Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Transcript of interview with Julia Christensen, ABC Darwin: June 25, 2013: Indigenous affairs; the Coalition's 2030 Vision for Developing Northern Australia



Download PDFDownload PDF

Interview with Julia Christensen, ABC Darwin June 25, 2013

Subjects: Indigenous affairs; the Coalition’s 2030 Vision for Developing Northern Australia.

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

JULIA CHRISTENSEN:

Tony Abbott, good morning.

TONY ABBOTT:

G’day, Julia. How are you?

JULIA CHRISTENSEN:

Very well thanks, Tony Abbott. Now, you have said that you will be a Prime Minister for indigenous affairs when you were launching a book. What did you mean by that?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, I want indigenous issues to be very much at the forefront of any government which I might have the honour to lead after the

14th of September. I am not saying that indigenous issues are going to be the only priority of an incoming Coalition government, should we get there, but we do need to focus on indigenous matters because I believe that for too long, indigenous people have

been on the sidelines of our national life and I think they need to be centre stage and the best way to bring that about is to ensure that the Prime Minister is focused on indigenous matters, not just shovelling it all off to an Indigenous Affairs Minister.

JULIA CHRISTENSEN:

But Northern Territory Senator Nigel Scullion, won’t he be your Indigenous Affairs Minister…

TONY ABBOTT:

Yes, he will.

JULIA CHRISTENSEN:

…and don’t you have confidence in him?

TONY ABBOTT:

Yes he will and he will be a terrific Indigenous Affairs Minister but just as Julia Gillard said that she wanted to be the Education

Prime Minister - not very effectively, I have got to say, but that’s what she said - I want to be a Prime Minister for indigenous affairs.

JULIA CHRISTENSEN:

Well, on indigenous affairs will you support the Northern Territory Government’s much criticised approach to dealing with alcohol

issues through forced rehabilitation which critics say will send a lot of indigenous people to jail?

TONY ABBOTT:

I want to work with the Territory Government to try to ensure we have the most effective strategies in place. Obviously, I am a

Tony Abbott Federal Member for Warringah | Leader of the Opposition

Page 1 of 3 Interview with Julia Christensen, ABC Darwin > Tony Abbott

15/11/2013 http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/22487/20130903-0148/www.tonyabbott.c...

supporter of appropriate restrictions and controls on alcohol. I have been working, as you probably know, Julia, with Noel Pearson for many years in Cape York. It is not normally our Australian practice to ban alcohol from communities, but if alcohol really is the

scourge that it has become in so many remote places, well, in extremis, yes, it has got to be banned, and, in extremis, you have got to take very tough measures.

JULIA CHRISTENSEN:

Do you support banning individuals who have shown to have problems with drinking i.e. the banned drinker register?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, again, I am very happy to work with the Territory Government to try to ensure that we have very effective mechanisms in

place that will be tough in the short term but compassionate in the long term, because…

JULIA CHRISTENSEN:

But I am just asking do you support the banned drinker register?

TONY ABBOTT:

I am not going to get into the nitty gritty of what the Territory Government is proposing because, let’s face it, we are in opposition, they are in government, but should we form a government we will work closely and cooperatively with them. I admire what is

happening up there. I think it is terrific that the Territory has got an indigenous Chief Minister and I don’t believe that Adam Giles is someone who is going to lightly do damage to his own people.

JULIA CHRISTENSEN:

Tony Abbott, you announced the Coalition’s policy on developing Northern Australia last week. You want to fast track

development of the Top End in a range of areas, tourism, trade with Asia, mining and double food production in the North. That would mean more irrigation. Can that be done without damming our rivers?

TONY ABBOTT:

I’m not against damming rivers. There are certainly good places and bad places for dams but if, after careful study, a dam makes

sense let’s go ahead with it. For instance, we’ve got places like the Nathan Dam in central Queensland. We’ve got the possibility of further dams on the Ord. We’ve got the possibility of dams on the Gilbert River in north Queensland and this idea that all dams

are bad all the time is just wrong. It’s a bit of damphobia from green zealots.

JULIA CHRISTENSEN:

So, something like the Daly, a river like the Daly could be dammed? Because you’ve mentioned the Daly as part of your policy. This is an area where we could have more agriculture.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, look, I think there are a lot of question marks over the Daly River and we don’t have any proposals to dam the Daly.

JULIA CHRISTENSEN:

You’ve talked about relocation incentives, tax cuts to lure people north. You’d know probably that Darwin is bursting at the seams

at the moment with a huge housing shortage. What measures will you put in place to develop the infrastructure to accommodate a huge population increase?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, one of the reasons why we do have such housing problems in cities like Darwin and Karratha and elsewhere is because

we’ve got, in many cases, highly restrictive land use requirements and this is something that we do need to work out. Now, I don’t pretend that it’s going to be easy, I don’t pretend that it’s going to be uncontentious - because there are a lot of stakeholders that

will need to be negotiated with -but one way or another, we’ve got to be able to make better use of our land and we’ve got to be able to make decisions about our land a lot more quickly than is currently the case.

JULIA CHRISTENSEN:

Page 2 of 3 Interview with Julia Christensen, ABC Darwin > Tony Abbott

15/11/2013 http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/22487/20130903-0148/www.tonyabbott.c...

And just quickly Tony Abbott, what do you think of our Chief Minister Adam Giles telling critics of his indigenous policies to piss off?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, people have blunt language up there in the Territory, don’t they?! I can understand Adam’s frustration, because many of the

people who are the critics are probably well-intentioned white fellas and the important thing is to get on with doing what you think is right for the Territory and I’m sure that’s what Adam’s doing.

JULIA CHRISTENSEN:

Do you sometimes feel like telling self-serving lefties to piss off yourself?

TONY ABBOTT:

I normally bite my tongue if that’s how I feel!

JULIA CHRISTENSEN:

Tony Abbott, thanks for your time this morning.

TONY ABBOTT:

Good on you, Julia.

JULIA CHRISTENSEN:

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott joining us there.

[ends]

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

www.tonyabbott.com.au

Page 3 of 3 Interview with Julia Christensen, ABC Darwin > Tony Abbott

15/11/2013 http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/22487/20130903-0148/www.tonyabbott.c...