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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Abbott, Tony

Press Conference, 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: 12/11/2013

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23079

Subject(s): Opening of the 44th Parliament

PRIME MINISTER:

Good afternoon and welcome to the 44th Parliament. Obviously, the 44th Parliament is now getting down to business. We elected a new Speaker this morning. The Governor-General's speech comes this afternoon and from tomorrow the legislative agenda of the new Government will be dealt with by the Parliament.

There are five very significant bills that will be going into the Parliament tomorrow and subsequently this week. The first and most important is the carbon tax repeal legislation. This is an absolutely vital piece of legislation. It is at the heart of the Government's mandate. The people got to vote on the carbon tax at the election and in the days to come this Parliament will get to vote on the carbon tax and I trust that ‘Electricity’ Bill Shorten will have a light bulb moment and will appreciate that the people's verdict must be respected if the pressure on families is to reduce and if the pressure on jobs is to reduce.

Then, of course, there's legislation to deal with Labor's debt legacy and the last thing that the Labor Party should be threatening is the kind of stand-off in the parliament that we've seen in other countries over this kind of issue. The Labor Party often attacks the Coalition for being obstructive. Every time the former government brought this kind of legislation into the Parliament for the good of our country, we were prepared to pass the legislation and I would commend our example in the last Parliament to the Opposition in this Parliament.

Then of course there's the mining tax repeal legislation and obviously the mining tax repeal legislation also involves repealing the spending associated with the mining tax. The mining tax overall was a multi-billion dollar hit on the Budget because it wasn't raising anything like the money which the Government said it would. And then there's important legislation to improve the governance of unions and to restore the rule of law in the commercial construction industry.

This is a Government which has made a strong start. Obviously, it's only a start but we have made a strong start and I am confident that we will make a strong start in the Parliament from tomorrow.

QUESTION:

A very senior and experienced Indonesian government adviser have said talks are under way in which Australia might accept people from Indonesian detention centres as part of some sort of boats deal. Is that right? Or do you rule out that prospect?

PRIME MINISTER:

Talks are under way with the Indonesian Government on a whole range of matters, at a whole range of different levels and I'm very pleased that we have such a close, constructive and cooperative relationship with the Indonesian Government. What I think you were specifically referring to, Joe, are discussions about how people who are picked up in the Indonesian search and rescue zone should be treated and obviously under normal search and rescue rules, people who are picked up in a country's search and rescue zone go to the nearest safe port in that country but we're discussing this with Indonesia. The one point, though, I really would like to stress on this whole boats issue is that the boats are stopping. There is still a long, long way to go but in the first two months of the new government we had a 75 per cent reduction on the last two months of the old government; and in the month of October there was a 90 per cent reduction on the peak month of July under the former government. So, while the boats certainly haven't stopped, they are, on the evidence, at least stopping.

QUESTION:

On that point, Mr Abbott, is the idea that you're working on that, for example, if 80 people were picked up in the Indonesian search and rescue zone, that Indonesia would take those people back but you would take 80 people who are considered genuine refugees or whatever, from their detention centres?

PRIME MINISTER:

One of the things that I'm not going to do – and one of the things that no government should do if it wants to get the best possible outcome for the Australian people – is engage in negotiations with another country, dare I say it, through the media. I respect that you obviously want to get as much information as you can out of me and my colleagues and, as a former journalist, I respect the imperative that you're under. But my job is to try to get the possible relationship with Indonesia and other countries that we're dealing with on this subject so that we do permanently and finally stop the boats. So, I'm just not going to comment other than to say that we are, of course, talking with the Indonesians, as you'd expect, about the best way of handling people who are picked up in their search and rescue zone.

QUESTION:

How did Minister Morrison's comments about no rhyme or reason to the Indonesian response stack up with your aspiration of a close relationship?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I'm not going to run a commentary on a commentary, so to speak. My determination is to work as closely and as collegially and as consultatively with the Indonesian Government and with other relevant governments such as the government of PNG and Sri Lanka and Malaysia to ensure that we permanently and finally stop this scourge, because as you all know, this is a deadly scourge. Hundreds of people have died over the last few years since the former government weakened its predecessor's border protection regime. It is an imperative of national policy that these boats stop and it should be a humanitarian imperative that these boats are stopped.

QUESTION:

Just on a different topic, Prime Minister. Maurice Newman last night said many things amongst which he said the NDIS and school funding reforms are recklessly expensive, the minimum wage was too high and the IR system was too rigid. Do you agree with any of those sentiments?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, Maurice is the Chairman, as you know, of the PM's Economic Advisory Council and you would expect robust advice from someone who amongst many other things is a former chairman of the ABC. But, in the end, Maurice is one of a range of voices that the Government takes very seriously. What we are not going to do is break our fundamental commitments to the Australian people and one of our fundamental commitments was to turn the NDIS from a dream and an aspiration into an affordable and sustainable reality and we are going to do that. We said that we would match the former government's spending commitments over the forward estimates period when it came to school funding and we will do that but look, I absolutely accept that the former government has left a shocking fiscal legacy, an absolutely shocking fiscal legacy, and it's very important that that be dealt with. But we'll deal with it in ways which are consistent with the commitments we took to the election. Michelle?

QUESTION:

If you can't get your mining tax package repealed before Christmas, or early next year, how much is that going to cost the Budget in terms of those other measures like the school kids' bonus in the current financial year?

PRIME MINISTER:

Obviously, it will be expensive. I accept that. I accept that – not one that I’m going to bandy around here – because I accept that if it doesn’t happen it will be expensive for the Budget but I don’t expect that it won’t happen because, as I said, I think ‘Electricity Bill’ will have a light bulb moment at some point in time and he will understand that there is no future for political parties which tell the electorate that they got it wrong. Parties sometimes get it wrong. The electorate doesn’t get it wrong on issues like this.

QUESTION:

Yesterday you expressed frustration, you thought that the people who were rescued last week should have been returned to Indonesia. The safety of life at sea convention is fairly flexible on that. It says they don’t have to be returned to a port where the rescue happened. I want to ask you about that. I also want to you ask you about, you say that you want to lift the tone and lift respect in Parliament. If so, why do you keep using that pejorative ‘Electricity Bill’?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, it would probably be ruled out of order in the Parliament, I accept that, and obviously when I’m in the Parliament I am subject to the standing orders as interpreted by Speaker Bronwyn Bishop, or Madam Speaker, I probably should say. So, let’s see where things go in the Parliament. As I say, I certainly want the Parliament to be better as well as different this time and I think that’s what Bronwyn wants as well and if there’s anyone in the Parliament who is going to act without fear or favour it’s Bronwyn Bishop.

