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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Abbott, Tony

Visit to Australia by His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales

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: 23/09/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23003

I welcome the visit of Prince Harry to Australia next month.

Whilst Prince Harry visited Australia privately in his gap year in 2003, this will be his first official visit to Australia.

Australians have great warmth towards members of the royal family.

Members of the royal family have enjoyed being in Australia and that pleasure is amply reciprocated by the Australian people.

As a member of the armed forces, Prince Harry has continued a long tradition of duty and service. His work and advocacy for numerous charitable organisations has also been an important focus of his public life.

During his visit next month, Prince Harry will attend the International Fleet Review in Sydney to mark the centenary of the first entry of the Royal Australian Navy’s Fleet into Sydney.

Further details of the Prince’s visit will be released closer to the visit.

I look forward to joining Prince Harry during his time in Australia.

He will be an honoured visitor to our country and we look forward to welcoming him.

23 September 2013

Transcript - 23003

Nairobi Terrorist Attack - Death of Australian citizen

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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: 23/09/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23004

The Australian Government condemns the barbaric attacks on innocent civilians at the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi, Kenya.

The actions of this group of extremists have caused extensive loss of life and injury to many innocent people.  That an Australian was among those killed in the attack is a terrible reminder that Australia is not immune from acts of terrorism around the world and that Al Qaeda-linked groups continue to present a serious global threat.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the Australian victim and with all families of those killed and wounded in this attack, including the many Kenyans.

The latest advice from Kenyan authorities is that the death toll has reached 59 and that 175 people have been injured. However, the Government has been advised that these figures are likely to increase.

The Government remains committed to the global fight against terrorism and to do whatever we can to ensure the safety of Australians both at home and abroad.

Transcript - 23004

Establishment of the Prime Minister's Indigenous Advisory Council

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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: 25/09/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23005

Today, I announce the establishment of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council.

The Council will inform the policy implementation of the Coalition Government. It will focus on practical changes to improve the lives of Aboriginal people.

I am delighted that Mr Warren Mundine will chair the Council.

Warren Mundine’s expertise is widely recognised. He is a natural leader and a forthright advocate for indigenous Australia.

A new engagement with Aboriginal people will be one of the hallmarks of the Coalition Government.

While many Aboriginal people are fully participating in Australian society, too many are not. Preserving indigenous culture and building reconciliation means doing more to ensure that children go to school, adults go to work and the ordinary rule of law operates in indigenous communities.

The Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council will meet three times a year with the Prime Minister and senior government Ministers. The Chairman of the Council will meet with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs each month. It will include indigenous and non-indigenous Australians with a broad range of skills, including experience in the public sector, business acumen, and a strong understanding of indigenous culture.

The Chairman will be a part-time position and supported by a secretariat seconded from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Interested persons who wish to apply to be part of the Advisory Council can register their interest by email at indigenousadvisorycouncil@pmc.gov.au or by post at:

Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council

Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet

PO Box 6500

CANBERRA  ACT  2600

Australians yearn to see practical and genuine improvement in the lives of Aboriginal people.

There is so much goodwill.

The challenge, though, is to convert good sentiment into practical change for the better.

I want to be a Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and I am delighted that Warren Mundine has taken up the call to be part of this journey with me.

25 September 2013

Transcript - 23005

Establishment of the Prime Minister's Business Advisory Council

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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: 26/09/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23006

Today, I announce the appointment of Mr Maurice Newman AC as the Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council.

Mr Newman is a former Chairman of the Australian Stock Exchange, Deutsche Bank (Asia Pacific), the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as well as a former Chancellor of Macquarie University.

Government and business have a shared interest in the economic success of Australia.

We appreciate that a strong economy needs profitable and dynamic businesses to sustain it.

Strong and successful Australian businesses mean more jobs and more revenue to fund the provision of services and investment in infrastructure.

The previous government’s class war on business and sectors of our economy did little to engender confidence and economic opportunity.

A strong relationship with business characterised the Hawke, Keating and Howard governments. I want to restore a working relationship between government and Australian business.

The Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council will meet three times a year with senior members of the Government.

It will include representatives from the manufacturing, agricultural, services and information sectors as well as from the resources sector because Australia’s future depends on having a diverse five pillar economy.

Interested persons who wish to apply to be part of the Advisory Council can register their interest by email at businessadvisorycouncil@pmc.gov.au or by post at:

Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council

Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet

PO Box 6500

CANBERRA  ACT  2600

Applications must be received by Friday 11 October 2013.

I look forward to working with Mr Newman and members of the Advisory Council.

26 September 2013

Transcript - 23006

Joint Doorstop Interview, 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: 26/09/2013

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23007

Subject(s): Stronger economy

Location: Melbourne

PRIME MINISTER:

It is really good to be here at Loral Ipsum. I want to thank Greg Pearce and his team for making me and Alan Tudge, my Parliamentary Secretary and the local Member, so welcome. It’s great here to be in the electorate of Aston and I note that in the recent election, there was a swing of some seven per cent to Alan Tudge and the Coalition and that obviously is a credit to his work as a local Member as well as obviously a strong endorsement of the policies that the Coalition did take to the recent election.

Australia is under new management. We are open for business. There is confidence returning to our economy as the Government calmly, steadily, purposefully implements the policies that we took to the election and that we believe will build a stronger economy for a safe and secure Australia.

