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Transcript of joint doorstop interview: Melbourne: 20 February 2013: The Coalition's positive plans for Australia's future; the Coalition's infrastructure commitments to Melbourne's East West Link, Sydney's WestConnex and Brisbane's Gateway Motorway; Julia Gillard's carbon tax; Marius Kloppers; the Government's failed border protection policies; Bill Shorten; Kevin Rudd; Labor's faceless men; the Greens.



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JOH

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

20 February 2013

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR JOINT DOORSTOP INTERVIEW WITH MRS. SOPHIE MIRABELLA MHR, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INNOVATION, INDUSTRY AND SCIENCE AND MR MICHAEL SUKKAR, LIBERAL CANDIDATE FOR DEAKIN,

MELBOURNE

Subjects: The Coalition’s positive plans for Australia’s future; the Coalition’s infrastructure commitments to Melbourne’s East West Link, Sydney’s WestConnex and Brisbane’s Gateway Motorway; Julia Gillard’s carbon tax; Marius Kloppers; the Government’s failed border protection policies; Bill Shorten; Kevin Rudd; Labor’s faceless men; the Greens.

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

TONY ABBOTT:

It’s terrific to be here at Alfatron here in the electorate of Deakin. I want to say thank you to the staff, to Fedia Slussareff, his family and his team for making Michael Sukkar, Sophie Mirabella and myself so welcome in this factory. This is a good example of how Australian manufacturing can survive - high quality, low volume, flexible, adaptable and creative. This is the future for Australian manufacturing but this business, like so many businesses right around our country, is under pressure because of government policies.

Now, our job as a Coalition is to make things better for the people of Australia. Our job as a Coalition is to be a strong and positive alternative. We can have a stronger and more prosperous economy for a more safe and secure Australia and every day between now and polling day, that is my mission - it is Michael Sukkar’s mission, it is Sophie Mirabella's mission - to reassure the people of Australia that things can be different and better.

Under the Coalition, the carbon tax will go. Under the Coalition there will be a bonfire of regulations and a $1 billion cut to the red tape costs of business. Under the Coalition, we will have fair dinkum anti-dumping rules in place so that our manufacturers are competing on a level playing field and under the Coalition there will be a root and branch review of competition policy so that large business and small businesses are competing equally and fairly against each other.

So, I do offer the people of Australia new hope. The Coalition does offer the small businesses of Australia in particular, a fair go and a better deal. We have got great people in this country. What we need to give them are the conditions in which they can flourish. We know they can do it. We just have to make it possible for them.

I’m going to ask Sophie to say a few words and then I will ask Michael to talk about the local area.

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Soph?

SOPHIE MIRABELLA:

Australia has smart and innovative manufacturers who are being slugged by job-destroying policies like the carbon tax. Only today we see reports that Arrium is flagging more job cuts which goes to show no compensation for the carbon tax is effective. It is like a band aid over a bullet wound and it is hurting jobs in manufacturing. The so-called jobs package announced on the weekend by the Prime Minister is only a rehash of past policies. If they couldn't deliver on jobs policies in 2010, 2011 and 2012, then they can't deliver today; while at the same time gutting money out of R & D, out of innovation, out of businesses, making the decision to invest their own money in being smart, with some reports saying the Prime Minister's announcement actually cut $600 million out of the R & D tax incentive.

TONY ABBOTT:

Michael?

MICHAEL SUKKAR:

Thanks, Tony. Well, firstly I would like to thank Fedia and the team at Alfatron for having us here today and one again I would like to thank you Tony for taking such an interest in manufacturing in Deakin and in small business in general. I have been on the ground for eight months now and speaking to small businesses and the community alike. They are very concerned about this divided and dysfunctional government that is not focused on them and that’s why I am so happy to have Tony here today providing our positive plans for Deakin and hopefully trying to provide some confidence again for the small businesses and people of Deakin. Thanks again, Tony.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thanks so much, Michael. Ok, do we have any questions?

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, what are your thoughts on Marius Kloppers’ departure from BHP?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, Marius has been the steward of BHP for about six years now. BHP is a great Australian success story and obviously Marius has been a very important part of that for the last six years. So, I understand that CEOs do eventually move on, but I think he can be proud of the work he has done.

QUESTION:

What can you promise you would deliver in funding promises for a first term?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, obviously we are going to get rid of the carbon tax, we’re going to get rid of the mining tax, we are going to stop the boats, we are going to get the budget back into the black. These are the core business of government. We have got to have national security. We have got to have economic security. We’ve got to have frugal, prudent, steady, financial management. So, these are the absolute minimum that a Coalition government will deliver but we are also going to get the East West Link built here in Melbourne. We are going to get WestConnex built in Sydney. We are going to get the Gateway Motorway Extension built in Brisbane. We have got a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme. We are going to have a full commission of

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audit go through government. We are going to revitalise work for the dole. We are going to have a Green Army. Look, we have a massive series of policy commitments but in good time before the next election, we will tell you exactly when everything is going to happen and exactly how it is going to be paid for.

QUESTION:

But you’ve repeatedly said you can't guarantee how you will pay for it; you’ve repeatedly said that.