Now on the other subject, Sabra, look, our determination is to try to ensure that we have a good and constructive, a better and even more constructive relationship with Indonesia every day, and that means talking to them about the sorts of things which happen in the Indonesian search and rescue zone. As things stand, we have had a stronger naval and customs presence in much of their search and rescue zone than they have themselves and that’s why inevitably in a whole range of search and rescue situations people have ended up on Australian boats, but the Indonesian search and rescue zone is obviously the prime responsibility of that country. We will do what we can. We will not shirk our duties and our obligations when it comes to life at sea but all of these things are happening in Indonesia’s search and rescue zone. That’s why it’s important that we have the best possible relationship with Indonesia on this subject.

Yes, David?

QUESTION:

On the global climate change talks in Warsaw this week, what approach do you want your government to take to those negotiations? If there is discussion about $100 billion in climate financing will you say no to further contributions? If there’s discussion of compensating for loss and damage, would you say no to that and would you also be very cautious about any increase in the five per cent commitment by 2020?

PRIME MINISTER:

David, our position at the discussions in Warsaw will be absolutely what our position is back here in Australia and that is that we accept that climate change happens, that mankind, humanity, make a contribution to it and it’s important that we take strong and effective action against it. We will meet our five per cent emissions reduction target but this government has made no commitments to go further than that and we certainly want to get emissions down as far as we reasonably can but we are certainly in no way looking to make further binding commitments in the absence of very serious like-binding commitments in other countries and there’s no evidence of that.

QUESTION:

You had previously committed to or agreed to, as policy, targets between five and 25 per cent on a specific range of conditions. Is that still your policy or has that changed?

PRIME MINISTER:

Lenore, we have made one commitment and one commitment only, which is to reduce our emissions by five per cent. Now, that commitment stands. It’s a commitment that we have been absolutely upfront about ever since I have been the Leader of the Opposition, we have never made any commitments, any commitments to further binding targets over and above that and we won’t, in the absence, Lenore, of absolutely clear evidence that other countries are going to take a very serious alike approach. Now, we want to get emissions down. We all do. We all want to rest lightly on the planet and the great thing about Australia is that we have got our emissions intensity down by some 50 per cent over the last two decades just because your average business or enterprise here in Australia wants to reduce its power bill. There’s the classic case of Linfox which has reduced its own emissions by some 40 per cent just because it wants to save money and it wants to run the most efficient possible operation. Now, we want our economy to be efficient. We want our businesses to be effective and to have low costs and that’s going to bring our emissions down particularly in conjunction with our direct action policy.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, you’re repealing the carbon tax but what’s your advice to companies that say well we’ll hold off on paying our liabilities because we think it’s going to be repealed and we really don’t have to pay this money. As an example, when Clive Palmer was asked about it today.

PRIME MINISTER:

Obviously, everyone has an existing carbon tax liability and while the carbon tax remains, there will be a liability. I want the liability to be as low as possible. That’s why I want to repeal the carbon tax as quickly as possible and let’s not forget that as long as the carbon tax lasts, that’s a $550 a year hit on households. It’s a $200 a year hit on power bills. It’s a $70 a year hit on gas bills. I want that impost to come off. I want that impost to come off as soon as possible and the best Christmas present that Bill Shorten could give the people of Australia who are struggling with these high costs is to actually respect their mandate and let this Bill pass.

QUESTION:

What do you say to companies that are just holding off on paying that liability? Should the tax office chase them?

PRIME MINISTER:

They’ve got to pay their bills, obviously, and everyone’s bills will be lower if my bill to repeal the carbon tax is passed, by that Bill – ‘Electricity Bill Shorten’ – over there in the Opposition suite.

QUESTION:

You’ve had a fairy combative relationship with Clive Palmer in the past. How do you feel about him now that he’s an MP and do you think you would like to meet with him?

PRIME MINISTER:

When he was part of the Liberal Party I met with him from time to time. I understand that from time to time he still meets with some of my colleagues, as you would expect, of Queenslanders. I certainly expect that from time to time he will want to see me. From time to time, I may want to see him and I will treat him with the respect and the courtesy and the consideration that every Member of Parliament who wants to talk to a Prime Minister deserves.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, it's known that you claimed travel allowance on the Pollie Pedal. Isn't it true that at least in recent times that the accommodation and food for the Pollie Pedal was provided by the organisers? If that is the case, do you think your claim of travel allowance is legitimate?

PRIME MINISTER:

That's not correct. There was, as I recall, the organisers as part of the ride fee and I've always paid the ride fee as part of the ride fee, you got I think muesli bars and I think you might have got a bowl of cornflakes or Weet-Bix at the start of the day, I think you got access to a tent site at a caravan park and look, I don't in any way apologise, Dennis, for claiming TA for the Pollie Pedal because the Pollie Pedal is a perfectly legitimate form of engagement with the community. It’s precisely the kind of engagement with the community that I think politicians who are serious about representing the people of Australia should have.

QUESTION:

Did you sleep in those tents and did you eat with your fellow Pollie Pedallers?

PRIME MINISTER:

On occasions, yes to both.

QUESTION:

In lieu of Bill Shorten agreeing to your, to abolish carbon pricing, your government will still get revenues of $3 or $4 billion this year from the carbon tax. If it is like you said that such a toxic tax that's destroying business would you consider reducing the carbon price to zero or asking the Parliament to support that so it removes the impost from business immediately?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I am against the carbon tax. Whether it's a fixed tax or a floating tax, I am against the carbon tax. The Australian public are against the carbon tax, whether it's fixed or floating and the thing about a floating tax is that what sometimes floats down can float up very fast indeed. I know the European carbon price is pretty low at the moment but it has been as I recall at up to $50 a tonne albeit for a brief period and certainly the Europeans are talking about ways of getting the European carbon price up because, amongst other things, European governments are desperate to raise revenue. So, the whole problem with this carbon tax – whether it's a fixed tax or a floating tax – is that it's socialism masquerading as environmentalism. It damages our economies, it hurts our families, it jeopardises job security and on the basis of the former Government's modelling it wasn't even going to reduce our emissions by 5 per cent. That's why we're against it. We'll take two more questions.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, you wrote to the President of the Philippines yesterday offering further assistance. Have you heard back yet and how likely is it that you may send military or other assistance and secondly, on radio yesterday when asked about the CHOGM meeting in Sri Lanka you said that you wouldn't propose to lecture other governments on human rights. Do you think there's never any situation where you might appeal to other governments about human rights and why not do it with Sri Lanka next week?