In particular, we are moving swiftly to abolish the carbon tax, to get the Budget back under control, to stop the boats and to build the roads of the 21st century. And for a business like this here in outer metropolitan Melbourne, the carbon tax will go – which will reduce power bills and gas bills, the company tax will come down, red tape will come down and the East West Link will be built.

So all this is good news for the businesses, for the workers and for the families of outer metropolitan Melbourne, who will be very much at the heart of the new Government's concerns. So, I do want to assure the people of Melbourne, Victoria and Australia that the new Government is hard at work for them. We are not rushing things, but we are getting things done and very soon people will start to notice more and more differences thanks to the work of this Government.

Later on today I will be making official the appointment of Maurice Newman as Chairman of the Prime Minister's Business Advisory Council because the new Government understands, in a way that our predecessor did not, that you cannot have a cohesive society without a strong economy and you cannot have a strong economy without strong and profitable private businesses. That's why it is very important that I am constantly alerted to issues with business and that is what the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council will do. I’m going to ask Alan Tudge just to say a few words and then obviously I will take some questions.

ALAN TUDGE:

Thank you very much Prime Minister and firstly, can I thank you for visiting the electorate of Aston as your first visit to Victoria since becoming Prime Minister and can I also thank Greg Pearce for generously hosting us here today and letting us see your terrific business here.

Prime Minister, as I have been going around my electorate over the last two or three weeks, you notice that there is an uptake in business confidence, and businesses are telling me that, and they are doing so because they know that the carbon tax will be coming off, the company tax will be lower and that there will be other measures which will support them.

Furthermore they know that money is not going to be wasted in the future under this Government. So that is very pleasing to hear and it is also very pleasing that you have been here to visit this business and this electorate today, so thank you for that.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, can I just ask, you have referenced gas prices there, there’s a summit in Sydney today looking at gas, what do you think should be done by the States to bring on supply of gas?

PRIME MINISTER:

It is important that we respect our environment.  It is important that we respect the rights of farmers to have reasonable control over who accesses their properties, but it is also very important that we get the gas we need to keep our economy strong. So, I'm pleased that this gas summit is taking place in Sydney today. I am confident that we will move forward in a way which respects the rights of farmers which protects our magnificent environment, which does give Australians, particularly people in New South Wales, the gas that they need in order to keep manufacturing strong in this country of ours.

QUESTION:

Are they getting the balance right at the moment?

PRIME MINISTER:

There is little doubt that we have done better in Queensland. The Newman Government seems to have been very good at ensuring that land-holders are reasonably content with the arrangements that have been entered into for gas extraction on their property. The important thing is to get the balance right and I am confident that that's exactly why the O'Farrell Government is having this conference in Sydney today. I have a strong relationship with Barry O'Farrell. I think he is doing an excellent job and I think this conference on gas supplies for New South Wales and our country more generally is an important part of that.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, how are you going to force Indonesia to comply with your boats policy?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, it is not a question of forcing anyone. It is a question of working very cooperatively and constructively with our neighbours to ensure that this terrible problem, not just for us but for our region, is addressed and stopped. The important thing to remember is that Australia has a very good relationship with Indonesia. We have in the past worked very constructively together to stop this problem. We are, even now, working very well together with the Indonesians but we can do better in the future…

QUESTION:

They have already said no to your policies though....

PRIME MINISTER:

…and we absolutely respect Indonesia's sovereignty and we would never do or propose anything which is contrary to that.

QUESTION:

They say that you have sir. They say that you have by saying you will tow back the boats and buy back boats in Indonesia that you are threatening their sovereignty?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I'm not sure that that's the case.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, do you trust your own ministry? And if so, why do they have to clear themselves through your office before they speak publicly?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I am very proud of my team. I have an excellent team. This is a very strong Government. It was a strong and effective Opposition. It's already moving decisively to be a strong and effective Government. We will be a consultative and collegial Government. We will be consultative and collegial internally as well as externally. That's why it is important that we continue in Government the sorts of arrangements that we had in Opposition.

QUESTION:

Consultative, does that mean they have got to consult you before they speak publicly?

PRIME MINISTER:

It is very important that the Government speaks with a united voice. It is very that the Government responds cohesively and consistently to the various issues of the day and in Opposition, before my senior colleagues did media, they normally called in with my office. It was a very good arrangement in Opposition, it is a very good arrangement in Government and it is one that my colleagues have always been happy to comply with.

QUESTION:

Are you concerned that money flowing out of self-managed super funds into property has created some sort of bubble? What action will you be taking?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am always concerned to try to ensure that we have a strong superannuation system. I believe that we have a good superannuation system. That's not to say that it can't be further improved and the assurance that I give the superannuants and the superannuation savers of Australia is that there will be no adverse changes to their superannuation arrangements under this Government.

QUESTION:

Is this Reserve Bank warning you though that action potentially needs to be taken to take the heat out of the housing sector? Will you not heed that warning?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, it’s not a bad thing to see reasonable buoyancy in our economy. It is not a bad thing at all. It is a good thing to see reasonable buoyancy in our economy but I don't think anyone should rush to the conclusion that there is too much exuberance in our economy at this time. I think if anything, we could see a little more exuberance in many sectors of the economy, particularly in manufacturing. But the good thing about a business like this particular business, notwithstanding all of the difficulties of foreign competition, notwithstanding all of the costs which have been associated with doing business in this country, it is confident, it is looking to the future to expand and I think it’s that can-do, have a go spirit which is going to stand Australian manufacturing in good stead in the years to come.

