PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Abbott, Tony

Joint Doorstop Interview, RAAF Base Darwin

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Abbott, Tony

Period of Service: 18/09/2013 to 15/09/2015

More information about Abbott, Tony on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 12/07/2015

Release Type: Doorstop

Transcript ID: 31853

Subject(s): Exercise Talisman Sabre 2015; Northern Australia White Paper; US alliance; China; Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

E&OE……………………….……………………………………………………………
 
NATASHA GRIGGS:

It’s great to have the Prime Minister of Australia here in Darwin today to have a look at the Operation Talisman Sabre which has been wonderful.

We are very, very pleased that we’re hosting a large proportion of Talisman Sabre and of course our Queensland colleagues are also part of this very, very special exercise.

It’s great that the Prime Minister is here so soon after launching the Northern Australian White Paper and, as you all know, he’s a big, big fan of Northern Australia and I’m absolutely delighted that he’s here and I’ll hand over to you, Prime Minister, for a few words.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you so much, Natasha.

It is great to be here in Darwin. It is good to be in Darwin shortly after launching the Northern Australia White Paper, but it’s particularly good to be here to see – in operation – this massive Talisman Sabre Exercise.

This is perhaps the largest military exercise of its type in the world and it’s involving about 30,000 troops, mostly from Australia and the United States, but we’ve also got troops from some other countries as well.

It is a massive amphibious exercise and it’s helping to develop Australia’s native amphibious capability which obviously is going to be very significantly enhanced when the Canberra and the Adelaide are fully operational.

This morning, I started the day by doing some PT here on RAAF Base Darwin with some Australian and American personnel. Then I went out to the HMAS Choules to be briefed on its participation in Talisman Sabre. I then went to visit the personnel of the 2RAR which had come ashore largely from Choules the previous day, and finally I visited with personnel from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.

So, I really do want to say a great big thank you from the Government and the people of Australia to all the personnel involved – both Australian and American.

Australia and the United States have a great partnership for peace and security. It’s a great partnership for peace and security in our region and around the world and obviously exercises like Talisman Sabre, they increase our professionalism, they expand our knowledge, and obviously they make it easier for Australian and United States forces to operate together. 

QUESTION:

Does it contribute to the economy at all in the Northern Territory, this Talisman Sabre?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, obviously, to have something like 10,000-plus US personnel in and around the Northern Territory does indeed add to the economy and, obviously, the Marine rotations through Darwin add to the economy. They’re not fundamentally economic exercises, they’re defence and security exercises – but nevertheless there is an economic spin-off.

QUESTION:

What are you doing given the increased sensitivities – around the Spratly Islands, the South China Sea – between China and America? What are you doing to make sure that an exercise like this doesn’t ruffle the feathers of our most important economic trading partner?

PRIME MINISTER:

Talisman Sabre has now been going for many years. Yes, this is probably the biggest Talisman Sabre Exercise yet, but certainly the exercise itself has been going for many years and obviously it’s some years now since under the Gillard government we’ve begun these Marine rotations through Darwin, and they’re steadily building up and obviously as time goes by we’ll move up from the 1,100 or so Marines that are currently part of the rotation to about 2,500.

QUESTION:

Do you see a time in the future where US forces will be permanently based in Northern Australia?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, obviously, we have joint facilities already with the United States. We’ve had joint facilities with the United States for a very, very long time indeed. Not far from Alice Springs the Pine Gap joint facility is obviously a very, very substantial facility and it involves thousands of Americans.

So, look, joint facilities have been a part of Australia’s defence and security posture for a long time and let’s see what the future holds. I’m not saying there will be more, but certainly we have had them for a very long time and they shouldn’t shock or surprise anyone.

QUESTION:

But should China be concerned at all by these exercises that are going on and the increasing footprint?

PRIME MINISTER:

I want to stress that the US/Australian alliance is an alliance of very, very long standing. It’s been effectively operating since 1941. It’s been formalised since the ANZUS Treaty of 1951, from memory. So, the Australia/US alliance is an alliance of very, very long standing. The Chinese obviously appreciate that we are an ally of the United States, but our alliance with the United States has never stopped a very strong friendship with China. Both the United States and Australia are friends of China’s. We all are encouraged by the rise of China which has been so beneficial to our economy and so beneficial to economies right around the world.

QUESTION:

You mentioned developing Northern Australia. When can you say the Northern Territory will find out how much cash we’re going to get for dams and roads and when we’re actually going to get that cash so that industries can prepare to move to those areas?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, that’s a very fair question. There’s $700 million for roads in Northern Australia, including $100 million for beef roads. There’s $200 million for water storages in Northern Australia and then of course there’s money so that we can pilot better land use where indigenous land can be more of an economic asset, as well as a spiritual and cultural asset and where pastoral land can be more fully utilised than is always the case at the moment. So, we are proceeding steadily down these paths and now that we’ve made the money available, we’re waiting to see what proposals come forward from state and territory governments and indeed from the private sector.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, can I ask you about wind generation – the story around today. Does the opposition to wind generation damage confidence and investment in renewables more generally?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think the changes to the Renewable Energy Target should give certainty to the renewables sector. I think that since the legislation went through the Parliament, there is new certainty and confidence in that sector. This is a Government which supports renewables, but obviously we want to support renewables at the same time as reducing the upward pressure on power prices. We want to keep power prices as low as possible, consistent with a strong renewables sector.

QUESTION:

Why does the Government want to stop CEFC from investing in wind farm projects when they pour hundreds of millions of dollars into the economy and create jobs?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, you know it is our policy to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation because we think that if the projects stack up economically, there’s no reason why they can’t be supported in the usual way. But while the CEFC exists, what we believe it should be doing is investing in new and emerging technologies – certainly not existing wind farms.

QUESTION:

But is it fair to cut all of that CEFC funding for wind farms before the Senate inquiry has reported and when all the studies so far have found no scientific link between any sort of human illness as a result of them?

PRIME MINISTER:

I want to stress that this is a Government which supports the renewable sector and that’s why we have given the sector certainty with the legislation that passed through the Parliament, but we also want to ensure that power prices are as low as possible. Now, we weren’t able to abolish the CEFC as we wished, but while it’s there, it really should do what the private sector won’t normally do and invest in new and emerging technologies.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, Labor says that you’re preparing the ground for a khaki election. What do you say? 

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I’m obviously wanting at all times to build a strong and prosperous economy, so that we can have a safe and secure Australia and that’s what we’re doing: we are building a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia. Everything we do is about strengthening our economy through lower taxes, through less regulation, through higher productivity, through better infrastructure, through trying to ensure that we’ve got a workforce which is as well-trained and well-educated as possible. So, what I think the next election is going to be about fundamentally is who is the best economic manager, but obviously it is important that we be a safe and secure country as well and that’s why this Government certainly hasn’t taken its eye off the ball when it comes to national security.

QUESTION:

[inaudible]?

PRIME MINISTER:

The point is that this Government supports renewable technologies. We support renewable energy. We really do want to see appropriate use of renewables in our overall energy mix, and at the same time as supporting renewables, we want to ensure that power prices are as low as possible and that’s why I believe that the legislation that went through the Parliament just a few weeks ago is good legislation for our country.

[ends]

Transcript - 31853

Address to James Cook University Campus Opening, Singapore

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: 28/06/2015

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 31852

E&OE……………………….……………………………………………………………

Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Ministers, Premier, ladies and gentlemen, it is a real thrill to be here to help open this sparkling new campus of James Cook University here in Singapore.

I want to start by saying thank you to the team here at the University for introducing me and my colleagues to some of your students just in the brief time before we come together for this ceremony.

There is something marvellous about the enthusiasm to learn of university students. There is something marvellous about the vocation of teaching. There is something tremendous about the intellectual curiosity and the restless striving to do better which is at the heart of all good higher education. Obviously, it is very, very much present here in James Cook Universality, Singapore.

I am also very conscious of the fact that this is the only university, other than Singaporean foundations, which has a stand-alone physical presence here in this great city, this country of Singapore. I guess that means that if you are looking for the characteristics and qualities of an Australian university education, of, if I may say so, a western university education this can be done – this can be had without leaving home – for the students of Singapore.

I think this is quite a special day for higher education here in Singapore and obviously it is another chapter in the story of Australia and Singapore’s long and strong friendship.

One of the great leaders of modern times was, of course, your founder Lee Kuan Yew who didn’t just lead Singapore – he made Singapore.

Lee Kuan Yew believed that people should be the “best they can be” and that the best way to bring that about was through the power of a good education.

Speaking at the Colombo Plan conference in 1974, Lee Kuan Yew said that “the best means to a decent life for our people is through the acquisition of more knowledge and higher skills”.