PRIME MINISTER:

Karen, look, on the terrible, terrible situation in the Philippines, I obviously have conveyed my condolences to the President of the Philippines on the disaster which has struck that country. We have agreed to spend $10 million on disaster relief for the Philippines. There's a range of measures that will be undertaken under that. We'll be spending them materials, medicines. My understanding is that in the next day or so there'll be a civilian medical team taking off for the Philippines. We have a team on the ground which is looking at what is needed and I certainly don't rule out further assistance because the Philippines is a friendly neighbour whose people are suffering horribly as a result of this disaster and in the best traditions of Australia's mateship, we will stand by the people of the Philippines in their hour of need.

On the subject of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka, I don't propose to lecture the Sri Lankans on human rights. I accept that by Australian standards probably things could be done a little differently and maybe a little better. But they have had a terrible, terrible civil war, a terrible civil war – the savagery of which is almost unimaginable to Australians and I thank God that that civil war has ended. Yes, it ended brutally, but it has ended and things are much better in Sri Lanka now, much, much better for all Sri Lankans – Tamil and Sinhala. They are much better for all Sri Lankans now that that civil war has ended and I praise the Sri Lankan government not for everything it has done, but I praise the Sri Lankan government for having managed to end one of the world's longest running and most brutal awful civil wars.

QUESTION:

On the debt ceiling, Prime Minister, why has the figure been set so high at 500 and would you consider in the interests of getting it through as a priority, the Labor and Greens compromise of lowering it to 400?

PRIME MINISTER:

The former government basically were like bad tenants that trashed the house before they were evicted. They've been evicted and now they are trying to stop the new tenants from cleaning up the mess. That's essentially what's happening here. The Treasury advice is that based on the mess that we have inherited from Labor, that the debt will peak, that gross debt will peak significantly in excess of $400 billion. The only way we can be absolutely confident – in 2016 – the only way we can be absolutely confident that we will never again have to go to the Parliament. The only way we can absolutely be confident that Labor's debt legacy has been finally put in the past is by doing it this way, and if the Labor Party and Opposition members want to put their shameful fiscal history behind them, the best thing they can do is allow this legislation to pass, deal with Labor's debt legacy and let the repair squad get in and fix Labor's mess.

Thank you so much.

[ends]

Transcript - 23079

Interview with David Koch and Samatha Armytage, Sunrise, Seven Network

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: 13/11/2013

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23080

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

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Prime Minister, good morning to you.

PRIME MINISTER:

Good morning, Sam.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Now, you will be introducing legislation first thing to repeal the carbon tax. You don’t have Opposition support, though, so how will you tackle that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, Bill Shorten does actually want to repeal the carbon tax. He was overruled apparently by his Shadow Cabinet because the Labor Party and the Greens are still in denial about the election result. If people want to see their household bills reduced by $550 on average, if they want to see power bills down by $200, gas bills down by $70, they’ll want to see the carbon tax gone and that’s why in the end I think that ‘Electricity Bill’ Shorten will roll over. He doesn’t want to be just a carbon copy of Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd. He wants to be someone who listens to the electorate rather than thumb his nose at them.

DAVID KOCH:

Yesterday he was saying or telling us on Sunrise that he understands your mandate but he wants to know what other options you bring? Will you replace it with an ETS? What sort of climate change initiatives will you have to replace it? Will you have any or just forget it and move on?

PRIME MINISTER:

Kochie, we’ll have the policy that we took to the election and that’s our Direct Action policy for more trees, for better soils and for smarter technology. That’s the smart way to get emissions down, not an emissions trading scheme which under the former government’s own figures was not actually going to achieve our five per cent emissions reduction target.

DAVID KOCH:

Ok, so you’ve set that target which is good. Another issue of contention is our debt ceiling. Joe Hockey’s been talking a lot about that. You’re looking at legislation to up it to $500 billion which isn’t a lot in the overall scheme of things. The Opposition won’t support that.

PRIME MINISTER:

Kochie, Labor has left us with a shocking legacy of debt and this legislation that Joe Hockey will introduce today is about dealing with Labor’s debt legacy. When he was Treasurer back at Budget time, Wayne Swan admitted that because of Labor’s spending spree debt was going to go through the existing limit in December. On the 12th of December, Australia will be in breach, unless we get this legislation passed and now it seems that Bill Shorten and his cohorts want to act like the Tea Party in Washington and bring on some kind of crisis for our country. Well, they should accept that they got things wrong, they mucked things up and they should allow this legislation to deal with Labor’s debt legacy to pass through the Parliament.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Ok look we’ve heard a lot, Mr Abbott, about turning back the boats. The Opposition says you’re not stopping them, you’re hiding them. What do you say to that? And are you in talks with Indonesia about an asylum seeker swap?

PRIME MINISTER:

Sam, we certainly are in the process of stopping the boats. In the first two months of this government, illegal arrivals by boat were down 75 per cent on the last two months of the former government. In October, illegal arrivals by boat were down 90 per cent on the peak month for arrivals in July. So, things are improving all the time. What we’re not doing is offering a daily commentary on boats which is just a gift to people smugglers because our task is to stop the boats, not just to pander to people who are trying to promote conflict and tension between Australia and Indonesia.

DAVID KOCH:

Yep. Let’s get on to the future of the Parliament – first full day, if you like, mainly a ceremonial day yesterday. But the name-calling continues. Like, even in this interview you refer to Bill Shorten as, you know, ‘Electricity Bill’ Shorten. Tony Burke referred to Bronwyn Bishop as the wicked witch out of Harry Potter. Australians are a bit sort of sick and tired of this. Do you reckon it’s time for both sides to stop calling each other names and being a bit schoolboy-ish?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, Kochie, if Bill Shorten is to accept the election verdict and not oppose the carbon tax repeal bill, I’m happy to stop calling him ‘Electricity’ Bill but to, I suppose, dub someone ironically ‘Electricity Bill’ is hardly the worst form of abuse that any politician could engage in.

DAVID KOCH:

But it’s that whole name-calling which escalates, it did in the last Parliament. Do we really need it to continue into this one?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well as I said, what we are doing, what we are doing, Kochie, is we are purposefully and carefully implementing the policies that we took to the election and the difference between this Parliament and the last one, is that almost as soon as the Labor Party got re-elected they started breaking the policies and the promises that they took to the election.

DAVID KOCH:

Not really talking about names, there. Just quickly, will you leave superannuation alone? News stories saying 46 per cent of Australians don’t understand their super because the rules change all the time. Just leave it alone?

PRIME MINISTER:

Exactly. No unexpected adverse changes to superannuation.

DAVID KOCH:

Excellent.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Mr Abbott, we’re out of time. We were going to ask you about Clive Palmer and whether you’ve had the chance to meet with him but I imagine you’re probably glad we’re out of time. We won’t ask you about that.

PRIME MINISTER:

We’ll deal with that at the next interview, hey?

DAVID KOCH:

Ok. And what the girls are doing, too.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Your girls.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yeah, well, I’d like to know what they’re up to as well! They tend not to tell me!

