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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Abbott, Tony

Interview with Neil Mitchell, Radio 3AW, 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: 14/11/2013

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23091

Subject(s): Victorian inquiry into the handling of child abuse

NEIL MITCHELL:

Prime Minister, good morning.

PRIME MINISTER:

Good morning, Neil.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Thank you for your time. The Victorian inquiry on child abuse has been very critical of Cardinal George Pell. Do you agree Cardinal Pell carries some responsibility in what has happened here?

PRIME MINISTER:

I obviously supported the establishment of the inquiry. I can’t say, Neil, that I have seen the report. I saw Daniel Andrews being interviewed about it briefly on Sky. So, I am probably not really in a position to comment on it. As is pretty well known, I have a lot of time for George Pell. Does that mean that he is perfect? No. Does that mean that he doesn’t bear some responsibility for the errors of the church? Of course not. The only thing I would say, Neil, is that my understanding is that the first senior cleric that took this issue very seriously was in fact Cardinal Pell and without having seen the report that is really all I can say.

NEIL MITCHELL:

I guess there is just one part of it that I wanted your reaction to. The report says quote, that Cardinal Pell, showed a reluctance to acknowledge and accept responsibility for the Catholic Church’s institutional failure to respond appropriately to allegations of criminal child abuse. I mean, you know him, you know what has happened. Do you think he has shown a reluctance to acknowledge and accept that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I didn’t see his evidence before the committee and I haven’t read the report. He is, in my judgment, a fine human being and a great churchman. Is he perfect? Has he handled every issue perfectly? Of course not. As I said, all I know is that he has by repute been the first senior cleric in Australia to take this issue seriously. Of course it has to be taken seriously. Of course all of the institutions which have in the past – and maybe even still – not handled this thing well need to lift their game and obviously anyone who has committed the hideous breach of trust involved in child abuse needs to be brought to justice.

NEIL MITCHELL:

As probably Australia’s best known Catholic and a former trainee priest do you accept the church did cover up and move paedophiles around?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, again, I was a seminarian for a couple of years. I wasn’t involved in matters of policy and I wasn’t involved in administrative decisions. So, I just don’t know for a personal fact what was done. I know that it wasn’t handled well. I absolutely know that it wasn’t handled well and I understand that these things probably did happen but I suspect that it wasn’t just the church that didn’t handle these things well. I suspect a generation ago there was this general view in our community that certain things just didn’t happen. We all know now that they did happen. It was hideous, it was gruesome, it cost some people their lives, it cost some people their sanity, it has rightly damaged the reputations of institutions that otherwise deserve our respect and I deeply regret that as I think all decent people do.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Yeah, some senior Catholics said they felt ashamed of the way the church handled it. Do you feel that way?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I certainly feel that it could have been done better, Neil; it should have been done better and I dare say if I was closer to all of this, yes, I would be repulsed and horrified by it. Look, the point I want to make Neil is that institutions have got to make sure their house is in order. Institutions have got to make sure that as far as is humanly possible there is restitution for wrongs done in the past and any individual who has been guilty of these horrific crimes needs to be brought to justice.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Will you look at the recommendations with a view to, if they need to be implemented federally? I mean, the key one to me seems to make it an offence to knowingly put a child in danger – in other words to move the priest or whoever around rather than deal with it. Will you look at those recommendations with a view to federal involvement?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, there is a federal Royal Commission taking place.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Yeah, that’s going to take a while, though.

PRIME MINISTER:

It will, and obviously these are matters which in the first instance would be the responsibility of the Attorney-General and I have no doubt that he would look at this. The criminal law is, generally speaking, Neil, the responsibility of the states and territories and I am confident that all of the states and territories would want to heed the lessons of this particular report. I guess the other point to make is that to the best of my knowledge and understanding, it is already a requirement of law that if a person in a position of responsibility such as a teacher or indeed a priest becomes aware of child abuse, he or she has an obligation to report it to police.

NEIL MITCHELL:

I don’t know that a priest has, particularly from the confessional.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, you know, I am not a lawyer and this is not my area of professional expertise…

NEIL MITCHELL:

No, fair enough.

PRIME MINISTER:

…but it was my understanding that if you become aware of these sorts of things and you are in a position of responsibility you have an obligation to go to the police.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Just to move on to some other things. Kevin Rudd, some nice things said about him last night. Have you got a job for him?

PRIME MINISTER:

The short answer is no. Look, a man who has been a very big figure in our public life is leaving the Parliament and it is appropriate to look to his successes and his achievements and celebrate them.

NEIL MITCHELL:

What, and not look at his failures and his faults? It amazed me last night to hear all these people from both sides. You’d think he was going out a saint! I mean it’s only a short time ago he has been called a psychopathic control freak.

PRIME MINISTER:

By his own colleagues.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Well yes, but you went close at times.

PRIME MINISTER:

And Neil, look, do I think Kevin Rudd was a good prime minister? No, I don’t. Do I think Kevin Rudd left the Labor Party in good shape? Absolutely not. Do I think Kevin Rudd’s policies on a whole host of issues were effective? No, they weren’t. He started the spiral of debt and deficit which is imperilling our economy and our prosperity. His policies on climate change were inconsistent, erratic and ultimately disastrous. We got through the global financial crisis because of the reforms of the Hawke, the Keating and the Howard Governments, not because of the spending spree of the Rudd Government, which the Gillard Government perpetuated. But last night was not the occasion to give a full reckoning of Kevin Rudd’s time in public life. It was the occasion to look at the good things that he had done, not to dwell on the bad things and by far the best thing he’s done was the national apology which was a grace note in our history and in the life of the Parliament and that’s why I chose to dwell on that.

NEIL MITCHELL:

I mean, you haven’t got a job for him? Maybe in the future, somewhere in the UN or something?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well that would be a matter for the UN. Do I think that Kevin Rudd can usefully contribute to our public life in the future? Yes, I do. But do I think that a Coalition Government is going to rush to find a job for him, no I don’t.

NEIL MITCHELL:

You’ve adopted a bit of his habit of asking yourself a question and answering it! Are you annoyed, talking of climate change, are you annoyed at being called ‘Typhoon Tony’?

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh, I’ve been called a lot worse including by the former Prime Minister in the Parliament, Neil!

NEIL MITCHELL:

But there’s a lot of, you know, there’s a lot of suffering going on at the moment…

PRIME MINISTER:

There is.

NEIL MITCHELL:

…to use that sort of political language.

PRIME MINISTER:

There is. I think that I’m much more entitled to call Bill Shorten ‘Electricity Bill’ than anyone is to call me ‘Typhoon Tony’ but I accept that there’s always tit for tat stuff that goes on in our Parliament.