And hasn’t modern Singapore so marvelously embodied that aspiration of your late founder.

Of course, since the 1950s, more than 130,000 Singaporeans have graduated from Australia universities – many through the Colombo Plan.

I am pleased to say that today, through the New Colombo Plan, just begun by my Government, the tide of students flows both ways.

We are returning the compliment that Singapore has paid to us by learning as much in your country as you have over the decades learnt in ours.

Thanks to what we do today more and more Singaporeans will have the opportunity to study in an Australian university here in Singapore.

As Australia focuses more and more on our north, as Australia focuses more and more on strengthening our links with Asia; universities focused on the tropics, like James Cook University, will be very well placed to reap the benefits.

James Cook University is obviously a flagship for Australian tertiary education here in Singapore.

Students from 50 countries are studying with James Cook University here in Singapore.

This University is respected as a teaching institution, it’s respected as a research institution and it’s respected as an institution which engages deeply with the communities that it serves.

It was good to hear the Chancellor say that this is the first private education institution to attain an EduTrust Star here in Singapore.

I do wish to thank the Singaporean Government for the support that you have given to James Cook University.

I am conscious of the fact that this campus was once a Buddhist secondary school.

While we are re-purposing the buildings, we are still striving to achieve that wonderful Buddhist goal of attaining wisdom through education.

University is about growing as a person, it’s about opening your mind, it’s about enriching your heart and may that long be exactly what happens here at James Cook University in Singapore.

Transcript - 31852

Remarks at Teal Ribbon Day Breakfast, Parliament House, 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: 25/02/2015

Release Type: Remarks

Transcript ID: 31851

E&OE……………………….……………………………………………………………

So many people have been touched by this particular cancer and it is important that we do what we can to make a difference for all of them.

I always like to start speeches with the good news and the good news is that Australians are living on average 25 years longer now than our grandparents and great grandparents did a century ago. Our life expectancy today is 25 years greater than it was 100 years ago.

So, this is very good news, it is very, very good news and it is due to the extraordinary work of medical researchers. It is due to the great work of medical and other health professionals. It is due to good work by government over the years with public hygiene and all the other things that sensible government does.

So, we can be very confident that with more research, more sensible policy, more creativity and ingenuity we will achieve comparable results in the decades ahead.

That is the good news. The bad news though is that every day 330 Australians are being diagnosed with cancer. The bad news is that by the age of 75 one in three men and one in four women will receive a cancer diagnosis. The bad news is that some 70 per cent of cancer sufferers will live but 30 per cent will die within five years and the very bad news is that ovarian cancer remains one of the hardest to treat and to deal with. This is the very bad news. Only 40 per cent of ovarian cancer diagnoses, only 40 per cent of people diagnosed are still alive five years later.
So, it is a very serious problem and it is one of the worst cancers we face. Many of us knew and loved Jeannie Ferris. Senator Jeannie Ferris who was the Government Whip in the Senate in the Howard Government, a well-loved colleague and friend to so many of us, she passed away with ovarian cancer and, of course, did everything she could to raise awareness of this terrible disease in the couple of years that she had it.

As the father of three daughters as the brother of three sisters, I want to do everything I humanly can to try to combat this terrible disease. As Health Minister I like to think that I was the minister for medical research and I hope that amongst other things I will be a Prime Minister for medical research.

This is a Government which is absolutely committed to medical research and there are all sorts of policy initiatives that we are taking and are in the process of taking that will certainly contribute massively to our medical research effort in the months and years ahead.

It is great to have the Minister Sussan Ley here. It is great to have Senator Michaelia Cash here, who is the Minister assisting me in this important area.

We have invested some $100 million in ovarian cancer research over the last 15 years. That is good but if the policies of this Government are fully implemented, there will be much more funding and much more research in the years and the decades ahead.

Can I finish on this note – you’re all here because you care. You are all here because you don’t want business as usual when it comes to ovarian cancer and over the centuries, over the decades, our world has been transformed by people who care enough to make a difference and the fact that there are so many of you here today; people of influence, people of ability, people who have demonstrated in your lives how much difference you can make, fills me with optimism. That while things are not great today, they will be so much better in the years and the decades to come.

Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript - 31851

Remarks at Anzac Centenary Local Grants Programme announcement, Deception Bay, Queensland

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: Remarks

Transcript ID: 31850

E&OE……………………….……………………………………………………………

Thanks very much indeed, Minister Ronaldson.

Thanks very much Luke Howarth for helping to push for this important grant and thanks all of you for your concerns to commemorate the service and sacrifice of those who have gone before us.

I acknowledge the traditional owners – the Gubbi Gubbi people – their elders past and present.

I want to say that no one knows when he or she will make a first visit to Deception Bay, but a second visit is surely not fair off.

I do want to pay tribute to the Deception Bay community, because your local Member Luke Howarth says that you are exceptional people and exceptional people should be acknowledged by Government and that’s why I’m pleased that the Commonwealth is putting some $30,000 into this Centenary of ANZAC project.

It’s fitting that Deception Bay should be the site for this ANZAC commemorative project, because this has been a significant place in our military history.

It was an army camp for some 3,000 soldiers during World War Two, and that continued a military tradition that had begun some decades earlier.

Within weeks of the declaration of war on 4 August 1914, more 1,500 men from around Queensland and North New South Wales had enlisted.

They became the 9th Battalion and the 2nd Light Horse, they formed up at Enoggera and men of the 9th were amongst the first to shore on ANZAC Cove on the morning of 25 April 1915.

Those who lived through the first days of bullets and shrapnel, through the searing days to follow, stayed till the bitter end of the Gallipoli campaign.

At the start of the First World War, Deception Bay was just a tiny seaside settlement, and the region behind us was devoted to dairying and farming, but war touched these settlements.

Men enlisted as we’ve heard from Narangba, from Burpengary, from Redcliffe, and from Caboolture.

One in five of those who enlisted from our country in that time would perish in Gallipoli, Belgium, France and parts of the Middle East.

Those who came home were often wounded in mind and in spirit.

So this Centenary of ANZAC remembers the 400,000 Australians who volunteered, it remembers the 330,000 who went overseas, it remembers the 155,000 who were physically wounded, it remembers the 60,000 who didn’t come home.

The Great War was the crucible that forged our nation and that’s why the Centenary of ANZAC will be such a significant period of commemoration for all Australians.

As the historian Les Carlyon has said, if we remember them, if we remember what they did, they are still alive in our hearts. 

We should acknowledge – in the words of the official historian, Charles Bean – the good, the bad, the greatness, and the smallness of their story.

We should remember the terrible victory on the Western Front, as well as the magnificent defeat at Gallipoli.

In no way should the Centenary of ANZAC glorify war, but it should commemorate what is best in the human spirit, what is noblest in our human character and acknowledge that the worst of times can bring out the best in us.

So, I do congratulate the President of the Deception Bay RSL sub-branch, Peter Jones.

I congratulate everyone who has put so much effort into the application for this grant and everyone who is going to ensure that this place, where we now stand, fittingly acknowledges our glorious forebears.

Because of your work and your patriotism, we will remember those who gave so much and whose memory must live on.

[ends]

Transcript - 31850

Statement from the Prime Minister's Press Office

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Abbott, Tony

Period of Service: 18/09/2013 to 15/09/2015

More information about Abbott, Tony on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 17/12/2014

Release Type: Statement

Transcript ID: 31849

From a spokesperson for the Prime Minister:

During national security briefings, Commonwealth security officials informed the Prime Minister that the National Police Reference System (the database administered by CrimTrac that holds all state and territory police records) indicated that the perpetrator of the Martin Place siege had been a recorded firearms licence holder within the jurisdiction of NSW. 

The AFP Commissioner is investigating the origins of the entry on the National Police Reference System.

All matters relating to the perpetrator’s access to firearms will be investigated as part of the Review announced today.

 

 

Transcript - 31849

Joint Press Conference with the Hon Peter Dutton MP, Minister for Health, Parliament House

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: 09/12/2014

Release Type: Press Conference

Transcript ID: 31848

Subject(s): A strong and sustainable Medicare; Future submarine programme.

E&OE……………………….……………………………………………………………

PRIME MINISTER:

Ever since the election this Government has been dealing with the budget mess that the Labor Party left us – increasingly effectively with the budget mess that the Labor Party left us. We went into the last election with the Labor Party saying that the deficit would be just $18 billion. It turned out to be almost $50 billion. That was a mess that Labor created and then tried to cover up and that’s what this Government’s fundamental task has been all year – to get Labor’s debt and deficit under control.