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

While you’re away in Canberra I bet they’re having parties at Kirribilli House! Thanks, Prime Minister.

Transcript - 23080

Interview with Lisa Wilkinson, Today, Nine Network

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: 13/11/2013

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23081

Subject(s): Opening of the 44th Parliament

LISA WILKINSON:

Well, Prime Minister Tony Abbott faces his first Question Time today as the 44th Federal Parliament kicks off in earnest, and I'm pleased to say the Prime Minister joins us now. Prime Minister, good morning to you, thank you for joining us.

PRIME MINISTER:

Pleasure, Lisa.

LISA WILKINSON:

Now, Prime Minister, one of your election promises was greater government transparency and yet we've seen very little of you and many of your senior ministers in the nine weeks since the election. Why have you all been hiding?

PRIME MINISTER:

I don't believe that that's a fair suggestion, Lisa. Look, we've been out there talking when we've had something to say. We've been out there acting when we've had something to do but we aren't political exhibitionists and we don't believe in hogging the airwaves while we're actually getting on with the job of implementing government policy, and that's what people expect from their government. They expect their government to improve the running of the country, not to be constantly manipulating the media. They want us to be about substance, not spin.

LISA WILKINSON:

Well, the suggestion is that you are manipulating the media by stopping the flow of information to the public. These weekly briefings rather than daily updates on the asylum seeker issue often in these weekly updates, Scott Morrison, the Immigration Minister, refuses to answer questions. People are seeing that as a perfect example of stopping the flow of information?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think this is a bit of a, if you like, a media obsession. I don't think the public think that. I think the public are pleased that the flow of boats is actually reducing very dramatically. In the first two months of this Government, boat arrivals were 75 per cent down on the last two months of the former Government, and in October, boat arrivals were 90 per cent down on July, which was the peak month under the former government, and I think that's what people are interested in. They're interested in a government which actually delivers on its commitments, Lisa, and is in the process of stopping the boats.

LISA WILKINSON:

The boats have definitely slowed, I don't think anybody would argue that, but you promised to get tough and stop the boats, and twice now we've seen you back down to Indonesian pressure and accepted boats that were picked up in Indonesia's search-and-rescue zone. Why did you back down?

PRIME MINISTER:

Again, Lisa, I don't accept your assertion there. We have had very good cooperation with Indonesia in their search-and-rescue zone. Our relations with Indonesia are close and getting closer. Our cooperation is close and getting better all the time, but under the former government, the Australian Navy was essentially a taxi service for people smugglers and thank God that's stopped.

LISA WILKINSON:

Scott Morrison, again your Immigration Minister, says that Indonesia's policy has no rhyme or reason. He doesn't seem to agree with you?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, again, I don't run a commentary on everything that everyone has said. We have good relations with Indonesia, they're getting better all the time. These boats are mostly going down in Indonesia's search-and-rescue zone and we are constantly talking to the Indonesians about how we can best cooperate, first to stop the boats, and second to save life at sea.

LISA WILKINSON:

Are you discussing a people swap deal with Indonesia at the moment?

PRIME MINISTER:

We're talking about the sort of arrangements which ought to apply to people who are picked up by Australians in the Indonesian search-and-rescue zone.

LISA WILKINSON:

Alright. Meantime, first order of business today in the new Parliament is the carbon tax that you promised voters you would repeal, but it already looks like it could fail. That's a promise you are going to find very hard to keep, Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER:

It is a commitment that we made and it's a commitment that we are determined to keep. The people who aren't interested in the result of the election, who are still in denial about the result of the election are the Labor Party, and the bill, Lisa, that I am introducing into the Parliament this morning is my bill to reduce all of your bills, all of your power bills, and if the carbon tax repeal bill passes, every household's cost will go down by some $550 a year. Power bills will go down on average by $200 a year. Gas bills by $70 a year on average. For some reason, good old ‘Electricity’ Bill Shorten is standing in the way of everyone else's power bills going down, and we are doing precisely what we said we would do. The big difference, Lisa, between this Government and the last government, we made commitments at the election and are now implementing them. The former government made a commitment at the election never to have a carbon tax, and the first thing it did afterwards was break that commitment.

LISA WILKINSON:

But the problem is you may end up breaking this promise because you can't get it through Parliament. Are you prepared to go to a double dissolution if you can't get it through?

PRIME MINISTER:

We won't break the promise. We will not break the promise, and I say to the decent, honest members of the Labor Party, why are you putting up with a leader who is in denial about the election result? The Labor Party should do the right thing by the workers and the families of Australia and not stand in the way of scrapping this toxic tax.

LISA WILKINSON:

Alright. Also on the agenda today is your call to lift the debt ceiling from $300 to $500 billion. Joe Hockey says this is the Opposition playing Russian Roulette with the country's economy, but the Coalition under your leadership did in fact oppose the lifting of the debt ceiling with the previous Labor Government.

PRIME MINISTER:

That's not true. That's not true, Lisa.

LISA WILKINSON:

My understanding is that twice, twice you stood in the way of that?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, no, Lisa, we never opposed the former government's bills to raise the debt ceiling. We never opposed them.

LISA WILKINSON:

So you were happy for them to lift the debt ceiling?

PRIME MINISTER:

We were very critical. We were very critical of their policies. We said they were doing the wrong thing by our country. We said they were plunging our children and our grandchildren deeper and deeper into debt, but we never played fast and loose with this country's economic strength by trying to bung on a Tea Party-style situation in Australia. We never did that, never ever, and never would have done that. This Opposition, having criticised us as being relentlessly negative is now bunging on a Tea Party-style situation, a Washington Tea Party-style situation here in Canberra.

LISA WILKINSON:

But won't that $500 billion put our grandchildren into deeper debt?

PRIME MINISTER:

This bill is designed to clear up Labor's debt legacy. Under Labor's policy, the latest Treasury advice says gross debt is skyrocketing past $400 billion. Treasurer Swan in the Budget earlier this year, said, yes, there would be a problem, the debt limit would be exceeded later in the year, but he squibbed it. He basically said, "This will be a problem for the next government." Now, having trashed the place fiscally, the Labor Party, the former government, the now Opposition, they are trying to stop us from fixing the mess. This is utterly dishonourable behaviour.

LISA WILKINSON:

Alright, Prime Minister, first day of the Parliament under way today. We hope that your wish for a kinder, gentler parliamentary time is something that will come true and we thank you very much for your time this morning.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, that's Bronwyn Bishop who will be presiding today, Lisa, and if there is anyone who can ensure the decent standards of behaviour are maintained, it's Bronwyn Bishop.

LISA WILKINSON:

She certainly looked very comfortable in the seat yesterday, Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER:

She did.

