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Transcript of interview with Alan Jones: Radio 2GB, Sydney: 11 August 2010: Election 2010; Paid Parental Leave; advertising; High Court decision.



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

11 August 2010

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR INTERVIEW WITH ALAN JONES RADIO 2GB, SYDNEY

Subjects: Election 2010; paid parental leave; advertising; High Court decision.

ALAN JONES:

From Hindmarsh Island in South Australia, the Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. Tony Abbott, good morning.

TONY ABBOTT:

Morning Alan.

ALAN JONES:

You’ve only been in the job a handful of months. I see Andrew Bolt writing in today’s Daily Telegraph says that Julia Gillard has proved what an astonishingly good leader you are and that you’re deftness in keeping the Liberals together has been so counter to your image that it’s been almost entirely overlooked. What image do you think people are talking about?

TONY ABBOTT:

Oh, look, Alan, I’m not going to try to caricature myself but I think that, you know, in times past I guess I had particular roles. I was, if you like, the man that was wheeled out by the former Government often when it was in a pretty tough spot and I think I got a particular reputation in those days. Once you become a party leader you obviously have a very different role, you’ve got to be a healer, you’ve got to be a unifier and I guess that’s what I’ve tried to be since I’ve taken this different job.

ALAN JONES:

But there’s a [inaudible] allegedly that you have some problem with women. The last time I checked your wife was a woman, your three daughters were women, your sisters were women, your deputy is a woman. What’s all that about?

TONY ABBOTT:

Yeah, and the paid parental leave policy which I’ve been advocating now against some pretty heavy opposition from the Labor Party is an extraordinary breakthrough for the women of Australia and if you

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want at last a fair dinkum paid parental leave policy you’ve got to change the government, one of the very positive messages that I’m giving to people at this election. So look, I think that if you want a fair go for women vote for the Coalition, Alan.

ALAN JONES:

There’s also pretty widespread advertising and I’ll come to that in a moment about your capacity to understand economics and it’s been the source of some very expensive advertising. So perhaps being a Rhodes Scholar, doing degrees at Sydney University and Oxford University, one of which I understand was in economics, an MA in politics from Oxford University. I was going through some biogs this morning I didn’t see any of the Government with those credentials. What is that point about?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, I think it’s just the sort of smear and fear that you get from a desperate Government. I mean, this is a Government which basically has no record to run on except debt, deficit, all at record levels and getting rid of an elected Prime Minister in record time. So what do you do in a situation like that, Alan? You attack the other side and I’m amazed at the volume, the stridency, the mindlessness of Labor’s attack ads. You only have to turn the television on and you’re just bombarded with it.

ALAN JONES:

Well, now, look, Trisha rang me this morning, this is one of many calls and a stack of emails that I’m getting which I ought in fairness to play, this is what Trisha said this morning.

CALLER:

Alan, I just wanted to say that I absolutely despair with Tony Abbott and the advertising campaign. His advertising campaign people really need to get smarter or be sacked. People want Tony Abbott to get up there and refute the lies. He is not being heard.

ALAN JONES:

Ok, what do you say to that?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, I just hope that Trisha is prepared to make a donation to the advertising campaign because the problem that we’ve got, Alan, is that we just don’t have the money. I mean, big business these days is much more likely to give money to the Labor Party than to the Liberal Party. The unions give absolute millions to the Labor Party, there are rivers of gold flowing into the Labor Party coffers from the union movement and what I’m relying on is a people’s revolt against the big money associated with the Labor Party.

ALAN JONES:

Now, on that big money, you see this is a Government borrowing $100 to $120 million a day which apart from squeezing small business out of the race for credit. We then find today another plan $2.1 billion for a Parramatta to Epping rail line. Where does this money come from? I mean, you’re constantly being asked to cost things. I’ve got five pages in front of me here which I won’t canvass today, but I am going to try and talk to Andrew Robb tomorrow. $2.66 billion of funding where the funding is described as saying quote “funding this contribution will be fully offset over the forward estimates consistent with the Gillard Labor Government’s commitment to return the budget to surplus.” There’s page after page of these. Where does this money come from?

