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Transcript of press conference: Berkeley Vale, New South Wales: 27 August 2013: The Coalition's growth plan for the Central Coast; the Coalition's plan to increase employment participation; Garden Island Naval Base; costings; Labor’s carbon tax con; the Coalition’s commitment to paid parental leave; the Coalition’s border protection policies



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Joint Press Conference, Berkeley Vale, New South Wales August 27, 2013

Subjects: The Coalition's growth plan for the Central Coast; the Coalition's plan to increase employment participation; Garden Island Naval Base; costings; Labor’s carbon tax con; the Coalition’s commitment to paid parental leave; the Coalition’s border

protection policies.

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

TONY ABBOTT:

It’s great to be here at Trendpac, an expanding manufacturing business here on the Central Coast of New South Wales. It’s great to be with Karen McNamara our candidate for Dobell and Lucy Wicks our candidate for Robertson. I also want to acknowledge the

hard work of Senator Arthur Sinodinos the duty Senator for this area who has been putting in a lot of work with Karen and Lucy over the last couple of years.

This is a great part of Australia and under a Coalition government I want to make it even better. Our plan is for a stronger

economy. That is what we want to do and that is what will happen if there is a change of government on September 7th. We will 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 because I want to be an infrastructure prime minister.

Part of that overall plan for a stronger economy is specifically targeted plans for regions that are struggling. I had, along with my senior colleagues last week launched a plan for Tasmania and today I launch a specific plan for the Central Coast. There are

some elements of that plan which are common to the rest of the country. There are other elements of that plan which have already been announced, such as the $405 million that a Coalition government will commit in conjunction with the New South

Wales Government to the F3 to the M2 link, a vital piece of infrastructure for the people of Newcastle and the Central Coast.

Today, I make $21 million worth of new announcements. They include $7 million for the Kibbleplex centre in Gosford, they include some $2 million for Central Coast training, $3.5 million for the Woy Woy oval upgrade, $3 million for new roads here on the

Central Coast, $3 million for improving water quality in our lakes. In particular, I announce that in the first term of an incoming Coalition government, we will seek to relocate a significant Commonwealth agency to Gosford. We would like to put some 300

Commonwealth public sector jobs into Gosford. We would like to negotiate with people in Gosford to see that this agency could become an anchor tenant, particularly of any new development that might be planned for Gosford.

This is an earnest of our intentions to try to ensure that the Commonwealth government does its bit to make the Central Coast a

better and more dynamic place, not just to live but to work. If we are to have strong and cohesive communities, we need a dynamic economy to sustain it and this $21 million package of measures specifically tailored for the Central Coast is an important

sign that we are fair dinkum about doing the right thing by the people of the Central Coast.

It is not unusual for the Commonwealth to put agencies into regional areas. The current Government, for instance, with the full support of the Coalition, has announced that the headquarters of the National Disability Insurance Scheme will be in Geelong. So,

we will look for a Commonwealth agency or instrumentality that could usefully be transferred to Gosford and that will be an important shot in the arm for this region.

As well, before I ask Karen and Lucy to say a few words, today I launch additional programmes that will help young, unemployed

Australians in particular find the jobs that they seek. There will be a jobs bonus for people who have been unemployed and on Newstart for more than 12 months who are under 30. If they hold a job for 12 months, there will be a $2,000 bonus if they can

hold the job for 24 months and not go on welfare at all, there will be an additional $4,500 bonus. For people who have been unemployed for 12 months, or longer, and on Newstart, who move to take work, who move from cities to regional areas, there will

be again a relocation allowance of $6,000 per job seeker and $3,000 for dependent children. These have been costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office, these particular initiatives and these cost $75 million over the forward estimates period. Again, a

sensible investment by an incoming Coalition government in trying to give every Australian the working future that all of us want.

