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Transcript of doorstop interview: Sydney: 28 November 2008: Mumbai terrorist attacks; death of an Australian soldier in Afghanistan; computers in schools blowout; economic management.

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28 November 2008


Subjects: Mumbai terrorist attacks; death of an Australian soldier in Afghanistan; computers in schools blowout; economic management.



Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, and their families, of this appalling terrorist attack in Mumbai. We have had confirmation that two Australians have been killed. One of them, Doug Markell, was a constituent of mine and a former Deputy Mayor of Woollahra, and our prayers and condolences go to his family as indeed they go to the families of all those who have been killed or injured in this dreadful, murderous outbreak of terrorism.

The terrorist attacks in Mumbai remind us of the importance of the war against terror and the very heavy price that is being paid by Australian soldiers in the front line in the war against terror. And so our thoughts and prayers too are with the family of the Australian soldier who was killed in Afghanistan. Australians are putting their life on the line under our flag, wearing our uniform, taking the fight up to the terrorists that are threatening freedom and democracy around the world.

And the events in Mumbai remind us that wherever terrorism occurs, Australia and Australians are challenged. Mumbai seems a long way away from Australia, but we know that there were many Australians in Mumbai at that time and a number of them have been killed and others injured. And our thoughts and prayers go to the victims and their families at this difficult time.

Do you have any questions?



Obviously very personal view [inaudible] Mr Turnbull given the person [inaudible]


Well it is very sad. Doug Markell was seventy-one, his wife Alison and his children Charles and David are with him or on their way to him to Mumbai. He was the Deputy Mayor of Woollahra during 1994 and 1995, and so he played a leading role in our community in the eastern suburbs of Sydney and I’m very deeply saddened by his death.


Just on another matter, it’s emerged that the Government is going to have to spend nearly double what it originally thought on the computers in schools program. Just wondering what your response to that is.


Well this week we had a debate in Parliament about the deficit, and we reminded the House that Labor deficits are never temporary. The last Labor deficit went for six long years, destroying jobs, undermining our prosperity, and it only came to an end after a Coalition Government was elected to make the hard decisions to set the economy right.

Labor’s challenge is one of economic management, and what we have seen with the computers in schools saga is a program that was promised and costed at $1.2 billion now going to cost 2. It’s blown out by two thirds. So much for economic conservatism!

And it was promised to put a computer on the desk of every student in [inaudible] in those middle years, those vital middle years of high school. And now we know it’s only going to put a computer on every second desk. So it’s going to cost nearly twice as much and deliver only half as much. That’s Labor economic mismanagement - just another example of the economic mismanagement that Mr Rudd is seeking a leave pass to undertake on a large scale as he proposes to take our government’s finances into deficit.


Do you think he should still spend the extra $800 million though?


Well everyone is in favour of computers in schools, but Mr Rudd undercosted it dramatically as we’ve seen, and he over-promised. So it’s going to cost nearly twice as much and deliver half as much and that speaks volumes for his poor economic management.



What do you think of the claim from some economists that have said it might be actually good for Australia to go into deficit for a short time as they try and spend their way [inaudible] this global credit crunch?


Look we will not give Mr Rudd a leave pass for economic mismanagement and poor spending. We’ve just seen an example today of the type of economic mismanagement and poor spending that we were warning about all week. And I understand the report that discloses that this extra money is going to be needed was delivered to the Government on the 3rd September. So Mr Rudd has known about this blowout for quite a long time, but it’s only today that it’s become public.

Thanks very much.