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Transcript of joint doorstop interview: Armadale, WA: 2 September 2015: Andrew Hastie - Liberal candidate for Canning; community safety in Canning; Bill Shorten and the CFMEU's joint plan to sabotage Australia's economic future by standing in the way of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement; dumping Labor's bank deposit tax; Safer Streets programme; Australian coastal shipping fleet



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PRIME MINISTER

2 September 2015

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MP

JOINT DOORSTOP INTERVIEW WITH THE HON. MICHAEL KEENAN MP, MINISTER FOR JUSTICE AND MR ANDREW HASTIE, LIBERAL CANDIDATE FOR CANNING ARMADALE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Subjects: Andrew Hastie - Liberal candidate for Canning; community safety in Canning; Bill Shorten and the CFMEU’s joint plan to sabotage Australia’s economic future by standing in the way of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement; Dumping Labor's Bank Deposit Tax; Safer Streets programme; Australian Coastal Shipping Fleet.

E&OE……………………….……………………………………………………………

ANDREW HASTIE:

Good morning everyone. I would like to welcome the Prime Minister and the Justice Minister to the city of Armadale. We have had some good discussions this morning about law and order. We have seen the CCTV capabilities that we have here and I am confident that if I am elected as the Member for Canning into the future I can continue to deliver great law and order solutions for the people of Canning. On that note I will hand over to the Prime Minister for any questions.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you so much, Andrew. It is good to be here with you as you campaign for the seat of Canning at the coming by-election. It's good to be here with the Justice Minister Michael Keenan, who is a great fighter for community safety and, as all of us I think now know, this is a Government which every day is focused on jobs, growth and community safety. Prior to the last election, we made a commitment to spend $50 million from the proceeds of crime money on better CCTV cameras right around Australia. So far, about 20 million dollars of that has been spent to put CCTV into about 150 locations around our country; $170,000 was committed to the city of Armadale and thanks to that $170,000 there's more than 20 additional cameras, other cameras have been upgraded and what we saw today here was an illustration of what these cameras can do. Our streets are safer, thanks to this Government's work through the Safer Streets programme and Minister Keenan will have a little bit more to say about that in a moment.

But while we are very focused right now here on community safety, we are constantly pre-occupied with jobs and growth. If you are serious about economic growth and more jobs in this country, you've got to be in favour of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. Over the last few days a lot of Labor people have

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come out to support the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. Bob Hawke supports it. Bob Carr supports it. Overnight, Simon Crean, the former Trade Minister has come out to support it. Yesterday we had Daniel Andrews, the Premier of Victoria, coming out to support it. So, sensible Labor people know that this Free Trade Agreement is absolutely in Australia's interests. The only people who are opposing the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement are the CFMEU, the ACTU and Bill Shorten. He's keeping pretty dodgy company, I've got to say. He is shunning Bob Hawke, Bob Carr, Simon Crean, Daniel Andrews, so he can chum up to the CFMEU on the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. Quite frankly Bill Shorten is playing fast and loose with our future - he is playing fast and loose with Australia's future. This Free Trade Agreement sets Australia up for decades to come. And I call on Bill Shorten to come down off the fence, to stop siding with the CFMEU, and to support the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

Yesterday, in Canberra Joe Hockey and myself made a very important announcement. We announced that Labor's bank deposits tax was dead. That the Government would not be proceeding with the bank deposits tax which the Labor Party announced. Put into the Budget but didn't legislate. Yet again, this is a Government which has to clean up Labor's mess and, again, I say where does Bill Shorten stand on the bank deposit tax? We know he wants to hit the retirees of Canning with a new superannuation tax. Does he want to hit the retirees of Canning with a bank deposit tax and it's absolutely urgent that Bill Shorten says where he stands now on Labor's bank deposit tax because, frankly, the retirees of Canning, the people of Canning deserve a fair go. And they will get a fair go from this Government.

Now, Michael Keenan is very proud of the work that is happening here and elsewhere in Canning thanks to the Safer Streets programme and I might ask him to offer a few thoughts.

