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Transcript of interview with Daryl Manzie: Territory FM, [Darwin]: 23 August 2013: Coalition's commitment to northern Australia; Kevin Rudd's FBT hit on cars; and the Australia/US alliance.



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

23 August 2013

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR, INTERVIEW WITH DARYL MANZIE, TERRITORY FM

Subjects: The Coalition’s commitment to northern Australia; Kevin Rudd’s FBT hit on cars; Australia/US alliance.

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

DARYL MANZIE:

Good morning to you Tony.

TONY ABBOTT:

G’day Daryl, how are you?

DARYL MANZIE:

I’m extremely well mate. I mean we’ve had a bit of rain last night which freshens things up. They tell me the temperature is going to be nice and dry over the weekend and just a little bit chilly for us. So, I’m looking forward to a good weekend, but you, you haven’t got time to even cast an eye on the weather here. You’re moving around and boy this is the busiest time over the next few years for you.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, that’s right Daryl. I’m running for election and we’ve got just over a fortnight left in the campaign. This is the most critical choice that the Australian people have faced in many, many years and the point I keep making to them is that if you elect the Coalition, we’ll build a stronger economy so that everyone can get ahead. We’ll abolish the carbon tax, we’ll get the Budget back under control, we’ll stop the boats and we’ll build the infrastructure of the 21st century, because I would like to be known as an infrastructure prime minister.

DARYL MANZIE:

Just talking about infrastructure, I mean you’ve given a commitment to north Australia which has probably been unprecedented for many, many years. At the time you made those comments, you certainly got rubbished left, right and centre by your opposition including those up here that were on the Labor side, but there’s been a turn-around. It’s almost like ‘me too’, but with some differences. Can you just talk about your ideas for the north and how that could be managed to ensure environmentally things were going to flow well in terms of building the populations, but being able to keep up with infrastructure?

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TONY ABBOTT:

Well Daryl, anyone who has been coming up to the north pretty regularly for the last 30 years as I have, has seen an extraordinary transformation. Darwin is a cosmopolitan city - a vibrant cosmopolitan city. Cairns and Townsville and Mackay are very sophisticated centres these days. We have a massive mining and resources sector in the north to complement the tourism and the cattle of earlier times and there have been a range of factors that have contributed to the development that we’ve seen so far. We’ve seen obviously better infrastructure. We’ve seen the significant move of Government agencies such as the military into the north. This has all made an enormous difference and what I’d like to do in the next 30 years is to continue to boost infrastructure. That’s why we’re spending $6.7 billion on the Bruce Highway which is the gateway to northern Australia. I want to continue to look at shifting appropriate agencies to the north where we can. Most importantly of all, I want to try to ensure that we don’t have the kind of red and green tape jungle which developers have to hack their way through in order to get projects up and running. So, we’ll have our one stop shop for environmental approvals and I’m confident that finally, we can overcome the dam phobia which has operated for the last generation or so and really stopped the construction of major water storages, because if we are going to be a food bowl to Asia as I hope we will, obviously it’s going to take quite a bit of water.

DARYL MANZIE:

I guess we’ve got plenty of water falls out of the sky here, but there certainly is a phobia and there’s no sensible approach by anybody to look at the cost benefit analysis and how you can environmentally sustain storage of water. It’s really been a dam, that’s the end of the brown nose tree frog and you can’t do it. I mean obviously that’s something that comes out of a process such as schools, what we’re teaching young people and a lack of history, because history shows without harnessing water, our nation would never have moved ahead.

TONY ABBOTT:

Exactly right - exactly right. Water storages are one of the hugely unacknowledged foundations of a modern economy. I mean, without water storages, without roads, without power generation, you wouldn’t have a modern economy and all too often, these things are taken for granted by people and that’s a real problem.

DARYL MANZIE:

And look, just talking about infrastructure. In the last federal Budget, there was no money whatsoever for any new works on the Stuart Highway, the Barkly Highway or the Victoria Highway which are national roads and which are our only bitumen road links and the maintenance money was cut in half by the Rudd Government as well. What can we expect? Will we see some changes there at least to get our essential maintenance in operation and some firm programmes to get those roads developed and grow them, because we’ve got some really heavy black spots on them and one of the reasons we have got some pretty high death rates is the condition of roads.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, I accept that Daryl. The commitment that we’ve made so far is a $70 million commitment to Tiger Brennan Drive. Now, I know that’s a Darwin road rather than an out of Darwin road, but nevertheless it’s what we think is the most important and the most pressing road commitment in the Territory right now, but certainly I am very, very conscious of the fact that infrastructure has been neglected. Roads in particular have been neglected and as I say, I would like, if I win the election, if the Coalition wins the election on September the 7th, I would like a few years down the track to be thought of as someone who was an infrastructure prime minister.

