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Transcript of interview with Jon Faine: ABC Radio 774, Melbourne: 7 October 2011: Australian boy in Indonesian custody; Steve Jobs; jobs forum; taxation; Julia Gillard’s carbon tax; Qantas.



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

7 October 2011

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR INTERVIEW WITH JON FAINE, ABC RADIO 774, MELBOURNE

Subjects: Australian boy in Indonesian custody; Steve Jobs; jobs forum; taxation; Julia Gillard’s carbon tax; Qantas.

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

JON FAINE:

Tony Abbott, good morning to you.

TONY ABBOTT:

G’day Jon.

JON FAINE:

To Bali first of all, is the Australian Government doing enough to help the 14 year old boy who is in custody in Indonesia?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, it seems to be doing what needs to be done. Certainly Kevin Rudd has been all over the airwaves and that’s right and proper. I have no reason to think that the family aren’t being afforded every consular assistance and that’s as it should be because obviously this would be terribly unnerving for a family on holidays to find a teenage member of the family under arrest. So they should be given every support.

JON FAINE:

And do you add your voice to the calls from the Australian Government for the Indonesian Government to exercise whatever discretions can be exercised here to release him or send him home?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, look, I’m not familiar with the facts of the case but certainly, any charge involving, or any case involving a 14 year old boy, you’d want a measure of forbearance deployed.

JON FAINE:

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Do you think it’s right that same media have chosen to name him and therefore identify his family as well?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, that’s a matter for the media. I haven’t heard the name and as I said, look, that’s really their call…

JON FAINE:

Is it the wrong call?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, look, my judgment would be not to do it but, as I said, I haven’t heard the boy in question named and if you tell me he has been named, it does sound unusual.

JON FAINE:

You famously told Kerry O’Brien on The 7:30 Report last year that you are not a tech-head so what’s your reaction to the news of the death of Steve Jobs?

TONY ABBOTT:

Jon, he was a remarkable man. He changed the way so many people communicate and, look, all credit to him for that. He was one of those people who had a huge impact on our world and I think we rightly know his life, we celebrate his achievements and we regret his passing.

JON FAINE:

Some of the commentary describing him as, well, everything from a visionary through to a prophet puts him up there almost elevated to the point of sainthood, if I can invoke a religious connection with someone who I acknowledge is himself very religious, that’s you Tony Abbott.

TONY ABBOTT:

I think that whenever someone who has achieved a lot passes, we tend to engage in eulogies. Now, I think that’s right and proper but, look, all sorts of people make a contribution. His was a very significant contribution and I think we should celebrate it, but, yes, we should also keep a sense of perspective about it.

JON FAINE:

Do you regret not attending the forums in Canberra this week, the tax and jobs forums that seem to have achieved some progress, no breakthroughs but they’ve been worthwhile?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well they’ve been talkfests and I think talkfests are only any good if they lead to some kind of action and so far we’ve got study groups, we’ve got a think tank and we’ve got an aspiration…

JON FAINE:

We’ve got a commitment from Wayne Swan to reduce some taxes.

TONY ABBOTT:

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When? When is he going to reduce these taxes?

JON FAINE:

Well, I don’t have a timeline in front of me but he…

TONY ABBOTT:

He hasn’t given us one Jon. He hasn’t given us one. A commitment without a timeline, a commitment without funding isn’t really a commitment. It’s just an aspiration.

JON FAINE:

Well, he hasn’t got a magic wand to wave. He’s achieved, they’ve achieved their objective which was, with Rob Oakeshott, get everyone in the room, sit down - you weren’t there, they were - and they say it’s, including industry and critics of it says well, it was worthwhile.

TONY ABBOTT:

I suppose there’s a sense in which sitting down and having a good talk can be therapeutic for a government in trouble but, in the end, what the public expect Jon is not the organisation of debating societies but getting on with the job of governing the country, getting on with the job of good policy and the problem with this Government is that the only policies that we see are things like the mining tax and the carbon tax which are going to be very bad for jobs and very bad for people’s cost of living. Now, if they are serious about tax reform and jobs they would drop the carbon tax because at the same time that the Prime Minister is talking about a local content plan, the carbon tax is effectively a foreign content plan because it’s going to make local goods more expensive than the foreign ones.

JON FAINE:

But wouldn’t you be consulting? If you were Prime Minister, you’d convene these sorts of occasions, call them what you will, call them a forum, call them a summit, doesn’t matter, but you would consult with people. You’d get everyone affected, you’d sit down, you’d talk issues through, they all hear from each other, everyone gets out of their kind of narrow silo and hears how for instance tax changes would affect other sectors and you’d come up with a consensus.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, you’ve got to go to all of these with a plan and the only plan this government has is to raise taxes, not to reduce taxes, because it wants to hit us with the carbon tax and the mining tax. Now, I think that for a four year old government to be having something like this, basically saying to people ‘tell us what you think’, after they’ve had the Henry Tax Review and the 2020 Summit, I think, smacks of a PR stunt at best and desperation at worst.

JON FAINE:

You are at the airport flying back to New South Wales. Is the Qantas industrial disputation going to personally affect Tony Abbott today?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I don’t know. I will find out when I actually get to the check-in counter. At the moment I am just short of the terminal.

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JON FAINE:

If you are affected, do you think Qantas management is playing hardball or do you blame the unions? That’s a Dorothy Dixer, Tony Abbott.

TONY ABBOTT:

Yeah, I think it’s important to give good service to the public and I think it’s important that our flagship airline remains profitable…

JON FAINE:

But they are having disputes with baggage handlers, maintenance engineers, cabin staff, pilots. It seems that Qantas is picking fights with everybody.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, the fact that there is a fight doesn’t mean that Qantas is necessarily to blame. Now, I think the important thing here is for the airline to be profitable because there is cut-throat competition in the airline business and if you can’t make a profit, you can’t survive.

JON FAINE:

Victoria has always been a weak spot in your ratings and approval, according to all the opinion polls. It’s always been the anomaly in the statistical returns. What have you seen or heard over the last couple of days touring regional Victoria?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, again Jon, I think there is great anxiety about the carbon tax and I think there is a sense that this is a government which doesn’t have its priorities right. I mean, obviously in Ballarat and in Bendigo they want a strong manufacturing industry, they want better transport infrastructure…

JON FAINE:

Do they want a softer Liberal Party?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, I think they want an effective government and I think they figure that they’ve got an ineffective and inept government at the moment. Now, if we were investing more in road and rail and less in the National Broadband Network where the private sector could do most of the heavy lifting, there would be more money to spend on the really pressing infrastructure. If we weren’t going ahead with the carbon tax, we’d have a better deal for manufacturing.

JON FAINE:

I’ll let you catch that plane. Thanks for your time. Tony Abbott, Leader of the Opposition.

[ends]