JUSTICE MINISTER:

Thank you, Prime Minister. It's good to be here at this city of Armadale with our fantastic candidate for Canning Andrew Hastie and yourself to have a look at the results of our Safer Streets programme. This was a $50 million commitment that we made upon coming to office where we would be spending money that we have taken from criminals through proceeds of crime back into community infrastructure such as the CCTV, that the mayor and the officials that the city of Armadale have been showing us here today. This is $170,000 investment, as a result of the Round One of programmes that we have had through the Safer Streets programme. I'm pleased to say in the next few weeks we will be able to announce we will be opening Round Two so that councils and other community groups around Australia will be able to apply for infrastructure funding to make the streets of their local community safer. The $170,000 investment here at the city of Armadale has been matched by a further $250,000 investment with the city of Mandurah within the electorate of Canning to make the Mandurah Foreshore a safer and more family friendly area.

Don Randall worked very hard to get these two projects up and running in conjunction with these two local councils and I fully expect that once we open Round Two of the Safer Streets funding that I will have Andrew Hastie, who we hope will be successful in this by-election, talking to me about further investments that we can make in the communities that he hopes to represent.

So, thank you to the city of Armadale for having us here, for showing us the results of this programme and I will hand back to you, Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, thank you so much, Michael. Do we have any questions?

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, you were talking about jobs and growth, economists are predicting today, though, that is actually going to slow. How much blame do you take for that?

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PRIME MINISTER:

I am happy to get to those issues in a minute but I am here with Andrew Hastie, who is an absolutely outstanding candidate for the seat of Canning so if there are some local issues first then we will get on to other issues.

QUESTION:

Tanya Plibersek said yesterday that he was keeping his distance from you. There doesn’t seem to be much distance today. Is this the only, or the second, but the only other visit you will be making here?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, this is about the people of Canning and it's about who can best represent them. I am very proud to be standing shoulder to shoulder with Andrew Hastie. I think there would be few Australians who wouldn't be proud to be standing shoulder to shoulder with someone like Andrew Hastie. So, without getting into the entrails of my schedule, I am happy to take every opportunity that I can to stand next to this absolutely outstanding Australian.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, some outlets in the east are suggesting that the Labor Party's campaign is running ‘doggo’ so that the result is favourable to the Government and favourable to yourself and that you would remain the leader. That would be apparently preferable to the Labor Party at the next federal election.

PRIME MINISTER:

Again, I am not going to get into the entrails of gossip in Canberra. What I am going to say is that we are running hard in Canning as you would expect. We have picked an absolutely outstanding person as our candidate. I am confident that Andrew Hastie is going to fight very hard for the people of Canning in Canberra. As for the Labor Party, they want this seat, and I expect an absolute blitz from the Labor Party in the last couple of weeks of this campaign.

QUESTION:

Do you accept that the outcome will have in some way a bearing on your future?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, it's not about me. It's about the people of Canning, it really is. This election is about who can best represent the people of Canning in Canberra. Who do you trust to fight for your interests and not to be the cat's paw of anyone else? Who do you think has the courage, the intestinal fortitude, the strength of mind and the strength of character to stand up for you? Who has the judgment to prioritise things and to do the right thing by the people of Canning? That is what is really at stake here.

QUESTION:

Does it intrigue you or irritate you that Labor may prefer you to be leading the Liberals at the next election rather than Malcolm Turnbull?

ANDREW HASTIE:

I am very busy on the ground. I don't have time to take counsel from the east coast Twitterati. There's a significant disconnect between what people are saying over in the east and what is happening here in

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Canning. The people of Canning are concerned about jobs, the problem of ice and infrastructure. And so I'm focused on the ground game here and Tanya Plibersek was somewhat correct yesterday when she said the people of Canning are fiercely independent and so they don't want interference from Canberra or anyone else. This is about them.

QUESTION:

Not often you see a local candidate save a Prime Minister from answering a question.

PRIME MINISTER:

I am very happy to have this particular candidate chime in I really am. This is the great thing about Andrew Hastie. Andrew Hastie is a man of character, a man of substance, a man who speaks his mind when it's needed.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, how much personal responsibility will you take for the result - win or lose?

