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Transcript of joint doorstop interview: Queanbeyan, New South Wales: June 20, 2013: Eden-Monaro Campaign Office Opening; The Coalition’s Real Solutions Plan; Julia Gillard's carbon tax; Julia Gillard's mining tax; the Government’s failed border protection policies; Labor’s soap opera; Green Army



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Joint Doorstop Interview, Queanbeyan, New South Wales June 20, 2013

Subjects: Eden-Monaro Campaign Office Opening; The Coalition’s Real Solutions Plan; Julia Gillard’s carbon tax; Julia Gillard’s mining tax; the Government’s failed border protection policies; Labor’s soap opera; Green Army.

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

TONY ABBOTT:

It's good to be here in Queanbeyan, it's good to be here for the official launch of the campaign for Eden-Monaro. It's good to be

with Zed Seselja the former Opposition Leader in the ACT and our candidate for the Senate in the ACT, as well as with Peter Hendy.

As I said earlier, we are all about better outcomes for the Australian people. That's what we offer. We offer the Australian people a

Real Solutions plan and at the heart of our Real Solutions plan are tax cuts and benefit increases without a carbon tax. People get to keep all the tax cuts and all of the pension and benefit increases from 1st of July last year, but they lose the carbon tax. That's

why when you're doing the weekly, the fortnightly or the monthly budget around your family or household kitchen table, you ought to be better off under the Coalition. There are no magic wands. There are no painless solutions to the problems that this

Government has created, but nevertheless, we do have a plan. We will make things better, and by getting rid of the carbon tax, but keeping the compensation, those tax cuts, those benefit increases become real.

Now, I'm going to ask Peter to say a few words and then obviously I will take some questions.

PETER HENDY:

Thank you very much, Tony, for coming to Queanbeyan and Eden-Monaro again. This is about the fifth visit this year and it shows

that the Liberal Party is really battling, trying as hard as it can to win this important target seat. It is a seat, when I go around Eden-Monaro, people raise issues, they raise anxiety about cost-of-living pressures, they raise issues about the carbon tax and

electricity prices and they raise border security issues. That's what they raise. These issues are all of major concern to the people of Eden-Monaro and it's great for you to come to Queanbeyan today to formally open the campaign office. Thank you.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thank you so much. Ok.

QUESTION:

Is it clear now that Indonesia won’t accept any boats being turned around under any circumstances? Where are you going to turn

the boats around to?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, the simple truth Mark is that this has been done before, and it can be done again. When it was done before, the Prime Minister said that it was a very important element in stopping the boats and I challenged the Prime Minister to explain why it is that

the Navy are incapable of doing today what they were capable of doing under the Howard Government.

QUESTION:

Isn't the answer that simple, that Indonesia says they won't accept the boats?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, the interesting thing about these particular boats is that they are Indonesian-flagged, Indonesian-crewed, Indonesian-home-

Tony Abbott Federal Member for Warringah | Leader of the Opposition

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ported. Now, if these boats decide that it is in their best interests to turn around and return from whence they came, that is entirely their business.

QUESTION:

Are you saying that you will only turn around boats if they are carrying an Indonesian flag?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, what I'm saying is that these are Indonesian boats, and an Indonesian boat is entitled to return to the port from which it has

come.

QUESTION:

Is Julia Gillard leaving it too late to go to Indonesia?

TONY ABBOTT:

That's a very good question, and it will be on Monday, three years since Julia Gillard became Prime Minister. The day she became Prime Minister she set herself three tasks. One was to fix the mining tax - that's got worse. One was to fix climate change

- and we all know the betrayal involved there. And the third and in some ways the most important task was to stop the boats, and the boat disaster has just got worse and worse on her watch. I have applauded the Prime Minister's overseas trips. For instance, I

thought it was good that she went to New York for five days to try to lobby for Australia's bid to become a temporary member of the Security Council. I applauded her trip to China for a similar length of time to boost our relations with that most important

economic power. But she really has left it a long, long time to tackle the boats problem, and when she is going to Indonesia to try to sort the boats issue out with President Yudhoyono, she ought to apologise for the way this Government has played mega

phone diplomacy with the Indonesians, and she also should apologise for the catastrophic decision to cancel the live cattle trade in panic at a television program. It is very important to get our relationship with Indonesia back on the firmest possible footing. The

Indonesians have an abundance of goodwill towards Australia. They want to have the best and the most cooperative relationship possible with Australia, but this Government has made it so difficult with a series of very poor decisions, and I think it is another

indication of lack of judgment on the Prime Minister's part that she has left it three years to have this kind of a visit to Indonesia.

QUESTION:

If the Labor leadership changes after next Thursday, should Parliament be recalled and would you take any advice that the Governor-General gave on the appointment from Caucus?