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TONY ABBOTT:

As far as we can work out, Alan, these are hollow logs that the Government created in the last budget and the budget before it and they’re basically trying to pork barrel all their marginal seats with these kinds of under the radar spending announcements.

ALAN JONES:

Well I mean western Sydney is very marginal. Here’s a proposal today, Parramatta to Epping rail line, $2.1 billion. It’s been promised a million times before.

TONY ABBOTT:

Exactly right. I think that since 1995 the State Labor Government has promised $28 billion worth of rail projects alone that have never actually started and this is absolutely straight from the New South Wales Labor playbook. You make a big promise before the election and it becomes a broken promise after the election. All that gets delivered is the glossy brochure. Now I think the people of Sydney are awake to the kind of deception and lies that you get from the Labor Party.

ALAN JONES:

But on the polling today New South Wales on the two party preferred polling is 51-49 to the Labor Party.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, the polls as you know, are volatile and will go up and down before polling day but I say to the public of Sydney, you know what the Labor Party is like. You know they can’t be believed. You know they make these big promises at election time and I just think it would be tragic if the people of Sydney were fooled yet again, were conned yet again, by a Labor Party which has an absolute super abundance of form on this.

ALAN JONES:

Well, just on spending where they’ve got form. The Government says it will fork out not withstanding this whole stimulus debate $21.3 billion in stimulus spending this financial year, $10.1 billion next financial year. Now if people are arguing about where you’re funding your promises, surely to goodness there’s $31 billion and if the Education Revolution spending is a failure wouldn’t you delay some of it until you put better processes in place?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, the point I’ve been making all along, Alan, is that we had a financial crisis in late 2008 and they’re still engaged in stimulus spending now and they’ll still be engaged in stimulus spending in a years time.

ALAN JONES:

But the ads say that you would have cost 200,000 jobs because you were opposed this spending. In other words it’s being argued all this spending enabled 200,000 people to get jobs that otherwise wouldn’t have had jobs and they run advertising campaigns against you.

TONY ABBOTT:

The spending in question are the school hall rip-offs and the pink batts that have caught fire in people’s roofs. I mean, we were absolutely right to oppose that spending. It was too much, too soon. It was very

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badly arranged. We knew it was badly arranged. We knew it was going to be wasted and we’ve been vindicated by subsequent developments.

ALAN JONES:

Andrew Bolt makes a point today, just supposing for a moment if you’d said that you’re going to build an asylum seeker refuge in East Timor without asking the Timorese or you were going to have a Citizen’s Assembly to sort out global warming or you were going to spend $400 million on cash for clunkers, they’d laugh you out of court. Why are we being asked to tolerate that from the Government?

TONY ABBOTT:

That’s a very good question Alan and I think that the public ought to ponder the answer. I think the answer is that we shouldn’t tolerate it from the Government and we should get rid of this Government. I mean, the Government was an appallingly bad government seven weeks ago. Why do we know that? Because they sacked their own leader, the Prime Minister elected by the people. But since then they have just gone from bad to worse. I’m down at the Murray mouth today and the promise that Julia Gillard made yesterday, Alan, was to refurbish the Menindee Lakes storage. This is an absolute identikit of the promise that Kevin Rudd made in 2007. Nothing has happened in three years. So they wheel out the same promise three years later, expecting people to be conned. Well, I keep saying, the Australian public aren’t mugs. We know that these guys are chronic liars. That’s why we’ve got to get rid of them.

ALAN JONES:

Just on chronic liars, to take Trish’s point. According to the advertising, you’ve taken a billion dollars out of the forward estimates for health. You’re going to send people back in to the ark by abandoning broadband. You can’t be trusted on WorkChoices. If people told lies in a prospectus, a BHP prospectus, they’d be in the dock. Why shouldn’t there be truth in advertising legislation and truth in advertising standards where people are given a chance to challenge the integrity of these statements in a public court?

