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Transcript - 24209

Interview with Patrick Condren, Radio 4BC

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: 18/02/2015

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 24209

Subject(s): Metadata

PATRICK CONDREN:

Welcome back to Queensland, Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s lovely to be here although I’ve got to say, it’s not perfect weather on the Gold Coast where I’ve just been. Maybe by the time I get to Brisbane it will improve.

PATRICK CONDREN:

Well, you’ll bring the sunshine with you, no doubt.

PRIME MINISTER:

I hope, I hope. Sunshine and good news from the Commonwealth Government because I’m off to Chermside, to the Wesley Centre, to do a sod turning ceremony for Hummingbird House which is going to be a hospice for sick children and it will be the only one of its kind in Queensland, long overdue and it’s happened with $5.5 million from the Commonwealth Government.

PATRICK CONDREN:

You’ve been on the Gold Coast with Bravehearts’ Hetty Johnston talking about metadata retention protecting children. What evidence is there that metadata retention actually works?

PRIME MINISTER:

It has been absolutely critical to so many child abuse investigations and there was a big child abuse paedophile ring investigation in Europe recently. In the United Kingdom, which has metadata retention legislation, some 25 per cent of the suspects were successfully prosecuted. In Germany, which doesn’t have metadata retention legislation, zero per cent of the suspects were successfully prosecuted. There are very few types of crime these days that are resolved without metadata. Yes, if people make a confession, you can successfully prosecute them but in the absence of confession, invariably, you need to know something about peoples’ movements, something about peoples’ communications history and this is what the metadata provides.

PATRICK CONDREN:

How much will it cost, your metadata retention scheme?

PRIME MINISTER:

Patrick, the cost of not having it is incalculable because if we don’t have it so many criminal investigations just won’t succeed.

PATRICK CONDREN:

So, is there a price tag at all?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, it’s not absolutely free, maintaining this data for longer than the companies would otherwise do, but telecommunications is a $40 billion a year industry in Australia and even the highest estimates of the cost are less than one per cent of that.

PATRICK CONDREN:

So, do you have a budget for it?

PRIME MINISTER:

This is something that we’re talking to the industry about and the Commonwealth is certainly prepared to do something towards meeting the cost but part of operating in this country ought to be maintaining the kind of data retention which enables our police and law enforcement bodies to do their job.

PATRICK CONDREN:

Prime Minister, regarding Andrew Chan and Mr Sukumaran, you’ve said that you will look at ways to make Australia’s displeasure felt. What does that mean?

PRIME MINISTER:

At the moment I am totally focused on finding ways of changing the Indonesian government’s mind and threatening them, at this stage, I think is the last thing that’s helpful. But obviously we think that as a good friend of Indonesia our pleas should be taken seriously, just as Indonesia expects its pleas to its good friends to be taken seriously when its citizens are in trouble. So, let’s focus right now on trying to prevent these executions from going ahead. That’s my overwhelming preoccupation right now.

PATRICK CONDREN:

Some people have suggested – some callers to the programme have suggested – boycotting places like Bali. What do you think of that idea?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, that’s a matter for Australian citizens and I’ve been up in Bali myself, it’s a great place to visit, a great place to go on holidays. Tens of thousands of Australians spend lots of time there. I’m certainly not going to say don’t do that, but obviously given the strength of the friendship between Australia and Indonesia and the fact that there are now millions of Australians who spend serious time in Indonesia, I think that they should hear our plea. My plea to the Indonesian people and government is that your best interests and your best values are best realised by not executing these two young Australians.

PATRICK CONDREN:

Will you be going back to Bali?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, one day, but I’m not too focused on holidays right now.

PATRICK CONDREN:

Speaking of which, is your relationship with Malcolm Turnbull fractured?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, not at all – not at all.

PATRICK CONDREN:

A lot of people, a lot of the commentariat are interpreting his performance on Q&A on Monday night as a job application, as a job application for your job.

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, people are welcome to interpret things in whatever way they want but I thought it was a strong performance by a strong Minister and a strong Government and that’s exactly what I expect from all my Ministers.

PATRICK CONDREN:

The bookies have got him down from $1.60 to $1.45 to take over the prime minister’s job. Would you be encouraging people to get some money on him?

PRIME MINISTER:

Patrick, I don’t normally encourage gambling! I think people should make productive investments rather than gamble and what I’m trying to do is make it easier for productive investments in our country. That’s one of the reasons why we’ve got the small business and jobs package coming up soon, the heart of which will be a small business tax cut. I want us to be open for business. It’s got to be good business, which is in Australia’s national interest but that’s my focus, getting on with Government.

PATRICK CONDREN:

So don’t back Malcolm for the top job?

PRIME MINISTER:

As I said, I’m just not into encouraging gambling. What I’m into doing is delivering for the Australian people and as well as a small business and jobs package we’ve also got a families package coming up and that will focus on childcare because if we want to be a more productive economy with higher participation rates; if we want parents, particularly women, to have a real choice when it comes to going back into the workforce after they’ve had kids, we need a more effective childcare system and that’s what I’m working on.

