Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Transcript of interview with Paul Murray: Radio 2UE, Sydney: 9 September 2013: discusses the 2013 Federal Election; the Coalition's border protection policies; the Coalition's Operation Sovereign Borders Policy; Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters; and The Lodge.



Download PDFDownload PDF

1

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

9 September 2013

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR, INTERVIEW WITH PAUL MURRAY, RADIO 2UE, SYDNEY

Subjects: 2013 Federal Election; the Coalition’s border protection policies; the Coalition’s Operation Sovereign Borders Policy; Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters; The Lodge.

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

PAUL MURRAY:

Here he is Tony Abbott, moments ago on 2UE.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thank you Paul, it is a tremendous honour to be elected by the Australian people and I will do my damndest to repay the faith they have shown in me.

PAUL MURRAY:

Now, what was the moment when it dawned on you that this has happened, that the government has changed, that you are the Prime Minister? Obviously there is that magical little number that goes over, but what is the moment for you?

TONY ABBOTT:

I suppose Paul, the critical moment is the time when the former prime minister or now the caretaker prime minister calls up and says I have looked at the results and I am conceding defeat. To his credit, Kevin Rudd was very gracious. He rang me and he spoke with warmth and that’s as it should be because whatever political differences I have had with Mr Rudd over the years, he has occupied the highest elected office in our land and it is important to respect the holder of the office and I think it is important to acknowledge that only substantial people become leaders of substantial nations.

PAUL MURRAY:

You spoke on Kitchen Cabinet last week about the funk that you went into post government. There must be that moment too where despite the joy that you are feeling, despite how combative the past couple of years have been, the other bloke has just lost his job, do you get that sense out of his voice?

2

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, you know people who get to be prime minister of our country tend to be pretty tough and resilient people and I thought that Mr Rudd was very dignified and very gracious as I said when he called me up and that is what you would expect. So, I think both of us were conscious of the fact that a baton was being exchanged and that is a weighty moment.

PAUL MURRAY:

Is there an image, a moment, obviously that major phone call, but is there an image of Saturday night that you can immediately recall that will be the one that sticks in your head for a while?

TONY ABBOTT:

I guess seeing my Mum and Dad and seeing how proud they were was obviously a terrific moment. I guess what I am most conscious of now Paul is the need to purposefully and methodically set about the business of the nation and set about implementing the particular commitments that we gave to the Australian people and that is to stop the boats, to get the Budget back under control, to repeal the carbon tax and to get cracking on the major infrastructure that our country needs.

PAUL MURRAY:

Now, of course there was, as you would have known because it was lead story straight away, was that another boat had turned up. It has got about 80 people on board. The expectations are, alright, stop the boats begins with the changing of the government. Does Operation Sovereign Borders kick in regarding that boat or the next boat or when does it begin?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, it begins the day the new government is sworn in and that probably won’t be until early next week because there are some formalities that need to be completed, like a Coalition agreement being formalised, Party Rooms to assemble once it is pretty clear who has been elected and leadership teams to be confirmed and once that happens then the new ministry can be finalised and sworn in and that is when the appropriate instructions can be given to the right people. I think the people smugglers now know that things are going to be very, very different in this country and in the seas to our north and it wouldn’t surprise me if they attempt to test the new government’s resolve, but they will certainly find a determination more than equal to theirs.

PAUL MURRAY:

Is there a concern though that basically by saying ok it is not until there is an Immigration Minister, there is a sworn in Prime Minister that basically there is now a little window and they are going to try to test that resolve but they know they have got a week to do it in?

TONY ABBOTT:

I think they should be under no illusions as to exactly how determined the new government is and how professional our Navy is and it is going to be a very different situation that they confront and it won’t simply be on the seas to our north but it will be in terms of cooperation with Indonesia and other countries. There will be a very different situation here in Australia and I guess one of the things that will happen very swiftly is that people who come here illegally by boat, even those who might ultimately be found to be refugees, will not get permanent residency of our country and that’s the great prize which the people smugglers have been selling.

