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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Abbott, Tony

Interview with Karl Stefanovic and Lisa Wilkinson, Today, Nine Network

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

Period of Service: 18/09/2013 to 15/09/2015

More information about Abbott, Tony on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 10/09/2013

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 22981

LISA WILKINSON:

We’re pleased to say the new Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott joins us now. Congratulations to you, Prime Minister.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thank you so much, Lisa. It’s a tremendous honour; a real, absolute, extraordinary honour. It’s the greatest honour that the public can pay any member of parliament and so I humbly look forward to taking up those duties.

LISA WILKINSON:

Well you’ve certainly got plenty ahead of you. You’re going to have your work cut out. The carbon tax and the mining tax were two of your big promises but it does look like – or getting rid of them – they’re looking unlikely to go through the Senate. Will you present the changes or wait for the new Senate in July?

TONY ABBOTT:

We will move calmly, purposefully and methodically to implement our agenda, Lisa. I expect that the Parliament will respect the mandate that the new government has. It will obviously be an issue fundamentally for the new leader of the Labor Party and for the Labor Party itself whether it learns from its mistakes and whether it’s prepared to accept that it simply got it wrong when it came to these toxic new taxes.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Tony, every indication so far though is that they will reject it, this Senate. Will you have to wait, though? Will you be forced to wait and re-present in July of next year?

TONY ABBOTT:

Let’s wait and see, Karl. I think there’s obviously a lot of dirty water that’s going to flow under the bridge for the Labor Party. If the Labor Party still wants to be or try to be the party of the worker, surely it’s going to have to respect measures that are going to make it easier for the workers of Australia to have a job and to keep a job in prosperous businesses and the trouble with the carbon tax and the mining tax – they are handbrakes on growth, they are handbrakes on investment and employment.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Are you prepared to deal with the Greens in relation to paid parental leave?

TONY ABBOTT:

Obviously, Karl, I will treat all members of the Parliament with respect and with courtesy but in the end I guess I expect that  to be a two-way street and I think that it would be a good thing if the next parliament was a more courteous and constructive one than the Parliament we’ve just seen off.

LISA WILKINSON:

Well, it’s going to be interesting to see if that happens. This new Senate that is coming in in July of next year, a number of very minor parties seem to have scored a spot, including this man. We’re just looking at some footage at the moment Mr Abbott, this is Victorian Ricky Muir. He’s from the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party. He’s an interesting character, an out of work guy, lives in South Australia, doesn’t really have an opinion on the carbon tax at this point but when candidates like Ricky Muir, who received just half of one per cent of the vote, can ascend to such an important place in our parliament, is the system working?

TONY ABBOTT:

After every election, Lisa, there is a report by the Joint Standing Committee into Electoral Matters and these are often very thorough, very sensible reports, a surprising degree of unanimity in these reports. Let’s wait and see what the joint standing committee comes up with after the election. Elections do sometimes throw up quirky and interesting characters. That’s not always a bad thing. In the end, the important thing is that we have a strong and stable, sensible, grown-up government and I can assure the people of Australia – I want to assure all of you – that that this what I am determined to lead.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

You know that others have done, though, these complex preference deals and even gone to consultants to organise the complex preference deals that they couldn’t organise because they had no idea how to do it. They’ve won seats. Would you be open at least to change in the way that people are elected to the Senate?

TONY ABBOTT:

Again, Karl, let’s wait and see what the final result is, then let’s wait and see what the joint standing committee comes up with. You can always quibble over a particular result, you can always quibble over a particular individual, but in the end the big question is does our system produce strong and stable government? I think that we are going to return, I’m confident that we will return to strong and stable government that calmly, purposefully, methodically sets about implementing its commitments; that responds intelligently to the events of the day and week and month and year. That’s certainly the government that I’m determined to lead.

LISA WILKINSON:

Another one of your big promises leading into the election was stopping the boats. When will that happen?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, it will start happening from day one. The new government will get sworn in in the first half of next week. Operation Sovereign Borders will begin then. I spoke with Peter O’Neill, the Prime Minister of PNG yesterday. We will make the most of the arrangements which the former government put in place with PNG. I think that is an important element – not the only element, but it’s an important element – in the range of policies that are necessary to stop the boats. But Lisa, stop the boats we will and the people smugglers are on notice: their game is up, it’s all over for them.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

That’s a big call, as you know, trying to patrol that amount of water. You’re confident you’ll be able to do it and what day does it start next week?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, Operation Sovereign Borders starts next week and Karl, I have great confidence in the professionalism of our naval personnel. I have great confidence in the professionalism and the insights of our police. I know we can work effectively with the Indonesians again because we have done it in the past. We have stopped the boats before. I don’t pretend that it’s going to be an easy one because this government or the government that’s just gone, certainly made a terrible situation and created a terrible situation on our borders but the solution is now at hand.

LISA WILKINSON:

Ok, well on a much lighter note, Mr Abbott, have you been able to get to the bottom of who that bloke was on stage with you and the family on Saturday night?

TONY ABBOTT:

No, I haven’t. As far as the kids are concerned he was “just some random.” When I suddenly saw him I thought maybe he was the Master of Ceremonies. Then I thought to myself, ‘He looks a bit too scruffy for that’, and then of course in the twinkling of an eye he was gone.

LISA WILKINSON:

I tell you what, that female security guard there was very impressive. She doesn’t miss.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well I think once they work out that there’s a problem they deal with it very swiftly and this is the thing – the professionalism of our security services is second to none. That’s why I think the people smugglers will shortly be out of business.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

It wasn’t one of the girls’ boyfriends was it?

TONY ABBOTT:

No, no, no…

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Are you sure?

LISA WILKINSON:

It’s a good way to get rid of one if you don’t like them!

KARL STEFANOVIC:

An ex-boyfriend?

TONY ABBOTT:

…absolutely not! No, I don’t think he’s going to get an invitation, either.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Hey just finally before we go, where are you going to live? There’s all sorts of conjecture about where you’re going to live. Are you going to stay at home?

TONY ABBOTT:

Karl, for the moment we’ll be at Forestville obviously. Apparently, The Lodge is about to be renovated. Apparently these renovations could take quite some time. It’s a long-planned upgrade that’s been meant to happen over the last 12 months or so. It’s about to get under way. So, I’ll be taking advice. I want to take advice from the officials before a final decision is made.

LISA WILKINSON:

Any interest in Kirribilli at all? That doesn’t need renos at the moment.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well there are two official residences and for security reasons probably it’s going to have to be one or other of them. As I said, The Lodge is about to undergo some fairly extensive maintenance and I want to talk to the officials before making a final decision.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

The girls have already invited me to a rave party at Kirribilli.

TONY ABBOTT:

Sorry, there are no rave parties anywhere hosted by the Abbotts.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Oh, that will tell everyone.

TONY ABBOTT:

Sorry about that, Karl.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

No worries. PM, congratulations again. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thanks Karl, thanks Lisa.

LISA WILKINSON:

Thanks, Mr Abbott.

[ends]

Transcript - 22981

Interview with David Koch and Samantha Armytage, Sunrise, Seven Network

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

Period of Service: 18/09/2013 to 15/09/2015

More information about Abbott, Tony on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 10/09/2013

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 22982

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Mr Abbott, good morning. Welcome to Sunrise and congratulations.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thanks, Sam.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Now, in this new boat that has arrived, there was a New York Times journalist and a photographer who were apparently travelling with asylum seekers from Afghanistan for a story. Are you worried about how this will be portrayed to the rest of the world?

TONY ABBOTT:

We’ve obviously had a very serious problem on our borders for some years now, thanks to the errors of the former government. The incoming government, as soon as we are sworn in, will commence Operation Sovereign Borders. That will start making a difference from day one. Yesterday, I spoke to Prime Minister O'Neill of Papua New Guinea. We will make full use of the opportunities available to us for offshore processing at Manus Island. My message to the people smugglers is that change has happened. Your game is up. You now face an Australian Government whose will and determination is more than a match for yours.

DAVID KOCH:

Mr Abbott, your message to the Indonesians? Coverage of your election was a bit mixed in the media there, and saying the boat policy is just unrealistic.

TONY ABBOTT:

It’s in Indonesia's long term best interests for the flow of people to Australia to stop because the vast majority of them come via Indonesia. Many of them stay for many months in Indonesia. While they are in Indonesia, they can be a problem for the Indonesian authorities. I accept that this is a smaller issue for Indonesia than it is for Australia. Indonesia is a vast archipelago with many developmental, economic and social issues. Nevertheless it is going to be good for Indonesia as well as good for Australia that these boats are stopped.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Ok, let's talk about the carbon tax. What is being done to scrap the carbon tax? How quickly can you recall Parliament?

TONY ABBOTT:

We will recall Parliament in good time. We are going to approach it calmly, steadily, purposefully, methodically. We will recall the Parliament when the legislation is ready to go. I'm certainly not going to recall the Parliament for a photo opportunity, because for the first time in quite a few years I want the people to know that calm, steady, purposeful government has returned; a government that’s about the substance of getting things done, not about the theatre of putting things on the front page.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

During the election campaign you said there was a budget emergency and that the carbon tax had to be scrapped quickly. You are a lot calmer now with this. You are saying, let's not bring it on too soon?

TONY ABBOTT:

It will happen as soon as it can but it's very important to get these things right, Kochie and that's what the new government is absolutely determined to do.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Ok, Mr Abbott, we have been talking a lot this morning about Senate candidates and the possibility of Senate reform into the future and next year obviously you may have some issues with that. The minor parties are making headlines this morning, including a poo-throwing pollie, as we are calling him, the man who has been on YouTube throwing kangaroo poo with his family. He is from Victoria, from the Motoring Enthusiasts Party. Let's just have a little look at a YouTube video showing him in the kangaroo poo fight with his family.

