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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Abbott, Tony

Statement from the Prime Minister

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

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

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

Release Date: 13/10/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23038

In anticipation of the election of the Hon Bill Shorten MP as Leader of the Opposition, I have spoken with Governor-General, Her Excellency the Hon Quentin Bryce AC.

The Governor-General offered to leave office early to avoid any perception of bias but due to the fact that she will retire in March next year and that the Government commands the House of Representatives with a significant margin, I have thanked her for her magnanimity but declined to accept her resignation, instead asking that she conclude her full term.

I am grateful that she has kindly agreed to my request.

The Governor-General is currently serving an extended term in office that she did not seek. Her agreement to stay on was a measure of her personal commitment to provide continuity at a time of political turbulence and she should be commended for her dedication to public service.

Her Excellency Quentin Bryce has served the people of Australia with distinction and has provided a gracious note to our constitutional arrangements through her widespread engagement with the community.

I believe it is only fit and proper that she be permitted to conclude her term and be accorded the appropriate farewell that her exemplary service merits.

13 October 2013

Transcript - 23038

Address at the Launch of Carers Week, National Press Club

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

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

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

Release Date: 14/10/2013

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 23039

Location: Canberra

Thanks very much, Aunty Agnes, for your gracious Welcome to Country and thanks very much, Ara Creswell, for that wonderful and warm introduction.

Thanks, ladies and gentlemen, for being here to help launch Carers Week. Thanks, everyone, for coming together in support of Australia's 2.5 million carers and the people who they care for.

It is a credit to us as a society that we do care for those who are caring for those who are most vulnerable in our midst.

I want particularly to acknowledge my parliamentary colleagues, the Assistant Minister, Mitch Fifield about whom I will say a little more later and Senator Zed Seselja, the newly-elected Senator for the ACT. It’s good to have both of you here.

I have two tasks today. The first is to help to initiate Carers Week this year. The second is to help introduce the panel discussion which will take place later on today here at the National Press Club, which I think will elucidate many of the issues which are important to carers and those they care for.

Most of all, though, it is my job to acknowledge Australia’s 2.5 million carers, those whose principal task – the task that they have set themselves in their lives – is to care for someone else, someone they love.

Carers, as we know, come from every walk of life. Every carer’s circumstance is different. But what distinguishes every carer from every other one of us is that each carer has said that his or her principal task will be to dedicate himself or herself to someone who matters; someone who needs help. This is a truly remarkable thing. It is a truly magnanimous thing.

Many of us make the decision at some point in our lives to be dedicated to someone else. When we stand up and make marriage vows or a marriage commitment, we dedicate ourselves in one sense to someone else. But most of us, when we do this, are dedicating ourselves to the good times that we are going to have with someone else. What carers do is dedicate themselves to the tough times as well as the good times, as Aunty Agnes has just helped to remind us.

Yes, there are good times in the life of every carer; times of intense satisfaction; times of intense love. But for so many carers, there are also times of intense difficulty and intense frustration. There is nothing romantic about most of the work that carers do. It often involves relentless toil and the inability to leave the person they’re caring for, even for a moment, without the risk of something terrible befalling that person.

It’s no wonder, under these circumstances, that there is such a high family breakdown rate for carers, such high rates of mental health issues, poor incomes. It is a great life, but it’s a tough life. It is a worthy life, but it is a difficult choice that the carers of this country have made and that’s why it’s so important that we acknowledge them on an occasion such as this. And yet it’s important to remember that whatever the difficulties that individual carers have and might face, carers themselves are so often inspirational leaders in our communities and in our nation at large. There would hardly be a person who comes into contact regularly with a carer who is not uplifted and inspired by the work that that carer does and by the life that that carer lives.

It is inevitably invidious to single out individuals, but on an occasion such as this, I think I should single out Helen Johnson whom I met on Pollie Pedal a couple of years ago, caring for Ben, her son who was born with very significant disabilities. People like Tania Hayes, caring for Warren, her husband, who has, as we've just learnt, very significant disabilities arising from some medical complications.

Helen and Tania are typical of the 2.5 million carers in our midst. They are fine, inspirational people. Not only do our carers save our society billions of dollars, but they are a reminder to all of us of our best selves. They are a reminder to all of us of that capacity that humans have to give and not to count the cost; a capacity which most of us are not called upon to realise, but which some of us are called upon to realise and do so often in full measure.

So, it’s terrific to be here today. I’m now the leader of a government. This is not the first time, though, that I have been in government and obviously those of you who have dealt with government have your own opinions about how government has handled the issue of caring and the issue of disability in our society.

I like to think that the former Howard Government in which I served had a pretty strong record when it came to carers and to people with disabilities. In the last four budgets of the Howard Government, we were able to give very substantial bonuses to carers. We were able to do that because good economic management had provided substantial surpluses that the government was able to distribute in this way.

