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Transcript of interview with Matt Abraham and David Bevan: ABC 891 Adelaide: 1 November 2016: visit to APY lands; border protection; asylum seekers; Pauline Hanson; Tony Abbott; power blackout in South Australia; South Australian economy



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PRIME MINISTER

THE HON. MALCOLM TURNBULL MP

TRANSCRIPT

1 November 2016

Radio interview with Matt & Dave ABC 891 Adelaide

E&OE…

MATT ABRAHAM:

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull joined us on 891 Breakfast.

Welcome to the programme Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER:

Good morning, good to be with you.

MATT ABRAHAM:

Prime Minister what have you learned? What have you been challenged by, particularly during your visit to the APY lands?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well the challenge is remoteness and the challenge is lack of economic opportunity. And we’ve been listening to local leaders, listening to the children and their teachers, working with the people who make sure the kids get to school and the lesson that the - the feedback that we get is one of a yearning for stronger economic growth and a desire to have more say in how that economic growth develops so it is very important for me to listen here. It’s very important for me to be here and it is also critical that we continue to do more. As I said in the last closing the gap speech that I gave in the House - that we do more with Aboriginal Australians and less to them. That we work with them so that our focus must be always on collaboration and ensuring that we find, you know, common solutions. And the cashless debit card in Ceduna is a very good example of that.

DAVID BEVAN:

And well apart from that, what will you do with these people?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well the important thing is to ensure that their kids get to school that their health services are good, that they have the opportunities to realise their potential. Aboriginal Australians, the First Australians, Indigenous Australia is as diverse as the whole Australian population. We are here in this very remote part of Australia in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands here in South Australia we’re meeting with the broader community including those from Western Australia and the Northern Territory, they’re empowered communities later this morning. But obviously most First Australians live in cities and so last week I was meeting with Aboriginal entrepreneurs and owners of businesses in Brisbane, many of whom were benefiting from our Indigenous Procurement Policy.

So you have a complete - if you think of the complete range of diversity of the Australian population as a whole, you can find Aboriginal people in every single part of that diversity.

MATT ABRAHAM:

Your critics would say well you find compassion for Aboriginal people, you do not have the same compassion for people on Nauru - asylum seekers and refugees?

PRIME MINISTER:

The voices that are not being heard are those of the 1200 men, women and children who drowned at sea during Labor’s catastrophic, tragic mismanagement of our border protection.

What we have been doing systematically, is cleaning up the shocking mess that Labor left us. Labor had to open 17 detention centres in Australia, we have closed them. They left us with 2,000 children in detention in Australia, they are not there anymore, that has been resolved and we have of course some thousands of people in Nauru and Manus who were put there remember by Kevin Rudd when in July 2013 he acknowledged that his management of the borders had been a catastrophe and he tried in that brief period, when he came back as Prime Minister, to reverse it. So the fact of the matter is, the policies we have, have worked. Over 800 days, no people smuggling expeditions successfully to Australia, no deaths at sea.

DAVID BEVAN:

And yet Prime Minister, you’ve announced again in the last few days that you want to toughen these measures even further. Somebody who has welcomed those measures is Pauline Hanson. This is a little of what Pauline had to say yesterday on Channel Seven. Let’s just hear from Pauline Hanson, somebody who’s supporting you.

SENATOR HANSON:

We need to make a very tough stance and put out the clear message, refugees are not welcome here. Now we know the majority come here for economic reasons, that they actually come here, end up on a welfare system. I have too many people come through my office and who talk to me on the streets,

they’re fed up of refugees getting housing, healthcare, legal aid - they get furniture, they get cars, they get looked after very, very well. Australians are fed up with it and as a matter of fact, so am I.

DAVID BEVAN:

Prime Minister, do you disagree with any part of that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well let me say to you, the reality is we have one of the most generous refugee programmes in the world and it is actually going to increase.

DAVID BEVAN:

Prime Minister the question is - because we don’t have a lot of time with you and we appreciate what we have got. So the question is do you disagree with any part of what Pauline Hanson said?

PRIME MINISTER:

I disagree with her proposition that we should not welcome refugees to Australia. We do welcome refugees to Australia and we in fact have one of the most generous refugee programmes in the world. We are currently taking 13,750 a year plus the 12,000 in total from the Syrian conflict, where that’s increasing to 18,750. The reason we are able to have such a generous humanitarian programme and able to integrate and settle refugees well in Australia - in contrast to other countries - is because we decide which refugees come to Australia and we are able to manage the integrity of our borders.

Australia is a nation that has been built up on migration and a significant portion of that migration are humanitarian migrants or refugees. So the fact is, we are not only supporting the intake of refugees, we are increasing it.

DAVID BEVAN:

Pauline Hanson then has misunderstood what you are trying to achieve.

PRIME MINISTER:

You have to speak to her about that.

DAVID BEVAN:

Well you want her vote so - pretty important that you understand what she’s saying. You both send very clear messages. Has she misunderstood you?

PRIME MINISTER:

My message is very clear and if you’d stop interrupting me I’ll be able to express it again. We have a generous refugee programme, as I said at the United Nations only weeks ago. We have one of the most generous refugee programmes in the world, we welcome refugees, they have made an enormous contribution to Australia, an enormous contribution to our, the most successful multicultural society in

the world, but we are able to do that because we can maintain the integrity and security of our borders and that is an achievement of the Coalition Government. We have maintained that - we restored the integrity of our borders and once again, the Australian Government, elected by the Australian people, determines who comes to Australia. And that is a critical foundation of ours - I repeat - one of the most generous refugee programmes in the world.

