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Transcript of joint doorstop interview with Liberal candidate for Reid, Craig Laundy: Lidcombe, Sydney: 12 July 2012: Julia Gillard’s carbon tax; Australian Competition and Consumer Commission; industrial relations; indigenous employment; foreign aid; border protection



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

12 July 2012

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR JOINT DOORSTOP INTERVIEW WITH MR. CRAIG LAUNDY, LIBERAL CANDIDATE FOR REID, LIDCOMBE, SYDNEY

Subjects: Julia Gillard’s carbon tax; Australian Competition and Consumer Commission; industrial relations; indigenous employment; foreign aid; border protection.

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

TONY ABBOTT:

It’s good to be here at Andrews Meats. I want to thank Peter Andrews and his team for making Craig Laundy, the candidate for Reid, and myself so welcome. This is a fine example of a family business that’s been serving the people of Sydney for some 50 years, but it’s one of the hundreds of thousands of businesses right around Australia whose life is now tougher thanks to Julia Gillard’s toxic tax.

This business uses about $600,000 a year in power. That’s a $60,000 a year hit on this business just for starters. This business has 400 kilos of refrigerant gas in its system. The price of re-gassing this system has gone from $20,000 to $80,000. So there’s a triple whammy for a business like this: increasing power costs, increasing refrigerant costs and over time, increasing transport costs. These are additional costs that businesses like this don’t need because it makes jobs less secure, it makes investment harder, it raises costs to consumers.

This is a bad tax based on a lie and yet again, another day has gone by when the Prime Minister is in hiding from the businesses and workers of Australia, from the businesses that get no compensation under her carbon tax and from the workers whose jobs have been made less secure and I challenge the Prime Minister, please do the workers of this country a favour. Show the workers of this country some respect, actually front up to talk to them about why you have made their jobs less secure, why you are imposing this reverse tariff on Australian industry which makes our jobs less competitive, makes foreign jobs more competitive.

This is the problem. Decent Labor people understand that the carbon tax is not really driven by Labor values, it’s driven by Green values and this is why decent Labor people are running a million miles from this Prime Minister and her toxic tax. The Labor leader in Western Australia says that the Prime Minister is not welcome in his state, principally because of the carbon tax. So I say to the Prime Minister, you can run from small business, but you can’t run from the voters who will ultimately pass their judgement on this toxic tax.

I’m going to ask Craig Laundy to say a few words about this particular business, which he knows well, and then I’ll take some questions.

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CRAIG LAUNDY:

Thanks Tony. When you think of sovereign risk you normally think of African countries and nationalising mines and things like that. This is the face of sovereign risk today. This is a second generation family business that is 52 years old that has been serving, amongst many customers, my family business of which I am the third generation, that is 75 years old. This is a toxic tax. We do not know how it is going to hit. The people that run this business, like all businesses, not only in Reid, are the backbone of Reid and this country. It’s my pledge to you, Tony, to help you form the next government and repeal this tax as your Member for Reid. Thanks Tony.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thanks mate. Ok any questions.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, the ACCC’s been talking about the carbon tax today too. I think they say just over 600 complaints or inquiries about it since it came in. Does that sound like a large number to you?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I think that there are lots and lots of people complaining about the carbon tax, as they should because this is a tax which is raising everyone’s cost of living. It’s a tax which is making every Australian worker’s job less secure, so I’m not at all surprised that the complaints are coming about the carbon tax and the best way to end the complaints is to axe the tax. You can’t fix this tax, you’ve got to axe this tax.

QUESTION:

But some of the complaints would not be about the tax, but about businesses unfairly blaming the tax. Do you support the ACCC in telling businesses not to unfairly blame the carbon tax?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well I certainly think it’s important that the ACCC should police rip-offs but I want to make the point that every Australian business is going to face higher costs as a result of this tax. The whole point of this tax is to make your power more expensive. If it doesn’t make power more expensive, it’s not doing its job. If this tax doesn’t hurt businesses, it’s not working. If it’s not hurting, it’s not working and that’s why people can expect more and more price increases over time as this tax just goes up and up and up.

QUESTION:

What’s the feedback you’ve had from people since the tax came in on July 1?

TONY ABBOTT:

I think the more people see this tax the less they like it and I keep telling people that the only way to fix it is to end it. The only way to help in a situation like this is to get rid of the thing and my pledge to the Australian people is that the first act of an incoming Coalition government will be to instruct the bureaucrats to start the process and the first piece of legislation in a new parliament will be the carbon tax repeal bill.

QUESTION:

The ACCC says 630 is actually a low number of complaints.

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TONY ABBOTT:

Well the only way to stop the complaints is to get rid of the tax and that’s what I’m going to do.

QUESTION:

On CNN Wayne Swan’s compared the carbon tax to the introduction of national superannuation and the floating of currency, or in the same vein as those reforms. What would you make of those remarks?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look real reform makes it easier to do business. Real reform makes our economy stronger. This is not real reform because it makes our economy weaker. This is a reverse tariff. It makes Australian jobs less competitive, it makes foreign jobs more competitive. That’s why this is an act of gratuitous economic self harm. It’s an economic own-goal and the only way to restore a level playing field with other countries is to get rid of this toxic tax.