QUESTION:

Do you reconcile your no change position just expressed then with Arthur Sinodinos’ comments that a level playing field needs to be sought?

PRIME MINISTER:

The important thing is we try to ensure that our superannuation system is working as well as it can. That there is no discrimination between different forms of superannuation but we gave that clear pre-election commitment that there would be no adverse changes to people's superannuation and that's a commitment, obviously, that we stand by.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister does against a centralised approach go against the public's right to know what ministers are doing?

PRIME MINISTER:

I'm very keen to see ministers in the new Government active in their portfolios and I'm very pleased to see that my Ministers have been active in their portfolios from day one. Scott Morrison has moved swiftly to establish Operation Sovereign Borders; Malcolm Turnbull has moved swiftly to put our stamp on the National Broadband Network; Greg Hunt has moved swiftly to wind down the bloated climate change bureaucracy that we inherited from the former government. So, all of my ministers are moving swiftly to put the new Government's stamp on the affairs of the nation. That's a very, very good thing and obviously when there is something to be said, it will be said and I don't think a day has gone by since the election, certainly since the swearing in, when there haven't been ministers making important announcements.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, six of Christine Milne's senior staff have walked out on her. Do you think her leadership is in crisis?

PRIME MINISTER:

I'm going to try to make it a rule to be very sparing in my comments on other political parties. Obviously where another political party is making a commitment or embracing a policy which is bad for the country, I might have something to say about that policy but I'm certainly not going to offer commentary on staff developments inside the office of a minor party leader.

QUESTION:

Have you had any briefing on the IPCC's report? If so, do you think it shows that rising temperatures may have slowed?

PRIME MINISTER:

Obviously I’ve read a great deal of media speculation about this report. As I understand it, the report is yet to be made public. Obviously, when the report is made public, it will be appropriately studied by the Australian Government and there will be appropriate briefings to people.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, is the Coalition considering bringing back a cap on university places?

PRIME MINISTER:

It is interesting that pre-election we had people like Senator Carr, the then minister, question whether the abolition of the cap hadn't compromised quality at some of our universities. We are looking at this issue. The important thing is to ensure we maximise access to universities while at the same time maintaining and, wherever possible, improving their quality. That's why we are looking at this issue, but what we aren't going to do is compromise the commitments that we took to the people at the recent election.

QUESTION:

Will you scrap the student services fee?

PRIME MINISTER:

When the former government moved to re-impose compulsory student unionism, we obviously opposed it. I have to say that there is a lot on our plate. We are going to be a very busy and active government over the next few years and this is not a priority for us and we have no plans for change in this area at this time.

QUESTION:

On superannuation, would you consider removing the ability of self-managed super funds to borrow to buy property or taking off the capital gains exemption as things that would constitute adverse movements?

PRIME MINISTER:

I'm just not going to speculate on these subjects. What we said was that there would be no adverse changes to superannuation under an incoming Coalition government. That is a commitment that we stand by, as we do stand by all of our pre-election commitments. What we are doing now is calmly, steadily, purposefully moving to implement our commitments and obviously, as situations develop, we will respond as best we can to them but, in keeping with the values, the principles and the commitments which we took to the Australian people before the election.

QUESTION:

Have you set a date for the first Parliamentary sitting?

PRIME MINISTER:

The date will be announced shortly. As I have said before, it’s important that there be a very full legislative agenda for the Parliament to consider. The last thing I want to do is bring the Parliament back prematurely for a photo opportunity. That was the style of our predecessors. It certainly won’t be the style of the incoming Government. When there’s something to say, we will say it. When there’s something to do, we will do it, but we certainly won’t be engaging in grandstanding. We certainly won’t be practicing spin over substance. That was one of the things that got the former government into diabolical trouble and something my colleagues and I have well and truly learned.

QUESTION:

Tell us about your relationship with Clive Palmer.

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, he is a significant figure in a minor political party and again, I’m just not going to run a commentary on minor political parties.

QUESTION:

You’re going to have to negotiate with him to get things through the Senate? How do you guys get on?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, the point I’ve made is that I will treat all members of Parliament with courtesy and respect. I daresay some of them will be easier to work with than others, but I’m certainly going to give every one of them the benefit of the doubt and I’m going to give every one of them the opportunity to work constructively with the new Government.

QUESTION:

He’s asking for more staff. Will you give them to him?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, again, I’m not going to conduct discussions with anyone through the media. If he’s got a request to make, he’s welcome to make it and it will be dealt with in an orderly, sensible, prudent and frugal way by the incoming Government because this is the approach that we want to take to everything. I want the Australian people to understand that the new Government is quite different from the government that it’s replaced. We will be an orderly, frugal, prudent, responsible government which deals with the Australian people in a candid, collegial and consultative way. That’s how we intend to go on. That’s how I believe we’ve started.

Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript - 23007

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: 27/09/2013

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23008

Subject(s): Euthanasia

Location: Melbourne

NEIL MITCHELL:

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, good morning.

