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Transcript of press conference: Perth: 31 March 2014: National Disability Insurance Scheme; Western Australian Senate election; the Government's commitment to repeal the carbon tax and the mining tax; education; Commission of Audit; a new honour for pre-eminent Australians; GST; IPCC report; Budget



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Prime Minister of Australia

The Hon Tony Abbott MP

Press Conference, Perth Monday, 31 March 2014 Perth Prime Minister Subjects:

National Disability Insurance Scheme; Western Australian Senate election; the Government’s commitment to repeal the carbon tax and the mining tax; education; Commission of Audit; a new honour for pre-eminent Australians; GST; IPCC report; Budget. E&OE PRIME MINISTER: It’s great to be here with the Premier at Goodwill Engineering. It’s good to be with Luke Simpkins, my parliamentary colleague - the local member - and to celebrate the work that is done in places like this. You’ve all seen a fabulous workplace with people of great enthusiasm and high morale and it’s very important that as a national government and as state governments we do the right thing by people with disabilities and that’s what today is all about: it’s about a better deal for people with disabilities. Thanks to the agreements that the Premier and I have signed today, we now have a national network of trials for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and I do say very much trials, because I am happy to learn the lessons of these trials. I am happy to look at what works best and obviously, each state has its own slightly different way of doing things when it comes to delivering services to people with disabilities. I commend the way Western Australia has for quite a few years now been working very much through the charitable and not-for-profit sector when it comes to the delivery of disability services and I certainly do want to learn from how the My Way scheme operates as well as how the NDIS trials work here in Western Australia. The three trial sites will benefit just over 8,000 people with significant disabilities. The Commonwealth’s putting in about $80 million, the state is putting in about $50 million and this is yet another good example of how this Government wants to work constructively and collegially with the states. We want our federation to work and the best way to get the federation to work is to work constructively and collegially with the states and accept the fact that sometimes the states, for all sorts of good reasons, will want to do things their way. Before I take questions I should observe that this is the final week of the Senate by-election campaign in Western Australia. If the people of Western Australia are serious about getting rid of anti-Western Australian taxes, they’ve got to vote for Liberal or National candidates; they’ve got to vote for Coalition candidates in this upcoming election. I think the people of Western Australia need to know that Labor is not being straight with you. Bill Shorten won’t give you a straight answer about the carbon tax and the mining tax here in Perth, but when he goes back to Canberra he supports the mining tax and he supports the carbon tax. The reason why we have not yet been able to get rid of the carbon tax or the mining tax despite the clear popular mandate that this Government got last September is because Labor is voting for the carbon tax and for the mining tax in the Senate. Labor and the Greens are in coalition, in the Senate, in Canberra and Labor and the Greens are the reason why we are still stuck with these taxes which aren’t anti-Western Australian taxes because in the case of the mining tax, it hurts the iron ore capital of the country and in the case of the carbon tax, it hurts the energy capital of the country and it also hits every household in Western Australia with $550 a year in higher costs. QUESTION: Just on the NDIS, can you afford it given your current Budget problems and can you rule out any delays to the scheme in future as a result of your Budget troubles? PRIME MINISTER: We will absolutely deliver on all of the agreements that have been negotiated with the states and with the territories and we are totally committed to delivering a sustainable, affordable National Disability Insurance

Scheme. We’re also listening to the NDIS board because we want to make sure that we get it right and in the end what’s important is getting it right rather than rushing it and one of the problems with the former government was that they were rushing it because they wanted a political monument. They were more concerned with getting a political monument than they were with getting the right National Disability Insurance Scheme. QUESTION: Joe Hockey talks about finding efficiencies in the NDIS. There’s some fear that that may be code for something more sinister. Can you allay their fears? PRIME MINISTER: We want to get it right. Obviously we want to see better services for people with disabilities and why we are keen to have not just an NDIS trial here in Western Australia but a My Way trial here in Western Australia is because we don’t think that the Commonwealth Government necessarily has the last word in wisdom on everything. We accept that in the West they’ve had a disability support system which has relied much more on private providers and on the great charities and community organisations such as this one here at Goodwill. We accept that there are lessons to be learnt and where we learn that there are good ways and better ways of doing things, well, obviously, we want to change the better ways. QUESTION: [inaudible] the timing and the design of the system change? PRIME MINISTER: Well, you have trial sites because you want to learn and that means that as time goes by we will be refining and improving what we’re doing. QUESTION: Prime Minister, there’s a teachers’ strike planned for Western Australia tomorrow that’s going to be supported by some parents. Are you aware of the reasons for that? And Labor has been trying to attack you for rolling out education cuts on a national level. What do you say about that? PRIME MINISTER: Well, as usual, Labor is telling the Australian people untruths. What happened was that in the lead up to the election, to try to make its books look better, the Labor Party took $1.2 billion out of school funding. There is now, thanks to this Government $1.2 billion more in the forward estimates than there were in the pre-election forward estimates because we’ve put back the $1.2 billon that Bill Shorten, who was the Education Minister, took out. So, the money that Bill Shorten took out, we’ve put back and that means about $100 million over that period in extra money for Western Australian schools. The other point I should make while I’m talking about schools in Western Australia is the Independent Public School Model which Premier Barnett has pioneered, I think has really trailblazed a way forward for public schools right around our country. It’s not necessarily for every public school but it’s a marvellous way of enabling public school communities to be at their very best and I certainly would like to see more independent public schools, more public schools that have learnt from this Western Australian scheme right around our country. QUESTION: Are teachers and parents right to strike tomorrow, though? PRIME MINISTER: I think that teachers and parents should do what is best for their kids and normally it would be best for the kids for the schools to be teaching as usual. QUESTION: Now that the Government’s received the final Commission of Audit report, what’s the process from here and how long will it take you to consider its recommendations and when will the public be able to see it? PRIME MINISTER: I haven’t myself had a chance as yet to go through the final report although obviously I’m fairly familiar with the interim report that was delivered a month or so back. There are some recommendations that we will accept and you will see them incorporated in the Budget. There’ll be other recommendations that we will continue to work on. I suspect some might go into the federation white paper or the tax white paper and there will be other recommendations which may well have intellectual merit, but which for all sorts of reasons the Government is not proposing to proceed further with. QUESTION: Do you think that you’ve carried public sentiment with your decision to reintroduce imperial honours? PRIME MINISTER: Well I haven’t done that. What I’ve done is I’ve re-established Knights and Dames within the Order of Australia and the Order of Australia is an entirely home-grown order. It was created in the 1970s, it’s an entirely home-grown order. The first Dame is Dame Quentin Bryce, the recently retired Governor-General. The first Knight is Sir Peter Cosgrove and I think both of them have done outstanding work for our country, will continue to do

