Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Transcript of joint doorstop: Cairns: 3 April 2012: Julia Gillard’s carbon tax; Robert McClelland; Australia Network tender; Craig Thomson; interest rates



Download PDFDownload PDF

1

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

3 April 2012

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR JOINT DOORSTOP INTERVIEW WITH THE HON. WARREN ENTSCH MHR, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR LEICHHARDT, CAIRNS

Subjects: Julia Gillard’s carbon tax; Robert McClelland; Australia Network tender; Craig Thomson; interest rates.

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

TONY ABBOTT:

It’s terrific to be here in Cairns. I would like to thank Mel and Sean and the other members of the Yelaska family for making Warren Entsch and me so welcome here at Cairns Steel Fabricators.

This is a substantial regional manufacturing business which is typical of the companies right around Australia which are under dire threat from the carbon tax. This government is threatening this company with a double whammy - a mining tax which will slow down investment in the industry which is vital to this company’s future and the carbon tax which is going to make is very, very difficult for Australia to continue manufacturing steel.

Not for nothing did the leaders of BlueScope describe the carbon tax as a dire threat to the steel industry. Not for nothing did they say the compensation for the carbon tax to the steel industry was like putting a band-aid on a bullet wound. If you actually look at the government’s own modelling documents, the government’s own figures show that by 2050 there will be a 21 per cent decrease in iron and steel production in Australia because of the carbon tax. So the government is deliberately setting up this carbon tax to decrease the Australian steel industry. Obviously that is very, very bad news for companies like this one here in Cairns.

We in the Coalition, we can’t change the value of the Aussie dollar, we can’t and shouldn’t change open and competitive markets but what we must do is save Australian businesses from unnecessary burdens and this carbon tax is like a reverse tariff on Australian businesses. It protects overseas jobs and penalises Australian jobs and that’s why the carbon tax must go.

People in the Labor Party who are prepared to look at the reality of the carbon tax know this. Robert McClelland and others understand that the Australian public are sick of spin and lies and the biggest lie of all was the Prime Minister’s words before the last election when she said that there would be “no carbon tax under the government I lead”.

2

We’ve seen more evidence of government bungling today with the Australia Network. It shows that this government can’t be trusted with money, can’t be trusted to follow due process and senior members of this government can’t be trusted to be honest with each other about what’s happening.

We’ve also seen Fair Work Australia sitting, it seems, on the Thomson investigation for months and years. This investigation is now into its fourth year. There are reports in the paper today that the investigation might finally conclude. It would be typical of this government if the report into the Thomson matter were to be released at four o’clock on Easter Thursday in an attempt to bury the whole thing over the Easter weekend. Well, I say the Australian people are sick of this kind of spin. The Australian people want a bit of transparency and that’s what the next Coalition government will give them.

Finally, I think at a time like this it’s very important that the Australian people appreciate that notwithstanding a bad government we are still a great country. We are a great country. We are a great people badly let down right now by a very, very poor government. The Coalition stands ready to offer the Australian people hope, reward and opportunity because we have strong and effective plans for a stronger economy, for a stronger country.

I might just ask Warren to say a bit about a couple of local issues and then we’ll take some questions.

WARREN ENTSCH:

Can I say, coming here and having at look at this operation, Cairns Steel Fabricators and Century Cranes, an outstanding family success with the Yelaska family building this from scratch, it worries me immensely with the pressures that are going on that if we don’t do something and we don’t make changes, we’re going to end up in the same situation. We’ve seen another outstanding family company, NQEA, destroyed some years ago by this very same government. We’ve seen that go down the gurgler by government decisions which was absolutely appalling. It had a major negative impact on our community. We now have a very, very successful steel fabrication business here, the largest outside of Brisbane and we’ve got to make sure that those same bad decisions don’t impact on this company, so that this company can continue to grow and prosper. It’s got over 150 employees and their families. We’ve got to make sure that that job security is maintained and that they have the opportunity of growing.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, what do you think this report into Mr Craig Thomson will lead to?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, just on the admitted facts of this case, there’s been a plain abuse of union members’ money and if something like this happened in business there would have been prosecution launched months, if not years ago. Now, I think it’s absolutely incumbent on the government to ensure that justice is done here and justice has not been done for over three years. So the report has got to come out and then appropriate action has got to be taken urgently by the relevant authorities.