DAVID KOCH:

Tony Abbott, you’re going to have some fairly colourful senators come into the Parliament. You’ve got this bloke, a guy who has a sporting party. Will negotiating with the Senate be your biggest challenge?

TONY ABBOTT:

Kochie, our system sometimes throws up colourful, quirky individuals. Sometimes they don't last long. Sometimes they do last a while and some of them ultimately become very stable and respected politicians. Let's just wait and see who ultimately gets elected to the Parliament. I will certainly treat every member of Parliament with respect and courtesy, but respect and courtesy are a two-way street and I would certainly expect the new Parliament to respect the mandate that the new government has won.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Ok, let's talk about the basics, Mr Abbott. You’re a Sydney man, you’re a Manly boy. Will you and Margie move into The Lodge or will you spend most of your time at Kirribilli House?

TONY ABBOTT:

Sam, look, I want to be as far as is possible an orthodox Prime Minister. My understanding is The Lodge is about to undergo extensive maintenance and some renovations that have been long-planned. It may well not be possible to move into The Lodge for a considerable period of time. So, I'm going to seek advice from the officials over the next few days and finalise a decision after I've sought advice.

DAVID KOCH:

A lot of Labor heavyweights are calling on Kevin Rudd to retire from the Parliament. What do you reckon? What's your advice to Kevin Rudd?

TONY ABBOTT:

It's really a matter for Mr Rudd and for the Labor Party. I guess the big question for the Labor Party and its new leader is are they going to persist with toxic taxes that damage jobs, that damage cost of living and which are obviously toxic with the public.

DAVID KOCH:

They can't do that for three years now.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, the fact is the Labor Party will have to decide what its attitude is to the carbon tax and the mining tax. Sure, they brought them in. Now they will have to decide are they going to accept the will of the people, learn from their mistakes, or persist in the folly of the last term of Parliament.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Ok, and you spoke with Kevin Rudd, he apparently rang you on Saturday night to concede. Was that a quick phone call or how does a phone call like that go?

TONY ABBOTT:

To Mr Rudd's great credit, he was very gracious. He was quite warm. Obviously, it was quite a difficult call for him to make. I suspect that he must have been feeling, I suppose, the gravity of the moment. I was certainly conscious of the gravity of the moment. I was very conscious of the fact that a baton was being handed on and look, I respected Mr Rudd for the manner of his doing that.

DAVID KOCH:

Alright, you have got to fix the budget. You have got to fix the boats. You have got a big challenge ahead with the carbon tax. What are you going to do about the Wallabies? Surely that is so much bigger than all this other economic and political claptrap?

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

That has to be your number one priority, surely, Mr Abbott?

DAVID KOCH:

They’re appalling!

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, if I may so, happy the country which is more interested in sport than in politics because it shows that there is a fundamental unity, it shows that the business of the nation is normally under reasonably good management if we can be as excited as we usually are about sport.

DAVID KOCH:

It's a serious question. What would you do for the Wallabies? You are a rugby coach, you played rugby. You slugged Joe Hockey at training so you’re a pretty passionate rugby follower. What do the Wallabies need to do?

TONY ABBOTT:

Kochie, it's 25 years since I coached a rugby team and I'm just not going to venture an opinion on what the Wallabies ought to do except to say that I hope they win, but it's really up to them. I’ll just be someone barracking in the grandstand.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

You might need to think about our cricket team, too, at some point when you get a spare second.

DAVID KOCH:

Gee, you’ve got some big issues ahead of yourself.

TONY ABBOTT:

Exactly right and the only place I played cricket was badly in England for all sorts of unworthy reasons and I have even less to contribute to cricket than I do to contemporary rugby.

DAVID KOCH:

Alright, Tony Abbott, thanks for joining us.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thanks so much.

[ends]

Transcript - 22982

Remarks at Defence Briefing

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

Period of Service: 18/09/2013 to 15/09/2015

More information about Abbott, Tony on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 11/09/2013

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 22983

Location: Parliament House, Canberra

Thank you so much for making yourselves available. I very much appreciate your presence here today.

I’m looking forward to a fruitful association with the service chiefs and the military more generally.

I guess when you ask yourself, the roles of government – economic strength, social cohesion, national security – and obviously, you are at the heart of ensuring that we maintain our national security.

I want to congratulate you on the extraordinary professionalism of our armed forces. Our armed forces are certainly not large by international standards but they are universally admired as being as good as anyone in the roles that we play and that’s very much to your credit.

So, look, thank you. I hope you will let your services know that the new government wishes to work in ways which will respect their professionalism which will improve their capabilities and which will allow them to do their job at least as well in the future as you’ve been able to do in the past.

So, thank you so much.

Transcript - 22983

Remarks at Joint Coalition Party Room Meeting

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

Period of Service: 18/09/2013 to 15/09/2015

More information about Abbott, Tony on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 13/09/2013

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 22984

Location: Parliament House, Canberra

My friends, it is my honour to welcome you back to Canberra as the Prime Minister-elect of Australia.

Governments change but rarely in this country.

Inevitably, all changes of government are historic and all of you can be proud of the part that you have played in this historic change.

Our task is but briefly to savour this moment. Our task is to give a great country and a great people the better government that the people of Australia deserve – that is our task.

We will now move purposefully, calmly and methodically to deliver on our election commitments to build a stronger economy for a stronger Australia.

That is what we must now do. That is what I am confident we have the team to do.

This is probably as well-prepared an opposition as has ever gone in to government, but the task is now ahead of us.

The challenges are considerable: we must stop the boats, we must scrap the carbon tax, we must build the roads and we must get the budget back into the black.

We will do these things because that is what the Australian people have elected us to do. That is what the Australian people have a right to expect.

My friends, we have won the trust of the Australian people. Our challenge now is to earn it and to keep it.

Thank you so much.

Transcript - 22984

A Team to Build a Stronger Australia

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

Period of Service: 18/09/2013 to 15/09/2015

More information about Abbott, Tony on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 16/09/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 22994

The incoming Coalition Government will restore strong, stable and accountable government to build a more prosperous Australia.

This is the team that will scrap the carbon tax, end the waste, stop the boats, build the roads of the twenty first century and deliver the strong and dynamic economy that we need.

First term governments are best served by Cabinets with extensive ministerial experience. Fifteen members of the incoming Cabinet have previous ministerial experience. The four members of Cabinet without ministerial experience have made significant contributions to the Shadow Ministry.

The simplification of ministerial and departmental titles reflects my determination to run a “back to basics” government.

The Australian people expect a government that is upfront, speaks plainly and does the essentials well.

The Cabinet will be assisted by a strong team of ministers with proven capacity to implement the Government’s policies.

Parliamentary secretaries will assist senior ministers and be under their direction.

Good government requires a strong Coalition. As Deputy Prime Minister and as Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, the Hon Warren Truss MP will be responsible for ensuring the Government delivers on its major infrastructure commitments across Australia. Mr Jamie Briggs MP will be the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development with specific responsibility for roads and delivery of our election commitments across metropolitan and regional Australia.

The Hon Julie Bishop MP will serve as Minister for Foreign Affairs and will be a strong voice for Australia during a time when Australia is a member of the United Nations Security Council. Australia in addition will assume the Chair of the G20 on 1 December for a year. Senator the Hon Brett Mason will be Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

With the unemployment rate at its highest level in four years and with Treasury forecasting that the number of unemployed will rise to around 800,000 by the middle of next year, helping Australian businesses generate more jobs underpins our agenda to build a stronger economy.

Senator the Hon Eric Abetz as Minister for Employment, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Public Service and Leader of the Government in the Senate will be responsible for reducing impediments to employment growth. In keeping with our pre-election commitments, the Coalition Government will restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission, return the industrial relations pendulum to the sensible centre and re-invigorate Work for the Dole. Mr Luke Hartsuyker MP will be Assistant Minister for Employment and Deputy Leader of the House.

Senator the Hon George Brandis QC will be Attorney-General, Minister for the Arts and Vice President of the Executive Council and will be responsible for establishing a bipartisan process that will lead to a referendum and recognition of indigenous Australians in the Constitution. Mr Michael Keenan MP will be Minister for Justice.

Strengthening the economy, lifting productivity and turning around Australia’s competitive decline will be at the heart of the new Government. By strengthening the economy we can create more jobs and better afford the services that we all want.

As Treasurer, the Hon Joe Hockey MP will lead the Government’s work to restore the Budget position and grow a stronger economy. Senator Mathias Cormann, as Minister for Finance, will be responsible for delivering better value for taxpayers. Senator Arthur Sinodinos AO will be Assistant Treasurer. His lifetime of experience in the public sector will provide further strength to our economic team. Mr Steven Ciobo MP will be Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer and Mr Michael McCormack MP will be Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance.

Mr Barnaby Joyce MP will be the Minister for Agriculture and will be working to fulfil Australia’s potential as the food-bowl of Asia. The agricultural opportunities for Northern Australia in particular are immense. Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck will be Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture.

Labor’s decision to split education across multiple portfolios hindered the capacity of different parts of the system to work together to improve educational standards.

The Hon Christopher Pyne MP will be Minister for Education and Leader of the House and will work with the states and territories to deliver real improvements across all aspects of education. The Hon Sussan Ley MP as Assistant Minister for Education will continue her work with child care and early childhood education. Senator Scott Ryan will be Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education.

The Hon Ian Macfarlane MP returns as Minister for Industry having held this role during the last two terms of the Howard Government. Mr Macfarlane’s experience and record of success will be invaluable as we seek to build more competitive industries across Australia. The new Industry portfolio will include responsibility for energy and resources. The Hon Bob Baldwin MP will be Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry.

I regret the absence of Sophie Mirabella who was a champion for Australian industry, particularly manufacturers.