QUESTION:

Just a quick question on I.R. You said yesterday that you want to make individual flexibility arrangements more workable. What did you mean by that and how should they be changed?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well I was simply echoing the comments of people like Heather Ridout, the then head of the Australian Industry Group, who says that individual flexibility agreements have promised so much and delivered so little. Look, I want to restore the workplace relations pendulum to the sensible centre. That’s where it always should be. Right now we’ve got a flexibility problem, we’ve got a militancy problem, we’ve got a productivity problem and for the security and the prosperity of Australian workers, these are things that need to be addressed.

QUESTION:

So you want to cut penalty rates in the tourism industry?

TONY ABBOTT:

No.

QUESTION:

The Government says that your remarks were code for slashing wages and conditions.

TONY ABBOTT:

Absolutely wrong. Look, absolutely wrong. The one thing that the Australian workers will find is that I am their best friend. What I want to see is higher wages and more jobs. That’s what I was like when I was the Workplace Relations Minister and if the Coalition wins the next election, the workers of Australia will find that I am their best friend.

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QUESTION:

You were trying to give the impression, when you told tourism leaders yesterday that you wanted flexible workplace arrangements, you didn’t say to them specifically that you wanted to cut penalty rates, but you’re telling us that you definitely would not do that?

TONY ABBOTT:

What I’m saying is that the best thing that I can do for the workers of Australia is to ensure that there are healthy industries, lots of jobs, and high wages and that’s what I want to try to guarantee.

QUESTION:

So you can’t be more specific about what you meant by flexibility and what things exactly should be changed?

TONY ABBOTT:

The point I’ve made all along is that our workplace relations policy, it will be prudent, it will be sensible, it will be responsible, it will be careful, it will be cautious and it will be based on real problems, not on ideology.

QUESTION:

I don’t know if you’ve read Warren Mundine’s comments in The Australian this morning. I think he’s saying that he wants the Government to work with you rather than the Greens on indigenous policy. What do you think of that?

TONY ABBOTT:

I’m very happy to work with Warren Mundine. I’ve done a lot of work with Warren Mundine over the years and my door is always open to people who want to do more to boost indigenous jobs. This has been a real personal passion of mine for years now and I’m happy to work with anyone, including the Government, but I’ve got to say, this is not a government which regularly calls me up and I’m not sure that if I wait by the phone I’m going to get too many calls from this government on this day.

QUESTION:

The Government’s announced that it’s doubling foreign aid for family planning services in developing countries. Does the Coalition support that move?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look it’s not something that I’ve had any advice on and in the absence of advice I’d rather not comment.

QUESTION:

We’ve seen another boat saying it’s in distress in the waters and we’ve gone to rescue them. We’re seeing figures today that it’s $1 million to rescue these boats. What do you make of that cost impact on taxpayers?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well there’s no doubt that one of the reasons why the fiscal situation is so dire is because border protection costs have just blown out and out and out under this government. So far border protection costs have blown

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out by well over $4 billion and it’s just going to get worse and worse until this government finally summons up the courage and introduces the policies that will stop the boats. Right now thanks to Julia Gillard, our borders are in complete chaos and right now, thanks to this government’s policy failures, the Navy is having to act as Julia Gillard’s water taxis, delivering boat people to Australia. Thanks to the Government, we have the Navy acting as a water taxi service for people smugglers and that’s the last thing that the Australian Navy should be subjected to.

QUESTION:

Regardless of the cost and regardless of whether the distress call is genuine or not, do you say that our authorities should respond to every distress call they receive?

TONY ABBOTT:

It’s very important that we do what we can to preserve life at sea but the best way to preserve life at sea is to stop the boats and that’s why it’s very important that effective border protection policies be put in place and I want to remind people of what the Coalition’s border protection policies are. First of all, rigorous offshore processing at Nauru, second, temporary protection visas so that the people smugglers are denied a product to sell and third, the option of turning boats around - and I stress this - where it is safe to do so. Now, those policies are policies that worked. They’re policies that worked. Under those policies we had three boats a year. Under the current government we’re getting something like two boats a week and the flow is becoming a flood because this Prime Minister has completely and comprehensively lost control of our borders and her only response is to blame the Coalition. I want to make it crystal clear that it’s not the Opposition’s policies that have failed here, it’s the Government’s policies which have failed here.

QUESTION:

The cost of the rescues though, is that a factor we should even be worrying about?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look I think that the real cost here is the cost of the Government’s comprehensive loss of control of our borders. That’s the real cost. As long as the boats keep coming, the tragedies will keep happening and the costs will keep blowing out. That’s the problem. The problem is the Government. The problem is the Government which inherited strong border protection policies and, in an act of moral vanity, dismantled them. That’s the problem and the Australian people very well understand who is to blame for the disaster we have on our borders.

[ends]