There was, during the time of the Howard Government, a very considerable extension of carers’ payments and carers’ allowances and while the surpluses of those days are no longer there – we hope to have them again quite soon, but they’re not there for the moment – the commitment of the Coalition to carers and to people with disabilities is certainly undimmed and the challenge for the new Coalition Government is to at least match and, if possible, to surpass the commitment that our predecessor made to carers and to people with disabilities and obviously that starts with the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

I am proud that the last parliament, for all of its tumult, for all of its rancour – and, as you all know, even by the standards of Australian parliaments, it was a pretty rancorous parliament – but I am proud that one very good thing at least has come from the last parliament and that is the foundations of our National Disability Insurance Scheme, because despite all the difficulties of the last three years, despite all of the partisanship, we were able to come together and agree that the National Disability Insurance Scheme was an idea whose time had come; that a decent society owed it to our most vulnerable to give them a new deal and a better deal.

I’m pleased that the Coalition supported the National Disability Insurance Scheme every step of the way. We supported the proposed Productivity Commission inquiry when the new Opposition Leader, then the Parliamentary Secretary Bill Shorten, proposed this back in 2010. We welcomed and supported the Productivity Commission report when it came out. We voted through the Parliament the enabling legislation and we supported the levy which will substantially if not totally fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The NDIS’ emergence from the last parliament is a sign that while our public life can sometimes be dispiriting, that even in the midst of things which most people don’t like, a lot of good work can be done. I hope that the people of Australia will draw encouragement from the fact that even a dispiriting parliament was able to produce something as a lasting monument. But there is a long way to go. There is a very, very long way to go. The legislation and the trials that are now under way are simply a start. They are a good start, a very good start, but that is all they are – they are a start.

There will be many valuable lessons to be learnt from the trials and the launches now underway which the Government will incorporate into the final design of the National Disability Insurance Scheme when it becomes fully operational in 2019. But I do want to assure everyone here, everyone watching right around our country, that we will make this work. We will make this work. This is too important for our country to fail this test. It is, nevertheless, a vast undertaking; an undertaking almost unprecedented in the life of our country.

Yes, there is much that we can build upon here. There is the Victorian Traffic Accident Commission and the work that it does. There is the work that’s newly begun under Lifetime cover in New South Wales. There is much that we can build on here and there is much that gives us confidence that we can get this right. I should say that there is no better person to guide the National Disability Insurance Scheme from little more than a dream to a reality than the Minister, Mitch Fifield, who is here with us today.

I’m blessed with a very good team, but very few members of my team worked as hard in their portfolio, worked as effectively in their portfolio as Mitch Fifield did with the disability sector. It's a big job, Mitch, but I know you're up for it, I know you’ll do it very, very well indeed and I also know that millions of Australians will be relying on you and us to get it as right as we humanly can. Don’t feel daunted, Mitch, please.

Of course, the National Disability Insurance Scheme will do much to help people with disabilities and will do much to improve the lives of those who are caring for someone with a disability, but it will never remove the need for carers. It will never replace the vital role played by people who are doing what they do, not for money, but for love; people who are doing what they do, not because they were trained to it from a relatively early age, but because they were committed to it by something that happened in their lives or something that happened in the life of someone they loved.

It is, after all, the real test of a person; it is, after all, the measure of a society not what we do for money, but what we do for love, not what we have to do, but what we choose to do because we see a need, we see an opportunity and we rise to the challenge, we grab the occasion, and that is what carers in their own way do.

I may not have spoken this way – if I may speak candidly with you – even a few years ago, because a few years ago I hadn't been brought into contact with the world of caring, as I have been over the last few years through Carers Australia and the Pollie Pedal which over the last two years has been dedicated to Carers Australia. The Pollie Pedal for those of you who don’t know is the annual charity bike ride that my colleagues and I have been doing since 1998 – you may have seen some news coverage about it in recent days – but over the last couple of years, we've been raising money for Carers Australia. We haven't just been raising money. In all of the towns and villages and communities along the way, thanks to the work of Carers Australia, we have been meeting with and mixing with carers and those they care for. It’s humbling because you realise the difficult circumstances that so many Australians face. It’s daunting because you ask yourself, “What would I do if I was confronted with something like this?” But it’s inspiring because you see how many people rise so magnificently to meet the challenges of life.

No one knows what the future holds. No one knows what fate has in store for us. We can be confident, though, that at some stage in most of our lives, we will need care or be a carer and that’s why it’s so important that we celebrate carers; that’s why it's so important that we remember carers at a time like this.