Part of getting the debt and deficit under control has been making Medicare sustainable. Ten years ago Medicare was costing us $8 billion, it's now costing us $20 billion. In a decade it will be costing us some $34 billion and the Medicare levy at the moment is raising only about 50 per cent of the Medicare spending. So, we've got to make it sustainable.

Our Budget changes were designed to make Medicare sustainable, they were designed to save money in the long term and also to invest in our strengths. Obviously we do have fabulous doctors, fabulous nurses, terrific health institutions and a really, really world-class medical research community. So, that's what our Budget changes were designed to do.

But for some time I've had backbenchers coming to me, I've had members of the community coming to me, saying we support the idea of more price signals in the system, that's an economic reform, but can't it be better for children and for pensioners.

That's exactly what Peter Dutton and I are announcing today – a system which is better for children and for pensioners, a new and improved proposal which indicates that this is a Government which is always capable of listening, learning and improving.

So, what I announce today is a new package of measures. There will be no change to bulkbilling for children under 16, for pensioners, for veterans, for people in nursing homes and other aged care institutions. Only for adults who aren't on concession cards will there be the option – and I stress the option – of doctors charging at their discretion a $5 co-payment.

Now, we do have to pay for changes and so there are a couple of additional measures which I announce today which mean that the overall package will save about the same amount of money as the package that was announced at budget time.

One of the measures is a quality control measure, another measure is a measure which the Labor Party previously had in place.

We will ensure that to obtain the standard rebate the consultation has to be for 10 minutes or more because we all know about the phenomenon of six-minute medicine, sausage machine medicine, some clinics where patients are churned through. This is something that we are determined to tackle as a quality control measure, so the standard rebate will only apply if the consultation goes for a reasonable time.

We will also be freezing rebates over the forward estimates period. This was a measure that Labor has had in place for some time and we'll be continuing it.

So, what we've done with this package is we have very, very significantly improved it, while at the same time maintaining our support for more price signals in the system and maintaining our support for a really strong, world-class medical research future fund.

I do want to stress these fundamental things – bulkbilling stays for young people and for pensioners, and the co-payment is at the option of the doctor – at the option of the doctor. I want to thank Peter Dutton; I want to thank my parliamentary colleagues, all of my parliamentary colleagues. I certainly want to thank my backbench colleagues who have been out there listening to the community and have been reporting back to me but I particularly want to thank Peter Dutton for coming up with what I think is a new and improved way of dealing with this very significant issue.

MINISTER FOR HEALTH:

Prime Minister, thank you very much.

The Government said from day one that we wanted to have a strong and sustainable Medicare and we delivered that through the changes that we announce today. As the Prime Minister has said, about eight million Australians, those who are on concession cards, those that are pensioners, those that are living in aged care residential facilities, those children under age 16 across the board, they will all be able to maintain bulk billing as we know it today.

There will be the bulkbilling incentive that stays in place and there will be the ability for the doctor to bulkbill those patients on an ongoing basis. So, we provide significant support for eight million Australians, including all of those listed as well as DVA patients going through or veterans going through the DVA process. We also exclude pathology and diagnostics from our announcement today and the status quo remains for pathology and diagnostics.

We've listened to the concerns of not just the backbench, as the Prime Minister says, but also Australians with whom we've corresponded and met with since the May Budget and this also addresses many of the concerns that the crossbench senators have raised with us over recent months. I believe very strongly that this has a strong level of balance and of equity and it has a great ability for us, given the ageing of our population, the huge cost with personalised medicines and all of that which we will need to pay for over the course of the coming decades, it gives us a head room and the ability for us to be able to spend more as our population ages but in a sustainable way. I think we've struck a reasonable balance here and on that basis I think it's very worthy of support.

QUESTION:

What precisely is the savings figure and does this not require legislation?

PRIME MINISTER:

The Budget announcements, as I understand it, saved some $3.6 billion over the forward estimates. This package will save, as I am advised, some $3.5 billion over the forward estimates but obviously those figures will be released in MYEFO. The changes to the rebates will require regulation. The change to the Medicare claiming will require legislation. So, we will be before the Parliament but obviously legislation will be less central to this than it was to the proposal that we took to the Budget.

QUESTION:

[inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER:

The legislation are disallowable – no doubt about that. I would certainly expect given that we have addressed what were the principal concerns expressed to us by the crossbenchers, I think it would be most surprising if the Parliament were to take the rather extreme step of disallowing a Medicare regulation.

QUESTION:

I appreciate that you had to compromise on this, you couldn't get your original proposal through, but given concessional pensions and so forth will be exempt, do you not think you will be confronted with the same problem in a few years' time that the people go to the doctor the most have no price signal?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well that's a fair point, Phil. It's a very fair point. In the end whether the patient faces a price signal is the choice of the doctor. Now, doctors to their great credit have largely chosen to bulkbill vulnerable people and we want that to continue, we really do want that to continue, and that's why there's no change to the bulkbilling arrangements for children, for pensioners, for veterans, for people in nursing homes and no change to the bulkbilling arrangements for diagnostics. So, we want that to continue. In the end, though, this is a question for the doctors and what we're saying to the doctors is for adults who aren't on concession cards we don't think it's unreasonable for you to charge a co-payment and what we want to do by legislation is enable them to directly claim the rebate, provided the co-payment they charge for that particular class of patients is $5 or less.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, there seems to have been some mixed signals sent in recent weeks over this policy and does that reflect basically an indecision in the Government over what to do on this issue?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, it's been pretty obvious for some time that we were going to have to improve the position that we took to the Budget. I thought the position that we took to the Budget was a very good position, but I think this is a better one and obviously there are a range of conversations that we have with a range of different people in terms of coming up with this improved position. As I said to you a week or so back in this very spot, it was a bit ragged but we've got to a better position and that, in the end, is what people want. They want us to have the best possible policy in the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

QUESTION:

Sorry, Mr Dutton, you say that the co-payment is going to be optional but you're still cutting the Medicare rebate by $5, won't that effectively force a lot of doctors to charge the co-payment in those circumstances?

MINISTER FOR HEALTH:

Just by way of clarification, so for concessional patients there is no reduction in the rebate, but for general patients there is a $5 reduction for essentially time-based services. So, levels A through D, and then it will be at the doctor's discretion as to whether or not they charge that $5, that will be a decision for the doctor, essentially as it is now, and what we're saying is that there is a change that we can make so that the benefit can be assigned to the doctor as opposed to the patient paying up-front the full level B, for argument's sake, and then claiming part of that back through Medicare. So, that's the change that we make and in the end it will be a decision for doctors.

The only other point that I'd make is about seven out of 10 non-concessional patients at the moment, so seven out of 10 people without a pension or a concession card, are bulkbilled and this is the element around the six-minute medicine. We think the change in the way in which the A and B can be charged, so having a minimum of 10 minutes before they can charge for a level B consultation, that that will concentrate a lot of the doctor's effort on those who are most in need of help, those with chronic diseases. It will skew the finances, if you like, when the doctors are considering this, towards spending more quality time with patients as opposed to just churning people through, so there are a number of benefits out of what we propose.

QUESTION:

You don’t agree that financial considerations will force the doctors a lot of the time to charge the co-payment regardless of if they want to or not?

MINISTER FOR HEALTH:

I think the doctors will make a decision as they do now and as the Prime Minister pointed out, doctors make decisions about patients and whether or not they charge and we've maintained the very important principle of universality in the measures that we announce today. But we've listened to the concerns that people had, particularly about concessional patients, people within aged care facilities for example. There was a lot of feedback in relation to that and we've listened to all of that advice and we've acted accordingly.

PRIME MINISTER:

And I stress – and I really would want to stress that nothing changes; nothing changes in terms of the bulkbilling arrangements for children, for pensioners, for veterans, for people in nursing homes and for diagnostic services.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, I wanted to ask you a question about the profile of the savings and perhaps Mr Dutton you can explain. You say the savings are around about the same but I imagine that the control measures and plus the freezing of the rebates means that the savings are waylaid. I imagine this has an impact on pathway to surplus. But can you give us a rough idea of the savings profile between those two measures that you've mentioned?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, they're about a billion dollars for each of the three major measures and all of that will be crystallised in MYEFO but each one of the measures, the change to the rebates, the reduction by $5 for certain categories of patients and the freeze raise in the order of $1 billion over the period.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, I remember when you were health minister you had to put extra incentives in to make doctors bulkbill. So, taking money away from doctors, won't that cause a drop off in bulkbilling rates?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, plainly what we're saying to doctors is that with adults who don't have concession cards, we don't mind you charging a co-payment of up to $5. That's what we're saying, obviously we're saying that. Frankly, we think that's an entirely reasonable position, an absolutely reasonable position and that was the point that many of the crossbenchers made to us in discussions, that they were happy to see a co-payment on some people but they didn't want to see a co-payment on all people.