PRIME MINISTER:

Neil, nice to be with you.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Thank you for coming in. If you want to speak with the Prime Minister, 9690 0693. 13 13 32 in regional Victoria. Prime Minister, Tasmania could be on the verge of introducing voluntary euthanasia. Would you attempt to stop them?

PRIME MINISTER:

Tasmania is entitled to do what Tasmania thinks best. I don’t support euthanasia. You might remember a long time ago Neil, there was a proposal in the ACT for euthanasia and that was overridden by the Commonwealth Parliament…

NEIL MITCHELL:

As indeed it was in the Northern Territory.

PRIME MINISTER:

But the Commonwealth Parliament has no powers over the state, in this respect, to the best of my knowledge.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Would you like to stop it?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I’m happy to argue that things like this are best left to the discretion of doctors and patients. There’s no reason why doctors can’t administer pain relief and we know that sometimes if you administer pain relief you do have the, I suppose, the unintended consequence of shortening life but there’s a world of difference between giving pain relief to someone who is dying and actually killing someone who’d otherwise be alive.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Well, I’d argue that pain relief is often applied with the intention of speeding death.

PRIME MINISTER:

Quite possibly you’re right Neil and when was the last time any doctor or anyone was prosecuted for something like that? I think the situation that we’ve got at the moment is a perfectly acceptable one. The problem with changing the law here is that it will lead to people who aren’t in imminent danger of death being assisted to die and I think that’s a world of difference between turning off life support systems, between giving people pain relief when they are in any event close to death.

NEIL MITCHELL:

So you don’t approve of what Tasmania may be doing but you can’t stop it.

PRIME MINISTER:

As I said Neil, the state parliament is perfectly entitled to consider these matters, I’m sure that they’ll have a very good debate but in the end, as I understand it, things like this are a question for the state legislatures. Territories are in different positions.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Ok, now you’re heading to Indonesia on Monday. It’s fair to say it seems there will be significant tensions there. The Foreign Minister’s released a transcript of his conversation with Julie Bishop. Surely that’s inappropriate?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well again, I don’t want to buy into an argument with Indonesia officialdom because Australia has a very good relationship with Indonesia.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Does it? It doesn’t look like it by what he said.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I would respectfully disagree with you Neil. We have a strong and close relationship with Indonesia. I want it to be even stronger and closer and more cooperative and more consultative in the weeks and months and years ahead but the last thing I would ever want to do is anything that doesn’t show the fullest possible respect for Indonesia’s sovereignty.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Ok, but here we have a private conversation between two foreign ministers, one of our officials, the Foreign Minister of Australia being released publicly. Surely you can’t approve of that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well again, I’m not in the business of being critical of the Indonesian Government because the Indonesian Government, it’s a strong democratic government which is striving to do the right thing by its citizens. Australia fully, totally respects Indonesia’s sovereignty. We have a strong and close relationship with Indonesia and we want it to be even stronger and closer with Indonesia in the weeks and months ahead.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Well, he has warned that cooperation on asylum seekers is at risk because of your policies.

PRIME MINISTER:

We are already at this very moment cooperating closely with the Indonesians and…

NEIL MITCHELL:

But is this at risk now?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I don’t believe that the incoming government will do anything to put that cooperation at risk.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Would you back away from your policy if it risked it?

PRIME MINISTER:

Neil, we have policies which I am sure are very well understood. It’s in everyone’s interests to stop the flow of illegal boats. We will, working closely with Indonesia, stop the flow of illegal boats. That will be good for both of our countries but we will stop it in ways which fully respect Indonesia’s sovereignty and the point I want to make very strongly Neil is I respect and admire Indonesia. Indonesia is a strong democracy which is striving to do the right thing by all its citizens.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Well, do you deny that the cooperation is at risk as the Foreign Minister of Indonesia says it is?

PRIME MINISTER:

If Australia did something foolish obviously it could be but the incoming government will not do foolish things. We will do strong and sensible things which build on the good relationship which we already have with Indonesia and the other point I should make Neil is that this is a broad and deep relationship which is going to get broader and deeper over time and the last thing that anyone should want is to have Australia’s relationship with Indonesia defined by this boats issue which I am sure will be but a passing irritant.

NEIL MITCHELL:

So there is a bit of an irritant, a bit of a hiccup here, isn’t there?

PRIME MINISTER:

And that’s one of the many reasons why it is so important to stop the boats because I don’t want what is in so many respects our most important relationship to be needlessly complicated by this.

NEIL MITCHELL:

So what’s the passing irritant?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, we’re going to stop the boats. It’s as simple as that.

NEIL MITCHELL:

That’s an irritant to Indonesia, is it?

PRIME MINISTER:

And we’re going to work together with the Indonesians, who we deeply respect, to bring this about.

NEIL MITCHELL:

So what’s the passing irritant? Is Indonesia irritated?

