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Transcript of doorstop:, Runaway Bay, Queensland: 24 July 2013: Visit to Fadden Seniors Forum; the Coalition's Real Solutions plan; pension indexation for veterans; Labor's FBT hit on cars; Kevin Rudd's border protection failures; Gold Coast local issues; election date



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JOH

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

24 July 2013

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR JOINT DOORSTOP INTERVIEW WITH THE HON. BRONWYN BISHOP MHR, SHADOW MINISTER FOR SENIORS AND MR STUART ROBERT MHR, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR FADDEN AND SHADOW

MINISTER FOR DEFENCE SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND PERSONNEL, RUNAWAY BAY, QUEENSLAND

Subjects: Visit to Fadden Seniors Forum; the Coalition’s Real Solutions plan; pension indexation for veterans; Labor’s FBT hit on cars; Kevin Rudd’s border protection failures; Gold Coast local issues; election date.

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

TONY ABBOTT:

It's really good to be here on the Gold Coast in the company of the Stuey Robert the local member and also my friend and distinguished senior colleague Bronwyn Bishop, the Shadow Minister for Seniors. It's always terrific to be with Australia's seniors, because the seniors of our country have built our country, the prosperity that we enjoy is in large measure the result of the hard work of Australia's seniors. Australia's seniors deserve a better deal than endlessly increasing cost of living and governments that add to the pressure with unnecessary new taxes. So as part of our Real Solutions plan, we will ease the cost of living pressure on seniors, we’ll ease the cost of living pressure on households by abolishing the carbon tax, but keeping the compensation. That means that the tax cuts and the pension and benefit increases will be real, not fake. There'll be real tax cuts and real pension increases under the Coalition as opposed to the fake ones that they got under the Labor Party.

The other point that I want to make this morning before throwing to Bronwyn and to Stuart is that we've already seen concrete evidence that Mr Rudd hasn't changed. The one practical difference that he has made since becoming Prime Minister is to stop dead in its tracks the car leasing business with his fringe benefit tax changes. What that means is that sales are stopping now, jobs are being lost now and Mr Rudd just doesn't get it as he demonstrated on radio with Neil Mitchell this morning. He just doesn't get it, because he is always making policy on the run which is all about him and his political interests, it's not about the real welfare of the Australian people.

I'll take some questions in a minute, but first of all I just want to ask Bronwyn and Stuart to say a few words. Bronwyn is the most indefatigable senior in our country. Terrific to have her representing seniors in the shadow ministry and Bronwyn, it's nice to be with you and your people.

BRONWYN BISHOP:

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Tony, it's a great pleasure to be in Stuey Robert's electorate and it’s a great pleasure to be here and speak to them soon but to emphasise the point that Australian seniors who are so many of them on fixed incomes are the ones who feel the pressure of cost of living the most.

The problem with the carbon tax is it's a pervasive tax that gets into the nook and cranny of every aspect of your life, because it's a tax on electricity and we all need electricity to live the lives that we think are right for Australians. So removing that tax will remove the insidious impost on the cost of living and as Tony said, you'll keep the so-called compensation payments which means you'll have a real benefit, because the tax will be gone.

I can't stress how important this issue is. Mr Rudd says he'll make it a floating tax. Always remember, a tax that floats down, always floats up. It's got to be abolished. We're the only ones who will.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thanks Bronwyn. Stuey?

STUART ROBERTS:

Thanks Tony, it's a great pleasure to introduce and to welcome Tony here to the Gold Coast and there's 2,000 senior Gold Coasters here in the north that have come out to welcome Tony. A couple of former mayors, all the local councillors have come out as well. It's great to meet all the local veterans here and for Tony to reiterate that a Coalition government led by Tony Abbott will index DFRDB pensions the same as the age pension. We will ensure that the cost of living pressures on veterans are fixed, are taken care of. Veterans know there's a very, very steady hand in having Tony here. So, welcome to the Coast, Tony. I don't think Prime Minister Rudd has been here at all even though his electorate is 20 or 30 kilometres away, yet you've been here almost 10, 11 times. So, it is great to see you here again.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thanks so much. Well, it's lovely to hear from the popular local member. Now, are there any questions?

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, last night on SBS’s Dateline programme a former security officer on Manus Island spoke of the rape and the abuse of asylum seekers there and said that the people carrying out that abuse were actually living alongside the victims and that staff were aware the entire time. What would you do, if elected, to fix that?

