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Transcript of joint doorstop: Mackay, Queensland: 27 August 2012: Julia Gillard’s mining tax and carbon tax; marine protected areas; Northern Territory election; industrial relations; Nielsen poll.



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JOH

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

27 August 2012

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR JOINT DOORSTOP INTERVIEW WITH MR. GEORGE CHRISTENSEN MHR, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR DAWSON, MACKAY, QUEENSLAND

Subjects: Julia Gillard’s mining tax and carbon tax; marine protected areas; Northern Territory election; industrial relations; Nielsen poll.

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

TONY ABBOTT:

It’s great to be here at DGH Engineering. I want to thank Mark Horn and his team for making George Christensen and myself so welcome. This is a fine Queensland business that started from scratch seven years ago, now employs up to 200 people, predominantly servicing the mining industry. It’s very important that we do whatever we can to keep the mining industry growing and the tragedy of the current government is they don’t understand, they just don’t get it when it comes to keeping the mining industry going. They think you can endlessly load the mining industry up with added costs without having any impact on investment, production and jobs. We’ve got the mining tax, we’ve got the carbon tax, we’ve got the increasing cost of infrastructure. The Coalition has a plan to keep the mining boom going. We’ll keep the mining boom going by scrapping the mining tax, by scrapping the carbon tax, and by immediately restoring, with all of its powers, the Australian Building and Construction Commission so that the rule of law operates firmly and fairly in the construction industry which is so important for mining projects.

Just a couple of other things I’d like to mention before I throw to questions and ask George to say a few words. It’s very important that the people of Queensland and right around the Australian coast are able to fish. Fishing is a part of the Australian way of life. These marine protected areas, the science is not right, the consultation is not right, the compensation is not right. Before any of these marine protected areas go ahead we’ve got to get those things right. At the moment, some 70 per cent of Queensland coastal oceans stand to be restricted and that’s just not fair for the fishers of Australia. These people are natural conservationists. They want to be able to catch fish tomorrow as well as today. They want to be able to catch fish next decade, not just this one. That’s why it’s so unfair to tag them all as environmental vandals. That’s why it’s so unfair to lock up the oceans because the current government in Canberra is in debt to the Greens. I’m really pleased that the Coalition will be supporting George Christensen’s private member’s bill to ensure that there are no more marine protected areas until the consultation is right, the science is right and the compensation is right.

Finally I’d just like to congratulate Terry Mills and the Country Liberal Party for an outstanding result in the Northern Territory. The Northern Territory result shows what happens to under-performing governments that have been there too long and that don’t tell the truth. I’m also very proud of the fact that so many indigenous leaders are coming into the parliament as Country Liberal members. I think it’s very important

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that we do the right thing by indigenous Australia. I think we do need a new deal for indigenous Australia and that’s what’s going to happen in the Territory thanks to Terry Mills’ triumphant victory.

I’m going to ask George to say a few words then I’ll take some questions.

GEORGE CHRISTENSEN:

Thanks Tony and it’s good to have you here in Mackay and I suppose today we’ve heard from DGH Engineering what I’ve actually been hearing for probably a month now from mining service businesses throughout Paget and the rest of the Mackay region. That is that there is a slowdown, we are feeling a squeeze at the moment here in Mackay and you know, last week in Canberra Julia Gillard’s resources minister came out and said the boom was over. Well, you know, I don’t think the white flag should be waved. What needs to be waived is the mining tax, the carbon tax and all of the rest of the imposts that the Gillard Labor Government is putting on industry that’s affecting businesses here and jobs here in the Mackay region. So you know, when we get into government, if the people give us that honour, they’re the things that we’re going to get rid of and I’m very glad that Tony’s been here, able to hear that from DGH this morning and listen to what some of the workers are saying, and hear their concerns. It’s great to have you here Tony.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thanks George. Ok, do we have any questions?