PRIME MINISTER:

Neil, the last thing you would want to do as a patriotic Australian is do anything to needlessly complicate the relationship which Australia has with Indonesia. Now, the point I make is you will never get from me gratuitous commentary about the Indonesian Government and Indonesian officials. I respect them. I admire what they’ve achieved in their country and I am determined to work as closely and as consultatively as I humanly can with Indonesia to, amongst many other things, stop the boats because it is in the interests of both countries that we stop these boats as quickly as possible.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Well, your friend Alexander Downer, former Foreign Minister, is a patriotic Australia. He describes what the Indonesian Foreign Minister has said as “pious rhetoric.” What’s your reaction to that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, look Alexander is Alexander and I’m now the Prime Minister of our country and I am charged with building the closest possible relationship with Indonesia for the mutual benefit of our two countries because it is in the interests of both Australia and Indonesia that this flow of boats be stopped as quickly as possible and as President Yudhoyono so well advised Australia a couple of years ago under the former government, we’ve got to take the sugar off the table. We’ve got to take away the product that the people smugglers have had to sell and one of the first things that Scott Morrison did as the incoming Border Protection Minister, yes he put Operation Sovereign Borders into place but he also made it absolutely clear that no one who comes to Australia illegally by boat and is found to be a refugee will get permanent residency. The best they’ll get is a temporary protection visa.

NEIL MITCHELL:

How many have arrived illegally by boat since you became Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER:

There’s been, I think, a couple of hundred since the swearing-in. The key change since the swearing-in, and there will be further changes over time, but the key change since the swearing-in is that now anyone who gets here illegally by boat is out of the country to Nauru or Manus within 48 hours and they’re never coming back.

NEIL MITCHELL:

So how many boats and a couple of hundred people? How many exactly?

PRIME MINISTER:

I can’t tell you the exact figure but certainly there have been some and as you know Neil, what we’re doing now is that we are having a weekly operational briefing and Scott will be providing all the details along with the Commander of Operation Sovereign Borders.

NEIL MITCHELL:

So those people who’ve arrived since you’ve become Prime Minister have already gone?

PRIME MINISTER:

Within 48 hours, out of the country.

NEIL MITCHELL:

They’ve all gone. Where’ve they gone?

PRIME MINISTER:

To Nauru and to Manus.

NEIL MITCHELL:

That secrecy issue I’d like to come back to in a moment but there’s something else that’s confusing me. Did you appoint yourself Minister for Women?

PRIME MINISTER:

There is a minister assisting me for women. This is a standard procedure. I think that for as long as I can remember there has been a minister assisting the Prime Minister on the status of women.

NEIL MITCHELL:

So, why did you take it on though? I mean, it does look a little spin-based.

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s a standard procedure. John Howard had such a minister, I have such a minister – Senator Michaelia Cash, she’ll do an excellent job.

NEIL MITCHELL:

What’s your first job as Minister for Women then?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well look, as you know Neil, one of the signature policies of the Coalition is a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme. I’m very proud to be leading a party and now a government which is going to give the women of Australia, the women in the workforce in this country a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme for the first time. If we are serious about giving women a real choice to combine family and career, we need such a scheme.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Do you believe women do suffer discrimination in Australia?

PRIME MINISTER:

I don’t think women suffer legal discrimination and I don’t think anyone these days sets out to do the wrong thing but it is very difficult for women to combine work and family if they don’t have a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme and that’s going to change very soon under the Coalition.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Can you guarantee you’re not going to run a government of secrecy? This policy on the boats, and the weekly report on the boats, you didn’t tell us that when you were in opposition. In fact, you were out there trumpeting the figures every day.

PRIME MINISTER:

My recollection Neil and I’m sure your people will come back if I’ve got this wrong but my recollection is that during the campaign or just before the campaign, we announced Operation Sovereign Borders would be put into place, should we win the election and I am pretty confident that part of that announcement was to say, that we would be giving the public updates on boat arrivals from time to time rather than necessarily on an hour by hour basis.

NEIL MITCHELL:

What about the secrecy principle though? If I want to speak to Joe Hockey, he needs your approval. Is that right?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, that’s not correct.

NEIL MITCHELL:

How will it work?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, for three years now, ever since I became the Leader of the Opposition, we have had, if you like, an advisory. If you are doing media, it is always worthwhile to check in with my office to see what issues are running so that the Coalition speaks with a united voice. Now, is this mandatory? Of course not. Is it desirable? Yes. And in the end, this helps you Neil, and it helps the public, because it means different frontbenchers are aware of what’s happening and we can avoid the kind of confusion which sometimes arises.

NEIL MITCHELL:

So they are able to do interviews without approval.

PRIME MINISTER:

Absolutely. Absolutely.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Can somebody tell them? They’ve been studiously unavailable.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, people are obviously allowed but it isn’t mandatory to provide an interview to whomever, whenever. The point I make Neil is that if you’ve got something to say, you should say it. If there’s something that you have to do, you should do it but one of the differences between government and opposition is that oppositions basically have nothing to do except make a noise. Governments have a country to run and one of the reasons why the former government was such a failure was because they never understood the difference between opposition and government.

NEIL MITCHELL:

You’re changing the style aren’t you? I mean, I saw a photograph of you today in a fluorescent vest and that’s the first one I’ve seen in three weeks. You are attempting to change the style of government, aren’t you?

PRIME MINISTER:

I’m very conscious of the fact that Neil that the people of Australia voted at the election for a grown up adult government and a grown up adult government is one which understands that you have a job to do. You’ve got to spend at least as much time behind a desk as you are out campaigning. In fact far more time behind a desk or in meetings than you are out campaigning and again, this is something that the Labor Party never grasped and it was one of the reasons why in the end they were such a poor government.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Prime Minister, the East West tunnel in Melbourne – have you seen the business plan?

