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Transcript of doorstop interview: Tanunda: 25 January 2013: Tour Down Under; Australia Day; multiculturalism; Nova Peris; republic debate



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JOH

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

25 January 2013

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR DOORSTOP INTERVIEW TANUNDA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Subjects: Tour Down Under; Australia Day; multiculturalism; Nova Peris; republic debate.

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

TONY ABBOTT:

It was an honour to participate in the Bupa community ride here this morning. It’s great to be riding for the Cancer Council of South Australia, the Ride for a Reason. I was riding in memory of Judith Adams, who tragically lost her battle with cancer last year. She was a well-respected, much loved member of the Senate and of the Coalition party room and I was thrilled to be supported by her sons towards raising money for the South Australian Cancer Council.

This is a marvellous community event. About 6,000 registered riders, all out here to promote cycling, all out here to raise money for some very good causes. This is what makes our country special. It’s important on the eve of Australia Day to remember what it is that makes our country special. Yes, I celebrate our diversity but even more I celebrate our unity and the way Australians so love to pull together for a good cause and that’s what an event like this is all about.

Of course, the political year is about to kick off and on Sunday I will be officially launching a Coalition mini-campaign. We have positive plans for Australia’s future and that’s what our mini-campaign will be all about - our positive plan to build a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia. I think the Australian people are yearning for a better way. We are a great country currently let down by a bad government but this election year gives us a great chance to change that for the better.

QUESTION:

In relation to Scott Morrison’s speech in London, he said Labor’s multicultural policy is moving in the wrong direction. Do you agree with that?

TONY ABBOTT:

I think that Australia is a model society and I think that over the years the multicultural nature of our country has been an inspiration to so many other places which haven’t managed to establish the harmony that we have here in Australia.

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QUESTION:

What’s your response to allegations of a smear campaign being run against Nova Peris by some of the Labor members?

TONY ABBOTT:

I’m just not going to get into that at all. I think it is overdue for the Australian Labor Party to have an indigenous representative in the national parliament. Let’s face it - it’s more than 40 years since the Coalition put Senator Neville Bonner into the parliament but as far as I’m concerned what this whole episode raises is just more questions about the judgement of the Prime Minister and I can fully understand why so many Labor MP’s are today wondering whether their own jobs are safe. This is a Prime Minister who deals ruthlessly with anyone who is standing in the way, whether it be Kevin Rudd, whether it be former Speaker Harry Jenkins, now Senator Trish Crossin.

QUESTION:

Wayne Swan and Geoff Gallop have raised the republican issue in relation to the cricket. Do you think, or would you consider a plebiscite in the next term if you were elected?

TONY ABBOTT:

I think people expect that the Treasurer of this country to be getting on with the job of running our economy instead of raising red herrings. It’s hardly a month since the Treasurer surreptitiously dumped his promise to achieve a surplus. This was a promise that he and the Prime Minister have made on more than 200 separate occasions and now it is dumped. Well, as the Prime Minister herself said you can’t run the country if you can’t manage its budget. This is a government which has failed its own test of economic competence and I think the Australian people want the Treasurer to focus on his job not on distractions.

QUESTION:

Do you think that article in fact made any sense?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I think that the Treasurer should be focussed on his job. That’s what he should be doing.

QUESTION:

Under a Coalition Government will you look to reform industrial relation laws?

TONY ABBOTT:

We have said that there are some issues that Labor’s Fair Work Act, there’s a relevancy issue, flexibility issue, above all else there is a productivity issue. We do need to address these but any changes that the Coalition makes will be careful, cautious, responsible and they will be within the framework of the existing act.

QUESTION:

Do you have any concerns about right of entry laws on work sites?

TONY ABBOTT:

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I am certainly interested in what people in the community have to say on this issue and our policy will be carefully crafted to address real problems. That’s what we want to do, we want to solve problems, not apply text book solutions to the real life of our country.

QUESTION:

Do you think the right of entry laws need to be toughened up?

TONY ABBOTT:

As I said I am happy to listen to what people in the community are telling me and we will be announcing our workplace policy in good time before the election.

QUESTION:

In relation to Nova Peris and the rumours circulating in relation to an investigation that she was apparently cleared in. Do you think she needs to explain what has happened?

TONY ABBOTT:

Again, I’m going to leave all of those issues to the Labor Party which is on the verge it seems of picking her for the Senate. What this issue does above all else is yet again raise questions about the Prime Ministers’ judgement.

QUESTION:

Do you think the Tour Down Under should stay in South Australia? Because the Victorians have been trying to poach it for many years.

TONY ABBOTT:

I think it’s a great event. I think it would be a great event wherever it was, but I think it is particularly [inaudible] in South Australia.

[ends]