LISA WILKINSON:

Thanks very much.

 [ends]

Transcript - 23081

Introduction of Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013

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: 13/11/2013

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 23082

I introduce the Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013.

The Australian people have already voted upon this Bill.

Now, the Parliament gets its chance.

Madam Speaker, the election was a referendum on the Carbon Tax.

The people have spoken.

Now, it’s up to this Parliament to show that it’s listened.

The Australian people have pronounced their judgment against the Carbon Tax: they want it gone and this bill delivers.

It delivers on the Coalition’s commitment to the Australian people to scrap this toxic tax.

It is also, Madam Speaker, a cornerstone of the Government’s plan for a stronger economy built on lower taxes, less regulation and stronger businesses.

Madam Speaker, repealing the carbon tax should be the first economic reform of this Parliament and it will be followed by further economic reforms: bills to repeal the mining tax, to restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission and to deal with Labor’s debt legacy.

Madam Speaker, the first impact of this bill will be on households whose overall costs will fall $550 a year on average.

Thanks to this bill, household electricity bills will be $200 lower next financial year without the Carbon Tax.

Household gas bills will be $70 lower next financial year without the Carbon Tax.

Prices for groceries, for household items and for services will also fall because the price of power is embedded in every price in our economy.

This is our bill to reduce your bills, to reduce the bills of the people of Australia.

When the price of power comes down, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will be ready to ensure these price reductions are passed on to households and businesses.

But families and pensioners will keep the tax cuts and benefit increases already provided.

The Carbon Tax will go, but the carbon tax compensation will stay so that every Australian should be better off.

Repealing the Carbon Tax will reduce costs for all Australian businesses, every single one of them.

Madam Speaker the previous Government said and argued that only big business paid the Carbon Tax.

That simply wasn’t true.  Every small business paid the Carbon Tax through higher electricity and gas bills and higher costs for supplies.

As well, Madam Speaker, the Carbon Tax acts as a reverse tariff.

Not only does the Carbon Tax make it more difficult for Australian businesses to compete abroad, it makes it more difficult for domestic businesses to compete at home – because there is no Carbon Tax on imports.

Madam Speaker, repealing the Carbon Tax removes over 1,000 pages of primary and subordinate legislation.

Repealing the Carbon Tax cuts the size of the climate change bureaucracy.

So, repealing the Carbon Tax will reduce the cost of living, make jobs more secure and improve the competitive position of our country.

That’s what it does: it reduces the cost of living, it makes jobs more secure and improves the competitive position of our country.

Why would anyone be against that, particularly when it’s what the Australian people have just voted for?

Madam Speaker, repealing the Carbon Tax is what the employers and what the jobs providers of our country want now.

The Business Council of Australia “supports the wind-up of the current carbon pricing mechanism because it places excessive costs on business and households and because (our) carbon charge…is now one of the highest in the world”.

The carbon tax has ripped through the economy, hitting schools, hospitals, nursing homes, charities, churches, council swimming pools and community centres.

It has hit each and every group and each and every individual that uses power – and that was always its goal: to make electricity more expensive.

That was the intention of the previous government, to put power prices up because that was their way of reducing carbon emissions.

The intention of the new government is to put power prices down by axing this toxic tax and by using other means to reduce emissions.

By reducing the cost of electricity and gas, we will help to make households better off, workers more secure and our economy stronger.

No one should be in any doubt – the Government is repealing the Carbon Tax in full.

We are not playing word games.

We are not playing tactical political games.

We are doing what we were elected to do.

Others have said they would terminate the Carbon Tax, but they were only renaming it.

Well, Madam Speaker, we are not renaming it.

We are not floating it.

We are not keeping the machinery in place so we can dust it off in the future.

We are abolishing the Carbon Tax in full.

We have said what we mean and we will do what we say – the Carbon Tax goes. It goes.

Madam Speaker, repealing the Carbon Tax at the end of the financial year provides certainty for business and it simplifies the transition.

It means that this Government will not be proceeding with the previous Government’s legislated Carbon Tax increase that would have taken effect from the 1st of July next year.

As well, Labor’s Carbon Tax changes for the on-road fuel costs of heavy vehicles that were going to commence on the 1st of July 2014 will not happen.

That saves consumers the previous Government’s planned increase in the price of everything that had to be trucked around the country.

Madam Speaker, unfortunately, the new Government cannot undo the past, we can only make the future better – and that is what we intend to do.

Madam Speaker, under this Government, the Carbon Tax will not apply from 1 July so there will be no need for further compensation packages.

We will end the merry-go-round of Carbon Tax industry assistance that takes from one pocket and puts less back in the other.

Madam Speaker, we will ensure that the benefits of repealing the Carbon Tax are passed on to consumers.

The ACCC will have further powers to take action against any business that engages in price exploitation in relation to the Carbon Tax repeal.

Penalties of up to $1.1 million for corporations and $220,000 for individuals will apply.

Madam Speaker, the Government is repealing the Carbon Tax because there is a less complicated and less costly way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – a way that will actually reduce emissions and won’t damage the economy.

The Government will scrap the Carbon Tax and then proceed with its Direct Action Plan.

The centrepiece of the Direct Action Plan will be the Emissions Reduction Fund – a market-based mechanism for reducing carbon dioxide emissions; a Fund which provides a powerful and direct additional incentive for businesses to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

The Fund will use positive incentives to reduce Australia’s emissions.

Direct Action through the Fund means more trees, better soils and smarter technology and this is the right way to get emissions down.

Madam Speaker, the Carbon Tax is a $9 billion hit on the economy this year alone.

It is a $9 billion burden on jobs, a $9 billion burden on investment and a $9 billion burden on Australia that we just don’t need.

So, Madam Speaker, this bill gets rid of it.

This bill is the Government’s Bill to reduce people’s bills and I so commend this bill to the House.

[ends]

Transcript - 23082

Remarks at the launch of the Australia-Indonesia Centre, 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: 13/11/2013

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 23083

Bapak Vice President, Professors, Excellencies.

It is an honour for me to be here in the presence of the Vice President to formally launch this important venture.

As all of us know, not least the Vice President, there have been many Indonesians come to Australia to study over the years.

I am determined to ensure that there are more Australians going to Indonesia to study.

As time goes by, I would like to see more Indonesian tourists in Australia and more Australian students in Indonesia.

I would like to see more complementarity in our relationship as time goes by.

This new centre is an important way to deepen the academic and cultural exchange between our two countries.

It is an important way to deepen the mutual understanding between our two countries.

This is vitally important for the future of our two countries. Certainly, it is vitally important for Australia.

