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Transcript of interview with Paul Murray: Radio 2UE, Sydney: 20 February 2012: the Greens and the ALP; Real Solutions plan; the Coalition's plan for better transparency and accountability of registered organisations



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

20 February 2013

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR, INTERVIEW WITH PAUL MURRAY, RADIO 2UE, SYDNEY

Subjects: The Greens and the ALP; Real Solutions plan; the Coalition’s plan for better transparency and accountability of registered organisations.

E&OE……………………….…………………………………………………………………

PAUL MURRAY:

Mr Abbott, good morning.

TONY ABBOTT:

Morning Paul.

PAUL MURRAY:

You’ve got to say as far as break ups go, the one between the Greens and the Labor Party isn’t exactly very convincing.

TONY ABBOTT:

I think that’s a fair point. We’ve still got the carbon tax and we’ve still got the border protection chaos and the Greens have got everything they wanted from this government and this Prime Minster. So, look, really nothing changes. We’ve still got a very bad government and the public are still very keen to put an end to minority government and I hope that’s what happens when the election comes.

PAUL MURRAY:

To me, the two ultimate tests about whether or not they truly do want to break up is firstly, obviously, they need to not prop the government up and have a guaranteed number inside the Parliament which basically has been there since day one and then two, they need to guarantee that they won’t preference each other because the reality is, a vote for Labor is a vote for the Greens. A vote for the Greens is a vote for Labor.

TONY ABBOTT:

I think they’re both very fair points and I think as far as the public is concerned, the damage has been done. We got the carbon tax which Bob Brown foisted on Julia Gillard. We’ve got the border protection chaos because the Greens have always taken the view that, essentially, if you could get here, you could stay here.

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So we’ve had the impact of the Labor-Green Government and all the words yesterday really mean nothing. I mean sure, Christine Milne said she didn’t trust the Prime Minister. I don’t think anyone much does at the moment but the impact of this alliance sadly lives on.

PAUL MURRAY:

The opinion polls are clearly very good, preferred Prime Minister, huge spikes after a terrible week in Parliament and particularly this beat up about drugs in sport but this inevitably leads to all the leadership chat in and around Julia Gillard. Put simply, who would you prefer to face at the next election? Kevin Rudd, a bloke that you have pushed out of office before or Julia Gillard who basically the opinion polls say all you need to do is get out of bed and you’d beat her?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well Paul, I don’t pay all that much attention to opinion polls because it’s never easy to win an election from opposition, never easy. I think oppositions are always in a sense the underdog. So look, I’ll be working very, very hard every day between now and polling day regardless of who the leader of the Labor Party is and I’ll leave that essentially to them. I think the public though, are thinking to themselves as they watch this soap opera, look, why are they so focused on themselves when they should be focused on putting together a budget?

PAUL MURRAY:

Do you expect to be facing Julia Gillard at the federal election?

TONY ABBOTT:

Paul, that’s really a matter for the Labor Party. As I said, I’ll be doing my job regardless of who my opponent is and I think the government should do its job and its job right now is to focus on preparing a budget. We had Treasurer Swan give an impassioned address to the Australian Workers Union yesterday and he didn’t even mention the deficit. Well, I can understand why he’s embarrassed about the deficit but really this is a government that should be focused on the budget. It shouldn’t be focused on playing politics internally.

PAUL MURRAY:

He also loves comparisons to America and American politics. He invoked the words and lyrics of Bruce Springsteen last year. Now he’s comparing the modern Liberal Party to the Tea Party in the United States and anyone with an ability to Google would understand how untrue that is but what does it say about Wayne Swan that he thinks the people opposite him, the people leading the opinion polls are basically in the same sort of absonant and extreme position as the Tea Party in the US?

TONY ABBOTT:

I think these are just more desperate smears from a desperate government and as I said, I think the public wants a government to get on with the job of governing and I think the public want the opposition to be offering a credible alternative and that’s what we’ve been doing. For the last few weeks we’ve had our Real Solutions plan out there before the public. I think the public have warmed to the fact that they are actually getting some positive plans from us for a stronger and more prosperous economy and a safe and secure Australia. I think the public just want all these games over. They want a strong and stable government that has policies which are affordable, achievable and sensible.

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PAUL MURRAY:

All of the amateur linguistic experts in the Canberra Press Gallery, I couldn’t even get through pronouncing that, anyway, have tried to have a look at what you said yesterday about how the Opposition will speak with an Australian accent. It’s pretty obvious to me what you meant but let’s make it clear what do you mean by saying the Opposition will speak with a clear Australian accent?

TONY ABBOTT:

I was trying to make the point that this claim that we were somehow channelling the Tea Party was just nonsense that is all I was trying to do. We are an Australian Party, with Australian solutions to Australian problems. Now, obviously we are a very diverse community and that is a good thing but all of our political programme is made of Australia.

PAUL MURRAY:

Last one here, we have this huge union conference at the moment. There is endless live coverage of Paul Howes saying he has got the Prime Minister’s back. We’ve got Wayne Swan, Julia Gillard the day before. I would think that the biggest issue that Australians have with the union movement is how serious are they about union corruption. You’ve put these laws before the Parliament, we spoke about them last week. The true test of just how serious the union movement is about engaging with real people is to understand that there is a problem, there was a problem at the HSU, there was a problem a long time ago with the AWU, clearly unless they are going to back proper changes to the governance of unions then they are not serious.

TONY ABBOTT:

That’s well said Paul and of course the Coalition is not compromised in the way that the Labor Party is on this point and that is why we think that dodgy union officials should suffer the same kind of consequences that dodgy company officials suffer when they do wrong. If you commit the same crime you should face the same penalty. At the moment if you are a dishonest union official basically it is about a $10,000 fine for the individual and a $50,000 fine for the organisation, by contrast dishonest company officials can face up to $340,000 in fines and five years in jail. So, the same punishment for the same offence should be our rule. We should have a level playing field for wrong doing and that is one of the specific policy commitments that the Coalition has made.

PAUL MURRAY:

I agree. Mr Abbott nice to talk to you. We’ll talk again as the days roll on.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thank you so much Paul.

[ends]