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Transcript of doorstop interview: Canberra: 21 August 2012: Julia Gillard’s carbon tax; second anniversary of the 2010 election; Newspoll; Slater & Gordon; education funding



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JOH

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

21 August 2012

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR DOORSTOP INTERVIEW CANBERRA

Subjects: Julia Gillard’s carbon tax; second anniversary of the 2010 election; Newspoll; Slater & Gordon; education funding.

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

TONY ABBOTT:

It’s great to be here at 60 Minute Dry Cleaners. I’d like to thank Lynton Ryan and his staff for making Gary Humphries and myself so welcome. This is one of the businesses that will suffer a double whammy under the carbon tax - very high electricity costs, very high gas costs. Here in the ACT, 80 per cent of an 18 per cent rise in power bills is attributable to the carbon tax and as the winter goes on, every Australian household is going to feel directly the pain of the carbon tax, first of all their power bills and then in the prices that business are charging them as businesses get hit with bigger power bills thanks to Julia Gillard’s toxic tax.

Now, this is also the second anniversary of the last election. The last election was two years ago. That means that the next election is one year away at most. That means that within a year, the Australian people will have the chance to vote for lower taxes; have the chance to vote for stronger borders, for better services and for modern infrastructure. There is a better way and that’s the better way that I offer to the Australian people.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, you’ve been making this point about the carbon tax for a long time now. Since it came in, though, Labor’s support has gradually risen. Why do you think that is?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I’m going to leave other people to run a commentary on opinion polls. Every day I am out there reassuring the Australian people that we are a great country and a great people being let down by a bad government and at the heart of the bad government that we’ve got is the carbon tax, a bad tax based on a lie, the big lie that the Prime Minister gave us just five days before the last election, that she has so comprehensively failed to atone for.

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QUESTION:

Are you contemplating any change in tactics though at all?

TONY ABBOTT:

I think that what the Australian people want from their national government is a government that takes their problems and their pressures seriously and the best thing that any government can do for the Australian family right now is take away the additional costs that the carbon tax is putting on their budget.

QUESTION:

You’ve often said that the Prime Minister has trouble telling the truth and then you got in trouble for that yesterday in Parliament. Do you think the Prime Minister is telling the truth when she says she has done nothing wrong at Slater & Gordon 17 years ago?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I think this is a subject of legitimate media interest. The ball is now in the Prime Minister’s court.

QUESTION:

Do you think she’s telling the truth?

TONY ABBOTT:

As I said, this is a subject of legitimate media interest. The ball is now in the Prime Minister’s court. I certainly think that when it comes to telling the truth, the big problem the Prime Minister’s got is what she said to the Australian people five days before the last election: ‘There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead,’ and when it comes to political integrity the real problem for a Prime Minister is saying one thing before an election and doing the opposite afterwards.

QUESTION:

You wanted the Prime Minister to make a statement to the Parliament though, Mr Abbott, on this issue. Why have you not asked her during Question Time to explain the details you’re concerned about?

TONY ABBOTT:

As I said, if the Prime Minister wants to make a statement, the Coalition will gladly facilitate that. We would give her every opportunity to do so.

QUESTION:

Should she?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, that’s a matter for her.

QUESTION:

Why is this a legitimate issue?

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TONY ABBOTT:

As I said, it’s a perfectly legitimate issue for the media to raise and let’s never forget that the person who most recently put this on the public record was none other than former Cabinet minister Robert McClelland.

QUESTION:

But you said on Sunday she had questions to answer. What questions do you think that she has to answer?

TONY ABBOTT:

As I said, the person who put this onto the public record most recently was her former Cabinet colleague Robert McClelland.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, do you think that the conduct of politicians in their careers prior to entering Parliament can speak to their character and is of relevance when they are serving in the national Parliament?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, inevitably voters will have a look at the people who offer themselves for the highest jobs in the land and they will want to be confident that those people are people that they can trust their future to. They will want to know whether the people who are putting themselves up for election are competent and trustworthy. So, obviously these things are issues and that’s why I say it’s perfectly reasonable for the media to look into these matters.

QUESTION:

It doesn’t sound like you have any concerns or questions yourself. Is that fair?

TONY ABBOTT:

I think it’s very important that we have competent and trustworthy politicians and I think it’s perfectly legitimate for the media to look into these sorts of issues.

QUESTION:

You’re not going to pursue it, though?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I think it’s perfectly legitimate for the media to look into these sorts of issues. As I said, the person who put all of this onto the public record most recently in the Parliament was none other than the Prime Minister’s former Cabinet colleague, Robert McClelland.

QUESTION:

Can I ask you about education, Mr Abbott? You said yesterday that, quote, there is no question of injustice to public schools, if anything the injustice is the other way. What did you mean by that? Are you suggesting that the Howard Government funding model, which is still in place, is giving private schools a raw deal?

TONY ABBOTT:

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No, I was making the very clear point that I don't want to take any money off any school because I think that the existing funding system works well. The only person who’s got a hit list right now is Julia Gillard. One out of three schools will be worse off even if the Gonski recommendations are implemented in full at the cost of $5 billion a year.

QUESTION:

But Mr Pyne this morning said there was no injustice.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, Mr Pyne and I, Christopher and I, said exactly the same thing. We wanted to deal with this myth that somehow public schools are being short changed.

QUESTION:

So, is there an injustice?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, as I said, we both wanted to deal with this myth that somehow public schools are being short changed. They're not. We support the existing funding system. What we don't support is any change to the existing funding system that would result in fully one in three Australian schools, public and independent, being ripped off by this Prime Minister.

QUESTION:

Tanya Plibersek says the reason you were thrown out of Parliament yesterday is because you have a problem with taking directions from women, Mr Abbott. How do you respond to that?

TONY ABBOTT:

I take directions from women every day - my wife, my daughters, my chief of staff, other senior members of my office. Look, I am an entirely modern man in this respect.

QUESTION:

Why we’re here do you still believe that the women do the ironing in the house?

TONY ABBOTT:

In the Abbott household, the dry cleaner does that work.

QUESTION:

You haven’t picked up the iron yourself since then?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I think it’s safest to leave these things to the professionals and that is what I have been doing in recent times.

QUESTION:

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Are you still committed to the five per cent target by 2020?

TONY ABBOTT:

Yes and we believe that the emissions reduction target should be achieved domestically and the bizarre feature of the Government's carbon tax is that not only is it going to make every household's cost of living pressures worse, not only is it going to make every job in our country less secure, but it doesn't actually reduce emissions. Notwithstanding a carbon tax of $37 a tonne by 2020, Australia's domestic emissions don't go down by five per cent, they go up by eight per cent - from 578 million tonnes to 621 million tonnes. That is why this is such a bad tax, a bad tax based on a lie.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible] pushing up electricity prices?

TONY ABBOTT:

We will fund our emissions reduction programmes off the Budget. So, no increase in taxes, no increase in prices to consumers.

QUESTION:

Can you give any guarantee that those prices that rise under the carbon tax will go down once you turn it back?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, there has been a 14 per cent increase in electricity prices here in the ACT as a result of the carbon tax. Take that carbon tax off, prices should go down by 14 per cent and it will be the job of the ACCC to police that.

Thank you.

[ends]