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Transcript of doorstop interview: Holdsworth Centre, Sydney: 19 August 2016: Budget; NSW Liberal Party; children in detention; Nauru; Olympics; domestic violence; Long Tan



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PRIME MINISTER

THE HON. MALCOLM TURNBULL MP

TRANSCRIPT

19 August 2016

E&OE…

PRIME MINISTER:

Doorstop at Holdsworth Centre Sydney

It’s been wonderful to be here at the Holdsworth Community Centre, and to be in the company of so many young Australians all dressed up as pirates. It’s a very pirate themed today and it’s great in my capacity as the local Member, to be able to provide some support for this terrific redesign and redevelopment of this Centre. Congratulations to Michael and Helen for managing it so well. This has been a place of enormous joy for kids and many members of the community, old and young, since 1940. I know with this revamp, it’ll be used - it’ll be popular - it’ll be a place of joy for many years to come. So it’s great to be here.

Now on a more financial note, let me make this observation: we’ve been here this morning surrounded by children - we need to ensure in this Parliament, the 45th Parliament, we get our budget back on track, bring down the deficit, slow and stop the growth in debt. We need to do that, because otherwise, if we don’t - if we fail to live within our means, if we fail to repair our budget, we will be burdening these children with a massive mountain of debt. The consequence of that will be - if we were to be so neglectful of their future - the consequence of that will be is that they will pay higher taxes in the future, they will have less services, and Government will not be able to afford to invest the kind of money they have in Centres like this. Their standard of living and their quality of life will be diminished. So there is an urgent need for this Parliament, for all the parties, Government, opposition and crossbench, to work together to bring our public finances into order. We owe it to those who we should care about the most, our children and our grandchildren.

JOURNALIST:

You’ve stated [inaudible] your savings targets?

PRIME MINISTER:

I’m calling on all members of the Parliament, House and the Senate, to support our budget and our measures, our savings measures, which will - as we set out in the budget - bring the budget back into balance and address that mountain of debt which it is our duty to get under control and over time, bring down.

JOURNALIST:

To NSW Prime Minister do you think it’s appropriate that people like Michael Photios continue to have power on the New South Wales State Council being a lobbyist?

PRIME MINISTER:

These are matters that are being considered by the party organisation. As you know for some time at the federal level, lobbyists have not held positions as federal office bearers.

JOURNALIST:

But do you think it’s appropriate that Chris Stone writes to lobbyists who do hold senior positions within the Council, asking them to resign, isn’t that (inaudible)?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it - certainly the State Director certainly has my support in doing that. Its - I believe - a very responsible move. It’s important to ensure that at all times, our political party, my party, the Liberal Party, is seen to be absolutely free of any influence other than that of its grassroots members.

JOURNALIST:

So do you think that them continuing to hold those positions and …?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well this is very much a matter for the party organisation. I’ve expressed my own view, and the view of our federal party of course, is expressed in the practices we have. I think it is important for the party to be seen to be what it is - absolutely what it is - a grassroots political movement. The Liberal Party is very much a grassroots political movement, it is not controlled or influenced by vested interests, it’s not like the Labor Party which is as you know, the political wing of the union movement. The Labor Party is very much controlled by union bosses. That is how it is, that’s how it’s set up. The Liberal Party on the other hand - and the National Party make the same comment about the National Party - are both genuinely grassroots political movements.

JOURNALIST:

[Inaudible]

PRIME MINISTER:

The Government - the lady from the Guardian on my right has just asked me about children in detention centres. The answer - let me set a few important facts up. During the time of the Labor Government, there were 50,000 unauthorised arrivals, asylum seekers, to Australia. At least 1,200 of them drowned. The Labor Party abandoned the border protection policies of the Howard Government that had stopped the boats. I was Opposition Leader at the time, when Mr Rudd made that decision, I begged him not to do so. But, he prevailed, he persisted, and Labor’s legacy was, 50,000 arrivals and most tragically of all, 1,200 deaths at sea. There were also thousands of children placed in detention in Australia. Shortly before the Labor Party was voted out of office in 2013, there were 2,000 children in detention in Australia. Today there are none. We’ve closed 17 detention centres because for more than two years now, we have been able to stop the boats. It was a critical objective, it was one that Labor lost sight of and in doing so enabled enormous hardship, enormous oppression, enormous exploitation and tragic loss of vulnerable people and their families.