The other point I make, Sid, is that there is a world of difference between what's right and good with a $20 billion surplus and what's right and good with a $50 billion deficit and again, I stress we went into the last election with Labor claiming that we were on track for surplus and that the deficit in that financial year was only going to be $18 billion. Well, it turned out to be almost $50 billion, there was a $30 billion budget black hole in just one year and we were never going to get back into surplus under the policies of the former government. That's why what was right and good in the Howard years is not necessarily right and good now.

QUESTION:

A couple of things. When was the decision actually taken finally to do this? Second, you've talked about consultations with the backbench and the crossbench but have you talked to the doctors about this given that they're pretty central to the whole process? And third, both in your opening remarks and your statement you've linked the level of the Medicare levy and the shortfall in funding, is there a prospect implicit in your comments that the Medicare levy is something you will have to look at again?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, look, both sides of Parliament agreed to see a modest adjustment to the Medicare levy prior to the election to help fund the NDIS but we have no plans whatsoever for any change there. Peter Dutton is in constant contact with the medical profession. I am in more intermittent contact but I'm still in some contact with the medical profession, as you'd expect, from a former health minister. Without putting words into the mouths of doctors, I think they will acknowledge that this is a significantly better package than the one that was brought forward at budget time. This is something that the ERC has been chewing over for some weeks and the decision crystallised late last week and it was supported by the Cabinet this morning.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, you say the savings, the measures you've announced today are roughly the same savings as the co-payment, but are far less politically contentious. If so, why didn't you opt for these in the first place and did you stay with the $7 co-payment for too long? It’s since May now.

PRIME MINISTER:

All of you will make your own judgments and the general public will make their own judgment about  process, but I am absolutely convinced that the package that we have brought forward today is a better package than the one we brought forward at budget time. That was a good package. It was a very important way of dealing with the problem, but I think this is a better package – an even better way of dealing with the problem – and that's why I'm confident that we’ll be able to move forward with this.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, the Medical Research Future Fund, is that now dead? And secondly, can I ask, doctors at the moment can charge whatever they want above what they receive in the Medicare rebate, so they could already charge more. Aren't you just cutting that rebate, effectively?

PRIME MINISTER:

The Medical Research Future Fund is a very important way for Australia to build on its strengths. So, all of the savings that the Government makes in this area, at least for the next few years, will go into the Medical Research Future Fund until it gets to a balance of $20 billion and that will roughly double our annual spend on health and medical research. This is going to be good for Australia and it's going to be good for the wider world because our medical researchers are absolutely world class and one of the reasons why an Australian born today can expect to live a quarter of a century longer than an Australian born 100 years ago, is because of the extraordinary work of our medical researchers.

So, an investment in medical research is an investment in a better life for every Australian. So, the saves continue to go into the Medical Research Future Fund and I don't believe the Medical Research Future Fund should be contentious. It's only once that fund is fully paid up that the saves will return to the Budget. That's why we are not only addressing the long-term budget weakness, but we are fundamentally playing to our strengths as a nation. Now there was another question to that?

QUESTION:

Doctors can already charge above the Medicare rebate if they choose, so isn't this really just a cut in that rebate?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, it's a very selective change, it's not an across the board change, and we're not saying that you must charge anyone a co-payment, we're just saying that if you're a GP who is delivering a time-based service to someone who is 16 or over and who doesn't have a concession card, the rebate will go down by $5 and you have the option, should you choose to take it, of charging a $5 co-payment and still claiming directly the rebate from the Government. So, sure, this is a change, but it's a very carefully targeted change which in the end is all about giving the families of Australia the best possible deal.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, some parts of this including the changes to the consultation times, I think it says come into effect in January and the rest in June, but you're announcing it after Parliament has risen for the year when you don't know and you won't know what verdict the Senate will pass on the regulations and the legislation to implement it. So, doesn't that run the risk of introducing significant uncertainty for doctors and for patients?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I'm very confident that these regulatory changes will stand because I believe that the change to the times of consultations is a quality control measure. It really is a quality control measure and I think that the vast majority of the medical representatives will accept that this is an important quality control measure.

In terms of the freeze to the rebates, well, this has been Labor policy for quite some time and while I know that Labor has walked away in Opposition from many things that it supported in government, given the fiscal situation, I would be amazed if they would want to further sabotage the task of fiscal repair.

QUESTION:

[inaudible] of the opposition parties about whether they will support this that you're announcing after Parliament has risen?

PRIME MINISTER:

It's very important that Labor declare itself on this, obviously. I invite Labor to declare itself on this and I trust that just for once the Labor Party will opt for economic security rather than against economic security. One of the points that I've made in the Parliament and elsewhere recently is that we've managed to secure a degree of bipartisanship on national security. This is long-term economic security and I'd certainly invite the Labor Party to look at this on its merits.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, what would you say to the critics who would say that you are squibbing the big decisions on getting the Budget back into surplus now that you're not prepared to take policies from the Budget to the Parliament, succeed with that and get the Budget back?

PRIME MINISTER:

This package of measures today, Paul, will save almost the same as the package that we announced on Budget night. So, this is every bit as much about budget repair as the measure announced on Budget night and we are absolutely committed to budget repair. But this, I think, is a better package of proposals and I also think that it's more achievable in terms of securing the actual implementation of the proposals. So, again, I want to thank my colleagues for insisting that we come up with something which enshrined the principle of price signals, which enshrined the principle of budget repair, but was better for children and for pensioners.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, on the Medical Research Fund, some of your colleagues, at least privately, have pointed at that part being the reason this was difficult to sell. Therefore, why have you kept it and can we expect any other back downs on policies?

PRIME MINISTER:

Have you honestly found anyone who doesn't support the principle of medical research? I mean I ask you – I ask you a question, if I may – is there anyone in this country who doesn't support the principle of a greater spend on medical research? The research investment we make today turns into the better health outcomes that we get tomorrow. It is absolutely vital if we are going to build on our long-term strengths, if we're going to play to our strengths as well as live within our means, that we are prepared to take bold and innovative measures like this. One of the things that I was proudest of, as Health Minister, was the very large increases in health and medical research funding back in those days. These days are different, but the objective of getting a greater medical research effort is as important as ever and this is our way, in our time, of ensuring that we can continue that increase.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, are you surprised or disappointed about how much your Budget is struggling to get support? And just on another issue, I believe Cabinet also discussed cracking down on internet piracy. What was decided on that today?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, Matt, I will allow any subsequent announcements to be made in due season, as Kevin Rudd used to say. All in good time, you will get further announcements. But, on the overall task of budget repair, this is absolutely critical to the future of our country, because without getting the Budget under control we can't build a stronger economy with more jobs and greater prosperity for all. The point I keep making is that this Government inherited a mess, we've made a great start, there's much more to do, we've got to get the Budget under control because that is essential to building a stronger economy with more jobs and more prosperity for everyone. So, if at first we find one set of proposals blocked or obstructed, we will come up with a different set of proposals which essentially do the same thing, but in this case, do it in a better way and that's what our political process is all about: it's about trying to ensure that we come up with the best possible solutions to the problems that we are wrestling with.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, if this is a better solution, then isn't that a concession that without the pushback of your own backbench and without the obstruction of the Senate, we would have had a less good policy in place? Are you conceding that the Senate has therefore done you and everyone a favour and why didn't we have the best possible policy in the first place?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, Karen, we had good policy in the first place, now we have better policy. We had good policy in the first place, we've got better policy now and what we've seen here is, I think, an intelligent and sophisticated response from the Minister, from the ERC, from the Cabinet, from the Government more generally, to the quite reasonable observations of the backbench and the community and that's the glory of our system. The glory of our system is you get proposals, you get reactions, you get improvements and you get solutions and this is the system at work. It's a system that I'm very proud to be part of. It's a system that I am very proud to have served for the best part of a quarter of a century.

QUESTION:

When you talked about barnacles the other week, what policies did you actually have in mind and are there any barnacles left to clear after this and your changes to paid parental leave?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, Steven, as you know, since I made that observation there have been three significant changes: we've moderated our position on Defence personnel allowances and pay, we have announced a significant change of direction in terms of our paid parental leave policy so that it will now be a much more holistic families package than something that is focused very much on paid parental leave and today we've come up with a significantly improved position on Medicare.

Now, we are always looking to do the right thing in better ways. We are always looking to do the right thing in better ways and watch this space. This is a Government which is determined to be better and better in the weeks and months ahead.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, you say that policy has improved since the Budget and since you've been listening to people. Would this policy have been even better still if you took it to the election and you had voter feedback and put it to the ultimate test – that is, would you have been elected if this policy was in place?

