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Transcript of doorstop interview: Rockhampton, Queensland: August 31 2013: Crisis in Syria; Kevin Rudd’s Carbon Tax con; the Coalition’s border protection policies; Ray King; aged care; Father's Day; the Coalition's commitment to paid parental leave; costings; the dairy industry; 457 visas



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Joint Doorstop Interview, Rockhampton, Queensland August 31, 2013

Subjects: Crisis in Syria; Kevin Rudd’s Carbon Tax con; the Coalition’s border protection policies; Ray King; aged care; Father's Day; the Coalition's commitment to paid parental leave; costings; the dairy industry; 457 visas.

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

TONY ABBOTT:

It’s great to be here in Rockhampton in the electorate of Capricornia. It’s good to be at Rocky’s Own transport, I want to thank

Bryan Smith and his team. Some of the other local hauliers who’ve been here to brief Michelle Landry our candidate, Matt Canavan, our Senate Candidate and my team on the importance of ensuring a dynamic transport industry for the benefit of

Rockhampton and for the benefit of regional Australia.

We’ve got one week to go, one hard fought week to go before the Australian people get to choose. Get to choose whether they want another three years that resembles the last six. And every day this week I will have a very simple message for the people of

Australia. Elect the Coalition and we’ll build a stronger economy so that everyone can get ahead, we’ll scrap the carbon tax, we’ll end the waste, we’ll stop the boats, we’ll build the roads of the 21st century. But in order to do these things we need a strong and

stable majority government in Canberra and that means right around our country voting for your Coalition candidate. And here in Capricornia that means voting for the Liberal National candidate Michelle Landry. Obviously there’ll be a lot of static over this last

week; there’ll be a lot of claim and counter claim. There’ll be a massive scare campaign run by the Labor Party with the aid of the $12 million union war chest which is which is just there for negative advertising. But again my message to the voters of Australia,

to the people of Australia, my message to you is that if you want to change the government you can’t vote for old mate independent. You can’t vote for old mate minor party, you can’t vote for old mate celebrity - you’ve got to vote for your local

Coalition candidate - your local Liberal National Party candidate here in Queensland. A vote for anyone else, a vote for anyone else, a vote for an independent, a vote for a minor party, a vote for a celebrity is, in effect, a vote for Labor and the last thing we

want is another three years of Labor-Green government in Canberra which has done so much damage to this country.

I’m going to throw to questions in a second but I just want to say before I do that it’s great to be standing here with Michelle Landry. Michelle was born and bred in Rocky. She’s lived all her life in and around this electorate, she ran a good campaign last

time. She got a good swing towards the Coalition. I’m very confident that if things go well we can win this seat but I also know that a week is a very, very long time in politics and we are going to be fighting very, very hard every day to ensure that a great country

and great people get the better government they so abundantly need right now. Michelle, do you just want to say a few words?

MICHELLE LANDRY:

Thanks very much for that, Tony. Look as I travel around the electorate of Capricornia it’s the same everywhere. People are suffering. It’s the cost of living, it’s the jobs. The carbon tax has had a huge impact on our economy. It’s a coal mining area, it’s a

cattle area and the Labor Government are talking about putting a carbon tax on our trucking industry and it’s an essential part of this whole community. You know we rely on trucking heavily around here. It delivers our food, it delivers our fuel and it transports

the cattle all over Australia and our cattle industry is in total disarray from the mismanagement of the Labor Government. So I assure everyone that if I am given the honour of being the member for Capricornia that I will be an extremely hard worker, getting

out all over the electorate and I will represent you well. Thank you.

TONY ABBOTT:

And you will vote to abolish the carbon tax…

MICHELLE LANDRY:

And I will!

TONY ABBOTT:

Tony Abbott Federal Member for Warringah | Leader of the Opposition

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Which is of course what only Liberal National candidates here in Queensland will do and of course the carbon tax will come on

heavy transport come the first of July next year if this Government is re-elected and that is a direct assault on regional Australia which is so absolutely dependent on heavy transport to get products out and products in. So, do we have any questions?

