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Transcript - 24366

Joint Doorstop Interview, Boronia

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: 16/04/2015

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 24366

Subject(s): Visit to Baxter Laboratories

Location: Victoria

PRIME MINISTER:

It is terrific to be here at Baxter Laboratories in the electorate of Aston. It is good to be here with my friend, the local member, my Parliamentary Secretary Alan Tudge.

This is a dynamic, expanding, Australian manufacturing business. It is part of the pharmaceutical sector which is our largest manufacturing export these days. It is something that I really want to see grow and expand in the months and years ahead. That is where our Free Trade Agreements are so important. At the moment Australian pharmaceuticals face tariffs of up to ten per cent in China and Korea; under the Free Trade Agreements that we've negotiated and finalised, these tariffs will disappear so obviously it gives great businesses like this an even better chance to export and grow in our Asian markets, it gives businesses like this an even better chance to invest and employ. It's very good news for Australia and obviously that's what I want. I want good news for manufacturing in this country and that's what the free trade agreements we've negotiated will deliver.

In the end, it is all about jobs and on the subject of jobs, yesterday was a bad day for Australia, a terrible day for Victoria because yesterday the Victorian Government spent at least $640 million of taxpayers money not to build a road. They spent $640 million of taxpayers' money to destroy jobs. That's what the Victorian Government did yesterday. It's wrong-headed, it's short-sighted, it's catastrophic for the future of Melbourne and Victoria because this is Australia's fastest growing city. It's a 21st Century city, not a village, and a world class city needs world-class infrastructure. That's why East West Link was so important, is so important, will be so important and why what happened yesterday is so tragic for our country, for this State and this city.

Now, obviously that's particularly relevant for the people of this part of Melbourne because people in this part of Melbourne, if they've got to travel to the other side of the city because of the streets which are choking on their own traffic; Hoddle Street, Alexandra Parade, Flemington Road – there's 23 sets of traffic lights, there's at least 20 minutes in extra time that those people suffer from and they will continue to suffer because of the decision that the Labor Government made yesterday.

This is the problem that the people of Australia invariably face when they elect inexperienced Labor Governments that are in alliance with the Greens. We saw the Andrews Labor Government prejudice and compromise the long-term future of this city and this State because of a squalid deal that they did pre-election with the Greens. It's just not right and my pledge to the people of Melbourne and Victoria is that the $3 billion that the Commonwealth had pledged to East West Link will remain in a locked box for the first Victorian Government that is prepared to build this absolutely necessary piece of infrastructure.

Alan.   
                                                                                                                                                                             
PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE PRIME MINISTER:

Yeah, thanks so much, Prime Minister. Thank you for coming out to Aston once again.

The Prime Minister's been here many times to visit businesses out here. We very much appreciate your support coming out to the outer east of Melbourne. Thank you to Brent Baxter for hosting us here at Baxter Laboratories. He and his brother Craig started this business about 22 years ago from scratch and now it's a fantastic, growing, advanced manufacturing business right here in the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne and there are so many out here who are doing so well. They do well because the quality of their staff, the quality of the leadership, the innovation which they have but they have the chance now to do even better because of things like the free trade agreements which will enable them to export even more into China and into Korea, into Japan and elsewhere.

They'll do better again with a small business tax cut and of course they would do better if the East West Link was built. This is such an essential road for businesses like this, for businesses across the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne and for residents across the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne because businesses have to transport their goods across and if they can transport their goods more efficiently then their costs will be lower and they'll be able to employ more people.

It was a bad day for Victoria yesterday. It was a bad day for Melbourne – the fastest growing city in Australia. It was a particularly bad day for the Eastern Suburbs and South Eastern suburbs because we rely on the Eastern Freeway and the Monash Freeway so much every single day.

Victorians should not forget this disgraceful decision which Daniel Andrews made yesterday to throw $640 million on the scrap heap to not build a road.

PRIME MINISTER:

OK, do we have any questions?

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, this locked box you speak of, could that be prised open for a project like Metro rail or could it only be used for some type of resurrection of the East West Link?

PRIME MINISTER:

The point I make is that the Metro rail project which the Labor Government is trumpeting today won't even begin for three years so that's three years of nothing, three years when there won't be jobs created in major infrastructure. Now, we all know that there is pressure on employment here in Victoria. We all know that the motor manufacturing sector is winding down so we need new jobs, we need more jobs, and East West Link would have created 7,000 jobs just like that – 7,000 jobs just like that. Instead, $640 million-plus has been wasted on not building a road and destroying several hundreds of jobs that have already been created. So, this is an absolutely crazy decision. It's short-sighted because we will need East West Link very soon and it's wrong-headed because it spends money not on getting something done but on stopping something from being done.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, if this money's going to sit in the locked box, that's going to be for at least three and a half years, and much possibly longer. What other funding will Canberra provide in the meantime for infrastructure for Victoria?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, the last thing I want to do as the Prime Minister of our country is dud the people of Victoria and I won't – I absolutely won't. Daniel Andrews’ dudded the people of Victoria yesterday by not going ahead with this vital piece of infrastructure, but I'm happy to keep talking to the Victorian government about other infrastructure projects of national significance. But the problem with the only one that he's mentioned so far is it won't actually start for three years. That's three years of nothing, three years of absolutely nothing, while we are waiting for this project to get its various planning approvals, its various permissions and logistics all sorted out. East West Link was actually underway, and there is no other major project in Victoria that is actually shovel-ready. So, that's three years of nothing while the Andrews government fiddles around with something.

