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Transcript of doorstop interview: Townsville, Queensland: 31August 2013: the Coalition’s commitment to upgrade Dalrymple Road; opinion polls; insurance premiums

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Joint Doorstop Interview, Townsville, Queensland August 31, 2013

Subjects: the Coalition’s commitment to upgrade Dalrymple Road; opinion polls; insurance premiums.



Look, it's great to be here in Townsville with Ewen Jones, my friend, the very hard-working local Member for Herbert. It was great to have the chance to join members of the local Tri Club to run up Castle Hill this morning. Townsville is a terrific city. It’s one of

the great and growing cities of northern Australia. It is very important that we do what we can to keep the economy of Townsville dynamic, because if we are going to grow northern Australia, if we are going to allow northern Australia to play its part in the future

of our great country, then obviously the city of Townsville is absolutely critical to its success.

As you know, everything that the Coalition is doing in this campaign is about building a stronger economy. That's what will happen

if there is a change of government on September the 7th.We'll build a stronger economy so that everyone can get ahead. We will

scrap the carbon tax, we'll end the waste, we'll stop the boats and we will build the roads of the 21st century.

Here in Queensland, that means the Gateway Motorway upgrade, it means bringing the Bruce Highway into the 21st century with a $6.7 billion federal commitment to an $8.5 billion overall upgrade of the Bruce Highway which is the gateway to Northern

Australia. That includes, amongst many other things, Stage 4 of the Townsville bypass, but I am here today to announce that an incoming Coalition government will half fund to the tune of up to $20 million this important upgrade of Dalrymple Road to flood-proof the Bohle River crossing. It is a very, very important local project. Townsville City Council have been pushing for it. Ewen Jones has been pushing for it and I'm very happy to commit an incoming Coalition government to doing this.

It is very important and it's entirely consistent with our overall objective which is to protect peoples’ jobs, to improve peoples’ lives

and to strengthen this great country of ours. My message to the people of Australia: An incoming Coalition government, it will protect your job, it will improve your life and it will strengthen our country. That's our message to the people of Australia.

Now, I'm going to ask Ewen Jones to speak in a few moments, but before that, I just want to say I'm happy to take local questions

from local journalists this morning. Later on today there will be the opportunity to do a full press conference on national issues, but local questions, happy to take those now, but before that, just over to Ewen.


Thank you very much Tony and I can't take the smile off my face. This is a great project, it is something that Townsville has

wanted for an awfully long time. This road goes under in a sun shower. It is the growth corridor of Townsville. When our roads go under, our economy stops. We are a great city and we need the roads that work. We need the roads that stay dry. The Bohle

River is a great part of the world, but we need it to be underneath the road and underneath the bridges, not across it. So, Tony,

your 10th visit to Townsville since you were the leader, you know that Tony is becoming very, very comfortable in Townsville when he comes to the coffee shop and they say, "the usual?" So I have never seen so many people changing their drink to skinny mocha. All I say is that it's great to be part of that strong united team where you can get access to your leaders, where they come

to your city, they listen to what you're pushing and they're trying to make sure that the regions, that the cities of the future, the cities of tomorrow and the development of northern Australia are just so central to that.

So thank you very much for this and on behalf of the people of Townsville, let's just get that thing done and let's get this city

moving. Thank you very much.


Thanks so much Ewen. Ok, do we have local questions from local journalists?


Tony Abbott Federal Member for Warringah | Leader of the Opposition

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Yeah Mr Abbott, I would just like to ask with this project, obviously very welcome funding, but is it something that the council will

then have to foot the remaining 50 per cent of the bill?


Yes, that's the whole point here. The Coalition wants to partner with Townsville City Council to get this done. My advice is that this is a $40 million project, so we are prepared to contribute up to $20 million to half-fund this with Townsville City Council.


That's also exactly what the council asked for.


Mr Abbott, I’d just like to ask as well. I know you have got a big policy in terms of developing northern Australia and Townsville is

the biggest city of northern Australia, is there any chance of getting any of your funding commitment this election for a stadium entertainment and convention centre which is desperately needed in Townsville?


I think we've made a pretty solid contribution to Townsville as part of our election commitments in 2013. We've just made this $20

million commitment to flood-proofing Dalrymple Road. We've already made a $40 million-plus commitment to a school of tropical Medicine at James Cook University here. In addition to that, there have been some minor commitments that Ewen and my

colleagues have made, including I was pleased to see a commitment to light the Castle Hill run because this is actually a running track which is used basically 24 hours a day, by runners, a lot of people coming off mine shifts, a lot of people coming off factory

shifts, a lot of military personnel use that run 24 hours a day and if we can light the thing it will be safer and better for people. So I think we've made quite a lot of commitments to Townsville in the course of this campaign. I accept that the city is very keen to

have this major new stadium, major new convention centre. The feasibility study, as I understand it, has not yet been completed. Should we win the election, obviously we are happy to keep talking to Townsville City Council and to the State Government to see

what we can do, but I can't at this stage make a formal commitment to it.