The Hon Kevin Andrews MP will be Minister for Social Services and be responsible for the largest area of expenditure and payments in the Budget. The new department will also be responsible for settlement services, multicultural affairs and the administration of aged care. Senator Mitch Fifield will be Assistant Minister for Social Services responsible for the development of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and aged care. Senator Marise Payne will be Minister for Human Services. Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells will be Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Services with special responsibility for multicultural affairs and settlement services.

The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP as Minister for Communications will deliver a new business plan for the NBN so that we can deliver fast broadband sooner and at less cost. Mr Paul Fletcher MP will be Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications.

The Hon Peter Dutton MP will be Minister for Health and Minister for Sport. Senator Fiona Nash will be Assistant Minister for Health. Responsibility for mental health will rest with Peter Dutton ensuring responsibility for this issue remains in Cabinet.

Small business employs almost one in two Australians and its stand-alone presence in Cabinet acknowledges its role in job creation. The Hon Bruce Billson MP is an evangelist for small business and will drive the Government’s small business agenda.

The Hon Andrew Robb AO MP, serving as Minister for Trade and Investment, will be Australia’s ambassador for jobs by expanding Australia’s participation in free trade agreements.

Senator the Hon David Johnston will be Minister for Defence and will drive the development of the Defence White Paper as well as overseeing the Coalition’s defence procurement programme. Senator the Hon Michael Ronaldson will be the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Special Minister of State and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC. The Centenary of ANZAC will be a significant marker in our country’s history. Mr Stuart Robert MP will be Assistant Minister for Defence with responsibility for personnel matters. Mr Darren Chester MP will be Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence.

The Hon Greg Hunt MP as Minister for the Environment will have responsibility for the abolition of the carbon tax, implementation of the Coalition’s Direct Action plan, the establishment of the Green Army and the creation of a one-stop-shop for environmental approvals. Senator Simon Birmingham will be Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and have responsibility for water.

Mr Scott Morrison MP will be Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. Senator Michaelia Cash will be Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. This is a strong team to stop the boats. 
Recognising its key role in border protection, Customs will be in this portfolio.

Senator Cash will also be appointed as Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women.

As promised, the administration of indigenous affairs will move into the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion will be Minister for Indigenous Affairs.

Recognising the value of deregulation to improving Australia’s productivity, responsibility for driving the Government’s deregulation agenda will shift to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Mr Josh Frydenberg MP and Mr Alan Tudge MP will be my Parliamentary Secretaries.

The Hon Bronwyn Bishop MP, with my support, is nominating for the role of Speaker.

The Hon Warren Entsch MP has agreed to chair a new Joint Parliamentary Committee on Northern Australia. Carefully developing our long-term plan for Northern Australia will be a priority of the new Coalition government.

The Hon Philip Ruddock MP has agreed to be Chief Government Whip. I can think of no better person in the House to guide the 30 or so new Coalition members in their duties. Ms Nola Marino MP and Mr Scott Buchholz MP have also agreed to be Whips. Mark Coulton is the Nationals’ Chief Whip.

The Senate Whips are elected by the Liberal and Nationals Senate Party Rooms. The current Senate Whips are Senator Helen Kroger (Chief Government Whip), Senator David Bushby (Deputy Government Whip), Senator Chris Back (Deputy Government Whip) and Senator John Williams (Nationals Whip).

This is an experienced and talented team. It will deliver results for the Australian people from day one.

Transcript - 22994

Press Conference, Parliament House

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

Period of Service: 18/09/2013 to 15/09/2015

More information about Abbott, Tony on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 16/09/2013

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 22995

Location: Parliament House

TONY ABBOTT:

Today I am very pleased and proud to announce the incoming Coalition Ministry. This is the team to provide strong and stable government. This is the team that builds on a strong and effective, united and cohesive opposition.

It is, I believe, one of the most experienced incoming ministries in our history and I think it’s important to have experience as you move from opposition to government.

Our task, as you know, is to purposefully, methodically, calmly, implement the commitments that we made to the Australian people in the election and to respond intelligently to the events of the day and I believe this is a team more than up for that task.

If you go through the list you will see that there is enormous stability in this team but there have been, as well, some significant promotions. If you look at the list of the Cabinet, Mathias Cormann enters the Cabinet as the Minister for Finance. Andrew Robb becomes the Minister for Trade and Investment.

If you look at the outer ministry, you will see that entering the outer ministry is Senator Fiona Nash, as the Assistant Minister for Health; Senator Michaelia Cash as the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection; Jamie Briggs as the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, who will be particularly responsible for the commitment that the Coalition has to building the roads of the 21st century; and of course my friend and parliamentary colleague Senator Arthur Sinodinos who was previously my Shadow Parliamentary Secretary.

If you look at the ranks of parliamentary secretaries, the newcomers are Steve Ciobo, who is returning to the executive after an absence of three years; Paul Fletcher who is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications; Josh Frydenberg and Alan Tudge who will be parliamentary secretaries to me, and Michael McCormack who will be the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance. Others have previously served in the opposition executive.

You may notice that one of the things that I have attempted to do with this new ministry is avoid the proliferation of titles, the sometimes grandiose titles of the former government, where it sometimes seemed that ministers needed an extra-large business card to contain all of their various titles. For instance, I note that Mr Emerson, in Ms Gillard’s final ministry, was the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Asian Century Policy and Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research. I’ve tried to avoid all of that. Most ministers have a very simple title. The ministers in the outer ministry are mostly described as ‘Assistant Minister’ for health, education, infrastructure, whatever it might be, because I am determined, as far as is humanly possible, to have clear lines of authority and a back-to-basics government.

You’ll notice some absences. Obviously, Sophie Mirabella cannot serve at this point in time in the ministry. I hope Sophie does manage to claw back in the fight for the seat of Indi but I certainly regret her presence from the Ministry. She was an outstanding Shadow Minister for Industry. She was a staunch opponent of the carbon tax and a very strong advocate for manufacturing in particular.

Bronwyn Bishop, with my very strong support, has indicated that she wishes to be the Liberal Party’s candidate for the Speakership and I believe that Bronwyn would make an outstanding Speaker, should she be chosen by the Party Room and ultimately by the Parliament.

I’ve asked Warren Entsch to chair an important new parliamentary committee for northern development and Warren has agreed to take on that role. Warren is the embodiment of northern Australia and I can think of no better person to advocate on behalf of northern Australia than my friend and colleague Warren Entsch.

I am pleased and really delighted to say that Philip Ruddock has agreed to take on the job of Chief Government Whip. There will be some 30 new Coalition members of the House of Representatives and I can think of no better person to act as tutor-in-chief to our new members than Philip Ruddock, the Father of the House, a man of unrivalled experience, knowledge, insight, judgment and character, and I can think of no better person to give to the class of 2013 the kind of insights necessary if they are to have long and successful parliamentary careers.

I am proud to lead a great team. I hope to lead a strong and successful government and I am looking forward to the swearing in. I’ve asked the Governor-General if she would be prepared to accommodate us for a swearing in on Wednesday morning.

QUESTION:

One change of trade to trade and investment, and you’re the first Coalition Prime Minister in many years to put a Liberal back in that spot. Can you tell us what message are you sending with that shift?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, I’m very pleased that Andrew Robb has agreed to do that job and there are essentially two components to that role. The first is to try to ensure that the momentum towards the conclusion of advantageous trade agreements is resumed. There was a disappointing lack of progress under the former government after considerable progress under the last Coalition government. But I also want people here and abroad to understand that Australia welcomes foreign investment. It’s got to be the right foreign investment, it’s got to be foreign investment which is in our national interest, but one thing we can’t do is build walls against the world. If we build walls against the world, the world may very well build walls against us and we don’t want that to happen.

One thing though I wouldn’t want to do, Phil, is pre-empt any judgments that the Treasurer might find himself making on applications that come under the purview of the Foreign Investment Review Board. Obviously in the past there have been high profile rejections as well as high profile successes.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, there is one woman in Cabinet. Do you think that gender imbalance compared with the general population is an issue?

TONY ABBOTT:

Hugh, I’m obviously disappointed that there aren’t more women in Cabinet and if Sophie Mirabella had been clearly ahead in Indi, Sophie would be in the Cabinet. So plainly, I am disappointed that there are not at least two women in the Cabinet. Nevertheless, there are some very good and talented women knocking on the door of the Cabinet and there are lots of good and talented women knocking on the door of the ministry. So I think you can expect to see, as time goes by, more women in both the Cabinet and the Ministry.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, why then is there only one woman who’s a Parliamentary Secretary? If you want to prepare for the future and the appointment of women into the Cabinet, shouldn’t you be bringing women into the lower rungs right now? Why only one woman there?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, as I said, there are strong and capable women knocking on the door of the Cabinet and there are strong and capable women knocking on the door of the Ministry and two of the four new faces in the outer ministry are female. I did, as all of you would know, have to shrink down the overall opposition executive. There were, I think from memory, 47 members of the opposition executive prior to the election. Under statute, I am limited to 42. So there were inevitably going to be some people who would under other circumstances have been in the ministry but can’t be today.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, have you made any progress on the Commission of Audit or your carbon tax repeal? Two of your key policies.

TONY ABBOTT:

As you can imagine, I have been deep in briefings with senior officers of the public service over the last few days and they know what our priorities are. They know that the first substantive item of business for the new parliament will be the carbon tax repeal legislation and I expect that that legislation will be ready for the resumption of parliament. Similarly, on day one, which will be Wednesday, I expect Operation Sovereign Borders to commence.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, water was a big issue in opposition. You don’t have a dedicated water minister. There was talk that it may be put with agriculture to increase focus on production but also that maybe infrastructure could be where it sits, given the focus on infrastructure spending to deliver water. Where do you think it sits?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, the administrative arrangements order will be finalised over the next couple of days and will be released by the Governor-General after the Ministry is sworn in but water will be with the department, with the Environment Ministry, with the Environment portfolio and Simon Birmingham, who was a very effective Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Water will continue to do that job in Government. Michelle?

