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Transcript of doorstop interview: Sydney: 17 January 2013: The Coalition's positive plans for Australia; unemployment; AUKMIN; bushfires; border protection and gun crime



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

17 January 2013

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR DOORSTOP INTERVIEW, SYDNEY

Subjects: The Coalition’s positive plans for Australia; unemployment; AUKMIN; bushfires; border protection and gun crime.

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

TONY ABBOTT:

It’s great to be here in the New South Wales Parliament. This is the mother of Australian Parliaments and it’s an apt setting for the Howard lecture which has just been delivered by William Hague. It was an honour to be involved in this morning's events at the start of what is inevitably an election year and a year when the Coalition will be increasingly detailing our positive plans for a strong and prosperous economy to give us a safe and secure Australia. In the end it all comes down to the economy. If you don't have a strong economy, it is very difficult to have the strong communities that every Australian wants and deserves. If you don't have a strong economy, it is very hard to have the effective government services that all Australians want and deserve. If you don't have a strong economy, it is very hard to have the clean environment that all Australians want and deserve. If you don't have a strong economy it is very hard to have the secure borders that all Australians want and deserve.

That is why at the heart of our positive plans are plans to get government spending down, to get taxes down and to get productivity up, because if government lives within its means, if taxes are lower, if productivity is higher and if we deepen our engagement with Asia, we will have the strong economic growth that we need in order to give Australians the kind of life that they're entitled to expect. Now just on the subject of economic management, no government can be good for jobs if it is not good for the economy and as Julia Gillard herself has said, you can't run the country if you can't manage the budget. This is a government which simply can't manage the budget. This is a government which has failed its own economic test. It is no wonder that jobs growth is weak, that unemployment is trending up when you have got a government which simply cannot deliver when it comes to budget management.

On no fewer than 200 separate occasions, the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have promised a budget surplus. It is not going to happen. They have failed their own test of economic management and that’s why we are getting the kind of economic weakness which we're currently seeing.

QUESTION:

What do you make of the rise in unemployment rate in December?

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TONY ABBOTT:

I share the concerns of workers right around Australia that their jobs are less secure than they were. One of the very important tasks of government is to reassure workers that their jobs are secure, to reassure business, particularly small business, that the economy is strong. But it is impossible to give that reassurance when the government has failed to deliver on its repeated pledges to get the budget back into surplus. Instead of giving us a surplus, Wayne Swan has given us the four biggest deficits in Australia's history and he is going to give us another one.

QUESTION:

Do you think the government is directly to blame for the rise in the unemployment rate?

TONY ABBOTT:

A government which can't get its own house in order is not good for anyone else's house. A government which can't get its own spending under control, can't deliver the kind of strong economic management which is necessary if we're to have strong jobs growth.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, the British Defence secretary flagged a higher involvement with Australia on Defence, particularly where it comes to technology and possibly building some of that technology in Australia. How would an Abbott government which has proposed restoring funding in the defence budget deal with Britain in terms of that technology?

TONY ABBOTT:

Britain is our oldest ally. In some respects at least it is our greatest friend. We have many friends and allies. Obviously the United States and we have friendships with the countries of our region. We have very important trade relationships with many countries but we will always have a very strong defence and general relationship with Britain. As Tony Blair and John Howard established the AUKMIN talks, the current government both in the United Kingdom and in Australia has continued those AUKMIN talks and as far as I am concerned they should be a permanent feature of Australia's foreign relationships.

QUESTION:

Talking about the bushfires now. What has been your involvement previously but more importantly ahead - what are you planning to do?

TONY ABBOTT:

I’m a serving member of the Davidson brigade and I will do the ordinary duties of a member of that brigade. Now, I was deployed with a Davidson crew for a couple of days down to the Deans Gap fire behind Nowra and work commitments permitting, I guess I’d be available for other deployments in the same way that 70,000 Rural Fire Service volunteers right around the state are. As far as I am aware, my brigade has not currently been asked to provide members for deployments to fires in New South Wales.

QUESTION:

The Prime Minister made some comments about a federal role in suburban violence. Is that an election stunt or is there a genuine role for the federal government?

TONY ABBOTT:

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Well, if the Prime Minister was fair dinkum, surely she would not have cut some $60 million out of our border protection budget. This is a government which couldn't stop the boats and it can't stop the guns either, it seems. There’s been, sure, some seizures of guns but a lot of guns are getting through the net and the tragedy is that under this government, less than ten per cent of air cargoes coming into this country are screened because of cutbacks, whereas under the former government, well over 50 per cent of our air cargoes were being screened. If you don't screen the cargoes you can't stop the guns. That is the problem. This government is not screening the cargoes.

QUESTION:

The latest Newspoll shows Prime Minister Gillard is fighting back. Is that a concern for you?

TONY ABBOTT:

No one ever said it was easy to defeat an incumbent government but every day of this year I will be pointing out that we have an incompetent and untrustworthy government up against an opposition which has positive plans for a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia.

QUESTION:

Is this the year Mr Abbott that both sides take personality out of the debate when it comes to the election?

TONY ABBOTT:

As far as I’m concerned, we have always been focusing on the issues and I think every time the government resorts to personality politics, every time the government resorts to the relentless negativity that we have seen from them, it just shows that they have no positive plans for the future of our country.

[ends]