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Transcript of Interview with Grant Goldman: Radio 2SM, Sydney : 19 August 2013: Labor's debt and deficits; the Coalition's commitment to abolish the mining tax; the Coalition's commitment to paid parental leave; Kevin Rudd's negative politics; the Coalition's commitment to upgrade Brookvale Oval



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

19 August 2013

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR, INTERVIEW WITH GRANT GOLDMAN, RADIO 2SM SUPER NETWORK

Subjects: Costings; Labor’s debt and deficits; the Coalition’s commitment to abolish the mining tax; the Coalition’s commitment to paid parental leave; Kevin Rudd’s negative politics; the Coalition’s commitment to upgrade Brookvale Oval.

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

GRANT GOLDMAN:

Good morning Tony.

TONY ABBOTT:

Good morning Grant.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

On one hand you have them saying, ok we want you to release costings and then they’re accusing you of $70 billion worth of cuts. So, you haven’t released any costings anyway.

TONY ABBOTT:

It’s a very confused campaign from the Labor Party, Grant - an incredibly confused campaign and what we want to do is build a stronger economy so that everyone can get ahead and of course that means Government has to live within its means as families and as businesses have to, but as we are going through this campaign, we’re announcing new policies and for all of the big new policies, we’ve also announced the savings that we will make to pay for them. For instance, the tax cuts without the carbon tax and the company tax cut that we’ve announced today are paid for by savings that we announced in the Budget Reply speech and earlier in the year and the fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme which will mean that every working mum is at least $5,000 better off. That’s paid for by a modest levy on big business. So, all the way through, we are announcing how our major policies are going to be paid for.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

Just quickly then, you’ve signalled all your policies and savings plans won’t be out until the last week of campaign, it won’t be the night before, surely?

TONY ABBOTT:

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No, it certainly won’t be that, that’s what Labor does and we’re not going to do that, but obviously if we’re going to be announcing further policies right up until the last week of the campaign, we won’t be able to give you a total fiscal position until then, but what you can be very confident of Grant is that the fiscal position, the overall budgetary position will always be better under the Coalition. Look at our record. We inherited a $10 billion Budget black hole and turned that into consistent $20 billion surpluses. We inherited $96 billion worth of Commonwealth debt and we turned that into about $50 billion in the bank.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

Now, having said that you’ve got a harder job here it seems with the rumour being there’s about $300 billion in debt. Do you have any idea how that’s being serviced at the moment and who in actual fact we borrow from?

TONY ABBOTT:

Grant, a lot of the money that we’re borrowing is from overseas and at the moment, we’re paying $10 billion a year to service the debt and the debt is skyrocketing, it’s not a rumour, it’s a fact, it’s skyrocketing towards $400 billion. That was in the Pre-election Fiscal Outlook Statement which came out just a few days ago. So, look the budgetary position is in a pretty bad way and in the medium term what we’ve got to do is build a stronger economy and that’s what will happen under the Coalition. We’ll build a stronger economy so that everyone can get ahead and part of building a stronger economy is cutting unnecessary taxes, abolishing unnecessary taxes. That’s why the carbon tax goes, the mining tax goes, the company tax rate is reduced and we’ll give small business in particular $1 billion a year in red tape reductions.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

That mining tax went anyway because it didn’t actually get any tax.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, it’s still there. You see the problem with the mining tax Grant is that it’s a lose-lose tax because it’s not raising any substantial revenue, but it’s done a terrible job of discouraging investment and the mining companies have got to maintain a very substantial bureaucracy and they’ve got to do an enormous amount of paper work to account, to separately account for the mining tax.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

I’ll ask you this question. Is the mining boom over because I’ve spoken to a lot of people in Western Australia? I lived and worked there for quite some time so I know the miners pretty well. They say that whilst it’s been a small drop, it’s still going along pretty nicely.

TONY ABBOTT:

If to the extent that the mining boom is over, this Government has helped to kill it with its mining tax, it’s carbon tax, its red and green tape, abolishing things like the workplace relations policeman, the Australian Building and Construction Commission. I think the mining boom could come again Grant, but it can only come again under a Government which gets it and which abolishes all these unnecessary taxes.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

It might be pointed out there are other places in the world where minerals can be mined. We have 92 per cent of all the worlds known minerals, I know that, but there are other countries and South Africa is probably taking advantage of that right now.

