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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript - 24469

Joint Doorstop Interview, Brisbane

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: 20/05/2015

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 24469

Subject(s): Manufacturing Transition Programme


It’s an absolute honour to have the Prime Minister and the Minister for Industry and Science in my electorate of Bonner today.

We’re here at Ferra Engineering – a great Australian company – that’s been able to transition from the automotive industry to now the aerospace industry – with a little help from the Australian Government, the Coalition Government.

To explain this in further detail, it’s now my absolute pleasure to welcome the Honourable Tony Abbott, Prime Minister of Australia.


Thanks so much, Ross.

It’s great to be here, it really is good to be in the beautiful electorate of Bonner. It’s good to be with Ian Macfarlane, the Industry Minister, to acknowledge the work of Ferra Engineering. As Ross has just said, this is a great Australian business which started off to service the automotive industry and now it services the aerospace industry here in Australia and right around the world.

It is a very sophisticated niche manufacturer. About 85 per cent of its products are exported. They’re at the forefront of the development of new products for our armed forces and our partner armed forces. They’re a company which have been acknowledged internationally – Boeing have given them the supplier of the year award.

So, this is a really good, have a go Australian business, which today is going to receive some $2 million from the Commonwealth Government as part of the Manufacturing Transition Programme, which is designed to help our cutting edge manufacturers to move into the opportunities of the future.

Obviously, everything that this Government does is designed to create a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia. We brought down a Budget last week which was designed to encourage people who are having a go, in particular small businesses, and the instant asset write off is designed to reward businesses that want to have a go. Today, in a different way, as part of the Manufacturing Transition Programme that we committed to at the election and announced last year, this money likewise is going to people who have a go.

This is a great country. We often underestimate our own potential. We sometimes fail to realise just how far our reach extends and that’s what we want – we want our reach to go further, we want to grasp the opportunities that are there for us and that’s what this programme is all about.

I want to thank Ian Macfarlane for his advocacy for Australian industry, for his realistic work, his very well-informed work with Australian industry to play to our strengths, to build on those strengths and to try to ensure that our manufacturing industries aren’t just focused on yesterday and today but which are building on that to achieve the better tomorrow that all Australians want. 


Thanks, PM. Ferra is the poster child of the future of manufacturing in Australia. It is a company that has transitioned to high value, high technology, high paid jobs and is in its field the best in the world.

We have companies all over Australia who are the best in their field globally, not just here in Australia and it’s great credit not only to the team here at Ferra, but to the advanced manufacturing groups that work together.

This company has around 30 suppliers spread right across Australia that help it produce highly sophisticated products that are then on-sold as export product.

Australian manufacturers are making the transition to more sophisticated, high value manufacturing and that is the future for manufacturing in Australia – Ferra is the classic example of that.


What do you make of Bill Shorten’s call to cut super tax concessions to very high income earners?


I think that yet again, Bill Shorten is attacking people's savings. This is a Labor Party which hasn't learned. It's a Labor Party which is still addicted to spending and taxing. There's a $58.6 billion budget black hole which the Labor Party now has to fill. Obviously, they've decided to raid our savings, your savings, to solve their problem.

This is one of the fundamental differences between the Coalition and the Labor Party. We respect people's savings. We don't think that superannuation is government money, we think it’s your money. Bill Shorten wants to tax your super to fill his $58.6 billion budget black hole. He regards your super as his piggy bank to break open whenever he needs money and I just think that's dead wrong.


Chris Bowen says the super tax concession will cost more than the pension though by the end of the forwards?


Well, again, I think that's first of all wrong and I also think that it's typical of the attitude of the Labor Party. There is a world of difference between tax funded benefits and people's own savings. Yes, superannuation is tax-advantaged. Still, you've got to make the money and put it aside in your super account – so it's your money. It's never government money – it's never government money. It's always your money and government should respect that and the Labor Party should wake up to the fact that superannuation savings belong to the people who worked hard to accumulate those savings and they should stop seeing Australians' super as a piggy bank that they can raid whenever they are in trouble.


Prime Minister, it’s now been 100 days since the failed spill – why should the Government keep you as its leader?


Well, look, I'm not really interested in how many days it's been from any particular event. What I'm doing every day is getting on with good government. We have been particularly focused on the things that matter to the Australian people over the last few months and obviously because we made a lot of difficult but necessary decisions last year we have been able – in this Budget – to take some important initiatives, to acknowledge and reward Australians who are having a go.

