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Transcript of doorstop interview : Williamstown, Melbourne: March 27, 2013: The Government's cuts to Defence spending; federal budget; superannuation; the Government's failed border protection policies; the Coalition's $1.5 billion commitment to Melbourne's East West Link; Gary Humphries; Bob Katter



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Joint Doorstop Interview, Williamstown, Melbourne March 27, 2013

Subjects: The Government's cuts to Defence spending; federal budget; superannuation; the Government's failed border protection policies; the Coalition's $1.5 billion commitment to Melbourne's East West Link; Gary Humphries; Bob Katter.

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

TONY ABBOTT:

It is terrific to be here at BAE Systems at the Williamstown Dock. It’s a dockyard which has been here for more than 100 years. It

is a very important site if our defence forces are to have the equipment that they need to do their job in the years to come. It is great to be here with David Johnston and Stuart Robert, my Defence Shadow Ministers. It is very important that the Government

appropriately support our defence forces and that means appropriately supporting the dockyards and the other defence suppliers who are necessary to ensure that our defence forces get the equipment that they need. Because of delays and cuts in defence,

because of the $21 billion that has been taken out of defence spending over the last few years under this government, dockyards like this are in a degree of difficulty at the moment and certainly I call on the Government to do what is necessary to ensure that

dockyards like this have the appropriate work to keep going in the months and years ahead. They are a very important part of Australia’s defences and the one thing that we need to be certain of is that the defence of Australia is in good hands.

My regret is that right now under the current Government because of the $21 billion that has been taken out of defence spending

over the last few budgets, we now have defence spending as a percentage of GDP at the lowest level since 1938 and set to fall further in the years ahead. The Coalition wants to go back with the right budgetary conditions to the circumstances that applied in

the time of the Howard Government where we had three per cent real increases in defence spending with the objective of having defence spending at two per cent of GDP. That is our objective. Obviously, we can only get to that objective depending upon

budgetary circumstances but one thing we are very clear about is that there should be no further cuts to defence and any savings we can find in defence will be reinvested in greater operational capability, because the armed forces of our country deserve

support. We need a government that you can trust to keep the defences of Australia in good repair.

Just before I ask David and Stuart to say a few words, I should also just say something about the Government’s budget preparations. One of the reasons why it is important to get the budget under control is to give our nation the resources that are

needed to spend on what is absolutely vital for our future and obviously we need to restrain unnecessary spending so we can spend the money on the things we absolutely need like a strong defence. Under the current budget, current Government, debt

has just gone up and up and up. The debt ceiling, the nation’s credit card limit, is $300 billion. Now, the Government needs to get this down - it needs to get this down urgently - but my fear and the growing fear of the Australian public is that the Government will

try to solve its problems by increasing your problems, the problems of the Australian people; that the government will try to secure its future by jeopardising your future; that the Prime Minister will try to buy her future by raiding your superannuation savings and

why do I fear this? Because Simon Crean and Martin Ferguson have told us that this Government is looking to raid every Australian’s superannuation piggy bank in order to get itself out of a government hole.

So, we’ve got a Prime Minister who wants to secure her future by damaging your future. We’ve got a Prime Minister who is

mortgaging your future to secure her future and that’s the last thing that we need.

I’m going to ask Johno and Stuey to say a few words and then I’ll take some questions.

DAVID JOHNSTON:

Thanks Tony. Today we’re down at Williamstown in Victoria seeing what Australian industry can achieve if it gets support from Canberra...

QUESTION:

Excuse me, sorry, just for the tapes, just your first, second name and title.

Tony Abbott Federal Member for Warringah | Leader of the Opposition

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DAVID JOHNSTON:

David Johnston, Senator from Western Australia and Opposition Spokesperson on Defence. Today we’re down at Williamstown in Victoria seeing what Australian industry can achieve if it gets support from Canberra. Today, we’ve observed two projects in

manufacture here in Melbourne. The air warfare destroyer blocks being carried out and built by BAE Systems and the super structure to the LHD which is behind us - all done by Australian-skilled, Australian initiative and Australian industry. This

Government has failed to deliver on anything in terms of a new project. These are John Howard projects, commenced ten years ago. What has this Government done to support Australian industry? What is on the drawing board now? Absolutely nothing.

Now, what we’ve seen today is highly-skilled workers. We’ve seen a cost-effective manufacture that makes all of us visiting here very proud to be Australian. There should be much more of it and we support what’s going on here.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well said. Stuart?

STUART ROBERT:

Look, thanks Tony. It’s tremendous to be here and it’s tremendous to see the great Australian product that’s being created to

support great Australian fighting men and women in our three services. The Coalition is incredibly proud of our fighting men and women who are incredibly proud of what they’re doing, not only here in Australia, but more importantly overseas on operations

across the world and it’s important we give them the best gear, but what’s more important is we give them the best possible government. Tony Abbott’s the only national leader that is guaranteeing funding. He’s the only national leader that has

guaranteed there’ll be no cuts. He’s the only national leader that has guaranteed a future growth path so that our men and women can have some of the best gear in the world and some of that gear is sitting right behind us on the water line here. I’m incredibly

proud as a former serving officer in the military to stand next to Tony, incredibly proud to serve under Tony, because he gets the military, he gets what our fighting men and women are doing and he’s committed to ensuring they’ve got the best possible gear

and that’s why it’s great to join David Allott and the team here at BAE in front of what is our largest ship ever built, a ship made in Australia - certainly the part above the super structure - and a first class vessel for a first class military.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well said.