TONY ABBOTT:

These are very serious claims. They have to be taken seriously, they have to be properly investigated and if people have done the wrong thing, well, they ought to be punished. I should point out that Scott Morrison has been warning the Government for months that there were serious risks of bullying and abuse and violence inside detention centres both here and overseas. I'm disappointed that the Government has made light of Scott Morrison's warnings, but now there's further evidence that what Scott has been saying for months is right.

Final point I make is that a lot of terrible things are happening right now and the only way to end the tragedies, the only way to stop all of these horrors is to stop the boats. Now, we've got to stop these boats. It's the right thing to do and it’s the compassionate thing to do and it will happen under a Coalition government.

QUESTION:

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Do you think the AFP should have a presence at detention centres such as Nauru as a former AFP officer suggested to 7.30 last night?

TONY ABBOTT:

My understanding is that under the former government, which as you know put the Pacific Solution in place and it was Mr Rudd who closed it in down and put the people smugglers back into business and all of the things that we are now seeing are the direct result of the decisions that Mr Rudd took back in 2008 when he was Prime Minister the first time round. Look, my understanding is that these security concerns were appropriately managed under the former Coalition Government. They need to be appropriately managed now and if that requires the involvement of the AFP well, so be it.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, there's a report that up to 60 people drowned off Java. This is coming through this morning. Can you comment on this latest tragedy?

TONY ABBOTT:

Again, this is a tragic reminder of what happens when policy change in Australia puts the people smugglers back into business. Now, I'm not crass enough to directly blame anyone in this country for tragedies at sea. The people smugglers bear the prime responsibility for this, but Mr Rudd should be man enough to admit that he got it wrong. He should be man enough to admit that it was a terrible, tragic mistake that his government made back in 2008 when they reversed the policies that worked, that had been put in place by the Howard Government. The only way to end the tragedies is to stop the boats and the only way I submit to stop the boats is to change the government, because the government which started the problem is not going to solve the problem.

QUESTION:

How will you stop the boats?

TONY ABBOTT:

Our policy has been crystal clear for more than three years now. I want to stress that for the last three years under the Coalition you've had the same strong team and you have had the same clear plans and our plan to stop the boats has these fundamental elements. First of all, temporary protection visas here in Australia to deny the people smugglers a product to sell. First, be serious about offshore processing in countries like Nauru and PNG, not half-hearted about it. Let's never forget that when the Government first talked about Manus and first talked about Nauru less than one in 20 of the boat people that were supposed to go there went there. Finally, we've got to give the Navy a real job and the real job of the Navy is to turn boats around where it is safe to do so. Let's not reduce the Australian Navy to a water taxi service for people-smugglers and that I regret to say is what's happened under Mr Rudd.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, firstly these spending cuts that have been flagged by the Treasurer, is the Government beating you at your own game?

TONY ABBOTT:

Naturally, I want to build a stronger economy so that everyone has a chance to get ahead and the sad thing about this Government's economic policy is that when it's not all about taxing, it's all about cutting. By all

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means get government spending under control, but what you've really got to do is make our economy more dynamic. If you made our economy more dynamic, you wouldn't need to be imposing more cuts on more Australians, so I accept that this Government has been on a spend-a-thon. They do have to get it under control, but what I want to see from the Government later this week is some serious evidence that as well as just cutting, they are going to deregulate and reduce taxes so that our economy is more dynamic and people have the realistic prospect over time of economic growth increasing and the Government then being in a better position to deliver sustainably better services in health and education.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott can you say how much better off senior citizens will be under a Coalition government?

TONY ABBOTT:

The best thing that we can do for senior citizens is to build a better country, and senior citizens are smart people. First and foremost, they are Australian patriots and they understand that the business of helping our country is not running around conducting a political auction. That's the kind of thing Mr Rudd does. They understand that the business of running our country means building a strong economy, strengthening national security and building national cohesion. That's what they understand. But as I said today, two very important announcements that will impact on seniors, we will provide indexation justice to DFRDB and ex-service pensioners and we won't treat people's superannuation savings as a pot of gold to be raided by government whenever it needs money.

QUESTION:

Are you able to say how much more they'll have to spend each week?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, what we're doing is we’re abolishing the carbon tax which means that the tax cuts and the pension increases that have been given to people will be real, not just compensation.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, you are on the Gold Coast today and you were here last month. We've got some major beach erosion issues that are happening here. The state has refused to fund, council has stumped up $15 million, it needs another $15 million. Kevin Rudd's refused to put in funding as well. Is there something the Coalition if in power could look at doing for our beaches?