PRIME MINISTER:

I’ve seen the published business case and I have spoken to people who are deeply familiar. I’ve been briefed by people who are deeply familiar with the full cost benefit analysis and they are confident and I accept their judgement that this is something that makes economic and social sense.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Will you get the full business plan before you sign off on $1.5 billion?

PRIME MINISTER:

I have no reason to think that the short case which has been published is in any way mendacious. I mean we’re talking here about officials who have a lifetime of public service behind them and on the East West Link, I was coming into Melbourne yesterday from Tullamarine. I got stuck for about 20 minutes on Flemington Road. This is the standard experience…

NEIL MITCHELL:

Where on Flemington Road?

PRIME MINISTER:

Just going past the hospitals. If you’re going down Hoddle Street, if you’re in Alexandra Parade, you’re often subjected to very lengthy traffic delays and this is a problem Neil, not just…

NEIL MITCHELL:

Where were you going?

PRIME MINISTER:

I was going from the airport to the city.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Well you shouldn’t have gone down Flemington Road.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well tell the Comcar drivers that they need to get better directions.

NEIL MITCHELL:

You should have stayed on the freeway.

PRIME MINISTER:

But the point is that through traffic will benefit enormously from East West Link, but the residence of those inner city suburbs will benefit enormously, because the through traffic will come off their streets into the tunnel and those precincts and communities and neighbourhoods will be returned to the people and they won’t be choking on traffic.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Well someone’s going to lose their houses. Some are going to have their quality of life reduced.

PRIME MINISTER:

I accept that there will be a small number of houses that will have to be resumed. I don’t know whether you saw the very interesting article in The Age a couple of days back. I think his name was Richard Cook who was one of the protesters back in the 1970s when the Eastern Freeway was first built and he said look, it’s good that the Freeway did not bulldoze through our suburbs, but it’s bad that all of that traffic is just funnelled into our suburbs with nowhere much to go. That’s why he says the protest then was right. The protest now is wrong and we should get the East West Link built.

NEIL MITCHELL:

We’ll take a break – more from the Prime Minister in a moment.

**

NEIL MITCHELL:

Prime Minister, the housing bubble – it increasingly is being argued that Chinese people are particularly using it as a land bank. I mean one Sydney-based real estate agent said 80 per cent of the properties selling are going to Chinese people. The national bank says one in eight – a significant increase. Is that dangerous to have Chinese investors build sort of – inflating the price of our houses?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I certainly think that it’s important to get more houses built and if there’s a strong market for flats and for houses, that’s a good thing, not a bad thing. Don’t forget Neil that if housing prices go up, sure that makes it harder to get into the market, but it also means that everyone who is in the market has a more valuable asset.

NEIL MITCHELL:

But interest rates can’t stay at this level, people are going to get burnt.

PRIME MINISTER:

I am sure the Reserve Bank is very conscious of the fact that there are a whole range of things that need to be managed here and I would be confident that the Reserve has got its eye on housing prices and will appropriately manage the level of interest rates.

NEIL MITCHELL:

A related area. I know you’re looking at the significant investment visas – that’s the sort of speedy pathway for investments under $5 million. Are you looking at that?

PRIME MINISTER:

This is something as I understand it which the former government looked at and introduced. Whether it’s operating as well as it could, is a moot point. I welcome immigration to this country – we are an immigrant society Neil – always have been, always will be. We particularly welcome people who come to this country to make a strong contribution and the stronger the contribution, the better.

NEIL MITCHELL:

So you’re reviewing it or not?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I’m pleased that we have these visas and I want them to work as well as they possibly can and look, if someone comes to this country with money to invest, that’s a very good thing.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Rachel, go ahead.

CALLER:

Hi, hello Mr Abbott.

PRIME MINISTER:

G’day Rachel.

CALLER:

I’m a stay-at-home mum. Just an ordinary Australian and Mr Abbott I’ve got to say, I’m heartily ashamed by all of our major political parties’ attitudes towards asylum seekers who arrive by boat. I mean we have about 168,000 new permanent resident visas come into the country every year – 25,000 of them people who are a desperate and who arrive by boat and the majority of them I think are desperate.

NEIL MITCHELL:

So what’s your question?

CALLER:

I’m just, it’s not a question. I’m just stating that I’m really ashamed that this is the way that we’ve gone.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Ok, reaction Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Rachel look, this is a democracy and not everyone agrees with the government, not everyone agrees with the opposition and both the government and the opposition do want to stop the boats because while we all support a strong refugee and humanitarian programme, we think that people have got to come the right way, not the wrong way, they’ve got to come in the front door, not the back door and that’s the problem for all of the people who are coming illegally by boat, there are others who are doing the right thing, waiting patiently in camps, right around the world who don’t get a place and I just think that we should show more respect for the people who are doing the right thing, rather than too much tolerance for those who are doing the wrong thing.

NEIL MITCHELL:

A couple of very quick ones if I may Prime Minister. Welfare payments are under review – will you guarantee nobody will be worse off?

