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Transcript of joint doorstop interview: Sydney: 3 November 2012: Defence Force families pin; GST; Minerals Resource Rent Tax; Afghanistan; ACT election

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Subjects: Defence Force families pin; GST; Minerals Resource Rent Tax; Afghanistan; ACT election

PM: I'm here this morning with the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon and also with Deborah O’Neill, the Member for Robertson.

I’m actually going to get Deb to tell the story of what has brought us here today, and then I’ll say a few words about the new Defence Force pins for Defence Force families. So Deb, over to you.

DEBORAH O’NEILL MP: Thank you Prime Minister.

On Remembrance Day a couple of years ago I met a man by the name of Milan Nikolic who had served in Rwanda, and he said he wanted to talk to me about an idea and he eventually came into my electorate office and put before me an idea about acknowledging exactly what it is that families give in terms of their service of the nation by keeping the home fires burning while our men and women are off serving.

Milan spoke about his family, and about a particular moment where he wasn’t in the best physical, mental shape, and his wife said we deserve a medal for what we have to put up with as a family sometimes.

And I think he’s a very frank and generous spirited man, and I think that really cut through. And his son said yes, a badge or a pin would be a good idea.

So Milan worked on that idea and when he came to see me with that idea, he was very, very encouraging and I thought that’s an opportunity for democracy to act.

So with that sense of an idea growing from a good heart and a real response to a real family’s issues in dealing with returning from service.

I was very happy to put forward the idea of a badge of respect, a badge of honour for the families who do so much and give so much while the loved one that they have is away serving.

So that’s Milan’s story, it’s from the kitchens of the Central Coast, and I know that families right across the nation who are now able to receive this badge will be delighted that Milan had the courage of his convictions to come forward and I’m delighted to see democracy in action.

Because when I presented the idea to the Prime Minister, I think she understood exactly as I did that there was a resonance that this was a truthful, honest and timely acknowledgement of the hundreds of thousands of people who’ve had to manage having mum or dad not there with them.

PM: Thanks Deb. Thank you very much to our Member for Robertson.

This was a fantastic idea and as soon as Deborah came and spoke to me about it, I believed we should get this done.

So today I am very proud to stand here with our Minister and to say that Defence Force families who have a loved one serving overseas will be eligible for this pin.

This pin will acknowledge for us, as a nation, we will be acknowledging to those family members that they too share in their loved one’s service.

They too pick up part of the burden. The burden of having your family member overseas and away from home. The burden of worrying about their safety. The burden of dealing with all of the moments of family life in the absence of a family member.

Whether that’s the birth of a new baby, or the first day a child goes to school, the day a child ends school, the day they get the all-important university offer or perhaps an apprenticeship, the day a family member’s sick.

All of these things are dealt with by our Defence Force families in the absence of loved ones, and so this pin recognises that sacrifice and that service.

It’s also a way of identifying to the general Australian community who in our nation has a loved one serving overseas, who we should be looking out for, we should be having a quiet word with, seeing if they’re going alright, if there’s anything that we can do to help.

So a way of the nation knowing who amongst our midst should be honoured by us and should be offered care and support.

I think this is a very exciting development; it’s been a great pleasure to meet with some Defence Force families today.

I’ll turn to the Minister to describe the way in which the pin will be distributed and eligibility for it, and then we’ll be happy to take your questions.

MINISTER SNOWDON: Thanks Prime Minister.

Can I just endorse all of your remarks about the importance of this pin firstly, and can I think Julie Blackburn from Defence Families of Australia for her great leadership role in working with us around the design of the pin.

The pin will be made available for those people operations and those on future operations. It will be done through the Defence Community Organisation, and it’s very important that people understand that there is an entitlement to get access to this pin.

So if people have someone who’s serving overseas and they’d like one of these pins, all they need to do is contact the Defence Community Organisation and they’ll be forwarded to them.

Can I thank you Prime Minister for today and the Member for Robertson for her great initiative.

It’s great to see us coming together as a result of a kitchen table discussion between a local member and a constituent, to come down and hear an announcement by the Prime Minister of this type, which will be very important to all Defence families.

PM: Thank you. We’re happy to take your questions.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, Nick Greiner’s GST review says it’s not raising revenue and that perhaps it should. Will your Government consider looking at it and raising the (inaudible)

PM: No we won’t. We won’t be raising the rate of the GST; we won’t be broadening the base of the GST. We asked Nick Greiner, along with former Victorian Premier John Brumby and assisted by others, to look at the question of the distribution of the GST.

So we will receive their report and analyse their report, but in the past I’ve ruled out any increase to the GST and I rule it out again today.

JOURNALIST: Do you support legal action against Rob Oakeshott over comments he made about the mining tax?

PM: Minister Ferguson will not be pursuing such action against Mr Oakeshott and he will be releasing a statement to that effect very shortly.

JOURNALIST: Were you aware he was taking this action at the time?

PM: Minister will be releasing a statement shortly. I had the opportunity to speak to Minister Ferguson about this matter this morning.

Minister Ferguson is a very honest man with a great deal of pride in his reputation for honesty and that’s appropriate.

He was therefore offended by comments that he saw in the Sydney Morning Herald, an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, but he does not believe that pursuing legal action is the appropriate way forward and he will be releasing a statement to that effect shortly.

JOURNALIST: Has this damaged the Government’s relationship with Rob Oakeshott?

PM: We’ll keep working with Mr Oakeshott as we work with members across the parliament to get the job done that the nation needs.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, there was a teenager in Afghanistan that wandered onto a live-firing range. Do you have any more details on that and why we have people walking on live-firing ranges?

PM: This is obviously a very sad matter. It is going to be the subject of an investigation, and so I don’t want to make comments about it until full details are available. But obviously our thoughts are with the person involved.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: We have implemented the mining tax that we believe is the right one for the nation. I worked on that directly with Martin Ferguson and with Wayne Swan. We agreed it with some of the nation’s biggest mining companies.

So we have enacted the Minerals Resource Rent Tax we think is appropriate, and consequently we won’t be taking advice from the Greens political party or anybody else on this question.

JOURNALIST: Are you pleased with the eventual outcome of the ACT election?

PM: I am pleased to be able to congratulate the Labor Party there, and to congratulate specifically Katy Gallagher.

She has been a fantastic leader of the ACT. She’s a very valued colleague when the Council of Australian Governments meets, and I’m very glad that she has been returned to leadership in the ACT.

I think that’s great for the people of the ACT, and she’ll continue to be a very strong voice for them as she deals with the federal government and as she puts their case at the Council of Australian Governments table.

JOURNALIST: With the Labor Government working closer than ever with the Greens Party, is this going to change how Labor policy is at an ACT or at a federal level?

PM: Certainly feel free to speak to the Chief Minister of the ACT about her approach. As to my approach, we’re a Labor Government delivering Labor policies and plans for the nation’s future.

Thank you very much.