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, there’s been a lot of speculation about Arthur Sinodinos. Could you explain why he didn’t get into Cabinet and could you also comment on the fact that one issue was that he might be called to the corruption commission?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, I want to absolutely scotch any suggestion that there is a cloud over Arthur Sinodinos. There is not. I wouldn’t be appointing Arthur to the incoming ministry if I thought there was any cloud over him. Arthur is a man of distinction. He is a man of integrity. I’ve known Arthur and worked closely with him for a very, very long time indeed and I expect him to be an outstanding Member of the new Government. One of the things you have come to expect of me I hope is a stable, measured, calm approach to doing things and part of a stable and measured and calm approach is orderly promotion, orderly succession and that’s what we’ve got here. We’ve got Arthur moving up from the ranks of Shadow Parliamentary Secretary to the ranks of the Ministry. Andrew?

QUESTION:

I understand that Tourism is going to come under the Foreign Affairs and Trade. What’s the thinking on that front and what does it mean for Tourism Australia?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, domestic tourism to the extent that it’s a federal responsibility will be in the Industry portfolio. Overseas tourism will be in the portfolio of Foreign Affairs and Trade – specifically with the Minister for Trade and Investment. I want to promote tourism, obviously. Tourism has suffered greatly in recent times, partly because of the strength of the Australian Dollar, partly because of additional regulations in a whole host of areas here and I welcome the fact that it should be easier for our international tourism industry, with the Dollar coming off and I certainly intend through our deregulatory agenda to make it easier for the tourism industry, both domestic and foreign.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, you’ve put sport into the Cabinet as a Cabinet position I think for the first time. I’m wondering given that you also said you’d like to see sport on the front page, why you specifically put sport into the Cabinet and what’s your response to the concerns that have been raised about match fixing in soccer and have you been approached by the AFL and the Victorian Government about the concerns they have about match-fixing and the requests that they’ve made for police to be able to share your information to sporting organisations so that sport and the integrity of sport can be clean?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well Phil, there’s quite a lot in that question. Let me start by saying that I think sport should be clean and fair. I absolutely think as a citizen that sport should be clean and fair. Now, in the end, the prime responsibility for sport has got to be with sports administrators and I really don’t think that the Prime Minister of the day should be attempting to micro-manage sport and the conduct of sporting codes and the conduct of sports officials and representatives. I just don’t think that’s the job of the Prime Minister of the day. Now, I think that it’s good that sport is represented by a Cabinet-level Minister, just as I think it’s good that Arts are represented by a Cabinet-level Minister. As for any changes to the law in respect of sport, well that’s something that I would seek to, well, I will ask the incoming Minister to seek an urgent briefing and if there’s anything that the Government should do, we’ll do it.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, I’m just wondering if there’s much of a reorganisation of the public service behind this? For example, Ian Macfarlane’s in charge of Industry and that there’s Resources and Energy. Do they just become one department? Do you anticipate much of a reorganisation to fit in with this Ministry?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, again, what I’ve tried to do is to avoid long and sonorous titles, because once you start mentioning one lot, you’ve got to start mentioning everyone or they feel that they’re in some way neglected. Inevitably, yes there will be a reorganisation of portfolios that will flow from this particular Ministry and as I said the administrative arrangements order will be published after the swearing in on Wednesday and some reorganisations inside the public service will obviously follow from that. Lenore?

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, will you be issuing new Ministerial guidelines to your new Ministerial line-up and also, have you given any thought to the potential for a perceived conflict of interest between Clive Palmer’s position with his party votes in the Senate and possibly in the lower house and legislation that may impact on his business and how that sits in the general conflict of interest rules?

TONY ABBOTT:

They will be substantially the same conflict of interest rules for the incoming Government as for the outgoing Government. The public expect the highest possible standards of probity from their Government and its Ministers and I think they’re entitled to know that it is a straight, clean, honest Government and that’s certainly the Government that I intend to lead. There may be some slight changes, but they will be relatively slight and, if anything, they will toughen up the rules that the former Government had in place. As for Clive Palmer, look, I welcome the fact that people who have succeeded in business are interested in running for parliament. I welcome that fact. Obviously, he’ll be subject to the ordinary disclosure rules. Backbenchers, I hasten to add, ordinary Members of the Parliament I hasten to add, are not subject to the stricter rules that apply to Ministers.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, seeing as this is your first time before the press since being elected, can you give us your latest thinking on the return of Parliament, when that will happen and also your plans to visit Indonesia?

TONY ABBOTT:

Mark, look, I want Parliament to come back as soon as it reasonably can, but I’m not going to rush it back until we’ve got a very substantial legislative programme. One thing I’m not going to do is call back the Parliament for show. When it comes back, it will be for substance. The last thing I want to do is to use this Parliament as effectively a giant and expensive photo opportunity. That’s not what I want and the incoming Government will shun that kind of Government, because frankly one of the reasons why the former Government turned out to be such a disappointment even to its strongest supporters was because there was too much spin and not enough substance. So it will come back as soon as it can, but it won’t come back until we’ve got a very solid legislative programme. As for my trip to Indonesia, I want it to happen as soon as possible. I will be going to Indonesia, in any event, for an important international conference for the APEC meeting in Bali and I think that starts on about the 5th or the 6th of September – October, sorry. I would like to go before then, but that’s obviously subject to the schedules of people in Indonesia. Mark?

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, is there still a Budget emergency or have your briefings with Treasury alleviated the problem?

TONY ABBOTT:

There is a very serious deterioration in our budgetary situation – a very serious deterioration. The deterioration is not markedly different from the situation that was revealed in the PEFO and just prior to the start of the campaign. It’s not markedly different from that. Nevertheless I want to stress that we will bring the Budget back into surplus as quickly as we responsibly can, consistent with the election commitments that we’ve given.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, just on the public service, you’ve changed a lot of departments. Will there be changes now to departmental heads and how responsible do you expect your ministers to be for answering to the Parliament and their jobs?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, I think all of my incoming ministers appreciate that they have to be accountable to the Parliament. Ministers are accountable at a range of different levels. They're accountable to me. They're accountable to their electorates. They're accountable to the parliament and obviously, as members of the Liberal and National parties, they're accountable to their parties as well. But all of my ministers will know, because if they don't know it already I'll tell them, that they are expected to act with absolute good faith before the Parliament and, as we all know, the ultimate sin as a minister is misleading the Parliament.

As for departmental secretaries, I'll have more to say about that later in the week. There will be some changes there but I would like, through you, the people of Australia and the public service, to understand that I respect the Australian public service. I have worked with the Australian public service very closely for nine years as a minister. I think the public servants that I've worked with at a senior level closely and over many years know that I respect the public service. I understand that there's almost nothing that government can do other than through the public service and you won't see anything from the incoming government which indicates a failure to respect the professionalism of the Australian public service.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, just on Indonesia, Julie Bishop said today that Australia would seek Indonesia's understanding not necessarily permission to implement its border protection policy. Does that mean the Coalition would implement the policy regardless of Indonesia's views on whether it should happen? And secondly, there doesn't appear to be a Pacific Island affairs parliamentary secretary as Labor had. What message is that sending to the region?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, again I am trying to avoid a situation where unless something is specifically mentioned in someone's title it is unimportant. Everything that is significant is obviously of concern to an Australian Government but it is possible to take things very, very seriously indeed without feeling they need to be included in people's titles because we are just getting to a situation of title inflation and frankly I want to avoid title inflation. Thankfully I think we've got some title deflation as a result of this ministry. Pacific Island affairs will be handled by the ministerial team in Foreign Affairs and Trade, as you'd expect, and I'm sure they'll do a very good job.

As for Indonesia, I have been very clear that in many respects this is our most important single relationship. By virtue of its size, proximity and potential, this is an extraordinarily important relationship to Australia and it was a relationship that wasn't always well handled by the former government. I'm determined to get the relationship off to the best possible start and the best way to do that is to indicate to you that I'm not going to conduct discussions with the Indonesians via the media. I want to have as far as I humanly can face-to-face discussions before I start pontificating on aspects of the relationship. Suffice to say that between President Yudhoyono and John Howard there was a very strong and close relationship in times past. I would hope to have a similarly strong relationship with President Yudhoyono and any successor.

QUESTION:

But does suggesting you don't need to implement your policy, does that get the relationship onto a good start?

TONY ABBOTT:

Again, I'm just not going to offer a running commentary on the relationship. It's a very important relationship. At times it's been less smooth than it might have been. I want it to be a stronger and better relationship in the future than it's always been in the past. I certainly look forward to a very good relationship with President Yudhoyono and I know that my ministers are looking forward to a very good relationship with their Indonesian counterparts.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, John Cobb been the shadow ag minister since 2008. He's missed out on your front bench. Have you spoken to him and how do you feel about him missing out?

TONY ABBOTT:

Cobby missed out because of changes inside the National Party and because of changes to the representation of the National Party inside the Coalition under the ordinary Coalition arrangements. Cobby hasn't missed out because he did a poor job. He did a good job. He did a very good job. There are a number of people who were in the opposition executive who performed strongly. They haven't missed out because of poor performance. They've missed out because I've simply had to make some changes, many of them because of the effect of the legislation on the number of people who could be on the government front bench. I'm very confident though that Barnaby Joyce will do a really outstanding job in this portfolio. He'll be ably assisted by Senator Richard Colbeck. Barnaby knows country Australia like the back of his hand. While he hasn't been a farmer all his life, he certainly has a lot of farming experience, a strong farming background and Richard Colbeck has a very strong experience in agriculture from his days in government and opposition.

QUESTION:

Without wanting to encourage title inflation, a lot of people watching this may be wanting to know who's going to handle some of the portfolios such as aged care, mental health and disability. Can you indicate which ministers will be in charge?

