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Transcript of doorstop interview: Canberra, 19 September 2008: Economy.

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Malcolm Turnbull MP

Federal Member for Wentworth

Leader of the Opposition

19 September 2008


SUBJECT: Economy



Several days ago Mr Rudd offered to cooperate with us on a bipartisan basis, on an issue which while dear to my heart, is hardly one of the highest and most immediate priority - that is to say the Republic. I’m offering Kevin Rudd today, with my Deputy Julie Bishop with me here today, we’re offering to Kevin Rudd to sit down with him and speak and cooperate in a bipartisan way on the measures that can be undertaken in the very near term to provide greater stability and security in our economy and our financial markets. Those are the big issues of the moment. We are facing a global economic crisis - we know that. We know that our economy in Australia is stronger, more secure, our financial secure more stable, our banks better capitalised than those in other countries. But nonetheless we cannot ignore this global crisis and around the world governments are taking immediate measures to deal with it. We are offering the Government to sit down with them, right now, today or on the weekend, or Monday, sit down with the Government and look at the measures that can be undertaken immediately to provide greater security, greater stability for Australian families and businesses in these challenging times.


Mr Turnbull, are you saying that you believe the world situation is so dire that you need, in essence, a war cabinet?


No I’m not proposing that. We’re not suspending political competition, Chris but there are- this is a need for bipartisanship and a constructive approach to the economy. We’ve seen some pretty petty actions by the Prime Minister yesterday, trivialising this debate, I want that to end. Let’s recognise we have a big economic challenge here. We want to deal with it seriously. That is the issue of the day. That is what Australian families are facing today, big economic challenges. We’re prepared


to work constructively with the Government on them and we’ll sit down with them immediately if they’re prepared to do it.


Mr Turnbull wouldn’t one of those measures be to prevent the Coalition, as the Government would say, raiding (inaudible) in the Senate?


Oh look, that is just rhetoric. The amount of money involved in those tax measures that we have opposed in the Senate is a tiny percentage of Commonwealth revenues over the next four years. It isn’t a raid on the budget and whether those measures are

passed or not passed we’ll have somewhere between no or negligible affect on, you know, the overall economy. You’re talking about $6 billion over five years. It is in the context of a $300 billion-a-year budget. It’s a very small amount of money.


The Federal Government has been relentless in calling the Opposition economic vandals. If you want to sit down and have a bipartisan relationship with them, and you expect them to, I guess, compromise a little bit, does it mean that you have to budge on your position on the surplus and things like that as well?


The surplus is not the issue. We are going to have a very big surplus this year regardless of whether the tax measures that are in contention in the Senate are passed or not, the surplus will be well over $20 billion, in any event. The real issue is the stability in financial markets. You know, we have seen overnight Wall Street bounce back; the day before it crashed. We’ve seen huge falls in our own Australian stock market, this is doing considerable damage to people’s savings, to superannuation funds; it’s affecting confidence.

What we want to do is show the Australian people that there is real bipartisan leadership. We will sit down with the Government and we are prepared to cooperate and support measures that will have the effect of providing greater stability in these troubled times. The cheap shots have to end. Mr Rudd cannot provide economic leadership with these cheap shots and selectively misquoting people. That is no leadership. We’re prepared to offer real leadership with him if he’s prepared to sit down with us.

Thanks a lot.