TONY ABBOTT:

That’s a fair point but the last thing we’d ever get from a Labor Government is a charter of political honesty because these guys would be in breach of it every day and just on the subject of hospital funding, again let me make it absolutely crystal clear. In my time as the Federal Health Minister, there was a $10 billion increase in federal funds for public hospitals.

ALAN JONES:

The High Court last week, in the middle of an election campaign, ruled, without in fact, giving reasons, that another 100,000 people could go on the voting rolls. Who’s going to check that these people are valid? Who’s going to check where they are enrolled? Who’s going to check the addresses of them and if people were not on the roll when the election was called and they were over the age of 18, weren’t they already breaking the law which requires you to be on the roll once you turn 18? Why should the High Court be supporting people who are already in breach of the law?

TONY ABBOTT:

That’s a fair point Alan and look, I’m not in the business of trying to second guess the High Court. All I can say is that the former Government wanted to protect the integrity of our electoral process. It’s easier to get on the electoral roll and help to determine Australia’s democratic future than it is to borrow a video and we think that there ought to be reasonable safeguards before people get onto the electoral roll. Now, I just hope that the Electoral Commission is able, notwithstanding this ruling, to protect the integrity of the process of this election.

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ALAN JONES:

You spoke yesterday about asylum seekers, illegal immigrants. What are you saying to the Government’s plan to evict Defence Force families from their married quarters and barracks to make room for illegal immigrants? I mean, can there be a more humiliating insult to our servicemen and women?

TONY ABBOTT:

I think that’s right. There has been some question as to whether this is a real plan or simply an understandable fear. But if there is any move in this direction, I think that the Defence Force families would feel absolutely, completely ripped off and I think the whole population would be aghast.

ALAN JONES:

But we go back a long way. I mean, people are writing to me about Labor unions going on strike rather than loading ships with ammunition for our diggers on the Kokoda track way back in 1942. I mean, Vietnam veterans remember the same unions refusing to load our ships or deliver our mail during the Vietnam War. I mean, it’s most probably unfashionable to say it, but we’ve had Labor governments support some of the most brutal regimes the world has ever known in the last 70 years, where outfits have been slaughtered. Now, we’re opening our borders to illegal immigrants and booting out our navy personnel to accommodate them.

TONY ABBOTT:

What the Australian public want is for the Australian Government to be absolutely in charge of all of these things and for all decisions to be made absolutely in Australia’s national interest. I think that’s the fear when it comes to boat people, when it comes to the immigration programme more generally, that the Australian Government is asleep at the wheel and that decisions are being made, not in the interests of Australians, but in the interests of others. That’s just wrong and it shouldn’t happen and it will change, if the government changes.

ALAN JONES:

Just on the subject of Hizb ut-Tahrir. This is an organisation which you know is openly hostile to our democratic values, it’s the mob who are preaching to the Islamic faithful only a couple of weeks ago in Sydney, calling us a god-forsaken country and telling those who gathered at a mosque in the Lakemba to boycott democracy. I mean, not bad stuff, boycott democracy in a god-forsaken country and then an intensive workshop in Bankstown to follow up on the preachings. Now, what do you plan to do with organisations such as this, which says that moderate Islam is a perverted concoction of western governments. Now, Russia can ban this lot, Bangladesh can ban them. Why can’t we?

TONY ABBOTT:

That’s a very fair point Alan. Look, I am very anxious about organisations like this and I think that we do need to have a long, hard look at what action can be taken against them. My understanding is that there is a bill currently before the Parliament to ban incitement of violence. I think that we should look at whether this legislation can be deployed against organisations like Hizb ut-Tahrir. I think there’s racial vilification laws that we ought to look at deploying against organisations like Hizb ut-Tahrir. The fact is that these organisations really ought not have a place in Australia. Yes, we are a liberal, tolerant society but we don’t need organisations like this taking advantage of our tolerance to try to destroy it and that’s effectively what they’re doing.

ALAN JONES:

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Ok. I’ll let you go. I know you’ve got elsewhere to go. We’ll talk to you next week. I thank you for your time.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thank you so much Alan.

[ends]