NEIL MITCHELL:

What’s Plan B if you don’t get the carbon tax repeal through?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, we’re working on Plan A and we confidently expect Plan A to come to fruition because if the Labor Party does persist in supporting the carbon tax which they told us they’d terminated, the Australian public will be thinking every time the electricity bills turn up, every time the gas bills turn up, every time household costs go up, they’ll be thinking Bill Shorten and his team could have done something about this and they didn’t.

NEIL MITCHELL:

So, you think you’ll get it through the Upper House, through the Senate?

PRIME MINISTER:

I believe that when the Labor Party seriously looks at itself, stops being in denial about the election result, they will accept that a democratic party cannot tell the voters, ‘Sorry voters, you’re wrong, we the party are right.’ In the end a democratic political party, whatever its fundamental philosophical position, has got to accept that the voters call the shots.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Ok, we’ll take a quick call if that’s alright.

PRIME MINISTER:

Sure.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Gloria, go ahead.

CALLER:

Good morning Mr Prime Minister and congratulations on your prime ministership.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you, Gloria.

CALLER:

I just wondered, look, I’m just wondering, is there anything that you can do about overseas buyers buying property here because it’s putting a hell of a strain on the people that are here trying to buy homes. They go out and they think it’s going to be three or four hundred thousand and then they get a phone call, you can see them getting phone calls from people of other nationalities and they make it higher and higher. And we can’t, it’s hard for them to even rent.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Yeah, there is growing evidence of that, Prime Minister – that the housing market’s being forced up by international buyers.

PRIME MINISTER:

True, but there are restrictions on overseas citizens buying residential housing. My understanding is that they can buy new home units but they can’t go and buy established residences. Now, look, there are pluses and minuses here Gloria. If we keep foreigners out of our market, sure, prices are lower but that’s good for buyers but it’s bad for sellers and the sellers, 99 times out of 100, are Aussies and if we reduce the price for buyers we are also reducing the price for sellers. So, it’s a bit of a two-way street and I’m not proposing to change the rules at this stage, Gloria.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Thank you, Gloria. Prime Minister, are you going to pull Christopher Pyne into line? I thought it was all going to be sweetness and light and respect in the Parliament. There isn’t too much. The respect didn’t last too long, did it?

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s going to be a robust debating chamber and it should be but it shouldn’t be a place for name-calling and motive-impugning and character assassination…

NEIL MITCHELL:

But wasn’t that happening yesterday?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I thought the Labor nominators of someone to stand against Bronwyn Bishop sank a little low in some of their comments about the new Speaker. Apart from that, I guess we saw a bit of petty undergraduate stuff from Tony Burke yesterday and a whole lot of divisions that were designed to disrupt a meeting of mine with the Indonesian Vice President. But, look, the opening day of a new Parliament tends to be an opportunity for the defeated Opposition to let off steam and that’s what they did.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Samantha, go ahead please.

CALLER:

Good morning, Neil and good morning, Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER:

Good morning, Samantha.

CALLER:

Thank you. I just have to say that you’re actually wrong with your comment before about housing. A friend of ours, from China, has bought an established house already and it’s not new housing, it’s an established house.

PRIME MINISTER:

Is this person a citizen?

CALLER:

No, she’s not a citizen, the family, no, and they live in China and I was just sort of, when you said that, it is true that the housing market is getting eaten up by overseas investors and I see it and even though I’ve got friends that are Chinese, I see it every day.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Ok. Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Samantha, if you want to give Neil the details of this particular transaction to the extent that you are aware of them, I’ll get my office to have a look at it, but as I said, my understanding is that under normal circumstances, if you’re a foreigner, you’re not entitled to buy residential real estate.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Thanks, Samantha. Hold on and we’ll check that out as well. Prime Minister, if we’re not spying on other countries, we’re a bit silly, aren’t we? Shouldn’t we all be spying on each other? Isn’t that the way of the world? Isn’t this a bit of posturing going on about Indonesia?

PRIME MINISTER:

As I’ve said on a number of occasions, Neil, every country gathers information. They gather information from all sorts of sources and it’s not surprising. Everyone knows it happens. The important thing is, what is done with the information and the Australian Government uses the information that we get, in the best interests of our country and in the best interests of our friends and our neighbours and Indonesia is a very, very good friend of Australia and we have close cooperation with Indonesia and I want it to be closer in the years ahead.

NEIL MITCHELL:

You’re not going to change our intelligence operations are you? Surely we continue spying when appropriate?

PRIME MINISTER:

I’m just not going to use that kind of, if I may say so – and I’m not saying this critically, Neil – but to use the term spying, it’s kind of loaded language.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Collecting intelligence.

PRIME MINISTER:

Researching, maybe. Talking to people. Understanding what’s going on. I mean, we all do this all the time. Everyone does, but what Australian ministers have never done is comment on the operational details on intelligence matters. We just haven’t provided a commentary on that sort of thing.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Well, this combined with the boats issue. I mean, have our relationships with Indonesia taken a bit of a battering since you’ve been Prime Minister? Have we taken a bit of a backward step?

PRIME MINISTER:

Absolutely not. Please, Neil, and I really do need to remind your listeners of the Oceanic Viking disaster – that was a standoff that lasted some weeks with an Australian vessel effectively being taken over by illegal boat arrivals who it had picked up. There was a standoff at an Indonesian port. There was the live cattle ban catastrophe – probably nothing has set our relationship with Indonesia back more than that – a crazy decision by a government that was panicking about a TV programme and look, you know, my first trip as Prime Minister was to Indonesia. The discussions with President Yudhoyono were extremely cordial. Julie Bishop I think has been to Indonesia three times. The Defence Minister’s been there. The Trade Minister’s been there. I think Julie Bishop has had seven bilateral meetings with the Indonesian Foreign Minister. Our relations with Indonesia are very, very good and they’re getting better. There will always be some issues that are contentious, but the best way to deal with them is openly, candidly and behind closed doors and that is what I propose to do.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Are you aware of a report in The Australian newspaper today that a senior Labor figure is being investigated over a rape in the 1980s?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I haven’t had a chance to read the papers this morning, so I really can’t comment and I wouldn’t comment on something of that nature anyway.

NEIL MITCHELL:

A matter for police?

PRIME MINISTER:

Exactly right. If something has happened, let it be looked into and treated as it should be by the relevant authorities.

NEIL MITCHELL:

You’re off to CHOGM, when?

PRIME MINISTER:

This afternoon.

NEIL MITCHELL:

This afternoon.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yep.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Where is it?