Indonesia is a very, very important relationship – in the broad, probably Australia’s single most important relationship by virtue of Indonesia’s size, proximity and massive potential to be not just a superpower of Asia, but a democratic superpower of Asia.

So, I think this is an important development for both our countries.

I am very honoured to be involved in this with my friend, Bapak Vice President, who has had such a deep personal experience of education here in Australia.

[ends]

Transcript - 23083

Productivity Commission inquiry into infrastructure costs

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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: 13/11/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23084

The Government will commence a thorough examination of infrastructure costs and financing in Australia with a new Productivity Commission inquiry.

This inquiry delivers on a key Coalition commitment and forms part of the Government’s ambitious infrastructure agenda.

The Terms of Reference for the inquiry provide scope for the Productivity Commission to analyse and report on the following areas:

  • How infrastructure is currently funded and financed in Australia, including by the Commonwealth, the States and the private sector;
  • The rationale, role and objectives of alternative funding and financing mechanisms;
  • Examine the cost structure of major infrastructure projects in Australia, including where infrastructure project costs have increased considerably, compared with other countries;
  • Provide advice on ways to improve decision-making and implementation processes to facilitate a reduction in the cost of public infrastructure projects; and
  • Comment on other relevant policy measures, including any non-legislative approaches, which would help ensure effective delivery of infrastructure services over both the short and long term.

The Government is mindful of the financial risks posed by alternative funding and financing mechanisms.  In this respect, the Terms of Reference also ask the Productivity Commission to consider these risks to the Commonwealth, as well as their possible impact on the Budget and fiscal consolidation goals.

The Productivity Commission will also have regard to work already underway by the Commission of Audit.

The overall cost of infrastructure and engagement with the private sector on infrastructure financing are key economic challenges faced by Australia and other countries in our region.

Australia must ensure that private investment is as attractive as possible by reducing the cost of building infrastructure by driving efficiency and removing red tape.

This inquiry will be crucial in identifying how we can lower construction costs and develop a partnership with the private sector to build the infrastructure of the 21st century that Australia needs.

The Productivity Commission will hold public hearings and release a draft report for public comment before delivering a final report to the Government within the next six months, with a draft report to be released in March 2014.

The Terms of Reference for the inquiry are attached.

More information is available at www.pc.gov.au

13 November 2013

Transcript - 23084

Launch of Australia Indonesia Centre

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: 13/11/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23085

I was very pleased to join Indonesian Vice President, His Excellency Professor Dr Boediono, today to launch the Australia-Indonesia Centre.

The Centre will strengthen Australians’ knowledge and understanding of this vitally important neighbour and will strengthen business, education and research links between the two countries.

The Australian Government will contribute $15 million towards the Centre, which will also receive support from participating institutions and the private sector.

The Centre will be based at Monash University and will initially be a partnership with the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Sydney and the CSIRO.

The Centre will also undertake joint research on significant issues which confront both countries, including infrastructure and food security.

Australia and Indonesia are great friends, and I hope this Centre, which I announced during my first visit to Indonesia as Prime Minister in September, will contribute to that friendship.

Along with the New Colombo Plan, the Centre is another sign of the Government’s commitment to strengthen links with Indonesia.

13 November 2013

Transcript - 23085

The Hon Kevin Rudd MP

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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: 13/11/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23087

Mr Rudd was Prime Minister of our country, not once, but twice and I salute him on this night of his farewell to the parliament.

Whatever disagreements my colleagues and I have had with Mr Rudd, we will always honour what he achieved on the day of the National Apology.  Ancient wrongs were addressed that day.  It was a great moment in our country’s history and it happened because of him.

I am glad that Mr Rudd has said that he intends to continue this commitment to Indigenous Australians.

While Mr Rudd will no longer continue as a parliamentarian, I have every confidence that he will continue to serve our country and the values that he has always believed in.

13 November 2013

Transcript - 23087

Interview with Leigh Sales, 7.30, ABC Television

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: 13/11/2013

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23088

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

LEIGH SALES:

Prime Minister, welcome to the programme for the first time since taking the job and congratulations.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you so much Leigh.

LEIGH SALES:

Let’s start with the carbon tax repeal bill that you introduced today. What is your next step if it doesn’t make it through the Parliament?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I don’t make the assumption that it won’t get through the Parliament. The Labor Party are deeply divided on this Leigh. It’s said that Bill Shorten himself would prefer to let it through. Certainly, if you’re fair dinkum about supporting workers’ job security, about saving families $550 a year, getting power bills down by $200, gas bills down by $70 a year, you will allow the carbon tax repeal legislation to go through.

LEIGH SALES:

You must have a plan A and plan B though, you can’t rely on the Labor Party to help you with that, so what’s your plan B?

PRIME MINISTER:

I assume that in the end, the Labor Party will not remain in denial about the election result. Let’s face it, the Labor Party wants to be competitive at the next election and you don’t be competitive in a democracy by thumbing your nose at the people and saying to voters, look we were right and you the voter was wrong and I think they will wake up to themselves at some stage.

LEIGH SALES:

You mentioned those dollar figures before. Do you stand by your promise to the Australian people that when the carbon tax is gone, electricity bills will fall by nine per cent and gas bills by seven per cent?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes we do and we’ll have the ACCC there to act as a price police when the carbon tax goes. You might remember Leigh a few years back, the former Coalition government abolished the wholesale sales tax and we had the ACCC under Professor Fels out there monitoring the removal of that tax and making sure that the price consequences flowed through to consumers and we’ll do exactly the same thing here.

LEIGH SALES:

On radio this morning, your Environment Minister Greg Hunt said that the five per cent emissions reduction target was unconditional, does that mean you’ll spend whatever it takes on your direct action policy to get to that five per cent?

PRIME MINISTER:

It means Leigh that we are very confident, very, very confident indeed that we can achieve it with our direct action policy, but our direct action policy – we will achieve it, we will achieve it with the direct action as we’ve announced it and that policy, it’s costed, it’s funded and it’s capped.

LEIGH SALES:

So it’s capped basically, so once you get to the end of that expenditure, if you haven’t got to the five per cent, that’s it?

PRIME MINISTER:

We will get to the five per cent.

LEIGH SALES:

Your next priority after the carbon tax repeal is raising the debt ceiling by $200 billion. Will you release the Treasury advice recommending why the ceiling needs to be raised by such a substantial amount?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well what we know Leigh is that in Labor’s last published Budget update, the gross debt was forecast to reach $370 billion. We also know because the former Treasurer told us, Mr Swan told us that there should be a $40 to $60 billion buffer for safety against contingencies and what that means is that Labor’s proposed $400 billion debt ceiling won’t even cover the debt that Labor left us at election time…

LEIGH SALES:

But you’ve had updated… sorry to interrupt Prime Minister, you’ve had updated information from Treasury since then, will you release it so that we can actually, the public, have a look at the independent advice, rather than take your political argument at face value?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well certainly MYEFO will be the next release of that kind of information, but we’re quite happy, quite happy to organise a confidential briefing for the Opposition Leader. The Opposition Leader hasn’t had an enormous amount of experience in economic portfolios and if he wants a briefing, if he doesn’t trust the government, we’ll certainly organise a briefing for him, from the Treasury Secretary.