PRIME MINISTER:

I want to ensure that every Australian has the opportunity to realise his or her full potential. That’s why I’m so strongly favour of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. We want a welfare system which helps people when they need it – not one which encourages people to be on welfare when they could be in work.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Well that hasn’t answered the question. Will you guarantee nobody will be worse off?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I can guarantee that we are not planning any changes, but yes we are always looking to make the system better.

NEIL MITCHELL:

You’re not planning any changes?

PRIME MINISTER:

We are not planning any changes at this time, but I said before the election – happy to say it again Neil. I do want to see a full restoration of work for the dole and I do want to see a situation where people who need the disability pension get the disability pension, but the last thing I want to see is people parked on the disability pension when they could still be making a useful contribution.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Very quickly, because I want to get a Grand Final tip. Have you spoken to Clive Palmer yet?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, Clive Palmer and I used to deal with each other when he was a member and supporter of the Liberal Party. Obviously now he’s someone who has got his own political Party. If he gets into the Parliament, I’d expect to have a conversation with him at some stage, but it will be the kind of civil and courteous conversation that I hope to have with all members of Parliament.

NEIL MITCHELL:

And a winner for the Grand Final?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well look, I’m tipping Hawthorn.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Thank you very much for coming in.

PRIME MINISTER:

Good on you.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

[ends]

Transcript - 23008

Visit to Indonesia

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: 27/09/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23009

I will visit Jakarta, Indonesia, from 30 September to 1 October at the invitation of President Yudhoyono.

I will be accompanied by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, and the Minister for Trade and Investment, the Hon Andrew Robb AO MP, as well as a delegation of senior Australian business people.

The Government is determined to ensure that Australia’s foreign policy is focussed on our region, including the relationship with Indonesia and other countries in our neighbourhood.

The relationship with Indonesia is one of our most important.  Australia and Indonesia are close friends and neighbours who share democratic values.  Our countries face common challenges, and we have a common interest in building a stable and prosperous region.

Our bilateral relationship with Indonesia is one of Australia’s most broad-based, spanning business, education, defence, security and people-to-people links.  Indonesia is an important commercial partner for Australia, with two-way trade valued at $14.6 billion and Australian investment in Indonesia valued at $6.8 billion in 2012.  But the Government believes there is much scope to deepen and broaden relations.

Our countries cooperate closely regionally and globally, including as fellow members of APEC, which Indonesia is chairing this year, the East Asia Summit and the G20, which Australia will chair in 2014.

I will join President Yudhoyono for a one-on-one meeting, before being joined by members of our respective Cabinets to discuss priority bilateral interests, including ways to strengthen economic relations between Australia and Indonesia.

I have invited a 20 member business delegation to accompany me for the Jakarta visit. The business leaders represent key Australian export, trade and investment sectors.  The delegation sends a clear message that the Australian Government and Australian businesses are keen to tap the potential for stronger economic ties that exists between the two nations.

During the visit, I will address a breakfast meeting of business leaders from both countries and will lay a wreath at the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery.

It is my hope that this visit establishes a convention for all future incoming Prime Ministers to make Jakarta their first port of call overseas.  It would send a clear signal to the region that relations with our nearest neighbours are the most critical to Australia’s future.

27 September 2013

Transcript - 23009

Address to the North Melbourne Football Club AFL Grand Final Breakfast, Etihad Stadium, 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: 28/09/2013

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 23010

Location: Melbourne

Thanks Dwayne and thanks ladies and gentlemen.

I am very honoured and thrilled on this day-of-days in Australian sport to address my first North Melbourne Grand Final Breakfast as Prime Minister.

But I’m under no illusions about my standing.

Australians love their sporting heroes but, at most, merely tolerate their politicians, so I want to thank you for making me so welcome today.

It’s always good to be here in Melbourne.

Melburnians have a way of keeping Sydneysiders in their place. I ran into a great Melburnian, Lindsay Fox, yesterday who congratulated me on the election. "Once," he said, "you were just a would be/could be, and now you’re a future has been."

I often think having politicians address sports breakfasts makes as much sense as having sportsmen address parliament, but having just listened to Andrew Demetriou, I’m confident that politics has at least as much to learn from sport as the other way around. Thank you for that gracious speech, Andrew.

It’s good to see people here in such numbers and with such enthusiasm because I know it has been a tough year for the AFL. Some people were even charged with bringing the game into disrepute. I’m grateful, I really am, that there’s no offence of bringing parliament into disrepute because I fear all MPs might be guilty.

But it hasn’t been all bad news this year.

My team, Greater Western Sydney, has done incredibly well – with one win. Sometimes you only need one win to have a great year and Kevin Sheedy tells me that next year will be even better.

I congratulate the Fremantle Dockers on making their first ever grand final and I congratulate the Hawthorn Hawks for making their second grand final in a row.

My philosophy is that if you lose one big event you deserve to win the next one. So, I'm going for the Hawks today.

But I gather there’s something in AFL called ‘Kennett’s Curse.’ I can’t believe there would be anything called 'Kennett’s Curse' because Jeff is a terrific person, I love him, but whatever 'Kennett's Curse' might be, let’s hope no one suffers from it today.

Today is a celebration of all that’s good in sport.

Today is a chance to marvel at that spirit; to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Whoever wins, it will certainly be a great game of football.

Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.