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s in Sri Lanka – Colombo.

NEIL MITCHELL:

And what happens there?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I’ll find out, because it’s my first meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government and there’s 50-odd heads of government there. I suppose the most internationally significant head of government who will be there is British Prime Minister, David Cameron. I have a good relationship as you’d expect with the Conservative Prime Minister of Britain. I’ve obviously been briefed on a number of the issues which are likely to come up and look, Australia is an enthusiastic participant in all of the international organisations to which we belong and the Commonwealth is an important association of a very diverse group of countries, but we have a commitment to the best values of the former British empire.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Prime Minister, is it correct in another report that you have restricted the number of politicians who are going to Gallipoli for the 2015 commemoration, the Centenary of ANZAC?

PRIME MINISTER:

We’ve allowed what we think is the appropriate number of politicians and this should be a peoples celebration, not a pollie-fest and so the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and the Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs will go and I think that’s enough of a political representation.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Thank you very much for your time. I noticed an interview on ABC TV last night, a press conference, you’ve been criticised for not being sort of public enough in your leadership. Has there been a change?

PRIME MINISTER:

Neil, look, I’ll be interviewed when there’s an issue running. I’ll be interviewed when there’s something to say, but I never want to be a political exhibitionist who has got to be parading himself before the public just because he needs the attention.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Thank you for your time.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thanks so much.

[ends]

Transcript - 23091

Address to Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting Opening 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: 15/11/2013

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 23093

Location: Colombo, Sri Lanka

Your Royal Highnesses, Mr President, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

The Commonwealth spans 53 countries with 30 per cent of the world’s population, 20 per cent of the world's land mass but just 15 per cent of the world's GDP and it's our job to improve that.

The Commonwealth is not a community of power, wealth, geography, religion or language, so much as a community of values.

We believe in democracy based on the rule of law.

We acknowledge Queen Elizabeth as head of the Commonwealth.

We share a legacy of British institutions and influence which all of us have adapted and improved in our own ways.

We are convinced that you don't make new friends by losing old ones. We remain members of the Commonwealth because we believe that this dialogue helps us to come closer to being our best selves.

In Perth two years ago, Commonwealth members collectively agreed to important and timely reforms. We resolved to champion our central values more effectively and we boosted cooperation on important global issues such as food security and sustainable development.

The key achievement, though, was leaders' agreement to develop a Commonwealth Charter. This Charter has since been tabled in many of the parliaments of the Commonwealth including the Australian Parliament.

The Charter expresses our principles and aspirations refined over 60 years of collaboration and development. It gives us a standard to judge our actions.

We also agreed that when the Commonwealth's values are challenged, we should engage earlier and in a spirit of inclusion not isolation.

It's a credit to the leaders and to the delegations present in Perth two years ago that this has been achieved.

Australia is proud to have played its part in the development of the Commonwealth Charter.

During the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, we also considered how we could make the Commonwealth more effective as an organisation. Our Perth declaration on food security principles recognises that half of the world's one billion hungry live in Commonwealth nations.

They are our people and they deserve better.

This will mean improving agricultural productivity and reducing barriers between food producers and markets. It means allowing markets to develop freely and naturally.

Also in Perth, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Trust was launched, honouring Her Majesty's lifetime of duty and service.

This trust has already raised more than £100 million from across the Commonwealth. This will be deployed in the fight against avoidable blindness across the Commonwealth and to support our young leaders.

As the outgoing chair, Australia looks back on the work of the past two years with satisfaction but not complacency, because each achievement sets up the need for the next one.

Australia thanks its Commonwealth friends for their support and help during our term as Chair in Office.

Finally, I acknowledge Sri Lanka as our host and as Commonwealth Chair for the next two years. This country has emerged from many troubles. But with peace has come more freedom and more prosperity - so we are here to praise, as much as to judge.

There are examples in the Commonwealth, in South Africa and Ireland, for instance, where intractable problems have finally responded to the better angels of our nature.

Sri Lanka's willingness to host this Commonwealth shows its commitment to democratic pluralism and freedom based on law and ought to reassure all its citizens that just as today is better than yesterday, tomorrow will be better than today.

My friends, this Commonwealth can make a difference in many corners of the world, for example encouragement and the instinct to find common ground wherever possible, based on shared values.

May these days of discussion foster all our best instincts.

[ends]

Transcript - 23093

Press Conference

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: 15/11/2013

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23094

Subject(s): CHOGM

Location: Colombo, Sri Lanka

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s good to be here in Colombo, Sri Lanka for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. This is obviously my first Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. Australia is the outgoing chair of the Commonwealth. I'll be speaking as the outgoing chair at the opening in half an hour or so.

The great achievement of Australia's chairmanship is the Commonwealth Charter, which is a remarkable liberal and humane document which all of the 53 members of the Commonwealth have subscribed to. If all of the 53 members of the Commonwealth can largely live up to the values of the Commonwealth Charter, the world will certainly be a better place in the years and decades to come. The Commonwealth joins 53 countries, large and small, rich and poor, north and south, 30 per cent of the world's population, 20 per cent of the world's land mass, sadly only 15 per cent of the world’s GDP but we are working on getting that up.

It's an association not based on geography, not based on power, not based on economics, but based on values and these are the values which are now enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter which is in large measure the best work of Australia's chairmanship. I want to thank everyone associated with the work that was needed to get the Charter together. I think this is a very important document that will be very good for the future of the Commonwealth.

It was also good to meet with David Cameron just a few moments ago. David Cameron is a good friend of Australia. Britain is Australia's oldest friend. We share so much in common - history, values, interests and I'm determined to work as closely as I can with the British Government in the months and years ahead.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, will you be raising issues of human rights concerning the Sri Lankan leader directly, and have you been holding back your criticism because of the need for cooperation over boats?

PRIME MINISTER:

Two points, first we have to appreciate that Sri Lanka experienced a horrific, a horrific civil war, a quarter century long civil war of almost unimaginable ferocity. The best thing you can do in a situation like that is end it. I think we should welcome the ending of this horrific civil war. Having ended it, obviously it's important that there be reconciliation. The Sri Lankan Government has made various commitments, and I would expect those commitments to be honoured. My understanding is that the Sri Lankan Government is doing its best to honour those commitments and that's what we want. We want a Sri Lanka where people of different ethnicity, different faith, can live and work together in peace and harmony in ever-increasing freedom and prosperity. This country has a great deal of potential. It can be one of the jewels of Asia and I want to encourage that, not discourage it.