TONY ABBOTT:

Peter Dutton will be responsible for mental health so that will be handled at a Cabinet level. Mitch Fifield will be responsible for disabilities and aged care under the overall ministerial responsibilities of Kevin Andrews as Minister for Social Services and Mitch Fifield will do aged care. Again, I want to get away from this idea that unless you have a minister with your specific interest in his or her specific title that there is going to be any lack of concern. Obviously there are a whole range of federal government programmes as everyone will see when the administrative arrangements order is published. All of these programmes will be under strong ministerial supervision and we are going to deliver for seniors. We are going to deliver for people with disabilities. We are going to deliver for farmers. We're going to deliver for Northern Australia. The fact that not all of these groups are specifically innumerated in ministerial titles doesn’t mean that people aren't going to get a fair go because, let's face it, there are some things which are so important that in a sense every minister should be concerned about them.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, already you've had since the election 470 people plus arrive on seven boats. By week's end, what difference will you have made?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, as I said, Operation Sovereign Borders will commence on Wednesday and it will start to make a difference from day one. Do I think that the boats will stop dead on day one of an incoming government? I wish but it may not happen. But from day one the people smugglers and their customers will start to notice a very significant difference. Interdiction operations in the seas to our north will change and become more forthright. Cooperation with the authorities in Indonesia will become more vigorous. What happens to people who make it to Australia will change. They will much more swiftly be transferred to places like Manus Island and Nauru. So Operation Sovereign Borders will commence on Wednesday when the new ministry is sworn in and from day one it will start to make a difference and I am absolutely confident that we can and will stop the boats.

QUESTION:

Will the three-star officer be named on Wednesday? Will it be that quick?

TONY ABBOTT:

That may not happen on Wednesday but certainly it will happen very, very soon after the swearing in of the new government.

QUESTION:

From Wednesday, say a boat arrives on Wednesday, will the new rules be issued straight away?

TONY ABBOTT:

As I said, Operation Sovereign Borders will commence from Wednesday. Not all of the elements of Operation Sovereign Borders will commence instantaneously on day one but, nevertheless, it will commence on day one and it will steadily be put into effect and I am confident that we can stop the boats. I've been extensively briefed, as has the incoming minister for Immigration and Border Protection, as has the incoming Minister for Foreign Affairs on various elements of Operation Sovereign Borders. I think that the governmental apparatus generally is keen to make a very substantial difference from day one. I don't think anyone in the official family has liked the fact that our borders have been so porous in this area and I have been only too happy to assure them that I am absolutely determined to stop the boats as quickly as we humanly can. This is one of those stand or fall issues. It really is. It's a stand or fall issue. We will make a difference. We will start from day one.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott what are your expectations for MYEFO, will MYEFO come out in January and would you be setting that up as a mini Budget, kind of a reset to the economy?

TONY ABBOTT:

Again, I think it's very important that everyone understands that Australia is under new management. Australia is open for business and Australia will live within its means. Australia will live within its means. We will get MYEFO out at the appropriate time. I understand that there have been some years when it has come out in January as opposed to November/December. The important thing is to get the right policies in place as quickly as we can so that when MYEFO does come out, it does so in ways which reassure the Australian people that the economy is under stronger management than it might have been over the last few years.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, what can you tell us about deliberations over Syria and given the situation we have where you haven't yet been sworn in and Mr Rudd remains care-taker Prime Minister, have you had to have any discussions with him about that or any other matter in the past 10 days?

TONY ABBOTT:

I haven't had any discussion with Mr Rudd about Syria since the election but I did have a discussion with Mr Rudd about Syria prior to the election under the care-taker conventions. I have obviously spoken to our senior public servants about this. I have been briefed on Syria. I am not aware that there are any developments on Syria that require any response from Australia. Obviously if the situation changes I'll respond appropriately.

QUESTION:

I understand the title issue but in the education sector it's a huge sector, can you just explain to us whether your senior and junior Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries will split up higher education, schools and particularly the science issue or would Christopher Pyne have overall responsibility for all of them with others being delegated for some issues?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, science will largely be in the industry portfolio where it's been. Obviously, schools, higher education, early childhood education and childcare curriculum, such matters will be in the education portfolio. In the end, the divisions of responsibility inside the portfolio will be settled by Mr Pyne and myself over the next couple of days but I think it would be fair to anticipate that Sussan Ley, the Assistant Minister for Education, would continue to have responsibility for childcare and early childhood education. It's quite possible that the incoming parliamentary secretary, Senator Ryan, will have responsibility for curricula amongst other things, but higher education and schools I think will largely remain the responsibility of Mr Pyne.

QUESTION:

What about science, that's not listed in any of these. Will that go in industry?

TONY ABBOTT:

Science, as in the CSIRO, that will be in Industry, where it's been.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, just in terms of the mechanics, are you intending to continue having Cabinet meetings on Mondays? The last Prime Minister, actually I've lost count of who it was but Kevin Rudd at one point said that he was going to have press conferences after Cabinet meetings. Are you proposing any kind of transparency like that?

TONY ABBOTT:

I'm not going to make up promises that I don't end up keeping and I am not going to commit to talking unless I've got something to say. I think that there's been far too much empty talk from people who should know better at senior levels of Government over the last few years. I really do want to begin as I mean to continue. I expect this Government to be a Government which means what it says and then acts in accordance with its statements. If there's something to say after a Cabinet meeting, there will be the appropriate announcement. If there's not, there won't be. I expect that when parliament's sitting Cabinet will continue to meet on a Monday. Outside parliamentary sitting weeks it may well be that Cabinet meets on a Tuesday or some other appropriate day.

QUESTION:

Ian Macfarlane in the Howard Government was Industry Minister was a good friend of the car industry, Mitsubishi springs to mind. Now, you're in government, can you tell us a bit more? Are you going to be more supportive than what you were saying in Opposition when it comes to handouts for the motor vehicle industry in particular or stick with the position you took in?

TONY ABBOTT:

Phil, we'll stick with the position we took to the election. There will continue to be a high level of assistance to the motor industry but we expect the motor industry in return for that high level of assistance to provide us with a reasonable indication of how it is going to increase volumes, particularly increase export volumes. I want the car industry in this country to have a long-term viable future. I don't want it to live from hand to mouth. I accept that government has a role in bringing this about but I also think the industry has a role of bringing this about and I am looking forward to further discussion.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, just back on asylum-seeker policy, how committed are you to buying back boats from Indonesian fishermen and if so, when would that start?

TONY ABBOTT:

I am committed to stopping the boats and during the campaign we committed to establishing a fund that would be available to Australian and Indonesian officials operating appropriately and cooperatively in Indonesia that would be there to try to ensure that local villagers are working with us rather than against us when it comes to the people smuggling trade. Now, that money will be available to do what is reasonably necessary to get good results rather than bad results.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, Warren Entsch's brief sees him chairing the joint parliamentary committee. What sort of timeframe do you want to see for some sort of plan?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, effectively, this committee will be the parliamentary reference group for the Green Paper and White Paper process that we have committed to on northern development. The Green Paper I think from memory was promised within six months, a White Paper from memory was promised within 12 months. This is a Government which is serious about developing our north. We accept that this is a long term project but nevertheless when it comes to approvals, when it comes to infrastructure, when it comes to sensible citing of governmental institutions and agencies, there is - when it comes to water storages - there is more that can be done and, as I said, Warren is the embodiment of Northern Australia. He's been a cattleman, a businessman, a crocodile shooter as well as a distinguished and at times colourful Member of Parliament for Northern Australia and I can think of no better person to lead this charge for a stronger and more developed Northern Australia. I want Northern Australia not just to be an after thought in our country, I want it to be much more central to our national life in the decades to come and that's why Warren has been given this very important advocacy role.

Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript - 22995

The Coalition will restore strong, stable and accountable government

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

Period of Service: 18/09/2013 to 15/09/2015

More information about Abbott, Tony on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 18/09/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 22997

In recent years, the structure of government departments and agencies has created confused responsibilities, duplication and waste.

The changes to departmental structure announced today will simplify the management of government business, create clear lines of accountability and ensure that departments deliver on the Government’s key priorities.

Responsibility for customs and border control policy will move from the Attorney‑General’s portfolio to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to ensure stronger integration of border protection resources.

The Customs and Border Protection Service will also now report to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection.

Settlement services for migrants and humanitarian entrants will be moved from the immigration department to the Department of Social Services. This is a sensible reform that will deliver synergies with broader community services delivery.

The Education and Employment functions of the Commonwealth will be split into two departments providing a more focused approach to two of the most important policy priorities of the government.

With the unemployment rate at its highest level in four years and with Treasury forecasting that the number of unemployed will rise to around 800,000 by the middle of next year, the Department of Employment will focus on ensuring that labour market programmes and workplace relations policy are working in concert to support job creation and increase workforce participation.

The Department of Education will focus on building a world class education system that puts students first.

The Department of Social Services will take up responsibility for ageing and aged care and all programs for people with a disability.  The Department will also take on responsibility for all income support arrangements for working age people, in addition to its current responsibilities for Commonwealth pension payments.

The Social Inclusion Board will cease to operate and the Minister for Social Services will consider the arrangements for ministerial advisory councils that meet the needs of his portfolio.

Regional development, including local government and territories, will move to the Department of Infrastructure. This will strengthen the Government’s engagement with regional Australia.

The National Mental Health Commission will become the responsibility of the Minister for Health, allowing a greater engagement with the mental health policies and programmes managed by that portfolio. Sports policies and programmes will also be managed by the Department of Health to increase the focus on the importance of participation and exercise to improving health.

Arts will move to the Attorney-General’s portfolio in line with the appointment of Senator the Hon George Brandis QC as Minister for the Arts.

This means that the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport will no longer exist.

