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Transcript of interview with Ray Hadley: Radio 2GB, Sydney: 6 June 2011: Julia Gillard's carbon tax; Labor's Malaysian people swap; Bob Katter's Australian Party; live cattle exports



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

6 June 2011

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR INTERVIEW WITH RAY HADLEY, RADIO 2GB, SYDNEY

Subjects: Julia Gillard’s carbon tax; Labor’s Malaysian people swap; Bob Katter’s Australian Party; live cattle exports.

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

RAY HADLEY:

The federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is on the line. Mr Abbott, good morning.

TONY ABBOTT:

`Morning, Ray.

RAY HADLEY:

The 24 per cent. What planet have they been on?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I suppose they are just people who will support what Labor governments do, come what may. I guess that probably indicates the absolute bedrock, unshiftable Labor vote.

RAY HADLEY:

I guess if the Prime Minister sat down and looked at the TV news I looked at last night, she may have been thinking, oh you beauty, we are on target. She would’ve been reeling when she saw what was published in the News Limited papers this morning.

TONY ABBOTT:

I think it’s one thing to get a few activists out in the street. It’s another thing to persuade the public that this carbon tax is going to be good for them, particularly when you were not upfront about it before the election, so you are right, Ray. I think the Prime Minister does have a legitimacy problem and I think that she should do the right thing by the Australian people and not introduce this tax without seeking a mandate for it at an election. Now, that’s what John Howard did with the GST back in 1998 and Ray, this is a much, much bigger change than the GST because the GST was just a standard tax. This is a tax which is supposed to

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change the way every Australian lives and every Australian works. We are supposed to get out of our cars, turn off our air conditioners, we are supposed to stop mining coal, stop burning coal, stop very energy intensive processes like making steel, aluminium, cement, plastic, motor cars and so on and I think it would just be unconscionable of the Prime Minister to try to sneak this through a parliament that has absolutely no mandate for it.

RAY HADLEY:

And why have we read and heard so little about the G8 and Japan, Russia, Canada and the American President saying ‘leave us out of the next round of talks and leave us out of the Kyoto Protocol from here on in’?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, that’s a very good question. See, Copenhagen changed everything. I mean, prior to Copenhagen, I think it was possible to imagine that the rest of the world might embrace these carbon taxes or carbon pricing schemes but that’s not happening now. If anything, the world is running away from it at a million miles an hour. Now, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t still try to reduce our emissions - and the Coalition has a strong and effective policy to do it - but we are not going to hit people with a multi-billion dollar tax that is just going to get higher and higher year after year. We will spend a relatively modest amount from savings in the budget, we will grow more trees, we will get more carbon into soil and we will try to use smart technology to clean up power stations.

RAY HADLEY:

See one of the things I don’t understand, Mr Abbott is when I was a kid and I am 56, I had a cousin who lived at Primrose Avenue, Ermington next to the Parramatta River next to the Silverwater Bridge and you know what I am talking about because you come from Sydney. You couldn’t go within 150 metres of it because of the stench. You couldn’t dare swim in it. There was a refinery up the road. People just put whatever they wanted to put in the river and there was a change in the thought process over the past 30, 40 years that we had to reduce pollutants, we had to clean up the river, the waterways, we had to stop those trucks, where we could, belching black acrid smoke into the sky. Now, if someone were to say to the 100 per cent of people surveyed in the Galaxy poll, you want to make sure that we, you know, leave the planet a better place for our kids and we don’t want to be polluting the waterways, we don’t want to be pumping acrid black smoke into the atmosphere, everyone would say ‘you beauty.’ You’d get 100 per cent, not 68 or 64, you’d get 100 per cent. So it seems simple to me. It’s a simple message to sell people, particularly those of my vintage who might be opposed to, you know, those sorts of things when it’s going to cost them a quid, if you tell them that they’re going to make the place a better place to live in, whether it’s Ermington or the world, everyone would be saying ‘you beauty, let’s go with that one.’