QUESTION:

There has been plenty of talk here obviously about Sri Lanka's human rights. Back home, you've got reports of a mother being separated from her child, reports of strong arm tactics on Manus and Nauru to force people to go home. Are you concerned at any stage this could start hurting Australia's standing in the Commonwealth, or further abroad?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I have read reports of various things that we would rather not see, reports that a mother and a baby were separated. Obviously I deeply regret that, but we have got to ask ourselves why have any of these things happened, and they have happened because people have come to Australia illegally by boat. If you want to avoid these things, you've got to stop the boats. I don't, as it were, apologise for what happens when people come to Australia illegally by boat, because I am determined, as the new Government is determined, to stop this dangerous, this horrible business. The worst thing that has happened as a result of the resumption of the people smuggling trade under the former Government is that there have been more than a thousand deaths at sea and that is the fundamental humanitarian objective of the Australian Government, to stop the boats, because the only way to stop the drownings, to stop the inhumanity, is to stop the boats.

QUESTION:

You've said you don't apologise for anything that's happened, does that mean that whatever the tactics are, however extreme they get, the end justifies the means essentially?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, you are putting words into my mouth. What I am saying is that we will do what is necessary to stop the boats. We will act appropriately in the circumstances. Now, I accept that some people won't like it. Some people might judge it harsh, but we will do what is appropriate and necessary to stop the boats, and if people want the kind of comfort and convenience that some are demanding, well, don't get on a boat and come to Australia illegally.

QUESTION:

What does ‘whatever it takes mean’, Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER:

It means that we will do what it takes appropriately and properly to stop the boats.

QUESTION:

Will you be raising the issue with the Sri Lankans - people smuggling and some sort of joint effort or increased joint effort to stop the boats coming from here?

PRIME MINISTER:

We have got very good and close cooperation with the Sri Lankan Government and with the Sri Lankan navy when it comes to stopping the boats. I'll be thanking the Sri Lankans for the cooperation which they have extended to us on this important issue and I will have more to say about this in the next day or so.

QUESTION:

You will meet with the commander in chief of the Sri Lankan armed forces, will you raise the issue of naval complicity in people smuggling?

PRIME MINISTER:

I understand that a Sri Lankan naval officer has recently been arrested. I think this demonstrates the absolute determination of the Sri Lankan Government to crackdown on people smuggling and to stop the boats.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, will you raise any suggestion within - I gather you are meeting with the leader from Nauru today. Will you be asking for any further assistance in terms of processing there? Will you be offering anything else from Australia?

PRIME MINISTER:

Again, I will be thanking Nauru for its help and cooperation on this matter. I hope to have a chance to catch up with Prime Minister Peter O'Neill of Papua New Guinea, and I will similarly be thanking him for his and his Government's help and cooperation on this matter. Australia is determined to act appropriately and reasonably with our friends and neighbours to stop the boats including under the Bali Process with Indonesia and look, I’m pleased to say that while this problem is certainly not at an end, it is improving and while the boats certainly haven’t stopped, they are stopping. My understanding is that based on the latest figures there’s been a close to 80 per cent reduction in illegal arrivals by boat under the new government.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, you will be meeting with Nawaz Sharif today as well, I mean you talk about the fact that we are seeing an improvement in the boat numbers but obviously Pakistan is very keen to push back its Afghan refugees and that’s obviously got repercussions for Australia. I know that we’ve been in trilaterals with Pakistan and the UN. Will you be raising this issue with Nawaz Sharif and how they’re going to stagger that push back so that it doesn’t blow back in Australia?

PRIME MINISTER:

I’m just not going to go into the specific details of what I might be discussing with the Prime Minister of Pakistan except to say that I will be working as closely and as cooperatively as I can with all friendly countries to address this problem.

QUESTION:

You talk about the Charter as well and that being one of our proudest achievements but there’s obviously been talk in recent days that Sri Lanka taking the Commonwealth chairmanship for the next two years is making a mockery of that Charter, particularly given it’s likely in the next fourth months it will have to explain itself again before the Human Rights Council and potentially even be the subject an International War Crimes investigation. Does that not make a mockery of our charter and the Commonwealth in general?

PRIME MINISTER:

The fact that Sri Lanka is hosting this Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, the fact that Sri Lanka has subscribed to the Charter, demonstrates its good faith and demonstrates its determination to try to live up to the Charter. Now, it’s not always easy to live up to these ideals. The important thing is to constantly strive to come closer to our best selves. That’s the important thing and Sri Lanka since the end of the civil war is undoubtedly much more free, much more prosperous and has got a much better future and that’s good for everyone.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, apart from the Charter, is there anything else that you’d like to achieve at your first [inaudible] hoping to tackle as well?

PRIME MINISTER:

This is my first meeting. There’s quite a lot of heads of government here. Not all of the 53 countries have sent their head of government but there’s something like 30 heads of government here and I think my ambition for the first meeting is probably modest, to meet them, to get to know them, to let them know where the new Australian Government stands and obviously we are determined to improve our border security, to improve our fiscal situation, to boost our economic growth and to be the best possible international citizen that we can be consistent with our values and ideals and commitments to the Australian people.

QUESTION:

Does your Government support calls by William Hague [inaudible]?

PRIME MINISTER:

I’m not aware of those calls. I think the important thing is for the Sri Lankan Government to press ahead with the task of reconciliation. Sri Lanka made some generous and appropriate commitments at the end of the Civil War. It’s doing its best to honour those commitments and I look forward to that continuing.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, it just seems to be, to be honest, a little absurd given how strong Canada has been about the human rights record here and even David Cameron has been to hear what you’re saying to us now and how generous you’re being about Sri Lanka.

PRIME MINISTER:

When you’ve got a horrific civil war the best thing you can do is to stop the fighting and the fighting has stopped and millions of people who were previously exposed to daily death and destruction are now free of that death and destruction. Now, war is ugly. Civil wars are the ugliest wars of all. That’s why it’s so important that they be brought to an end and that once they are brought to an end that people act to bind up the wounds and that, as I understand it, is exactly what the Sri Lankan Government is doing.

QUESTION:

Peace shouldn’t be ugly though, should it, I mean peace shouldn’t be ugly and [inaudible] was talking yesterday about how the Sri Lankan Government is still dealing with torture by state security forces. I mean, this is peace time now.