PRIME MINISTER:

Again, I stress that this is not about me. I know that people in Canberra will try to make it that way, but as far as the people of Canning are concerned, quite rightly, they think it's about them, and I think it's about them too. Who can best represent them in Canberra, and I am very confident that Andrew Hastie is going to make an outstanding Member for Canning, should he be elected, in the great tradition of Don Randall.

QUESTION:

And if he shouldn’t be elected, if Andrew Hastie loses it’s his sole responsibility?

PRIME MINISTER:

Obviously, should that eventuate, all sort of people will say all sort of things, but I am very confident - very confident - that Andrew Hastie is an absolutely outstanding candidate and if the people of Canning are looking for someone who is tough, courageous, single-minded, ready to speak out for them, Andrew Hastie is their man.

QUESTION:

And if he wins it will have nothing to do with you? Is that what you’re saying, Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I know what you’re trying to do here, and fair enough, you guys want to play Canberra games, but as Andrew has made crystal clear, he doesn't want to play Canberra games and out of respect for Andrew, I am not going to play Canberra games today.

QUESTION:

Are you curious or are you irritated that this theory about running dead in Canning seems to be coming from your own Ministers?

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PRIME MINISTER:

No. As I said, our absolute expectation is that there will be a Labor blitz in the last few weeks of this campaign because Labor want this seat. It was once a very, very marginal seat. It went back to being a little marginal in 2010. Thanks to Don Randall's great local connections and his own charisma, it was safe enough in the last election, but we're not taking anything for granted and we're certainly expecting Labor to throw the kitchen sink at this seat in the last few weeks. We know the resources the union movement can mobilise. We know who the unions want to represent Canning. I think that Andrew Hastie is the sort of person who will be Canning's man in Canberra, not the CFMEU or the ACTU man in Canberra.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, the Liberal Party’s messaging around Mr Hastie is that he’s not another politician. Is that evidence of what the Liberal Party thinks that we all think of politicians?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think it's really outstanding that we’ve got someone who is a bit of a mould breaker - wasn't a political staffer, wasn't a union official, wasn't a party official, wasn't someone who spent years and years beavering away in a party branch, just a fine Australian citizen who has always tried to do the right thing by our country in every aspect of his life and now having served our country in the Special Air Services regiment, a great Perth institution, he now wants to represent the people of Canning in the Parliament. So, this is a life of duty and service and I am looking forward to a lifetime of duty and service lived out in the Parliament.

QUESTION:

How confident are you of a Liberal victory?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am certainly very hopeful of a Liberal victory. I think we’re doing well but we’re not taking anything for granted. We’ve got a great candidate; we’ve got a good record. If you look at the hundreds of millions of dollars that the Howard Government invested in the Forrest Highway at the behest of Don Randall, if you look at the kinds of things that this Government is doing in Canning at the behest of Don Randall such as these CCTV cameras that we were looking at today, the ones at Mandurah that Minister Keenan has spoken of. If you look at what we’ve done for Western Australia as a whole we’ve scrapped the carbon tax, we’ve scrapped the mining tax - two anti-West Australian taxes - we’ve committed almost $1 billion to the Perth Freight Link, we've committed $600 million plus to the Swan Bypass and the Perth Gateway projects. When Western Australia had a GST problem we stepped in with $500 million to ensure that road projects that would otherwise have been cancelled or delayed kept going ahead.

So, this is a Government which has demonstrated a very strong commitment, not just to the people of Canning, but to the people of Western Australia and that will absolutely continue should Andrew Hastie win this seat.

QUESTION:

On that note, Prime Minister, will there be money for the extension of the Tonkin Highway south, any more for the duplication of Armadale Road and a link to North Lake Road?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am going to ask Andrew to comment on that in a second, but let me just say that as a Government we don't just throw money at problems, we like to think before we spend. We like to think before we spend. We’re

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not so desperate to win that we turn up and throw $170 million at something without talking to the State Government about its priorities. In a moment I will be going out to look at the Armadale Road with Andrew Hastie to hear his views about it. I will then be talking to the State Government about their priorities and the commitments that they’re prepared to make and then we are in a better position to make decisions. But they’ll be considered decisions, they’ll be careful decisions, they will be decisions which respect taxpayers’ money. I know this is an important local subject, so, Andrew, over to you.

