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Transcript of interview with Andrew O'Keefe and Monique Wright: Weekend Sunrise, Seven Network: 7 September 2013: Election Day 2013; the Coalition's commitment to repeal the carbon tax; the Coalition's Real Solutions.



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

7 September 2013

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR INTERVIEW WITH ANDREW O’KEEFE AND MONIQUE WRIGHT, WEEKEND SUNRISE, SEVEN NETWORK

Subjects: Election Day 2013; the Coalition’s commitment to repeal the carbon tax; the Coalition’s Real Solutions.

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

ANDREW O’KEEFE:

Opposition leader Tony Abbott joins us from Freshwater Surf Life Saving Club in Sydney. Good morning Mr Abbott and thank you so much for making this time this morning.

TONY ABBOTT:

Andrew, thanks for coming down to Freshwater, and thanks for enjoying this beautiful electorate.

ANDREW O’KEEFE:

If only we were there in person. Mr Abbott you've said that today's election is a referendum on the carbon tax. Really, though, there have been a number of issues in this election - the paid parental leave scheme, the national broadband network, asylum seeker policy, education reforms - these have been big issues for the electorate. Will you really force another election if you can't win the repeal of the carbon tax in the Senate?

TONY ABBOTT:

Andrew, it is a referendum on the carbon tax, it is a referendum on governments that don't tell the truth, and the point I make to the Australian people even now as polling booths are about to open is that, if you elect the Coalition, we will scrap the carbon tax, we will end the waste, we will stop the boats, we will build the roads of the 21st century, but we can only do that, as you suggest, if people vote for the Liberal National candidate in the House and also in the Senate because we need a strong and stable majority government in both Houses of Parliament if our country is to go forward as effectively as we should in the next three years.

MONIQUE WRIGHT:

We have an Australian electorate that seems largely disillusioned with politics in general. What is your plan if you are to become prime minister tonight to inspire the electorate?

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TONY ABBOTT:

Monique, I'm not taking it for granted because this election could still go either way. There are a lot of people who are toying with the idea of voting for independents and minor parties. My strong request to them is don't because we need a strong and stable government. Should the Coalition win the election, I think the most inspiring thing I could do for people is actually keep our commitments. I think people are pleased and satisfied with governments which are competent and straightforward with them. I think they get very unhappy and disappointed, understandably, when governments are incompetent and break their word.

ANDREW O’KEEFE:

To be straight with the electorate, I think, and many people feel given the response in our soapbox, that neither Party has been entirely straight with the Australian people about our economic situation both Parties are hammering the fact that everyone is doing so tough while the economists are telling us we have in fact never been more prosperous. We've never had it better. Will you try and change the conversation about entitlement and prosperity in Australia if you become prime minister?

TONY ABBOTT:

Andrew, there is no doubt that, as a people and as individuals, we should be more inclined to count our blessings, but it's also true that we should try to be the best we possibly can be, and I think there's a feeling that our country hasn't been all it could or should have been over the last few years, and at least a part of that is that we've had a government that you just can't trust. That's why I think it's so important to put a stable, adult, grown-up government in place that says what it means and does what it says.

MONIQUE WRIGHT:

This week you announced that you cut foreign aid by $4.5 billion over the forward estimates. If we can't afford to help other countries that need it, who can?

TONY ABBOTT:

Monique, we are not cutting foreign aid. Foreign aid will go up every year under the Coalition if we win. We are just reducing the rate of growth. You see, you've got to be a stronger country before you can be an even more generous country. We've always been generous, we will continue to be generous, we won't just be as extravagantly generous with borrowed money as the current government was proposing to be.

ANDREW O’KEEFE:

Mr Abbott, Waleed Aly wrote a very interesting article in the paper yesterday in which he said that huge arguments or debates over the last three years have essentially been resolved. Both Parties now agree the NBN is not a white elephant, it's just how much we want to spend. Both Parties now agree that the Gonski reforms are not a conski that they need to be put in place. Both Parties now essentially agree that asylum seekers won’t be processed here, that they will become some other country's problem. What is the real difference now between the Labor and the Coalition positions on the biggest issues?

TONY ABBOTT:

There are lots of very big differences, Andrew. The Government believes in a carbon tax. We don't and we will scrap it. The Government believes in a mining tax. We don’t and we’ll scrap it. The Government believes in big government, more regulation. We don't and we want government to be effective, sure, but not gigantic, and we will cut red tape. We want to build the roads of the future and the Government is far from convinced that that is the way to go. So, it is a very clear choice, the clearest choice in a generation, and

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that's why I think it is very important that people vote for a strong and stable majority government, and that means voting for the Coalition in the House and in the Senate.

ANDREW O’KEEFE:

Back to that question of moral leadership. If the economists are telling us that in fact we are one of the strongest economies in the world, and we as a people are the most prosperous people in the world, will you put an end to this constant hankering about how tough we have got it? If all the climate scientists are telling us we are headed for an ecological disaster, will you reignite the debate about what we can actually do to save this planet?

TONY ABBOTT:

Obviously we do need to take strong and effective action against climate change, but it's got to be smart action, not dumb action, and that's why the Coalition will provide sensible incentives. We won’t clobber the economy with a great big tax that doesn’t actually reduce emissions.

ANDREW O’KEEFE:

It's been proven that during the course of that tax, emissions have been reduced and the overall cost to the Australian household has been totally offset by other measures. So, this is precisely the kind of thing that I am asking, are we going to address what the experts actually tell us this, so Australians know the full picture?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, obviously it's important to reduce emissions. Our policy will reduce emissions. If you look at the modelling of the Government, the documents that were released in July of 2011, in 2020, our emissions will actually be higher than now despite a carbon tax which, under Mr Rudd should he be re-elected, will go up to $38 a tonne. If you want to reduce emissions, you've got to vote for the Coalition, not for Mr Rudd.

MONIQUE WRIGHT:

We are out of time. Any chance that you are going to go in for a dip this morning?

TONY ABBOTT:

I'd love to be going in for a swim, the waves look inviting, but I've sworn off budgie smugglers for the duration of this campaign, and again, make your vote count, Australia - vote for the Coalition and the House and in the Senate, and don't risk another unstable Labor/Green government.

ANDREW O’KEEFE:

I don't know if you saw this morning but Will Ferrell has commented on your budgie smugglers Mr Abbott, although he has got another term for them. I'll leave it to you to Google that one, but you've become an international hit. Thank you so much for joining us, best of luck with your campaigning today, and we look forward to talking to you tomorrow or next week.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thanks Andrew, thanks Monique.

[ends]