PRIME MINISTER:

I want to make two points. First point is that the commitment we made going into the election is that there be no cuts to health and when you look at the overall spend within the forward estimates there aren't, because all the savings are being reinvested in health through the Medical Research Future Fund. The second point I make is that we are in quite different circumstances 15 months on than we were back in the election campaign. Labor went into the election campaign claiming the deficit would be just $18 billion and that we were on a credible path to a sustainable surplus. What we subsequently discovered was that the deficit would be $48 billion – a $30 billion budget black hole – and that under Labor's policies we would never ever – never ever – get back to surplus and the debt would just keep growing year after year after year after year in a form of intergenerational theft; a crime against our children and our grandchildren. So, that was the situation that we found ourselves in and what we have done is intelligently responded to that in ways which keep faith as best we humanly can with the commitments that we made pre-election.

QUESTION:

Is the Government planning any kind of public information or advertising campaign about these changes, like the ad campaign on higher education?

PRIME MINISTER:

I certainly don't rule it out, but there is not one that has currently been formulated.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, you frequently remind us that you were a journalist in a former career, and we're very grateful for that, but could you use both your journalistic and political skills to explain to us what a sovereign submarine industry is when you don't actually build the submarines in Australia?

PRIME MINISTER:

The point I've made constantly about submarines is that we want the best submarines – the best possible submarines – at a competitive price and that's what the Government is doing. What we also are absolutely committed to is ensuring that our future submarine fleet is as operationally effective as possible and that obviously means sustainment here in Australia and we will certainly honour the pre-election commitment that we gave that the Australian work on the future submarine fleet would focus on the Adelaide shipyards and what that means is that there will be more work, more jobs in submarines in the future than there are now.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister you’ve talked about $48 billion in deficits. Why should taxpayers be happy about funding advertising campaigns for policies that haven't yet become law?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, these are information campaigns – I want to stress that. They're information campaigns which are entirely in keeping with the guidelines around government information campaigns. The guidelines always involve independent people assessing the material and I point out that we have spent less in nine months of the just gone financial year than Labor spent in the first three months, including in the caretaker period. So, this is a Government which is fair and which is frugal – a Government which is fair and frugal with taxpayers' money.

Thank you.

Transcript - 31848

Australia and China strengthen Antarctic ties

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: 18/11/2014

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 31847

Australia and China have reaffirmed a long tradition of collaboration in Antarctic diplomacy, science, logistics and operations during a visit from Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Prime Minister Abbott and President Xi witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in Hobart today, which recognises the close Antarctic relationship between the two nations.

Australia helped facilitate China’s first visit to east Antarctica thirty years ago and has provided support to the Chinese Antarctic program over the years through our intercontinental air capability, logistics and medical services.

International collaboration is critical in Antarctica and this MoU further reinforces the importance of working together in the hostile, remote and fragile Antarctic environment.

The MoU:

  • Affirms a commitment to the Antarctic Treaty system, including non-militarisation, environmental protection and science in the region;
  • Establishes a joint committee for discussions on cooperative actions and exchanges, which will meet every two years;
  • Establishes a mechanism for environmental, policy, scientific and operational collaboration;
  • Establishes a platform for Antarctic official and academic fellowships.

The MoU is another example of the Federal Government’s commitment to Antarctica, and aligns with recommendations outlined in the recently released report on a 20 Year Australian Antarctic Strategic Plan.

Australia is also currently seeking tenders for a new icebreaker that will provide the basis for greater science and logistics collaboration.

China is an important Antarctic nation, with four stations on the frozen continent.  Australia has three Antarctic stations, Casey, Davis and Mawson.

The Antarctic sector makes a significant contribution to Tasmania’s economy, generating over $200 million annually and employing approximately 1,000 people.

The Government is committed to strengthening Hobart’s position as the gateway for Antarctic research and services to the region, which will create jobs and boost growth in Tasmania.

18 November 2014

Transcript - 31847

Press Conference, 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: 16/11/2014

Release Type: Press Conference

Transcript ID: 31846

Subject(s): G20.

E&OE……………………….……………………………………………………………

PRIME MINISTER:

First of all, could I say what an honour it has been to chair this G20 leaders meeting here in Brisbane. This meeting of the G20 leaders is the most influential and significant gathering that’s ever been held in our country.

The thing about the G20 is that it is large enough to be representative of the wider world and it’s small enough to be effective. That’s why the G20 is now such an important element in the global governance architecture.

I guess the first thing I should do is to thank the people of Brisbane for their hospitality. It is an honour to host an event such as this, but it is also an inconvenience and I do want to thank the people of Brisbane for making all of the leaders and delegates and media and everyone else associated with this event so welcome.

Most of all, I want to stress that this year the G20 has delivered real, practical outcomes and because of the efforts that the G20 has made this year, culminating in the last 48 hours, people right around the world are going to be better off and that’s what it’s all about: it is all about the people of the world being better off through the achievement of inclusive growth and jobs. That’s what it’s all about.

This Brisbane summit, and indeed the whole year of Australia’s G20 presidency, has not just been about bold ideas, it’s been about strong execution as well. We set a goal, we developed a plan and we believe we have implemented it.

I want to say that I’ve been very heartened and encouraged by the very candid conversations that I’ve had with individual leaders and which leaders have had with each other. That’s been a mark of this Brisbane summit: the quality and the candour of the exchanges that we’ve had.

I asked all leaders to attempt, as far as they could, to throw away the scripts and speak from their hearts and to a remarkable extent that’s happened over this weekend.

There has been a spirit of collaboration from all of the leaders and all of their teams and I very much thank them for that.

When Australia’s presidency began, we identified three key themes. First, boosting growth and employment; second, enhancing global economic resilience; and third, strengthening global institutions.

We believe, I think all of the G20 members believe, but I think we put it into practice this year, that we can do more for our people and for the wider world when we work together than when we work separately and in partnership, I believe that we have very substantially delivered on those three themes that we identified.

We’ve signed off on a peer-reviewed growth package that, if implemented, will achieve a 2.1 per cent increase in global growth over the next five years on top of business as usual. The Brisbane Action Plan contains over 800 separate reform measures and if we do all that we have committed to doing, the IMF and the OECD tell us that our Gross Domestic Product will be, as I say, 2.1 per cent higher than it would otherwise be. We’ve published these measures, we’ve published these growth strategies, so that the world can see what we are committed to and the world can hold us to account. The OECD and the IMF will be regularly reviewing our progress towards achieving these measures to keep us accountable.

We’re focused on policies to increase competition, to unshackle the private sector from unnecessary regulation, and to increase female participation.

On infrastructure, very importantly, we’re launching a global infrastructure initiative to address the $70 trillion gap in infrastructure needed within 15 years by 2030 and a key mechanism to drive this initiative is the Global Infrastructure Hub that will be located in Sydney. That will be funded by contributions from governments and also from the private sector.

We’ve had a 25 by 25 pledge by all G20 countries to reduce the gap between female and male workforce participation by a quarter – to reduce the gap by 25 per cent – over the next 10 years, and this has the potential to bring 100 million women into the global workforce – an extraordinary achievement if we can deliver on this, but it is a clear aspiration and it is an achievable, accountable goal.

Now, we absolutely want companies to pay their fair share of tax and we want them to pay their tax in the jurisdictions where their profits are earned. This is particularly important for emerging and developing economies and we’re taking concrete and practical steps to achieve this. It’s about the countries of the world, the people of the world, receiving the tax benefits that are their due and it’s needed so that governments can fund the infrastructure and the services that people expect and deserve.

Australia’s also focused on four areas of financial sector reform to ensure that the circumstances that led to the 2008 global crisis can never be repeated. We’re working to strengthen financial institutions, to protect taxpayers from having to fund bailouts if ‘too big to fail’ financial institutions run into difficulty, to address shadow banking risks and to make derivative markets safer.

It’s so important to make the global institutions developed in the 20th Century relevant to the 21st Century.

The working session on trade was one of the most productive of this G20 weekend. It saw leaders unanimous in their view that expanding global trade will directly benefit countries and people right around the world. Trade is a key driver of growth, perhaps the key driver of growth, and we're focused on domestic reforms to facilitate trade as well as the importance of a strong global trading system.

Leaders also began a discussion – a very important discussion – which I know will be taken forward over the next 12 months by Turkey, about how the World Trade Organisation could work better to deliver the growth we need. There will always be political differences about the global trading system, but we can do better and we made a very good start towards WTO reform this weekend.

