Abbott uses budget reply to push for early el


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13-05-2011 08:00 AM


ABC Canberra 666

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ABC Canberra 666


13-05-2011 08:00 AM



13-05-2011 08:35 AM

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2011-05-13 08:00:29

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CAVE, Peter


LANE, Sabra



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Abbott uses budget reply to push for early election

Sabra Lane reported this story on Friday, May 13, 2011 08:00:00

PETER CAVE: The Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has used his budget in reply speech to set
out his case for an early election.

It was largely devoid of new policies and the Opposition Leader instead sharpened his attack on the
Government's carbon tax, describing it as a cancer which threatens to paralyse the country.

Tony Abbott cast his speech as an alternative vision for the nation. But the Government says he
failed to make a single tough decision and won't even say when he could return the budget to

Mr Abbott is in our Canberra studio speaking to Sabra Lane.

SABRA LANE: Mr Abbott, good morning and welcome.

TONY ABBOTT: Morning Sabra.

SABRA LANE: The Finance Minister Penny Wong says that your budget reply shows that you are all
opposition and no leader.

TONY ABBOTT: Well I think that the Prime Minister had demonstrated this week that she is an
alternative opposition leader, not a fair dinkum prime minister.

Look this is budget week. It's the week for the Government to tell us what it's going to do for the
country. And all we got from the Government this week was more pain for families and a surplus
perhaps in 2012/13 which is not based on economic reform here but which is based on economic growth
in China.

So if we get there it's a surplus made in China not made in Australia.

SABRA LANE: I closed my eyes listening to your budget reply speech last night and it sounded like I
was transported back to August last year and a campaign speech. The transcript even had a 2010 date
on it.

TONY ABBOTT: Well the thing is that my task last night was to talk to all the people who Labor has

I mean Labor's working families of 2007 have become the forgotten families of 2011. And I wanted to
reach out to them last night and to say to them that the Coalition hasn't forgotten them.

And what we have in mind for Australia should we get the chance is affordable, it's understandable,
it's deliverable, it's responsible. And we can have more responsive government, more responsible
government, more responsive institutions and more productive people and that's what I outlined last
night Sabra.

SABRA LANE: You announced one new initiative last night. The rest of it restated Coalition policy
from the last election. And the one policy that you announced that you say is new, some people say
that's pretty generous to describe it as new because every party promises to reduce red tape for

TONY ABBOTT: Look this is an initiative which has been working well in Victoria since 2006. It was
actually introduced by the Victorian Labor Government.

The BCA (Business Council of Australia) and the Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and
Industry say that it's a very good program.

Victoria is the state which has the best record for low and less regulation.

And the idea is that each government department will be given a target to reduce the cost of
regulation to departmental clients. And they go through regulation by regulation and they are
required to come up with reductions in cost to the people that they are impacting upon.

So it's a way of making the public servants conscious of the fact that their you beaut decisions
actually have to be paid for by someone. They do have costs. The costs have got to be thought of
and we've got to try to get the costs down.

SABRA LANE: Okay but you say that the budget is tantamount to war on Australia's middle-class. But
you've not said what measures you're going to oppose. Do we assume that you are going to block

TONY ABBOTT: Well when these measures come before the Parliament we will obviously have our
response in the Parliament...

SABRA LANE: And these measures affect about 2 per cent of Australian families.

TONY ABBOTT: But, but the point I make, it's very clear Sabra. If you want to make it easier for
families to pay their bills, you don't go ahead with the big new taxes, the carbon tax in
particular. And if you want to make it easier for people to make their mortgage repayments you cut
government spending because that will take the pressure off interest rate repayments.

And look you know whether it's the National Broadband Network, whether it's the border protection
blowouts, whether it's this new program to give pensioners set top boxes at twice the price that
Gerry Harvey will do it, whether it be spending $70,000 to bring asylum seekers from Malaysia to
Australia and take them from Australia to Malaysia - $70,000 each when an air ticket costs about

I mean this is a Government which is riddled with waste and we've got to get it under control.

SABRA LANE: But this was a budget reply. Aren't Australian families entitled to hear your
alternatives or are you treating them with contempt?

TONY ABBOTT: Oh look Sabra please. I mean let's not get government spin on the ABC...

SABRA LANE: It's not government spin...

TONY ABBOTT: This is, this is...

SABRA LANE: It's a budget reply Tony Abbott.

TONY ABBOTT: This is government spin Sabra. Now Sabra I challenge people to read the funereal dirge
from Wayne Swan and to read my budget reply and make a judgement about who has a vision for
Australia. That was what was on display last night - an alternative vision for Australia, a clear
direction for our country.

