PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Abbott, Tony

Press Conference, Melbourne

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: 08/11/2013

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23070

Subject(s): The Federal Government’s commitment to repeal the carbon tax

PRIME MINISTER:

As some of you probably know, this morning I had a roundtable on the abolition of the carbon tax, along with my colleague Minister Greg Hunt, with senior members of manufacturing industry, with senior members of the power generation industry, with senior representatives of the retailing sector. It's absolutely crystal clear that everyone in this country wants the carbon tax repealed as quickly as possible. The only people in this country who want to persist with the carbon tax are the Labor Party and the Greens, who are in denial about the election result.

It's also pretty clear from what ACCC commissioner Rod Sims has said in the last 24 hours, that there are substantial, swift benefits to households to be had from the repeal of the carbon tax. The carbon tax is costing the average household $550 a year. Get rid of the carbon tax and the average household is $550 a year better off.

This is an important benefit for families and the best Christmas present that Bill Shorten could give the families of Australia is to stand aside and let the new government and the incoming parliament repeal the carbon tax. As you know, when Parliament sits next week, the first item of legislation that the Parliament considers will be the carbon tax repeal legislation.

Repealing the carbon tax is the immediate focus of this Government's determination to get tax down. We don't just want to get tax down, we also want to see less regulation and we want to see a smaller bureaucracy. Earlier this week, Cabinet decided that all future submissions would have much more substantial regulation impact statements attached; that, in the future, Cabinet submissions will need to quantify the costs of any regulatory change and would need to match any additional regulatory costs with reductions in regulatory costs because we are serious about reducing the regulatory burden on Australian businesses and ultimately on Australian consumers by at least $1 billion a year every year. We are serious about that.

We’re also serious about a smaller bureaucracy and that's why some 20 redundant advisory groups have been abolished or amalgamated as one of the early decisions of this government. We certainly won't be stopping here. This is a government which will always be looking to try to ensure that the machinery of government is as efficient and as small as possible. We believe in effective government, we believe in efficient government, and effective and efficient government is not the same as big government; it's not the same as over-government – and that, I regret to say, is what we've had too much of over the last few years.

What you see is a government which is taking significant early steps towards reducing the tax burden, towards reducing the regulatory burden and towards reducing the size of the bureaucracy and obviously this is very important as we move into the first sittings of the new Parliament next week.

James?

QUESTION:

One of the groups you’re abolishing is the firearms advisory council, which I believe was comprised of technical experts in the area. Can you explain to us the rationale behind that, and I understand that concerns have been expressed that bureaucrats are out of their depth on this stuff?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, the fact is, we have a bureaucracy, we have a system of regulation for firearms and if there's any need for change, obviously we will consult as appropriate. What we don't need is an absolute plethora of standing committees and if you look at the committees that have been abolished, some of them have been in existence for many, many years and the policy issues which they were designed to consider have been resolved one way or another. Others were established by the former government, often to strike a pose rather than to make a decision and an obvious example of that was the High Speed Rail Advisory Group. Well, this was to advise on something that was supposed to happen, if it ever happened, in 2030. We think with ministerial advisory councils, at least one regular vehicle for input from constituency organisations into the relevant portfolio, we are more than capable of managing these issues given that we've also got expert departments on hand.

QUESTION:

Can you tell us what the ban on contractors that has apparently been circulated at departments is going to achieve and also the issues that might get managed through them?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I don't accept the premise of the question. Certainly, we are determined – and we took this policy to the election – we are determined to reduce the size of the Commonwealth public sector payroll by some 12,000. We're determined to do that, but we're going to do it by natural attrition. In the ordinary course of events, obviously departments and agencies make decisions every day about people's employment, but that is a matter for the relevant people in departments and agencies within the overall parameters of government.

QUESTION:

You have also made some cut backs to the CSIRO, Prime Minister, and about a week ago, at a dinner, you said that science is absolutely critical, we will support science to the fullest extent possible. How do you reconcile those two things?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, we haven't made any cutbacks to the CSIRO. The management of the CSIRO and the employment of staff inside the CSIRO and the management of contractors for the CSIRO is a matter for the CSIRO itself.

QUESTION:

Scott Morrison's press conference today descended into even more farce than usual. How long are these Friday briefings going to continue and is it acceptable for the Government to be keeping information from the Australian people about what's happening on our borders?

PRIME MINISTER:

The important thing is to stop the boats – that's the important thing – and the best way to stop the boats is to ensure that we are not providing a shipping service for people smugglers and we are not providing a shipping news service for people smugglers. Now, I'm pleased that the boats are coming at a much-reduced rate although as Minister Morrison indicated at his briefing today, there is currently a situation in the Indonesian search and rescue zone which Australian personnel are attending to.  But we will continue to have weekly Operation Sovereign Borders briefings while Operation Sovereign Borders continues to be necessary. I hope that at some early period we can conclude that the boats have been definitively stopped, but I don't imagine that is going to happen within weeks. I'd like it to but I think that for some months at least we will be having weekly briefings under Operation Sovereign Borders.

QUESTION:

Is it acceptable that the best source on what’s happening on Australia’s borders appears to be the Indonesian Government?

PRIME MINISTER:

What we've said from the very early days of the new government is that we will have weekly briefings on Operation Sovereign Borders. Now, people are entitled to ask whatever question they want at those briefings. Not only is the Minister on hand to address issues, but you have got General Campbell the commander of Operation Sovereign Borders on hand…

QUESTION:

[inaudible]…refused to answer questions, so journalists are having to go to the Indonesian authorities who do provide answers. So, how is that a satisfactory arrangement?

PRIME MINISTER:

The important thing is that we stop the boats and none of you would want to jeopardise our operations to stop the boats, surely, given that we have seen an absolutely tragic toll in lives lost at sea while people smuggling operations continue. None of you would want to jeopardise the success of these operations, and I certainly am absolutely convinced that Minister Morrison and General Campbell want to ensure that the operation succeeds and they are happy to answer questions as fully as they can consistent with the need to deny to people smugglers information that would be helpful to them.

QUESTION:

Is this incident an illustration of the tow-back policy failing, and is Indonesia so upset that they might stop cooperating fully with your initiatives?

PRIME MINISTER:

We've got good and improving cooperation with Indonesia. I want to make that absolutely crystal clear. We have good and improving cooperation with Indonesia and as I'm sure most of you know, I travelled to Jakarta at the end of September to meet with President Yudhoyono and with other ministers. We had what I think was a very successful exchange and the point that President Yudhoyono made in that visit is that people smuggling is a problem for Indonesia, just as it is a problem for Australia. “We are victims,” said the President, of people smuggling, no less than Australia is a victim. So, I think that it's absolutely crystal clear that we do have good and improving cooperation. Minister Morrison was in Jakarta a week or so back for discussions on a ministerial level. Special Envoy Molan has been regularly in Indonesia over the last month or so for discussions at an official level. I'm confident that we will get improved cooperation from Indonesia over time. It's already good. It's getting better. I'm confident that it can get better still because everyone in the official establishment in Indonesia understands that it is in Indonesia's national interest just as much as it's in Australia's national interest that the scourge of people smuggling be eliminated.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, has the allegations of spying derailed the improving relationship with Indonesia?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I think that people in Indonesia are realists just as people in Australia are realists. All governments collect information from a variety of sources, but it has been the absolutely consistent policy of the Australian government: first, that Australian officers an agencies operate within the law and second, that we do not comment on security matters and I intend to maintain that tradition.