QUESTION:

Bob Carr has said this morning that the US is entitled to receive Australia’s support for military intervention in Syria. You said

yesterday that we shouldn’t be exaggerating our importance in this area. If you win the election and on Sunday coming you get some briefings around this area do you think you’ll be able to ignore them and say that the US doesn’t have our blessing.

TONY ABBOTT:

What I said yesterday was that it was the natural instinct of all Australian governments, Coalition and ALP, to support our friends

and allies. It’s the natural instinct of all Coalition governments to do what we can to build a better world. To uphold the universal decencies that we have historically stood for and in World War 1, World War 2, in Korea, in Vietnam, in Somalia, in the First Gulf

War, in the Second Gulf War and in Iraq we have fought for so I absolutely accept that we have a role now, as then to support decency and to oppose abominations such as the chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians. What I said yesterday as well

though was that we shouldn’t exaggerate our own importance here. Yes, Australia has a diplomatic voice in the Middle East but we don’t have a military force in the Mediterranean and I made the point that it’s very important to have cool heads here. What we

want in a difficult and dangerous situation when we are faced with the prospect of taking sides in a civil war we want cool heads, we want steady, calm consideration of this and certainly I think it would best if the UN inspectors were allowed to do their work

and let’s see what happens after that.

QUESTION:

Unemployment’s quite high in Rockhampton compared to the rest of the country. Now you would scrap some smallish bi-annual payments to people on Newstart, Youth start and parenting payments as well you’ve said because they’re funded from the mining

tax which isn’t raising enough money. But you have found money for some pretty generous payments to people who do find jobs out of long term employment - thousands of dollars. Wouldn’t it be better off instead of those payments which seem a bit like a

handout to people who already have jobs to instead perhaps give them to people trying to look for a job. Maybe a payment even linked to people who are trying to look for a job. They might be able to buy a new suit or something like that. Isn’t that a more

appropriate payment to boost employment?

TONY ABBOTT:

Everything that we are doing in this campaign is designed to build a stronger economy. Whether it’s abolishing the carbon tax or the mining tax, whether it’s a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme that will encourage population, productivity and participation,

whether it’s building the roads of the 21st century, whether it’s trying to ensure that long term unemployed people have incentives to get work and keep work it is all about trying to build a stronger economy because while a stronger economy is not an end in

itself, it is the key to everything else that we want. Whether it’s better schools or better hospitals or a national disability insurance scheme, a stronger economy is the key to everything. Now, I accept, Tom, that not everyone is going to agree with our measures

to bring about a stronger economy but we’ve carefully looked at the situation and these are the measures that we think, in our current fiscal circumstances, are the best way forward.

QUESTION:

You’ve often likened winning this election to climbing Mount Everest. Given today’s opinion polls how far up the mountain are

you?

TONY ABBOTT:

It is like climbing Mount Everest and as people who have climbed summits will tell you the last few paces are the most dangerous. The last few yards are the situation in which the most can go wrong. And none of our candidates are taking anything for granted.

I’m not taking anything for granted. Let’s not forget that Mr Rudd was a good enough campaigner to knock off the most successful Prime Minister since Menzies back in 2007. Let’s not forget that the Labor Party might be hopeless at Government but they’re

brilliant a politics, they’re very clever campaigners, they’ve got $12 million from the union war chest to dispense on an absolute barrage of negative ads so this is going to be a very tough week and no one should assume that they can vote for old mate who

happens to be the Labor candidate although no doubt he’s not, or she’s not letting you know too much about the party affiliation or old mate who happens to be minor party candidate or the independent. If you want to change the government you’ve just got to

vote for the Liberal National candidate.

QUESTION:

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Tomorrow Mr Rudd will be doing what you did last Sunday; launching his official campaign. What could Australians expect to hear

from him and secondly how will you be spending your Sunday tomorrow on Father’s Day?