ANDREW HASTIE:

Thank you, Prime Minister. I have spoken to a lot of locals and they are concerned about the congestion at Denny Avenue in Kelmscott, they’re concerned about the congestion at Armadale Road running east west when they are commuting to work. They’re also concerned about the Tonkin Highway, they want it extended south into Canning itself. So I have taken all those things on board. Last week I met with the State Transport Minister, Dean Nalder. We discussed these issues in detail. So, the State Government is aware of it, and as I said to the Prime Minister in my State Conference speech, I will always put the people of Canning first. So today I have represented those views to him and I will continue to do soon on a range of different issues.

QUESTION:

How much do you know about those roads because you’re not a local, you haven’t driven on them, and now you’ve moved to Dudley Park which is in the completely opposite direction to Tonkin Highway, to Armadale Road?

ANDREW HASTIE:

As you are aware, I was a member of Defence for 13 years and no one in Defence is a local anywhere. So, in order to run for Canning, I decided to move my family down here. We want to settle down, we want to buy a house and - jet let me finish - and so I have gotten to know the electorate pretty well over the last few weeks. I’ve been driving around, I’ve been talking to a lot of people and I’m confident I am across the issues that the people of Canning are concerned about.

QUESTION:

Mr Hastie, if you were a betting man, would you be putting money on the fact there will be money for the duplication of Armadale Road and Denny Avenue?

ANDREW HASTIE:

As I said to the Communications Minister on Sunday night, I will be a thorn in the flesh to Federal Ministers and the State Government when I represent the people of Canning to deliver for them. I am all about solutions. I know what the issues are and mission failure is not an option. I’m going to get those solutions done.

QUESTION:

Do you agree with your Immigration and Small Business Ministers that you should sack Cabinet members who leak to the media?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, again, I’m not going to get into the Canberra gossip game. I’m here in Canning and I’m with a great candidate and I am focused on the issues of Canning.

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QUESTION:

You talked a lot about jobs. It’s reported today that a federal bureaucrat advised a Broome cruise ship owner to sack the local crew and employ people from overseas. Is that consistent with the Government’s policy?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, it’s just not true. It’s just not true. Just on the subject of Australian shipping, let me just point out that as a result of changes that the former government made to the rules governing Australian coastal shipping, the Australian coastal shipping fleet halved from 30 ships to 15 ships under Labor's watch. Costs for Australian shipping increased by almost 65 per cent in the first year of Labor's changes and the percentage of Australian freight carried by shipping in Labor's term of office between 2007 and 2013 dropped from 27 per cent to 17 per cent. So, Labor were absolutely catastrophic for coastal shipping and for jobs in coastal shipping. What this Government wants to do is to restore the situation which operated under the Howard Government and end Labor's job-destroying, cost-inflating coastal shipping regime.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, you mentioned the FTA before. Nick Xenophon this morning also said he can't support the FTA in its current form. Are you ruling out compromise with both Labor or Senate crossbenchers on this issue?

PRIME MINISTER:

This is a done deal. This is a done deal. It is the best deal that China has done with any developed economy. It is absolutely vital for our future. If you are serious about jobs for your children and grandchildren, if you are serious about prosperity in the years and decades to come, you must back this deal. How can you talk about an Asian century and at the same time snub Asia's strongest economy? This is the position that the Labor Party has allowed itself to be pushed into by the CFMEU.

So, again, I say to Bill Shorten: get serious about our future, get serious about jobs and growth, back this deal. Bob Hawke knows it’s right, Bob Carr knows it’s right, Simon Crean knows it’s right, Premier Andrews knows it’s right, Premier Jay Weatherill knows it’s right, Chief Minister Barr knows it’s right. The only people who don't want this deal to go ahead and to go ahead now are Bill Shorten and the CFMEU. And really, frankly, whose side are you on? That is my question to Bill Shorten.

Thank you so much.

[ends]