For the first time, G20 leaders have had a session dedicated to global energy issues. Leaders agreed that the issue of energy requires a significant ongoing focus. We endorsed landmark energy principles which will ensure access to affordable and reliable energy for all. They will ensure that energy institutions are more inclusive of emerging and developing economies, they will strengthen energy markets, enhance energy security, phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption and, importantly, they will support sustainable growth and development. Energy, I am pleased to say, is now at the heart of the G20's agenda and G20 Energy Ministers will meet for the first time early next year to take this work forward.

We agreed to work together to develop better approaches to energy efficiency. The G20 Energy Efficiency Action Plan identifies six areas where increased global action will have real benefits for all. They are heavy vehicles, appliances linked to networks, building, industrial processors, more efficient electricity generation and, importantly, access to finance to fund that more efficient electricity generation.
 
Obviously, it goes without saying that G20 leaders – all of us – support strong and effective action to address climate change. Our actions will support sustainable development, economic growth and certainty for business and investment and, of course, we will all work constructively towards the climate change conference in Paris next year.

There were a number of other important international issues that were dealt with. Leaders expressed deep concern about the humanitarian and economic impact of Ebola and discussed practical measures to tackle the outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. We support the international response and have committed to do all we can to sustain and respond to the crisis.

It has been a weekend of achievement. Our focus has been the economy and how we can achieve inclusive growth and jobs. I believe that the G20 this weekend has shifted a gear from responding to events to setting an agenda for growth.

Our message to the world is that governments can deliver; that governments can, under the right circumstances, agree; that the world can be better; that governments can do better and that there can be higher growth and more jobs.

That is what the world expects of us. That is what our people want. They want higher growth and the jobs that higher growth will deliver.

So, what we have seen over this weekend is cooperation, accountability and concrete plans. I absolutely believe that the economies of the world, that the countries of the world, that the people of the world, will be better because we have met this way in Brisbane this weekend.

We all know as we look around the world that there are many problems and we spend so much of our time enumerating them, but my message to the people of the world from Brisbane, Australia is that there is hope that things can be better. There is a plan that's been endorsed by the leaders of the 20 largest and most representative economies that will be so much better than what went before at delivering the growth and the jobs that the people of the world want and need.

Our challenge, of course, is to fully implement our agenda.

Australia looks forward to working with Turkey over the next year and it is my very great pleasure to announce that China will be the G20 host in 2016.

Before calling for questions, I have a few important ‘thank yous’. I want to particularly thank my friend and ministerial colleague, our Treasurer, Joe Hockey. I've been leading the G20 agenda for a weekend; Joe has been leading the G20 agenda for a whole year and the work that we conclude this weekend is the product of the work that Joe has been doing over the last 12 months.

There are many others that I should thank – many, many others that I should thank. The one person who I must single out, though, is Australia's G20 Sherpa, Dr Heather Smith. She has been an inspiration, an exemplar and a real credit to the ultimate professionalism and effectiveness of the Australian public service.

Ok, let’s take some questions.

QUESTION:

Hi PM. Phil Coorey from the Financial Review. On tax evasion, the multinational tax evasion, we now have agreement to tax at point of earning. Do you have an estimation or would you like to put a time on how long do you actually think it will take before that becomes a reality?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, the key to all of this is information sharing between the jurisdictions. That is the key to all of this, and my understanding is that it starts now and it will build up over the next couple of years. But I just want to say to everyone watching right around the world we are absolutely determined on two things: if banks get into trouble, taxpayers shouldn't be bailing them out and big business must pay its fair share of tax and it must pay its fair share of tax in the jurisdictions where it earns the profits.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, Ross Greenwood from Nine News. You did mention that trade you considered to be the most important driver of growth into the future, could you just put that into context with the broadly reported free trade agreement that Australia will perhaps agree to with China this week and how that sits with the relationships with the United States and with Japan?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, interestingly, Australia has always been a great supporter of free trade and wherever you can advance the cause of free trade, you should do so. All of our bilateral free trade agreements have resulted in freer trade with particular partners, but none of them have involved less free trade with anyone else. So, all of them have made global trade more free than would otherwise be the case.

As you all know, in the last few months we have successfully concluded free trade agreements first with Korea, then with Japan and we hope very much that we will be able to announce something rather special in the next few days. But that builds on a sustained and consistent Australian agenda. We have a free trade agreement with the United States. We are working on even freer arrangements with the United States through the Trans-Pacific Partnership. One of the early model free trade agreements was the Closer Economic Relations Agreement with New Zealand back in the 1980s.

So, I think Australia is an exemplar of free trade. What we want to move towards and what there was unanimity about this weekend is the multilateral trade agenda and that's why such an important piece of the G20's work next year is going to be moves towards reforming the World Trade Organisation so that we don't have to wait another 20 years for the next multilateral trade agreement.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, Dennis Shanahan from The Australian. The Communique makes particularly reference to climate change and a commitment for members to give their determined contributions well in advance of the Paris meeting and also to supply funds where possible to the Green Climate Fund. As host, to what extent will you commit Australia and when to new targets for Paris and will you be contributing to the Green Climate Fund?

PRIME MINISTER:

The first point I want to make, Dennis, is that Australia has always believed that climate change is real, that humanity makes a contribution and that strong and effective action against it should be taken. This Government has just passed through the Parliament legislation to put into effect our Emissions Reduction Fund – a $2.5 billion fund. So, we aren't just talking about taking action against climate change; we are cracking on with the job. And, yes, we've got a five per cent on 2000 by 2020 target that we will achieve but that is actually a 19 per cent reduction on business as usual. So, Australia is a high performer when it comes to actually delivering on real action to tackle climate change.

We will be making further decisions at the right time. That is what we will be doing. We will be making further decisions at the right time and what we want to do is take effective action against climate change which is consistent with continued strong economic growth, continued jobs growth and continued development, not just for the already developed countries but for the whole world.

QUESTION:

Paul Osborne from Australian Associated Press. You have $2 trillion worth of promises in this statement. How do you, or can you guarantee that they can be delivered given the understandable political problems with the Senate in Australia, Congress in the US and other domestic political challenges? Did you have a discussion on the floor and did anyone come up with any solutions there?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, Paul, as a former journalist, the last thing I want to do is to be sceptical towards my former colleagues. But if I may say so, 12 months ago people thought that this G20 would never come to an agreement. We have come to a series of very important agreements, so the next objection is to say, “Well, they will never actually implement them”. Well, can I say what the difference between this G20 and quite possibly just about every other international economic conference has been is that we haven't just committed ourselves to aspirations, we have committed ourselves to specific measures – specific measures to make those aspirations a reality. Not only that, but we have set up an accountability mechanism because the OECD and the IMF will be constantly reviewing our performance against the published commitments that we have made. So, there's an accountability here that I don't believe has ever really been present in the sorts of communiques, in the sorts of decisions, which conferences of this nature have made in the past.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible] I am sorry, let me confess I am guilty I have got two questions. The first one is a follow-up. You are talking about two or even 2.1 per cent of additional growth. But it would be growth to the baseline. The baseline, the problem is that the baseline right now is going down and at least according to the IMF they are constantly keeping their prognostication of the global growth and they upgraded to the lower side. Aren't you concerned about that? And my second question is the Russian President Putin, about an hour ago, he was asked about the Summit and he said that it was very excellently organised. He called you an effective chairman who let everyone express his or her opinion but at the same time kept the discussion concentrated on the main topics and he said there are some issues we disagreed but Mr Abbott is a good partner. What do you think about that?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am happy to be on a unity ticket with Vladimir Putin on that subject. Look, all of us want stronger growth and certainly growth will be much stronger than it otherwise would have been as a result of the agreements that were made at this G20 conference. I should also point out that we worked very closely all year but including at this conference over the weekend with the B20. I don't believe there has ever been such close partnership between the G20 and the B20. And there was a very good reason for that because, in the end, if we want better communities and a stronger society, as we all do, we need stronger economies to sustain them and we won't get stronger economies without stronger and more profitable private businesses.

I think it's that partnership with the B20 which has helped to make this G20 a success. I really do. And at the beginning of the very first session we were addressed by Richard Goyder, Australia's B20 chairman, and Richard pointed out that right around the world there are cashed up businesses. There are many, many cashed up investors, they want the confidence to invest and this G20 is all about giving them the confidence that will unleash that capital, unleash that investment and then unlock the growth and the jobs, which have been eluding us for the last five or six years.

QUESTION:

It's been reported that there was bit of a barney over some of the climate change discussions in there. Is it correct that Barack Obama argued forcefully against your position on fossil fuels and are you happy with the wording of the climate change section in the communique?

