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Transcript of joint doorstop: Canberra: 3 June 2010: Kevin Rudd's great big new tax on mining; minimum wage; Michael Johnson; Julia Gillard's bungled school halls scheme; Petro Georgio; housing affordability.



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

3 June 2010

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR JOINT DOORSTOP INTERVIEW WITH SENATOR GARY HUMPHRIES CANBERRA

Subjects: Kevin Rudd’s great big new tax on mining; minimum wage; Michael Johnson; Julia Gillard’s bungled school halls scheme; Petro Georgiou; housing affordability.

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

TONY ABBOTT:

It’s good to be here in Gungahlin with my colleague Gary Humphries and we’re in the middle of a major new residential development and about 70 per cent of the product used here comes out of the ground. Basically, 70 per cent of what’s used in these homes is the product ultimately of extractive industry and extractive industry will be subject to Mr Rudd’s great big new tax on resources. The tax will fall on the products in the bricks, the products in the concrete, the products in the tile, the products in the steel, all of these products are going to be impacted by Mr Rudd’s great big new tax and because it’s also a tax on energy it ultimately becomes a tax on everything.

So, people need to understand that Mr Rudd’s great big new tax on resources is not just something that will hit BHP and Rio, it’s something that will ultimately hit every single Australian and my message to Mr Rudd, particularly given the news that we’ve had earlier this morning from Xstrata, is that in the interests of all Australians he must dump the tax.

Now, Xstrata have recently announced that close to $600 million worth of spending is now on hold. That means that almost 200 contractors will have no work, it means that almost 200 employees won’t get jobs and this announcement has ramifications for all of Xstrata’s copper operations in North Queensland and that means that 800 existing jobs in Mount Isa and Townsville are also under a cloud.

So, my message to Mr Rudd is that this is no longer a theoretical argument about the merits or demerits of different methods of taxing minerals. This is now having tragic effects in the real economy. This is now making a difference to peoples’ lives. It’s costing real money and it’s costing real jobs.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, do you think that Xstrata has cancelled today’s project because it’s using the resources tax as an excuse to dump a low-performing project?

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TONY ABBOTT:

Look, my understanding is that Xstrata have done the sums on these projects under the government’s great big new tax and the projects simply aren’t economic. They were economic without the tax, they’re uneconomic with the tax and that means that the investment and the jobs can’t go ahead.

QUESTION:

What do you make of the minimum wage decision? Is $26 a week extra fair?

TONY ABBOTT:

I never begrudge workers a wage rise. I think that workers on low wages are always doing it tough. My concern always, though, is with jobs and I just hope that one man’s wage rise doesn’t turn out to be another man’s job.

QUESTION:

Is that the biggest concern, that some businesses may sack workers because they can’t afford such a pay increase?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, it’s probably more a question of businesses not being able to take on extra workers because their wages bill goes up.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, Michael Johnson’s raised allegations of bullying and intimidating on the part of senior figures in the Liberal Party. When were you first made aware of those allegations, Mr Johnson’s allegations?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, my understanding is that the LNP in Queensland has issued a full denial. The matter is now with various authorities and I think it’s now up to those authorities to look at it.

QUESTION:

Were those allegations, though, raised with you? I’m not asking for you to comment on the specifics of the allegations, but were they raised with you?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I’m just not going to comment on discussions that I have with colleagues.

QUESTION:

When it comes to the BER funding, Christopher Pyne was on Sky this morning and he left us somewhat confused as to whether or not any of that funding will continue or if it’s all locked in. Do you have a point of view on that?

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TONY ABBOTT:

Well, I’m not against spending money on school infrastructure but I am against the waste and the problem with the government’s position is that it has set up this inquiry into the value for money or otherwise of the programme. It’s pretty obvious that there’s been rip-off after rip-off. It’s pretty obvious that billions have been wasted and they’re going to spend another $5.5 billion without getting the report of the inquiry and before they’ve had time to act on any recommendations that it might make.

QUESTION:

If you were to get that report and come into government, would you continue to spend that $5.5 billion?

TONY ABBOTT:

We would not spend a cent in the way it is currently being spent. We would not give the money to the state education departments, we would give the money direct to the school communities because we know that they would get good value for their money.

QUESTION:

Are you sad to see Petro Georgiou go? He gave his valedictory today.

TONY ABBOTT:

I listened to Petro’s speech. I thought it was a gracious speech. It was the speech of a big-hearted man who’s been a significant Liberal for many years.

Thank you.

SENATOR GARY HUMPHRIES:

The last two years have seen home affordability particularly for first home buyers in this country decline. Higher interest rates, higher costs of building and no action on the part of the Rudd Government to fix those problems at a state government and a local government level. The last thing Australian homebuyers need now is extra costs built into the materials that they use to build their homes.

QUESTION:

Senator, these homes are generally regarded as affordable housing. Do you think that under the resource super profits tax, they’d have to do away with that label?

SENATOR GARY HUMPHRIES:

It’s very hard to imagine how houses could be as affordable as these ones are and they’re relatively affordable in this market with the kinds of add-on costs that are clearly coming down the pipeline with this particular tax.

[ends]