions?

QUESTION:

Mary Jo Fisher just stepped down. Was that with your support?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, Mary Jo has been a friend of mine for a very long time. She’s been a staffer, she’s been a colleague, but she’s also been a friend. I am looking forward to many, many years of friendship with Mary Jo, but she’s obviously got an issue. She is dealing with it. I think she’s taken the gutsy course and the honourable course to resign from the Parliament so that she can deal with this in the best interests of herself and her family.

QUESTION:

On and off the job, what do you think she’ll be best remembered by?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, Mary Jo was my senior workplace relations Adviser when I was the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. She then went on to work for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in South Australia. She made a great contribution to the development of strong public policy as a staffer and as the head of the South Australian chamber. In the Parliament, she’s very much continued her workplace relations work and I’ve got to say that Mary Jo’s specialty was always trying to bring things back to the practical level. How can we get more people in to work? How can we get workplaces operating as effectively as possible for their staff and for their customers? There was none of the ideologue about Mary Jo; a very practical, pragmatic practitioner of the best possible workplace relations in Australia.

QUESTION:

'Twiggy' Forrest has launched his High Court challenge to the Minerals Resources Rent Tax. Has the revolt well and truly started again?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, this is a bad tax. It is a very bad tax because it is basically a success tax. The minerals sector is Australia’s most successful sector in recent times and the last thing we should be doing as a country is

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sending a message to people that success is bad. If you succeed, we’ll hit you with an additional tax. Now, the mining industry already pays tax twice. It pays company tax, it pays mining royalties. It doesn’t need to be taxed three times because if it is taxed three times, jobs and investment are going to go offshore. That’s why, if the Coalition is elected, we will abolish this tax. It’s a bad tax and it will be gone. No ifs, no buts. It will be gone under a Coalition government.

QUESTION:

Do you think it has legs to stand on, though, this challenge? Is there enough legal grounding there?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well I’m not a lawyer, I’m an alternative prime minister. I can’t say what can or should happen in the High Court. What I can and must say is that if we are elected, we’ll do the right thing by Australia and get rid of this bad tax.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, manufacturers say increasing energy costs are hurting them and the cost of things like making bricks are going to start affecting house prices.

TONY ABBOTT:

That’s exactly right. Anything that is being made here in Australia that uses a lot of energy is going to be in desperate trouble under the carbon tax. The whole point of a carbon tax is to make energy more expensive. It’s to make power more expensive. It’s to make fuel more expensive. If it doesn’t make fuel and power more expensive, it’s not doing its job because these are the sources of most of our emissions. So, while the carbon tax lasts, steel will be more expensive, aluminium will be more expensive, plastics will be more expensive, glass will be more expensive and bricks will be much more expensive. Now, we’re not going to stop using any of these things. Under the carbon tax we will import them. That’s the problem. That’s why I keep saying that this is a reverse tariff, making jobs overseas more secure than jobs here in Australia and the last thing we want to do is to lose all these domestic industries such as steel, aluminium, glass, plastics and bricks because it’s no longer economic under the carbon tax to have them.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, regarding the tragedy unfolding off Indonesia, what’s your latest briefing on the situation?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, just that this is a tragedy and that Australian personnel are doing their best to minimise the loss of life and I just think that we should support and encourage everyone involved in the rescue effort. There will be time enough in the days and weeks ahead to talk about what policy lessons might be drawn from it.

QUESTION:

And what do you make of the sentence to handed to Umar Patek overnight?

TONY ABBOTT:

I think it’s very important that the Indonesian authorities and authorities throughout the world appropriately punish criminals and in this case this individual was responsible for a horrific crime against Australians. So, I am pleased that there has been a very stiff sentence handed down. Just on the subject, though, of terrorism, the Parliament dudded the Australian victims of terrorism yesterday. I put a Private Member's Bill in to the

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Parliament to try to offer assistance and support for the Australian victims of overseas terrorism, similar to the assistance and support given to the victims of domestic crime under state victims of crime legislation. The Government accepted my bill in part but it tried to make sure that this can only be prospective assistance, not retrospective assistance. The whole point of my Bill was to help and support the victims of the Bali bombing, the victims of the Jakarta bombings, the victims of the World Trade Centre, the victims of London, and I’m afraid they have been dudded by this Government and the two independents, Mr Oakeshott and Mr Windsor, who refused to support my amendment in the Parliament yesterday that would have offered support retrospectively to the victims of Bali.

QUESTION:

There are increasing signs that there will be a three cornered contest for the seat of Hume. Are you concerned the Nationals might run?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I am always happy to see the terms of the Coalition agreement adhered to. We have at least one very good candidate in Hume; one really outstanding Coalition candidate in Hume. If there is another outstanding Coalition candidate in Hume, that’s the way it works under our rules and it will be a very friendly contest, it will be a contest between two people, should it happen, who strongly support a change of government, who strongly support the election of a Coalition government, because let’s face it, the current government is bad and getting worse.

[ends]