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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript - 23072

Doorstop Interview

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: 09/11/2013

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23072

Subject(s): Carbon tax repeal legislation

Location: Perth

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s great to be here in Perth this morning for my first address to a major Liberal Party gathering since becoming Prime Minister.

As all of you know, the Parliament resumes this coming week. The legislation to repeal the carbon tax and the mining tax will be before the Parliament this week and if ‘Electricity Bill’ Shorten wants to avoid being just a carbon copy of his predecessors he will accept the verdict of the election. He will appreciate that everyone wants to see power prices coming down and he will facilitate the abolition of this toxic tax.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, the asylum seekers rescued off Java are being sent to Christmas Island. Does this signal that the standoff is over?

PRIME MINISTER:

What this signals is that Government policies are in place and the boat people in question, the illegal boat people in question will go swiftly to Manus Island or Nauru. They won’t set foot on the Australian mainland and they have no prospect of ever settling in Australia and that’s the strong message that goes from this Government and this country to people smugglers and their customers. If you come to this country or you seek to come to this country illegally by boat, you will never be allowed to stay here.
 

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, what’s  Indonesia’s motive though, do you think, in refusing to take this boatload back to Indonesia when on two previous occasions they’ve agreed to on-water transfers?

PRIME MINISTER:
 

I’m not going to comment on operational matters.  It’s not our practice to comment on operational matters. That just helps the people smugglers. That just helps those who want Australia’s policies to fail in this area. We have good cooperation with Indonesia and I believe that it’s strengthening all the time.

QUESTION:

Are they sending a message though? Do you think they are sending a message to Australia?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think we are sending a very strong message to people smugglers that one way or another their business model is defunct and their enterprise is at an end.
 

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, do you accept that you’ve surrendered here in turning back the boats?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, we have a range of options at our disposal. We reserve the right to put into place all of the policies that we took to the election and one of the options that we reserve to ourselves is the option of turning boats around where it’s safe to do so and certainly that’s something which is very much alive and people who come to this country illegally by boat have got to face the fact that they may well end up going back to that place from whence they came.
 

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, on the issue of entitlements, how do the changes announced today fix the problem? Isn’t the issue at the heart of this still the fact that it’s still self-regulated?

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s very important that Members of Parliament be able to do their jobs properly and the last thing we would want is Members of Parliament who are prisoners of their offices in Canberra or in the electorate. Members of Parliament have to travel to do their jobs properly. They should only travel when it is reasonably connected with the task of being an elected representative of the people of Australia and I think these changes will help to restore public confidence in our system.
 

QUESTION:

Do you think confidence has been damaged in the public’s perception of politicians by this affair?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think there are some people who like to believe the worst of others. I think the general public understand that Members of parliament do need to travel. If they are traveling in the course of their duties as elected representatives of the people, well, it’s right and proper that they should do so on entitlements. I think the vast majority of Members of Parliament do the right thing. The last thing I would want to suggest is that any of my colleagues are consciously doing the wrong thing. Occasionally mistakes are made. Occasionally people might believe in retrospect things could have been done better and that’s always going to be the case but I think this is an improved system. Is it going to be absolutely perfect? Well, in the end, I guess there’s always going to be arguments at the margin but I think this is an improved system.
 

QUESTION:

You talked about the carbon tax a number of times today. Of course, here in WA, we look like we could face a fresh Senate vote. Two questions on that. Do you think there should be a fresh election given the outcomes of those missing votes? Number two, do you think it presents an opportunity perhaps for West Australians to cast a vote perhaps against the carbon issue?

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s going to be up to the High Court, sitting as a court of disputed returns to determine what the consequences of this problem with the Electoral Commission might be. I think all Australians are dismayed and flabbergasted at the apparent loss of almost 1400 votes from one count to the next but whether there’s an election here in Western Australia will depend upon the High Court. If there is a new election it will be another opportunity for the people of Australia to say no to the carbon tax and frankly I welcome another opportunity for the people to participate in a referendum on the carbon tax.  If Bill Shorten wants to avoid referendum after referendum on the carbon tax, he will avoid being a carbon copy of his predecessors.

Thank you so much.

[ends]

Transcript - 23072