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Transcript of joint doorstop interview: Rowville, Melbourne: 3 October 2012: visit to Aston; Julia Gillard's carbon tax; interest rates; car industry; Julia Gillard's mining tax; the Coalition's $1.5 billion commitment to Melbourne's East West Link; Arrium



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JOH

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

3 October 2012

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR JOINT DOORSTOP INTERVIEW WITH MR. ALAN TUDGE MHR, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR ASTON, ROWVILLE, MELBOURNE

Subjects: Visit to Aston; Julia Gillard’s carbon tax; interest rates; car industry; Julia Gillard’s mining tax; the Coalition’s $1.5 billion commitment to Melbourne’s East West Link; Arrium.

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

TONY ABBOTT:

It’s great to be here in the electorate of Aston. I want to thank Alan Tudge for putting together the community morning tea that Margie and I have just been at. It’s always good to be with decent people of this country and the important thing, as far as I am concerned, is to have a government that doesn't make people’s difficulties worse and that’s the problem with the current government. Time and time again, this government, in an arrogant and out of touch way, has made the life of ordinary Australians harder.

The carbon tax is the most obvious example of that but there are 26 new and increased taxes under this government of which the carbon tax is the worst example and the trouble with the carbon tax is that it exemplifies the approach of this government: great big new tax, great big new bureaucracy, great big new slush fund, great big new handouts, but most of them are not going to where the pain really is.

Also today, we have had a cut in official interest rates and that’s good but the challenge for this Prime Minister and this Treasurer is to ensure that the cut in official interest rates is passed on to people who are doing it tough: homebuyers who are struggling with mortgage repayments, small businesses that are struggling with their business loans - these are the real people of this country and these are the people who it is the Government's duty to help and so far, we have had on 60 separate occasions, Treasurer Swan jaw-boning the banks about full pass-through but on more than 50 of those occasions, he has been ignored.

So, this is a real test for the Government. Is it seriously interested in the welfare of the forgotten families of Australia? If it was seriously interested in the families of Australia, there would be no carbon tax and we would have a government that was actually taken seriously by the banks and that delivered the kind of full pass-through that we nearly always got when John Howard and Peter Costello were in charge.

I am going to ask Alan Tudge to say a few words and obviously I will take a couple of questions.

ALAN TUDGE:

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Thanks very much, Tony, for coming out here to the electorate of Aston once again and meeting up with many local residents here. The single thing which people consistently raise with me is cost of living pressures and residents across this electorate and indeed across Melbourne have just received in the last couple of weeks their first electricity bill since the carbon tax was introduced. I had a resident approach me on Saturday morning at my mobile office who said that he no longer puts the heater on at night because he can't afford the electricity and that he often walks around at night with a torch rather than switching the lights on. Now, we know that two-thirds of the electricity increase here in Victoria is due to the carbon tax and this is with the carbon tax at $23 per tonne. It is legislated to go to $29 per tonne in two years’ time and, incredibly, it is forecast to go to $350 per tonne by 2050. The best thing we can do to help struggling families here in this electorate and across Melbourne is to get rid of the carbon tax.

TONY ABBOTT:

Ok, do we have any questions?

QUESTION:

So, should the Federal Government reveal where taxpayers' money has gone, with the example of Ford? Without more government subsidy what do you think will happen to Ford's future in Australia?

TONY ABBOTT:

I think that the best thing that the Government could do right now, if it wanted to help the motor industry, would be to drop the carbon tax. The carbon tax is adding some $400 to the cost of a locally-produced car. That’s a $400 per car price disadvantage that Australian cars face in competition with their imported rivals. So, if the Government was fair dinkum about helping the motor industry, dump the carbon tax.

QUESTION:

[inaudible]…the carbon tax wasn't there, then the banks would listen to Wayne Swan and pass on the full rate cut?

TONY ABBOTT:

No, what I am saying is that under the former government, the banks - on every occasion but one - fully passed on cuts in official interest rates. On four occasions out of five, the banks haven't fully passed on cuts in official interest rates under this government. This is a government which is not taken seriously by the banks in the way that the last Coalition government was.

QUESTION:

But is the Coalition's position that the banks should pass on the full value of the RBA's cut?

TONY ABBOTT:

Our position is that the families and the businesses of Australia are doing it tough. The Reserve Bank's position is that our economy is very soft. The Reserve Bank cut official interest rates yesterday because it wants that cut passed on. We want that cut passed on and if Treasurer Swan had any credibility, he would ensure that that happened.

