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Transcript of joint doorstop interview: Cairns: June 22, 2013: Visit to Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park; Cairns; the Coalition’s 2030 Vision for Developing Northern Australia; Avenue of Honour Opening at Yungaburra; Bruce Highway; Labor's soap opera



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Joint Doorstop Interview, Cairns June 22, 2013

Subjects: Visit to Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park; Cairns; the Coalition’s 2030 Vision for Developing Northern Australia; Avenue of Honour Opening at Yungaburra; Bruce Highway; Labor’s soap opera.

EO&E...........................................................................................................................................

TONY ABBOTT:

It’s good to be here at Tjapukai. This is one of the iconic tourist operations of the Cairns region. I have been here before. It's good

to be here again and obviously it's good to be here with Warren Entsch, the incredibly hard-working local member and the Chief Opposition Whip.

I'm here today fundamentally to promote the Coalition's vision for Northern Australia and there are many elements to the vision.

We want more resources development, we want to make Northern Australia a food bowl for Asia and our region, but we do want to further develop the tourist potential of Northern Australia.

We particularly want to develop indigenous tourism in northern Australia because what makes our country unique is the

indigenous heritage, our indigenous dimension. When people come to this country from overseas, they want to know what it is that’s special about our country; what it is that makes our country different. This is where modern Australia should be so proud of

its indigenous heritage. This is where the indigenous people of Australia have so much to contribute to our overall economic development.

We sometimes neglect the economic potential of indigenous Australia. Tjapukai demonstrates that it's more than possible to turn

our indigenous heritage into an economic opportunity and that is at the heart of our vision for Northern Australia. It is a very important part of our vision for the country.

I am a great optimist for our country. I think our best days are ahead of us but we will only realise our potential as a whole country

if we maximise the potential of Northern Australia and that's what the policy document that Andrew Robb and Ian Macdonald and myself released yesterday is all about.

I'm going to ask the local member, Warren Entsch, to say a few words. Warren and I will soon be travelling up to Yungaburra for

the Avenue of Honour opening.

This is a special day for Warren. It's obviously a special day for the families of all who were killed or wounded in action in Afghanistan and I want to thank Warren for what he's done towards making this come to fruition.

WARREN ENTSCH:

Thank you, Tony. Thank you very much indeed. Actually, while we are on that too, there’s something I’d like you to have. This is a

very limited edition Avenue of Honour pin. The majority of these, there were only 2,000 printed, but 1,700 have actually gone to Afghanistan. They are on their way to Afghanistan to all serving soldiers. So, that's something that they wanted you to have.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thanks so much. Thank you.

WARREN ENTSCH:

Look, thanks for being here because, and showing your strong support for this iconic destination if you like in Tjapukai. It's more

than just a theme park. This is something that has provided fabulous opportunities for so many young Aboriginal people in our region. When people come to have a look at Aboriginal culture, the one thing that they want to see is Aboriginal people presenting

their own culture. We do it here very, very well.

Tony Abbott Federal Member for Warringah | Leader of the Opposition

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We have actually got a wonderful redevelopment going on here at the moment which is almost completed and we have a vision

eventually for the first national indigenous museum, something that will happen into the future.

On the Paper, I have to say to you, and the vision of developing Australia, this is something that I've never seen in my lifetime. I'm a Far North Queenslander through and through. The opportunities that this presents are just absolutely unbelievable. It's not so

much about throwing bucket loads of money. What it's about is providing the legislative framework and removing that red and green tape to allow people to have confidence in investing here.

We've got superannuation funds, we've got proposed investments in this city now totalling billions of dollars, both overseas and

local people wanting to invest and for years it's been stalled because it's just so hard to do business.

So, just by saying that we are focusing in this area, we are starting to talk about a range of things from looking at tenure. Nobody can invest billions of dollars in large agricultural projects if they can only get a tenure of 10 or 20 years. There is infrastructure

required for those projects may last for 50. You have to get that security. It's pleasing to see that that's in here.

Certainly, enabling people to do it and showing them that we want them to be open for business. We have got agricultural area, particularly in Cape York, where they can treble their agriculture but they need a dam. So, there are lots of things that we can do.

I've got to tell you, there's a real buzz. It's not about me, it's about my kids and my grandkids. This is what people are saying. It's a

long-term future. We are talking about 2030 and at that stage my grandkids will be well and truly into work. I may even have great grandkids by then!

It's very, very exciting and it’s something we welcome and we are encouraging people to have ideas and putting forward things

that we may not have even considered and at the end of the day, it will be nice to say that at the moment with 80 per cent of our population and 20 per cent of our land mass, won't it be nice if we can create some sort of a balance where we get larger

numbers coming up into this area.

I’ve got to say that our community, the tail is now up, it's starting to wag, people are starting to get very, very excited after a very prolonged period of struggle.

So, thank you very much for your vision and for being here to do it. We're very excited.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thanks so much, Warren. Ok, do we have any questions?

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, with expanding tourism, Mr Entsch is pushing for a museum here at Tjapukaiitself. Could the Coalition Government

commit funds to projects such as that in Far North Queensland?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, we need to do a proper study of the museum proposal. We need to prepare a business case and Warren has been talking to me about getting some modest Federal assistance to prepare the business case for the museum. So, while money is very tight at

the moment - we've got a government which has delivered us the five biggest deficits in Australia’s history and we've gone from a $20 billion a year surplus situation under the last Coalition government to a $20 billion a year-plus deficit situation under the

current Government. So, money is tight. But this is, I think, a very worthwhile proposal that Warren has put forward and we will give it very serious consideration between now and polling day.

QUESTION:

What about other big projects for Cairns? We are hosting the G20 Finance Ministers’ meeting next year. The city needs a big

upgrade.