QUESTION:

You mentioned overseas jobs. What do you make of the Government’s plan to bring in electrical workers from the US?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I don’t have a problem with people coming into Australia to do good jobs which can’t be filled by Australians. I don’t have a problem with people coming into Australia who are going to make a contribution from day one. My problem though is with a government which is needlessly harming our economy and

3

that’s what the carbon tax does. I mean there will be far fewer jobs for Australians and newcomers to have in Australia if this carbon tax goes ahead.

QUESTION:

Senator Joyce made it very clear he wants to move to the lower house but he can’t find seat. What should he do?

TONY ABBOTT:

In the end, that is a matter for Senator Joyce and the National Party. The point that I have made is that Barnaby has been a terrific team player, he’s been a great colleague. I think he would be a great asset in the lower house. He is a very important member of a very strong Coalition and a very effective National Party team led by Warren Truss who is going to be the deputy prime minister in the next Coalition government.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister Gillard was up in Queensland on Saturday. She said she would be visiting here more to try and restore Labor’s image. Is your visit today as a result of that?

TONY ABBOTT:

My visit today is typical of the dozens and dozens of visits that I make all around Australia all the time. Obviously, it’s been very interesting to come to Cairns in the aftermath of the Queensland election and I think that the Queensland election was an absolute verdict on governments which don’t tell the truth. I think that the more Queenslanders see of the Prime Minister, the more they are going to be reminded of the fact that this Prime Minister was not straight with them before the last election, just as former Premier Bligh was not straight with the people of Queensland before the previous state election and was rightly punished. Prime Minister Gillard was not straight with the Australian people before the last federal election and I think Queenslanders are waiting to punish governments and politicians that don’t tell the truth.

QUESTION:

What else will you be doing in Cairns today? Obviously the carbon tax is a big issue. But there’s others that are plaguing this city. What would your government do to diversify the economy?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, the interesting thing about Cairns is that it’s not just a tourist town. I think there’s a common misapprehension in southern Australia that Cairns is just one of our great tourist capitals - it is a great tourist centre, obviously - but it’s not just a tourist centre. It is an important industrial city and the fact that we have here in Cairns Steel Fabrications, the largest, perhaps, steel manufacturer outside of Brisbane, shows just how important Cairns is for a whole range of different sectors. But I’m going now to do a tourism roundtable because, obviously, it is very important that tourism operators have a chance to explain to me and to Warren what are their issues and one of their big issues is also the carbon tax. The carbon tax is not just a reverse tariff on manufacturing jobs. It is a positive disincentive for people to be tourists here in Australia.

QUESTION:

What other industries do you see Cairns benefiting from?

4

TONY ABBOTT:

I think the important thing is to get the economic fundamentals right. If you get the economic fundamentals right, well then the creativity of local people will take over. Cairns people are creative, adaptable, flexible, entrepreneurial. This business didn’t exist 40 years ago. It does now because local people have had a go. What we need to ensure is that the government is not crushing that entrepreneurial spirit with unnecessary taxes and regulations.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible] expected to keep interest rates on hold today. [Inaudible]?

TONY ABBOTT:

I think that it would be a lot easier for the Reserve Bank to reduce interest rates if the government wasn’t out there borrowing $100 million every single day and one of the reasons why our interest rates are higher than what would otherwise be the case is because the government is out there borrowing $100 million every single day because it can’t get its spending under control.

QUESTION:

Wild Rivers has obviously been a big issue for you. You have had a change of government and therefore a change of policy, how quickly would you like to see those changes?

TONY ABBOTT:

Campbell Newman made a strong commitment to ensure that the Aboriginal people of Cape York would have fair dinkum land rights; that they would once more have control over their own economic future and I look forward to Campbell making the necessary changes as quickly as possible.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible] running out of coal there because of the rain and union action. Has this been discussed at a national level?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I think it’s very important that government does everything that it humanly can to enable business to get on with the job of producing the goods which Australia has to offer to the rest of the world. Now, that’s what I think governments should do. It should not place unnecessary impediments on the Australian people who are good at their job. Australians can take on the rest of the world and win provided government doesn’t make our task more difficult and, in some cases, almost impossible.

Thank you.

[ends]