I see these measures not as a hand-out, but as a hand-up because they are all about empowering people to find and secure and

Tony Abbott Federal Member for Warringah | Leader of the Opposition

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keep the work that they need and want if they are to make the most of their future. Everything that the Coalition is doing in this campaign is about securing our future. The new spending that we are unveiling in this campaign is all about trying to produce a

stronger and more productive economy for a stronger and more cohesive society. That is what it is all about and I am very pleased to be here. First, to launch our plan for the Central Coast, and second, to launch these new measures to increase

participation and try to ensure that we have more jobs for our young people.

I am going to ask Karen and then Lucy to say a few words and I am very proud to have Karen and Lucy as our candidates here on the Central Coast. They are both very dynamic, very dynamic candidates with strong roots in the local community and should

they win, they won't just be Canberra's rep on the Central Coast, they will be the Central Coast's agent in Canberra. They will be fighting for a better deal for the Central Coast in Canberra. They won't just be party cyphers, they won’t just be party hacks,

division fodder and lobby fodder in Canberra, they will be people who will be enmeshed in their community, they will be people who are deeply connected with this community, fighting for this community, fighting for the interests and the rights of this

community with the national government in Canberra.

Karen?

KAREN MCNAMARA:

Thanks Tony. It is always a pleasure to campaign here on the Central Coast with Tony Abbott, the Leader of the Opposition. Lucy Wicks and I have been campaigning here on the Central Coast for 16 months. In that 16 months we have spoken with and

listened to thousands of people. People have told us they want better roads, they want local jobs, they want to be able to work closer to home. They want opportunity for future generations. They also want to see the Central Coast become a vibrant, healthy

community. That is why I welcome the announcement from Tony here today. This is fantastic news for the Central Coast. We need jobs to survive and we need that growth.

So, thank you very much Tony and I thank you.

LUCY WICKS:

Thank you Tony, thank you Karen. I really welcome this announcement with Karen, Tony. The Central Coast for too long has

been an area where it is the best place in the world to live. What we are doing with this announcement, a Coalition government is working towards making it the best place in the world to be able to work as well. It is one of the top things that people say to me

every single day that they would like to be able to see more jobs, more investment in the Central Coast. That is what a Coalition government will do.

The other thing people tell me every single day, including at Woy Woy station, when I was there greeting commuters this morning,

they are asking us to scrap the carbon tax. It is a carbon tax that is putting up the cost of living, it is a carbon tax that’s making power bills higher and a Coalition government, we have committed that our first piece of legislation through the Parliament will be

to scrap the carbon tax and I am delighted to have you here Tony today campaigning with Karen and I.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thank so much. Ok, do we have any questions?

QUESTION:

Why are you giving money to the long term unemployed while at the same time taking the income support bonus away from more than one million families?

TONY ABBOTT:

It is very important that we focus on unemployment because under this Government unemployment is heading up. I remind

everyone that this is a Government which was forced to announce just before the election campaign started that unemployment is skyrocketing towards 800,000. Just three months after a Budget that they said was to promote growth and jobs, they were forced

to announce that jobs are down and growth is down. Unemployment is going up and growth is going down. This is a specific targeted measure to try to ensure that we reverse the rise in unemployment, to try to ensure that we reverse the rise in

unemployment and I want the people of Australia to know that when it comes to jobs I am absolutely serious. I am particularly determined to let the people of Australia know that when it comes to manufacturing jobs, I am serious because there are 140,000

fewer manufacturing jobs in Australia now than there were when this Government came to office. And Mia as for the specific point you raise, the best form of welfare is work. The best form of welfare is work and the best thing that I can do for unemployed

people is to try to create more jobs and to make it easier for them to take the jobs that are there.

QUESTION:

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Do you support Kevin Rudd's plan to move the Garden Island Naval base north, is this a common sense move?