I said this was going to be a Budget for jobs, for growth, for confidence. That's exactly what it's turned out to be. A Budget for jobs, for growth, for confidence, and small business people right around Australia feel energised right now because for the first time in living memory, this is a Budget that really is focused on them.


Prime Minister, there are reports up to 12 Australians who have gone over to IS want to come back. Is there any merit in perhaps using their messages when they come back or their experiences to debunk what IS are trying to sell other Australians?


I guess I'm pleased that they're disillusioned with the death cult, but let's not for a second underestimate the gravity of what they did in the first place. They have committed a serious crime. It is a serious crime under Australian law to fight with an evil terrorist organisation.

They have been working with an organisation which is killing tens if not hundreds of thousands of people. We've seen hundreds of people executed in Ramadi just over the last few days since the fall of that city to the death cult.

This is a medieval barbarism that has suddenly erupted in our midst. I say to people who might be tempted, I say to people who might be susceptible: do not succumb, do not go overseas. If you go overseas and you survive and you seek to come back, our intention is to arrest you, prosecute you and lock you up because you are a menace to your own country. We do not want radicalised, brutalised people roaming our streets.


Australian cattle are being bludgeoned to death in Vietnam and the system is supposed to prevent or at least detect animal cruelty. Will you change the system or consider a ban?


We're certainly not going to rush into making the sort of mistake which the former government made. We know that on the basis of a television programme, a panicked Labor Government closed down the live cattle export trade. It was a catastrophic decision. It cost thousands of Australians their livelihoods, at least for a period. It badly damaged our relations with Indonesia. A country which is very important to us.

So, it was a crazy decision. Probably the most short-sighted blunder in Australian foreign policy in recent memory. So, we're certainly not going to take the former government as our role model.

We will carefully investigate any allegations, if there's anything in them we will take appropriate action but the last thing we'll do is close down this trade.


Is it time to drop the idea of an iron ore inquiry if it is going to damage business confidence?


Well, we've made no decision to have an inquiry. Obviously there've been various claims and counter-claims made and there is an argument for getting to the bottom of all of this but we've made no decision to have an inquiry. The last thing we would want to see is anything that smacked of a witch-hunt against some of our most important businesses. There's no way that this Government would ever seek to regulate the iron ore market. It's a free market. Always been a free market, should always be a free market and there's no way that we want to interfere with it.


Are you disappointed your friend Bill Glasson won’t be joining your Government’s ranks in the Senate?


Yes, I am, because Bill is an outstanding individual and he would be an adornment to the Parliament. My understanding is that the Queensland LNP have picked a really impressive person and in the end, I abide by the democratic process, our internal democratic processes just as I abide by the external democratic processes.


Just on returned fighters again, is there any way to work within the laws to give discounted sentences perhaps to people who go out there and work with the Government to debunk [inaudible]?


There are standard provisions in the law where sentencing takes into account a whole range of factors. The extent to which you've cooperated with authorities, the plea you've entered, evidence of contrition, etcetera. I mean, these are all things that are routinely taken into account by a criminal justice system. My point, though, is that it is a crime, a serious crime under Australian law, to go overseas to fight with a terror organisation. If you are thinking of doing it, forget it. If you have done it and you want to come back, know this: you will be arrested as far as I'm concerned, as far as the Government's concerned, you will be arrested, you will be prosecuted, you will be jailed because the last thing we want is people who have been radicalised and brutalised by an evil death cult roaming our streets. We do not want anyone who is a menace to our community, who has broken our laws, just roaming our streets.


Prime Minister, how much more are Queenslanders likely to see you over the next little while? Are you buttering the public up for an election?


I'm often in Queensland, and what I'm doing this week is the sort of thing that sensible Prime Ministers and sensible Treasurers and Finance Ministers and senior members of sensible governments do routinely after a Budget.

I will be all around our country this week to let people know about this year's Budget, to let people know that this is a Budget for jobs, for growth, for opportunity.

That it's a Budget which is there for confidence and which is already buoying the small businesses of Australia who are already out looking at the important business investments that they can make so that they can employ more, serve the public better, expand their businesses.

That's what I'm on about: telling people that they have a government which is on their side, that small business has a friend in Canberra. That's what I will be doing over the next few days. That's what Minister Macfarlane will be doing this week. This is what the whole Cabinet will be doing – all of us – including Ross Vasta.

We are all fanning out through the country, through our electorates, making contact with the beneficiaries of this Budget to say: this is a Budget for you and frankly this is the best Budget ever for the small businesses of Australia and I think it's important that small business knows that the Government is on your side.

Thank you.


Transcript - 24469