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Transcript of joint doorstop interview: Belconnen: 23 June 2011: Julia Gillard's carbon tax; National Broadband Network; Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard



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

23 June 2011

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR, JOINT DOORSTOP INTERVIEW WITH THE HON. JULIE BISHOP MHR, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION & SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

BELCONNEN

Subject: Julia Gillard’s carbon tax; National Broadband Network; Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.

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

TONY ABBOTT:

It’s good to be here. I want to thank Ken and Sam and all of his family for welcoming us here to Ziggy's. This is a marvellous local business and it’s typical of the businesses which are going to be impacted by the Prime Minister’s proposed carbon tax. The Prime Minister keeps saying that under her carbon tax only the so-called big polluters pay but the so-called big polluters are the people who provide our power, they provide our building materials, they provide our food, they provide our transport and this is why everyone is going to end up paying big time for the Prime Minister's carbon tax. So, the point I keep making about the carbon tax is that it won't clean up the environment but it will clean out your wallet and it will wipe out jobs big time because the more costs go up, the harder it’s going to be for Australian businesses to compete.

It’s great to be here with Julie Bishop. Julie, of course, is my friend and colleague. You have probably noticed that Julie and I have regular conversations with each other. There’s no tension, there’s no chill, there is no playing no-speaks and unfortunately, that's the problem that we see inside the Government right now.

Twelve months on from Julia Gillard’s ascension to the prime ministership, we are paying a high price for the divisions and the tensions inside the Government. Twelve months ago, according to the Prime Minister, the Government had ‘lost its way’ and Australians are still paying a high price for that. A government which has ‘lost its way’ is bad for all Australians and the problem with this government is, having ‘lost its way’ 12 months ago, things have just gone from bad to worse in the intervening period. So, it’s great to be here with Julie. I might ask Julie to say a few words and then, Ken, do you want to say a few words about the impact of a carbon tax on your business? Julie?

JULIE BISHOP:

Thanks, Tony. I’m likewise delighted to be here with my very good friend and colleague, my leader Tony Abbott and we are here today because we need to highlight to all Australians how this carbon tax will impact on their cost of living. Fresh fruit and vegetables rely on a supply chain and in order to get fruit and vegetables from the grower to the end consumer, there is a lot of electricity that’s used through refrigeration, refrigerated transport, transport costs. This carbon tax will be a tax on every step of that supply chain. It

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means that the cost of fruit and vegetables will go up. It means that every step along the way, people will be paying more and the Australian public deserve to know the full details about this carbon tax and how it will impact on their cost of living.

Just on another point, I do want to highlight the fact that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of this country barely speak to each other. Twelve months down the track, after Kevin Rudd was taken out of his job by the Prime Minister, we have dysfunction at the heart of the Government that is damaging Australia's ability to interact with countries overseas. When the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister have such tension between them, Australia's national interest is damaged and it’s time that Julia Gillard let Kevin Rudd get on with his current job and solved the problems that have been created within Malaysia over the Malaysian people swap, in Indonesia because of the ban on live cattle and the diplomatic row that is erupting there, with East Timor who has been treated so shabbily over the asylum seeker deal by this Government and also with PNG where they are asking for the Foreign Minister to visit and clearly he hasn't been given approval by the Prime Minister to do so.

Thank you.

TONY ABBOTT:

Ok. Ken?

KEN IRVINE:

I’d just like to say from an industry point of view, Canberra is a very isolated city and freight and refrigeration are two huge factors for us running our businesses. We have three shops in Canberra, we’re talking about trailer loads of product and freight is a big issue and I think it’s going to impact on fuel prices and refrigeration costs and I think we are scared of it and I think a lot of other people are too.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thanks, Ken. Ok, are there any questions?

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, do you still want to destroy the National Broadband Network?

TONY ABBOTT:

I don't believe in throwing good money after bad and what we have seen today is the Government throwing about $12 billion not to improve telecommunication services but to actually take out telecommunications infrastructure. As a result of this deal, perfectly good HFC cable is no longer going to be used for the delivery of telecommunications services and I just think that's a very bad thing. What the Government is doing, it's analogous to closing down a free road to make Australians use a toll road and it is typical of the incompetence and ineptitude of this government that they are paying vast amounts of money not to create infrastructure but to close it down.

QUESTION:

So would you unwind the contract signed today?