Climate change policies and programmes have been moved from the Industry Department to the Environment Department to bring together responsibility for the abolition of the carbon tax, the establishment of the Green Army, the creation of a one-stop-shop for environmental approvals and implementation of the Coalition’s Direct Action plan.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will take responsibility for leading Australia’s participation in climate change negotiations, bringing the right expertise to bear on the management of these negotiations. 

I intend to recommend to the Governor-General that the Australian Agency for International Development be integrated into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, enabling the aid and diplomatic arms of Australia’s international policy agenda to be more closely aligned.

Resources, energy and domestic tourism will become the responsibility of the Department for Industry. This means that the industry portfolio’s focus on building a more efficient, competitive and innovative economy includes some of our largest industries. There will no longer be a separate Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism.

Responsibility for international tourism promotion will move to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This will enhance the relationship between Austrade and Tourism Australia. I want the rest of the world to know that Australia is under new management and open for business.

Small business will now have a strong voice in Cabinet.  Policy responsibility for Small Business will sit with the Treasury. Responsibility for the delivery of programmes will remain with the Industry Department.

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet will take on responsibility for indigenous affairs, deregulation and the Office for Women. This will ensure that these key whole-of-government priorities are at the centre of government.

The revised Administrative Arrangements Orders are available here:

http://www.dpmc.gov.au/parliamentary/index.cfm

Transcript - 22997

Remarks at Swearing-in of First Abbott Government

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

Period of Service: 18/09/2013 to 15/09/2015

More information about Abbott, Tony on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 18/09/2013

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 22999

Location: Government House, Canberra

Your Excellency,

I present your new ministers and, through you, I present the people of Australia their new government.

We are all conscious of the honour of serving our country as ministers of the Crown and members of your Executive Council.

We pledge ourselves to serve the people of Australia for their benefit to the very best of our ability.

We are determined to honour our commitments: to scrap the carbon tax, to stop the boats, to get the Budget under control, and to build the roads of the 21st century.

We will be a problem-solving government based on values, not ideology.

We will strive to govern for all Australians, including those who didn’t vote for us.

We won’t forget those who are often marginalised: people with disabilities, indigenous people and women struggling to combine career and family.

We will do our best not to leave anyone behind.

We aim to be a calm, measured, steady and purposeful government that says what it means and does what it says.

We hope to be judged by what we have done rather than by what we have said we would do.

We are conscious of the ideals of duty and service exemplified by our Queen whom you have so graciously represented here in Australia.

And we will not spare ourselves; we will not spare ourselves in order to deserve the trust placed in us this day.

[ends]

Transcript - 22999

WestConnex: Building the roads of the 21st century

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

Period of Service: 18/09/2013 to 15/09/2015

More information about Abbott, Tony on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 19/09/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23001

Location: Sydney

A day after being sworn-in, the Coalition Government in Canberra is delivering on its promise to build a stronger Australia.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, Warren Truss and Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, Jamie Briggs, joined NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and Roads and Ports Minister, Duncan Gay, to release the detailed business case supporting the construction of WestConnex in Sydney.

“I want to be known as an infrastructure Prime Minister and I want building the roads of the 21st century to be a hallmark of my Government,” Mr Abbott said.

“Getting cracking on WestConnex was a solemn commitment that I made to the people of Western Sydney, so I’m excited that just a day after forming government, WestConnex is coming closer.

“For too long, Sydney has been let down by bad Labor governments. Building WestConnex is proof that federal and state Coalition governments can work closely together to deliver better infrastructure for Sydney.”

Mr Truss said the Government was wasting no time in getting on with the job of building the infrastructure that will unclog Sydney for both freight and passengers.

“We made a $1.5 billion commitment to WestConnex and we are starting to deliver,” Mr Truss said.

“WestConnex is a long-term vision for Sydney’s future and is needed to cater for the additional 1.3 million people calling it home over the next 20 years.

“WestConnex is one of Australia’s biggest transport projects. It will improve people’s travel times, create new jobs, boost economic activity in Western Sydney and help breathe new life into Parramatta Road,” he said.

“What we see is a massive backlog in freight in Sydney with links with the airport and port to the west not able to cope with demand. It is costing the state and national economies billions.

“In fact, estimates have put the cost of congestion in Sydney at around $8.8 billion by 2020.

The 33 kilometre motorway linking the CBD, west, south-west, airport and port will return some $20 billion to the NSW economy.

By building WestConnex, some 52 sets of traffic lights will be avoided – saving up to 40 minutes in travel time between Parramatta and Sydney Airport.

The WestConnex project is expected to be completed by 2023.

Along with WestConnex, the federal Government has also committed $405 million to get Sydney’s F3 to M2 started by late 2014, which will mean shorter travel times, reduced congestion and safer roads for Sydney and Central Coast commuters.

These Sydney road projects are part of the federal Government’s nationwide major roads blueprint which also includes:

  • $6.7 billion to fix Queensland’s Bruce Highway;
  • $5.6 billion to complete the duplication of the Pacific Highway from Newcastle to the Queensland border;
  • $1.5 billion to get Melbourne’s East West Link underway;
  • $1 billion to support the Gateway Motorway upgrade in Brisbane;
  • $615 million to build the Swan Valley Bypass on the Perth to Darwin Highway;
  • $686 million to finish the Perth Gateway without a mining tax;
  • $500 million to support the upgrade of Adelaide’s North-South Road Corridor;
  • $400 million to upgrade the Midland Highway in Tasmania; and
  • $300 million to finalise plans, engineering design and environmental assessments for the Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail.
  • We will also get the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing underway and have committed $130 million to the project over the forward estimates.

The WestConnex Business Case Executive Summary is available at rms.nsw.gov.au

Transcript - 23001

Transcript - Joint Press Conference

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

Period of Service: 18/09/2013 to 15/09/2015

More information about Abbott, Tony on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 19/09/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23002

Subject(s): WestConnex

Location: Sydney

PREMIER O’FARRELL:

It’s fantastic to be here today with the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, of course, the state’s Roads Minister.

This is an important project. This business case being released today makes it clear that this project is green for go. This is about a 33 kilometre connection of the M4, the M5, with our ports, with our city, to deliver improved travel times for people travelling east and west across Sydney. Forty minutes reduction in people travelling from Parramatta to the airport; a 25 minute reduction for people travelling from Parramatta to the city.

But of course, people travel across this city and this road project, the largest in Australia, will make their travel so much easier. It stands beside the North West Rail Link, the South West Rail, as our commitment to ensuring we have a balanced transport policy for this city; our commitment to overcome past neglect of transport to deliver the best possible transport to the people of Sydney and visitors to this city.

Can I make clear that this is what methodical, measured, fiscally responsible government delivers. It’s about doing your homework. It’s about ensuring that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. It’s about working with a Commonwealth government to deliver better outcomes for people.

We could not have delivered this without the commitment of the Commonwealth Government. We wouldn’t be standing here today without the commitment that Tony Abbott made in opposition to recognise the importance of this project to this city, to the state’s economy and ultimately to the nation’s economy and that’s why I’m delighted that Tony Abbott and Warren Truss are here today.

I want to work with the Infrastructure Prime Minister. I want to see more than promises. I want to see projects being delivered. I’m delighted to say today we are starting the largest road project in the nation and I want to thank Tony Abbott for his contribution to it.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thanks so much, Barry.

Well Barry, it is great to be here on my first full day as Prime Minister, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with you and the Deputy Prime Minister and the New South Wales Roads Minister to officially launch the business case for WestConnex and to start the process which will deliver the largest transport infrastructure project in our country.

As Barry said, I hope to be known as an infrastructure prime minister. I want to give our country the roads and the infrastructure of the 21st Century and nowhere is this more needed than here in Sydney, our greatest city. Sydney is 25 per cent of the nation’s economy. All too often, Sydney suffers from transport gridlock because of years of inadequate infrastructure development under state and federal Labor governments. This will end and it will end from today, as a result of the good work of the New South Wales Government, assisted by an incoming Coalition government.

So Barry look, all credit to you but we will be with you every step of the way to make sure this happens and to make sure this happens as quickly as we can, consistent with good planning and the best possible outcomes for the people of Sydney.

Warren, over to you.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you Prime Minister and Premier, Transport Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen. Well, in every sense, this is truly a magnificent project. It will transform the traffic of Sydney. It will improve the efficiency of Sydney Airport, the Port of Sydney. It will make movement around Sydney so much easier than it’s ever been. It is the biggest infrastructure project in Australia and for all of those reasons it is a wonderful way for the new Coalition federal government to demonstrate its willingness to cooperate with the states to deliver key infrastructure across Australia.

As a transformational project, it will also add enormously to the economy by creating jobs, by approving efficiency and improving the quality of life for so many people who live in Sydney. The improvement that it’s going to make to suburbs which are currently gridlocked by traffic will just make such a difference to those people.

From Sydney’s perspective this will certainly be a transformational project. It will make so much difference to the capacity of our major infrastructure in the city to work well and let me say that I am delighted to be working with Duncan Gay to make sure that this project comes to fruition efficiently and under the shortest possible timeframe. It’s a pleasure for the new federal government to see some of its election commitments come to fruition, begin construction so soon and we look forward to this example being replicated across New South Wales and indeed in other states, as the Government sets about its task of building the infrastructure of the next century.

PRIME MINISTER:

Ok, do we have any questions for myself and the Premier?

QUESTION:

You’ve got the toll looking like it will be capped at around $7.70 in 2013. When the project’s finished in 2023 is there any sort of modelling on what drivers can expect to pay then?

PREMIER O’FARRELL:

Well, it is distance-based tolling akin to the M7. The first section, as I understand, the average toll will be around $3. But you’re right, when the full 33 kilometre project is finished the toll is expected to be capped at, I think, $7.35 in today’s dollars. But Lee, if you’re asking can I translate that to future dollars in 2023, I’ll come back to you.