TONY ABBOTT:

I am very happy to look at sensible proposals to relocate our military forces over time, but they have got to make sense in the

current budgetary environment and let's face it, Mr Rudd has slashed billions from Defence. Defence spending is now at the lowest levels since 1938 as a percentage of GDP. But the fundamental point I make is that any change in the basing of our Naval

forces should be driven by military imperatives, not by political imperatives and if you look at the announcement that Mr Rudd made this morning, first of all, it is all in the never, never. It is maybe, possibly, perhaps doing things in 10 or 15 or 20 years’ time

and it seems to be tailor-made for marginal seats which the Government is defending or hoping to win.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, you have committed to three very big spending policies now - PPL, NDIS and restoring the private health insurance rebate. You have dumped your first term return to surplus promise. You are now saying by the end of the decade one per cent of

GDP surplus. Don't Australians actually deserve better, more detail about your economic programme given where you are in the polls, given the way things are heading at the moment?

TONY ABBOTT:

James, I am not taking anything for granted. I am absolutely not taking anything for granted. As I said on Sunday, as I have been

saying basically every day of this campaign, winning government from opposition is like climbing Mount Everest. We are seeing unleashed now the mother of all scare campaigns from Mr Rudd and the Labor Party. A desperate Mr Rudd, a desperate Labor

Party that has no record to defend and nothing positive to say about the future. The unions have got $12 million which they are spending. They are spending it every night on your TV screens to demonise their opponents.

So, I am not taking anything for granted. Now, as for the specifics of your question James, we have committed to fully restoring

the private health insurance rebate when it is affordable to do so. We haven't put a timeline on it other than to say that we're confident it can happen within the decade. As for the NDIS, we are going to pay for the NDIS in exactly the same way that the

Government will pay for it. As for PPL, well it is fully costed and it is fully funded. As for our overall costings, I have said and I repeat that we will have more to say this week about our overall costings. People will know our final costings in good time before

the next election and it will be clear that the budgetary bottom line will be better under us than under Labor and finally James, please, let's not buy this line from the Government that it is all about the Opposition, when this Government has not got any of its

major forecasts, its major costings right.

This is a Government which has been utterly irresponsible from start to finish. They have spent tens, if not hundreds of billions of dollars on projects that have had no serious thought gone into them. They have never had a proper cost benefit analysis done

and every single prediction that they make about where the economy's going, where the Budget is going has turned out to be wrong and just before this campaign started, they were forced to admit that the budgetary position is deteriorating to the tune of

$3 billion a week. So, if I may say so, let's not get too precious about one side when the other side is guilty of the most spectacular budgetary forecasting failures in our history. More will be revealed, James. More will be revealed this week and all will

be revealed in good time before people go to the polls.

QUESTION:

You mentioned scare campaigns. Kevin Rudd today was asked about his campaign and his response was essentially, people should watch Media Watch. I have a sort of a double-barreled question. If the The Daily Telegraph photographed you, photo

shopped you I should say on the front page, would you be ok with that and secondly, what do you think of News Limited or Newscorp Australia as it’s now called - their coverage through the course of the campaign?

TONY ABBOTT:

I think all of us have been sent up by the media at different times. I look at what the cartoonists do to me. I have from time to time

been photo shopped in News Limited papers. I think I was photo shopped as a dodgy looking admiral a few weeks ago and you have got to take the rough with the smooth and I am happy to take the rough with the smooth. I don't normally complain, mostly I

laugh and if I ever do any crying, I try to do it away from the cameras. So, that is the first thing. What was the second half?

QUESTION:

The general tenor of the News Corp papers' coverage through the course of the campaign?

TONY ABBOTT:

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When you have got a free media, you have got to allow them to take a position. Now, I remember back in 2007, just about every

News Limited paper strongly supported a change of Government and I didn't hear Mr Rudd complaining then. I suspect that many of them will support a change of Government this time around, that is their right. That is their right and if you don't like the

coverage, you can always remonstrate with the relevant journalists politely and say, "let's do it a little better, let’s do it a little fairer next time," but fundamentally, if you want good coverage, you have got to perform well and the reason why this Government gets

poor coverage, at least in some areas of the media, is because it has been the worst government in our history. If you want better coverage, be a better government.

QUESTION:

On Leah’s question, Leah was talking about moving the Naval base, you said you wanted a military imperative to do that, but isn't

there a military imperative in that we will run out of room there in a couple of years?