[ends]

Transcript - 23010

Remarks at Sydney Airport

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: 30/09/2013

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23011

Location: Sydney

I said pre-election on numerous occasions that I wanted the first overseas visit of the incoming Government to be this trip to Indonesia.

I have said repeatedly that I want our foreign policy to have a Jakarta, not a Geneva focus.

And I have said, and I mean, that while Indonesia may not yet be our most important economic or security relationship, it is in many respects our most important relationship.

So, I am pleased to be going. I am pleased to have with me the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, the Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb.

I am also pleased to be accompanied by a delegation of some 20 senior Australian business leaders.

I want this to be the practice for significant prime ministerial trips overseas.

I believe these are a great opportunity to showcase Australia and to offer ourselves to the world on a mutually beneficial basis.

So, I am very pleased to be going to Indonesia, we will be covering a range of matters because this is an important relationship and it is important to get it right at the start of this new Government.

[ends]

Transcript - 23011

Joint Press Statement, Jakarta

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: 30/09/2013

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 23012

Location: Jakarta, Indonesia

30 September 2013

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER

THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MP

JOINT PRESS STATEMENT WITH

HIS EXCELLENCY DR SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO,
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDONESIA,

ISTANA NEGARA, JAKARTA

E&OE……………………….……………………………………………………………

Thank you so much Bapak President. This has been a marvelous dialogue today, a very warm dialogue, a constructive one and I feel very honoured to have been treated so generously by you, by your ministerial team and by the people of Indonesia.

As you know Bapak President, this is my first visit to Indonesia as Prime Minister. This is, in fact, my first overseas trip as Prime Minister and I am grateful to you Bapak President for allowing me to keep a promise to make my first overseas trip as Prime Minister to Indonesia.

I should say on behalf of the people of Australia, how much in awe we are of Indonesia's achievements over the last six decades. Indonesia has done so much and it has done so much, so well.

Indonesia has built a strong sense of nationhood in a vast and diverse archipelago. Indonesia has successfully managed the transition from military rule to a robust democracy and Indonesia is now in the process of taking millions and millions of people from the third world to the middle class.

This is a historic transformation with the potential to change our world for the better.

We did hold wide-ranging discussions on a large number of subjects. I absolutely agree with you, Bapak President, that we need to do so much more to build our economic partnership.

We have made some mistakes in the past. Let us make a new start, particularly in the area of agriculture and food security. Never again should this country take action which jeopardises the food supply of such a friend and partner as Indonesia is.

The fact that there is a very strong and very high level delegation of business leaders travelling with me to Indonesia, as part of this visit, testifies to the desire of the Australian people to build a much stronger, much more broadly based and much more dynamic economic relationship, based on greater trade and investment in the years to come.

We also discussed further developing our people-to-people links with, for instance, the creation of a new Australia Indonesia Studies Centre at Monash University to parallel the Australia-United States Studies Centre and the Australia-China Studies Centre at other universities in our country.

I am enthusiastic, as you know, about the new Colombo Plan which won't just see the best and the brightest of our region coming to Australia, but will henceforth see Australia's best and brightest travelling to the region.

Yes, we have much to teach our region, but our region, particularly Indonesia, has so much to teach us and if Australia is to fully participate in the Asian Century, we need the Asia literacy that this two way street Colombo Plan will give us in the years and decades ahead.

And yes, Bapak President, we had a very frank discussion about issues of sovereignty and about issues of people smuggling. These discussions were candid, constructive and collegial. People smuggling is an issue of sovereignty, especially for Australia. I appreciate how seriously Indonesia has taken this issue in the past and I look forward to working even more cooperatively with Indonesia on this issue in the future. But I do want to stress publicly, as well as privately Bapak President, Australia's total respect for Indonesia's sovereignty, total respect for Indonesia's territorial integrity and I say to you, Bapak President and to the people of Indonesia that the Government of Australia takes a very dim view, a very dim view indeed, of anyone seeking to use our country as a platform for grand standing against Indonesia. We will do everything that we possibly can to discourage this and to prevent this.

I admire and respect what you and your government have done to improve the autonomy and the life of the people of West Papua and I am confident that they can have the best possible life and the best possible future as a part of an indissoluble Indonesia, as an integral part of Indonesia.

As I said Bapak President, we had very cordial, constructive and collegial discussions on the issue of people smuggling. Much of the detail will be left to further discussions between the Coordinating Security Minister of Indonesia and the Border Protection Minister of Australia, but we are resolved together, united to tackle this problem and to beat it on land and at sea, and at the borders of our countries. We are determined to end this scourge, which is not just an affront to our two countries, but which has so often become a humanitarian disaster in the seas between our two countries.

Bapak President, I am confident that the future is bright for both our two countries and I am confident that Australia has a significant role to play as Indonesia advances to be one of the world's strongest economies and to be one of the world's leaders.

I know that Indonesia's future is bright. I know that in the years to come, Indonesia will loom economically larger compared to Australia, but for many years to come, we will have so much to offer Indonesia in a spirit of partnership, in a spirit of friendship and I am determined that we will play our part to ensure that in the decades ahead, Indonesia does indeed emerge as one of the leaders of a better world.

Bapak President, the best days of this relationship are ahead of us and they will be better days, thanks to your friendship for Australia and for your success as an Indonesian statesman on the global stage.

Thank you so much for today's talks.

[ends]

Transcript - 23012

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