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Transcript of doorstop: 27 August 2009: visit to HMAS Cairns; Bradfield by-election; Gorgon LNG project; Senator Ted Kennedy.



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Thu, 27th August 2009

Turnbull Doorstop - Visit to HMAS Cairns, Bradfield by-election, Gorgon LNG project, Senator Ted Kennedy

The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP Leader of the Opposition

E&OE

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

I am very pleased today to be here at HMAS Cairns and to go out to sea with the Commander and ship’s company of the HMAS Wollongong to see the hard work they are doing securing Australia’s borders. We’re a vast continent with an enormous coastline under challenge all the time and it’s the men and women of our navy that secure our borders. They face constant challenges, increasing levels of unauthorised arrivals, illegal immigrants and people smugglers - the people smuggling is increasing significantly. We have had over 1,200 arrivals since August last year and this is a very significant challenge so we’re looking forward to spending some time seeing how these defence personnel are handling it right in the frontline.

QUESTION:

Do you believe then that the Government aren’t doing enough in terms of [inaudible]?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

There is no doubt that the Rudd Government has created the impression that Australia is a softer target. There is no doubt about that. That’s absolutely no reflection obviously on the Navy, they are doing an outstanding job. But they are having more work to do because there is a growing level of unauthorised arrivals and that puts heavier responsibilities on the men on the vessel behind us and all of their colleagues in the Defence Forces.

QUESTION:

Why did you come to Cairns, any particular reason?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well Cairns is a very important base. HMAS Cairns is a very important base. I have visited defence bases right around Australia. We’re also having a series of other meetings today, a roundtable with the tourism industry here in Cairns and also a discussion with the Cape York partnership. So I have a number of meetings, getting to know some of the issues here in Cairns. I’ve been here many times and it’s obviously a very important area, a very important region of Australia.

QUESTION:

What will you be discussing with the Cape York guys?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Really all of the issues of Indigenous welfare that we’re all familiar with. My colleagues and I are very focused on that - as you know Tony Abbott has just spent a week up working in the community at Aurukun. We are very focused on getting better outcomes for Indigenous communities.

QUESTION:

You’re not just trying to get out of Canberra?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well, it’s certainly warmer here than it is in Canberra but Parliament is not sitting at the moment, and certainly the weather is much, much better in Cairns than it is in Canberra.

QUESTION:

There’s plenty of heat down there for you though isn’t there?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well there’s always plenty of activity in the Parliament.

QUESTION:

The Australian High Court has ruled the top military court as unconstitutional. That was a Howard Government initiative. What do you make of that?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well, this often happens with the High Court. That’s what the High Court does, it interprets the Constitution. That obviously means another solution will have to be reached. We will cooperate with the Government in ensuring that the necessary legislation that will of course be informed by the High Court’s decision is quickly passed through the Parliament.

QUESTION:

There was a column in The Australian today by Arthur Sinodinos suggesting Peter Costello run as Victorian Premier. What are your thoughts on that?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well, look, that’s a matter for Peter Costello.

QUESTION:

Who are you endorsing to replace Brendan Nelson?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

I am hoping that we will have a wide field, a large number of candidates, very talented candidates I’m sure, and it’s up to the preselectors of Bradfield to make their decision. We are a grassroots political movement in the Liberal Party and endorsements of candidates and preselection of candidates are taken by the membership. So, you know, we always like to see a big field - the wider the range of candidates, the larger the number, the more diverse their backgrounds, the better it is for the party.

QUESTION:

So you won’t play any role in this election process?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well, I have one representative out of a very large preselection panel but this is very much a local decision.

QUESTION:

What are your thoughts on the failure of the Federal Government’s cash incentives to lure back nurses to hospitals?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well this is just another one of Kevin Rudd’s broken promises. So many things he promised when he ran for office! He promised he was going to fix the hospital system by June 30 this year or take it over and he hasn’t done that. He had his initiative to bring nurses back - that hasn’t succeeded. Computers on every desk - that hasn’t come to pass. He was going to keep a cap on fuel prices with FuelWatch - that was a flop; GroceryWatch - another flop. Kevin Rudd is long on promises, very short on delivery.

QUESTION:

Are you going to visit Cairns Base Hospital then?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

No, we don’t have that on the schedule today.

QUESTION:

So what else are you doing while you’re up [inaudible]?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

As I just said to you, we have a meeting with the tourism industry, which is your biggest…

QUESTION:

Anywhere other than Cairns though?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

No, I’m meeting here in Cairns with a tourism roundtable and then we have a meeting with the Cape York partnership and then I’m travelling tomorrow to the Davos Conference at Hayman Island.

QUESTION:

Peter Garrett’s criticised you as being too weak with the patrial approvals of the Gorgon project…

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Sorry, I beg your pardon, Peter Garrett has criticised who?

QUESTION:

…as being too weak with your partial approval of the Gorgon project in Western Australia when you were Environment Minister. How do you respond to that?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Look, I haven’t seen what Peter Garrett has said. I’m impressed that Peter Garrett has acknowledged that the previous government had anything to do with it. We put enormous work into all these big natural resource projects, these LNG projects in Western Australia and I was involved in a series of approvals that were very relevant to them.

These are vital projects, vital for Australia’s future, vital for the global battle against climate change. LNG is a very clean fuel and when it’s exported to a place like China and burned instead of coal it reduces greenhouse gas emissions by an enormous amount. So certainly we’re very proud of our record there in supporting those projects and the Rudd Government should acknowledge that the work they have done has built on the hard work of their predecessors.

QUESTION:

Any reflections on the death of Ted Kennedy?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

This is the end of an era. Ted Kennedy of course is the last surviving brother of the Kennedy family, an extraordinary family that has contributed so much to the history of the world, the history and the politics of the United States. He has died at a very old age, it’s very sad that Ted Kennedy has died at 77. He was still making an enormous contribution to the Senate right up to the very end. But it’s a very important family, a very tragic family in many respects, and Ted’s death reminds us all of the extraordinary contributions the Kennedys have made not just to the United States but to the world.

QUESTION:

Hopefully we’ll still see you around at 77.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well, I certainly hope so, yes.

Thank you