PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Abbott, Tony

Address to Official Dinner, Istana Negara, 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: 23013

President and Ibu Yudhoyono, ministers, ambassadors, business leaders, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

It is an honour to be in this grand setting, that’s witnessed so much history, to pay tribute to Indonesia, our largest and most important neighbour; and to honour you, Bapak President, a patriot who has led by example, a moderniser of your country and a strong voice for decency in the wider world.

Long ago I promised a foreign policy focussed on Jakarta rather than Geneva and that a visit to Jakarta would be the very first trip I made as prime minister – and here I am, within two weeks of being sworn in.

Indeed, I hope a convention has now been established: that Jakarta should always be an incoming Australian prime minister’s first overseas visit.

That would be a fitting way for us officially to acknowledge the strength and significance of the friendship between our two countries.

Indonesia has created a modern nation from a vast and diverse archipelago; lifted tens of millions from the third world to the middle class; transitioned from military rule to robust democracy; improved human rights; and now stands on the threshold of rapid economic take-off.

Along with India, Indonesia is the emerging democratic superpower of Asia.

It’s that important.

Australia has always considered itself a good friend of Indonesia and is now determined to be a trusted partner.

We stood by Indonesia during the Asian financial crisis and at the time of the devastating East Asian tsunami.

We worked together in counter terrorism after the Bali bombings.

After the 2005 bombing, I personally witnessed your visit, Bapak President, to the Australian casualties in Sanglah hospital and was moved by the way you comforted each one of them.

Now, we are working together to counter a range of security challenges, including people smuggling, which has led to more than 1100 deaths at sea in the waters between our countries.

I am grateful to you, Bapak President, and to your government for this cooperation and look forward to building on these foundations.

Yours are the actions of a true friend and will never be forgotten – just as Australia will never forget Indonesia’s work to bring to justice the killers of so many innocent people, including nearly 100 Australians, after the Bali and Jakarta bombings.

There have been times, I’m sorry to say, when Australia must have tried your patience: when we “put the sugar on the table” for people smugglers; or cancelled the live cattle trade in panic at a TV programme.

There have been times when all sides of Australian politics should have said less and done more.

I am confident that these will soon seem like out-of-character aberrations and that the relationship will once more be one of no surprises, based on mutual trust, dependability and absolute respect for each other’s sovereignty under the Lombok Treaty.

As your closest first world economy with a strong interest in its neighbour’s success, and with the right attitudes, Australia is Indonesia’s obvious and natural partner in development.

Nowhere on earth would there be such an abundance of goodwill between two quite distinct countries.

In any year, hundreds of thousands of Australians come to Indonesia as tourists and tens of thousands of Indonesians come to Australia as students.

These are the movements that our citizens freely choose to make because they individually appreciate what each of our countries can offer.

Our challenge is to build on this goodwill in ways which deepen Australia’s relationship with Asia and which accelerate Indonesia’s rise.

We must succeed.

As you said, Bapak President, when you last addressed the Australian Parliament, “Our two countries have a great future together.

We are not just neighbours, we are not just friends; we are strategic partners.

We are equal stakeholders in a common future with much to gain if we get this relationship right and much to lose if we get it wrong.”

I respectfully concur and adopt your words as my own.

Australia has more significant economic and security relationships yet no other relationship – not one – is more important than our friendship with Indonesia due to its size, proximity and potential to be a global leader.

Tomorrow, I will outline a deeper cultural engagement including a new Australia Indonesia study centre at Monash University to match the United States and China centres elsewhere in Australia.

With your permission, Bapak President, and to honour your friendship with Australia, the new, two-way street version of the Colombo Plan will feature a Yudhoyono fellow: the best and brightest young Australian who elects, in any year, to study in Indonesia.

And I will outline new measures to build an economic partnership with Indonesia that’s scarcely less significant in the years to come than China is now.

That’s why I’m accompanied on this trip by 20 business leaders to promote trade and investment between our two countries.

Our relationship has so much promise – and everything will be easier once the people smuggling complication is gone.

There will be no more vital task for the new Australian government than to build on the mutual respect and affection between our two countries and I am confident that this visit has been a strong start.

[ends]

Transcript - 23013

Building an Indonesia-Australia Relationship for the 21st Century

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: 01/10/2013

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 23015

Location: Jakarta

I’m here in Jakarta within two weeks of being sworn in as prime minister because of the importance I place on the relationship between two great neighbours and two major economies.

Australia currently has more significant economic relationships – but we have no more important overall relationship because of Indonesia’s size, proximity and potential.

Indonesia is a member of the G20 and a leader of ASEAN as well Australia’s most important neighbour.

It’s the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

It’s the world’s third largest democracy.

And along with India, it’s the emerging democratic superpower of Asia.

At present, Indonesia’s annual GDP per person is less than $4000 – or a tenth of Australia’s – but it’s growing at about 6 per cent a year.

It may be many years before individual Indonesians’ standard of living equals that of Australians but it probably won’t be very long before Indonesia’s total GDP dwarfs ours.

From Australia’s perspective there should be an urgency to building this relationship while there’s still so much that Australia has to give and that Indonesia is keen to receive.

There’s been trade of one sort or another between Australia and Indonesia at least since the 17th century and it’s now 80 years since the first trade commissioner was appointed to what was then Batavia.

Despite these connections and despite the annual pilgrimage that hundreds of thousands of Australian tourists make to Bali and elsewhere in the archipelago; and that tens of thousands of Indonesian students make to our universities and colleges, a fully mature economic relationship is yet to be achieved.

Annual two-way trade between Australia and Indonesia is still only about $15 billion.

In fact, our two way trade with New Zealand, with just four million people, exceeds our current two way trade with Indonesia with its 250 million people.

Obviously, there’s plenty of room to improve.

That improvement should start today with me and my ministers and with the business leaders in this room.

Australia and Indonesia have so much we can do together.

The global centre of economic gravity is shifting to Asia and on present trends, Indonesia will be the number four economy in the world by mid-century.

Fifty per cent of Indonesians are aged under 30, ready to play their part in this economic miracle.

Even now, they make up a technologically literate workforce, enjoying a standard of living their parents or grandparents could not have imagined.

There are more billionaires in Indonesia today than in Japan and, here in Jakarta, the minimum wage has risen by 44 per cent in the past year.

There are still 100 million Indonesians living on less than $1000 a year.

Within two decades though, there will be 135 million middle class Indonesians whose demand for goods and services – including financial services, health services, educational services, infrastructure and food – will be backed by purchasing power.

Protein is becoming a more important part of the Indonesian diet, particularly among prosperous urban communities and, within two years, beef consumption in Indonesia is expected to exceed domestic production by about 21,000 tonnes a year.

This is a chance here for each of us to play to our strengths: Indonesia, an acknowledged world leader in fattening and finishing, with some of the world’s finest intensive feedlots; and Australia, with our vast grazing lands and our long pastoral history, skilled at breeding beef cattle at a globally competitive price.

We can work together – but it will take some effort, especially after the shock of the former Australian government cancelling the live cattle export trade in panic at a TV programme.

Nothing like this can ever be allowed to happen again.

Last year, I visited abattoirs in Indonesia which were quite comparable to those in Australia and reject any notion that Indonesian standards are lower than Australia’s.

The new Australian government is determined to put this episode behind us and to build on the joint Red Meat and Cattle Forum established in July to foster partnership between the meat industries here and in Australia.

Australian business has rarely been keener to explore investment opportunities and build partnerships that transfer skills and build local industries – here and at home.