QUESTION:

What will you do if Indonesia continues to refuse to take them?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, the point I'm making is that as Minister Morrison was quite explicit about in his briefing earlier today, there is a situation in the Indonesian search and rescue zone and Australian personnel are attending to it. Our cooperation with Indonesian authorities is good and improving all the time.

QUESTION:

On another matter, can a country that claims to be open for business and open for foreign investment credibly knock back the ADM bid for GrainCorp?

PRIME MINISTER:

Every country is determined to ensure that foreign investment and indeed all aspects of economic policy are run in accordance with their overall national interests. Now, it is clearly in Australia's national interest that we are substantially open for foreign investment – substantially open for foreign investment. The Australian economy is critically dependent upon foreign investment. That doesn't mean that every single foreign investment proposal in every last respect is in our national interest and that's why we have got an FIRB process, that's why in the end it is up to the Treasurer to say yes or no to these and that process is in train here as it is in train in all cases that require FIRB approval.

QUESTION:

What’s your reaction to QANTAS cutting jobs today – 300 jobs at Avalon today?

PRIME MINISTER:

It's always tragic when any business sheds staff. Whether it's the corner store or an iconic employer like QANTAS, it is always tragic when a business sheds staff. It's a tragedy for the workers involved and for their families. It's sad for the business because even very large businesses are close-knit institutions where people have very strong personal bonds and when a workplace is disrupted by the departure of quite a large number of people, this is tragic for everyone. It's tragic for those who go, it's tragic for those who stay; who lose their friends and workmates. On the other hand, in the end these are decisions that businesses do have do have to make from time to time. The important thing is to try to ensure that regardless of what's happening in any particular business, we have an expanding economy where people's chances of getting a job are going up, not going down and that's why the government is so determined to get taxes down, to get regulation down and to make government more efficient and effective so that there are more opportunities for employment in the private sector.

QUESTION:

Do you agree with Peter Reith then if onshore gas isn’t drastically ramped up in Victoria and New South Wales that more manufacturing jobs will go?

PRIME MINISTER:

We do have a gas problem, particularly in New South Wales. The New South Wales Government is acutely conscious of this. Minister Macfarlane is acutely conscious of this. We do want to expand the availability of gas, particularly in New South Wales, but it's got to be done in ways which are consistent with high environmental standards and proper protection of the rights of land holders. This is always a management exercise, it's always a question for negotiation and I think that the gas miners are much better at respecting the rights of landholders today than they might've been a few years ago.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, the advisory body on positive ageing is due to report very soon. Why not keep that body alive I guess until it's ready to report?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, the fact is we all know that it is important to treat older Australians right. We all know that it's best to do that. The truth is that we do have plenty of input in to government on these issues. The Council on the Ageing, for instance, is a private sector body which is more than able to provide us with advice, more than able to provide us with advice and, look, it's not just the quality of the advice or the quantum of the advice – certainly not the quantum of the advice – it's the quality of the decision-making that matters and I would respectfully invite the people of Australia to judge us on the quality of our decision-making not on the quantum of our advice and I think we have more than enough advice on this issue to make quality decisions.

QUESTION:

Why is your party room so riven on the issue of GrainCorp?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I don't believe that the premise of your question is correct.

QUESTION:

Would you like me to list off the MPs that have voiced their public opposition to it at all?

PRIME MINISTER:

You can say what you like by way of statement, but you have asked me a question and I’m going to do my best to answer it. And, look, we all want a proper process to be undertaken and seen through and that's exactly what we've got here. We've got a proper process that is taking place. There is Foreign Investment Review Board consideration. The FIRB will make a recommendation to the Treasurer and the Treasurer will make a decision and the decision will be on the basis of what the Treasurer judges to be in Australia's overall national interest.

QUESTION:

What's your reaction to those recent allegations of sexual abuse in the Navy?

PRIME MINISTER:

Again, all credible allegations of this kind of conduct are disturbing. My understanding is that they are being investigated by the military chiefs. The military chiefs certainly take this issue very, very seriously indeed and while I would be the last person to say there is never any problem in this area, I do think that our Defence Forces are determined to stamp out inappropriate behaviour. I think that the people who serve in our Defence Forces have the highest of aspirations, the noblest of purposes and I think by and large their behaviour is of a very high standard.

QUESTION:

[inaudible] back to the investigation, Mr Abbott? Is it because it's involved in the stand-off in Indonesia?

PRIME MINISTER:

The actual conduct of investigations is a matter for the Defence Chiefs and the appropriate authorities and I am confident that they will conduct those investigations and deal with any matters that those investigations show to be well-founded, they will deal with them appropriately.

QUESTION:

Is it the ship off Indonesia, sir? Is it involved in this stand-off?

PRIME MINISTER:

I’m just not going to get into details of which ship might be where. What I want to reassure the Australian people is that our Defence Forces, our Defence Chiefs take these matters very seriously indeed and I think that the overall culture of our Defence Forces and of our Defence personnel is an admirable one and I want to defend the overall conduct of our Defence personnel and I want to applaud the way our Defence Chiefs have taken a very, very strong stand on this issue.

QUESTION:

Mr Macfarlane told The Australian last week, the only way the car industry is likely to survive is with permanent subsidy. At the moment our car industry subsidies are normally transitional. Do you accept that premise, that the only way it is going to stay is we acknowledge these subsidies will have to be permanent?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, again, the Government's position on this is well-known. We do plan to continue generous support to the motor industry. We do have a Productivity Commission inquiry going on at the moment in what's necessary to improve the long-term viability of the motor industry in this country. That inquiry is due to report by the end of March. I know the carbon tax is not the only problem which the motor industry faces, but I did see a report in a very fine newspaper this morning to the effect that Holden were losing something like $200 per car. Well, if the report commissioned for the confederation is to be believed, the carbon tax alone is adding some $400 to the cost of producing a car here in Australia. So, eliminating the carbon tax is a significant step towards assisting the motor industry, just as not proceeding with the $1.8 billion fringe benefits tax hit was a very, very significant, immediate boost to the car industry. Now, that’s…

QUESTION:

What do you say to the premise...

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I'm just – what I say, and I'm going to conclude on this note, what I say is that we want the car industry to have a long-term, viable future in this country. But in the end, in the end, the best way that government can help the car industry is to try to ensure that as far as is humanly possible, it is operating in a low-tax, less over-regulated environment and that's exactly what the Coalition is trying to do for the car industry at the moment and I am confident that everyone in the motor industry was thrilled to see the motor industry saved from the former government's $1.8 billion fringe benefits tax, because that was an absolute dagger aimed at the heart of the car industry in this country.