QUESTION:

Paris Aristotle is calling for all of his recommendations on asylum seekers to be adopted. What will it take for the Coalition in

government to do that?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, it’s interesting that Paris Aristotle and the other members of his committee said that the Malaysia people swap was unsatisfactory as it stands and we’ve seen no effort by the Government to change or improve the Malaysia people swap. A five-for-one deal involving just 800 people is utterly unsatisfactory and every time the Prime Minister talks about Malaysia, she’s essentially just finding yet another excuse for doing nothing.

QUESTION:

Tony, where will your no advantage policy stand if you are in government for people being on Manus Island and Nauru?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, you’ve got to stop the boats. That’s absolutely crystal clear. The only way to stop the deaths is to stop the boats and I think

the Australian public are sick of excuses form this Prime Minister. They’re sick of her invoking a Malaysia people swap which was ruled illegal by the High Court and which plainly is completely inadequate to deal with the flow of boats that we’ve now got. In a

single week we are now getting more than the entire number that Malaysia would take under the Prime Minister’s agreement. Now, the way to stop the boats is to put in place the policies that work. We’ve got to have rigorous offshore processing in places

like Manus and Nauru. We’ve got to have temporary protection visas so the people smugglers don’t have a product to sell. We’ve got to have a preparedness to turn boats around where it’s safe to do so and very importantly we’ve got to have the kind of

relationship with Indonesia that the Howard Government had and which the current government has jeopardised.

QUESTION:

So, addressing the question, where does your no advantage policy stand even if the Coalition government’s

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proposed...specifically on the no advantage policy?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, plainly, people who are on Manus or Nauru are not in Australia and if you are trying to offer people a trip to Australia and the trip to Australia does not end in Australia, it ends in Manus or Nauru, that’s an advantage which is denied to the people smugglers

and their customers.

QUESTION:

The ACTU has called for a $30 a week pay rise. Is that something you support?

TONY ABBOTT:

I never begrudge the hard working people of Australia a pay rise but what we’ve always got to be careful about is a situation where one person’s pay rise costs another person his or her job. So, I’d want to look very carefully at the particular circumstances

of businesses before saying, yes, let’s have an across the board rise.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, two questions about Victorian projects. First of all, do you support tolls to existing roads to help fund the East West Link project and secondly, do you think the state government should borrow to invest in state projects given public investment has

collapsed [inaudible]?

TONY ABBOTT:

I support building the East West Link as quickly as possible. That’s why the Coalition has committed $1.5 billion towards the project. Now, I note that the Prime Minister and the Federal Labor Government have left Victoria in the lurch by refusing to commit

to East West Link. We’ve got to have this. We’ve got to have it as soon as possible. The only way it will happen quickly is with substantial federal support. That’s why we’ve committed $1.5 billion to it. Now, how the Victorian Government manages its

contribution, how much of a private sector contribution the Victorian Government wants, that’s really a matter for the Victorian Government.

QUESTION:

Are super concession for high income earners, Tony Abbott, too high? Will you change those tax laws in government?

TONY ABBOTT:

I want to assure the hard working people of Australia that their superannuation will be safe under a Coalition government. We will

make no unexpected adverse changes to superannuation in our first term. We’ve had far too much fiddling from this Government. Back in 2007 Kevin Rudd promised that there would be no changes to superannuation, "not one jot, not one tittle" would be

changed, he said. There have been at least five significant changes to superannuation under this Government including an attack on the low income superannuation contribution that the Howard Government put it place and I want to say to people: their

superannuation is safe under the Coalition.

QUESTION:

But you qualified your answer by saying first term. So what are your plans after your first term potentially?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well look, we understand that people’s self-reliance, people’s responsibility, needs to be encouraged, not penalised and the last thing we will be doing is raiding people’s superannuation savings. That’s what this Government does. It raids people’s

superannuation savings. It takes money off the people because it’s never tough on itself, it’s always tough on the Australian people.

QUESTION:

Last one from me. Who would you like to be your Senate candidate in the ACT if tonight’s decision is overturned?

TONY ABBOTT:

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Look, I’ve been very clear in supporting Gary Humphries. Gary Humphries is a member of my frontbench. He’s done an excellent job. He’s a very experienced, very well-respected politician. He was a well-respected Chief Minister of the ACT. In the end, I

accept that these are matters for the lay party and I will respect the decision of the lay party but as one of my frontbenchers, Gary Humphries obviously has my full and total support.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, what are your thoughts on Bob Katter’s calls for tax breaks for AFL and NRL players?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, that’s Bob. I think that people should pay the same tax and I don’t think we should have one set of tax rules for people in

one occupation and a different set of tax rules for people in another occupation. I think there should be one set of tax rules for everyone.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, on the issue of tax, isn’t it legitimate to ask some of our richest self-funded retirees to forgo big tax breaks to fund

schools and disability services?

TONY ABBOTT:

What we should never do is engage in the politics of envy. What we should never do is play the class war card. Now, decent Labor people understand that. Simon Crean and Martin Ferguson have pleaded with the Prime Minister and with the Government

to put this class war behind them, to bring Australians together again, to remember the best traditions of the Labor Party under Bob Hawke and Paul Keating and I say that Simon Crean and Martin Ferguson have called it for Australia on this and the Prime

Minister should listen. Now, I don’t think she will. I think the Prime Minister and her L-plate Cabinet are addicted to spending and they are going to raid the superannuation piggy banks of Australians to fund their spending and I think it’s wrong and I think it’s

just going to further destroy people’s faith in this government.

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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