QUESTION:

But surely there’s been some modelling done that’s come…

PREMIER O’FARRELL:

Well yes, I’m happy to come back to you, I’m just simply saying the modelling’s not in my head.

QUESTION:

Where will the smoke stacks be and how many homes will be demolished to make this a reality?

PREMIER O’FARRELL:

I’ll let Duncan deal with homes but in relation to stacks, in relation to filtering of exhaust fumes, there is an expert committee that’s been established. We’re determined to deliver the best possible outcomes to people in this city, whether it’s in relation to these tunnels or whether it’s in relation to what might be tunnels associated with the F3/M2. So what’s important is to be driven by the science. What’s important is to be driven by world leading technology and that’s what the expert taskforce will do.

QUESTION:

You’ve got the animation, it looks really amazing. People who live on that part of Parramatta Road, in the Inner-West deserve answers. When will they get answers about the impact upon them personally?

PREMIER O’FARRELL:

As I understand the consultation with the community starts in October. The consultation which is required by law including an EIS starts not just with the community on Parramatta Road but with all the communities that are affected but I’m saying that combined with that we have an expert taskforce in place to ensure that in relation to air quality in relation to filtration we apply the best possible solutions to that issue.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible]

PREMIER O’FARRELL:

I’ll get you those details.

MINISTER GAY:

Can I just do the homes first? Look on the homes there will be very few. The great thing about the business plan that we put together, we’ve bought the best brains in the country and the world together to come up with something that potentially works to cause the minimum amount of stress to the community. The original idea of a slot down Parramatta Road, you will notice, is gone. We start with a tunnel, slightly west of the connection on Homebush Bay Drive and we will tunnel all the way under Parramatta Road through to City West Link. That means there will be very few homes. We will identify, as soon as possible, and talk to those communities on potential homes that are affected but because of the new way we are doing it, there will be very, very, few.

The second and third stage, we have, you know, it’s going to take four years at least to do Stage One. So we have that time in planning to talk to those communities and negotiate.

QUESTION:

But do know what this is….by looking at this design, though,  what do you say to critics that say, well, you’re not really connecting people in Parramatta and Penrith to the CBD….

PREMIER O’FARRELL:

Well what I say, Bridget, is that that sounds like Anthony Albanese, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard speaking. So let’s just go through it slowly. Firstly, 60 per cent of traffic that will use this road don’t want to go to the CBD. Not everyone in Sydney works in the CBD. Stop being Sydney-centric.

Secondly, of course it does connect City West, Southern Cross Drive, are part of the connections to this WestConnex and so we are confident that this project will deliver what people need. This project will deliver the roads system for the 21st Century.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible]

MINISTER GAY:

Well, no, one of the beauties of this that we’re going to reconnect communities in the Inner West that have been separated for the last 20 years. If you live in Ashfield or Croydon or Burwood, try getting across Parramatta Road and talking to your neighbours.  By putting all those trucks and cars underground, we are reuniting those communities and that is part of what we are doing. We are reinvigorating the inner city. Everyone says, every newspaper, every television station says we need to fix Parramatta Road. Well, you can’t fix Parramatta Road until you get the cars and the trucks off it and that’s what this does.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible] then, Mr Gay, when three lanes of this new motorway tunnel will be two lanes of the City West Link. Won’t this be a [inaudible]?

MINISTER GAY:

If you were listening earlier and not worried too much about bike lanes you would have understood that 60 per cent of the traffic leaves before it gets to City West Link. There will not be an increase, or a huge increase in the amount of traffic that will be using City West Link. Half the traffic at that stage goes City West Link and about half continues down Parramatta Road because they want to go to a different part of the city.

So what we are doing is we are looking after those suburbs and we are bringing that traffic in quicker, in a better way, so people will have a better experience of their travel to work. As we said, when it’s finished, we’ll take about 40 minutes off a trip to the airport from Parramatta.

PREMIER O’FARRELL:

And can I just remind you again, can I just remind you again that in terms of the connection to City West, by the time that opens, the South West Rail Link will also be open which means that people in Sydney’s southern growth centre, for the first time, will have a real option of leaving their cars at home and catching trains into the city.

QUESTION:

Is the state and federal contribution of 1.8 and 1.5 intended to cover the whole first stage? Just on the lower estimate there seems to be [inaudible]?

MINISTER GAY:

Look, this is enough to cover the first stage. We believe when we go to the market with tenders it will hit. It’s an interesting scenario. We’re going out there – industry likes the fact that we’ve got skin in the game. We’re going to go out there and build it, prove it up with the numbers, with a view to resell it later on. Although we're not set in our mind, we've got a business plan that says we've had some great minds look at this and we think it's the best way of doing it, but if you come to us and you've got a better idea that would work better for the city and work better for the state, we're willing to listen to you, but we will be paying for each of them, each stage off the stage before. So we'll prove up the first stage, get the numbers, sell it, use that money to do the second stage and the same with the third stage. So it's important that we get that right and that's why that money from the Commonwealth Government that came in on time and in fact earlier allows us to do this quicker and help the congestion in the city a lot sooner than we would have been able to do with any other scenario.

QUESTION:

Question for the Prime Minister in regard to the absorption of AusAID by DFAT. Why did you do it? Will it lead to job cuts?

PREMIER O’FARRELL:

Let's finish dealing with WestConnex issues and then we’ll come back to that, ok?

QUESTION:

So, for the 40 per cent of people travelling from the west aren’t getting off before the City West Link so what are the options for the tunnel for them to get in to the CBD?  The CityWest Link and then behind you I see there is another?

MINISTER GAY:

There will be an exit that will take you on to City West Link underground and under at least the first set of lights. So we can remove some of that congestion that's already happening. Proving up where it goes from there will be subject to detailed scoping as we get further into the project. If you're continuing along Parramatta Road to the city, there will be exits that will take you straight onto Parramatta Road and entrances that will bring you into that tunnel for Stage 1A and B.

QUESTION:

I'm wondering where the closest one on the map is?

MINISTER GAY:

That would be there near the Bunnings building, the old biscuit factory there, that's where you would enter the tunnel.

QUESTION:

Minister, The Stage Three section, it appears to have shifted since the earlier maps….

MINISTER GAY:

It has. Because we've found better routes, less onerous on local communities, cheaper to do and that's part of this as an ongoing process. We want to work – and I heard on one of the radio stations this morning someone from Petersham, I think, saying this was a disaster. Well I was thinking to myself as I was listening he doesn't exactly know where the route is going to be at this stage but he's made up his mind it's going to be a disaster. We want to engage those people and make sure that they are happy, as much as we can with what we're doing. That's why in part, Jake, that we've changed that to address those concerns and particularly the concerns you can see where you come off the M5 East at the back of the airport there. I thought there were valid concerns from the community on the environmental issues there and our people have taken that up.

QUESTION:

Will Stage Three happen regardless or does it depend on tolls and money raised from the first two stages?

PREMIER O’FARRELL:

We're committed to the full project but what Duncan has said is we're going to stage it and indeed Stage 1A will commence and Stage 1B will commence before Stage 1A is complete. So we are committed to this full project and we can only be delivering it because of the great commitment by the Abbott Government and that commitment that was made in opposition. It's about improving transport in Sydney, it's about creating jobs, not just construction jobs but the jobs that will flow in the future, but it's also, as Duncan says, about some urban renewal in the inner west.

QUESTION:

Do you have patronage figures of how many people will be using that new tunnel on day one?

PREMIER O’FARRELL:

Duncan, I'll get you to do that but one of the reasons that we’ve decided that the first part should be done by us is that the private sector has been hopeless at assessing patronage figures for toll ways. We've seen them overestimate, we've seen them underestimate, we’ve seen projects go into receiverships. We’ve seen projects take a long time to get up to speed. We’re determined to learn from those lessons and I say again, that’s what measured, methodical, fiscally prudent government does. That’s what happens when you take your time to do proper planning through a body like Infrastructure New South Wales. It’s what happens when you work with the Commonwealth Government to put together a business case model but none of it could happen without Tony Abbott's commitment to $1.5 billion to the project.

QUESTION:

How do we know the benefits of the project when we don’t know how many cars are expected to use it?

MINISTER GAY:

The benefits of the project are urban renewal, joining the communities together, job creation, time saving, less congestion. How many more benefits do you want?

QUESTION:

[inaudible]

MINISTER GAY:

That will be proven up as we go. I will find out the detailed numbers. I don’t have the detailed number of exactly how many but Stage 1A would be the widening of the existing M4 to the intersection of Homebush Bay Drive and then Stage 1B, which will be the tunnel from just west of Homebush Bay Drive through to City West Link to be able to join there.

Now, off the top of my head, without having the exact figures here, I would imagine at least the amount of people that are using it now. Probably some more would be using it. We’ve got figures off the M4, how it was when it was tolled before. The tolls, as the Premier said, will be, on today’s figures, round about the same as the cheapest toll that is currently operating in Sydney but the final tolls will depend on the actual costs and where we are at the time.

PREMIER O’FARRELL:

But Jake, just understand that the business case model has been put together by Treasury, INSW, and also Commonwealth officials. So assumptions have been made and assumptions that have been signed off by the Commonwealth Government.

QUESTION:

Can we see all these assumptions? Can we see the full business case? It’s just a summary, can we see the full business case?

MINISTERGAY:

No, the full business case is commercial-in-confidence but yes of course you’re going to see the summary.

QUESTION:

But if it’s too risky for the private sector why is the Government….