outstanding work for our country and I’m really proud that two really fabulous Australians, people who have given exemplary service to our country have been so honoured. QUESTION: But do you think that the public agrees on your decision - the majority of the public? PRIME MINISTER: I’m a politician, I cop flack every day for all sorts of things, but I don’t think anyone would dispute that Dame Quentin Bryce and Sir Peter Cosgrove are outstanding Australians and I don’t think anyone would begrudge Dame Quentin and Sir Peter the respect and recognition that they have been given. QUESTION: Western Australians are the only state that will receive less GST money next year. What can you tell the Western Australian people about what you’re actually going to do to improve the situation? PRIME MINISTER: Well the best thing I can do for Western Australia is get rid of the carbon tax and get rid of the mining tax. This is the best… QUESTION: [inaudible] PRIME MINISTER: Well the important thing is to ensure that Western Australia has the strongest possible economy. The best thing any national politician can do for Western Australia is make it easier for the creative and dynamic people and businesses of Western Australia to thrive. This is an economic powerhouse, it’s a great state. Over the last few years it’s been burdened by red and green tape from Canberra and by unnecessary taxes from Canberra. I’m reducing - I’m reducing very significantly - the red and green tape burden from Canberra and I’m taking off the burden of these unnecessary taxes. QUESTION: Your own Defence Minister on Saturday said it’s absolutely outrageous the share that WA gets of the GST and it’s actually up to you and the Premiers to fix it. PRIME MINISTER: I admire the way Colin Barnett has stood up for his state. Premier Barnett has been very properly a strong advocate for Western Australia here. As is well known the GST is a tax which goes to the states and it is up to all of the states collectively in order to make any change. Now, I’m not going to make any change, I’m not aware that the states have a collective position on this and if Western Australia wants the best possible deal on Saturday - vote for Senate candidates who aren’t undecided about it, who aren’t going to say one thing in Perth and do a different thing in Canberra. Vote for people who are dead against the carbon tax and who are dead against the mining tax and will vote against the carbon tax and will vote against the mining tax in the national Parliament. QUESTION: What’s your response to the IPCC report released today says Australia will get more floods in the future? PRIME MINISTER: Well the CSIRO amongst many other reputable scientific organisations has cautioned against attributing any particular weather event to man-made climate change and look Australia is a land of droughts and flooding rains. Always have been, always will be and sure we’ve got to take strong and effective action against climate change and that’s what our direct action policy does and I challenge the Labor Party to point to any other country with an economy wide carbon tax or emissions trading scheme comparable to the one that the Labor Party foisted on the Australian people - having explicitly promised that they never would. QUESTION: It looks like you have some doubts about the IPCC report veracity. Is that right? PRIME MINISTER: The IPCC has been telling us for many years now that we needed to do more and I’m very happy to do what this Government pledged to do before the election which is to take strong and effective action to deal with climate change. You’ve got to do the right thing, not the wrong thing. You’ve got to have smart policies, not dumb policies. A carbon tax is a very dumb policy. It’s a very expensive policy which has not actually reduced Australia’s emissions. That’s why the Coalition, the Liberal Party wants to get rid of the carbon tax as quickly as we can. The Labor Party, unfortunately, is telling people in Perth that it’s scrapping the carbon tax while it’s voting in Canberra to keep the carbon tax. QUESTION: Do you think it makes sense for your Government to clear up big Budget cuts just a week after the Senate election? PRIME MINISTER: We’re being honest and upfront with people. This is the difference between the Coalition and the Labor Party. We were brave enough to go to the election telling people that things like the schoolkids bonus and income

support bonus could not be paid for. We were honest enough to go to the election saying to people that we were going to have to trim the size of the Commonwealth public sector payroll. The Labor Party went to the election in denial about public service cuts, that it was actually making secret public service cuts that were actually in train. The Labor Party as we all know when it came to the carbon tax, said one thing before the election and did the opposite after the election back in 2010. We’re honest and upfront with people. QUESTION: The Treasurer says though that he didn’t know about Labor’s extra spending, but Labor said that they did release it last year and also in the pre-election. Is Joe Hockey being less than honest though? PRIME MINISTER: What the Treasurer is pointing out is that Labor booby-trapped the budget. Labor booby-trapped the budget. What Labor did was they brought in a whole lot of new spending programmes where the out years beyond the forward estimates were loaded up. This is why what we now know is that Labor left us debt and deficit as far as the eye can see. This Government has the responsibility for fixing this and fix it we will because the Australian public understand that you can’t spend your way out of trouble, that you can’t give what you haven’t got, that governments can’t tax and subsidise their way to prosperity. The Australian public know that governments, like households and businesses, have got to live within their means and that’s the challenge we face and we are up to that challenge. Thank you.