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Transcript of doorstop interview: Parliament House, Canberra: 20 June 2011: plebiscite on Julia Gillard's carbon tax



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

20 June 2011

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR, DOORSTOP INTERVIEW PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA

Subject: Plebiscite on Julia Gillard’s carbon tax.

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

TONY ABBOTT:

I am determined to try to ensure that the Australian people get to vote on Julia Gillard‟s carbon tax and my plebiscite proposal is to bring about the vote on the carbon tax the Prime Minister denied to people before the election. We could have had a vote at the last election on a carbon tax if the Prime Minister had been honest with the people. Instead, she said six days before the election “there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.” She denied the Australian people a chance to vote on the carbon tax at the last election. This is the vote we have to have on a carbon tax.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, you‟ve also said that there‟ll be no carbon tax under your government. Hypothetically if this did get up and the vote went to the public and in the public there was overwhelming support for a carbon tax would you reconsider your policy?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, obviously if the people have their say and their say is conclusive one way or another that should settle the matter. That‟s just the whole point of this, it is to remove this from the realm of politicians arguing about it and submit it to the people, they should be the final judges. Now, the people should have had a chance to have their verdict on a carbon tax at the election but the Prime Minister denied them that chance by deceiving them and saying “there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.” Let‟s not forget, the only member of the House of Representatives who went to the last election saying „there will be a carbon tax under me‟ is the solitary Green, Adam Bandt. That‟s why it is so fundamentally subversive of our democracy for the Prime Minister to try to sneak this new tax through a parliament which has absolutely no mandate for it.

QUESTION:

So do you say that if the people say yes we want a carbon tax you will change your policy and support a carbon tax?

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TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I am saying that in the end this is for the people to decide and that‟s what I want. I want to give it to the people and let the people decide.

QUESTION:

How confident are you that the public would reject the carbon tax?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, I am very confident that if my plebiscite bill passes the parliament and we do have a popular vote on a carbon tax, I‟m very confident that the Government would put its case as strongly as it could, I would put my case as strongly as I can and the people will decide, and in a democracy…

QUESTION:

What do you think the result would be?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, plainly I am confident that the public, when given the chance, will vote against this great big new tax on everything, not because the public don‟t want action on the environment - we all want action on the environment - but there are smart ways and dumb ways of dealing with emissions and a great big new tax on everything is a very dumb way to proceed.

QUESTION:

If your motions get through there‟s nothing that says the Government has to do anything.

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, it is just inconceivable, absolutely inconceivable, that an Australian government, an Australian parliament would ignore a vote of the Australian people on something as important as this.

QUESTION:

But they don‟t have to have the plebiscite even if it gets through the house, so why…

TONY ABBOTT:

If my bill passes the parliament there will have to be a plebiscite.

QUESTION:

How confident are you of getting the support of the independent senators? Why should they vote for this?

TONY ABBOTT:

They should back this because they believe in democracy. Everyone who believes in democracy should support my plebiscite. What could be fairer than giving the people a say? What could be less democratic than saying „no, a government which was not honest about this before an election should be able to just wave it through the houses of parliament‟?

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QUESTION:

How much will this plebiscite cost?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, it obviously will cost money, no doubt about that. But let‟s not forget that the Government‟s carbon tax just for starters will raise over $11 billion a year, so the price of my plebiscite is minute compared to the massive cost of this carbon tax and let‟s not forget the tax will go up and up and up every year. The tax has got to be high enough to change the way people live, the tax has got to be high enough to change the way people work. The Greens say that it‟s got to be $40 a tonne to drive a shift from coal to gas and it‟s got to be $100 a tonne to drive a shift from fossil fuels to renewables. So this is a massive, massive life-changing, economy-changing tax and frankly the cost of having a people‟s vote on this is tiny compared to the cost of this tax.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible] they‟ve ignored the will of the parliament in the last week. If they ignore the will of the people if the plebiscite got up, is that more serious democratically?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, of course. It is just inconceivable that any government would ignore the view of the Australian people expressed at a plebiscite of this type.

QUESTION:

How do you remark on the one year anniversary of Kevin Rudd being dumped as prime minister?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, this for me is just going to be a normal parliamentary week. I will be making the case this week, as I do every week, that 12 months ago the Prime Minister said that the Government had lost its way and in the last 12 months it‟s just got worse. Essentially changing from Kevin Rudd to Julia Gillard was like changing from Burke to Wills, they‟re still lost and unfortunately our country is lost with them.

Thank you.

[ends]