It’s good that carers have a champion in Carers Australia – a body that can speak up for them and can inform the wider world of the work that carers do, of the life that carers have. It’s also very fortunate that Carers Australia has Ara Creswell as its chief executive. It has been an honour to work with you, Ara, over the last couple of years and I look forward to working with you in all sorts of different capacities for many years to come.

Thank you.

Transcript - 23039

Doorstop Interview, Canberra

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

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

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

Release Date: 14/10/2013

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23040

Subject(s): Labor leadership

Location: Canberra

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, could we get your reaction to Bill Shorten’s elevation as Opposition Leader?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, look, mostly today I want to just pay tribute to the work that carers do right around our country. There are two and a half million of them. As time goes by and our population ages there will be more carers. It is important that they are acknowledged and recognised and respected by everyone, but certainly it is important that government should do what it can and obviously the National Disability Insurance Scheme to which the new government is fully committed is a very important part of that.

Now, on the new Labor leader, I called Bill Shorten last night to congratulate him.

I have had a bit of experience at being Opposition Leader. It’s a great job but it’s a tough job. I know he will do his best and I certainly respect Bill Shorten’s political skills. He has a lot of political acumen. The difficulty is that they might have a new leader but they have got all the old policies which caused them to be rejected by the people. They are still in denial about the election result and if he wants to have a good start to his new job he could begin by saying that he understands the people’s verdict at the election and the Labor Party will not oppose the legislation to abolish the carbon tax which will be the first item of legislation that the Parliament considers.

QUESTION:

Is a double dissolution still on the table, Mr Abbott?

PRIME MINISTER:

As I said, if Mr Shorten is fair dinkum about democratic politics and if he is fair dinkum about heeding the voice of the people, he will accept that the last election was a referendum on the carbon tax; the carbon tax was decisively rejected. The only people who don’t understand that seems to be the members of the Parliamentary Labor Party.

Thanks very much, thank you.

[ends]

Transcript - 23040

Legislation to repeal the carbon tax

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

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

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

Release Date: 15/10/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23041

Today, the Government releases the carbon tax repeal bills for public consideration.

In line with our clear election commitment, the Government’s first item of parliamentary business will be the legislation to abolish the carbon tax.

This will lower costs for Australian businesses and manufacturers, boost growth, increase jobs and ease cost of living pressures for households.

On average, households will be around $550 better off in 2014‑15 than they would have been with the carbon tax in place.  This is about taking the pressure off electricity and gas bills.

While the carbon tax will be gone, the household assistance already provided will remain to help families with the cost of living.

Mr Shorten and the Labor Party must listen to the clear message that the Australian people sent at the last election.

Every day the Labor Party opposes the repeal of the carbon tax is another day that the Labor Party supports higher electricity prices for Australian families and businesses.

The repeal bills will remove the carbon tax, end the carbon tax on fuels used in shipping, rail and air transport and on synthetic greenhouse gases. The Climate Change Authority will also be abolished.

Abolishing the carbon tax will improve Australia’s international competitiveness, which was being undermined by the unfair hit on business.

The legislation will give the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission further powers to take action against businesses that engage in price exploitation following the repeal of the carbon tax.

Carbon tax industry assistance, including the Jobs and Competitiveness Program, will continue until 30 June 2014 to assist affected businesses.

Repeal of the carbon tax represents a major contribution to the Government’s deregulation agenda by removing around 440 pages of legislation and reducing business compliance costs by about $100 million annually.

With the release of the draft repeal bills, businesses have an opportunity to comment on the specific details of the repeal process. Good governments engage in proper consultation, which means that the draft legislation could be further refined before introduction to the Parliament.

Public consultation will be invited until 4 November 2013.

15 October 2013

Transcript - 23041

Joint Press Conference, Parliament House, Canberra

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

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

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

Release Date: 15/10/2013

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23042

Subject(s): Legislation to repeal the carbon tax

Location: Canberra

PRIME MINISTER:

As you know this is a Government which is determined to keep its commitments. It's a Government which is determined to be consultative and collegial with the people of Australia. As you also know, there was no clearer commitment that this Government took to the election than our commitment to abolish the carbon tax.

So, I can inform you today that at 4 o'clock this afternoon, the Government will release on the Government website an exposure draft of the carbon tax repeal legislation. This legislation will be the first bill considered by the new Parliament. It is a bill designed to not only keep the Government's commitments, but to do the right thing by the people of Australia. When this bill is passed, Australian households will be better off to the tune of $550 a year. When this bill is passed, the Government estimates that power prices will go down by 9 per cent, gas prices will go down by 7 per cent, and that means that the average power bill will be $200 a year lower and the average gas bill will be $70 a year lower.

So, this is very important legislation. It is legislation designed to do the right thing by Australian families, to take the cost of living pressure off Australian families, and to boost the competitiveness of Australian business. So, if you are in favour of a good deal for Australian families, and if you are in favour of a fair deal for Australian workers and for Australian jobs, this is legislation that you must support. I'm going to ask the Minister, Greg Hunt, to say a few words and then obviously we'll take some questions.