TONY ABBOTT:

Again, let's go back to the White Paper, which was released just a few months ago. The White Paper, as I understand it, specifically concluded against any additional shift at this time of our Naval assets. Now, there is nothing wrong with basing naval

assets in different parts of our country. We have long had a major fleet base at Cockburn Sound in Western Australia. Just a few days ago I was up in Darwin at HMAS Coonawarra which is a major base for our patrol base that will be part of Operation

Sovereign Borders if the Government changes on September the 7th. We have Naval bases in Cairns and Townsville. I accept all of that. What this is from Mr Rudd is more policy on the run, driven by political imperatives, not military imperatives and I think the

people are starting to see through all this. I think the public are well and truly seeing through this guy who, in a panic, in the second half of an election campaign is suddenly running around promising things that may or may not happen in 10 or 20 or 30

years’ time. Well please, Mr Rudd, you have had six years in government, if you were fair dinkum about any of this, why haven't we heard about it before?

QUESTION:

Do you support it yes or no? Do you support it, Mr Abbott?

TONY ABBOTT:

Where is the military imperative for the shift that Mr Rudd now contemplates? If this was so significant, why didn't the White Paper

released just a few months ago support it? In fact, the White Paper released just a few months ago opposed it. I am not against, over time, shifting military assets to places where they could more appropriately be deployed. What I am against is policy on the

run by a desperate Government against the advice of the White Paper which came out just a few months ago.

QUESTION:

You have already said that the carbon tax, if it is knocked back twice, will be a double dissolution trigger. Do you have the same view on your paid parental leave scheme and will the legislation be through twice in the timeframe that would allow that to

happen?

TONY ABBOTT:

I don't believe that any of the signature policies that the Coalition is taking to an election will be knocked back by the Parliament. This election was always going to be a referendum on the carbon tax. If the Coalition wins this election, we will have the clearest

and strongest possible mandate to scrap the carbon tax and we will. If the Coalition wins this election, we will have the strongest and clearest possible mandate to implement a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme. The Government is specifically targeting

our paid parental leave scheme and if they are defeated, that will be a clear message from the Australian people that they want a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme. I am happy, I am happy to be the champion of fairness. I am happy to be the champion of

progress when it comes to this issue. This is a long overdue watershed reform. Every single mother in the work force will be better off under our policy. Every small business will be better off under our policy. This is a landmark reform. I am proud of it. And any

political party that tries to stop this reform, I think will be swept away on the tide of history.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, can you guarantee your relocation allowance, the Government already has a relocation allowance in place that has barely been used so why continue it? Isn't the offer of a job of $150,000 to go and work in the Pilbara enough for people to move?

And secondly, last election campaign you spent a day campaigning at Essendon Football Club, are you going to do that again this year?

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TONY ABBOTT:

Well, I’m not sure I spent a day campaigning at Essendon Football Club. Essendon is a great club. They should have a great future and I want the various issues that have been raised against them to be resolved fully, fairly and quickly. I think a lot of

people wondered at the time why it was necessary to go out and claim that there was a black day in Australian sport. I just think now after all of - after all the dirty water that’s gone under the bridge, in fairness to Essendon and its supporters and players, we

have just got to see this resolved quickly and fairly, as soon as possible. I am perfectly relaxed and comfortable about the people who I have associated with over the years.

On the other issue…

QUESTION:

The relocation allowance?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I accept that only about 400 people have utilised the Government's relocation allowance. The Parliamentary Budget Office

has costed our version of a relocation allowance and the Parliamentary Budget Office has assumed that about 1,000 people a year will take advantage of our relocation allowance. Many of the people who take advantage of our relocation allowance will be

people who stand to take advantage of our completion bonuses as well. This policy was originally conceived in discussion with Noel Pearson and the people from the Cape York partnership. It was originally conceived as something that would be particularly

useful for indigenous people in remote areas who were moving to places where they might get sustainable employment. The success of this policy is in changed lives. That is the success of this policy and whether 500 people take advantage of it or 5,000

people take advantage of it, if any people take advantage of it, that will be to the great benefit of our country and those individuals.

