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Transcript of interview with David Lipson: Sky News: 23 August 2013: Western Sydney blitz; Mr Abbott's $70 billion of cuts; Paid Parental Leave; Small Business package; polls; car industry assistance; Syria and the use of chemical weapons

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Campaign Transcript


E & O E - PROOF ONLY _____________________________________________________________

Subjects: Western Sydney blitz; Mr Abbott’s $70 billion of cuts; Paid Parental Leave; Small Business package; Polls; Car industry assistance; Syria and the use of chemical weapons _____________________________________________________________

HOST: Well I’m joined now by the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, who is blitzing Western Sydney today. Prime Minister, thanks for your time this morning.

PM: Thanks for having me on the program.

HOST: I want to ask you first about this blitz of Sydney today amid more bad polls. Is this election slipping away?

PM: Well, the bottom line is, the Australian people decide on the outcome of elections, and as you know, polls come and they go. The bottom line is, a judgement, and a question for the Australian people about whether they support an approach which builds new industries and builds jobs for the future, and protects jobs, and to make sure that there is a household pay packet because if you don’t have that you don’t have anything, versus Mr Abbott, who has a $70 billion hidden plan of cuts to jobs, health, hospitals and schools. People will make up their mind about those when we get to election day, and we’re just past the half time hooter, and I haven’t heard anyone call a game, whether it’s in the NRL or the AFL, over, straight after half time. We’ve got a long way to get.

HOST: Your seat in Griffith is even considered to be in play according to one of the polls today. Are you confident that history won’t repeat, and see what happened to John Howard happen to you?

PM: I’m perfectly content to leave my future in the hands of my local community. That’s what democracies are about. Democracies are about choices, policy

choices. One of those which is on offer today, and this week, is Mr Abbott’s proposal for an unfunded, unaffordable, paid parental leave scheme. $22 billion more each year than the Australian Government will pay for total childcare assistance. He equates this reform with the introduction of the aged pension, for goodness sake. So the big question is this, do people out there, as we get to the last few weeks of this campaign, are they going to be out there supporting and calling for a paid parental leave scheme which delivers $75,000 into the pockets of millionaires, and sometimes billionaires, for six months, whilst someone on the aged pension is there on $19,000 a year. I don’t think it’s fair, I don’t think the Australian people think it’s fair. But this is Mr Abbott’s captain’s pick of a policy. And I think the last few weeks of this campaign are going to focus on his priorities.

HOST: You’re turning your attention today to small business, what makes you think you can steal votes in this area that is traditionally a stronghold for the Coalition?

PM: Well, we believe that we stand for the little guy, wherever the little guy happens to be. Whether it’s someone who is needing support through DisabilityCare, whether it’s someone who needs support because they’re unemployed and can’t find a job, whether it’s someone in employment who wants to have fair pay and fair conditions, penalty rates and overtime, and also, someone who then decides to go out on their own and start their own small business. This is a great small business here in South Granville, here in Sydney today. What I’m talking about is how do you take the red tape burden away from them more? Three practical measures, one, with their superannuation obligations to use the Government’s Clearing House so that they don’t have to deal with the red tape burden of that. Secondly, on the question of our Paid Parental Leave scheme, to use the Government Clearing House for that. And thirdly, more importantly, for the compliance costs coming out of the Goods and Services Tax for small businesses as well, a tax brought in by the Liberals quite a long time ago, but to reduce the number of times that they have to fill out that Business Activity Statement. So that at present, if you’re a small business with a turnover of more than $2 million, you have to do that four times a year. Our proposal, is that if you’re now with a business under $20 million worth of GST turnover a year, then you will only have to do it once a year, and this I believe is going to take a lot of the compliance burden out of GST compliance for small business.

HOST: Prime Minister, what about the little guy that works at Ford, with reports today that Ford has halted production at Geelong and Broadmeadows as a direct result of your changes to the Fringe Benefits Tax arrangement? What do you say to those workers?

PM: What I’d day is, that we’re investing $1.2 billion more in co-investment with the car industry than the alternative Government of Australia, Mr Abbott’s, is recommending themselves. So, if you want to see a car industry in Australia at all, then the 50,000 workers who depend on it directly, and the 200,000 workers

who depend on it indirectly, then there is only one course of action, which is to get behind our approach. Mr Abbott is effectively saying “vote for him”, that’s the end of car manufacturing in Australia. We know that, everyone in the industry knows that. I’m not going to kiss goodbye to a quarter of a million Australian jobs. I am fundamentally committed to jobs as the central issue in this campaign. We’ve built a million jobs over the last five or six years, when the rest of the world has been shedding them. Mr Abbott seems to say he doesn’t care about those jobs, because he’s got $70 billion worth of cuts coming down the road to pay for his unfair paid parental leave scheme on the one hand, and then pull out much necessary support for the car industry across the country. That, I think, is what people will make up their mind about.

HOST: Ok, if we could turn to Syria. You said yesterday that first the priority was to establish the facts, but you also said that no civilised country can stand idly by in the face of the sorts of atrocities that seem to have happened in Syria. Would you consider committing any Australian forces to any international force that could be sent into Syria?

PM: The responsible and careful approach to national political leadership when you’re dealing with international crises is to take a calm and measured approach. Number one, establish the facts. About an hour or so ago I spoke again with our Ambassador to the United Nations, Ambassador Quinlan, and got an update from him about where the investigation processes have got to about what was used, were chemical weapons used, if so, by whom and how many people have been killed or wounded by that. I’ll be speaking the UN Secretary General in the next couple of hours, and the UN’s position now is, investigators are within the country. We are now as an international community calling upon the Syrian Government to give them full access to this most recent, horrific incident, in order to establish the facts. Establish the facts first, then decide upon the appropriate and most effective form of robust international action. I take this step by step, I’m not into the business of chest beating announcements until we’ve established all the facts.

HOST: Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, thanks so much for that.

PM: Thanks for having us on the program.


Communications Unit: T 03 8625 5111

Authorised by G. Wright, Australian Labor Party, 5/9 Sydney Avenue, Barton, ACT, 2600