QUESTION:

Is this punishment for Victorian voters for not returning the Coalition government?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, because we are only too happy to spend the $3 billion on the piece of infrastructure which is ready to go and absolutely necessary. So, we want to spend the money; we want to spend the money here in Victoria but the only project of significance that's ready to go is East West Link, so instead of cracking on with it we've had the Andrews government, the Andrews Labor government, because of the squalid pre-election deal with the Greens, spend $640 million not to get something done but to stop something from being done.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible] something like the West Gate distributor or some of the other projects that the Andrews government has put to you in a list at some of the meetings that have been held previously?

PRIME MINISTER:

This is all entirely speculative because none of these projects are actually ready to go. That's the problem. The only major shovel-ready project in Victoria is the East West Link. Now, I'm happy to talk to Daniel Andrews about other projects of significance that might get going down the track but this is the one that was already underway. Hundreds of jobs had already been created to build the East West Link. All up, there would have been 7,000 jobs created and so this government is spending $640 million, at least, not to get something done but to stop doing something, which is just the mid-summer of madness when it comes to public policy.

QUESTION:

So, do you accept that the East West Link is dead?

PRIME MINISTER:

Absolutely not – absolutely not. I think the Andrews government might be dead but I think the East West Link project is necessary. It's absolutely necessary – absolutely necessary – because Melbourne needs a second crossing. I say to the people who are stuck in traffic jams every morning, every evening, most weekends in Hoddle Street and Flemington Road, in Alexandra Parade: do you think the East West Link is dead? Of course you don't because you know that your vehicles need to get moving and the only way to get your vehicles moving, to save you time, to cut out 23 sets of traffic lights, to save you 20 minutes – and that's just with stage one of the East West Link – is to get this road built.

QUESTION:

Can you rule out any changes to negative gearing?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes.

QUESTION:

There's an ACOSS report saying that there should be tighter restrictions around what's claimable on negatively geared properties. Would you consider that at all?

PRIME MINISTER:

The thing that worries me about so many of the contributions to our national conversation is that in the end they're all about increasing taxes. Now, I don't absolutely rule out closing loopholes and ending anomalies and trying to make sure that existing tax rules are fairly and squarely applied, but the Government I lead wants taxes to be lower, simpler, fairer. We've already begun tax reform by abolishing the carbon tax, abolishing the mining tax .We'll continue tax reform in the upcoming Budget with a small business tax cut, a carefully targeted small business tax cut that will be good for investment, good for jobs, good for economic growth and I would say to the people who are running around looking to increase taxes on people, what we really need to do is to get our spending under control. Australia does not have a problem with taxes being too low; Australia has a problem with spending being too high because of the excesses of the former government.

QUESTION:

With regards to COAG, it was expected to focus on domestic violence; it now looks like possibly being overshadowed by the fight over GST. What will you be doing tomorrow to help protect Australia's women?

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you for asking about that and as far as I'm concerned, the real issues for COAG tomorrow are domestic violence, national security and the ice epidemic which is plaguing so many of our cities and towns right now. I think they're the things that the public are interested in. They want to be safe in their own homes, they want to be safe and secure in their streets and they want to know that young people in particular are not having their lives absolutely destroyed because of exposure to ice and other illicit drugs. So, that's what I want COAG to focus on.

Obviously, the premiers are free to raise whatever subject they want and if they want to raise the GST with me, I'll certainly give them a polite hearing, but one of the things that I'll be stressing is that the GST is a tax that is raised for the states for their spending. Collectively it belongs to them and if they're unhappy with the way it's distributed, it's something that they need to sort out amongst themselves.

QUESTION:

Will the states be given the power to raise income tax?

PRIME MINISTER:

That’s not something for which this Government has any plans. Obviously, there's a federation reform white paper process and I'm not saying that something like that could not be raised by the states if that's what they want, but it's not something that this Government is planning for.

QUESTION:

When it comes to transport infrastructure, the Liberals in the Australian Capital Territory are looking at tearing up the light rail contract for Canberra. Do you support this?

PRIME MINISTER:

There is no contract. There is no contract and the position of this Government is that contracts should be honoured. That in fact was Daniel Andrews' position late in 2013 when he said that should he be elected he would honour contracts, but what we have seen yesterday is the tearing up of a contract which had been signed, sealed and delivered and the message which is going out to people who might be thinking of investing in Victoria is: “No contract is safe.”

QUESTION:

Back to COAG, you mentioned national security. The Somalian community is asking if the Government could look at a taskforce after the recent death of Sharky Jama. Is that something you're considering? How is the Government planning to deal with violent extremism within Australia?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, as you know, we are tackling violent extremism in a whole range of ways and we're certainly happy to work with communities to try to ensure that the better angels of people's natures are at the fore. But I have a very, very simple message to anyone who might be thinking of going overseas to join these terrorist groups: don't. Don't. They are death cults. That's what they are. They're not about religion, they're just about death and it's just as likely to be your death as anyone else's death. If you go overseas for this kind of purpose, you are a danger to others; you are a danger to yourself. Don't do it.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, just one more please on East West, can you guarantee there will be additional Commonwealth funding for infrastructure projects in Victoria in the next three and a half years?

PRIME MINISTER:

I can guarantee that this Commonwealth Government is desperate to fund vital economic infrastructure in Victoria. We are desperate to fund vital economic infrastructure in Victoria. Three billion dollars remains available for any government that wants to get cracking with the East West Link. We're happy to talk to the Andrews Government about other projects of national significance. The problem is there is no major project that is ready to go and it's all very well to talk about this urban rail project, but it can't begin until 2018 at the absolute earliest. That means three years of nothing – three years of no bills, three years of no extra jobs, three years of no extra economic activity because the Andrews Labor Government here in Victoria put Green preferences ahead of Victorian jobs.

[ends]

Transcript - 24366