PRIME MINISTER:

Obviously the Australian Government deplores any use of torture. We deplore that. Wherever it might take place, we deplore that. But we accept that sometimes in difficult circumstances, difficult things happen. The important thing is to act as quickly as you can to bind up the nation’s wounds and to build a better future and it is absolutely undeniable that Sri Lanka today is a far better place than Sri Lanka during 26 years of unimaginably awful civil war and while I don’t necessarily approve of everything that happened in those terrible times, I am pleased that the war is over. I am pleased that Sri Lanka is progressing economically, socially, it’s advancing towards the goals of justice and freedom under the law that all of us aspire to and my fundamental task while I’m here in Sri Lanka is to encourage the better angels of our natures to work, to reassure the people of Sri Lanka that they have a good friend in Australia, an Australia that will encourage and promote the reconciliation process.

[ends]

Transcript - 23094

Government announces productivity commission inquiry to focus on more flexible, affordable and accessible child care

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: 17/11/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23095

The Australian Government today announced the establishment of a Productivity Commission Inquiry into Child Care and Early Childhood Learning.

The Government is delivering on its priority commitment to task the Productivity Commission with an inquiry into how the child care system can be made more flexible, affordable and accessible.

The Inquiry will identify how the current system can be improved to make it more responsive to the needs of parents.

We want to ensure that Australia has a system that provides a safe, nurturing environment for children, but which also meets the working needs of families.

Our child care system should be responsive to the needs of today’s families and today’s economy, not the five-day 9am-5pm working week of last century.

The Inquiry is the first public examination of child care and early years learning since the 1990s.

The Productivity Commission will conduct public hearings and invite submissions as part of the Inquiry process. The community and childcare sector will be able to put forward their ideas to the Inquiry.

Australian families need a system that is not only affordable, but ensures people can work flexible hours whilst knowing that their children are receiving high quality child care.

The Government wants Australian families to have more choices when it comes to the decisions they make about the care of their children. Parents need more choices as they move in and out of different types of child care due to their changing personal, economic and working circumstances.

We want a child care system that is more capable of responding to the dynamic and individual needs of parents.

The Productivity Commission Inquiry into Child Care and Early Childhood Learning is part of the Australian Government’s plan for a stronger economy.

A more flexible and responsive child care system will lift workforce participation and is part of the Government’s plan to deliver a strong and prosperous economy.

The Commission will report by the end of October 2014.

Terms of reference

The Australian Government is committed to establishing a sustainable future for a more flexible, affordable and accessible child care and early childhood learning market that helps underpin the national economy and supports the community, especially parent’s choices to participate in work and learning and children’s growth, welfare, learning and development.

The market for child care and early childhood learning services is large, diverse and growing, and it touches the lives of practically every family in Australia. Almost all children in Australia participate in some form of child care or early learning service at some point in the years before starting school. In 2012, around 19,400 child care and early learning services enrolled over 1.3 million children in at least one child care or preschool programme (comprising around 15,100 approved child care services and 4,300 preschools). The Australian Government is the largest funder of the sector, with outlays exceeding $5 billion a year and growing. It is important that this expenditure achieves the best possible impact in terms of benefits to families and children as well as the wider economy.

The child care and early learning system can be improved because:

  • families are struggling to find quality child care and early learning that is flexible and affordable enough to meet their needs and to participate in the workforce
  • a small but significant number of children start school with learning and developmental delays
  • there are shortfalls in reaching and properly supporting the needs of children with disabilities and vulnerable children, regional and rural families and parents who are moving from income support into study and employment
  • services need to operate in a system that has clear and sustainable business arrangements, including regulation, planning and funding
  • there is a need to ensure that public expenditure on child care and early childhood learning is both efficient and effective in addressing the needs of families and children.

The Australian Government’s objectives in commissioning this Inquiry are to examine and identify future options for a child care and early childhood learning system that:

  • supports workforce participation, particularly for women
  • addresses children’s learning and development needs, including the transition to schooling
  • is more flexible to suit the needs of families, including families with non-standard work hours, disadvantaged children, and regional families
  • is based on appropriate and fiscally sustainable funding arrangements that better support flexible, affordable and accessible quality child care and early childhood learning.

Scope of the inquiry

In undertaking this Inquiry, the Productivity Commission should use evidence from Australia and overseas to report on and make recommendations about the following:

  1. The contribution that access to affordable, high quality child care can make to:
    1. increased participation in the workforce, particularly for women
    2. optimising children’s learning and development.
  1. The current and future need for child care in Australia, including consideration of the following:
    1. hours parents work or study, or wish to work or study
    2. the particular needs of rural, regional and remote parents, as well as shift workers
    3. accessibility of affordable care
    4. types of child care available including but not limited to: long day care, family day care, in home care including nannies and au pairs, mobile care, occasional care, and outside school hours care
    5. the role and potential for employer provided child care
    6. usual hours of operation of each type of care
    7. the out of pocket cost of child care to families
    8. rebates and subsidies available for each type of care
    9. the capacity of the existing child care system to ensure children are transitioning from child care to school with a satisfactory level of school preparedness
    10. opportunities to improve connections and transitions across early childhood services (including between child care and preschool/kindergarten services)
    11. the needs of vulnerable or at risk children
    12. interactions with relevant Australian Government policies and programmes.
  1. Whether there are any specific models of care that should be considered for trial or implementation in Australia, with consideration given to international models, such as the home based care model in New Zealand and models that specifically target vulnerable or at risk children and their families.
  1. Options for enhancing the choices available to Australian families as to how they receive child care support, so that this can occur in the manner most suitable to their individual family circumstances. Mechanisms to be considered include subsidies, rebates and tax deductions, to improve the accessibility, flexibility and affordability of child care for families facing diverse individual circumstances.
  1. The benefits and other impacts of regulatory changes in child care over the past decade, including the implementation of the National Quality Framework (NQF) in States and Territories, with specific consideration given to compliance costs, taking into account the Government’s planned work with States and Territories to streamline the NQF.
  1. In making any recommendations for future Australian Government policy settings, the Commission will consider options within current funding parameters.

Process

The Commission is to undertake an appropriate public consultation process including holding hearings, inviting public submissions and releasing a draft report to the public.

The final report should be provided before the end of October 2014.

17 November 2013

Transcript - 23095

People smuggling cooperation with Sri Lanka

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: 17/11/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23096

Australia will gift two retired Australian Bay Class patrol boats to assist Sri Lanka’s efforts in combatting people smuggling operations.

The patrol boats are agile and with a range, speed and boarding capability that mean they will be well-suited to enhancing the Sri Lankan Navy’s efforts to disrupt people smuggling ventures.

Australia is providing training with the patrol boats, which will operate alongside the Sri Lankan Navy’s existing capability to intercept people smuggling efforts originating in Sri Lankan waters.