I also welcome Indonesia’s desire to invest in Australia – including in agriculture.

As I said on election night, Australia is under new management and is once more open for business.

We are open to investments that will help to build the prosperity of both nations.

Food security is just one area of opportunity – another is the rapidly expanding demand for services.

Educational services are a good example. Indonesia is already home to 100,000 former students from Australian universities.

Of those Indonesian students who choose to study abroad, roughly one in four make Australia their destination.

While tens of thousands of Indonesian students are studying in Australian universities and colleges, only a few hundred Australians are returning the compliment by studying in Indonesia.

Starting next year, the new Australian government will establish a new Colombo Plan that doesn’t just bring the best and the brightest students from the wider Asia-Pacific region to Australia but takes Australia’s best and brightest to the region.

The Colombo Plan, operating from the 1950s to the 1980s, saw tens of thousands of the future leaders of our region educated at Australian universities.

A contemporary, two way street version of the Colombo Plan, would acknowledge how much the region can teach us as well as how much we can offer our region.

Operating at different levels and for different periods of time, and often with a business internship component, this new Colombo Plan could provide us with a new and more contemporary version of Rhodes scholars and Fulbright fellows, this time with a strong Asia-Pacific orientation.

As well, within a decade, working with the Australian states and territories, the new government aims to have 40 per cent of high school students studying a foreign language – as was the case in the 1960s – only this time the emphasis will be on Asian languages as well as European ones.

This New Colombo Plan aims to ensure that we are a more Asia literate country, more able to play our part in the Asian Century.

Specific policies like these will have an impact, over time.

Still, deepening and broadening the Australia-Indonesia relationship means millions of human interactions, tens of thousands of business deals and hundreds of institutional arrangements in which Australians and Indonesians get to know each other, learn from each other and help each other.

National leaders can do so much – but only so much.

That’s why Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, Trade Minister, Andrew Robb and I are accompanied by a strong business delegation of leaders from Australia’s financial services, health, agriculture, resources, infrastructure, telecommunications, office management and manufacturing sectors.

I thank each of you for taking the time and trouble to make this trip and to build these links. Government initiatives mean little if they are not backed by dozens, hundreds, and ultimately tens of thousands of individual contacts between Australians and the people in other countries that we deal with.

As befits a country that’s under new management and once more open for business, it’s my intention to take a trade delegation with me on all significant overseas trips to showcase Australia and to let our partners know more about how we can work together to mutual advantage.

We’re establishing a register in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for businesses that want to be part of trade delegations accompanying ministerial visits.

I also thank the organisations working tirelessly to promote Australia-Indonesia business links such as the business partnership group, Kadin, and the Indonesian-Australian Business Council.

Such organisations are indispensable because they know their way around the local scene.

At another level, governments come together bilaterally to forge formal arrangements like the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

One of my first acts as prime minister was to ask the Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb, to accelerate the work with his Indonesian counterparts towards this new deal.

The new government’s approach is very straightforward: we will take a respectful, consultative, no-surprises approach to relations with Indonesia.

Our aim is to rebuild confidence so that both sides respect each other and trust other to keep commitments.

Trust is essential to the future success of the businesses represented here today.

There’s the hard grind of establishing regulatory certainty.

There’s the patient negotiation that helps to eliminate barriers to trade and investment and facilitate market access.

Then there’s the further engagement that takes place in the regional and global forums – such as ASEAN, the East Asia Summit, APEC, and the G20.

Forums like these are critical to the long-term prosperity of every country – and Australia hosting the G20 in a year’s time; and Indonesia, hosting APEC in a week’s time, will both be pushing for regional and global strategies to promote economic growth.

The new Australian Government intends to showcase fiscal restraint, deregulation, tax cuts and investment in economic infrastructure.

Another example is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, currently being negotiated under the auspices of ASEAN.

Australia and Indonesia have much to gain from a regional free trade area encompassing ASEAN member states and the nations with which they have existing free trade agreements.

The 16 nations that this would cover account for roughly half of the world’s population, about a third of world GDP and a quarter of global exports.

This further agreement would not just cover trade in goods and services, but such matters as competition, dispute resolution, intellectual property and technical cooperation.

It’s negotiations like these – hard, open, with no surprises – that deliver the transparent and stable regulatory regimes that give companies the confidence to make the long-term investment decisions that boost economic growth and ultimately deliver a safer and freer world.

Early next year, right across Indonesia, Australia will present a major cultural festival to strengthen our engagement here, beyond the cabinet room and beyond the boardroom.

The aim is to showcase Australian creativity and innovation and to foster creative collaborations between Indonesians and Australians.

A business programme operating in parallel with this cultural festival will help promote trade and investment.

Then there’s the new Australia Indonesia studies centre at Monash University to be jointly funded by government and the private sector to build business, cultural, educational, research and community links and to promote greater understanding of Indonesia and its growing importance to Australia.

A more culturally aware Australia and an economically stronger Indonesia would mean more Australian students in Indonesia and more Indonesian tourists in Australia.

More and more Australians now see Indonesia as a place to do business and to embark on joint ventures, as well as to have a holiday, as the business leaders’ presence here testifies. Our challenge is to ensure that more and more Indonesians see Australia as a good place to invest and do business: in short, as a trusted partner.

I am proud to be here in Jakarta with such a group of business leaders acting as ambassadors for our country.

I’m confident you can engender the trust in Australia that’s essential for our future.

[ends]

Transcript - 23015

Establishment of Australian Centre for Indonesia Studies

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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: 01/10/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23016

I am pleased to announce the establishment of the Australian Centre for Indonesia Studies.

The Centre's mandate will be to strengthen and deepen Australia-Indonesia business, cultural, educational, research and community links. The Centre will also promote greater understanding of contemporary Indonesia and its growing importance to Australia.

Indonesia is in many respects Australia's most important overall relationship. Strong relationships are based on mutual knowledge and understanding, which is why this Centre will make such an important contribution.

The Centre will be headquartered at Monash University, with nodes at the Australian National University and the University of Melbourne. CSIRO will also be a partner, as will the Victorian Government. Monash University Vice-Chancellor Professor Ed Byrne is part of the business delegation that is accompanying me during this visit.

In addition to engaging Australians about Indonesia and building closer linkages and understanding between the two countries, the Centre will work collaboratively with Indonesian institutions and companies to meet the shared challenges of the 21st century, such as health and primary care, resources and energy, food and agriculture, infrastructure, education, and regional security.

The Australian Centre for Indonesia Studies will be funded in partnership with the private sector.

The Commonwealth will provide $15 million over four years starting in 2013-14, funded from the education portfolio and matched by partner institutions and private sector funding. Monash University will contribute $5 million to the Centre.

I am delighted to be able to announce this significant initiative during my first official visit to Jakarta.

Indonesia will be vital to Australia's future prosperity and security. The Centre, along with the New Colombo Plan, will help Australians get to know contemporary Indonesia better, build personal connections and foster collaboration with Indonesian counterparts on important research projects.

Transcript - 23016

Joint Press Conference with Minister Julie Bishop, 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: 01/10/2013

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23018

Subject(s): Visit to Indonesia

Location: Jakarta

PRIME MINISTER:

I was always intending this to be my first overseas trip as Prime Minister as quickly as we reasonably could after the swearing in. This is an absolutely critical relationship for Australia’s future. It’s a relationship with so much promise and I believe that the relationship has been enhanced by this particular visit. Good to have with me the Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, the Trade and Investment Minister, Andrew Robb. Good to have the opportunity to make some significant announcements – the Australia Indonesia Study Centre at Monash University which will join the Australia United States and the Australia China Centres elsewhere in our country.