LEIGH SALES:

When Labor moved to raise the debt ceiling by $50 billion last year, you said in an interview that the government should be forced to specifically justify this. Our money, our future is too important to be mortgaged like this without the government giving us the strongest possible arguments for it, because every dollar that they borrow has got to be repaid. Given that that’s your view, I ask again, will you ask Treasury to release the briefs that they prepared for your incoming government so that we can see the independent advice that you’ve had as to why you need to lift the debt ceiling by this vast amount?

PRIME MINISTER:

What I’m offering at this stage Leigh is a full and frank briefing of the Opposition Leader by Secretary Parkinson and other officials.

LEIGH SALES:

What about for the public who just want to know…

PRIME MINISTER:

Well the public Leigh, the public know because this was said by the former government that even under the former government, while they were still in office, debt was going to peak they said at $370 billion and they’ve got nearly all of their forecasts wrong. They also said that they needed a $40 to $60 billion buffer, so on that basis, it would be $430 billion or thereabouts. Now, this is Labor’s debt. Let’s be very clear about this, this is Labor’s debt and we have always been critical of Labor’s addiction to debt and deficit. We want to rule a line under this, we never ever want to go anywhere near the Parliament asking for the debt ceiling to be dealt with again. That’s why we think that the prudent thing to do is to set it at this level and then we the Coalition will tackle the problem that Labor has left our nation.

LEIGH SALES:

I'd like to turn to Australia's relationship with Indonesia and asylum seeker policy. Let's just be clear because there's some confusing information in the public domain now. How many boatloads of asylum seekers has Indonesia declined to take back since the election?

PRIME MINISTER:

Let's make two points, Leigh. First of all the boats have not stopped but they are stopping. The first two months of the Coalition Government there were 75 per cent fewer illegal arrivals by boat than there were in the last two months of the Labor Government. The other point I really do want to make is that I'm not interested in scoring political points on this issue and I'm not interested in running a commentary on a commentary. So I'm just not going to comment on operational matters. I don't want to engage in all kinds of banter which may or may not be good television but which is not going to make it easier to have the kind of relationship with the Indonesian Government that we need if we are going to finally and fully stop the boats.

LEIGH SALES:

I'll come to that 75 per cent figure a bit later, but I'm not asking you to make a commentary on a commentary. I just asked a really straightforward question which is how many boatloads of asylum seekers has Indonesia declined to take back since the election?

PRIME MINISTER:

And I'm just not going to get into who did what, when, who said what when. All of the boats in question were in the Indonesian search and rescue zone and I want the fullest possible cooperation between Indonesia and Australia in places where Indonesia has, if you like, the legal responsibility under the law of the sea but Australia has more practical capacity to help.

LEIGH SALES:

The Indonesian rescue agency this afternoon said that Australian authorities either towed or escorted a boat back to Indonesia last week. Is that accurate?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well again, I'm just not going to comment on operational matters. Scott Morrison and General Campbell will be available on Friday and they will deal with operational matters. Again, Leigh…

LEIGH SALES:

Prime Minister, if that's your position then all the Australian public can do is trust the most up to date information which is what's come from official Indonesian channels?

PRIME MINISTER:

Leigh, I'm interested in stopping the boats. I'm not interested in providing sport for journalists, I'm not interested in starting a fight or provoking an argument. I'm interested in stopping the boats and why I'm interested in stopping the boats is because this is a humanitarian disaster as well as an affront to our Australian sovereignty and I know that for political purposes and for entertainment purposes and for media purposes people would love every last tidbit of information but honestly, I think the public expects us to solve the problem, not to engage in sport for commentators.

LEIGH SALES:

You say it's an an affront to Australian sovereignty, we know you're committed to stopping the boats, it's fair to say from what we know though that Indonesia's calling the shots on this, aren't they? They're the ones deciding how much information goes public and they're the ones deciding if asylum seekers go back there or if they go to Christmas Island?

PRIME MINISTER:

I accept that Indonesia is a sovereign country and I deeply respect their sovereignty and I've made that point over and over again.

LEIGH SALES:

And they're calling the shots on this policy.

PRIME MINISTER:

We're going to stop the boats, Leigh. I've made that absolutely crystal clear, in country and out of country, that as far as we are concerned this is a sovereignty issue. And it will be dealt with.

LEIGH SALES:

You say you're going to stop the boats, there was a lot of tough talk during the election campaign about turning boats around, but it now appears that when Indonesia stands firm and refuses to take people back Australia buckles and brings the asylum seekers back here for processing.

PRIME MINISTER:

Why are you using loaded language, Leigh? You’re using loaded language all the time and stopping the boats is something that surely we all want to do. I mean, you’d like to stop these boats, Leigh, surely.

LEIGH SALES:

What do you see as the loaded language when I'm basically quoting what the Indonesian Government has said?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, you said that we had somehow buckled. You're trying to turn this into a testosterone contest. Well I'm not interested in a testosterone contest. I'm interested in stopping the boats.

LEIGH SALES:

I don't want to get involved in semantics but if you're saying that you wanted Indonesia to take people back, the Indonesians refused to do so and then you brought the people back to Australia, that is buckling.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I'm not going to use loaded language myself. I'm not going to run around beating my hairy chest and saying that I've outstared someone and I'm not going to say that someone has outstared me either. This is not a question of two countries trying to prove who's the toughest with each other. It's a question of two good friends working together for an outcome which is clearly in the best interests of both of our countries.

LEIGH SALES:

Given that you believe that the detailed release of information aids and abets people smugglers you must be furious that Indonesian officials are publicly releasing so much of what you would consider to be operational material?

PRIME MINISTER:

In the end all I can absolutely control is how my government responds and what I've said with the Indonesians is that we're not going to conduct dialogue through the media. If we've got something to say to the Indonesians, we will say it to them up-front, honestly, face to face. I had an excellent discussion with Vice-President Boediono today and that's the way that I intend to conduct myself and that's the way Australian Government ministers intend to conduct ourselves in this new Coalition Government.

LEIGH SALES:

Have you expressed any dissatisfaction to the Indonesian Government that it's not conducting itself in the same manner?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well again, I'm not in the business of lecturing people. I'm in the business of being an honest, frank, candid, trustworthy partner. I want to stop the boats for Australia's sake and for the sake of common humanity and if I may say so, Leigh, surely all Australians, including the media, should want to stop the boats, not to provoke an argument.