Our cooperation with Sri Lanka in the region is important as it is effective. Sri Lanka provides strong support against people smuggling operations and Australian agencies work closely with their Sri Lankan counterparts. Only 14 boats have travelled directly from Sri Lanka to Australia in 2013 compared to 120 boats in 2012.

Cooperation with Sri Lankan authorities to counter people smuggling and disruption operations has been well-coordinated and highly effective, with at least 12 on-water interceptions by the Sri Lankan Navy in 2013.

Australia appreciates its strong cooperative relationship with Sri Lanka in countering people smuggling. We cooperate closely through the bilateral Australia-Sri Lanka Joint Working Group on People Smuggling and Transnational Crime and through the regional Bali Process.

The Sri Lankan government has provided strong support for Australia’s strategic communication campaign.  The Sri Lankan government has effectively got the message out in people smuggling hotspots throughout Sri Lanka that illegal entry by boat will never lead to resettlement in Australia.

The central message of Operation Sovereign Borders is that illegal maritime arrivals will not be settled in Australia. There is no point in attempting to reach Australia by boat.

17 November 2013

Transcript - 23096

Dr Bill Glasson AO - Nomination for Griffith by-election preselection

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Abbott, Tony

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

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

Release Date: 17/11/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23097

I welcome Dr Bill Glasson’s decision to stand for preselection for the forthcoming Griffith by-election.

Bill Glasson will be a strong local voice for the people of Griffith in Canberra.

The by-election will be an opportunity for the people of Griffith to vote for a candidate that will support the Government’s plan to build a strong and prosperous economy and a safe and secure Australia.

In particular, it will be an opportunity to vote for a local member who will vote to scrap the carbon tax, reduce electricity prices and ease cost of living pressures.

Bill Glasson campaigned tirelessly as the LNP candidate for Griffith at the last federal election.

He is a true local representative and a distinguished Australian.

Bill Glasson has dedicated himself to representing the people of Griffith with the same enthusiasm, zeal and commitment that he has brought to his distinguished medical career.

I have asked the LNP in Queensland to finalise the preselection process for Griffith as soon as possible.

17 November 2013

Transcript - 23097

Press Conference, Colombo, Sri Lanka

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Abbott, Tony

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

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

Release Date: 17/11/2013

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23098

Subject(s): People smuggling cooperation with Sri Lanka

Location: Colombo, Sri Lanka

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s terrific to be here in Colombo. It’s good to be here with senior members of the Sri Lankan Navy, particularly the Admiral commanding the Navy on this day when I officially announce that Australia is gifting two Bay Class patrol boats to the Sri Lankan Navy to assist with our mutual efforts to combat people smuggling in the Indian Ocean.

People smuggling is a curse. It is a curse, it is an evil trade. It offers to people the promise of a better life, and yet so many people die because the promises of the people smugglers are vain promises.

No-one arriving illegally by boat in Australia will ever be settled in Australia. This is why the promises that the people smugglers offer are promises of death, not life.

It's important that Sri Lanka and Australia continue our excellent cooperation at sea. It is important that Sri Lanka has an enhanced search and rescue capacity, an enhanced interdiction capacity and that's what these two Bay Class patrol boats will offer the Sri Lankan Navy.

These vessels have seen about 10 years of service with the Australian customs. They are being brought back to full operational capability and they should be here with the Sri Lankan Navy by the middle of next year and that will be a very important addition to the capacity of the Sri Lankan Navy.

Today is the last day of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting here in Colombo. I congratulate President Rajapaksa for the way this meeting has gone, and I welcome the opportunity that Sri Lanka has had to showcase itself to the world.

As I said at the opening of the conference a couple of days ago, Sri Lanka has come through many troubles, but today there is more freedom and more prosperity.

I had the opportunity to meet privately with the President for some time yesterday evening. I was able to ask him about the progress of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. Obviously there is more to be done, but much progress has been made, and the fact that Sri Lanka is prepared to showcase itself in this way to the wider Commonwealth, a Commonwealth of values, a Commonwealth of ideals, a Commonwealth of aspirations for justice and a better life for all, shows the goodwill and the good intentions of the Sri Lankan Government and the Sri Lankan people.

So, I'm here as a friend. I'm here as the representative of a country which wants to do the right thing by all of the people of Sri Lanka.

Australia wants to be good mates with our friends and regional neighbours. That's what we always try to be and I'm pleased that here on this dock today I'm able to extend Australia's hand of friendship to Sri Lanka in this very practical way.

Before we take questions, I might invite the Admiral to say anything if you feel like it, Sir.

VICE ADMIRAL JAYANATH COLOMBAGE:

Yes. Honourable Prime Minister, it's a great honour for Sri Lanka and especially to the Sri Lankan Navy, for your graceful presence here and that goes to show how much you appreciate the contribution that we make in preventing this irregular migration by sea.

I believe Sri Lanka as a Government and the Sri Lankan Navy as an arm of the Government has taken this issue very seriously and we want to act very responsibly, in a very responsible manner because we know that these are very inhumane journeys and people are putting their lives at risk and many are perishing at sea.

We are really grateful to the Government of Australia for coming forward to help us in maintaining our surveillance at sea so that the two boats that you just now promised, that will be delivered to us, will be really put into great use in patrolling the oceans basically to maintain the freedom of the Indian Ocean from any form of maritime crime, which is essential for the livelihood of the life of the whole world.

We believe that the Indian Ocean is an interstate kind of ocean right now because it is linking the east and the west, so we will be able to put these boats into good use.

I really appreciate the commitment and the cooperation shown by the Australian Government and the Australian High Commission in Colombo in particular, who is doing all the coordination work.

We have an excellent working relationship and we have a joint working group which is really working, and I'm so honoured by your honourable presence and this very rare opportunity for the Sri Lankan Navy and on behalf of the Captain of the Sri Lankan Navy ship Sayura that you were on board a little while ago.

So, I extend you all the very best wishes from the Navy and the Government of Sri Lanka, to serve your country in a more productive manner, and I hope the cooperation between our two countries will be further strengthened by your presence here on board today, and your generosity, and I am sure that we will be partners at sea.

So, thank you, Honourable Prime Minister, it's a great honour for me and the whole country.

Thank you very much.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, how much is this costing and does it come out of the foreign aid budget? And, if I may, we’re giving military hardware to a country that has, according to the United Nations, unresolved questions over war crimes, how do you explain that to the Australian people?

PRIME MINISTER:

These vessels are being made available to the Sri Lankan Navy for humanitarian purposes, for search and rescue purposes. As all of you know, over the last few years, since the former government reversed the policies which had stopped the boats, there have been about 4,000 illegal arrivals by boat from Sri Lanka. We don't know how many people have drowned on the attempt, but we estimate that it's overall, many, many hundreds, if not thousands. So, these vessels are going to the Sri Lankan Navy for humanitarian purposes, for the safety of life at sea.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible] the money in the Budget?