DAVID BEVAN:

Prime Minister, do you fear becoming Tony Abbott light?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I know you’re trying to get a rise out of me, I am focused on ensuring that we maintain what we have today, a most generous refugee programme which the foundation of which is the integrity and security of our borders.

DAVID BEVAN:

I’m not trying to get a rise out of you, Prime Minister - it’s just many people thought that you were the Renaissance man and there is a concern by those who maybe voted for you, that you’re really having to bend your will to Tony Abbott’s agenda.

PRIME MINISTER:

The Coalition’s position has been consistent throughout. When I was the Leader of the Opposition in 2009 and Kevin Rudd proposed and did, unpick John Howard’s border protection policy, as Leader of the Coalition, as Leader of the Opposition, I begged him not to. I said at the time that this would result in an increase in people smuggling and irregular maritime arrivals and look, I take no joy in this at all - I was right, he was wrong. He acknowledged he was wrong in July 2013 when he came back as Prime Minister and he attempted in a great rush to try to reinstate the Coalition’s policy that he had removed a few years before. So my position on border protection and border security has been consistent throughout my time in public life and it is absolutely consistent with the position I took and presented in opposition to Kevin Rudd when he undermined John Howard’s border protection policy and created the tragic catastrophe of 50,000 unauthorised arrivals and 1,200 deaths at sea.

Look, with great respect to your desire to turn this into an issue of personality, let me tell you, this is an issue of humanity. If we wish to stop people drowning at sea, if we wish to put the people smugglers out of business, if we wish to maintain one of the most generous humanitarian refugee programmes in the world, we must maintain the integrity of our borders. This is a matter of humanity.

MATT ABRAHAM:

Prime Minister, do you regret some of the comments you made after the big state-wide power blackout in South Australia? And in particular, you’re questioning of why anyone would want to set up business in South Australia? Why businesses would want to come to South Australia if you could not have a reliable electricity network?

PRIME MINISTER:

The comments I’ve made about the energy security and affordability in South Australia have echoed, and in fact I cited the comments of your own chamber of commerce - the South Australian Chamber of Commerce, your peak business body has expressed on a number of occasions its real concerns about the unreliability and the cost of energy in South Australia. So it is a -

MATT ABRAHAM:

But you upped the ante did you not in Parliament - saying why would you want to, if you had a business, why would you go to South Australia? I’m paraphrasing but not much am I?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well look, the point is your own - you’re broadcasting - we are talking to people in Adelaide right - Business leaders in South Australia have expressed real concern about the lack of reliability of energy and its high cost. You have the highest wholesale cost of electricity in Australia. Now that is a real concern to business. It is a real concern to me because I recognise that what South Australia wants and needs is more investment. After all, one of the things we are doing as your Australian Government is making massive investments in infrastructure and in industry in South Australia to support our naval shipbuilding program.

So the fact is, if you want to have more investment and industry in South Australia, and I think everybody does, then you will be concerned that energy is both affordable and reliable.

DAVID BEVAN:

One policy answer to that problem, one possible policy answer is another interconnector to the east, but this could cost perhaps $1 billion. Is that something that the Federal Government would assist South Australia in getting or is it the case that you believe that South Australia’s energy problems are of its own making and it’s incumbent on the state government to do the heavy lifting?

PRIME MINISTER:

This issue of energy security and reliability is being examined at the moment as a result of the - you know the Finkel Committee, Alan Finkel’s committee which was set up by Josh Frydenberg with the support of the other energy ministers. So these are all - it’s a complex problem; there’s no one single solution. Clearly there is a real problem in South Australia with both reliability and affordability.

DAVID BEVAN

Yeah but we haven’t got $1 billion.

PRIME MINISTER:

And your own business leaders have made that -

MATT ABRAHAM:

That’s one thing that’s a difference though when the Prime Minister of a country talking to a national east coast audience from Parliament says why would you want to do business in South Australia. It’s one thing for the South Australian Chamber of Commerce.

PRIME MINISTER:

You have never had a Prime Minister who is more supportive of industry and investment in South Australia than me.

It is my Government which is undertaking the massive increase in naval shipbuilding which will be centred at Osborne in South Australia. So, please - it’s very important to recognise this. You have never had a Prime Minister that is more supportive, more committed to industry, advanced manufacturing, technology, science, engineering, in South Australia because we are putting the most advanced manufacturing projects in Australia, in South Australia, for that naval shipbuilding programme. Submarines, future frigates and so forth - it is a massive programme, so that’s the commitment. Words are cheap, words are very cheap whether you are in the media, or whether you’re in politics.

We are putting this massive multibillion dollar - $95 billion programme in to South Australia. And we are doing that - it’s not a parochial decision, it’s not a political decision, we’re doing that because that is the best place to do it, that’s where the skills are, but there will need to be many more skills.

There are people listening today who have children who probably thought they would have to go live somewhere else if they wanted to work in engineering or advanced manufacturing or in a highly skilled scientific area. And now, there will be some of the best jobs, the most challenging jobs, the most exciting opportunities in the world in South Australia.

The future is not somewhere else, it’s in South Australia.

MATT ABRAHAM:

Prime Minister, I know we’re in to time on. We thank you for joining us.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thanks very much.

MATT ABRAHAM:

We thank you for joining us from Umuwa in the APY Lands. He’s now to head back to Fregon. So he’s in parts of the most isolated remote parts of this nation. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on 891 ABC Adelaide Breakfast.

Ends