SABRA LANE: You talked about forgotten families last night, a nod to the famous Menzies speech
about the forgotten people. This is an overture to win back the Howard battlers that you didn't win
back last time.

TONY ABBOTT: And what's wrong with reaching out to the police, the teachers, the shop assistants,
the manufacturing workers, the miners of our country.

I mean these are the people who this government says are super rich and don't deserve any help from

Now I mean sure they might be doing better than some but they are doing better than some because of
hard work. What's wrong with aspiration? I want to reward and encourage aspiration. This Government
is sour and miserable about aspiration.

SABRA LANE: You challenged the Prime Minister last night to call an election once she decides the
final details of her carbon tax.

TONY ABBOTT: Well once Bob Brown tells her what the final details ought to be.

SABRA LANE: The multi-party committee comprised of Tony Windsor. You warned the nation would slide
into a morass of indecision and paralysis if it continues for another two years.

But Parliament is operating pretty well. Legislation is getting past and the independents appear to
be quite happy with what they're getting. I mean isn't the risk that you are waiting another two
and a half years before that election is called?

TONY ABBOTT: The point I am making Sabra is that this is a Prime Minister who went to the last
election with this solemn pledge: there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.

It would be utterly unconscionable for this Prime Minister and this Parliament to try to introduce
a carbon tax given that 144 of the 150 members of the reps went to the election solemnly committed
to not having a carbon tax.

Now if she's fair dinkum about this carbon tax she should finalise the details with Senator Brown
and then go to an election on the basis of those details, seek a mandate for what she wants.

It would be a travesty of democracy, an absolute disgrace. It would be, I mean if anything is going
to jeopardise people's faith in Australian democracy it would be a parliament doing what 144 of its
members pledged they would not do.

SABRA LANE: You re-announced last night a plan for one year mandatory jail term for people
smugglers but the Government says you are proposing to actually weaken...

TONY ABBOTT: No, wrong.

SABRA LANE: ...existing laws.

TONY ABBOTT: Not true.

SABRA LANE: People smugglers face 20 years behind bars at the moment and a mandatory minimum
penalty of five years...

TONY ABBOTT: That's for aggravated people smuggling.

SABRA LANE: ...if they are found guilty of smuggling five people or more.

TONY ABBOTT: Aggravated smuggling. But simple people smuggling there is no mandatory minimum. So
I'm saying there should be a mandatory minimum even for simple people smuggling and for repeat
offenders. There should be a mandatory minimum of 10 years.

SABRA LANE: So you deny that you're weakening these laws?

TONY ABBOTT: Of course I'm not. Self-evident, I mean, I mean self-evidently I'm not. And you're not
accusing me are you?

SABRA LANE: I've said it was the government.

TONY ABBOTT: Okay, alright.

SABRA LANE: Last year the Opposition tried to nominate savings in its budget reply. You deferred to
Joe Hockey, Joe Hockey deferred to Andrew Robb and we had that now infamous press conference where
a minder was up the back winding up Andrew Robb because it became so embarrassing.

Is one of the reasons why you are not putting forward costings now, you want to avoid that kind of
debacle again?

TONY ABBOTT: No I am going to do exactly what we did last time. That is we made clear our attitude
to specific budget measures at the time those measures came into the Parliament. That's the
appropriate thing to do.

We are not going to dance to the Government's tune. We are not going to run on the Government's

And in good time Sabra before the next election there will be a consolidated list of savings and
spending proposals so everyone can be crystal clear about how much better the fiscal position will
be under the Coalition.

SABRA LANE: Okay. I need to ask you about the private member's bill that you had on wild rivers to
wind back the Queensland Government's bill. Sorry isn't your bill effectively dead now that Family
First Senator Steve Fielding says he has withdrawn his support?

TONY ABBOTT: Well I would like Steve to talk to Noel Pearson before he comes to a final view.

SABRA LANE: Well he describes this, Noel Pearson describes him as Judas.

TONY ABBOTT: Well there is a lot of tough talk that gets bandied around in public debate. But I
have time for Steve Fielding. I think he is a decent bloke. I think he wants to do the right thing
by the Aboriginal people of Cape York.

And rather than trade attacks over the microphone I think if Noel and Steve were to sit down and
have a face to face - I mean I understand that Steve sat down and had a face to face meeting with
some of the opponents of the legislation. I think he owes it to the Parliament and to the country
to sit down and have a face to face meeting with some of the supporters of the legislation.

SABRA LANE: Okay Mr Abbott thanks for your time this morning.

TONY ABBOTT: Thanks Sabra.

PETER CAVE: The Opposition Leader Tony Abbott speaking there to Sabra Lane in Canberra.