PRIME MINISTER:

We estimate that there is about $2 million involved, in putting these vessels into tip-top condition and making them available to the Sri Lankan Navy.

QUESTION:

What does Australia get in return?

PRIME MINISTER:

What we get from Sri Lanka in return is the closest possible cooperation in preventing the evil trade of people smuggling. The cooperation between Australia and Sri Lanka is close. It's constructive. There have been dozens of interceptions at sea and interdictions on land of people smuggling operations because of the close cooperation between Australia and Sri Lankan authorities. What we want to do is enhance the capacity of the Sri Lankan Navy to preserve life at sea and to close down this evil trade.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, what are the conditions under which these boats can be used, I mean can they fire upon asylum seeker boats? Have you given some operational instructions to go with them?

PRIME MINISTER:

We are very confident that the cooperation that exists between Australia and Sri Lanka is such that there is a memorandum of understanding, the boats will be gifted to Sri Lanka under the memorandum of understanding, and the memorandum of understanding deals with the safety of life at sea and the cooperation between our two countries to close down the evil trade of people smuggling.

QUESTION:

Are there any targets for further reducing the flow of boats and secondly, can I also ask, is the funding coming from the foreign aid budget?

PRIME MINISTER:

The money involved here is quite small and as you know we give, in the order of $40 million a year to Sri Lanka for aid purposes. Later on today I'll be talking to people about the results of humanitarian assistance from Australia to Sri Lanka and in particular a very important housing project which has done so much to help people who have been displaced by the war in the north. So, this is an important part of our cooperation with Sri Lanka. Our cooperation with Sri Lanka is designed to improve the life of Sri Lankan people, to improve the capacity of Sri Lanka and Australia to cooperate together and, over time, to ensure that the very best ideals of life are realised here in Sri Lanka as much as in Australia itself.

QUESTION:

So, is that money coming from foreign aid budget?

PRIME MINISTER:

The boats are being provided to Sri Lanka, they are going to be provided in tip-top condition. The money involved is a couple of million dollars.

QUESTION:

Why don't you answer that question about whether it's coming out of the foreign aid budget?

PRIME MINISTER:

I assume that it is coming out of the foreign aid budget, and the fact of the matter is these boats will be provided in tip-top condition to the Sri Lankan Navy to enhance the Sri Lankan Navy's capacity to save life at sea and to cooperate with Australia in closing down this evil trade of people smuggling.

QUESTION:

Four Sri Lankan sailors have been arrested on allegations of being involved in people smuggling. Can you trust that cooperation from the Navy?

PRIME MINISTER:

The fact that naval personnel have been arrested for alleged improper behaviour in this area is a sign of the absolute determination of the Sri Lankan Government and people to close down this evil trade. So, while I regret the fact that at least on the face of it there appears to have been some improper behaviour, the fact that Sri Lanka is cracking down hard on this gives me great confidence that there will be even better outcomes in the future.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, did the Sri Lankan Government demand these boats or was it Australia's idea to provide them?

PRIME MINISTER:

It was our idea to provide them. As you probably know, we are upgrading our customs fleet from the Bay Class to the Cape Class. The Cape Class is an even more capable vessel than the Bay Class. The Cape Class is in some respects an even more capable vessel than the Armidale Class which the Australian Navy is operating in the seas to our north. It was my idea that the retiring Bay Class vessels should be made available to our friends and allies to enhance their capacity to crackdown on this evil trade. I mean, let's be absolutely crystal clear - this is about saving life at sea. There are few more important humanitarian issues in our neighbourhood right now than stopping the flow of boats which, in Australia's case, has been associated with more than a thousand deaths at sea.

QUESTION:

Good morning, Sir. Your Excellency do you think it is justifiable by some of the nations in the international community, they’re only harping on Sri Lanka’s investigation of alleged human rights violation, really on the last phase of the war, forgetting the 30-year long war and the atrocities done by the [inaudible]. They are only focusing on the last phase of the war. Why is that? Why is Sri Lankan being cornered in this manner without looking at the 30-year prolonged war we have had in this country, and so many atrocities [inaudible] a lot of destruction was done, but international communities are not paying any attention to that but only harping on an investigation during the last phase of the war. Do you think it is justifiable to the people of this nation?

PRIME MINISTER:

That's a fascinating point you've put to me, Sir. Look, I'm not going to go into the whys and the wherefores of what motivates different people, save to say this - there would not be a Commonwealth leader who does not want the best for Sri Lanka. Every Commonwealth leader, whether it be Stephen Harper or David Cameron, or John Key, or Mr Singh of India, everyone wants the best for Sri Lanka. That's what we all want. We appreciate, all of us, that Sri Lanka has come through a terrible war. We appreciate that much progress has been made. We appreciate that there is more progress to be made in the months and years ahead, and this is why I was so pleased to hear from President Rajapaksa last night. His take on how the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission is going, how the 290-odd recommendations are being implemented, how the judicial investigation of disappearances is going, and we all want to see the best possible outcomes and that unites every Commonwealth leader.

QUESTION:

The human rights concerns that have been raised, how can you be sure there are no Sri Lankans who don't have a genuine claim to seek asylum in Australia?

PRIME MINISTER:

Everyone who comes to Australia will be dealt with appropriately, either offshore, in the case of people who are coming now. There are people who are already onshore, as you know, from the former government, and they are being assessed as they should be. I'm not saying that no-one who comes to Australia is ever going to be found to be a refugee. Of course I'm not saying that. What I am saying about Sri Lanka is that a great deal of progress has been made. There is obviously more progress to be made and that's why the constructive engagement of people from the Commonwealth here in Colombo is very important.

QUESTION:

Do you agree with David Cameron that there needs to be an independent investigation into these war crimes allegations or do you agree with President Rajapaksa that no such investigation needs to be undertaken?

PRIME MINISTER:

There are investigations ongoing at the moment in Sri Lanka. There is a judicial inquiry into disappearances, and there is ongoing work under the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission. So, there are inquiries going on. The scope of them may well be extended as time goes by. But the important thing is to work constructively with Sri Lanka to try to ensure that all of the people of Sri Lanka have the best possible future and that's what the Australian Government intends to do.

QUESTION:

Do you think David Cameron's tone is too aggressive or strident then?