[ends]

Transcript - 23070

Address to Western Australian Liberal Party State Council

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: 09/11/2013

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 23071

Location: Perth

It is a tremendous honour to be here. It really is a tremendous honour to be here.

I am so thrilled to be amongst my friends and Liberal colleagues of Western Australia. I am delighted to bask in the reflected glory of a great Premier, Colin Barnett, and though, sadly, I am not myself a Western Australian, yes, the greatest honour I can have is to be the Prime Minister of Western Australia.

The first thing I want to do today, my friends, is to thank the Liberals of Western Australia for everything you have done for me, for my parliamentary colleagues, and for our country because we would not be in government but for the support and the strength of this great division of our great party.

I thank you, President Geoff Prosser, a former parliamentary colleague and a friend of many years standing.

I thank you, State Director Ben Morton, who has done an outstanding job. State Directors are the first people to be blamed when things go wrong. They’re the last people to be thanked when things go right and the least I can do, Ben, is thank you for the good work that you have done for your state and for our country.

Like many West Australians, you weren’t born here and like many West Australians you are, as it were, a citizen of the world. So we know not where you may end up but wherever it is, wherever it is the great work that you have done here in this state will always be remembered.

I thank my friend, my colleague, my partner, Julie Bishop, who has done an extraordinary job as the Deputy Leader of our party. Julie has for a long time been the senior federal West Australian Liberal. She has been a magnificent ambassador for this state and now she is doing an extraordinary job for our country.

All of my colleagues have made a good transition from Opposition to Government. I think all of my colleagues have understood the difference between Opposition and Government. All of my colleagues have appreciated the difference between Opposition, which is mostly theatre, and Government, which is all substance, but none have made the transition as smoothly and as surely and with more exhilaration and purpose than Julie Bishop and well done Julie for the extraordinary job you’ve done.

But I want to thank all of my West Australian colleagues. Obviously my Cabinet colleagues: David Johnston, the Defence Minister, Mathias Cormann, the Finance Minister, Ministers Michaelia Cash and Michael Keenan. I thank all of my Western Australian colleagues for the job they’ve done.

I want to particularly acknowledge my new parliamentary colleagues from Western Australia: Melissa Price, the new Member for Durack, Rick Wilson, the new Member for O’Connor, Ian Goodenough who has replaced the outstanding Mal Washer and of course Christian Porter who has replaced Judi Moylan and it takes a lot of guts to surrender a ministry, a senior ministry in the State Parliament to go into the Federal Parliament and Christian Porter is someone who has put the Australian back into Western Australia and I really congratulate him and thank him.

I congratulate Linda Reynolds, Senator Elect Linda Reynolds and whatever happens, Linda, whatever the High Court might determine in the weeks and months to come, we are determined that you will be a Senator for this party and this state in Canberra.

But you know, every election is a bittersweet occasion. There are winners and sadly there are losers and even in this great state of Western Australia, even in the ranks of Liberals from this great state of Western Australia, even amidst the triumph of getting close to 50 per cent of the primary vote, there are some of us who just fell short. I congratulate everyone who ran for our party but did not succeed in being elected.

I want to particularly congratulate and thank Donna Gordi, for the work she did. No one could have worked harder and more tirelessly to represent the seat of Brand than Donna Gordin. I calculated that I went into that seat on eight occasions over the last term of Parliament and I was thinking to myself, if only I’d only gone four times maybe Donna would have got up.  But Donna, look, you did do an extraordinary job and we are extremely grateful.

But friends, I don’t just want to thank the Liberals of Western Australia for your contribution to our Government and to our country. I want to thank the people of Western Australia more generally for everything this state does for our country. It might be two or three hours away across the Nullarbor Plain from our principle population centres, but the wealth, the strength and the dynamism of our country critically depends upon this state, Western Australia. You’ve got just 10 per cent of our people but you produce some 16 per cent of our Gross Domestic Product and you give us almost 50 per cent of our exports.  On behalf of the people of Australia, I say thank you to the people of Western Australia for the extraordinary contribution you make to our national strength and our national unity.

Whenever I come to this great city in this beautiful state and I see the extraordinary things that are happening, when I sense the palpable dynamism of the West Australian people, the extraordinary can-do optimism of the people of this state and this city and I think, wouldn’t it be good if this was more general across our country? And I think the people of Australia want to resemble more closely the people of Western Australia. I believe that one of the reasons why there was a change of government was because the people of Australia want to say yes to jobs, yes to development, yes to prosperity and yes to having a go and they know that none of that was happening under the former government.

The former government left us a terrible mess. It left us a terrible mess but I want to say to you, my fellow Liberals of Western Australia, and to the people of Western Australia, that we have made a good start, that the adults are back in charge and that strong, stable, methodical and purposeful government is once more the rule in our national capital.

Yes, over the course of the former government, unemployment went up by some 200,000. Yes, under the former government, our gross commonwealth debt was skyrocketing past $400 billion and, most shamefully of all, under the former government we had more than 50,000 illegal arrivals by boat as the former government totally lost control of our borders. We even had the extraordinary situation of an illegal boat turning up in the middle of Geraldton Harbour one sunny weekday.

But things are changing and they are changing for the better. I think all of you have noticed there is a new tone and a new style in Canberra. I think all of you have noticed that there is now in government and in the ministries people who know that it’s more important to make the right decisions than it is to make the big announcements that so often turn out to mean not what they seemed. It’s more important to be bending the public servants to the policies and directions of the new government than it is to be out there trying to manipulate the media. It’s more important to be involved in governing our country than it is simply to be giving endless interviews which are all about glorifying politicians rather than about doing the right thing by the people of Australia.

Yes, we will speak when we need to speak. We will act when we need to act. But we won’t speak for the sake of speaking and we won’t bung on things just for the purposes of a PR gesture because that’s not good government. That’s a form of political exhibitionism and we saw far too much of that over the last six years and the time for that has long passed.

So ladies and gentlemen, we are calmly, purposefully, methodically getting on with doing exactly what we said we would do in the campaign. We said we would abolish the carbon tax and the mining tax and legislation to do just that would be introduced into the Parliament this week. We said we would get the Budget back under control and individual ministers and portfolios are doing just that and the Commission of Audit, this once in a generation chance to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government is now doing its work.

We said we would build the infrastructure of the 21st Century and preparations are surging forward to ensure that the Swan Valley Bypass is built and the Perth Gateway gets cracking. We will do the right thing by the people of our great cities and our important, booming regions and we will give them the economic muscle and sinew that they need.

We said that we’d stop the boats and while they have not yet stopped, they are slowing and they are stopping and we will have setbacks and we will have disappointments but we will succeed because the test of a sovereign country and a sovereign government is its ability to control its borders and we will never again tolerate a situation where an important part of our immigration programme has been subcontracted out to people smugglers.