QUESTION:

Tony, do you welcome John Howard’s comments at the Westpac forum, that individual contracts should be reintroduced and there should be a crackdown on unfair dismissals?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, we’ve made our position extremely clear. There will be cautious, careful, responsible change within the framework of the existing Act. That’s what we are on about. The last thing we would want to do is throw the text book at problems. We want to solve problems, not be ideological in this area.

QUESTION:

So no individual contracts [inaudible]?

TONY ABBOTT:

The Labor Government under the Fair Work Act has put in place individual flexibility agreements. I think these agreements need to be made more workable, but there’s no going back to the past, there is no going back to the past - we want the Fair Work Act to work better.

QUESTION:

John Howard says there are some aspects of WorkChoices that were a good idea and that WorkChoices weren’t the main reason that the `07 election was lost.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well I think you might be putting some words into the former Prime Minister’s mouth, but let’s face it: John Howard is two prime ministers ago. John Howard is three Liberal leaders ago. That was then, this is now. There is no going back to the past.

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QUESTION:

Do you think the approval of the massive Alpha mine in the Galilee Basin is a sign that the boom has a long way to go, even with carbon and mining taxes?

TONY ABBOTT:

As Marius Kloppers pointed out on the weekend overseas, at current levels of tax, at current levels of costs in Australia, at current dollar values and current commodity prices, it’s very hard to justify new investment in Australia. Now, I want to improve that. I want the mining boom to continue. The Coalition’s plan to continue the mining boom involves scrapping the carbon tax, scrapping the mining tax and getting costs down by restoring the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

QUESTION:

Do you think it’s smart to claim that BHP [inaudible] decision to scale back their investments, we’ve had an impact here at Peak Downs [inaudible].

TONY ABBOTT:

Marius Kloppers has been saying for months, Jac Nasser has been saying for months that because of a range of factors, including the carbon tax, Australia has gone from being a low cost to a high cost place to do business. Now, they’ve been saying it and I think it’s very important to take them at their word.

QUESTION:

[inaudible] Tasmania that the carbon tax [inaudible]?

TONY ABBOTT:

The carbon tax is going to be like a python squeeze, not a cobra strike. I’ve been saying that for months but it will hurt from day one and it just gets worse and worse and worse as time goes by. The thing about the carbon tax is it’s going to hit every Australian’s cost of living, it’s going to make every job less secure, but it’s also emblematic of the way this government operates. This is a big spending, big borrowing, big taxing government. The carbon tax - great big new tax, great big new bureaucracy, great big new slush fund, great big new handouts. It is absolutely in character with this untrustworthy and incompetent government.

QUESTION:

BHP is set to sell the uranium mine in Western Australia. Firstly, is that due to the carbon tax as well and have you read that statement?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I’ve seen press reports and I think it’s important for people to understand that if they want Australia’s mining-based prosperity to continue you’ve got to try to keep Australia a competitive country to invest and do business in. That’s why our plan to keep the mining boom going is to get rid of the mining tax, get rid of the carbon tax and to keep costs down by immediately restoring the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

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QUESTION:

Are you concerned in the latest Nielsen poll that Julia Gillard’s becoming more popular at the expense of yourself?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I look at the field evidence. The field evidence is that people don’t trust this Prime Minister. People don’t like the carbon tax. People are dismayed by this government’s constant border protection failures and people don’t think you can trust the Labor Party with public money. Now, these are the constants of Australian political debate. If you want to look at a poll, look at the Northern Territory poll, a classic example of how bad governments get punished.

QUESTION:

Are you worried about a potential Labor comeback?

TONY ABBOTT:

As I said, if you want to look at a poll, look at the only poll that counts up in the Northern Territory which just goes to show that as far as the Australian people are concerned, bad governments get punished.

QUESTION:

But are you worried that other polls are indicating that voters are moving away from you?

TONY ABBOTT:

I just look at the field evidence. The field evidence shows that this Prime Minister is not trusted. The carbon tax is deeply resented. People are dismayed by the Government’s border protection failings. They’ve come to a conclusion that you just can’t trust the Labor Party with public money. That is the fundamentals of public life in Australia right now.

[ends]