PRIME MINISTER:

I'm not going to offer observations about my colleagues suffice to say that everyone wants the very best for Sri Lanka, whether it's Stephen Harper in Canada, whether it's David Cameron in the United Kingdom, whether it's Prime Minister Singh of India, myself, we all want the best possible outcome for the people of Sri Lanka. This is a Commonwealth of values. This is a Commonwealth of ideals. You would expect a Commonwealth of ideals to want the best possible outcomes for the people of Sri Lanka, who have suffered so much and who now have the opportunity to build a better future. I think this country has an abundant capacity to be one of the jewels of Asia, and let's help them realise that great destiny.

QUESTION:

The Productivity Commission into child care Prime Minister, what are you hoping to achieve and what do you hope it leads to?

PRIME MINISTER:

This is a very important commitment that we made to the Australian people prior to the election. The Productivity Commission has done magnificent work on a whole range of subjects. The National Disability Insurance Scheme, paid parental leave, aged care, all have very much benefitted from the attention of the Productivity Commission. We need a child care system which acknowledges the needs of the modern Australian family and the needs of the contemporary Australian workforce. We have a 24/7 workforce. We have different and varying family structures today than we did a generation or so back. We think it is important, given that there hasn't been a serious look at the childcare system for two decades, that we have this serious look, see how we can improve it, see what we can do with our childcare system to enhance participation, to boost productivity and there is no better body to look at it than the Productivity Commission.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, just on the sale of GrainCorp, is that entirely up to the Treasurer or will it go through Cabinet?

PRIME MINISTER:

It is entirely a matter for the Treasurer. I'm confident that the Treasurer is giving this the attention that it deserves. I want to make it absolutely crystal clear that Australia is open for business, we are under new management, we appreciate the importance of foreign investment to our economy. I'm here in Sri Lanka, they appreciate the importance of foreign investment to their economy. We have a number of significant Australian businesses, Iluka mining, Crown Casinos, that are looking to make significant investments here in Sri Lanka. I know the Sri Lankan Government is very happy to have those investments. We are happy - very happy - to have foreign investment in Australia. It does have to be the right investment, not the wrong investment. It does have to accord with our overall national interests and there is no better way of ensuring that that's the case than the foreign investment review board process with the final decision to be made by the Treasurer.

Thank you so much.

[ends]

Transcript - 23098

Helping to reduce violence against women

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: 19/11/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23099

The Government will provide $1 million to the White Ribbon campaign to help reduce violence against women, particularly in culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

For the past decade White Ribbon Day has been working to stop violence against women through education, preventative programs, partnerships and creative campaigns.

The Government is committed to doing all it can to stop any form of violence against women.

One in three Australian women over the age of 15 has reported experiencing physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives.

The $1 million funding announced today will expand the activities of the White Ribbon campaign with a particular focus on new and emerging culturally and linguistically diverse communities across Australia.

This commitment builds on our plans to ensure the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and Children 2010-2022 is implemented.

I am proud to be one of nearly 2,200 White Ribbon Ambassadors across Australia working to create a cultural shift that leads to the end of violence against women.

19 November 2013

Transcript - 23099

Statement on Indulgence

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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: 19/11/2013

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 23100

Location: House of Representatives, Parliament House, Canberra

In the past 24 hours there have been calls for Australia to detail our intelligence operations and to apologise for them.

Madam Speaker, the first duty of every government is to protect the country and to advance its national interests.

That’s why every government gathers information and why every government knows that every other government gathers information.

Madam Speaker, there is no greater responsibility for a prime minister than ensuring the safety of Australian citizens and the security our borders and that, indeed, is why we do collect intelligence.

National security, Madam Speaker, requires a consistent determination to do what’s best for Australia and that’s why this government will support the national security decisions of previous ones as we will expect future governments to respect ours.

Madam Speaker, Australia should not be expected to apologise for the steps we take to protect our country now or in the past, any more than other governments should be expected to apologise for the similar steps that they have taken.

Importantly, in Australia’s case, we use all our resources, including information, to help our friends and allies, not to harm them.

Similarly, Madam Speaker, Australia shouldn’t be expected to detail what we do to protect our country any more than other governments should be expected to detail what they do to protect theirs.

Others should ask of us no more than they are prepared to do themselves.

Madam Speaker, I want to make it absolutely crystal clear that Australia has deep respect for Indonesia, for its government and for its people.

I regard President Yudhoyono as a good friend of Australia, indeed as one of the very best friends that we have anywhere in the world.

That’s why, Madam Speaker, I sincerely regret any embarrassment that recent media reports have caused him.

But Madam Speaker, it is in everyone’s interests – Indonesia’s no less than Australia’s – that cool heads prevail and that our relationship grows closer, not more distant.

I pledge myself to build the strongest possible relationship with Indonesia.

After all, due to its size, proximity and potential to be an emerging democratic superpower of Asia, it is the most important single relationship that we have.

[ends]

Transcript - 23100

Address to White Ribbon Australia Breakfast - 10 Year Anniversary, 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: 19/11/2013

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 23101

Thanks very much, Ken. Madam Speaker, Opposition Leader, Senator Milne, Parliamentary colleagues.

I am pleased to be here today on the 10th anniversary of White Ribbon’s formation in Australia.

I wish I could say that violence against women was no longer a problem in our country but I can’t, because if I tried to say that, it simply wouldn’t be true.

It is still a problem.

As that powerful advertisement makes clear, every week a woman is a victim, a fatality of domestic violence, and sadly, one in three women have experienced physical violence in their lives, invariably at the hands of men.

So, there is a very long journey that we as a nation and as a culture have yet to make.

All of us need to do what we can.

Many of us here are White Ribbon ambassadors. There’s much that each of us can do individually.

I’ve done some work in my own area with the Manly Womens Shelter. My wife is a patron of the Manly Womens Shelter. I’ve raised some money for the Manly Womens Shelter.

All of us can do more to get the message out there that strong men are not violent.

Truly strong men do whatever they can to stop violence, particularly violence against the most vulnerable.

I’m pleased to say that the Government will commit an extra $1 million to the White Ribbon campaign over the next four years – particularly to try to ensure that the message goes out to communities where perhaps it has not yet been heard as strongly as it should.

I am the father of three daughters and I am determined to do whatever I can do individually and as a leader in our society to ensure that everyone – particularly the most vulnerable – enjoys the peace, the tranquillity, and the freedom that should be every Australian’s birth right.

So, I am pleased to be here.

I am pleased to be here today amidst so many of my parliamentary colleagues making the strongest possible statement that the women of Australia, that the women of the world, should be able to live their lives in peace and enjoying the respect of their menfolk.

[ends]

Transcript - 23101

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