TONY ABBOTT:

And there’s no doubt, Ray, that in the 1970s we did learn a big lesson and we started to clean up the Harbour, we started to clean up the atmosphere, we started to make sure that cars didn’t emit so much smog and this was very, very right, very smart and it’s produced a much better environment and frankly, that would be a much better way to deal with carbon dioxide, should it ever be necessary to drastically reduce our emissions, rather than whacking a great big tax on it. I mean, we got cleaner exhaust out of motor cars by intelligently regulating exhaust emissions and it didn’t involve an enormous pot of money going to the Government that the Government would treat as a political slush fund and this, in the end, I think, I hate to sound cynical, Ray but I think in the end this is the great attraction of a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme for a government like this. It gives them a great big pot of money that they can use as a political slush fund…

RAY HADLEY:

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Do you think self-interest will overtake everyone involved here? It’s almost certain that there, were an election being called sometime between now and Christmas, that you would win that election. Rob Oakeshott wouldn’t have a job, Andrew Wilkie would be struggling to have a job, Tony Windsor might cling on. The Government would disappear, she’d no longer be Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. So, it’s almost unthinkable that she would call an election, even allowing for what the people in the Galaxy poll want her to do.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well Ray, if she’s not prepared to have an election and gain a mandate for this she shouldn’t try to bring in this tax. I mean, she should just accept that this is something for the agenda of a third term Labor Government, should they get one. But it would just be utterly dishonest, utterly, completely dishonest of the Government to bring this tax in when, as we heard at the start of this discussion, she said six days before the election ‘there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead,’ and the Treasurer said it was a ‘hysterical’ inaccuracy to suggest there would be one. So, I mean, you just can’t tell those kinds of porkies and expect the public to take you seriously when you go ahead with these things.

RAY HADLEY:

Before the last election, and I drove you cuckoo about this one - illegal boat people. It’s been overtaken by the carbon tax now, but I said it was one of the biggest issues confronting Australia and the electorate. Since they announced the ill-fated Malaysian Solution we’ve had 216 arrive including another 50-odd over the course of the weekend. Front page of the Daily Telegraph tells us that the people we reward with either permanent residency or refuge now sue us and get $800,000 from the courts for psychological and psychiatric damage and did you ever think you’d see the day that Julian Burnside and Marion Le would say that John Howard’s a genius by instituting the Nauru Solution?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well I never did but I never imagined any government would be so stupid as to come up with the so-called Malaysian people swap. I mean, you know, look, I’m not being critical of Malaysia. They’re perfectly entitled to do things their way but their way is so radically different from ours and the point I keep making in the parliament is I can give an absolute guarantee that boat people sent to Nauru will not be caned. They just will not be caned because the centre on Nauru will be run by Australians according to Australian standards but the Prime Minister can give no such guarantee for boat people sent to Malaysia. It’s all but certain that boat people sent to Malaysia will transgress and they will be dealt with according to Malaysian standards and that means that some of them will be caned and that is, by our standards, cruel and an unusual punishment.

RAY HADLEY:

It does seem to be lost on many bar Greg Sheridan in The Australian, that after the announcement we still had 216 people arrive. So, somehow the message hasn’t sunk in.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, there is no doubt that the flow of boats has somewhat diminished, I suspect that a lot of would-be boat people were deterred by the terrible tragedy on Christmas Island and I guess some people are thinking ‘well, maybe it is all getting too hard’. But the idea that this Government, after all the sanctimony about John Howard being a cruel heartless racist, for them to put in place something which is far, far more brutal than anything the Howard Government remotely contemplated is just bizarre, it is bizarre and it shows how completely bereft of political and moral compass this Government has become.

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RAY HADLEY:

Speaking of bizarre, I watched Bob Katter on Sky News this morning talking about a brand new political party.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, there’s a great party in Queensland called the Liberal National Party and I think Bob would be very well advised, rather than starting a new political party, just to have a look at the LNP because I think the LNP is a better party than the old National Party that he left and look, I have got time for Bob. He’s quirky but I think he’s a decent person…

RAY HADLEY:

I think we all have. I think he’s a very honourable man.

TONY ABBOTT:

…but I think starting new parties when we have got perfectly serviceable existing parties, at least on the sort of centre-right of politics, I just think he’s going to end up wasting a lot of people’s time I suspect.

RAY HADLEY:

He’s concerned for his constituents in North Queensland about the exportation of livestock and no doubt you’ve now seen the Four Corners exposé last week, which took me, I’ve got to admit and I told my listeners, probably three goes to take it all in. I had to turn it off on Monday night and that wasn’t a reflection on the story but rather the content. What do we need to do given that it is a $300 million industry and will affect many, many people in northern parts of Australia if we just knock it on the head straight away?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well look, my instinct, Ray, and it’s only an instinct because we haven’t had a chance to discuss this at any depth in Shadow Cabinet, but my instinct is that what we ought to do is say to the Indonesians that we’ll only provide live exports to processing facilities which we are confident are well-run. Now, I think that’s the way through this rather than, sort of, in a panic ban a small number of facilities, say ‘look, we’re confident that these particular facilities are good ones’ and continue the live exports there if they meet the same sorts of standards that we would expect here in Australia.

RAY HADLEY:

Thanks for your time as always.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thanks so much, Ray.

[ends]