TONY ABBOTT:

I'm really not focused on the soap opera inside the Labor Party. I will leave it to the faceless men to decide who should lead the

Labor Party. What I think should happen is that the Australian people should decide who is our Prime Minister, and at the moment that will happen in 86 days' time. I think the Australian public can't wait for September 14th. September 14th can't come soon

enough, as far as the Australian public are concerned.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible] recalling Parliament and test it on the floor?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, let's wait and see what happens. As I said, the faceless men are obviously pondering their positions. The faceless men are obviously trying to work out what will serve their interests best but the fact of the matter is that it really should be up to the people

to make this choice, and as far as this Government is concerned, it's not really who leads that's the issue, it is the fact that this has been the most incompetent and untrustworthy government in Australia's history, and whether it's Kevin Rudd or Julia Gillard, it will

still be an incompetent and untrustworthy government. This idea that by changing the face at the top you can somehow change the nature of the government is quite wrong. The Australian people can see through these sorts of games from the Labor Party.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, have you counseled Sue Boyce? She has said she is planning to cross the floor on a couple of gay rights issues.

TONY ABBOTT:

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The short answer is no. I appreciate Sue's position and we're not a Stalinist party, never have been, never will be. Obviously we have a clear position that we don't support gay marriage as a party, but people on our side of the political fence have always had

the right, if they feel strongly enough about something, to make their own decision.

QUESTION:

The Egyptian asylum seeker who has been in the debate recently has said he is innocent of all charges. Did you go too far and use his case for political mileage when you described him as a dangerous jihadi terrorist?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, at all stages we were working on the basis of the advice that was given to us, and indeed to the Australian people in Senate

Estimates, and the problem for the Government is that for months their advice, their official expert advice was that they had a jihadi terrorist behind a pool fence and they did nothing.

QUESTION:

On a local issue, one that definitely relates to, would be of interest to this electorate, you've talked about the Green Army. Can you

be clear for us today, is that a full-time paid position for members of the Green Army? Are these effectively people who have become public servants?

TONY ABBOTT:

No, the Green Army, 15,000-strong which will march to the rescue of our degraded bushland and our contaminated waterways, is

a very important policy. I hope it will be a signature policy of an incoming Coalition government. Most of the members of the Green Army will be paid the training wage. That was our policy at the last election. That will be our policy at the coming election

QUESTION:

If sorting out the boat issue with Indonesia is so important, why didn't you raise the issue of boat turnarounds with the President of

Indonesia when you met with him?

TONY ABBOTT:

I've never been inclined to blab about private discussions. Particularly, I'm not going to reveal the content of private discussions with senior members of the Indonesian Government because if the Indonesians are to have a relationship of trust and confidence

with Australia, it's got to be possible to have a confidential conversation. So, I will not now and will never reveal the precise details of what was discussed, when and with whom. But I can say absolutely unequivocally that the Indonesian Government knows our

position, understands our position and can work with the Coalition should we form a government after September 14th.

QUESTION:

Do you think the Prime Minister's visit to Indonesia is an attempt in part to wedge you on this issue?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I think the Prime Minister’s visit to Indonesia is about two years and 51 weeks too late, and one of the commitments that I've made many months ago is that my first significant overseas trip, barring things like international conferences might fall due at

particular dates, should I become Prime Minister, will be a trip to Indonesia. In many respects Indonesia is Australia’s most important international relationship. It may not be our most important security relationship, it may not be our most important trade

relationship, it may not be our most historical relationship, but because of its size, because of its proximity, because of its potential, this is taken in the broad, the most important relationship we've got, and I hope it will be henceforth a convention, a

convention of Australian Government that the first significant trip that any incoming Prime Minister makes is to Jakarta.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, yesterday the Prime Minister said in Parliament that your first-term commitment on asylum seekers had gone from stop the boats to kinda, sorta, stop them if I possibly can. What is your succinct commitment on the first term Abbott government on

asylum seekers?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I think the Prime Minister is just humiliated and embarrassed when it comes to her record on the boats. Let's face it, she did

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promise to sort this problem out and she has manifestly failed to do so. We've had more than 700 boats, we've had almost 45,000 illegal arrivals. Very large Australian towns and cities like Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour, Queanbeyan itself, are dwarfed by

the size of the illegal influx by boats. So I think the Prime Minister is desperately trying to cover up her own failure and one of the reasons why the Parliament is currently debating 457s is because this is a government which is desperately trying to find a

distraction from its own failures because...

QUESTION:

And your commitment on boats?

TONY ABBOTT:

I'm coming, I'm coming, please give us a chance. She can't stop people coming illegally by boat and mostly going on welfare, so she is now raising a human cry against people coming legally and safely to our country and working and paying taxes from day

one. No wonder no less a person than Simon Crean has denounced this as simply dog whistling.

Now, on the Coalition's position, we will stop the boats. We will stop the boats. We will make a difference from day one.

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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