QUESTION:

Your side of politics has long complained about the size of deficits that Labor has run. If that is the case and we are to believe everything that you have said on debt and deficit, why - or can you now explain the economic argument for allowing the Budget to

stay into deficit until at least the earliest, 2016/17 financial year and at the very latest a decade?

TONY ABBOTT:

The Government is proposing to bring us back to surplus in 2016/17 and we will do at least as well as the Government. The trouble is we don't know what the starting point is and if the Government was honest, neither do they. The Pre-Election Fiscal

Outlook was a very good piece of work but even the Treasury officials said that there was an enormous downside risk, an enormous downside risk and sure, the existing forecasts and projections were their best guess at this time. There is a lot of

unreliability in the figures as even the Treasury said. What will be absolutely obvious to everyone before polling day is that when you look at our spends, when you look at our saves, the overall budget bottom line will be better under us, as well the overall

economic environment will be better under us because tax will be lower, regulation will be lower and incentive will be greater, tax will be lower, regulation will be lower and incentive will be greater - that’s got to be good for our economy.

QUESTION:

Isn’t paying down the debt and the deficit a priority for you anymore?

TONY ABBOTT:

Of course it is a priority, it is a very important priority, a very important priority and we’re going to do it better than the Labor Party.

QUESTION:

When?

TONY ABBOTT:

Much better than the Labor Party. Well again, until we know what the starting point is and we can, it is very hard for us to say

precisely when things are going to happen. The guarantee I give is that it will happen sooner and more effectively under us than under the Labor Party which has got every forecast wrong.

QUESTION:

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But that’s the never never promise.

TONY ABBOTT:

No it’s not.

QUESTION:

You just accused Mr Rudd of that. You have no clear timetable on when you would return the Budget to surplus?

TONY ABBOTT:

Latika, at the end of this campaign, you will see exactly what we are going save, exactly what we are going to spend. You will know exactly how much improvement in the Budget bottom line there will be under us. If the projections and the forecasts turn out

to be correct, we will get to surplus in better shape, sooner. If they don't turn out to be correct, well, we’ll have to work on the starting point that we get.

QUESTION:

Is that 2015 you're taking about?

TONY ABBOTT:

Please Latika.

QUESTION:

Because 16/16 is the Government’s target.

TONY ABBOTT:

You’re playing games, Latika. If we are spending less and saving more, we will get there quicker. Simple arithmetic.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, your plan to buy back boats, that has drawn some criticism in Indonesia. Will you reconsider that plan in light of those

comments?

TONY ABBOTT:

Two things, first of all, our plan is to have money available to spend where our people on the ground in consultation, cooperation with the Indonesian authorities on the ground believe it is an appropriate thing to do to minimise the risks that people will take

these deadly journeys by sea to Australia. So, we want to have the resources available to our officers on the ground, working with the Indonesian people on the ground to do whatever is reasonably necessary, whatever is reasonably productive to have fewer

people embark on this very dangerous and hazardous journey. So, that is what we want to do.

QUESTION:

If they’re feeling offended though by this policy, does it need to be reconsidered?

TONY ABBOTT:

Just because one member of the Indonesian legislature was prevailed upon to say something mildly critical, doesn't mean that anyone serious in the Indonesian Government has any issues with it. The fact is that the previous Coalition Government worked

very constructively and productively with Indonesian officials to stop the boats, to track down and deal with the Bali bombers, to deal with the extraordinary human tragedy of the East Asian Tsunami. We have an excellent record in working productively and

constructively with the Indonesian Government in the past. I am very confident that we will do it again. But I tell you what, the one thing that I want to say to the people smugglers - your game is up. Your business is over. A Coalition government is more than a

match for you. We have done it before. We will do it again. The boats will stop under a Coalition government.

[ends]

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© 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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