Now in terms of the issues that have been raised with respect to Nauru, each of those matters is being carefully investigated as the Minister has described , and if there are any of them that have not already been addressed - because they relate to events in some cases some considerable time ago - then they will be.

JOURNALIST:

In relation to the Olympics, Emma McKeon won four medals including a gold, and has been banned from attending the closing ceremony. D you think that’s the right approach?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well the management of the team in Rio tis a matter for our Olympic -

JOURNALIST:

But do you think -

PRIME MINISTER:

I will leave the management of the team to the managers and I won’t seek to second guess them from here. But I would say this: that we should all be so proud of our athletes and their success, including Emma, and celebrate the great success that they’ve had in Rio, the triumphs, the disappointments. They’ve borne the disappointments with great character. Australia has participated well and enthusiastically and I look forward to welcoming the team home next week.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, can I ask you about the new domestic violence guidelines such as a criticising (inaudible) how do you think they are too hard line or its fair enough?

PRIME MINISTER:

Let me say as the Attorney General has said, these materials do not change the law at all. They don’t change law, either the statue of law or the common law as set out in judgements. They’re there for guidance and I think it’s important that we don’t take them out of context. I haven’t studied them but I would just refer you to what the Attorney General, Senator Brandis has said about them.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think it’s important though that judges and magistrates recognise domestic violence isn’t just physical, it can also be emotional, psychological and financial?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well can I say to you that the first policy announcement I made as Prime Minister was a substantial increase in funding for measures to combat domestic violence, to deal with the consequences of it, to support women and children who have been the victims of domestic violence. This is a disgrace, domestic violence is a disgrace. The term itself is one that many of us find troubling. We say that violence against women and children is always wrong. It is always wrong and I make a point again that I’ve made before; that not all disrespecting women ends up in violence against women, but that is where all violence against women begins. That is why respect is so important.

If I may, adopt a grandfatherly theme, or a fatherly theme perhaps and quote my wife Lucy, who has often said that one of the most important things we can do as parents, and indeed as grandparents, is make sure our sons respect their mothers and their sisters, that they respect the women in their life and If we do that, we do that as parents, in particularly if we do that as men, as fathers and grandfathers, then we will be setting those little boys on the right track to be

strong, successful, respectful men as they grow up to form relationships and become husbands, fathers themselves.

JOURNALIST:

[Inaudible]

PRIME MINISTER:

The fact that many of our veterans were not able to visit the Long Tan Cross yesterday is a matter of great disappointment. As you know, since 1989 our veterans have visited Long Tan. They’ve visited and paid reverent respect to the fallen of both sides, at the Long Tan Cross, which was as you know erected in 1960.

The Government of Vietnam, official authorities, agreed the day before the ceremonies were due to take place that those ceremonies would not occur at all. As a consequence, the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and I both spoke to our counterparts in Vietnam at some length. We were able to reach agreement for arrangements that were to allow veterans to Visit Long Tan in small groups.

There are, as the Prime Minister explained and as I think everyone, particularly the veterans understand, there are of course considerable sensitivities about the war in Vietnam as you’d expect and we understand that and empathise with that. Our consular staff, our ambassador, Department of Veterans’ Affairs team did a fantastic job and 700 veterans and their families were able to visit Long Tan. But not all of them were, so it is very disappointing.

I will be speaking with the Prime Minister of Vietnam shortly at the East Asia Summit in Vientiane. We have agreed to do that and what we will seek to do is to ensure that in future there are very clear arrangements put into place well before the anniversary in each year, so that everybody knows what the rules are. From me of course, from the Australian side, we will as always comply with the rules and arrangements that Vietnam seeks to put in place. The most disappointing feature of the decision that was taken, is that it was taken at such late notice and it disappointed so many veterans who had travelled on that solemn, historic anniversary, so far, and had done so in absolute good faith and expecting that arrangements which had been put in place and negotiated and discussed with the Vietnamese authorities for a very long time beforehand, would be followed.

So yes, very disappointed that not all the veterans were able to visit Long Tan and I look forward to ensuring when I meet the Prime Minister in Vietnam, that we don’t have a repeat of any of this type of situation again.

Thank you very much

[ENDS]