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TONY ABBOTT:

Exactly right Grant. All sorts of places in Africa in Asia, Mongolia for instance is looking to become a major coal and iron ore provider. So, there are lots of other places where the minerals can be had if we price ourselves out of the market and that’s where these unnecessary and at times extravagant taxes are doing us enormous amounts of damage and that’s what will go if there’s a change of government on September the 7th.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

Can we just go back to the paid parental leave? Working women getting 26 weeks leave on full pay up to a cap of $75,000 with each baby born from July 1, 2015. There’s a bit of negativity coming from small business owners there this morning. They say it could be difficult for them, because they’ve still got to go out and hire somebody and maybe it’s just a little bit too generous?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well Grant, this is a very pro small business policy because small business don’t pay the levy. They don’t administer the scheme, but their staff do get access to it. There is a lot of mixed information about this paid parental leave scheme and the Labor Party as usual will be spreading lies and distortions about it, but let me make it crystal clear, big business pay the levy, not small business. Small business in fact get a tax cut.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

All right, so anyone in small business that has somebody wants parental leave and it’s not a great cost to them?

TONY ABBOTT:

No cost to them. No cost to them. It’s paid and administered by the Family Assistance Office. So, it’s not a cost to small business. In no way is it a cost to small business. The Government’s scheme is administered by small business. Our scheme is administered by the Family Assistance Office.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

Can I ask you then, what would you regard as small business? What would be the cut-off point where a small business became a large business?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, for the purposes of paid parental leave, if you’ve got a company tax bill over $5 million a year, then you pay the levy, but I ask you Grant how many small businesses have got a taxable company income of $5 million?

GRANT GOLDMAN:

I wish I did.

TONY ABBOTT:

Exactly right mate. Exactly right. So look I really want to stress to your small business listeners that our paid parental scheme is all upside for them.

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GRANT GOLDMAN:

I tell you what, that makes it crystal clear. Now, there’s been a bit of a negative campaign underway even though Kevin Rudd did say there would be no negativity in this campaign. He certainly resorted to it in recent days with some pretty negative stuff which I think with some people might have a bit of traction.

TONY ABBOTT:

I’m not so sure about that Grant because Kevin Rudd made an enormous play when he came back to the Prime Ministership of wanting to be positive and wanting to be above all of this. With all my heart he said, I want us to get back to looking on the bright side and doing good things and yet he has constantly been negative. He can’t open his mouth without attacking the Coalition and indeed attacking me and Labor’s ad campaign is exclusively negative. That’s because they have no record to defend and nothing positive to say about our future.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

There you go. Yesterday I was watching you at Brookvale Oval. I was there and you were making the announcement of the $10 million towards the $30 million we need. It’s something that’s really been needed for a long time and there has been promises in the past. How quickly would a new Coalition government be able to stump up the cash, because we’ve got to get it happening. You saw it yourself, the place is falling apart.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well look it’s basically a 1970s stadium and every other stadium in the metropolitan area has been upgraded very substantially. It’s long overdue.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

Well Albanese gave us $10 million promise as well. At the same time $30 million for a centre of excellence in south Sydney.

TONY ABBOTT:

That’s right. I was grateful that at least he acknowledged there was a need here, but it certainly was long overdue. Grant, look as soon as the club is ready to go ahead, the money’s available.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

And that’s what we like to hear. Now I was a bit worried about your passing. You look like you could be twisting your knee, maybe you need a little bit of coaching there as far as… because you were putting yourself in the half five eighth position there passing the ball and probably got to work on the traction that you get with your knee otherwise you’re going to end up in hospital.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well thanks for that Grant. Look, it was good to have Matt Ballin and Steve Matai there to offer me some tips, but unfortunately I still pass like a front rower. That’s my problem.

GRANT GOLDMAN:

You were a prop in Rugby weren’t you?

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TONY ABBOTT:

I was. I was a Rugby Union prop...

GRANT GOLDMAN:

So at some stage, you were actually better looking than this.

TONY ABBOTT:

Stop teasing me!

GRANT GOLDMAN:

All the best. We’ll talk to you soon.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thanks so much Grant.

[ends]