I was particularly thrilled that President Yudhoyono has agreed that the best and brightest Australian student coming to Indonesia in any year to study under the new Colombo Plan will be our Yudhoyono fellow. President Yudhoyono has been a great friend of Australia and it’s very appropriate that he should be honoured in this way. It was good to have such a large Australian business delegation with me on this trip. This is a strong relationship with very firm foundations, but there is so much more that we can do in the years and decades ahead and an important part of that is not just the people-to-people links, not just the greater understanding, mutual understanding that will be fostered by the new Colombo Plan, the Australia Indonesia Study Centre and in other ways, but it’s important that we boost the economic relationship and that’s why it was so good to have so many, not just the captains of Australian industry, but the admirals of Australian industry with us on this trip.

Finally, I just want to say that the more I see of the Australian diplomatic service, the more impressed I am. Our embassy does a great job. It’s good to have Ambassador Nadjib here as well. The Indonesian embassy does a great job in Canberra, but the Australian embassy does a fine job here in Jakarta and I want to thank everyone involved with the preparations for this trip. You have done magnificently under a bit of time pressure.

Thank you so much.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister…

PRIME MINISTER:

Phil.

QUESTION:

When your predecessor was here three months ago there were signs from President Yudhoyono about the preparedness perhaps to ease the quota on Australian beef. Have you in your private discussions here, or you Ms Bishop, had any indication that that still may happen, or been encouraged on that at all?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes I am encouraged, but given the sense of shock that went through Indonesia at the cancellation of the live cattle trade a couple of years back, I think there is a bit of work yet to be done. I’m confident that there is an enthusiasm on both sides to do that work under this new red meat and cattle partnership which will be funded by the Australian government to the tune of $60 million. If I could just say that yesterday’s discussions between Julie, myself and Andrew on the Australian side, President Yudhoyono and most of his ministers on the Indonesian side, everything was on the table – everything was on the table. They were candid, collegial and constructive. A lot of the details necessarily will be left to discussions at ministerial and official level including the detail of how we can actually get the live cattle trade going again as part of an expansion and enhancement of the cattle industry in Indonesia as well as in Australia.

QUESTION:

In that case Prime Minister, was there any specific discussion of specific policies with regard to people smuggling? Specific operational details as it were of Operation Sovereign Borders?

PRIME MINISTER:

One of the things that you’re going to find from me, Mark, is that I am not going to put words in other peoples’ mouths and I am not going to spill the beans on discussions which necessarily should be confidential if they’re to be as constructive and collegial and candid as they need to be between trusted partners. Everything was on the table. I made it very clear that this is an issue of sovereignty for us and I think I can say that on the Indonesian side, there was a willingness to be as cooperative as was possible to ensure that this evil scourge is ended as quickly as we can. As President Yudhoyono said in his press briefing afterwards, both Indonesia and Australia are victims here. I mean this is bad for both countries. It’s obviously bad for Australia because we’ve got this border security nightmare, or we’ve had this border security nightmare, but it’s bad for Indonesia too because they’ve had tens of thousands of people transiting through their country and not necessarily up to much good while they’re here. So, we both want to end this and what you’ll see arising from the discussions yesterday is a developing bilateral framework under the Bali process to ensure that this happens.

QUESTION:

Last night you said there were times where all sides of politics should have said less and done more. Is that an admission that the rhetoric on asylum seekers has been over the top and how much personal responsibility do you take?

PRIME MINISTER:

See the important thing, if I may say so, is not to generate a story, but to stop the boats. The important thing is not to start a fight, but to get things done. Both Australia and Indonesia are robust democracies. Both Australia and Indonesia have a robust free press and in the culture of our two countries, people are exposed to questioning as is right. That generates stories which generates more questioning which generates more stories and in the end, an appearance of conflict can be created when there is none or when there is none based on real disagreements. So, look as far as I am concerned, what was clear yesterday is that Indonesia is hardly less anxious to stop the people smuggling trade than we are and wants to cooperate fully, under the Bali process, through a bilateral framework under the Bali process to make that a reality. Sid.

QUESTION:

At the risk of trying to generate a story, you said last night that Australia respected Indonesia’s sovereignty. The Indonesian Foreign Minister this morning has said we’ll have to wait and see on that. Now, do you see a way where some of Australia’s policies under the Coalition like tow backs and the payments to villagers for boats etcetera can be implemented without compromising Indonesian sovereignty?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, just a few observations and then I might ask Julie to add to it because Julie has been having very detailed discussions with Marty Natalegawa, as in coming weeks Scott Morrison will have with Minister Suyanto, the Coordinating Security Minister. Can I just scotch this idea that the Coalition’s policy is or ever has been tow-backs. Our policy, which we have repeated till we are blue in the face, is that we reserve the right to turn boats around where it is safe to do so. There is a world of difference between turning boats around in Australian waters and the Australian Navy towing them back to Indonesia. There is just a world of difference and if I may say so, there has been a tendency of people to put to other people what is not the Coalition’s policy in an attempt to, I think, generate a headline rather than constructively address this issue. So, everything was on the table yesterday. Nothing was off limits yesterday and the clear agreement is that operational details will be dealt with on a no surprises basis at Ministerial and officials level. And on the subject of sovereignty Sid, look, we are fair dinkum about doing what we can to help Indonesia in every way and you might be aware of the fact that there were some people who turned up in the Torres Strait last week wanting to grandstand about issues in Papua. Well, very swiftly under the MOU with PNG, they went back to PNG. There was a Freedom Flotilla that wanted to set off from Australia. Well, one way or another it didn’t get very far and we want to do everything we reasonably can to demonstrate to the Government and the people of Indonesia that we respect Indonesia’s sovereignty. We want to work with Indonesia to ensure that Indonesia is strong in the years ahead because Indonesia is a future global leader and we want to be its trusted partner on this journey.

Julie?

MINISTER BISHOP:

Thanks Prime Minister. As would be evident over a number of years Foreign Minister Natalegawa and I have communicated regularly on a range of issues from when I was in Opposition and now as Foreign Minister. We have been in touch on many occasions. We spent a lot of time together last week in New York meeting at bilaterals, trilaterals and quadrilaterals and other forums. So, we have had many opportunities to discuss a range of issues and indeed one of our conversations ended up in a transcript that ended up in the media. That was a mistake and Foreign Minister Natalegawa has indicated that it was not meant to happen, it was unintended, but that being the case you would have seen from that version of the conversation that very detailed matters were addressed, very detailed. So, we have an open and candid relationship. We talk about operational matters but we agreed that we wouldn’t discuss them through the media because it would be counterproductive for what we are both trying to achieve. Indonesia wants to dismantle the people smuggling trade that is occurring within their borders. Indonesia wants to stop the deaths at sea. Indonesia wants to stop the boats taking to the waters between Australia and Indonesia because it is a very dangerous journey as we have seen in recent days. So, the relationship between our two countries is very candid, very open, as evident not only by the discussions I have on a frequent basis with Foreign Minister Natalegawa but also the discussions we had yesterday with the Cabinet. For us to go into operational minutia would defeat the very purpose, the joint purpose that Australia and Indonesia are seeking to achieve and that is to stop these boats.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister you have talked about [inaudible] how turning back the boats would work. Can I ask about the policy you took to the election about buying back boats and paying locals for information on people smugglers. Do you stand by those? Are you open to amending, negotiating the detail?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, of course we stand by our policies but above all else we want to work effectively to stop the boats. In the end that is all that really counts – have we stopped the boats? We stand by our policies and now having put those policies out there we are going to work constructively with Indonesia under the Bali process to ensure that is exactly what happens. On the particular policy David that you have mentioned I know it has been characterised in a certain way but it was simply the establishment of some money that could be used by Indonesian officials working cooperatively with their Australian counterparts to ensure that as far as we can we have got people working with us rather than against us.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott do you expect these negotiations to take place that your Operation Sovereign Borders will be able to push back boats towards Indonesia?