3

PAUL MURRAY:

Do you look forward to at least for the giggle factor, do you look forward to Clive Palmer with parliamentary privilege?

TONY ABBOTT:

Paul look, everyone who gets elected to represent 100,000 of his or her fellow Australians should be treated with a modicum of respect. I think once you’re in the Parliament it’s important then to earn the respect of your colleagues and let’s see how every Member of the Parliament does that. I probably shouldn’t speculate on individual Members until the vote’s been finalised and the poll has been declared.

PAUL MURRAY:

Ok, so what about this scenario where there is virtual inevitability of at least one Palmer United Senator. You’ve got this scenario as well where the count right now, and of course these numbers change, you’ve got Nick Xenophon, you’ve got a Motoring Enthusiast Party, over in WA, it’s going to be a Sports Party. Sooner rather than later, do you sit down and meet these people to work out what happens?

TONY ABBOTT:

Paul, my job is to be respectful and courteous towards every Member of Parliament and that includes independent and minor party MPs, but in the end I think they all need to respect the government of our nation has a mandate and the Parliament should work with the government of the day to implement its mandate. Now, I know it’s a two-way street and respect has got to be earned rather than merely demanded, but nevertheless, the people voted for change and change they will get and I’m determined to ensure that the Parliament delivers them the change they want.

PAUL MURRAY:

So, you’ve always promised that the first thing that you would do with the Parliament is to repeal the carbon tax. When will Parliament be back?

TONY ABBOTT:

It will be back towards the end of October early November. It’s important that the various pieces of legislation are ready to go before we get the Parliament back. My emphasis Paul will be on being purposeful, methodical, calm and conscientious and the last thing I want to do is to rush the Parliament back for a photo opportunity before the substance of the work is there for it to do. As soon as the substance of the work is there for it to do, it will come back and with calm expedition, we will get through the work, but I’m not going to rush the Parliament back until the legislation is absolutely ready.

PAUL MURRAY:

Now given what you just said about respect for the system and the people who’ll get elected - I understand these comments may be tempered - but you know that in New South Wales there was a ridiculously high result for a party, that to be honest, most people weren’t aware of in the Liberal Democrats because of their position on the ballot paper. Some people are quite annoyed about all of this. You also have a scenario where very, very minor votes end up in parliamentary representation because of preference deals. Will you consider any sort of reform to the way that we elect our Senate?

4

TONY ABBOTT:

What normally happens after every election Paul is that the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters reports on how the election has gone and what lessons we can learn and how things can be improved. It would be wise to wait to see what that committee comes up with, but obviously there were a lot of people who confronted with that very, very long Senate ballot paper - I think it was almost a metre long- would have looked along the top row, seen Liberal, thought they were voting for the Liberal National Coalition, put one in that box and then only worked out later maybe that in fact they had been voting for the Liberal Democrats who are a totally different party. So, I think this is an issue and I think it will have to be addressed, but it should be addressed once we’ve had that Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters report.

PAUL MURRAY:

Alright, I know you’re busy, the clock’s about to run out so one last question. The family for obvious reasons have got connections to Sydney. The home of Government is Canberra, where will you be living?

TONY ABBOTT:

Again Paul, I’m not going to rush out of Forestville to be honest because Forestville is where we’ve lived very happily for the last 20 years, but I accept that in the end you do have to, for security reasons as much as anywhere else, live in one of the official residences. My understanding is that The Lodge is under renovation and I’ll be taking the advice of the officials before I make a final decision. It could well be some time before The Lodge is ready for occupation. So, as I said, I’ll talk to the officials, get their advice and then we’ll make a decision - but I’m in no rush to move out of Forestville and I don’t think the family is either.

PAUL MURRAY:

You’re not going to be the first Prime Minister with a nail gun in The Lodge?

TONY ABBOTT:

They might want to take the tools off me. [Inaudible] busy with the paper.

PAUL MURRAY:

Yeah exactly. Look all the best to you, again thank you for being so available to us during the campaign and again, we look forward to that in government as well. Congratulations Tony.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thank you so much Paul

[ends]