TONY ABBOTT:

Stuey Robert has kept me well briefed. Stuey as well as our other Gold Coast members, Karen Andrews and Steve Ciobo have been keeping me up to speed with this issue. It is fundamentally a state and local issue but I'm always happy to look at whether the Federal Government can provide some additional assistance to make it real.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, your Chief of Staff pleaded guilty this morning to a drink drive charge. How do you feel about that?

TONY ABBOTT:

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Look, we've got to allow the media to do their job, but look, the thing is it's never right to break the law. It's never right to break the law. Everyone in my office understands that and if you do the wrong thing, you've got to be contrite and you've got to take the consequences and that's what my Chief of Staff is going to do.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, Mr Rudd has said that your criticism of the Papua New Guinea solution as it's been called is sending mixed messages to people smugglers, saying it won't work. Do you accept that your criticism of his policy is having that effect?

TONY ABBOTT:

This is another try-on from Mr Rudd. He is the Prime Minister. The boats are coming on his watch. The boats are coming because of the changes that he made back in 2008. I think the Australian public are sick of Mr Rudd's excuses. This is more buck-passing from the great buck passer. It's more buck passing from the great buck passer. You're the Prime Minister Mr Rudd. It's your problem. You've got to fix it and you've got to fix it without the abuse of taxpayer-funded advertising which we've seen so much of over the last few days.

Thank you.

Look, the point I make - I'll take a couple of questions from seniors at the end of this. This is the last question from the media and I'll take a couple of questions from seniors but look, on this point of debates, Mr Rudd needs to understand whether he's governing or whether he’s campaigning, if he's governing bring back the Parliament and I will debate him in the Parliament every day. If he's campaigning, name the date, end the suspense, call the election and we'll have the election campaign debates. The interesting thing today is that Mr Rudd has got time to have a debate with me but he doesn't have time to meet with the people who have lost their jobs because of policy on the run over the fringe benefits tax and hitting company car drivers with $1,500 in extra tax. Shame on you, Mr Rudd. Talk to the people who your policies have damaged.

Yes sir?

QUESTION:

Tony, the United Nations agreement was signed here in Australia, in ‘51, ’52 - are you prepared to review that or rip it because they seem to be dictating a lot of policies of this country, particularly on boat people, that is not comfortable with us all?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, it’s a very good point you raise, sir, about the UN convention. Now, the UN convention was written for different times and different circumstances. It was written to deal with the terrible tragedy that we had in Europe at the close of the Second World War. What we're seeing today is not so much people fleeing the immediate risk of death or horrific persecution, we're seeing people who want to build a better life in a better country. So, we do need to accept that times have changed, but the big problem is in Australian law. That's where we need to make the changes. We need to make the changes in Australian law and they're changes that we can make immediately. The trouble with trying to do things with the convention is that inevitably it will take months and months and years and years, and just provide Mr Rudd with even more excuses to be Kevin 747. I think we need to make changes here in Australia and on our borders and we need the make them straight away.

One more question from seniors? Yes ma’am?

QUESTION:

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Thank you very much. First of all Mr Abbott, I'd like to thank you for visiting us at Runaway Bay. Secondly, I am wondering if you might have some insider information regarding the date on which you're going to be elected our new Prime Minister?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, I don't take anything for granted and when the date is named I will be campaigning even harder, I'll be talking even more intently to the Australian people because together we are going to build a great country and the point that I keep making is that it's not about me, it shouldn't be about Mr Rudd, it's got to be about our country. It's got to be about all of us. It's got to be about all of us because in the end we will all advance together as a nation and the thing that's so upset me in recent times, the thing has made me so embarrassed to sit in the Parliament and listen to government ministers and indeed to the Prime Minister, this constant attempt to divide Australia for party-political advantage. It's shameful, it's demeaning, it's unworthy of people who occupy high office in this country.

Now, as to the election date, the drums are beating, there’s no doubt about that. My instinct is that the Prime Minister understands that he’s got to go to the polls quickly because the things that he’s been announcing will be exposed as shams the longer they last. They’ll be exposed as election fixes, not as real policy changes. So much of what he’s been doing, basically it’s just done with blue tack and sticky tape. The point I keep making is the only thing that’s really changed since Mr Rudd became Prime Minister is the FBT announcement which has stopped an industry dead in its tracks and is costing car sales and is costing jobs right now and Mr Rudd is always happy to demand debates but he doesn’t have the time to actually meet with the people who have been hurt by his policies and his mistakes.

Thank you.

[ends]