PRIME MINISTER:

We are confident as a result of the good will shown to us over the last 24 hours by every level of the Indonesian Government, we are confident as a result of the constructive cooperation that has been pledged to us over the last 24 hours, we are confident that this problem can be dealt with.

QUESTION:

But you are not answering the question will you still turn the boats back to Indonesia?

PRIME MINISTER:

Again my object here is to stop the boats. It is to stop the boats and in order to ensure that the boats are stopped I want to have the best possible relationship with Indonesia. We have a great relationship what we are looking to develop is even stronger cooperation on this particular matter in the future than we have always had in the past. Now, I think that we are well set to get that. I think we have now got a bilateral framework under the Bali process that will enable that kind of cooperation to take place. It will start in coming days and I am just not going to engage in the kind of press banter, if you like, that is not going to be conducive to what is in our overall national interests, Australia’s and Indonesia’s, to get these boats stopped.

Karen.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, you mentioned again [inaudible] work with us not against us, there have been many reports over years of Indonesian authorities and police turning a blind eye to the departure of boats from Indonesia and worse perhaps, assisting. How big a problem is that? Did you raise that yesterday and what actually can be done about it?

PRIME MINISTER:

It has never, ever been official policy in Indonesia to do anything other than strongly crack down on this people smuggling trade. I accept that Indonesia is a vast country, all sorts of things happen that aren’t officially approved. The same thing I regret to say sometimes happens in Australia. I dare say that there is the odd Australian police person who isn’t exactly doing the right thing. The important thing is not whether occasionally someone does the wrong thing, is officialdom striving to do the right thing?  I am very confident that that is the case here in Indonesia.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, just to clarify on the buying back the boats and paying for information, you’re now saying that money would go to Indonesian officials to spend. Is that what you took to the election?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I’m saying that that money is available for our joint purpose to stop the boats.

QUESTION:

Done in cooperation with Indonesia?

PRIME MINISTER:

Everything is done in cooperation with Indonesia. We do nothing in Indonesia other than in cooperation with Indonesians. I mean, that’s the whole point. We are good friends; we fully respect each other’s sovereignty. We fully adhere to each other’s sovereignty. We are determined to work even better in the future than we have in the recent past together and that’s what I am confident will happen. Phil?

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, in your discussions, did you raise the issue of clemency for members of the Bali Nine? Was there any discussion about Schapelle Corby and, if I may, have you heard that Australia’s about to launch a bid to win the America’s Cup and a response to that.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well look…

QUESTION:

It wasn’t discussed?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, no, it wasn’t discussed yesterday. No. Well look, on the America’s Cup, it was great to see that there were a number of Australians very prominently involved in the winning side in the recent race. Although I have to say I commiserate with our Kiwi cousins on their disappointment. As for what might happen in the future, let’s see how things unfold.

On the issue of consular cases, look, I did raise consular matters but I want to make it crystal clear that public commentary on any individual case is not going to be helpful and I don’t propose to do it. Phil?

QUESTION:

Back on beef, in your speech you said how Australia and Indonesia could best cooperate was in feedlot technology and Australia providing the pasture. I assume you’re not precluding Indonesians….

PRIME MINISTER:

No, no, I’m not. I’m not.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible]

PRIME MINISTER:

Absolutely right, absolutely right. Look, we welcome foreign investment. Always have, always will. Now, there are rules for foreign investment in Australia, as there are rules for foreign investment in most countries and we’ll play it by those rules but we do welcome foreign investment and if some Indonesian joint ventures in cattle are an important part of getting this trade re-started, well please, bring them on. Bring them on. Alex?

QUESTION:

Julia Gillard last night said that [inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I’m just not going to run a commentary on what former prime ministers and former ministers say. I’m very pleased that I’ve got a very strong Cabinet. I’m disappointed that there wasn’t another woman in the Cabinet and had the electors of Indi done differently there would have been another woman in the Cabinet, but there are strong and capable women at every level of the Coalition and that’s going to increase over time.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, the Indonesian Trade Minister, when he was speaking, mentioned the figure of I think one per cent of GDP which would bring two-way trade to, I think it was $25 billion. Is that a goal that you share and would you care to put a time frame on when you’d like to achieve that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I’m sorry that Andrew’s not at the podium to help answer this question because he was actually in a bilateral with the Indonesian Finance Minister when we started our press conference today. I want the trade to increase and as I said in the speech, it’s a little embarrassing that Australia’s two-way trade with New Zealand’s four million people is currently greater than our two-way trade with Indonesia’s 250 million people. I want to increase trade with New Zealand but I certainly want to increase trade and investment with Indonesia and there is vast upside scope for this. One per cent would be about a doubling of where we are now but let’s not be content with that.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, did Indonesia agree to take the Australian money to implement your policies and if it didn’t will you redirect that fund [inaudible]? And can you just clarify that you’re 100 per cent committed to turning back boats?

PRIME MINISTER:

We are 100 per cent committed to stopping the boats and we are 100 per cent committed to implementing the policies that we took to the election and the policies that are necessary to stop the boats. Now, we will spend the money we need to spend to stop the boats because frankly, the cheapest thing we can do for Australian taxpayers is stop the boats as quickly as possible. Every single illegal boat, every single illegal boat costs Australian taxpayers some $12 million. That’s every single one of them. We saw over the last five years over $11 billion in cumulative budget blowouts. So we will spend what we need to get this job done. We will spend it as quickly as possible to get the job done as quickly as possible. I’ll take one more question. You’ve had one, Mark. Yep?

QUESTION:

Just on trade investment, you talked about lowering thresholds for foreign investment [inaudible] are you still committed to those levels, and what’s your attitude generally to foreign companies actually buying large tracts of Australian land [inaudible]. What’s your attitude to that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well my view is, the Coalition’s view is, that we are in favour of foreign investment. We want foreign investment to be in Australia’s national interests and 99 times out of 100 it is in Australia’s national interest because 99 times out of 100, foreign investment creates jobs and it boosts economic activity. That said, there is a foreign investment review process. The threshold for the purchase of agricultural land will be reduced to $15 million but this is not designed to lock up our country, this is designed to ensure that the Australian people understand that the foreign investment we have and the foreign investment we welcome really is in our own best interests and I just want to scotch any suggestion that there might be out there that somehow trade and investment is bad for Australia. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Trade and investment is good for Australia. Every time an Australian sells something abroad, that’s good for us. Every time an Australian buys something from abroad, that invariably is good for us as well and if we have more trade and investment all countries get richer and that’s good for everyone.

So I’m very excited about this trip, I’m really thrilled that we’ve had such a high level business delegation come with myself, Minister Bishop and Minister Robb. The fact that so many of our leading businesspeople have been prepared to invest the time and money and coming to Indonesia with me and my ministers shows that not only is Australia open for business but that we are eager to do business with the wider world.

Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript - 23018

Joint Communiqué - The President of the Republic of Indonesia and the Prime Minister of Australia, 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: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23020

  1. At the invitation of the President of the Republic of Indonesia, H.E Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Honourable Tony Abbott MP, paid his first official overseas visit to Indonesia on 30 September - 1 October 2013.
  1. Both leaders expressed satisfaction with the continued enhancement of the comprehensive partnership between the two neighbouring democracies, which is  built on the basis of mutual respect and mutual commitments for progress, prosperity and security of both countries.
  1. The leaders reaffirmed the two countries’ continued adherence to the principle of respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as stipulated in the Lombok Treaty.
  1. The two leaders renewed their commitment to the strong bilateral political architecture of annual leaders’ meetings and strategic dialogue through 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministers’ meetings in addition to other regular Ministerial level meetings.
  1. The two leaders underscored the importance of continuing to work closely within the bilateral, regional and global frameworks in maintaining peace and stability as well as advancing and shaping their nations’ shared strategic and economic destinies to meet the challenges of the 21st century including energy security, food security, infrastructure and connectivity.
  1. Both leaders were determined to encourage enterprises of the two countries to increase and expand two-way trade and investment flows to support economic growth and development in both countries.
  1. The leaders looked forward to progressing negotiations on the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Partnership Agreement, including through the two pilot economic cooperation programs on agriculture and skills exchange, as identified by the Indonesia-Australia Business Partnership Group. They also agreed that all relevant Ministries would consult closely on approaches to encouraging greater investment between our two countries, including in agriculture, beef and cattle production.
  1. Prime Minister Abbott and President Yudhoyono encouraged business in both countries to support infrastructure development in Indonesia, particularly projects within the framework of MP3EI.  President Yudhoyono welcomed the high-level business delegation accompanying the Prime Minister as a clear signal of Australia’s intent to boost business engagement with Indonesia.
  1. Both leaders welcomed Australia’s development program to enhance our partnership on Indonesia’s development priorities such as social protection, education, infrastructure, sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction.
  1. Both leaders welcomed the strengthened partnership in the fields of defence and security, including expanding cooperation within the framework of the Defence Cooperation Arrangement signed in September 2012. In particular, the two Leaders looked forward to continued close cooperation in natural disaster response, peacekeeping operations, cyber defence, maritime security, search and rescue and defence industry. Both Leaders also undertook to intensify police-to-police cooperation particularly in combating transnational crimes.
  1. As co-chairs of the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime, both leaders committed to further strengthening Indonesia’s and Australia’s leadership of regional efforts to counter people smuggling and trafficking in persons. The leaders reaffirmed their adherence to the principle of shared responsibility in addressing in particular people smuggling and called for a more integrated and comprehensive approach, which covers prevention, early detection and protection as well as prosecution, involving countries of origin, transit and destination. To this end, both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to working closely in pushing forward the full and effective implementation of the Jakarta Declaration, the outcome of the Special Conference on Irregular Movement of Persons held in Jakarta on 20 August 2013, as an integral part of the Bali Process. Leaders agreed people smuggling was not a problem that could readily be resolved by one country alone and recommitted to working together to address the problem through bilateral and regional frameworks.
  1. The two leaders committed to further strengthening bilateral consular cooperation to enable more effective delivery of consular services to their respective nationals.  They underlined the importance of the annual bilateral consular consultations and agreed to deepen cooperation on crisis response planning and preparation.
  1. The two leaders also emphasized the significant role of the Indonesia-Australia Dialogue in increasing people-to-people links and called for joint concrete measures to follow up the recommendations produced by the second Indonesia-Australia Dialogue held in Sydney, in March 2013.  In order to enhance the Dialogue as a tool to promote greater business linkages, Leaders called for greater business involvement in the next Dialogue, currently scheduled to take place in late 2014.
  1. President Yudhoyono welcomed Prime Minister Abbott’s invitation for Indonesia to be one of the first destinations for young Australians in the pilot implementation of the New Colombo Plan. This signature initiative would build deeper people-to-people links and allow Australia and Indonesia to approach our future engagement with optimism and confidence by encouraging the best and brightest young Australians to work and study in Indonesia.  Leaders agreed that education, immigration, industry, employment and foreign ministries should work together to ensure smooth and early implementation of the programme.  The two leaders welcomed the announcement of the establishment of an Australian Centre for Indonesian Studies, to be based at Monash University, to strengthen understanding of the Australia-Indonesia relationship.
  1.  Both leaders also agreed that as part of the efforts to promote interest in Indonesian language proficiency among young Australians, they would work with the private sector to develop internship programs.
  1. Both leaders were encouraged by the intensifying Indonesia – Australia partnership in disaster rapid response within bilateral and multilateral frameworks such as the EAS and ARF. Both leaders also welcomed Indonesia-Australia co-chairmanship of the ARF workshop on consular responses to crises as a follow up to Indonesia-Australia’s EAS joint paper on disaster rapid response.
  1. Prime Minister Abbott congratulated President Yudhoyono on Indonesia’s strong leadership and hosting of a successful and productive APEC year in 2013. Both leaders reiterated their commitment to pursuing complementary policy agendas across Indonesia’s APEC chairmanship in 2013 and Australian G20 presidency in 2014. The two leaders also emphasized the importance of realizing greater connectivity and strong, mutually beneficial and sustainable trade and investment cooperation among nations in the region and were determined to strengthen coordination and cooperation toward these goals.
  1. Both leaders expressed satisfaction with the outcomes of the official visit of Prime Minister Abbott to Indonesia and were confident that they would lay down a stronger foundation for promoting closer bilateral ties and cooperation as well as for taking the Indonesia - Australia comprehensive partnership to a higher level.  Both leaders said they looked forward to the next Annual Leaders’ Meeting, tentatively scheduled to take place in Australia in the first quarter of 2014.
Transcript - 23020

Joint Press Conference with Prime Minister John Key, Parliament House, Canberra

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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: 02/10/2013

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23022

Subject(s): Subjects: Prime Minister Key’s visit to Australia

PRIME MINISTER ABBOTT:

It’s great to be here in the prime ministerial courtyard with my brother prime minister John Key of New Zealand.

New Zealand is in many respects Australia’s closest relationship. We go back a hell of a long way together.

New Zealand is family in a way that probably no other country on earth is.

So, I am really thrilled that John has chosen to come to Australia to touch base with me so early in the life of the new government.

We have got our usual ministerial dialogue in February in Australia. I am looking forward to that very much.

John has invited me to go to New Zealand and sometime next year I would very much hope to do that because it is important to keep our relationship in the best possible repair. Just because we are family doesn’t mean that we should take each other for granted and I’d like to say how impressed I am with the way the New Zealand National Government has promoted economic growth, pursued very sensible, orthodox economic policies without in any way engaging in what has become known as austerity.

New Zealand has strong economic growth, reducing unemployment, reducing red tape, increasing trade. This has all been done while building a stronger and more cohesive society and I think that the Key National Government in New Zealand has provided the very model of centre-right government over the last few years and I am happy to learn from the example of John Key in New Zealand.

PRIME MINISTER KEY:

Well, firstly, Prime Minister can I thank you for the invitation to be here, can I reiterate my earlier comments of congratulating you, can I wish you the very best and the people of Australia the very best.

This is a tremendously important relationship from New Zealand’s perspective. No relationship is more important and whether it is the number of tourists coming to New Zealand, the investment in New Zealand or the way that we work alongside each other in environments as foreign as Afghanistan through to Bougainville, New Zealand and Australia are there shoulder-to-shoulder.