TONY ABBOTT:

What Australians should be getting from someone who’s been Prime Minister for three years and a party which has been in government for six years is a strong record that’s defended and a dynamic vision that’s articulated. What I fear they will get is just

a barrage of attacks on the other side. The problem with the relentlessly negative campaign that Mr Rudd has been waging is that it demonstrates that he’s got no record to defend and no vision for the future. Now again, if people elect the Coalition they know

what to expect. We’ll protect their jobs, we’ll improve their lives and we’ll strengthen our country.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott you’re promising to stop funding immigration advice for asylum seekers. Will that save $100 million, is that correct and how is it fair?

TONY ABBOTT:

If you come illegally you can’t expect to get legal aid. I mean why should people who come to this country illegally get legal aid to

run immigration applications and immigration appeals when so many Australians who find themselves before the courts on whatever, for whatever reason don’t get legal aid. If you’re hoping to come to Australia - this country, and you’re in a camp in

Pakistan or of if you’re in a camp in Darfur or somewhere like that you don’t get this kind of spending on you. If the people who want to come the right way don’t get this spending, the people who have come the wrong way certainly should not get this

spending. That’s just the way it ought to be. I think the Australian people would be appalled to know that in this financial year some $40 million is going to be spent funding legal aid for people who are illegally in this country.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, your candidate Ray King has described the burqa, reportedly, as a sign of oppression. Do you agree with that?

TONY ABBOTT:

I’ve been asked about the burqa on lots of occasions and whenever I’m asked about the burqa I’ve said that I find it a very

confronting form of attire. Frankly, it’s not the sort of attire that I’d like to see widespread in our streets but, this is a free country. Everyone’s entitled to make their choice and if people want to wear a burqa it’s ultimately their business. Now as I understand it,

Ray King’s comments were more to do with policing and how you could properly identify people in policing situations given their attire and my understanding is that the O’Farrell Government in New South Wales has changed the rules about identifying people

to address that very issue.

QUESTION:

Mr King, he went further and said that he suggested that criminal suspects should be microchipped after being shot by a sniper rifle. Do you support that suggestion?

TONY ABBOTT:

Again, I’m just not going to get into the micro detail of policing methods because I’ve never…

QUESTION:

No, no this is a suggestion that Mr King made in a paper; that’s his position, do you agree with that?

TONY ABBOTT:

I’m not going to get into the micro detail about policing. Let’s be clear about Ray King. Ray King is a decorated police officer with

an unblemished record. He served for many, many years, recently retiring as the Liverpool Local Area Commander. His integrity, his professionalism has been repeatedly vouched for and the fact that the Labor Party is running such a smear campaign against

Ray King demonstrates just how desperate and unprincipled they are.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, just on aged care, there was a story in The Fin today suggesting that the Liberal Party may slash some regulation of

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aged care to try and cut some red tape. Are you concerned though that this could compromise quality of aged care services and also recently, we’ve also heard about abuse in nursing homes?

TONY ABBOTT:

We’ll have more to say about aged care in the next few days and obviously I’m not going to pre-empt any policy announcement

that’s yet to come in this campaign, but everywhere, we want to cut red tape. One of the things that we were being told about by some of the hauliers who we’ve been meeting with earlier today, such as Bryan Smith of Rocky’s Own, is the extraordinary red

tape burden that the trucking industry faces. Not too far from here, we’ve had one of the major businesses involved in building a gas terminal in Gladstone Harbour and from memory, I’m relying on a BCA report here. They had to spend $25 million, attend

4,000 meetings, produce a 12,000 page report, in order to get their environmental approvals and in the end, those approvals were subject to 1,200 state conditions, 300 federal conditions and 8,000 sub conditions. So there’s been this explosion of red and

green tape right around our country. Our policy is to have a bonfire of the regulations and we are confident that we can save business at least a billion dollars a year through our red tape reduction policy.