PRIME MINISTER:

It's interesting that you should ask that question because the very first draft of the communique, which Australia prepared, talked about climate change. All the way through, we've been talking about energy efficiency and climate change. And the very best way to reduce your emissions is to achieve more efficient energy use. The best way to reduce your emissions and at the same time strengthen your economy and to create more jobs is to have more efficient energy usage because you can't have prosperity without energy, if we want to have clean prosperity we’ve got to have efficient energy use. So, I just want to make that absolutely crystal clear, that from the very beginning, climate change was in the draft communique. People who have worked on communiques for several G20s say that this was a remarkably smooth process. I don't say that there weren't, at different times, discussions about what is the mot juste, but it's certainly been a very harmonious, constructive and collegial process and not only was the communique drafting process constructive and collegial, but the discussion in the room today was very constructive and collegial – very constructive and collegial. And sure, different people had different emphases, but all of us want to take strong and effective action against climate change and all of us want to do that in ways which build our growth and particularly strengthen our employment because that in the end is what it's all about – happier people living in better countries in a better world.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, Ellen Whinnett from the Herald Sun. Just to clarify, can you please tell us what is the current status of your relationship with Mr Putin and do you think Australians will be glad to see that he's gone?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I had a very candid and very robust discussion with President Putin in Beijing, as I said I was going to. And I suspect there have been some pretty robust discussions between the Russian President and quite a number of leaders over the last couple of days. One of the reasons why conferences like this are so important is because it does give the countries of the world’s leaders an opportunity to speak candidly with each other. It gives them the opportunity that might not otherwise arise to talk constructively about their differences. Now, I have some differences with the Russian government, obviously. I don't particularly approve, in fact I utterly deplore what seems to be happening in Eastern Ukraine. I demand that Russia fully cooperate with the investigation, the criminal investigation, of the downing of MH17 – one of the most terrible atrocities of recent times. So, these are clearly on the record and I had a very robust discussion about MH17 with President Putin, other leaders have had very robust discussions with President Putin in the last 24 hours or so about Ukraine. But when all is said and done, President Putin was a guest in our country. President Putin is a member of the G20 and I was happy to treat him with respect and courtesy while he was here in Australia.

QUESTION:

The new President, President Jokowi, is very upbeat about infrastructure. Has there been any talk about Australia assisting Indonesia on this field, on this sector?

PRIME MINISTER:

Again, not only did we have very constructive discussions about infrastructure at the G20 itself, not only are we committed to getting a very large amount of private sector finance into addressing the infrastructure gap that all of us have and that the globe has, but we have also had very useful bilateral discussions and, as you would expect, I have had a bilateral discussion with Pak Jokowi and it touched on a lot of subjects because it's a very strong and broad relationship between Australia and Indonesia. But supporting Indonesia's particular infrastructure requirements is something that has been on the agenda between our two countries for quite some time now.

QUESTION:

I believe you actually put forward Australia's plan to upgrade submarines to the US and the Japanese leaders earlier today. What did you offer or what did you ask those leaders, please?

PRIME MINISTER:

It's well known that Australia is in the process of commissioning the next generation of submarine. It's well known that at some point in the medium term future, our existing subs will come to the end of their useful life. That is what happens to ships, eventually they all come to the end of their useful life and you have got to decide if and how they are going to be replaced. And we have decided that we will replace our submarine fleet and we are having discussions with a number of partners about how that is best done. That is what you would expect. You would expect a country like Australia to have discussions with a number of partners about how this best can be done because we have a duty. We have a duty to our country, we have a duty to our friends and partners right around the world to have an effective defence force. That’s what countries do.

I should also stress, though, that Australia, the United States, Japan, everyone, is full of admiration and respect for the peaceful rise of China. I want to make it absolutely crystal clear here, as I always do, that the transformation of China, the lifting of hundreds of millions of people from poverty to the middle class is perhaps the most extraordinary advance in human welfare in all of history and it's been done peacefully. Isn't that extraordinary? Isn't that absolutely extraordinary and isn't that a magnificent tribute to the Chinese people and government, that this amazing advance has been achieved in this way and it has been an advance not just for the people of China but for the people of the world? Australia does $150 billion worth of trade with China every year, we did about a quarter of that 10 years ago. China is not only Australia's biggest customer; China is Japan's biggest customer. China I think is America's biggest customer. So, the point I keep making – I made it in Tokyo, I made it in Seoul, I made it in Beijing, I made it in the Parliament, I make it here again, is that when it comes to security we will all advance together or none of us will advance at all.

QUESTION:

Matt Cranston from the Financial Review. You didn't mention, in your summary, corruption. What sort of progress is made at this G20 meeting on cracking down on corruption?

PRIME MINISTER:

There is universal agreement that this is essential and there is a range of measures that will deal with it, some of them are in the communique. But it is absolutely essential if we are to have growth that it be clean growth. It's absolutely essential if we are to have a private sector-led increase in growth that government be clean because no-one wants to invest in a place where you can't be confident that the official you are dealing with is straight, when you can't be confident that the investment you make will be respected. So, obviously this is critical and that is why it was so much a subject of work that officials have been doing over the last 12 months.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, Andrew Probyn from the West Australian. Just back on climate change, firstly can you tell us exactly what you did say in defence of energy derived from fossil fuels? And, secondly, with regards to the communique on the green climate fund, the fact that it's there, is Australia obliged to contribute towards it or is there a possibility that some nations might choose a free pass and I refer to your somewhat unflattering references to the fund in the past.

PRIME MINISTER:

That was a rather elliptical observation, if I may say so. Look, this is one of the funds that G20 countries are interested in contributing to. It’s not the only fund, but it certainly is one of the funds and that's why it's there in the communique. There was another aspect of the question, Andrew?

QUESTION:

[Inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, yes. We are all going to approach this in our own way, obviously, and there's a range of funds which are there and the fund in question is certainly one of them. Look, as for coal, without going into the details of who said what to whom and exactly what intervention was about what subject, I should remind everyone that right now there are 1.3 billion people right around the globe who have no access whatsoever to electricity. I want to repeat that because it's so significant – 1.3 billion people right around the globe who have no access to electricity. Now, how can those people have a better life, have a decent living standard without access to electricity? A fifth of the globe don't have access to electricity. We've got to give them access to electricity and coal is going to be an important part of that for decades to come – coal is going to be an important part of that for decades to come.

I welcome the agreement that President Obama and President Xi made, but my reading of that agreement is that 80 per cent of China's power needs in 2030 will be provided by coal. So, coal is going to be – now and for the foreseeable future – a very important part of the world's energy needs. It has to be because if it's not we are never going to provide energy to the 1.3 billion people who don't have it. What we need to do is to ensure that the coal fired power stations that we need are as efficient as possible. Again, I get back to the importance of our session on energy efficiency because the only way to tackle emissions while maintaining growth is to be more efficient in the use of energy.

QUESTION:

One of the policy areas canvased in the communique and also in the Brisbane Action Plan is labour market reform, which sometimes means different things to different people. What does it mean to you in terms of what you will do in Australia to deregulate the labour market possibly or take forward other initiatives? And a related question – we are yet to see, or possibly it's being released this afternoon, the Australian commitments under Brisbane Action Plan. Can you explain what those commitments are and how many of them will need Senate support to get them through?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, look, you raise the question of parliamentary support for the commitments that the executive government makes and plainly this is an issue. But as we’ve seen in Australia, there are lots of things which crossbench senators and Opposition senators say they don't initially support and then eventually support, if not entirely, at least in some way, and the Australian Government is determined to put what we believe is good policy into practice as quickly as possible and, if at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again. In the same vein, there was some discussion at the G20 about IMF reform and President Obama quite properly recommitted to getting the various changes required through the Congress. Is there a guarantee that this will happen? Of course there is not. But we can be confident based on what's been said this weekend that there will be best faith efforts made to have a very good go at it. And that’s the same with all of the measures that we have committed ourselves to. We will do everything we humanly can to make them happen – we will do everything we humanly can to make them happen. If they don't happen next month, there's always the month after. If they don't happen this year, there's always next year. But we are determined to do the right thing by the people of our world and increase inclusive jobs and growth.

Now, on labour market measures, I want to refer you to what I think is the principal commitment that we made and that is: to increase female participation. Because if we can get female participation closer to male participation in every country of the G20, you will unlock billions if not trillions of dollars in additional growth. So, this is a very, very important commitment. Also, we want to try to change our various systems across the globe that make it harder for people to participate in the labour market. Now, you all know what the policies of the Australian Government are in this respect and we haven't agreed to any new policies but the policies that we've already got out there on the table, our fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme, our welfare changes, our employment services changes. All of these are designed to make it easier for people to find work and to keep it.