It would be a great privilege to host you in New Zealand, so we hope we will see you next year.

We had very wide-ranging discussions. New Zealand and Australia have a great many issues where we are locked at the hip together but we are working in important places so we canvassed the obvious issues that you would expect. The issue of boat people which I know is an important issue for Australia, the economic issues that our countries face, New Zealanders who are residents here in Australia but not permanent residents and a variety of other issues.

I think it’s very fair to say that, in your government, Tony, we have a kindred spirit. So, this is a relationship where I believe the chemistry will be very good, very strong and it will be to the benefit of people of New Zealand and Australia, so we wish you the best. We’ll be seeing you in Bali on the weekend and in Brunei later in the week so we will be spending more time in each other’s company than we are in our in our own populations, maybe, but we wish you all the best. Congratulations.

PRIME MINISTER ABBOTT:

Thank you so much, John, thank you. Now, we’re going to just take a couple of questions from New Zealand reporters and from Australian reporters. Does New Zealand wish to go first?

QUESTION:

Prime Minister Abbott, how long will it be, or if it all, before your government removes the discrimination against New Zealanders living in this country and are you more sympathetic given that your wife is from Wainuiomata?

PRIME MINISTER ABBOTT:

Well, I’m very conscious of the great debt that I personally owe to New Zealand. I’m very conscious of that. On the other hand, Margie says that she owes something to Australia given that Australia has been a good home for her over the last 25, 30 years now.

Look, New Zealanders have better access to Australia than the citizens of any other country and that’s right and proper. That’s as it should be. I’ve got to say that what I admire about Kiwis in Australia is their commitment to have a go. They are have-a-go people. I want everyone who comes to this country to work and pay taxes from day one and I’m delighted that that’s exactly what Kiwis have done. So, I’m happy to keep talking to Prime Minister Key and obviously I’m happy to have questions from New Zealanders on this subject but I’m very happy with the situation that exists right now which is that Kiwis coming here know that they are expected to work and pay taxes from day one, as so many of them do.

PRIME MINISTER ABBOTT:

We’ve had one question from New Zealand. Now we’re going to have one question from Australia. Joe?

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, just on your recent visit to Indonesia. What can you tell us about this new bilateral cooperation? We don’t know very much about this. Is this just tokenism? What will the guidelines of this be? What will the substance of this be?

PRIME MINISTER ABBOTT:

It was a very good trip and I was tremendously honoured to be welcomed so warmly by President Yudhoyono and indeed it was great that Julie Bishop, Andrew Robb and myself were able to sit down with the President and indeed with his whole Cabinet to talk through issues in our relationship and to talk about how we could make a very strong relationship even stronger. As you know, the President talked about a bilateral partnership under the Bali Process. Now, it was agreed that the operational details, the specifics of how this might work out, would be left to officials and ministers and officials and ministers will be talking together very, very soon indeed.

But what both President Yudhoyono and myself made crystal clear is that we are both the victims when it comes to people smuggling. We are both damaged when it comes to people smuggling and we are both determined to work together to stop people smuggling; in Australia’s case to stop the boats as quickly as we humanly can and I don’t think anyone in Indonesia is under any illusion about Australia’s resolve to stop the boats. This must happen. The boats must stop. Sovereignty is important to Indonesia and we fully respect Indonesia’s sovereignty and we will work with Indonesia in ways that fully respect Indonesia’s sovereignty, but for us, people smuggling is a sovereignty issue and that’s why we will stop the boats and we will work wholeheartedly with Indonesia to ensure that that happens as quickly as possible. A New Zealand question?

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, John Key mentioned that you talked about the boat issue. Have you asked New Zealand to provide any extra assistance, moral support for your stance on this issue?

PRIME MINISTER ABBOTT:

We did canvass the commitment that New Zealand has previously made to help Australia in this respect and we are grateful for New Zealand’s help and if and when it becomes necessary, obviously we’ll call on it, but our determination is to stop the boats and one of the ways that we stop the boats is by making it absolutely crystal clear that if you come to Australia illegally by boat, you go not to New Zealand, but to Nauru or Manus and you never ever come to Australia and people ought not think that New Zealand is some kind of a consolation prize if they can’t come to Australia. The message that goes to the people smugglers and their clients is, you get on a boat to come to Australia, you will never stay in Australia. Even if you succeed in getting here, you will then go to Manus or Nauru and that’s where you will stay. You won’t ever come to Australia.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, what can you learn from John Key’s Government about gay marriage and did this come up in your discussions?

PRIME MINISTER ABBOTT:

Look, we didn’t canvass this particular issue, but my position on that particular subject is pretty well known. It was dealt with in the last Parliament. I don’t know whether it’s likely to come up in the new Parliament. If it does come up in the new Parliament, well then it will be dealt with in the usual way by our party room and by the Parliament.

Thank you.

QUESTION:

Can I ask Prime Minister Key a question before you go?

PRIME MINISTER ABBOTT:

Well, if Prime Minister Key is prepared to accept a question…

PRIME MINISTER KEY:

Ok, sure.

QUESTION:

Are you happy with the treatment of New Zealanders living in Australia?

PRIME MINISTER KEY:

Well, our view is that we want to preserve the free Australasian employment markets and every New Zealander has the option of coming to work in Australia and every Australian has the option of coming to work in New Zealand. So, sacrosanct to us is preserving that. We acknowledge the deal that was done between the previous Howard Government and Helen Clark and our view is that while we’ll continue to advocate for New Zealanders because we genuinely think there are some issues that would be best if they were addressed, in the end we totally respect the sovereign right of the Australian Government to make a decision how it will treat people who come and work in Australia. So, yes, we’ll always make the case for New Zealanders as we do around the world, but in the end, the ball is very firmly in the Australian Government’s court.

Thanks very much.

PRIME MINISTER ABBOTT:

Thank you. Thanks, John.

[ends]

Transcript - 23022

Visit to Australia by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key

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: 02/10/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23023

It was an honour to welcome the New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, to Canberra, to discuss the bilateral and international issues which affect our two nations.

Australia and New Zealand have a strong, enduring friendship.

Together, we have achieved deep economic and social integration. Many Australians and New Zealanders take advantage of the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement which allows for the free movement of citizens of one nation to the other.

The Close Economic Relations arrangement, which marked its 30th anniversary this year, is the foundation of this partnership.  It has allowed our businesses to deliver enormous benefits for both countries. New Zealand is our ninth largest trading partner; 17,000 Australian businesses have operations there.

The two countries have recently introduced new superannuation portability measures and set higher limits for Trans-Tasman investments.

April 25th 2015 will be a significant day in our two nations’ history. It will mark the Centenary of ANZAC, in honour of our young men who first landed at Gallipoli, to fight side by side during World War I. The ANZAC tradition has been a hallmark of our relationship and continues today in the form of close defence and security cooperation.

Prime Minister Key and I discussed a range of international issues. Australia and New Zealand both have a deep interest in seeing effective economic and political cooperation in the Asia Pacific region. That’s why we will both be attending APEC and the East Asia Summit leaders meetings next week in Bali and Brunei.

We have a joint commitment to concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations as soon as possible and our firm resolve is to work together with our neighbours in the South Pacific to enhance prosperity across the region.

Australia and New Zealand can be rightly proud that they have led the Regional Assistance Mission in Solomon Islands for over ten years.