QUESTION:

[inaudible] aged care sector though, could it mean that slashing regulation could affect the quality of nursing homes and there’s

also this issue of abuse in nursing homes?

TONY ABBOTT:

It’s very, well you are hardly going to get a defective nursing home giving you a bit of paper saying yes we’ve mistreated this patient and yes abuse occurred to this patient, or yes we’ve underfed that patient. I mean a paper based system is hardly going to

uncover the kind of problems that you’re suggesting and at the moment, every nursing home provider will tell you that their staff spend far more time on paperwork than is really good for their patients and they would like to spend less time filling out forms and

more time looking after their patients. So, without pre-empting policy announcements that we may be making in the next few days, obviously we want to reduce red tape, but we want to do it in ways which enhances overall patient care.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, I see that Kevin Rudd now describes himself as an economic nationalist. He was once a fiscal conservative. What tag

would you apply to yourself? Some of your colleagues describe you as a more DLP leaning economic leader. What’s the tag you choose for yourself?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well Latika, I don’t believe in pigeon-holing people and I don’t believe in putting tags on people. I’ll tell you what I want to do…

and I’ll let you apply the tag Latika. I want to build a stronger economy so that everyone can get ahead. Scrap the carbon tax, end the waste, stop the boats and build the roads of the 21st century. Now, I think that makes me a very good potential prime minister

of our country.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, in answer to Andrew’s question, what are your plans for Father’s Day tomorrow?

TONY ABBOTT:

Sorry, I’m sorry I should have… that was a double-header question, I only answered the first head. Look, well it’s a campaign day so I’ll be doing normal campaign things for most of the day, but there is a very exciting event for the Abbott family - our beautiful

daughter Louise is coming back from overseas to spend the last week or so of the campaign with her family and so at the end of the day there’ll be a family dinner.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, just a confirmation on paid parental leave, you were asked a question yesterday and confirmed that if a lesbian couple

had a child each, they’d get both of their salaries up to that value of $150,000 for six months. Now, if a heterosexual couple had twins, presumably they’d just get one salary. Do you see that as an equitable part of the programme and also would it actually be

encouraging productivity for both mothers to be off work for that time?

TONY ABBOTT:

And look if the lesbian couple had twins, same deal. They’d only get one lot of paid parental leave, but if two people have two

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babies, there would be two bits of… there’d be two entitlements to paid parental leave. Look, you can come up with all sorts of unusual, hypothetical circumstances and say oh isn’t this unfair. I think that the Australian people are waiting for a serious social

advance. I think they are waiting for some watershed visionary policy and frankly, we are long overdue for this measure. It’s good for families, it’s good for women, it’s good for small business, it’s good for justice in the workplace and look, most people in the

Labor Party understand that our policy is better than Mr Rudd’s and I can’t wait should we win the election, to bring about this historic change to benefit the women of our country.

QUESTION:

The Economist yesterday used that policy to mark you down and for the magazine for The Economist to endorse Kevin Rudd after

the last six years, don’t you just find that embarrassing?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, and unlike Mr Rudd who every time he’s marked down by anyone seems to see a conspiracy there, I accept that media outlets are entitled to make their call. They’re entitled to make their call and if a London-based magazine wants to say that Mr

Rudd is the better choice, fair enough! I suspect they don’t have much real experience of Australia, but nevertheless, if that’s their choice, let them make it.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, will your costings be out before the advertising blackout?

TONY ABBOTT:

Our costings I am very confident will be out before Labor’s.

QUESTION:

But before the blackout?

TONY ABBOTT:

Our costings will be out before Labor’s

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, local dairy farmers are struggling under the supermarket price [inaudible], what are you going to do to stop them

[inaudible]?