[ends]

Transcript - 31846

Remarks at opening of Ian Potter Foundation Technology Learning Centre, 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: 29/10/2014

Release Type: Remarks

Transcript ID: 31844

E&OE……………………….……………………………………………………………

It is good to be here with my friend the Minister, my colleague Senator Seselja, the chief scientist, the CEO of the National Health and Medical Research Council, Brian Schmidt, our Nobel laureate. It is very, very good to be here at the second Questacon campus.

As a younger parent I spent a fair bit of time at the other Questacon campus because my children loved being at Questacon and it is great to see that, as of now, there are more opportunities to visit Questacon and more opportunities to learn from Questacon.

Today is a big day for science in many ways and how better to start the day than by visiting this Questacon technology learning centre. Questacon has given literally millions – literally millions – of young Australians a taste of the world of science and technology. It is a national institution, a much loved national institution that has encouraged a yearning to learn the mysteries of the world.

Now, children by their nature are naturally curious; they ask questions, they test assumptions and, as every parent knows, they take risks and they question authority. These are the traits of future scientists.

So, it is a rite of passage for Australian children to visit Canberra. When children visit Canberra they visit the War Memorial and learn about the heavy price that our soldiers have paid for our freedom. When they visit Canberra they visit Parliament House and learn about our democracy and how they can be involved. Sometimes when they visit Canberra they go to the High Court and learn that we are a nation of laws. But it is imperative that when they visit Canberra, they should also come to Questacon and learn that science matters to our country and can be fun.

Science is vital to our future and we do need more scientists. So, to the children here today – mostly up the back there – I look forward to meeting you but I do make the obvious but important point that you are the hope of Australia. Among the children who visit this centre will be the scientists, the business leaders and indeed the Nobel Prize winners of the future. This centre will help to make all of that happen.

Now, the Government has announced recently a $12 million initiative to encourage science, technology, engineering and maths in schools, including a trial Pathways in Technology high school but Government alone cannot engender a scientific cast of mind. That is why I am so pleased and proud to be able today to applaud the Ian Potter Foundation and the $7.8 million donation that has made this centre possible.

Over 50 years, the foundation has distributed a truly astonishing $200 million in grants, each of them acts of magnificent generosity but as Leon Kempler has pointed out, carefully targeted generosity, not a cash splash but an investment in the future of our country.

Sir Ian Potter changed the face of philanthropy in this country and I thank the foundation for continuing his good work. Your generosity today is a statement of your faith in our future. Our children are our future and thanks to the Potter Foundation they will be just that much more encouraged to achieve all that they can.

So, I am honoured to be here and I am absolutely delighted to help declare this technology learning centre officially open.

Transcript - 31844

Address to Prime Minister's Prizes for Science Dinner, Parliament House

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: 29/10/2014

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 31843

E&OE……………………….………………………………………………………….

Ladies and gentlemen, it is a thrill to be amongst so many of our best minds on this evening which is a celebration of science and it’s also a thrill to be with so many of my colleagues.

It was said of Alexander the Great, when he saw the breadth of his dominion, that he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.

Perhaps this is why Winston Churchill said “the empires of the future are the empires of the mind”.

Because that deep yearning to explore, to discover and to advance is part of the human condition – and now so much of it one way or another has to be intellectual.

The scientists in this room are the great explorers of our day.

From Professor Brian Schmidt unlocking the universe, to the workers at Cochlear providing hearing to the deaf, the scientists of our country are revealing the secrets of our world and doing the great works of our time.

Tonight, we honour Australia’s scientists who through grit and determination are continuing to tell us what we previously didn’t know and sometimes couldn’t even imagine.

And we wouldn’t have great scientists without teachers to transfer their sense of curiosity and wonder to a new generation.

Tonight, I especially honour the science and maths teachers who are with us.

I honour all these who are promoting science.

And I want to assure you that you have a fine advocate in Ian Macfarlane – the Minister responsible for science.

He is the son of a scientist.

He is the grandson of a scientist.

He is one of the most experienced members of Cabinet and he is the second longest Minister for Industry in the history of our country – over seven years so far.

And it’s good that you have as your Minister one of the steadiest and the most experienced people in the Cabinet.

Science is at the heart of this Government’s Economic Action Strategy because you cannot separate science from the advancement of our country.

It is an essential part of modern economic policy – because the commercialisation of science and the encouragement of innovation is essential for jobs, for growth and for prosperity.

And two weeks ago, Ian Macfarlane and I released what we call our Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda.

This maps out a vision for science and its role in the future of our country.

The overriding themes are: investment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, entrepreneurship, and collaboration between business and science.

Now as I’m sure you know, in our first year, we have had to bring the Budget back under control.

Living within your means always involves difficult decisions and it’s rarely popular, but it is necessary if we want our prosperity to be sustainable.

But even in a time of budget cutting, we have still made some important new investments as part of the $9.2 billion ongoing annual investment in science and research.

These new investments include $65 million to operate and maintain the CSIRO’s new marine research vessel; and $35 million for the operation and maintenance of ANSTO’s Opal nuclear reactor.

We’re promoting international science collaboration by extending the Australia-China Science and Research Fund and the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund.

And – and this is something very close to my heart – we have set out to build one of the largest endowment funds in the world for medical research.

This $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund will ensure that Australia continues to be a world champion of research and innovation.

And now that our best scientists and our greatest medical researchers are in this building, I hope you will wear out the carpet putting the case for this fund to my political colleagues in other parties because you can’t have a fund without funding.

Now, across government, our focus has been on getting maximum benefit for taxpayer dollars.

It’s what you do in your life every day – you try to get maximum value from your research grants; you try to get maximum value for the funding that the university has given you.

We are seeking to prioritise national research to the challenges that face our nation.

Because our ability to compete in global markets does depend on our ability to produce high-quality, innovative products and services.

And these products usually require the ingenuity that’s born of strong science.

As the Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb put it: we have to do “all the things that we need to do well.”

That’s what our competitors are doing – and so must we.

So as part of the Competitiveness Agenda, the Government is providing $12 million more to foster school students’ interest in STEM.

There’s the ‘Mathematics by inquiry’— maths-in-schools programmes.

There’s computer coding courses.

There’s a local trial of the American Pathways in Technology Early College High School or P-TECH.

And there’s more summer schools for STEM students.

These are just some of the things we’re doing and there is more to come – including changes to employee share ownership to encourage more start-up businesses so that good ideas can be commercialised here in Australia. 

We are recognised globally for our high quality research.

In 2013, with just 0.3 per cent of the world’s population, this country of ours was responsible for over three per cent of the world’s published research.

Now, that only ranks us 9th in the OECD. So, we can do better. Especially, we must do better at translating research into practical outcomes.

We are determined as a Government to boost collaboration between science and business because Australia ranks just 29th out of 30 OECD countries on the proportion of businesses collaborating with higher education and public research institutions.  

And we rank just 23rd out of 32 countries on the percentage of total research publications that are co-authored by industry and the research sector.

We are determined to work with industry and researchers to get a better return on that $9.2 billion a year research investment.

And to this end the new Commonwealth Science Council to advise the Government on ways to improve connections between research organisations, universities and businesses will comprise five scientists and five business representatives – including Professor Brian Schmidt, Professor Ian Frazer, Catherine Livingstone and Michael Chaney. 

One of its first tasks will be to consider specific proposals raised by the Chief Scientist – for Government funding of science and research to be better targeted.

Of course we value “blue sky” or pure research, we always have and we always will, but we still need much to improve the links between science and business and to better commercialise our ideas.

Tonight is probably a good time to add something to the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science. 

Ian Macfarlane and I have been considering the findings of a review.

The review, led by our Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt, found that too much was being asked of one prize.

From next year, and alongside the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science, there will also be a Prime Minister’s Prize for the Commercial Application of Science.

This prize will be awarded to an Australian or Australian team for ‘the most significant technological innovation that has led to the betterment of humanity’.

It will allow a broader range of achievements from industry, defence science, rural science and engineering to be honoured.

Equal recognition should be given to those who discover and to those who innovate, because without innovation, scientific discovery may never be more than an interesting experiment.

I thank all of you in this room tonight – teachers, researchers and industry innovators.

I thank you for your dedication to a better world and to a better Australia.

On behalf of the Australian people, congratulations to all the nominees for this year’s prizes.

And as I was walking to the Great Hall this evening I was thinking to myself, what does Australia need more, who does Australia need more of? Do we need more lawyers or do we need more scientists? Do we need more politicians or do we need more scientists? I have absolutely no doubt what the answer to those questions would be – so, scientists of Australia, go out and increase!

 

[ends]

Transcript - 31843

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