Prime Minister Key and I agreed that it will be critical for the Syrian Government to honour its legally binding obligations under the UNSC Resolution to eliminate its entire chemical weapons capacity and underlined the need to convene Geneva II as soon as possible to work towards a political solution to the crisis.

I look forward to seeing Prime Minister Key in Australia early next year for the next annual leaders' meeting. I’m delighted that a delegation of New Zealand business leaders will accompany him for the visit.

2 October 2013

Transcript - 23023

Interview with Ray Hadley, Radio 2GB, Sydney

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: 04/10/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23024

Subject(s): International Fleet Review

RAY HADLEY:

Prime Minister, good morning.

PRIME MINISTER:

Ray, it’s lovely to be with you.

RAY HADLEY:

How are you settling in?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I think things are going ok. It’s different but it’s good.

RAY HADLEY:

Will you be able to watch any of the International Fleet Review or are you jetting off before that happens?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think I am going out on the Harbour to see some of it and then there is a reception at Kirribilli House for Prince Harry and a whole lot of people who have done good things for our community. So, I think I get to see a fair bit of the Fleet Review. What I don’t get to see unfortunately, Ray, is the Grand Final because I will be on my way to APEC when that is on.

RAY HADLEY:

So, you are off to Bali immediately after what happens tomorrow?

PRIME MINISTER:

Basically, yeah.

RAY HADLEY:

Ok. I note, and I am not being facetious, that we are not at war with Indonesia…

PRIME MINISTER:

No.

RAY HADLEY:

…as was suggested might occur when you made your first trip there and even your most ardent critics appear to be softening; saying that you have passed every test in relation to diplomacy with the Indonesian President. Did you have some sort of rapport with him?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, he is a very, very good friend of Australia, Ray; a very, very good friend of Australia. He had a very good relationship with John Howard when John Howard was the Prime Minister. I think he regarded me as a kind of political son and heir of John Howard and I was able to bask in John Howard’s glory, so to speak. Look, he – like the leader of every country wants what is best for his country and I think he understands what is best for Indonesia is that these boats stop. Let’s face it, these people they come to Indonesia, they stay in Indonesia for sometimes many months, they’re often not up to much good and then they get on the boat to Australia and it is bad for us and it is bad for them. Of course, if the former government hadn’t “put the sugar on the table” so to speak, it would never have happened.

RAY HADLEY:

Live cattle was another important conversation you had. Now, remarkably I am told by people in the northern part of Australia that given what you have achieved there we mightn’t have enough cattle to supply to Indonesia 53,000 head on top of what we have already committed to. Have you had any feedback from people in the north about what that means to them?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I haven’t myself had direct feedback on this. My expectation is that one way or another we will find the cattle to meet these additional quotas. Look, I had a lot to do with the live cattle trade in northern Australia in the wake of the former government’s disastrous decision to cancel it in panic at a TV programme. People were utterly devastated and it was a terrible threat to northern Australia given that, what can you do in the north – there’s mining, there’s tourism and there is cattle – and we really do need a vibrant cattle industry if we are going to have a strong northern Australia and that is why I am so pleased that as a result of this trip we seem slowly at least to be getting back on track.

RAY HADLEY:

I know you are probably not troubled by it, but do you think it’s a bit bizarre that so far after the election we still haven’t had an Opposition Leader elected?

PRIME MINISTER:

Ray, how the Labor Party proceeds is really a matter for them. My basic problem with the Labor Party is not that they are going about electing their Leader in this rather convoluted way, my problem is that both of the candidates are in denial about the election result; they are both saying well, sure, we lost the election but we can keep all the policies that we had: we can continue to support a carbon tax and a mining tax, we can continue to believe that somehow we were economic magicians even though unemployment increased by 100,000 and they saddled us with the five biggest deficits in our history. That is the problem: that they are in denial about the mistakes they made.

RAY HADLEY:

In relation to the Labor Party and the fact that they had some blues and fights when in government, I guess it is always more difficult when you are the Prime Minister and you have a certain number of positions to allocate and not everyone on the team is happy. It is a bit like what Geoff Toovey will confront this weekend. There will be a couple of players left out of the 18 or the 17 effectively that will take the field, they won’t be happy about it, but he’ll make that decision. You’ve got some people who are not happy.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, inevitably, but I’m pleased to say that they’ve swallowed their disappointment and they’ve buckled down to the job and the hardest calls you’ve got to make, Ray, after an election are the ones to your frontbench, because inevitably some people don’t get the jobs they want. So, look, it’s tough. Politics is a zero sum game, unlike business which can often be a win-win business. But the good thing, as I said, is that all of my people have buckled down to the job, even if it’s not necessarily the job they wanted.

RAY HADLEY:

Have you had a look in detail at how you’re going to guide yourself through the Senate as of July next year? There are going to be three Palmer United Party senators there by the look of it. We’ve still got some doubt about Western Australia and they’re having a little blue about that at the moment, but for all intents and purposes, you’re going to need six to get yourself to that magic number of 39.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yeah, and Ray, managing the Senate has been a challenge for a lot of prime ministers over the years and I don’t think it’s going to be easy to assemble a majority in the Senate. The interesting thing, though, is that the Greens have lost the balance of power and that I think is a great political achievement for the Coalition and indeed for – if I may say so – the conservative side of politics more generally. So, while it’s not going to be easy and I’m going to have to treat every Member of Parliament – including every Member of the Senate – with respect and courtesy and Senator Abetz, the Government Leader in the Senate will obviously be doing likewise, only more so, I think we will be able to form an effective government in the Senate as well as in the House of Representatives.

RAY HADLEY:

In relation to that, you’re going to have to sit down with Clive Palmer and his three senators at some stage. He may well be the Member for Fairfax, we don’t know, there’s a recount happening as we speak. He’s for all intents and purposes a conservative – that’s what he is – and many of his platforms would coincide with yours, others might not, but how will that dialogue go with Clive, because I think he’s a colourful fellow and given to a colourful turn of phrase…

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes indeed.

RAY HADLEY:

… and you’re going to have to be even better than you were at the beginning of the election. You won’t be taking my advice and saying listen Clive, stick it up your jumper. You’ll have to be even more diplomatic than you were in Indonesia.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well look, Ray, I think there’s no doubt that there’ll be a few management issues all round, but look…

RAY HADLEY:

A few management issues!

PRIME MINISTER:

…you’re right, though. He was a member of the National Party, then the LNP for many, many years and he is a conservative. So, you’d think that it would be in his interest to have a strong and successful conservative government.

RAY HADLEY:

Well, we thought that too with a couple of blokes who represented a seat on the coast and one further inland in New South Wales. That didn’t turn out to be – they forgot about their conservative roots.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, this was the problem in the last Parliament. Hopefully, people like Clive will have learnt the lesson of the last Parliament which is if you get elected as a conservative and then act like a socialist, well, you get punished by the electors and that’s as it should be.

RAY HADLEY:

Just a couple of things that I’ve countenanced here and spoken about here with my listeners. We’ve got a terrible problem with outlawed motorcycle gangs. They’ve increased by almost 50 per cent in number over the last few years. The Gold Coast particularly has become the domain of these people. Western Sydney is the same. Coppers have a really difficult job, despite the powers that they have to control them. Is there any thought that maybe the federal government can offer some assistance here, because it is a federal problem. It’s not a problem with the states. These people – when New South Wales or South Australia make tougher laws up they go to Queensland and when the heat goes on the Gold Coast, they go further up the coast – I  mean, is there some thought that maybe as the incoming Prime Minister, you could address this rather dreadful problem we confront as citizens?

