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Transcript of interview with Ben Fordham: Radio 2GB: 13 July 2012: GST and the carbon tax; Kings Cross violence; defence budget cuts; border protection



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

13 July 2012

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR, INTERVIEW WITH BEN FORDHAM, RADIO 2GB, SYDNEY

Subjects: GST and the carbon tax; Kings Cross violence; defence budget cuts; border protection.

E&OE……………………….…………………………………………………………………

BEN FORDHAM:

Mr Abbott, good afternoon.

TONY ABBOTT:

G’day Ben.

BEN FORDHAM:

Can you sort something out for me Mr Abbott, because I’ve just spoken to Bill Shorten and I asked him whether or not the GST applies to the carbon price? I had great difficulty, Mr Abbott, in getting an answer from Mr Shorten on that. In fact, he told me that he wanted to talk about something else. He was most offended that I was asking him about this and ended up trying to ask me to organise a town hall style debate with you. It took him a long time but he had trouble addressing that. Can you give me an answer? Does the GST apply to the carbon price?

TONY ABBOTT:

Ok; yes and no, Ben. The carbon tax is $23 a tonne, not $25.30 a tonne, but because the carbon tax is built into the cost base of everything upon which the GST is charged, yes, it is fair to say that it is a tax on a tax and that the GST compounds the damage that the carbon tax does to people.

BEN FORDHAM:

So it’s not separate, it’s on top. The carbon tax applies to the total amount…sorry, the GST applies to the total amount, after the carbon tax has already been factored in.

TONY ABBOTT:

That’s exactly right. So, the GST collected on goods is higher because the carbon tax is on the goods.

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BEN FORDHAM:

Ok, let me move onto a subject which has probably got a lot of people thinking in Sydney this week and that’s the awful incident that happened at Kings Cross last Saturday night. Thomas Kelly, 18 years of age, out and about with his friends for the first time and there is a bloke that comes out of nowhere, punches him, he’s dead. His parents turn off the life support. A lot is being said about Kings Cross, alcohol, all of those issues. You’ve got young children and I thought I’d get your take on what’s happened this week.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, Ben look, my kids are just a little bit older than Thomas Kelly and look, Margie and I have - particularly Margie - have laid awake at night waiting for them to come home. I think every parent worries about their kids going out partying, particularly if they’re going to places which can be a bit rough. This is a terrible, terrible tragedy. It is every parent’s worst nightmare. I think every parent bleeds for Thomas Kelly’s mum and dad and I guess all we can do is, each in our own way, resolve to try to work towards a world where it is safer for young people taking their first steps into the wide blue yonder and yes, we need strong policing, yes we need responsible service of alcohol, yes we need to crackdown on illegal drugs, yes we need to try to ensure that as far as is possible, in the places where people congregate late at night, there are good services and so on. So, there’s no magic wand here but we need to redouble our efforts to ensure that our kids are safe.

BEN FORDHAM:

You don’t mind if I ask you about a couple of different topics, do you?

TONY ABBOTT:

Yes, sure, Ben.

BEN FORDHAM:

The super trawler, are you across the super trawler that is heading towards Tasmania?

TONY ABBOTT:

Funnily enough, Ben, I was at the Melbourne Fish Market the other day to talk about the carbon tax and apart from marine protected areas, which the fishing industry is very concerned about, understandably, something that the Government is springing on them, there was some talk about this super trawler.

Now, there were mixed feelings down at the Melbourne Fish Market. On the one hand there was some satisfaction that this fishing boat had got permission to reopen a particular fishery, but there was also some anxiety that it was potentially going to do damage. Now, given the conservative management of Australia’s fisheries, I’m inclined to think that probably it is a safe thing to do, but it was certainly a subject of some contention amongst the folk at the Melbourne Fish Market.

BEN FORDHAM:

And another issue that’s been on the mind of myself and a lot of other people in the last couple of weeks, listening to this programme, there’s been a decision in the last Federal Budget that’s affected single diggers in our Australian Defence Force over the age of 21, where they had this free flight home taken away from them for the sake of $15 million. Can you believe that decision was made?

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TONY ABBOTT:

Well, I can understand how it strikes military personnel as being petty and mean-spirited and what I am really disappointed by is the general cuts to defence and it’s because this Government has blown so much money in other areas that it’s now looking to take the axe to defence, and the really tragic thing, Ben, is that next year, our defence spending as a percentage of gross domestic product, will be at the lowest level since 1938, would you believe. We’ve got to go back to the era of appeasement to find a time when Australia’s defence spending was as low as this and I suppose what’s happened is that the defence chiefs are confronted with this kind of cut, from government, they’ve got to try to find the money from somewhere and so they do things like this. Now, it’s deeply regrettable, but what we really need is to ensure that our defence forces are funded so that they can maintain their operational capability.

BEN FORDHAM:

Ok, just on one last one, if I can, Scott Morrison, your Immigration spokesman, says that Australia’s relationship with Indonesia is dysfunctional. We know about the Navy almost becoming a water taxi service or a silver service, but you’ve got your own problems, don’t you? I mean, if we can acknowledge for a moment, which I think everyone does, that the Government’s policy on asylum seekers doesn’t exist, you do have your own issue, don’t you, in that Indonesia has been telling you for some time now that one aspect of your policy on this, which is pushing back boats their way, they are not going to cop. There are people really concerned about that aspect of your policy. You’ve got to acknowledge that?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, I acknowledge that the Government has been putting it around that it couldn’t be done, but I make two points, Ben. First of all, that Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd previously supported the policy. Second and more importantly, it was successfully put into practice under the former government. Now, the Indonesians didn’t particularly like it but they appreciated that it was the kind of thing that a sovereign government needs to do from time-to-time.

BEN FORDHAM:

So they’ve just got to suck it up and cop it?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, let’s not forget that these are Indonesian flagged, Indonesian crewed, Indonesian home-ported vessels that are coming from Indonesia, to Australia, without lawful purpose. Now, frankly, I think that if the reverse was happening, the Indonesians would react with a degree of forthrightness and they’d be entitled to. So look, I am confident that what was done in the past can be done in the future and I am also confident that the kind of quiet diplomacy which John Howard and Philip Ruddock and Alexander Downer successfully practiced with Indonesia in the past can and will be practiced by a future Coalition government with Indonesia.

BEN FORDHAM:

Have a good weekend, Mr Abbott. Thanks for your time.

TONY ABBOTT:

Nice to be with you Ben.

[ends]