PREMIER O’FARRELL:

No, no, no it’s not too risky. It’s not too risky, Mark. It’s our assessment that given the private sector’s failure to accurately predict patronage – and sometimes patronage grows much faster than expected – we’re better off doing it the first way and that way when we come to do the next stages we’ll get better value for money for taxpayers. So I think this is a project that’s necessary. No one’s suggesting it’s not necessary. It’s been necessary since Neville Wran lifted the road reservations and sold off the housing in 1976. That’s why we’re struggling with this and the fact is that this proposal, put together by INSW, it’s now been oversighted through this business case model, is the right solution for this city. It stands by those public transport improvements we are putting in place, that, I remind you Bridget, will ensure that those people coming from South West Sydney will have an option to leave their cars at home, so whether they want to drive and then get off at Southern Cross Drive or go all the way to the City West route, they can actually leave the car at home and catch a train. But ultimately this is the right project.

QUESTION:

PM, what’s the value proposition [inaudible] the decision on AusAID and in the context of….

PRIME MINISTER:

Have we finished WestConnex issues?

QUESTION:

Can I just ask, how long is the viaduct connection between St Peters and the Airport [inaudible]?

PREMIER O’FARRELL:

Six kilometres. I think the tunnel projects will outline this.

QUESTION:

Just in terms of the $7.70 capping…

PREMIER O’FARRELL:

Is it $7.70 or $7.35 in today's dollars?

QUESTION:

$7.70…

MINISTER GAY:

$7.35.

PREMIER O’FARRELL:

$7.35 in today’s dollars.

QUESTION:

It could be, you know, $10 in 2020.

PREMIER O’FARRELL:

Can you tell me what inflation will be in 2020? I know Channel Ten are good but I'm not sure they're that good, Josh. Let's be honest, let's deal with this. It's distance-based tolling like the M7. The average toll on the first part is expected to be around $3 in today's dollars but when the whole project is completed, due to be completed in 2023, or hopefully, if the Prime Minister and I have anything to do with it a bit earlier, it's expected that it will be capped at $7.35 in today's dollars.

Now, Josh I can't tell you today what the cap or what the full toll on the M7 will be in 2023 dollars. I'm sure there has been modeling done. I said before in relation to Lee, we’re happy to try and get you those figures but you know, inflation happens. The good news is I expect the economy to do a bit better under the current federal government than it did under the past federal government. So, with a stronger economy, with more opportunities, with more jobs we'll be a bit more prosperous.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible] consultation is any of it able to change depending on…

PREMIER O’FARRELL:

You know, EIS processes around this seek to deal with how you limit the impact upon neighbourhoods but if people think that there's a chance that this project won't go ahead they’re fooling themselves. Today we're announcing this project is proceeding. This 33km project is long overdue will go ahead. The consultation with the community starts next month and we're determined to get the project under way as early in 2015 as possible.

QUESTION:

Premier, you signed off on a three-fold increase in the city's bike lanes. Will there be bike lanes as part of that project?

PREMIER O’FARRELL:

No.

QUESTION:

Why not?

PREMIER O’FARRELL:

I'll leave that to Duncan.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, you’ve repeatedly said on the West Link that you’d like to see work underway. You made an election promise on that giving 12 months to 18 months.  Is this your first broken election promise?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, my understanding is that some work will be under way within 12 months. Preparatory drilling and so on, as I understand it, will start within 12 months.

QUESTION:

How will this affect other works on the way, like the F3/M2?

PRIME MINISTER:

I'll leave Duncan to handle this but my understanding is that the New South Wales Government is cracking on with this and also with that project as well and that announcements may well be made in the next couple of months in respect of that.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister can I ask a question about something else?

PRIME MINISTER:

Sure. We’re done with WestConnex issues?  Yeah, sure, Ok.

QUESTION:

Paul Howes is about to announce he is running for an ALP Senate seat.

PREMIER O’FARRELL:

Of course he is.

QUESTION:

Would he be a good addition to the Upper House?

PRIME MINISTER:

I'm not going to get into the business of commentary on individuals inside the Labor Party and what the Labor Party does. Suffice to say that the Labor Party needs to learn the lessons of the election and the lessons of the election are: people don't like the carbon tax, they don't like the border protection disasters, they don't like the fact that this government has failed repeatedly to get the Budget back under control and, frankly, they don't like faceless men controlling a political party and it seems to me that the gentleman in question certainly falls into that category.

If you want serious change and I think the public indicated that they do want serious change, the Labor Party needs to learn its lessons and there's no evidence from any of the senior people in the Labor Party right now that they have learned those lessons. It seems to me that the Labor Party is very much in denial about the fact that they've just had a thumping defeat.

QUESTION:

The absorption of AusAID into DFAT, will it lead to jobs being lost and what is the justification?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, until quite recently, aid was handled within the department. It's only in the last few years that this change has been made and we're going to bring aid back inside the department because we want Australia's aid programme to be fully integrated into our overall diplomatic effort. We don't want our diplomacy going in one direction and our aid programme going in another direction. Obviously, we do intend to trim the size of the Commonwealth public sector by 12,000 through natural attrition over the next three years and all areas of the Commonwealth public sector other than front-line delivery agencies – security, police and the armed forces – will be subject to this. So, yes, there may well be fewer people working in AusAID in three years’ time than is now the case.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, how are you going to enact Operation Sovereign Borders when you've got Indonesia saying that parts of it are unacceptable, particularly to the issue of turning the boats back?

PRIME MINISTER:

Three points. First of all, I have no argument with anyone in the Indonesian establishment or Parliament. My argument is with people smugglers and my point to the people smugglers is the game is up. The game is up. Second point I make is that we absolutely totally respect Indonesia's sovereignty. Third point I make is that we aren't going to conduct discussions with Indonesia through the media. Too much damage has been done in the past by megaphone diplomacy and it's never going to happen under this Government.

QUESTION:

It's a major problem isn’t it when you've said your policy is Indonesia's centric and yet you’ve got that country says that it’s not necessarily willing to play ball [inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER:

Indonesia is a robust democracy, as Australia is. There are many voices in Indonesia, but I am very confident that this Government will be able to work effectively with the Indonesian Government as former Coalition Governments have done.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, what are you planning to do for the status of women? Are you taking ownership of that portfolio?

PRIME MINISTER:

We will work calmly, methodically, purposefully to deliver good policies for all of the people of Australia, including women and the best thing that can be done for women in the near future is to put in place a fair-dinkum paid parental leave scheme. That's what will happen under the incoming Coalition Government. A fair-dinkum paid parental leave scheme was never going to happen under the former Labor Government.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, what are you going to do about the car industry particularly in South Australia. The Premier of that state urging not to cut subsidies to Holden. What’s your Government looking to do to shore up the viability of that industry?

PRIME MINISTER:

The best thing we can do for the car industry, which we are in the process of doing right now, is freeing it from the $1.8 billion fringe benefit tax hit that the former Labor Government was about to impose upon it and if the fringe benefits tax doesn't go ahead – and it won't – people  should flood into showrooms. This weekend is a great time to be out buying a new car because you are not going to be hit by the fringe benefits tax hit that the Labor Government had in store for you. Now that's the best thing we can do for the car industry right now. Save it from what Labor had in store for it. That salvation is here and that's very good news for the car industry.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, are you going to be banning officials [inaudible]?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I know that all Coalition Governments right around Australia are determined to try to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest, real or apparent and I'm determined to ensure that as far as the new Coalition Government in Canberra is concerned, not only is it clean and fair but it's seen to be clean and fair and that's why I'm determined to ensure that you can either be a power broker or a lobbyist but you can't be both.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, the ACT hopes to have same-sex marriage legalised by the end of the year. [inaudible] How do you feel about that?

PRIME MINISTER:

I'm not in the business of giving public advice to States and Territories, although obviously I'm determined to work as closely as I can with Coalition State and Territory Governments for the good of our country and that's why I'm so pleased to be standing shoulder to shoulder with Premier O'Farrell and Duncan Gay today to make this very important announcement about West Connex. West Connex is a goer thanks to the State Coalition Government and the incoming national Coalition Government. As for the ACT and same-sex marriage, obviously the ACT is entitled to do what it wants within the law, within the law and the Attorney will be seeking legal advice on precisely how far the ACT can go on this.

QUESTION:

Will you be hoping it gets blocked?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, the ACT is entitled to do what it can within the law as you know, under the constitution the Commonwealth has responsibility for marriage and the Attorney will be seeking advice on precisely how far that extends.

QUESTION:

Premier, the Greens say that your new graffiti laws could see kids who draw hopscotch or handball games fined up to $440.

PREMIER O’FARRELL:

The Greens would say that. Police have discretion. I have great confidence in the police that that won't happen.

QUESTION:

Can you ensure all those who play hopscotch and handball it won't happen?

PREMIER O’FARRELL:

If that's the national sport of the Greens, yes.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, the Opposition has accused you of using the public service as your political plaything and they say [inaudible] senior public servants yesterday that you’ve shown a disregard for public service [inaudible]?

PRIME MINISTER:

I want to say to all the Australian public service that I have deep respect for your professionalism. I have a deep commitment to ensuring that the professionalism of the Australian public service continues. I worked as a Minister for nine years in the Howard Government with the Australian public service. I appreciate that no Government can achieve anything without a strong and effective public service and without a strong relationship between Ministers and the public service. I think we've got the right team in place, both in Government and in the Australian public service, to get on with the job and I'm looking forward to working with the Australian public service to achieve the objectives of the new Government.

QUESTION:

Why sack those three yesterday? Weren't they just carrying out the business of the government of the day?

PRIME MINISTER:

I'm just not going to get into the whys and wherefores of individual decisions. Obviously there were a couple of departments that were merged, but I think you can see from what we've done that we respect the professionalism of the public service. We respect the integrity of senior members of the public service and I'm very much looking forward to working with the Australian public service to realise the commitments that the new Government has made to the Australian people and to deliver to the people of Australia the stronger economy and the stronger country and the better future that you the people of Australia have a right to expect. Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript - 23002

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