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Transcript of interview with Karl Stefanovic: Today, Nine network: 26 August 2013: Election 2013 countdown; polls; costings; the 2013 Federal Coalition Campaign Launch; Battlelines.



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

26 August 2013

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR INTERVIEW WITH KARL STEFANOVIC, TODAY, NINE NETWORK

Subjects: Election 2013 countdown; polls; costings; the 2013 Federal Coalition Campaign Launch; Battlelines.

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

KARL STEFANOVIC:

With just 11 days to go until the federal election Tony Abbott is drawing closer to Kevin Rudd as preferred prime minister. The Opposition Leader joins me now from Brisbane. Good morning to you Tony.

TONY ABBOTT:

G’day Karl, lovely to be with you.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Stunning morning in Brissie. I suppose you have pumped out five hundred k’s on the bike?

TONY ABBOTT:

No, sadly I got about five minutes on a rowing machine that’s all. It has been a busy morning.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Five minutes is still a lot on a rowing machine. Am I going to be introducing you as the PM this time in two weeks?

TONY ABBOTT:

I am not taking anything for granted. There is still almost a fortnight to go. There will be the mother of all scare campaigns funded by a $12 million union war chest. So, I still think this is like climbing Mount Everest, Karl. There are still some pretty perilous paces to take.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Labor seems to have come back in the polls today. Things are tightening as they generally do ahead of an election. Are you concerned about a late Labor charge?

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TONY ABBOTT:

Absolutely. There has just been a barrage of negative advertising over the last week from the Labor Party. We will see more and more and more lies told about the Coalition in the final fortnight. I am just going to be steadily repeating our message, Karl. If you elect the Coalition we will build a stronger economy so that everyone will get ahead. We will scrap the carbon tax. We will get the Budget back under control by ending Labor's waste. We will stop the boats and we will build the roads of the 21st century because I would like to be known as an infrastructure prime minister.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

You have raised repeatedly Labor's spending but you won't commit to when you will have the Budget back in surplus. Why not?

TONY ABBOTT:

We do not know the precise starting point. We do know that the budgetary position has been dramatically deteriorating. Just before this campaign started the government was forced to admit that the budget position had deteriorated to the tune of $3 billion every single week since May. That is why we have to know what the starting point is before we can say what the finishing point will be. This is clear Karl, the Budget bottom line will be better under the Coalition. It will be better under the Coalition. We have surpluses and assets in our DNA.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

If you are saying it is about trust and you are asking people to trust you, then I guess you start with a commitment.

TONY ABBOTT:

Yes and we will get back to surplus as quickly as we humanly can. One of the reasons why I am so keen to abolish the carbon tax, abolish the mining tax, cut red tape by $1 billion a year, is that will build a stronger economy. A stronger economy will have a stronger revenue. Cutting taxes over time will build a stronger economy and a stronger economy will have a stronger revenue. So, cutting taxes over time will build the stronger economy that we need to have sustainable and better services.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

You have said that you have also this ten year aspiration to bring the finances back into surplus. Ten year being aspirational in terms of wanting people hang with you for that ten years when you haven’t delivered your costings for an election in just two weeks. It’s a big ask, isn’t it?

TONY ABBOTT:

Karl, we have already been upfront about some of the tough things that will have to happen. The school kid's bonus for instance can’t be continued because it is a cash splash with borrowed money that our kids will have to repay. There will be a smaller, I think it will be a more efficient and effective, but there will be a smaller public service under the Coalition. We can’t go ahead with the Government's superannuation tax concessions for low income people, because they are being paid for by the mining tax which isn’t raising any money. So, we have been upfront about some of the difficult decisions that we will be making. That is because we do think that people have got to be straight with each other and politicians have not just got to address the fiscal deficit we have got to address the trust deficit too.

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KARL STEFANOVIC:

This morning you have come on the Today show to tell us when you'll be delivering your costings ahead of the election.

TONY ABBOTT:

We will have more to say about savings this week.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Come on, Tony. A Today show exclusive?

TONY ABBOTT:

We will have more to say about savings this week. The final costings will be out next week. I give you this prediction: our final costings will be out long before the Labor Party 's will be.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Monday? Tuesday? Wednesday?

TONY ABBOTT:

Last time Karl, the Labor Party 's costings emerged at five o'clock on the Friday evening and polling booths opened at eight o'clock Saturday morning.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

So, it will be long before that. I want to talk about something that will embarrass you. Well, it probably won’t embarrass you but certainly your daughters yesterday were fantastic I thought on the stage.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thank you Karl.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Yesterday, they got their revenge at the Coalition campaign launch. Check it out folks.

FRANCES ABBOTT:

Tony Abbott is also a netball dad. Growing up, Bridget, Louise, and I all played netball. Every Saturday morning we would make the trip down to the Curl Curl netball courts for each of our games. Dad was, as you might expect, the most vocal supporter. He thought that netball was just a different form of rugby.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

That is embarrassing. You are a daggy dad.

TONY ABBOTT:

Absolutely. Guilty as charged Karl, guilty as charged.

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KARL STEFANOVIC:

Is it true that you would yell out from the sideline "Run Forrest, run".

TONY ABBOTT:

Absolutely, it wasn’t the only thing I yelled out but I was a very vocal netball supporter. In fact Margie used to want to stand somewhere else on the sideline because she said you should not barrack at netball games like they’re rugby games.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

And is it true also that Margie was trying pretty strongly to convince you not to continue in politics at one stage and look how close you are now?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, after the 2007 election, I certainly went through a period of introspection, asking myself what I should be doing. The great thing about writing my book Battlelines, Karl was that it was an opportunity I guess to rediscover a commitment and a vocation to politics. Now, I have an absolute commitment to try and save this country from the worst government in our history. That is what I hope will happen on September the 7th.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

We’ve got Cyndi Lauper standing by Tony. Back in the day it was all about girl power in the 80s. Girls just want to have fun. Anything you would like to say to Cindi?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, come to Australia we will enjoy your company.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Well, she is here, she has taken your advice. Thank you very much for joining us today. We appreciate it.

TONY ABBOTT:

Good on you.

[ends]