TONY ABBOTT:

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Look, we don’t know how far advanced the NBN will be if and when we take government so we will announce at the time exactly what we propose to do. What we are doing at the moment is exposing the waste and the incompetence which is involved in the Government's proposal.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, what's your response to Lord Monckton's comments about Ross Garnaut and are you comfortable opening that conference next week?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I thought that those comments were offensive and over the top and I repudiate them. I'm happy to go to the AMEC conference. Mining is a vital Australian industry. It’s under serious threat from this government - both from the carbon tax and the mining tax - and I will be there to support the mining industry. I will be there to alert the mining industry to the dangers that are posed by the Gillard Government. As for who else comes to that conference, that's a question for the mining industry.

QUESTION:

Do you think AMEC should rethink having Lord Monckton appear at their conference?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I’m pleased that the mining industry is fighting for its survival against the mining tax and the carbon tax because mining, and resources more generally, are vital for the prosperity of every Australian and the trouble with this government is that it is damaging every Australian's prosperity by attacking the mining and the resources sector in this way.

QUESTION:

You’ve met Lord Monckton before. Will you meet him again this time or talk to him?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I’m pretty eclectic in who I meet and talk to. People can come and meet and talk to me very easily. They only have to go up to Forestville shops of a Saturday morning to meet and talk to me. I am not in a cocoon of cotton wool, I’m not protected by security and advisers, I’m out and about amongst the Australian people all the time and that’s not going to change. But look, I have no plans to meet the gentleman in question.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott when you appointed Malcolm Turnbull as your communications spokesman, did you order him to destroy the NBN or the argument for the NBN and do you think he’s done that successfully?

TONY ABBOTT:

I think Malcolm’s done a really good job of exposing the waste and incompetence in the Government’s National Broadband Network white elephant. I think that the public now see this not as a stepping stone into a brave new world of high technology but they understand this as a great leap backwards to an era of government monopolies and putting all your technological eggs into the one basket. So, I think Malcolm has done a very good job of exposing the policy errors behind the Government’s proposal.

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QUESTION:

Malcolm Turnbull has said this morning that he would not unwind the National Broadband Network if in government, he would simply alter its rollout. That’s not exactly destroying the NBN, is it?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, the fact is we are in favour of better broadband services but we don’t think that you need a government infrastructure monopoly to bring that about and we don’t think that you need to have fibre to every home to bring that about. The whole problem with the Government’s National Broadband Network is that they are going to spend $50 billion-plus on something which is not necessary at a time when Australia’s roads, railways and ports are completely clogged. So, it’s typical of this government’s lack of priority that it is spending too much on the wrong thing.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, just in regards to the impending anniversary of Kevin Rudd’s removal, do you believe that the feelings and relationship between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd are causing problems in Australia’s foreign affairs portfolio?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well obviously as a matter of principle the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister have got to talk to each other, they’ve got to be cooperative and the difficulty is that Kevin Rudd seems to be dealing with everything but the principal foreign policy problems that we’ve got at the moment. I mean, we had an East Timor processing centre that the Government was supposed to be pursuing for months but without Kevin Rudd’s assistance, we’ve got a Manus Island proposal which is going nowhere because Kevin Rudd’s no longer involved, we’ve got a Malaysian people swap deal which is floundering and again, Kevin Rudd is nowhere to be seen. We’ve currently got an absolute disaster about to overtake the live cattle trade, a trade which is absolutely vital for the prosperity of northern Australia and it seems the Prime Minister won’t let the Foreign Minister get involved. So, the point I make is that dysfunction at the top of the government, poisonous personal relationships at the top of the Government, aren’t just something for political journalists to gossip about, they’re things which actually destroy the effectiveness of a government and damage the national interests of our country and that’s why it’s so important that all these things be fixed and the overall point I make is that 12 months ago the Government ‘lost its way’ and ever since, Australians have been paying the price of this fundamental dysfunction.

QUESTION:

But John Howard and Peter Costello got on pretty well politically and I don’t think they wrote each other love letters.

TONY ABBOTT:

The fact of the matter is if we had an economic problem Peter Costello and John Howard cooperated to fix it. We’ve got numerous foreign policy problems at the moment and the Prime Minister is not allowing the Foreign Minister to do his job in some instances and in other instances the Foreign Minister is refusing to help the Prime Minister out of a hole of her own making. Now, this is the difficulty. The difficulty is that, as things stand, the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister aren’t able to have a constructive political relationship and you cannot have a functioning government if you don’t have the two people at the top of that government able to speak with each other and to work with each other and that’s one of the many things which is paralysing the current government. As I say, 12 months ago the Government ‘lost its way’ on the Prime Minister’s own admission and Australians have been paying the price ever since.

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Thanks so much.

[ends]