This is an issue of sovereignty for us and that’s very important. When I was up in Jakarta a few weeks ago I was able to tell President Yudhoyono, a very good friend of our country, an outstanding President of Indonesia, I was able to tell him that we utterly, totally, completely respected Indonesian sovereignty and if any boat ever set out from Australia to Indonesia to enter that country illegally we would do our damndest to stop it. We would do our damndest to stop it and I think he understood that our sovereignty is just as important to us as their sovereignty is to them. We have good relations with Indonesia, good and improving relations with Indonesia but we will stop these boats. We will stop these boats. In any test of will between the Australian Government and the people smugglers, we will and we must prevail.

But friends, I said that my first trip as Prime Minister would be to Jakarta, and it was, and our foreign policy now has a Jakarta, not a Geneva focus, as it should. I said that we would lower the tax burden, and there are some 92 announced but un-enacted tax increases which the former government had in store for us and as Joe Hockey announced during this week, very few of them will proceed.

I said we would lower the regulatory burden and future Cabinet submissions that for good and necessary reasons, do increase regulation, will be required to absolutely quantify the cost of that regulation to the people who will be exposed to them and will be required to identify offsetting savings in the regulatory burden so that we can deliver $1 billion in red tape savings to the people and the businesses of Australia every single year.

We said we would reduce the size of government and I was able to announce yesterday some 20 unnecessary committees and non-statutory bodies that would be abolished as a down payment on this commitment.

I said we would revitalise our free trade negotiations and that’s exactly what we have done.

But we haven’t just made strong decisions over the last few weeks, we have restored due process to the governmental system in Canberra. The ten day rule applies for Cabinet decisions. Cabinet submissions have to go into the Cabinet Secretariat ten days before they are discussed. Now, you might think that’s just a paper work rule but if you don’t get these things right, you don’t get the decisions right because if people don’t have time to reflect on the submission, to reflect on the decision, if the various experts don’t have time to chew over all the consequences of these proposed decisions, invariably you end up getting important details wrong.

If you want to get the decisions right, you’ve got to get the process right and we are determined to ensure that Cabinet government in the Westminster tradition once more operates in Canberra. Cabinet government and the Westminster tradition has stood us in good stead for 112 years and I believe that it will stand us in good stead for the future and certainly that is what will always be maintained under my prime ministership.

Friends, this week the Parliament is coming back. The new Parliament is assembling and I am confident that after just a few weeks of the new parliament, that parliament that diminished our polity and embarrassed our citizens over the last three years will soon seem like just a bad memory. It will soon seem like just a bad memory. Rob Oakeshott, who’s he? Tony Windsor, he was part of our system once but not anymore.

It will be a respectful Parliament. It will be a Parliament which discusses the issues rather than abuses individuals. It will be a Parliament of passion, of course. It will be a Parliament where the big issues are debated with conviction. But it will be a Parliament that respects the fact that just about every single member of that Parliament, all sides of the political fence, is there for the right reason. We will not impugn the motives of our political opponents. We will not trash the reputations of Members of Parliament and if any of us are tempted to go a little bit over the top, we’ll have the most formidable parliamentarian of her era, Bronwyn Bishop, sitting in the Chair to keep us honest and fair and if there’s one person in the Parliament who can speak without fear or favour it’s Bronwyn Bishop. I see her colleagues past and present nodding in the front row.

But it will be a Parliament, friends, which I expect to respect the mandate that the new Government was given at this election. If there is one issue that dominated the last three years it has been the carbon tax and if there is one point that my colleagues and I have been making over and over and over again, since February of 2011, it is that we will repeal this toxic tax.  This Parliament has one duty first and foremost and that is to repeal that tax. I understand that. Julie Bishop understands that. All of my assembled parliamentary colleagues understand that. The Australian people absolutely understand that the last election was a referendum on the carbon tax and they have spoken about as decisively as the people can at an election.

The only people who are in denial about the result of the last election, well, we know who they are. It’s good old ‘Electricity’ Bill Shorten, good old ‘Electricity Bill’ Shorten and his Green colleagues. Now, I say respectfully to the Leader of the Opposition, you are better than this. You are better than this. We all know that you didn’t support the carbon tax. We all know that you thought the former prime minister was making a terrible mistake. Well, just for once, just for once, stand up and do what you think in your heart is right rather than simply engaging in a crass political calculation. Otherwise, you will be in every respect but a carbon copy, a carbon copy of Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd and why would you want three Labor leaders in a row to be carbon copies of each other?

The Labor Party went to the last election claiming that the carbon tax had somehow been terminated. Well, that was wrong. That was wrong. The public knew it was wrong. The public knew that the only way to terminate the carbon tax was to change the government so I say to Bill Shorten and I say to all of his parliamentary colleagues, make honest MPs of yourselves, and actually vote to terminate this toxic tax.

Friends, there is no greater honour that any Member of Parliament can have than to lead his Party and to lead our country. I am so conscious of the honour that my Party has done me and of the honour that the country has entrusted to me. I am so conscious of that and I pledge to you and to the citizens of Australia, I will not let you down. I pledge to my fellow Liberals and to the citizens of our country, my colleagues and I will not let you down. We will do what we said we would do to the very best of our ability, with all of our energy, with every fibre of our being.

And I am convinced that this result will be good for our country because I am confident that our values do resonate with the people of Australia. We are a Party which trusts the community. We don’t mistrust government but we look to the community for solutions before we look to the state. We are a Party which trust individuals. We don’t mistrust officials but we look to individuals before we say ‘Let’s call in the officials’. We are Party which instinctively believes that the good sense of the Australian people is most likely to produce the best outcomes and wherever people can make things happen on their own, government should be there to encourage it rather than to control it. That’s what we stand for. That’s what we believe in the marrow of our bones, and that, I am confident is what resonates most strongly with our people.

We are a great country. We are a great people. I believe that we now have a better government, a better government which can deliver the people of Australia the better country that we all yearn for and that we all deserve.

Thank you so much.

[ends]

Transcript - 23071

Doorstop Interview

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: 09/11/2013

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23072

Subject(s): Carbon tax repeal legislation

Location: Perth

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s great to be here in Perth this morning for my first address to a major Liberal Party gathering since becoming Prime Minister.

As all of you know, the Parliament resumes this coming week. The legislation to repeal the carbon tax and the mining tax will be before the Parliament this week and if ‘Electricity Bill’ Shorten wants to avoid being just a carbon copy of his predecessors he will accept the verdict of the election. He will appreciate that everyone wants to see power prices coming down and he will facilitate the abolition of this toxic tax.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, the asylum seekers rescued off Java are being sent to Christmas Island. Does this signal that the standoff is over?

PRIME MINISTER:

What this signals is that Government policies are in place and the boat people in question, the illegal boat people in question will go swiftly to Manus Island or Nauru. They won’t set foot on the Australian mainland and they have no prospect of ever settling in Australia and that’s the strong message that goes from this Government and this country to people smugglers and their customers. If you come to this country or you seek to come to this country illegally by boat, you will never be allowed to stay here.
 