TONY ABBOTT:

Ok, and I might take any other local questions at this point. I accept that the dairy industry is in many cases doing it tough. We’ve seen drought, we’ve seen highly competitive markets and obviously they are selling into what is effectively a duopoly. So I accept

that it’s tough to make a dollar in the dairy industry. The best thing we can do for everyone is build a stronger economy and we shouldn’t do anything to protect one section which is going to seriously damage the overall health of our economy, whether it’s the

trucking industry, whether it’s the dairy industry, whether it’s the mining industry, whether it’s the education sector, whether it’s the aged care sector, the best thing we can do for everyone is to build a stronger economy, but when it comes to dairy farmers, what

we will do to try to ensure that they are competing on a level playing field, that small business and big business, retailers, wholesalers, suppliers, consumers are all there on a level playing field is to have a root and branch review of competition policy,

designed to ensure that big and small business are all getting a fair go.

QUESTION:

The Labor Government announced earlier this week that they were going to an employment industry mediator in the situation [inaudible] will you consider something like that?

TONY ABBOTT:

We certainly want a code of conduct in this sector. There is a voluntary code of conduct being worked on. I think that’s a good

thing, because I would prefer as far as is humanly possible to allow the good sense of the people in the sector to prevail, rather than start to impose solutions from government. In the end, as I said, the best thing we can do for all sectors is to try to ensure

we’ve got a strong and buoyant economy, because that means that there’ll be more liquidity, more money in the system for

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everyone.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, there’s concern in the local area about 457 visas. Can you assure that workers will get a job over overseas workers if they are skilled?

TONY ABBOTT:

There’s been a lot of misinformation about 457s and my position is that if there’s any abuse of the system, let’s hear it, let’s get

the evidence and let’s crackdown on it, because we all know how the 457 system is supposed to work. There is supposed to be genuine labour market testing and the people who are brought in under 457s have got to be paid market wages and the employer

has got to bring them to this country and make provision for them when they’re here. So, every person who is employed on a 457 is costing the employer more than any person who is not employed on a 457. So, if there are rorts, let’s get the evidence and let’s

deal with them. The Government has not been able to substantiate any of its claims of widespread rorting of the system. The unions have not been able to substantiate any of their claims of widespread rorting of the system. On the general issue of 457s, it

was Mr Bowen as Immigration Minister who said less than twelve months ago that Labor had improved the 457 system and it was now working extremely well and I think that 457s are an excellent way of helping our economy to grow in those instances where

we can’t find local workers able to do the relevant job and I want to send a very clear message to the people of Australia that skilled migrants who come to this country from overseas, to work and pay taxes from day one are not stealing Aussie jobs, they

are building our country and I want to send a message of reassurance to all of those people who come to this country from overseas to join our team and to contribute to our country, who in Menzies’ immortal phrase, lifters not leaners, you are welcome

and frankly it is shameful of the current Labor Government and elements of the union movement to be running around trying to demonise the skilled migrants who generation after generation have made this country great.

QUESTION:

Do you have concern about more coal ports along the coast outside existing port areas?

TONY ABBOTT:

I want to see the coal mining industry expand in this country. Unlike the Labor Party, I don’t want to close the coal mining industry

down and one of the many problems with the carbon tax is that the logic of the carbon tax is not that coal is the foundation of a modern economy, the logic of the carbon tax is that coal is an environmental monster and we have to gradually have to get rid of

coal as part of our economic system. So, I want to see the coal industry expand, I want to see the best possible environmental standards and that obviously means ensuring that coal ports run in the best possible way. We take all appropriate safeguards for

the reef. We take all appropriate safeguards for marine life and so on, but if we want to grow the coal industry and everyone in central Queensland ought to want to grow the coal industry, obviously we need to ensure that coal can be transported from the

mines to the coast, to export markets and overtime almost certainly that is going to mean new and expanded borders.

Thank you, thanks so much.

[ends]

© Tony Abbott MHR 2010 | Authorised by Tony Abbott MHR, Level 2, 17 Sydney Rd, Manly NSW 2095

www.tonyabbott.com.au

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