LEIGH SALES:

Of course all Australians would want that, but let me put to you in your pre-election blueprint Real Solutions you wrote that “We will restore accountability and improve transparency measures”. On the evidence though you've done the opposite haven’t you in this policy area?

PRIME MINISTER:

In the end what the public want from us is to see the boats stopped and we will be accountable to the public at the next election. But I think if you sit down and count the number of press conferences that Scott Morrison has had, he's had eight press conferences in eight weeks. I think that stacks up pretty well with the record of the former Government and its immigration ministers.

LEIGH SALES:

Why is it ok to release information that 75 per cent fewer boats are arriving, but it's not ok to answer many of the questions that I've asked tonight because you either presumably believe information is operational or not and numbers of boat arrivals is presumably operational?

PRIME MINISTER:

But we never said that we weren't going to provide the numbers arriving. What we said was that we'd produce the numbers once a week as part of an operational briefing. And that's exactly what we're doing. What you're asking, Leigh, is detailed questions about who said what to whom, who moved boats where and why. I'm just not going to provide that kind of information because that kind of information is unhelpful when it comes to solving this issue which is a very serious affront to our national sovereignty and is into the bargain a humanitarian disaster.

LEIGH SALES:

When we look at the leaked minutes from the Indonesian Foreign Minister's meeting with Australia's Foreign Minister and Indonesia's public statements and actions regarding asylum seeker boats and their Foreign Minister's public statements regarding allegations that Australia spies on Indonesia, is it a logical conclusion for a rational person to make that at the very least the relationship's somewhat strained?

PRIME MINISTER:

It's vastly better now than it was a few months ago. The new government, for argument's sake, was never responsible for the live cattle ban disaster. We were never responsible for the 'Oceanic Viking' fiasco. We were never responsible for the East Timor detention centre disaster.

LEIGH SALES:

But you've got the spying, you've got the boat controversies.

PRIME MINISTER:

And when did this so-called spying take place, Leigh?

LEIGH SALES:

So the spying does take place?

PRIME MINISTER:

When did this so-called spying allegedly take place?

LEIGH SALES:

No-one confirmed it takes place so do we spy on Indonesia?

PRIME MINISTER:

Leigh, please, we don't comment on operational matters, but there have been reports in the press and based on the reports in the press, when did this so-called spying allegedly take place, would you like to tell me?

LEIGH SALES:

You tell me, you're the Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER:

Under the former government.

LEIGH SALES:

You’re the Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER:

Under the former government.

LEIGH SALES:

Does it carry on now and did it not occur also under the Howard Government?

PRIME MINISTER:

Leigh, all countries, all governments gather information. That's hardly a surprise. It's hardly a shock. We use the information that we gather for good, including to build a stronger relationship with Indonesia and one of the things that I have offered to do today in my discussions with the Indonesian Vice-President is to elevate our level of information sharing because I want the people of Indonesia to know that everything, everything that we do is to help Indonesia as well as to help Australia. Indonesia is a country for which I have a great deal of respect and personal affection based on my own time in Indonesia. I want nothing but the best for Indonesia and I certainly want, Leigh, I certainly want the boats stopped and that is overwhelmingly in the interests of both our countries.

LEIGH SALES:

Prime Minister, thank you very much for making time to speak to our audience tonight, appreciate it.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript - 23088

The Resignation of the Hon Kevin Rudd MP

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: 13/11/2013

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 23089

Thank you Madam Speaker. This is a special occasion. The former Prime Minister, the Member for Griffith who has just addressed us has been a very significant part of this Parliament for the best part of two decades and whether we are on his side of the Parliament or the other side of the Parliament, whether we have been his friends or his foes or at times both, this is a significant moment in the life of this Parliament. To lose someone who has been one of the big figures in this Parliament and one of the big figures in the life, the public life of our country over the best part of two decades.

So, as a political opponent, but as someone who has known the Member for Griffith quite well for a long time, I salute him and I wish him and his family all the best for the future and I express my confidence that one way or another, he will continue to serve our country, his party. He will continue to support the causes that he believes in, many of which are causes which all of us right around this chamber, right around our country support as well.

The Member for Griffith has just said rightly that we are an extraordinary country. We are an extraordinary country and I hope Madam Speaker you will forgive me if I say in reference to the Member for Griffith that it does take an extraordinary person to lead an extraordinary country and the Member for Griffith won an election which pitted him against the person whom I believe to have been the most successful Prime Minister in modern Australian times and it takes extraordinary ability, insight, guts and focus to win such a contest; and he didn’t just win that contest in 2007, he triumphed, he absolutely triumphed in that contest and we must pay tribute to someone of such stature who was able to vanquish in fair political fight, someone of at least equal stature.

So I pay tribute to the Member for Griffith tonight for his capacity, for his achievements, for his ability and for his commitment. Because a man of his ability, a person of his ability could do many, many things in this life, but he chose to serve our country as a public servant in Queensland, as a Member of this Parliament, as a frontbencher, eventually as a Party leader and as a Prime Minister and we salute that service, we salute that service.

Sooner or later, everyone outlives their usefulness. It doesn’t matter how well they’ve done, it doesn’t matter how important the cause is that they are serving, sooner or later, everyone outlives his or her usefulness. It will come to every single member of this house at some point in time that we will have outlived our usefulness and the wisdom is to know, yes and fair enough I suppose I invited that observation, but it is the essence of wisdom to know when the time has come to serve one’s country and to serve one’s ideals in a different capacity and, again I salute the Member for Griffith for appreciating that there are good things that he could have continued to do in this Parliament, for his Party, for our people, for his constituents, but he has decided that he can do better things for all of those important causes elsewhere.

It remains only to observe that whatever disagreements the Member for Griffith and people on this side of the chamber have had, there were many things to celebrate in his Prime Ministership, but certainly that which I celebrate most of all and which I’m sure every single member of this House celebrates is that extraordinary apology on the first day of the Parliamentary sitting in 2008. Ancient wrongs were addressed. Ancient injustices were at least in part atoned for and our country had a unifying and healing moment, the likes of which we very, very rarely see. It was a great moment in our history and to the credit of the Member for Griffith, it happened because of him.

As much as I admire and appreciate and put on a huge pedestal his immediate predecessor, in this respect at least his immediate predecessor had lacked the imagination to grasp that opportunity and the Member for Griffith, Kevin, he had the decency to see that here was something that needed to be done, he did it with aplomb, with courage, with decency, compassion and magnanimity; that alone is an extraordinary achievement. That alone is something to crown an amazing public life.

So we thank you and we salute you.

[ends]

Transcript - 23089

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