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, what’s  Indonesia’s motive though, do you think, in refusing to take this boatload back to Indonesia when on two previous occasions they’ve agreed to on-water transfers?

PRIME MINISTER:
 

I’m not going to comment on operational matters.  It’s not our practice to comment on operational matters. That just helps the people smugglers. That just helps those who want Australia’s policies to fail in this area. We have good cooperation with Indonesia and I believe that it’s strengthening all the time.

QUESTION:

Are they sending a message though? Do you think they are sending a message to Australia?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think we are sending a very strong message to people smugglers that one way or another their business model is defunct and their enterprise is at an end.
 

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, do you accept that you’ve surrendered here in turning back the boats?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, we have a range of options at our disposal. We reserve the right to put into place all of the policies that we took to the election and one of the options that we reserve to ourselves is the option of turning boats around where it’s safe to do so and certainly that’s something which is very much alive and people who come to this country illegally by boat have got to face the fact that they may well end up going back to that place from whence they came.
 

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, on the issue of entitlements, how do the changes announced today fix the problem? Isn’t the issue at the heart of this still the fact that it’s still self-regulated?

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s very important that Members of Parliament be able to do their jobs properly and the last thing we would want is Members of Parliament who are prisoners of their offices in Canberra or in the electorate. Members of Parliament have to travel to do their jobs properly. They should only travel when it is reasonably connected with the task of being an elected representative of the people of Australia and I think these changes will help to restore public confidence in our system.
 

QUESTION:

Do you think confidence has been damaged in the public’s perception of politicians by this affair?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think there are some people who like to believe the worst of others. I think the general public understand that Members of parliament do need to travel. If they are traveling in the course of their duties as elected representatives of the people, well, it’s right and proper that they should do so on entitlements. I think the vast majority of Members of Parliament do the right thing. The last thing I would want to suggest is that any of my colleagues are consciously doing the wrong thing. Occasionally mistakes are made. Occasionally people might believe in retrospect things could have been done better and that’s always going to be the case but I think this is an improved system. Is it going to be absolutely perfect? Well, in the end, I guess there’s always going to be arguments at the margin but I think this is an improved system.
 

QUESTION:

You talked about the carbon tax a number of times today. Of course, here in WA, we look like we could face a fresh Senate vote. Two questions on that. Do you think there should be a fresh election given the outcomes of those missing votes? Number two, do you think it presents an opportunity perhaps for West Australians to cast a vote perhaps against the carbon issue?

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s going to be up to the High Court, sitting as a court of disputed returns to determine what the consequences of this problem with the Electoral Commission might be. I think all Australians are dismayed and flabbergasted at the apparent loss of almost 1400 votes from one count to the next but whether there’s an election here in Western Australia will depend upon the High Court. If there is a new election it will be another opportunity for the people of Australia to say no to the carbon tax and frankly I welcome another opportunity for the people to participate in a referendum on the carbon tax.  If Bill Shorten wants to avoid referendum after referendum on the carbon tax, he will avoid being a carbon copy of his predecessors.

Thank you so much.

[ends]

Transcript - 23072

Social media message to mark the Opening of the 44th Parliament

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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: 10/11/2013

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23074

Transcript

With Parliament coming back this week, I want to report to you on the progress that the new Government has made since the election to implement the commitments that we made to the Australian people; to stop the boats, to abolish the big new taxes, to get the budget under control and to build the roads of the 21st Century.

Already significant progress has been made. This week we saved the car industry from the former Labor government’s $1.8 billion tax. This week we saved small business people and nurses and teachers from Labor’s hit on self-education expenses and already the Commission of Audit is underway to make government more efficient and more effective. Already boat arrivals are down some 90 per cent from their peak under the former government in July – but there’s more to do and that’s the job of the Parliament this week.

You’ve already voted on the carbon tax but now it’s the Parliament’s turn. This is my bill to reduce your bills. Abolishing the carbon tax will reduce the average household’s cost of living by $550 a year. On average it’ll take $200 off your power bill and $70 off your gas bill. This is the first big job of the new Parliament and I want to assure you that as far as the Government is concerned, it will happen.

The Parliament is coming back and I want to assure you that as far as the Government is concerned the adults are back in charge – that’s what you expect, that’s what you want and that’s what you deserve.

Transcript - 23074

Typhoon Haiyan

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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: 11/11/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23075

I join my fellow Australians in expressing our deepest sympathies to the people of the Philippines in the wake of the terrible loss of life and damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan.

The Australian Government has already offered almost $400,000 for emergency relief supplies, including sleeping mats, mosquito nets, water containers as well as health and hygiene kits to assist those affected by this natural disaster.

Three Australian disaster experts are on the ground providing assistance to the Philippine Government and the United Nations to conduct a rapid needs assessment in the worst affected areas of the country.

I have written to the President of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III, to pass on our thoughts and prayers to the Philippine people and to offer further disaster support if and when it is needed.

Sadly, a 49 year old Australian man, who had been living in the Philippines, has perished in this tragedy. The Australian Government is providing consular assistance to his family. The Department of Foreign Affairs is continuing to investigate whether more Australians in the Philippines have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

Australians who have concerns for the welfare of family and friends in the region, should first attempt to contact them directly.

Those unable to contact friends and family and who hold concerns for their welfare, should call the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on 1300 555 135 or +61 2 6261 3305 from outside Australia.

Transcript - 23075

Remarks at Meeting with UK Prime Minister David Cameron

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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: 15/11/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23092

Location: Colombo, Sri Lanka

I’m thrilled to be here at my first Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. It’s great to be with David Cameron.

Britain, as David says, is Australia’s oldest friend. We have so much in common. We have a history. We have so many shared institutions. We have shared values. We have shared interests. This is a very, very close relationship and I look forward to it going from strength to strength in the months and years ahead.

Certainly the Commonwealth is an extraordinary association. It's one based not on wealth, geography, not even on necessarily mutual interests but on shared values and I think institutions and associations like this are important in the modern world.

[ends]

Transcript - 23092

Additional $20 Million to Help the Phillipines Recovery From Typhoon Haiyan

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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: 14/11/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23090

The Australian Government will provide a further $20 million and deploy additional Australian Defence Force logistic support to help the Philippines to respond to Typhoon Haiyan, bringing total Australian assistance to over $30 million.

As a good friend and neighbour, Australia stands beside the Philippines as it deals with this humanitarian disaster.

The additional funds will be used to address serious nutrition, child health and protection needs, purchase emergency foods and provide logistic support and non-food items.

Two Royal Australian Air Force aircraft, a C-17A Globemaster and a C-130J Hercules, have already deployed to the Philippines to assist the relief effort. Both arrived in the Philippines overnight, transporting Australian doctors, nurses, paramedics, other medical specialists, and ADF logistic support staff. The C-130J will transfer the medical personnel and equipment from Cebu to Tacloban

Defence has assigned an additional RAAF C-130J Hercules and stands ready to deploy a second C-17A Globemaster if required.

