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Transcript of joint doorstop interview: 8 June 2010: Kevin Rudd’s great big new tax on mining; Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan.



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

Tony Abbott Doorstop - Kevin Rudd’s great big new tax on mining; Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan 08/06/10

Subjects: Kevin Rudd’s great big new tax on mining; Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

E&OE

TONY ABBOTT:

I’m here in the electorate of Hughes with Danna Vale, the local member, and with Craig Kelly, the Liberal candidate for Hughes. It’s good to be here at the Williamson’s workshop to learn more about the work that is being done here for the mining industry. There are no mines near Liverpool but there is a mining industry here and this is why Mr Rudd’s great big new tax doesn’t just hurt capitalists in London and New York. It hurts family businesses right here in Sydney and my message to Mr Rudd is we’ve had too much lecturing and not enough listening. It’s time for Mr Rudd and the gang of four to stop lecturing to people, to start listening to people and the message that they will be getting from the people they talk to is don’t just explain the tax, don’t just change the tax, but dump the tax because it’s a bad tax and it’s going to be very bad indeed for the Australian economy.

I’m going to ask Danna and Craig and then Charlie Williamson if they want to say something, but just before I do I should just acknowledge the fact that it has been confirmed that two Australian soldiers have been lost in Afghanistan. This is a terrible tragedy. It’s a tragedy for their families. It’s a tragedy for our country. It shows just how dangerous is the work that our armed forces are doing in Afghanistan. It’s very dangerous work, but it’s a very important cause and I know that all Australians will be reaching out to the families of those killed soldiers in their hour of terrible need and grief. So, Danna, would you like to say something about?

DANNA VALE:

Yes, Tony. I’m sorry, I only just heard about these two Australians that have been lost in Afghanistan and I know that every Australian will actually share with the shock and the sorrow and our hearts and prayers go out to the families. It’s never ever easy

to lose any Australian, especially when they are putting themselves in harm’s way for our cause.

Regarding the visit here to the electorate and, Tony, it’s a pleasure to welcome you here, especially to meet Charles Williamson and his staff. He has 25 people here that he employs. This is a third generation firm. This business has been here for 75 years in the electorate and Charles is the third generation manager here, started off by his grandfather. And it’s a good strong message I think to send to Mr Rudd, that hurting

the mining industry is actually also hurting local families. This is really on the ground and this is a big concern for, not just the whole people of Australia, but particularly here for the families in Hughes.

TONY ABBOTT:

Ok, Craig Kelly, our candidate, he is in business himself. He understands how important business is. He knows that business is the lifeblood of our country. You can’t have a community without an economy to sustain it and that’s one of the many reason why he’s so concerned about the policies of the Rudd Government. So, Craig,

I might just ask you to say a few words.

CRAIG KELLY:

Look, one thing that small business needs is certainty and what we’ve seen from this mining tax has created a great deal of uncertainty, not only for our large mining companies, but also small family businesses in the electorate of Hughes. Mr Rudd, please stop this tax now. Take away the uncertainty in our industry. You’re causing a great deal of concern from local communities. Please, stop this tax.

TONY ABBOTT:

Charlie.

CHARLIE WILLIAMSON:

I’d just like to say that speaking to my customers I have… Sorry, I’ll change that. I am sure this tax will affect our business, our family business and therefore the people that we employ in the local community. It’s going to make a difference and it’s not going to be good.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thanks mate. Ok, any questions?

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, Clive Palmer has come out and said he’s, he’s exaggerated his claims of mine closures and project closures. What’s your view on that?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, there is a whole procession of people who have said that this tax is going to damage their businesses. You’ve had Rio Tinto say that they would not have invested $38 billion in Australia over the last decade had this tax been in place. You’ve got

BHP saying that iron and uranium mines in Western Australia, coal mines in Queensland and, above all else, the $22 billion expansion of the Olympic Dam mine in South Australia are in doubt if this tax stays. So, there are lots and lots of people who know that this tax will be very, very damaging for the Australian economy.

QUESTION:

But if Clive Palmer has been exaggerating what he’s been saying about the effects of this mining tax, can we trust what the other mining companies are saying?

TONY ABBOTT:

I think it’s really unbecoming of the Treasurer to stand up in the Parliament and, in a formal ministerial statement, accuse senior leaders of the mining industry of being ignorant or untruthful. These people are not ignorant liars. They are standing up, not

just for their own shareholders, but ultimately they’re standing up for the half a million Australians whose jobs depend on mining, the million of retirees whose incomes depend on mining and all of us who as consumers depend on the product of the mining sector.

QUESTION:

The Prime Minister and his team head to Western Australia this week. What do you want him to do while he’s there? He’s obviously going to meet with some of the mining bosses.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, it’s interesting that the one word that could not escape his lips this morning was compromise. Now, I think that we’ve seen too much dictation and not enough consultation from the Prime Minister. We’ve seen too much lecturing and not enough listening. I think that increasingly the more people learn about this tax the more they understand that it’s a dagger aimed at the heart of our prosperity and he shouldn’t just change it, he should dump it.

QUESTION:

Wayne Swan has admitted overnight that some companies will pay 58% tax under the scheme. Is that a sign that the Government may back down [inaudible].

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, it’s a sign that the Government doesn’t really know what it’s doing because we constantly get different figures from the Government about just how much tax the mining industry is paying. I mean, first of all it was somewhere between 13 and 17

per cent based on a North Carolina graduate student paper. Then it was reluctantly admitted by Treasury officials that maybe it was about 30 per cent. Now it seems that the Treasurer has had a rare attack of truth and is admitting that many companies pay something like 58 per cent tax or will if this new tax comes in. So really, this is a Government which in ignorance has imposed a very damaging tax on a sector of our economy which is absolutely vital to all Australians’ prosperity.

QUESTION:

Does it suit you in your election campaign if the Government doesn’t resolve this issue with the mining companies?

TONY ABBOTT:

For Australia’s sake I want this issue fixed and I want it fixed soon, but the only fair fix would be to dump the tax and I think that’s the message that’s coming through to Mr Rudd loud and clear from business, from the mining sector, from the community and now indeed from his own back and frontbenchers - just dump the tax.

QUESTION:

But it’ll be a win for you either way, won’t it?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, the important thing is to have a win for our country and the last thing we should be doing with all the international uncertainties that are currently out there, the last thing that we should be doing is prejudicing the one industry that above all gives Australia great advantages in international competitiveness.

QUESTION:

Some commentators are saying that there’s been a swing away from Mr Rudd very clearly in the polls but that there’s been no swing to you out of that, that it’s gone to the Greens. Would you care to comment on that?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I’ve always said that winning this election is an enormous task. I’ve always said that I am going to go into this election as the underdog and I think the polls just confirm that this will be a very, very big job. Sure, people are very disappointed with the Prime Minister. He has badly let them down. Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister has turned out to be quite different from Kevin Rudd as Opposition Leader, but the truth is it will be very hard to win because Labor will run a massive scare campaign, they will throw everything including the kitchen sink at me and at the Coalition and so I’m certainly not underestimating the magnitude of the task ahead.

Thank you