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Transcript of doorstop interview: Cooma, New South Wales: 31 March 2012: Senator Judith Adams; National Disability Insurance Scheme; Julia Gillard’s carbon tax; Plan for a Productivity Commission review of child care.



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

31 March 2012

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR DOORSTOP INTERVIEW COOMA, NEW SOUTH WALES

Subjects: Senator Judith Adams; National Disability Insurance Scheme; Julia Gillard’s carbon tax; Plan for a Productivity Commission review of child care.

EO&E..............................................................................................................................................................

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, on behalf of the Coalition, I want to express my deepest condolences at the passing of Senator Judith Adams. Judith was a friend and a colleague. She was a great fighter for Western Australia. She was particularly passionate about rural and regional health. As Health Minister, we did a lot of work together. She was also a big supporter of rural issues more generally. Some of the issues that she was particularly prominent in include wheat and also the Patient Assisted Transport Scheme for people living in remote areas. She went into the Senate after a long and full life. She started off as a nurse. She served with the New Zealand army in Vietnam. She was a proud ANZAC. She was a proud Western Australian. She was a proud Liberal. We will miss her greatly and obviously on behalf of the Coalition I extend condolences particularly to her two sons and to her wider family.

Today is day 7 of Pollie Pedal. I’m here in Cooma, I’m about to meet with local carers. Obviously the big issue that is concerning the carers community of Australia is the National Disability Insurance Scheme. It’s good that the government appears to be looking at taking this issue forward in the budget. The Coalition will work constructively with the government on this issue. It’s very important though that it be responsibly funded. It is, I think, a necessary and an overdue reform. But it’s got to be properly funded and the best way to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme is from a strong and a growing economy from a government which has got wasteful and unnecessary spending down - in fact eliminated. If the government wasn’t spending as much as it is on unnecessary programmes, it would be much better able to fund a vital reform such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme. I noticed that the Prime Minister has been commenting today on the Coalition’s proposal for a productivity commission inquiry into more flexible and effective child care support. I think that this is just more relentless negativity from a government which is looking more like an alternative opposition than an effective national government.

Finally, we had one of Australia’s most prominent business leaders, David Murray talking yesterday about the carbon tax. He described it as the worst piece of economic reform in his lifetime. Of course David Murray is absolutely right - this is an economic own goal. This is an act of economic self harm. It’s going to be bad for families. It’s going to be bad for business. It’s going to be bad for jobs. This is the world’s biggest carbon tax at the worst possible time and if the government had any sense of economic responsibility, it would drop this toxic tax and drop it now.

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QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, the disability insurance scheme is set to be phased in over the next 6 years by 2018. Are you saying that you don’t think the economy would have recovered sufficiently by then to fund it?

TONY ABBOTT:

I think it is very important that the NDIS be funded out of a strong surplus. Now, if the economy is well managed, we can have strong surpluses in the future, but the lesson of the history of this government is that they’re much better at talking about surpluses than delivering them. I think the only side of politics that is capable of delivering the strong surpluses that will make the NDIS possible is the Coalition.

QUESTION:

On your proposal for an examination of a rebate for nannies - there’s an analysis from two departments saying this could cost half a billion dollars a year. Now I know you haven’t done the maths on it yet, but if it did cost that much, there wouldn’t be room within the existing envelope would there for it? Would that have to be put off too until there was time of a greater surplus?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, this is just more spin and relentless negativity from a government which is more like an alternative opposition than a real national government. If the productivity commission was good enough to look at disability insurance, if the productivity was good enough to look at aged care reform, why is the government running scared of a productivity commission inquiry into more flexible and more effective child care arrangements within the existing funding envelope?

QUESTION:

The PM said today Tony that on your nanny plan that you are playing for the women’s vote and then your plan will never happen. How do you respond to that?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look again, I just think that’s more carping from a Prime Minister who should be bigger than that. Why shouldn’t we be a little bit more flexible and a little bit more effective and a little bit more family friendly in our child care arrangements? I think that it’s time that the Labor Party woke up to the fact that not every family is going to be well suited by 8 till 6 institutional care. There are a lot of families that have one or both parents working very flexible hours and that’s why we need flexible forms of care to deal with the reality of the modern Australian family.

Thanks so much.

[ends]