HMAS Tobruk has been diverted from her current tasking to be available to support the relief and recovery effort if requested by the Government of the Philippines. HMAS Tobruk is ideally suited to assist given her amphibious heavy lift capability, on board accommodation and ability to support helicopter and landing craft operations.

Providing safe drinking water and power is now critical. The ADF is preparing to provide water purification systems and power generators to Tacloban over the coming days.

Australian humanitarian and consular officials are already on the ground in the Philippines. If Australians are able to make their own way safely to the airport, they should do so. The Australian Government will offer flights from Tacloban to Cebu for those affected by the typhoon.A Travel Bulletin with the details was issued on 14 November, and will continue to be updated.  It is available on the Smart Traveller website http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/travelbulletins/Philippines_Departure_Options.

Those unable to contact Australian friends and family in the Philippines and who still hold concerns for their welfare, should call the DFAT 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on 1300 555 135 or +612 6261 3305 from outside Australia.

Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines on Saturday and the UN estimates that 11 million people may be affected. The further $20 million package includes:

  • $9 million to the United Nations’ appeal (UNICEF, WHO, WFP and OCHA)
  • $4 million to the International Red Cross Red Crescent
  • $2 million to the Australian Red Cross
  • $2 million to other Australian NGO
  • $1 million to local NGOs
  • deployment of Australian specialists including a medical team ($1m), AFP disaster management specialists, and DFAT humanitarian and consular experts (up to $1m).

14 November 2013

Transcript - 23090

Remembrance Day

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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: 11/11/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23076

At Remembrance Day services being held across Australia, today we remember the armistice which ended the Great War and the sacrifice of our armed forces in times of conflict.

On Remembrance Day we stop and observe that moment when the guns fell silent.

We remember the Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation and in the defence of our values.

They are our nation’s sons and daughters.

May our country’s remembrance of them and their sacrifice remain ever strong.

Lest we forget.

11 November 2013

Transcript - 23076

Interview with Alan Jones, Radio 2GB

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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: 11/11/2013

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23077

Subject(s): The Lodge

ALAN JONES:

Prime Minister, good morning.

PRIME MINISTER:

Good morning, Alan.

ALAN JONES:

You’re on the line from Canberra. The Lodge is being renovated. Where did you sleep last night?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I was at the police college which is where I’ve been for the last eight weeks or so. They’re quite hospitable, the students at the police college, and at 5:30 in the morning if I’m in the gym, they’re there in numbers and they’re always very friendly.

ALAN JONES:

How long are you going to be there for?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, as long as The Lodge is under repair. Now, I’m told they need to do quite a lot of work. There’s asbestos, I gather, in the roof. There’s wiring, there’s plumbing. Basically, the place hasn’t really had any major renovations or repairs since it was put up in the 1920s. So, it will probably be at least twelve months, Alan.

ALAN JONES:

Now, good news today of course. There’s been local heavy falls along the coast and they’re forecasting more so you won’t have to put the fire fighter’s uniform on.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, it was very soggy in Sydney yesterday morning. It was raining in Canberra overnight. So, yes, a reprieve for the fire fighters, but Alan, it’s the old story, you only need a couple of weeks of hot dry weather and the bushfires start again and that’s part of the Sydney summer.

ALAN JONES:

And you’ll continue to do that?

PRIME MINISTER:

I will, because as I once said to a colleague who thought I came into a Cabinet meeting smelling like a barbecue after a night with the brigade, I said you’ve got to be a human being before you can be a Cabinet Minister and I think you’ve got to be a human being before you can be a Prime Minister as well.

ALAN JONES:

Good on you. Well Parliament resumes tomorrow with all its pomp and splendour. You will enter it for the first time as Prime Minister. How will it function or how are you hoping it will function under you as Prime Minister and Bronwyn Bishop as Speaker?

PRIME MINISTER:

Alan, thanks for mentioning Bronwyn, because I think Bronwyn will be a very, very good Speaker. She loves the Parliament. She served in the Senate and in the House of Representatives. She understands the standing orders, but most of all, she understands that, in the end, the Parliament is bigger than any of its members and all of its members are there to serve the people, not to grandstand, not to big note themselves, not to think l'état, c'est moi. None of us should be allowed to get away with that and I think Bronwyn has the guts and the authority to sit down people who are abusing the Parliament, whether that’s the Prime Minister or the Treasurer or a senior minister or the Leader of the Opposition. I think Bronwyn will act as a Speaker without fear or favour.

ALAN JONES:

You’ve already decided I understand as Cabinet reports today that Australia will not be signing up to any new contributions, taxes or charges which might be discussed or agreed to at this climate change conference in Warsaw?

PRIME MINISTER:

One of the things that’s on the agenda is a climate finance fund and we’re not going to be making any contributions to that. We’re attempting to scale back the increase in our overseas aid commitments and that’s why we won’t be making new commitments in this area. We’re scaling back our commitments and as you and your listeners also know, Alan, we don’t believe that carbon taxes – whether they’re floating taxes or fixed taxes – are the way forward. We do want to get emissions down, but we want to get emissions down taking sensible steps that will plant more trees, improve our soils and use smarter technology and indeed doing this kind of thing well before a carbon tax came into being, Australian businesses have reduced their emissions intensity by some 50 per cent over the last two decades. So, we think that’s the sensible way forward.

ALAN JONES:

You’ve talked about this Warsaw business involving spending money and levying taxes as ‘socialism masquerading as environmentalism’.

PRIME MINISTER:

And that’s what we’re not going to be part of, Alan. We absolutely won’t be part of that. The carbon tax – which the former government put in place – was socialism masquerading as environmentalism. It was a great big new tax, a great big new bureaucracy, a great big new fund and that’s why it needs to go and the point that I hope the Parliament will be making this week is that we want to get rid of the carbon tax. The only people who want to keep the carbon tax are the Labor Party and the Greens. I think the Labor Party will come to its senses because, in the end, the Labor Party wants to govern, not…

ALAN JONES:

My understanding is that Shorten was rolled on Friday on this issue; that he was arguing that the government, your government, should be allowed to repeal the tax, but that the Party itself. Of course, he got the leadership with the left’s support, he’s most probably compromised before the Parliament is assembled, surely?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, let’s wait and see. I thought he was dancing around this a bit on one of the interviews he gave yesterday, but the point I’ll be making, Alan, is that the people voted on the carbon tax. They voted to reject it. This week, the Parliament will get its chance and I’ll be saying when I introduce the carbon tax repeal bill: this is my bill to reduce your bills; this is my bill to reduce everyone else’s bills; this is my bill to reduce the bill that you and your listeners pay, Alan, every time your power bill comes through.