TONY ABBOTT:

Don't underestimate the quality of the city as things stand. I don't for a second deny that there is much that could be done and in the fullness of time ought to be done. But let's not run down Cairns as things stand. Cairns is - in many respects perhaps, along

with the Gold Coast - the tourist capital of Australia and it is a very impressive city with magnificent facilities already. Sure, facilities that can be improved, but we wouldn't be hosting the G20 Finance Ministers’ meeting here in Cairns if we didn't want to

showcase this great city as it is now. Let's also not forget that the Coalition, should we form national government, will be focusing

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on those things which are most clearly the national government's responsibilities and obviously first and foremost is the Bruce Highway. The Bruce Highway is the gateway to northern Australia. It is the lifeline for cities of Cairns and Townsville as well as the

other cities along the Queensland coast. That is going to be our number one priority for major spending in Queensland in the lead-up to the election.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, will you push for a motion of no confidence as promised if Kevin Rudd is reinstated into the top job?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I know the soap opera goes on inside the Labor Party but the Coalition's focus is not on parliamentary games. The

Coalition's focus is on providing strong government for our country. In the end, I think the Australian people should be choosing the next prime minister, not the faceless men. So, I rule nothing out and we will respond appropriately in the Parliament to

whatever happens this week, but as I said our focus is not on parliamentary games; our focus is not on Canberra insider gossip; our focus is on providing a strong, alternative government and I know the people of Australia are looking for vision - that is what

they are looking for - and that is what we are doing our best to provide with this Northern Australia policy.

QUESTION:

It sounds like you are pushing away from the original promise from the original promise to deliver that motion of no confidence now. What has changed?

TONY ABBOTT:

We have always said that we would move a motion of no confidence in the Government when it had a reasonable prospect of

success and the independents - the so-called independents, the Labor independents, the Labor supporters masquerading as independents - have always indicated that they fully support Prime Minister Gillard. In fact, it seems that the people in the

Parliament who most support Julia Gillard as Prime Minister are no longer her own caucus, but people like Mr Oakeshott and Mr Windsor. They support Prime Minister Julia Gillard even more strongly than people like Simon Crean and Martin Ferguson and,

let’s face it, they are Labor royalty.

QUESTION:

There are reports today that both the Greens and independents wouldn’t support any motion of no confidence if Kevin Rudd was to be reinstated. Is that a sign of confidence in Kevin Rudd as a leader? Are you concerned?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, I’m concerned to do the right thing by Australia - that is what I am concerned to do - and I think the Australian people are

sick of all of this Parliamentary shenanigans. They are sick of all of this “will he” or “won’t he” stuff; “will she” or “won’t she” stuff. They just want good government and it is pretty clear that whoever leads the Labor Party, we are not going to get good

government. The Labor Party - it’s divided and dysfunctional. It is poisonous inside the party and the sooner they have some time out to rediscover what they stand for, what they believe, who they represent - the better for everyone.

QUESTION:

The Australian people want from you an air of confidence and also cooperation within Parliament if you are elected. Who would

you most like to work with as an Opposition Leader if you were elected in Parliament?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, I am not going to get ahead of myself and I am focused on the next election, whenever the next election is. What the public want from me, what the public want from their Parliament - although, sadly, are most unlikely to get from the Labor Party - is

strong and stable government. They want a vision. They want ideas for our future. They want a government which is focused on building a better Australia and that is what I am about every day.

QUESTION:

But who would you prefer to run against in the election? Who do you think has the better chance of you winning?

TONY ABBOTT:

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Well, it is not about me, it is about the Australian people and giving the Australian people the strong and stable government that they deserve. I say to the Australian people: I will give strong and stable government. I am confident that a couple of years into the

term of any incoming Coalition government, the last few years will seem like a bad dream that has passed in the night, because we can do so much better than this. We will do so much better than this. We simply need to get rid of the division and dysfunction

in Canberra to give the Australian people the strong and stable government that you have always deserved.

QUESTION:

Let’s talk about the Avenue of Honour event. Do you think - it is a rather brash suggestion - but do you think that it could have been tainted by the recent scandals that we have seen within the Defence Force?

TONY ABBOTT:

No, no. Look, everyone deplores bad behaviour. We particularly deplore bad behaviour from those who we look up to, but nothing

can detract from the sacrifice of the 39 Australians who have given their lives in Afghanistan and nothing can detract from the magnificent effort of our armed forces in that country.

QUESTION:

You attended Private Ben Chuck’s funeral three years ago. Are you reflecting at all now on our role in Australia and do you agree

with the Government’s current stance in Afghanistan?

TONY ABBOTT:

I think what we have done as a country, what we have done as part of the western alliance in Afghanistan, has been important for that country, important for our country, important for the peace and security of the wider world and my understanding is that the

current government stands ready to extend the special forces commitment to Afghanistan - should that be agreed upon by the western alliance and the Afghan Government - and the Coalition certainly would back an ongoing special forces commitment to

Afghanistan provided there is the appropriate agreement in place.

QUESTION:

On the plan that we have been talking about so far, some interest groups have come out and taken a hit at it. They essentially said that all these places that you are calling beautiful land that can be prosperous are fairly arid and there is problems with water;

they just couldn’t be areas for food production. How do you respond to that?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, if you look at the country which is now part of the Ord River scheme, for instance, that was once very arid country for nine months of the year. If you look at the country around the Burdekin which is now very productive sugar country, much of that was

unproductive before the Burdekin Dam went in. So, look, water can transform a nation. Water can transform land. Water can make deserts bloom. It can turn a wasteland into a food bowl and that is why it is so important that we do try to ensure that we

make better use of our water resources.

Thank you.

[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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