PRIME MINISTER:

Ray, one of my ministers, Michael Keenan, made an announcement yesterday about toughening up our approach to gangs and this was a policy that we took to the election: that we would work more closely with the states, that we would try to ensure that there was total information-sharing, that there were national databases, that there were, as far as is humanly possible, uniform laws. I absolutely agree with you, Ray – these gangs are a curse and they’re getting into all sorts of things and they are said to be trying to penetrate what would normally be legitimate businesses to give themselves spurious respectability. This is a real problem. All of the police forces in our country are onto it. The Australian Crime Commission is certainly onto it but as time goes by we will absolutely need to do more and we will do more.

RAY HADLEY:

Ok. Just one final one out of left field, and I don’t know if you’ve caught up with this it wasn’t the biggest story but one of the, I mean we’ve got all these organisations, I had my own battles this week with ACMA where a decision has gone against me and I likened it to the fact that when they scored that try after seven tackles, Cronulla, North Queensland couldn’t complain about it because they had the whistle, the referee – well, I say ACMA’s got the whistle in my case. I couldn’t complain. I copped the decision they give even though I don’t think it’s correct but the Administrative Appeals Tribunal is one that fascinates me and has fascinated me for the past decade. We’ve got a bloke who’s diagnosed schizophrenic who has lived in India since the early 1990s…

PRIME MINISTER:

I actually noticed this. It was point two in your column today and look, yes, it’s a very interesting one, Ray, and I’m going to seek some advice on it because we shouldn’t just park people, as it were, on the disability pension. If people are genuinely incapable of working, yes, absolutely they deserve to be looked after but I don’t know that we do people any favours by putting them on the pension and then forgetting about them. I think it’s important to keep working with people – particularly people whose disabilities may not be lasting or may not necessarily be totally incapacitating – if we keep working with them to try to ensure that they make the most of their lives, and I’m not sure that the gentlemen in question is, well, you’d hate to think that he was gaming the system.

RAY HADLEY:

Well, just for the benefit of anyone who didn’t read the article, it was published initially by Gemma Jones and in my column in the Telegraph today I say “This week Gemma Jones reported a story in this newspaper that at first glance had to be a gee-up – a bloke claiming a disability pension from Centrelink while living in an ashram in India. Could it be true? Yes, 100 per cent true. It’s an insult of course, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal has found that Leon Ahern to him "India is home" – meaning he can continue to live in the Ashram and collect the disability pension from Australia. The place has gone mad!” I say and I think it has. I mean, I don’t want to take disability pensions away from people but I think it would be handy if they were living in Australia.

PRIME MINISTER:

And look, you know, if someone’s on a pension, suppose they’re on an old age pension, from Australia and they want to go and live for a period of time somewhere else, I think that’s fair enough but the question I think here is, is this guy legitimately entitled to a pension and he’s got to be seriously incapacitated and that’s the issue that I think ought to be looked at here.

RAY HADLEY:

Ok and I know that the Minister is looking at it as we speak and hopefully, we will get a result on that one so, we’ll go from there. I appreciate your time. Have a wonderful trip in Bali. Have you already made advance bookings to be able to watch the Grand Final?

PRIME MINISTER:

I have a feeling I might be in the air while the Grand Final is actually taking place and look, good luck to Manly. I know regardless of the result it’ll be a great game. Easts certainly go into the game as deserved favourites, but Manly have the capacity to lift themselves for big games and I’m tipping Manly by six points, Ray.

RAY HADLEY:

Alright, well I’ve got a tip for you. I don’t know if the RAAF can help you but if there’s a thing on your iPhone called, talk to your girls about this, they’ll explain it to you, TuneIn app and you can listen to The Continuous Call team call the game whilst you’re in mid-air, I’m told.

PRIME MINISTER:

Alright, well, if I’m allowed to turn the phone on and do this through the wonders of technology I will.

RAY HADLEY:

Just check with the captain first – don’t take my word for it.

PRIME MINISTER:

Ok, Ray.

RAY HADLEY:

Thanks very much,

PRIME MINISTER:

Good on you, mate. Lovely to talk to you.

RAY HADLEY:

All the best, Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

[ends]

Transcript - 23024

Remarks to Reception in Honour of His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales, Kirribilli 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: 05/10/2013

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 23025

Location: Sydney

Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of Margie and I, Margie and I are absolutely honoured to welcome all of you to Kirribilli House, one of the Prime Ministerial residences here. I’m particularly thrilled to be in the presence of Her Excellency the Governor and Sir Nicholas Shehadie, in the presence of the Premier and Mrs Rosemary O’Farrell, our former Governor-General, Major General Michael Jeffery, so many very distinguished people. You honour Margie and me by being here today, so thank you so much for coming.

This is a very special day. It is the hundredth anniversary of the Royal Australian Navy. It is the centenary of our Navy. So it’s a day when we look back over our history. It’s a day when we remember all of the things that have helped to make us a nation; but it’s also a day that we look forward and it’s great to have here today, in the presence of His Royal Highness Prince Harry, so many young Australians who have done something with their lives. We have Paralympians, we have other sporting heroes, we have young entrepreneurs. Perhaps most poignantly we have people who have served our country in war and paid a very high price indeed and Margie and I salute you and our nation salutes you and I know that Prince Harry wishes to honour you on this particular occasion.

I’m not going to make a long speech. I want to conclude with just a couple of remarks. Prince Harry, I regret to say that not every Australian is a monarchist, but today everyone feels like a monarchist.

You grace us as your family has graced our nation from its beginning and it’s quite fitting on a day such as this when we think back over a hundred years of the Australian Navy, that you are here as the Crown is a symbol of stability, continuity, decency, in our public life. So thank you so much for being here.

Finally ladies and gentlemen, we’re all Australians. Our very diverse backgrounds, very different heritage, but we are all Australians and on a day such as today, we should all count our blessings. We have all won the lottery of life by virtue of being Australians and to be here on this day in your presence, your Royal Highness, is particularly special.

Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript - 23025

Attendance at APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting and East Asia Summit

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: 06/10/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23026

Today, I will travel to the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting which will take place in Bali, Indonesia.

From October 6-9, I will have a series of bilateral meetings to discuss our regional priorities including trade and investment.

Australia has a long record of engagement at APEC, as a founding member in 1989 and APEC host in 2007.

APEC’s 21 member economies represent 56 per cent of the world’s GDP and $437.8 billion, or over 70 per cent, of Australia’s trade in goods and services.

Economic engagement with our region is a priority for the Government and APEC is the leading regional forum for promoting trade liberalisation and economic integration.

The APEC Leaders’ Meeting will help set the priorities for APEC’s work programme across the coming year.

At the conclusion of APEC’s official programme, I will participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations. Australia is committed to progressing the negotiations as a way of strengthening trade and investment ties in the region to deliver better export opportunities for Australian farmers, manufacturers and service suppliers.

Following the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, I will attend the 8th East Asia Summit (EAS) in Brunei from 9-10 October.

The EAS is an annual gathering of the 10 member countries of ASEAN, plus Australia, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Russia and the United States.

Together, EAS member countries make up 54.9 per cent of the world’s population and 54.2 per cent of the world’s GDP.

EAS member countries are crucial to Australia’s prosperity: 68 per cent of our total two-way trade is with EAS countries, and nine of Australia’s top ten trading partners are EAS members.

The EAS provides a platform for the region to discuss important security and economic challenges.

6 October 2013

Transcript - 23026

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