ALAN JONES:

These leaks unleashed by the disgruntled US National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden. Do they have the potential to sour the relationship that you established with Indonesia when you visited Jakarta on your first overseas trip? I mean, it is true isn’t it that governments tend to feign outrage in such situations. Indonesia wouldn’t have been under no illusion about Australia listening to its communications, but is there a bit of tension there now that wasn’t there a couple of weeks ago?

PRIME MINISTER:

Alan, look, I think the Indonesians are realists. I think they know that every government gathers information from all sorts of sources. Every government does – always has, always will – but our point is that we don’t comment on intelligence matters. We don’t comment on ours, they don’t comment on theirs and the point is that whatever we do, it’s designed to build up our relationships with our friends and neighbours, countries like Indonesia. So, look, you may well get a bit of hyperventilating in the press, hyperventilating on both sides of this particular issue, but I think that our relationship with Indonesia is good and getting better all the time.

ALAN JONES:

There were headlines at the weekend that Indonesia had drawn a line through your turn back the boats policy; senior ministers saying that Jakarta had no obligation to take back asylum seekers picked up at sea unless lives were at risk and so those 60 asylum seekers have gone, have they, to Christmas Island?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, they’ll be in Manus and Nauru very, very quickly, because we’ve now got a 48 hour turnaround policy. If anyone does get to Christmas Island illegally by boat, within 48 hours those people are in Manus or Nauru. So, they’re not going to end up in Australia. But the point is, Alan, that these people were in a search and rescue situation in the Indonesian search and rescue zone. Now, the normal international law is that if you are rescued in a country’s search and rescue zone, that country has an obligation to take you. You can go to the nearest port and the nearest port is normally the port that is in the country whose search and rescue zone you’ve been picked up in. Now, we have good and improving relations with Indonesia on this and I wouldn’t want to make too much of what did or didn’t happen on Friday. We will continue to do our job to uphold the ordinary law of the sea and I think other countries will do theirs.

ALAN JONES:

Yes, I should say for the benefit of our listeners. In the 54 days that the government’s Operation Sovereign Borders up until last Friday and in that 54 days, 561 people arrived illegally by boat. In the previous 54 days, 2,399 turned up under Labor’s policies and in the same period last year, 4,181 arrived. So, boat arrivals are down, costs to taxpayers are down – hardly the disarray the ABC and the Fairfax media would present. Prime Minister, are you going to CHOGM? Senator Lee Rhiannon was detained by immigration officials as you know in Colombo. She was on a fact-finding visit and I noticed that people such as Stephen Harper and indeed the Indian Prime Minister have said they’re not going – concerns there over human rights. Will you be going?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, I will Alan, because I respect the Commonwealth and I want Australia to be a good participant in the Commonwealth. I want us to be a good international citizen generally, but I certainly don’t want us to trash one of the very long-standing and important bodies that we are a senior member of. So, I’ll be going to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka. The other point that is quite important is that Sri Lanka has been a source of illegal arrivals by boat, but the Sri Lankan Government is very committed to stopping the boats. It readily takes back people who have come to Australia illegally by boat from Sri Lanka and if a country is cooperating fully and effectively with Australia, it seems right and proper to maintain the best possible relations with them.

ALAN JONES:

There is talk nonetheless about human rights abuses being so serious some saying that CHOGM should be scrapped; talk of massive illegal land confiscation by the armed forces, people being jailed and detained with regular disregard for legal rights, violence often involving rape of women and children with no police investigation and ongoing intimidation of media workers. Two Australian journalists had their passports held recently in all of that and the UN has estimated up to 100,000 lives including 40,000 civilians were lost in the last months of that civil war fighting. Stephen Harper has cited the country’s human rights record as a reason for pulling out. Will you be making some of those observations when you go to CHOGM?

PRIME MINISTER:

Alan, to be honest, I am not inclined to go overseas and give other countries lectures; really aren’t. Now Sri Lanka had a horrific civil war – an absolutely horrific civil war – and the Tamil Tigers were the inventors of suicide bombing. The Tamil Tigers were an absolutely vicious outfit. Now, that’s not to say that the atrocities were all on one side. I don’t pretend that for a second. The Sri Lankan army fought a savage war against the Tamil Tigers and yes, terrible things happened in that war, no doubt about it and it wasn’t all on one side. I accept that. But the war is over. Thank god the war is over. My understanding is that ordinary civil society is resuming in the Tamil parts of Sri Lanka. I don’t say everything’s perfect there for a second, but I think things are getting better and while, yes, I will be urging the Sri Lankan Government to respect everyone’s rights, I think I will also be acknowledging that a lot of progress has been made and in the end the most important civil right is the right to live without the threat of death or horrific violence through some civil war.

ALAN JONES:

There seems to be confusion, definitional confusion in Canberra, between foreign investment and foreign ownership. I don’t know anyone who’s opposed to foreign investment, and indeed, common sense tells you there will always be a capital shortfall here and we need foreign investment. That’s different from saying well we sell Cubbie Station, or we sell GrainCorp or we allow Warrnambool Cheese and Butter to be merged not with Bega Cheese or with Murray Goulburn but be taken over by a Canadian outfit, Saputo or a Japanese dairy company, Kirin. Have you got some thoughts about that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, yes, Alan and I understand people’s concerns in this area because we do want to maintain control over our own country and obviously we want our national interest to be advanced by foreign investment and that’s why we’ve got a process in place which involves Foreign Investment Review Board scrutiny and ultimate decisions by the Treasurer. Now, we do need foreign investment as you rightly said. Our mining industry, our motor industry, our agricultural industry wouldn’t be as strong as they are without foreign investment but it does have to be the right investment not the wrong investment…

ALAN JONES:

And where does foreign ownership – this is what people are worried about. I mean do we then sell GrainCorp to foreigners? Do we sell Cubbie Station to foreigners? Do we sell land to foreigners? Dairy farms, so that they can have paddock to plate, they can grow the product here and feed people in Qatar and in India? Where, at the end of the day, do we stand in all of this?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, again, I think it depends; for instance, I’m perfectly happy to have, for argument’s sake, that big Citic iron ore mine in Western Australia because that Chinese state-owned enterprise has invested $8 billion in our country to produce something from nothing, so…

ALAN JONES:

That we couldn’t have produced, we wouldn’t have had the capital to do it, yep.

PRIME MINISTER:

Exactly. So, look, if they’re buying the farm, that’s one thing. If they’re building the farm, I think that’s another thing.

ALAN JONES:

They’re not building the farm, they’re buying it, aren’t they? You’re dead right.

PRIME MINISTER:

This is the distinction, Alan, that I think we have to be conscious of and this is why I think all of these things need to be judged on a case-by-case basis.

ALAN JONES:

Do you have a view on this Warrnambool Cheese and Butter? I mean it seems that competition policy here would say, oh, hang on, we can’t merge Warrnambool Cheese and Butter with Bega Cheese or Murray Goulburn because that would reduce competition even though the Woolworths and Coles experience seems to be entirely different. So, we’ve got a Canadian outfit or a Japanese outfit rather than providing the wherewithal to build an Australian capacity to take on the massive Asian market.