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DARYL MANZIE:

I guess one of the big things is the only way to do these things is to grow the economy, grow the wealth and we seem to be spending a lot of time taking money out of people producing wealth, shrinking our wealth capability I guess in a way and not encouraging that growth and hopefully we will see a different approach if you do have success at the next election, because if we keep going to the way we are, there will be no wealth being produced and we’ll just be printing money for the sake of it.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, that’s exactly right Daryl. In the end, we’ve got to have a strong economy, because a strong economy is the foundation of a better society and we’ll abolish the carbon tax, we’ll abolish the mining tax, we’ll reduce the company tax rate, we’ll get red tape down, we’ll reduce business red tape costs by a billion dollars a year every year and look, we are determined to get our economy moving, because we’ve had a government in power over the last six years which just doesn’t get it when it comes to the needs of business to be profitable. This Government has loaded up business with new taxes and new regulations at every turn.

DARYL MANZIE:

And I guess the thing is a lot of people in the community don’t certainly appreciate this requirement to create wealth and I guess that goes back to again history and what we’re teaching young people in schools. There seems to be a disconnect with the real world, but that’s another issue. Look, can I just ask you to comment on manufacturing. I mean, we’ve seen probably our biggest manufacturing success in Australia has been our motor industry and I think at the end of the Howard term we were producing 333,000 motor vehicles a year, we’re down to 221,000 at the moment and the Prime Minister’s sort of well, yesterday in Geelong is saying we’re the only ones that can save the industry even though production has dropped a third under him. Also, the fringe benefits tax, the Ford Motor Company and the Hyundai Motor Company have both said this is a disaster. Ford are shutting down their plants a day here and a day there now, because they’re making less cars. What sort of changes are possible and will you commit to try and do positive things for manufacturing?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, it’s interesting Daryl. I was at a Volvo truck plant in Brisbane earlier this week and that’s a plant which has been going for 40 odd years and without ever getting a dollar in government subsidy. So, it is possible to produce motor vehicles in Australia - in this case trucks, it is possible to produce motor vehicles in Australia without a subsidy if you do it at the right volumes for the appropriate market. Now, the best thing we can do for the motor industry in Australia right now for the motor manufacturing industry and for the motor industry more generally is not proceed with Labor’s fringe benefits tax hit on company cars, because this has caused Ford to close its plant yesterday. There’s now several days off that Ford workers have been forced to take because Kevin Rudd typically made a decision about a subject he didn’t understand and now a lot of people are suffering as a result.

DARYL MANZIE:

Can I just ask you one last thing? Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser said American troops stationed in Darwin would be used to commit Australia to a future conflict in the Asia Pacific. I mean obviously there are some people in Darwin that have fears about being caught up in a, I guess a conflict with the US and someone else. What are your views on that and how important is the US/Australia alliance?

TONY ABBOTT:

Daryl, the alliance with the United States is critical to Australia’s security and it’s also important for the peace of the region and the wider world, because our alliance with America is not against anyone, it’s for

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things. It’s for freedom, it’s for democracy, it’s for fairness, it’s for the rule of law. That’s what the US/Australia alliance is all about and the rotation of a marine brigade through Darwin is essentially a way of ensuring that US forces are trained more regularly with Australian forces. It will actually give the Americans more opportunity to train with other forces in our region, because there are many regional armies that train here in Darwin with us. So, I think this is actually a relationship-building operation. It’s certainly not something which is likely to make our region less secure. I think it will make it much more secure.

DARYL MANZIE:

Tony, I’m going to have to say good morning. I know that you’ve got heaps to do and I really appreciate your time this morning. We wish you well and thank you very much for joining us this morning.

TONY ABBOTT:

Daryl, it’s an absolute pleasure to be talking with you. I’m just about to go down and catch up with Natasha Griggs - our tremendous Member for Solomon and we’ll be making some further border protection announcements later on today.

DARYL MANZIE:

Good on you, thanks very much indeed.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thank you so much, Daryl.

[ends]