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Transcript of press conference: Sydney: 21 April 2009: the Coalition’s plan for economic recovery; Labor's failed policies on people smuggling and the economy.



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21 April 2009

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. MALCOLM TURNBULL MP PRESS CONFERENCE SYDNEY

Subjects: The Coalition’s plan for economic recovery; Labor’s failed policies on people smuggling and the economy.

E&OE………………………………………………………………………………………… ………………...

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

While Kevin Rudd is washing his hands of responsibility for the Australian economy, we’re rolling up our sleeves with a positive plan for economic recovery. He’s washing his hands of responsibility, blaming everything on the global financial crisis. The recession he says is inevitable; it’s all coming from overseas. We’re focused on what we can do here. We have a plan for recovery, one that will put cash back into the hands of business particularly small businesses, lowering the cost of them employing Australians and keeping Australians on the payroll, bringing forward tax cuts, providing real incentives for Australians to invest and to employ. That’s the difference: Labor on the one hand washing its hands of responsibility, in the Coalition we’re rolling up our sleeves with a plan for recovery.

QUESTION:

Mr Rudd has said this morning that because of the situation there’ll be extra, it’s likely there’ll be more economic stimulus in the budget in order to counter unemployment so that doesn’t sound like a plan of washing their hands. It sounds like some action. What do you think of his plan?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well Mr Rudd’s plans so far have been about borrowing big and spending big. He has given away $23 billion in cash in four months. He hasn’t created any jobs. Unemployment was higher in March than he forecast it would be in June in February. In other words, his February forecast was wrong, proved wrong within weeks. Mr Rudd’s spending and borrowing big has failed. His policies have failed. He doesn’t have a plan for recovery. We

have a plan for recovery. Mr Rudd has a big borrowing, big spending project which has failed.

QUESTION:

He hasn’t gone into detail about what the budget measures will be but do you think it’s a bad idea as a general idea to have more economic stimulus measures in the budget?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Everything depends on what money is spent on. You know I’ve been going around Australia lately talking to people in north Queensland, in central Queensland, the Hunter, all around

Australia, and the one thing that everybody says is why is Mr Rudd giving away all of these billions of dollars, why is he giving away $23 billion, creating no jobs, not generating any economic growth but he’s neglecting vital infrastructure. He’s not spending money on the F3 link in the lower Hunter. He’s not spending money on the Gladstone Airport. He’s not spending money on the missing rail link at Mackay in Queensland. Right around the country Mr Rudd’s spending is being seen to be just a series of big cash giveaways. They haven’t created a job and they haven’t generated any economic growth.

QUESTION:

Do you agree the economy [inaudible]?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

What we need to do is spend money wisely. You see, this is a management issue. Mr Rudd - just think about this - Mr Rudd has borrowed $23 billion, given it away in four months, hasn’t created a job, unemployment is higher even than he forecast in February and it certainly hasn’t generated any economic growth. He now says recession is inevitable. So he has washed his hands of responsibility for our economy but he has put an enormous debt on the shoulders of our children and their children. They’ll have to pay that debt back with higher taxes and higher interest rates and he’s done that without creating a single job. His plans have failed.

QUESTION:

He’s talked about creating jobs through infrastructure spending through spending on this, the internet links. You don’t agree that that sort of money is targeted on infrastructure?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well he has not announced any spending on vital economic infrastructure. Right around Australia there are projects that are ready to go. I mentioned the F3 link in the lower Hunter or the Gladstone Airport or the rail link in Mackay - that’s just three examples of projects that are crying out for investment. The Rudd Government is too busy giving away cash. It’s sending everyone a cheque for $900 - too busy doing that than focusing on the real economic infrastructure that will create jobs.

QUESTION:

Can I just ask on another issue - Russell Broadbent this morning has come out and spoken out against the Liberals calling for temporary protection visas to be reinstated. Are you concerned that you’re opening up old wounds within the Liberal Party?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Look there is a public debate about immigration policies at the moment. The one thing that we all agree on is that Mr Rudd’s policies have failed. He said that he would be very strong and disciplined and tough on border protection. He said not long before the election he’d turn the boats back. Well, ever since he changed the policies in August last year the boats have been coming in accelerating numbers. We’ve had nearly twice as many unlawful

arrivals since August as we’ve had in the previous six years. Mr Rudd’s policies have failed to protect our borders. What we need are effective policies.

Now I don’t want to play politics with this. I want to sit down with Mr Rudd. I want to have the benefit of the latest security and intelligence advice from the Australian Federal Police and from the other agencies. Let’s sit down, put the facts on the table. Let’s see what has not worked - plainly Mr Rudd’s current policies are not working - and what policies would be more effective. That’s what Australians need. They need their borders protected.

QUESTION:

You seem to be [inaudible] back the push that you made yesterday for temporary protection visas to be reinstated. Is that because you had backbenchers speak out last night?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

What I said about temporary protection visas was that they should be high on the agenda for consideration or discussion with the Prime Minister. My pitch, if you like, has been to the Prime Minister to put the nation’s interests first - stop playing politics with this issue, sit down with us, let’s have all the facts on the table and let’s see if we can agree on new or revised policies that will be effective. Everybody, every Australian, the Prime Minister, myself, everybody else should be absolutely committed to stopping people smuggling. We don’t want there to be any boats; no boats - that should be the aim. This is a dangerous and vile practise. It is a trade in human lives.

Look at the ghastly circumstances of this last boat explosion - people killed, people in terrible pain and at risk in hospitals around Australia. It’s a shocking state of affairs. Now all Australians are filled with compassion for those that have suffered and are suffering as a result of this terrible accident. But we have to recognise, therefore, that this reminds us that this is a vile trade that must be stopped.

Now, our simple point is this: Mr Rudd’s policies are not working. I repeat - we have had nearly twice as many unlawful arrivals since August as we had in the previous six years. His policies are not working. I’m happy to sit down with Mr Rudd, look at the intelligence information, the advice from the Australian Federal Police he’s so determined not to make public, and then let us see if we can craft policies that will be effective. Because what we have at the moment is a Prime Minister who is not - plainly - not protecting our borders.

Thanks very much.

[ends]

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Nicole Chant | Press Office Leader of the Opposition, Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP T 02 6277 4053 | F 02 6277 8444| M 0419 850 222 RG 109 Parliament House | Canberra | ACT 2600 |