Mr Abbott, why has it taken you so long to make it up to Townsville? It's now week 4 of the campaign, one more to go?


Yes, seven long hard days to go before Australia gets to choose and Australians get to choose whether they want another three years like the last six. Now, my plea to Australians is make the right choice because I don't believe that we can afford - I'm sure

we just can't afford three more years like the last six. Let's say goodbye to the chaos and confusion, the division and dysfunction of Labor-Green minority government. But a lot of my shadow ministers have been up here, Joe Hockey has been up here, Julie

Bishop has been up here, Warren Truss has been up here. I think there has been a well beaten path to Ewen Jones' door, and as Ewen said, I think I've been here 10 times over the last three years. I've certainly been up Castle Hill quite a few times over the

last few years, so I don't feel that Townsville has been in any way neglected by the Federal Coalition.


Mr Abbott there is polling out today saying that Labor won't pick up any seats in Queensland. Is that the vibe you're getting across the country?


I think we're going off local questions and local issues, but I will take that question then if we may, we will go back to local stuff

because I want local media to feel they've got a chance. Look, this is a very close election. I think it's inevitable that the polls will tighten sharply in the last week. Mr Rudd is a very clever politician. The Labor Party are ruthless campaigners. Modern Labor is

hopeless at government, but they're brilliant at politics and we will see plenty of low politics over the last week. We've already seen a nasty smear campaign, against all sorts of our members and candidates, including that outstanding policeman Ray King in

Sydney. It's just contemptible the way the Treasurer of this country, who is constantly demanding honesty and integrity when it comes to Budget figures, is making unsubstantiated smears against a great servant of the people of New South Wales. We've

had claims that the Coalition will sell childcare centres that we don't own, sack teachers that we don't employ, sell hospitals that we don't own. I mean, there will be lie after lie after lie from the Labor Party over the last week, so we are taking absolutely

nothing for granted, and people should not think for a second that they can risk voting for their old mate, the Independent, their old

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mate the celebrity, their old mate the Labor candidate because if you do that, you're likely to end up with another bad Labor-Green government.


You mentioned Ray King, he described the burqa as a sign of oppression. Do you support that?


Look, I want to take local questions from local media, if I may.


You talk about a smear campaign.


We will deal with those issues again later on today.


If the Coalition is elected when can we see the flood-proofing work here at Dalrymple Road here actually begin?


This is a shovel-ready project and we want the work to begin as quickly as possible.


What’s the Coalition's proposal for some of the insurance burden in North Queensland, some of the highest premiums up here in

Northern Australia?


Look this is a really tough issue, it is a really important one for the people of North Queensland, and I absolutely appreciate that and in the last few years in the wake of some savage cyclones, insurance premiums have gone up and up and up for people in

North Queensland. Scarcely a party room meeting goes by without Ewen Jones or Warren Entsch or George Christiansen getting up and talking about this issue, as they should. The point of being a local member of Parliament is to stick up for the interests of

your people, and the great thing about all of these guys who are in my team, Ewen and Warren and George, is that they aren't Canberra's men in North Queensland, they are North Queenslanders and Far North Queenslanders in Canberra fighting for a

better deal for North Queensland.

Now, we can't solve this problem from Opposition, we can't solve this problem from Opposition, but should we win the election, I want to see an early roundtable between the relevant ministers and the insurers to try to work out exactly why this has happened

and to try to ensure that people in Queensland aren't being unfairly penalised, because in the end, we are one country and everyone has got to pull together to try to help everyone else.


Mr Abbott, just going back to the stadium again, I know WA State Government is pressing for $100 million for funds to re-do

Subiaco. Can we get a commitment that the Townsville Stadium will get Federal funds before Subiaco?


The issue, as I said is one I'm happy to look at, we've got the completed feasibility study. I'm not going to try to play off one State against another, one city against another and try to put pecking order here. Yes, I've had representations from Premier Barnett, so

has the current Government, in respect of the stadium redevelopment there at Burswood, I've had that representation. Obviously I've had representations from Ewen about the stadium and the Convention Centre here. Let's see the feasibility study and let's

consider the matter when we've got all the facts.

Thanks, guys.


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Page 4 of 4 Joint Doorstop Interview, Townsville, Queensland > Tony Abbott