PRIME MINISTER:

And I think this one is still in play. There are lots of different businesses that are circling Warrnambool Cheese and Butter. The fact that it is of interest to so many businesses, local and foreign, means that it obviously is a pretty good business itself and all credit to the people behind Warrnambool Cheese and Butter. Let’s wait and see who looks like the favoured bidder and I think all of us emotionally hope that the favoured bidder is either Bega Cheese or Murray Goulburn.

ALAN JONES:

Absolutely. Just a final thing. As I’m speaking to you, 750,000 fruit trees in the Goulburn Valley are being ripped out of the ground – a national asset which we are trashing. The World Trade Organisation has rules here where the host nation – in this instance, Australia – can impose an emergency tax or a tariff on imports if those imports are damaging a local industry and that’s allowed under the World Trade Organisation. Now, SPC Ardmona asked the Gillard Government to impose this emergency tax or tariff to save our food processing, to save our farmers. The government wasn’t interested. We’re a member of the World Trade Organisation. It’s got this safeguards agreement. What do we way to these poor farmers that are just having their asset trashed? You can’t replace this?

PRIME MINISTER:

I absolutely accept that, Alan, and this is why it’s important that we have a very strong anti-dumping regime and we did take a much stronger policy to the election than that which was followed by the former government. Once there is a prima facie case of dumping our policy is that the onus shifts and it’s up to…

ALAN JONES:

Just explain dumping to our listeners.

PRIME MINISTER:

Dumping is when a foreign enterprise is selling goods into the Australian market, effectively for less than the cost of production and less than the cost of transport. So, where they’re attempting to drive out of the market place an Australian producer, that’s dumping, and that’s where you do have a right, under the World Trade Organisation rules to impose, if you like, a punitive tariff. Now, what we’re saying – and these are changes which we are in the process of making – what we are saying is that once there is a prima facie case of dumping, rather than the dumpee having to prove that this is happening beyond, at least on the balance of probabilities, it will be up to the dumper to disprove that it’s happening. That’s the reverse onus of proof.

ALAN JONES:

Meanwhile, what’s to happen to these 750,000 fruit trees? I mean, Julie Bishop said last week, sensibly I think, that Australian taxpayers fork out $5 billion in foreign aid. The aid should be aligned with the national interest. Why couldn’t the government say, leave the fruit trees there, we’ll buy the fruit and this will be a foreign aid substitute?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, look, it’s an interesting thought, Alan, but I just don’t know the logistics of buying a lot of fruit from SPC…

ALAN JONES:

So are these gone? Are these 750,000 fruit trees gone?

PRIME MINISTER:

Alan, I’m happy to keep talking to Sharman Stone about this because Sharman Stone, the local member down there in Shepparton…

ALAN JONES:

She knows her stuff, yep.

PRIME MINISTER:

…is absolutely passionate about her fruit growers. We will do what we can to ensure that they are competing on a level playing field but I’m just not sure about this, the logistics of buying the product and shipping it off overseas as foreign aid. I’m just not sure that that really does make sense.

ALAN JONES:

Ok, well thank you for the honest answer. Just on wind farms. I mean, you’re aware that everywhere the community now are being threatened by these things. The New South Wales Government is recommending approval for a wind farm at Collector, not far from where you’re talking to me now. Sixty-three turbines, they’re owned by a Thai generating company. The Gullan Range Windfarm, currently being constructed 20 kilometres west of Goulburn – it’s run by a Chinese company, 73 wind turbines. Where do the public get a look in here? You’ve heard from Angus Taylor and others. Where do they get a look in as to the damage this is doing these people from a health point of view, from an environmental point of view, plus the fact that they can’t survive without subsidies?

PRIME MINISTER:

And Alan, if you drive down the Federal Highway from Goulburn to Canberra…

ALAN JONES:

It’s an absolute eyesore.

PRIME MINISTER:

…and you look at Lake George, yes, there’s an absolute forest of these things on the other side of the lake near Bungendore. So, I absolutely understand why people are anxious about these things that are sprouting like mushrooms all over the fields of our country. I absolutely understand the concerns that people have and I also understand the difficulty because while renewable power is a very good idea at one level, you’ve got to have backups because when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, the power doesn’t flow. So, this is an obvious problem with renewable energy in the absence of much more sophisticated battery technology than we have right now. We are going to review the renewable energy targets. There was going to be a review anyway next year. We’re taking this review very seriously and one of the things that we’ll be looking at is the impact of renewable energy on power prices because not only is the carbon tax adding about nine per cent to everyone’s power bills – and we’re going to get rid of that as quickly as we can – renewable energy targets are also significantly driving up power prices right now.

ALAN JONES:

Good to talk to you and all the best tomorrow. It’s a very significant day for you and I thank you for your time.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you so much, Alan.

[ends]

Transcript - 23077

Address at the Welcome to Country Ceremony

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: 12/11/2013

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 23078

This Parliament always has great work to do: to secure our borders, to balance our budget, to strengthen our economy, to the relief of families and for the protection of jobs.

But if we are to do great things, we must begin them well. We must begin them well.

We must acknowledge the extended family of the Australian nation.

We must acknowledge and celebrate the essential unity of the Australian people.

It’s Noel Pearson, a great indigenous leader and a prophet for our times, who has observed that Australia is the product of a British and an indigenous heritage. This Parliament is redolent of our British heritage. But only recently has this Parliament acknowledged our indigenous heritage.

The first Parliament to meet here in this city 86 years ago was opened by the Duke of York. There was one indigenous person present that day. Matilda has already recalled the presence on that day of a local man, Jimmy Clements. And that man on the side of the ceremony was every bit as much a symbol of unity as the representative of the Crown, because Jimmy Clements, although unacknowledged that day, carried with him an Australian flag.

Haven’t we changed over 86 years? Haven't we come a long way? This city has come a long way. Our country has come a long way. And this Parliament has come a very long way indeed.

We have had indigenous members of this Parliament.

We have in Ken Wyatt, the first indigenous member of the House of Representatives.

In this term of Parliament we have in Nova Peris the first female indigenous member of this Parliament.

Two indigenous members of this Parliament, in this, the 44th Parliament of our country.

May that number increase. May we one day, not too far off, have an indigenous Prime Minister.

Who would have thought that the Northern Territory would have an indigenous Chief Minister?

But if we can have our first female Senator, indigenous Senator, our first indigenous Member of the House of Representatives, if we can have an indigenous Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, we certainly can have an indigenous Prime Minister of this country and we certainly can have in this Parliament, or the next, full recognition of indigenous people in the Constitution of our country.

There is much that I dispute with my predecessor as Prime Minister, Mr Kevin Rudd, but I honour him for the historic apology to indigenous people that took place at the opening of this Parliament in 2008 and I honour him for including this indigenous element in the rituals of our Parliament, which is so fittingly now a part of the opening of a new parliamentary term.

[ends]

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