PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript - 24533

Doorstop Interview, Canberra

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: 14/06/2015

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 24533

Subject(s): Commemoration Service for the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta

Location: Magna Carta Place, Canberra

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s really good to be here at the Magna Carta monument in Canberra to begin what will be some weeks of commemoration of Magna Carta. It was signed 800 years ago and 12,000 miles away, yet it remains a very important foundation stone of our democracy, it remains a very important watershed for the whole world, because decency, civilisation, human rights utterly depend upon the rule of law; the acknowledgement that no one is above the law, not even the King, which was first given expression all those years ago and all that distance away at Runnymede in 1215. It’s very fitting that this Magna Carta Place should be within a hop, skip and a jump of our own national Parliament.

Obviously, we’re staring the last sitting fortnight before the winter recess tomorrow. It’s an important sitting fortnight. The Government’s absolute priority is getting the budget boost for small business through the Parliament. We expect this to happen in the next day or so. Certainly, we call upon the Labor Party to be as good as its word and ensure that the budget boost for small business does pass swiftly through the Parliament to give small business the confidence that it needs to invest, to employ and to serve our community.

There’s quite a bit of good economic news around right now – there were the encouraging employment numbers this week, last week there was the encouraging economic growth numbers. These things don’t happen by accident; they happen because there is a Government which is open for business and it’s important that the Parliament back the Government’s open for business approach this week in the Senate.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, Indonesia is asking for a confirmation or a denial, so can you clear up has Australia paid people smugglers to turn a boat around?

PRIME MINISTER:

There’s really only one thing to say here and that is that we have stopped the boats. That’s good for Australia, it’s good for Indonesia and it’s particularly good for all of those who want to see a better world, because if the boats start again, the deaths start again. None of us should want to see deaths at sea and the only way to avoid that is to ensure that the boats stay stopped.

QUESTION:

As a matter of principle, though, is it important that voters know whether or not taxpayer funds have been used to pay a criminal syndicate not to commit a crime?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think it’s very important that the Australian public are reassured that there is a Government in charge which will not waiver for a second in our determination to ensure that the boats stay stopped and it’s very important that the Indonesians know that the Australian Government is absolutely resolute in our determination never to see this evil trade start up again.

The problem is that the Opposition still doesn’t know where it stands here. We know that Labor gave the people smugglers their business model, this Government took it away and if Labor gets back, as things stand, the people smugglers will be back in business again.

QUESTION:

Do you have confidence in Michael Lawler to remains in his place in Fair Work?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, I have confidence in all of our institutions.

QUESTION:

The UN reportedly says it has spoken to people on the boat who say they witnessed cash exchanging hands. Is the Government undertaking any investigation to verify these claims?

PRIME MINISTER:

Again, I just keep making the point and I can be asked all sorts of questions in all sorts of ways, but the only question that matters is: is this Government prepared to do what’s necessary to keep the boats stopped? The answer is yes. Unfortunately, we know that the Labor Party will start them up again. It’s interesting the Labor Party is now asking questions about people smugglers and their financing; the Labor Party put the people smugglers into business. When you think that something like 50,000 illegal arrivals came by sea under Labor, when you think that they were typically paying $10,000 a passage, that’s something like half a billion dollars that Labor policies put into the pockets of people smugglers.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, are you saying you don’t think it matters if the Australian public has paid an illegal criminal syndicate from another country?

PRIME MINISTER:

What I’m saying is that the important thing is that we keep the boats stopped. That’s the important thing. We will do whatever is reasonably necessary, consistent with the principles of a decent and humane society to keep the boats stopped. That’s what we’ll do.

QUESTION:

On citizenship, are you willing to allow a judicial process upfront rather than ministerial discretion if that’s what’s required to get the Bill through?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, again, the whole point is to try to keep our community safe. The whole point is to try to ensure that terrorists who are dual citizens don’t come back to Australia. Now, we’ve got well over 100 people who have left this country to fight with the Islamist death cult in the Middle East. Many of those are dual citizens. I think the public would be very happy if those people did not come back to Australia and that’s what the Government is determined to do: to ensure that they don’t come back to Australia.

QUESTION:

Christopher Pyne said this morning it could be a matter for the High Court. Are you expecting this law to be challenged and is it concerning that a Cabinet Minister is predicting a High Court decision even before the legislation’s been seen by the Parliament?

PRIME MINISTER:

We are confident based on the advice that we’ve got that the legislation minimises constitutional risk. You can never stop people bringing court actions, but we are as confident as we can be that the legislation we have in mind will minimise constitutional risk. And, again, I remind you this is all about keeping our people safe. This is all about saying if you’re a terrorist and you go off and fight for a terrorist army that wants to do damage to Australia, that wants to do damage to Australian service personnel, if you’re in that position and you’re a dual citizen, you can’t expect to come back to this country.

Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript - 24533