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Transcript of interview with Pete Davies: 104.9 Mix FM, Darwin: 9 December 2010: WikiLeaks; parliamentary reform; the Labor-Green alliance



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WARRINGAH

9 December 2010

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR INTERVIEW WITH PETE DAVIES 104.9 MIX FM, DARWIN

Subjects: WikiLeaks; parliamentary reform; the Labor-Green alliance.

E&OE……………………….…………………………………………………………………

PETE DAVIES:

Tony Abbott, good morning and welcome to 360 and welcome again back to the Top End.

TONY ABBOTT:

Pete, thanks for having me.

PETE DAVIES:

I just wanted to touch on Julia Gillard, the Prime Minister has come out and condemned what she says is the illegal act and I’m referring to Julian Assange of course, the founder of WikiLeaks.

TONY ABBOTT:

Yeah, look, my friend and colleague George Brandis, the Shadow Attorney-General, has said that what Assange has done is morally reprehensible but he’s far from confident that any law has been broken and I guess even people who’ve done the wrong thing have to be given the benefit of the doubt, the presumption of innocence and there’s doesn’t appear to have been an enormous amount of that from the Government.

PETE DAVIES:

Do you think that Assange is actually… Hasn’t Assange essentially done what most people would want to see done and that is, see people say one thing in public and they say another thing behind the curtains.

TONY ABBOTT:

And look, a certain amount of diplomatic obfuscation is probably inevitable if the ordinary business of life is to continue. For me, the problem with what Assange has done is that he has put out into the public arena a lot of information, some of which could compromise national and international security. Now, I think the papers have been reasonably responsible. They have only published the stuff which is, if you like, the meat and drink of public discourse but I gather that there’s a lot of information in these cables that have gone up on the net which people who wish us and our allies harm could find quite useful.

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PETE DAVIES:

Tony, the fact that the Prime Minister has come out and labelled it an illegal act, I mean, irrespective of what the man has done or hasn’t done, everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence.

TONY ABBOTT:

You’re right. You’re absolutely right, even baddies deserve due process and it’s far from clear that the Government has not rushed in too quickly on this one. As I said, I don’t like what he’s done and I would be very confident that at some stage in this process some laws have been broken - I mean, the people who had access to this information and passed it on to Assange I suspect would be guilty of all sorts of things under American law, but, as I said, we do have to give people the benefit of the doubt even if we don’t like them, don’t like what they’ve done.

PETE DAVIES:

Intelligence is an important element in the protection of our society and our community. I mean, it plays a big role in the defence of our nation. Have you got concerns about what would appear to be the ease in which Assange was able to access this sensitive information and then put it into the public domain?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, again Peter, I don’t claim to be the great student of how all of this has come about. My understanding is that the material is essentially American sourced material, it’s not Australian sourced material, and, look, how the Americans run their information distribution networks is a matter for them, but I suspect that there are a lot of revisions taking place at the moment as to just what information is made available to just how many people.

PETE DAVIES:

Ok. I know you’re heading off to Western Australia shortly, Tony. Just quickly, before you go, the new paradigm in the federal parliament, your overview of the new paradigm after a couple of months?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, it’s the same old Government and it’s a bad government getting worse and I think the Government has used the hung parliament as an excuse for it’s own weakness and indecision and I think as far as Question Time is concerned the answers might be slightly shorter but the vitriol is no less. I thought that the Prime Minsiter’s performance on the last day of the parliament was more like an alternative opposition leader than a prime minister of a great country. So look, I think the parliament as always probably disappointed a lot of people but in the end it’s the quality of the Government that counts and the Government can’t use the hung parliament as an excuse for its own failures.

PETE DAVIES:

People like Rob Oakeshott, they triumph the new paradigm as a new way forward and a new era in how we do business in Canberra. From where I sit, I can’t see too many new improvements Tony.

TONY ABBOTT:

No and, as I said, if you believe the WikiLeak this morning of the Treasury Secretary there appears to be a paralytic style of government in Canberra. The Treasury Secretary is apparently saying that never before has he had to deal with a government that is so paralysed by having to deal with so many different and disparate groups.

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PETE DAVIES:

Do you think the fact that we didn’t have a clear decisive decision either way, either a Labor government in its own right or a conservative government in its own right, has that, is that going to serve the people of Australia better?

TONY ABBOTT:

No, I think the public in Victoria, Peter, if you like, amongst other things, cast judgement on a hung parliament the other day. I think having seen a hung parliament in Canberra for three months, the people of Victoria were determined to have a majority government and the independents lost their seats and the Coalition has the majority.

PETE DAVIES:

Just touching on the Victorian result, that was an interesting one for the Greens because Bob Brown was running around grinning like a Cheshire cat expecting to pick up a couple of seats. That didn’t happen. Does that highlight what many people are now starting to believe, that the Greens are actually devoid of policy and are just picking up seats via preference deals?

TONY ABBOTT:

I’m not sure that the Greens are devoid of policy. I think the problem is they’ve got some very bad policies and they’re not just about the environment. I mean, the two issues that the Greens were most keen to promote in the federal parliament were gay marriage and euthanasia Now, it’s hard to see what either of those have got to do with the environment. So, I think that’s what people are starting to appreciate about the Greens, that they are economically irresponsible and socially subversive but they are a very important part of the Government. Effectively they are in alliance with the Labor Party to support the Gillard Government.

PETE DAVIES:

Alright, Tony, I’ll let you go. Travel safely to WA and thanks for taking the time to talk to us and merry Christmas to you.

TONY ABBOTT:

It’s a pleasure to be in Darwin and thanks for having me on the programme.

PETE DAVIES:

My pleasure.

[ends]