TONY ABBOTT:

I said I couldn't put a strict timeframe on restoring the private health insurance rebate and I said I couldn’t put a strict timeframe on restoring the $109 million that the Gillard Government has cut out of Victorian public hospitals but I can tell you what, within a few months the carbon tax will be gone, within a few months the mining tax will be gone. The boats will be stopped and our first priority in terms of the budget is to ensure that the country is living within its means.

QUESTION:

Do you plan to move a no confidence motion when the Parliament resumes on March 12? Considering what the Greens said yesterday, aren’t you obliged to do so in the national interest considering the agreement has been torn up?

TONY ABBOTT:

It is interesting that the leader of the Greens said yesterday that she just couldn't trust the Government and she couldn't trust the Prime Minister. But she also said remarkably that despite not being able to trust the Government and the Prime Minister, she would still support the Government and the Prime Minister. What this indicates is that nothing's really changed. We got the carbon tax and we got the border protection chaos because of the alliance between the Greens and the Labor Party. Nothing has really changed. The only way to get rid of the tragic legacy of the Labor/Green alliance is to change the government.

QUESTION:

On the carbon tax, have you had any discussions with any of the independent senators about dropping the carbon pricing?

TONY ABBOTT:

We want to get rid of the carbon tax. That is what we want to do. We want to get rid of the carbon tax. It is a bad tax based on a lie. The only way to really give Australian manufacturing and Australian employment a shot in the arm it needs is to get rid of the carbon tax, because let's never forget, the carbon tax damages our economy without helping our environment.

QUESTION:

But have you spoken to any independent senators about this?

TONY ABBOTT:

The independents have supported the carbon tax every step of the way. The reason why the independents went with the Prime Minister after the last election was because the Prime Minister was prepared to break her solemn pledge to the Australian people in order to stay in the office by agreeing with the Greens and independents.

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QUESTION:

Are your promises only to take things away?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, if we can get rid of the carbon tax we have affordable energy. If we can get rid of the mining tax we have a much better environment for investment and jobs. If we can get rid of all of these unnecessary regulations, again, we’ll have a much better environment for business investment, for employment, for prosperity. If we can build the infrastructure of the 21st century, again, we have better economic circumstances but we also have better social circumstances because the families of Australia spend less time caught in traffic jams, more time with each other or productively employed.

QUESTION:

Does Gary Humphries have your support for the ACT Senate spot?

TONY ABBOTT:

I support all of my team and I’ve made it very clear that while I absolutely endorse competition and choice inside our party, Gary has been a fine member of my frontbench and I very much look forward to him continuing.

QUESTION:

Do you want your frontbench to stay the same in a Coalition government?

TONY ABBOTT:

I’ve said that all of my frontbenchers can expect to be doing the same job in government as they are now and certainly let me say that Sophie Mirabella is doing a terrific job as the Shadow Minister for Industry and I’m looking forward to having her as the Industry Minister in a Coalition government.

QUESTION:

What do you think of Bill Shorten as a Labor leader? Do you think he has the potential to rally the union movement behind him and worsen the problems for the Coalition?

TONY ABBOTT:

I think Bill has a pretty high opinion of himself; I guess most politicians do! Look, I’m not really in the business of trying to say who should and shouldn’t be leading the Labor Party. I think they need to get their house in order because the people of Australia expect a strong and stable government. They don’t expect a soap opera in Canberra. The tragedy at the moment is that the Labor Party is not focused on bringing down the Budget, it’s focused on bringing down a Prime Minister, in some cases; it’s focused on itself and its own survival. It’s not focused on you, the Australian people.

QUESTION:

But are you concerned that if Kevin Rudd was made leader that it would present more of a threat to the Liberal Party winning the next election?

TONY ABBOTT:

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My focus is always on doing my job. My focus is always on the Coalition doing our job as well as we can and really it doesn’t matter who we face, our job is the same. Our job is to hold a bad government to account and to be a strong, stable, credible alternative and the tragedy at the moment is that what’s happening in the Labor Party at the moment has nothing to do with the Australian people and everything to do with the faceless men who run the Labor Party. It was the faceless men who got rid of Kevin Rudd, now the faceless men are trying to work out whether their future - not yours, their future - is best served by sticking with Julia Gillard, swapping to Kevin Rudd, or coming up with someone else. But frankly, we’ve seen enough of this kind of government. We’ve seen enough of government by the faceless men. Let’s get rid of this mob. Let’s have a new start for our country.

QUESTION:

Will you negotiate with the Greens over a possibility of a preference deal for Adam Bandt’s seat in Melbourne?

TONY ABBOTT:

Preference decisions are made by the party organisation, they’re made much closer to an election. If the Prime Minister is to be believed, an election is still many months away and in good time before the next election people will know what we’re going to do. But what we will never do, never do, is sell out our principles in negotiating with other people and this is why this government has been so compromised from the start. This is why the Prime Minister herself has been so damaged, because she was prepared to say one thing before an election to win votes and then did the opposite after the election to hold her job, and the Australian people don’t want that. The Australian people expect politicians to go to them on a clear policy platform and they expect them to stick with those policies and that’s what this government hasn’t done.

[ends]