PATRICK CONDREN:

CPA Australia and KPMG have put out some new research saying there needs to be a mature discussion about the GST. Are you prepared to have a mature discussion about the GST?

PRIME MINISTER:

I’m very happy for the public to have a mature discussion about a whole range of subjects, not just tax, Federation as well because frankly, far too much of our public discourse is about ‘gotcha’ moments and insider gossip which doesn’t really serve anyone’s long term purposes.

PATRICK CONDREN:

Prime Minister, without ‘gotcha’ moments and insider gossip I haven’t got a job!

PRIME MINISTER:

No, you can participate in a mature discussion of the GST!

PATRICK CONDREN:

But that would be going against type Mr Abbott.

PRIME MINISTER:

Come on, Patrick, we can all lift ourselves occasionally! What I’m interested in is lower, simpler, fairer taxes. What I’m interested is trying to get unproductive government spending down. That’s what I’m interested in because right now we are not borrowing to pay the mortgage; we are putting the groceries on the credit card as a country. So, the first challenge right now is to get our spending down rather than to take the lazy option which is whacking up taxes to accommodate unproductive and often wasteful government spending.

PATRICK CONDREN:

But even if – I mean the modelling that they’ve released shows that if the GST is raised to 15 per cent and is expanded to include fresh food, health and education, that you could raise as much as $43 billion a year. That would help Joe Hockey enormously, surely?

PRIME MINISTER:

It would come out of the pockets of Australian families who are in many cases already doing it tough and I want to reduce the burdens on families, that’s why we abolished the carbon tax, to put $550 a year back in the pockets of Australian families. That’s my focus – getting taxes down, not putting taxes up.

One of the other points I should make, Patrick, is that we simply can’t touch the GST without the agreement of every state and territory including the Labor states and territories and, you know, the only political party which has recently contemplated an increase to the GST was the former Labor government in Canberra which modelled raising the GST to 12.5 per cent but that’s not my plan, that was their plan.

PATRICK CONDREN:

Your Health Minister Sussan Ley and doctors are having a conversation in New South Wales today to discuss the Medicare co-payment. Wouldn’t it be easier to scrap that idea completely and just be done with?

PRIME MINISTER:

The point I’ve made is that we won’t be bringing forward any further proposals without the broad backing of the medical profession. I’m a former health minister, Patrick, I love Medicare. I think that Medicare is at the heart of a decent society and a good health system. We do have to make sure that Medicare is here to stay and I don’t think that means ruling out some kind of a patient contribution, just as we’ve long had a patient contribution for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme but the point I want to stress is that this is all about a better, stronger, healthier Medicare for the long term and we’re not bringing forward any further proposals without the broad backing of the profession.

PATRICK CONDREN:

So what proposals do you think the profession would be comfortable with?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well that’s precisely what Minister Sussan Ley is discussing with the profession right around Australia now. Let’s see what they come up with because I know doctors very well, from my four years as a Health Minister. They have the best interests of patients at heart and let’s see what they can come up with because everyone knows that there is waste in the system. Everyone knows that we can be more efficient and more effective and let’s see what they come up with.

PATRICK CONDREN:

Prime Minister, I know you’ve got to go. After yesterday’s – or last week’s, sorry, leadership motion failure, it was widely reported that you’d asked for six months more in the top job to turn this ship around. Is six months long enough?

PRIME MINISTER:

I’m required to perform every single day. That’s what I’m required to do, Patrick, to perform every single day and that’s what I’m doing, that’s what this Government’s doing. Last week we lowered the screening threshold for foreign purchases of agricultural land. Earlier this week we announced that we changed the deeming rates to put more money in the pockets of part pensioners. We’ve got metadata retention legislation coming to the Parliament very soon to try to ensure that our crime fighters have the tools they need to prevent serious crime. So, I’m just getting on with Government every day. That’s what the people elected a Prime Minister and a Government to do.

PATRICK CONDREN:

Can I ask you, I see parallels from where I sit between yourself and the former premier of Queensland Campbell Newman, in terms of a very combative style of leadership – will you try and soften your edges?

PRIME MINISTER:

I have a lot of admiration for Campbell who did a very good job for the people of Queensland. Yes, it was a pretty bad result…

PATRICK CONDREN:

Doesn’t get much worse.

PRIME MINISTER:

…For Campbell and the LNP, I absolutely accept that but you don’t get to be the leader of a political party and you get to be a Prime Minister without being a quick learner and every day I am determined that this Government, this Commonwealth Government, will be a better Government and that’s why I’m now so focused on the childcare package, because families need a fair go and on a small business and jobs package because I think small business deserves a tax cut. 

PATRICK CONDREN:

Prime Minister, thank you for your time this morning.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thanks, Patrick.

[ends]

Transcript - 24209