QUESTION:

Would the Coalition put the same pressure on the banks to pass on the rate cut that Wayne Swan has?

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TONY ABBOTT:

Well, look at our record. Under the Coalition, on every single occasion bar one under the former Coalition government, official cuts were fully passed on.

QUESTION:

What changes do you think need to be made to the FOI system to avoid situations like we saw with the Financial Review and the Federal Government over Ford?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, I think we should have a government which is transparent and open and I think we should have a government that doesn’t do dodgy deals and the trouble with the current government is that it has provided large amounts of assistance and got almost nothing in return for it and that’s the problem. The problem is not assistance to the motor industry as such. The problem is ineffective assistance and that’s what we’ve got under this government, ineffective assistance; millions have been handed over, millions that haven’t apparently led to any better long-term future for the motor industry in this country.

QUESTION:

And what stage do you think the mining boom is at and what would fill its place in the Australian economy?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, all booms ultimately come to an end. The problem with this boom is that it’s been prematurely damaged by deliberate government policy. The whole point of the mining tax was to slow down the mining boom. Well, it’s worked fellas, it’s worked. The mining boom has ended prematurely, so it seems, because of bad policy from this government and what we need above all else, with the end well and truly in sight, is a government which gets the economic fundamentals right. That means getting its spending under control, getting taxes down and above all else, getting productivity up and that is exactly what the Australian people will get from the Coalition. Our plan for a stronger economy means getting spending down, getting taxes down, getting productivity up. That means economic growth and economic growth is the foundation of more jobs, higher wages and greater prosperity for Australian families.

QUESTION:

Will you have costed policies on things like Defence, the NDIS and NBN before the election?

TONY ABBOTT:

We will have our full fiscal position available for the public to see well before the next election and one of the things that the Australian public will see from us, which they haven’t seen from this government, is a commitment to the kind of infrastructure which is really going to make a difference. Now, we’ve got traffic chaos in Melbourne today because of problems with some of the tunnels. This just emphasises the need to get cracking with the transport projects that Melbourne so desperately needs. The most obvious one is the East West Link. The Coalition has committed $1.5 billion towards this link. We are confident that with $1.5 billion from the Commonwealth, the work can be underway within 18 months of a new government in Canberra at the latest. We want to see cranes over our cities. We want to see traffic moving around our cities. We want to see better public transport as well as better private transport and the best way to get that is with better infrastructure and modern infrastructure is precisely what people will see from an incoming Coalition government.

QUESTION:

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Will you submit those policies to the Parliamentary Budget Office?

TONY ABBOTT:

We will make appropriate use of the Parliamentary Budget Office but let's face it, the Parliamentary Budget Office has been much talked about but it still isn't fully up and running.

QUESTION:

Do you think that your association with Alan Jones will tarnish the Liberal Party's campaign in the lead-up to the next election?

TONY ABBOTT:

I think that I am going to do a very good job of telling the Australian people that under the Coalition they can expect lower taxes, better services, stronger borders and modern infrastructure. That’s my message every day between now and the next election and I will be taking advantage of every audience I can to get that message across.

QUESTION:

What did you make of John Laws’ interview last night?

TONY ABBOTT:

I am afraid I didn't see it.

QUESTION:

Do you have any thoughts on the Arrium deal?

TONY ABBOTT:

I think it is very important that interest we apply strong national interest tests to foreign investment. That’s been the case in the past and it should always be the case in the future.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, could you just give us an idea of your thoughts on the interest rates and what it might mean for Australia's economy?

TONY ABBOTT:

Sure. Everyone likes to see interest rates coming down. Home buyers want to see interest rates coming down, small businesspeople want to see interest rates coming down. Unfortunately, under this government we’ve seen lots of cuts in official interest rates but not so many cuts in the real interest rates that people are paying. It’s not reductions in the official interest rates that matter, it’s reductions in the rates you pay that matter and so far we have seen a lot of talk from Wayne Swan and Julia Gillard but not much real influence over the banks.

QUESTION:

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Wayne Swan says that Joe Hockey's remarks last night indicate that the Coalition thinks it is ok for the banks to withhold some of the rate cut?

TONY ABBOTT:

The Reserve Bank knows that our economy is sluggish. The Reserve Bank knows that this Government's policies are making economic activity less, not more. They have reduced interest rates because they want to see those rates passed on and the Coalition wants to see those cuts passed on.

Thanks very much.

[ends]