MINISTER HUNT:

Thanks very much Prime Minister. The repeal legislation is about helping families, helping businesses, and about helping Australian jobs. The legislation removes the carbon tax from all three areas to which it was applied. It removes it from electricity and gas and the general construct of the carbon tax. It removes it from synthetic greenhouse gases, and it removes it from liquid fuels. The legislation delivers on the pledge and the promise which we took to the Australian people and on which they voted.

The legislation will also bring in to being, as the Prime Minister said, a saving of $550 on average next financial year, as opposed to the current situation. On average, it's a saving of $3,000 per family over the next six years. If the ALP votes against repealing the carbon tax, they are voting for higher electricity prices, higher cost of living issues, and for greater impacts on Australian businesses and Australian jobs. We will do what we have said, and we will also be deeply consultative. We will give the public a real chance to consider and to consult on these bills which will be available for consultation until 4 November.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, the federal government has no power over electricity prices. What pressure do you need to put on to states and regulators in order to get this through?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, as you'll remember, during the election campaign, we also promised to give the ACCC further powers to monitor the price impact of the repeal of the carbon tax and this legislation does that.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, is it still your aim to abolish it on July 1, 2014, and is it possible to do it retrospectively, have you not achieved the abolition by that date?

PRIME MINISTER:

We are confident that the public pressure on the Labor Party will be such that they will not defy the mandate of the Australian people at the election. Let's not forget that if this election was about anything, it was about the carbon tax. This election was not just a choice of political party to govern the country, it was in fact a referendum on the carbon tax. If the Labor Party persists in saying yes, we support the carbon tax, they will effectively be saying no to the people of Australia. The people of Australia understandably want lower cost of living, and they want more secure jobs. This bill gives them both. That's why the pressure on the Labor Party in the end, not to oppose this bill, I believe will be irresistible.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, despite what you say, the Labor Party is likely to persist. So, when does your threat about a double dissolution kick in? Will you wait for the new Senate?

PRIME MINISTER:

Michelle, the new leader of the Labor Party is nothing, if not a political pragmatist – he is nothing, if not a political survivor. The absolute lesson of recent Australian political history is that political parties cannot defy the public view, and the public view is overwhelmingly that they don't like this toxic tax. Now, we are giving the Labor Party a chance to repent of its support for the carbon tax. We are giving the Labor Party a chance to repent of its massive breach of faith with the Australian people in the last Parliament. I think that the Labor Party, being pragmatic political survivors, will ultimately embrace that opportunity.

QUESTION:

Will you take steps, Mr Abbott, to make sure that Clive Palmer pays his outstanding $6.2 million carbon tax bill and will you give him any ability to use his influence in the Senate to avoid paying that bill, perhaps by making the abolition retrospective?

PRIME MINISTER:

Obviously, people do need to honour their obligations. People do need to meet their obligations under tax law and that's true under the existing carbon tax law, just as it's true under any other law of the Commonwealth.

QUESTION:

Will you entertain his idea of making it retrospective and refunding the carbon tax payments that companies have already made?

PRIME MINISTER:

For reasons of technical efficacy, for reasons of making a clean break with this toxic tax, it makes abundant sense to abolish the carbon tax at the end of the current financial year. That's what we intend to do. Obviously, people will be liable for their carbon tax obligations up until that time.

QUESTION:

Given that states like WA, for example, suffered electricity power price increases of 57 per cent in just the space of three years, what guarantee can you give that Australian consumers would see any decrease in their power prices? Secondly for you, Mr Hunt, in your thesis that you wrote with Rufus Black, you talked about a price on pollution being the most efficient way to reduce that pollution. Is that not your view now?

PRIME MINISTER:

Just on the price guarantee, some of you would be old enough like me, to remember the introduction of the goods and services tax and as some of you would remember, that also involved the abolition of the wholesale sales tax, which meant that while some prices went up, other prices went down. The ACCC at the time did a very good job of policing the introduction of that particular tax package, so that prices only went up as much as they had to and that quite a number of prices went down quite significantly. The ACCC did a highly competent job then. I believe they'll do a highly competent job in the future. I am confident that we will get a significant reduction in power prices as a result of the abolition of the carbon tax. I take your point though, Andrew, there has been a dramatic escalation of power prices in recent years for a whole host of reasons. The carbon tax is one very significant factor. That will be gone. That will be good for households. That will be good for jobs. And that's why it should be, and I believe will be supported ultimately by a highly pragmatic Labor Party.

MINISTER HUNT:

It's precisely because of my work 23 years ago that the lesson I learnt was that it's about choosing the right market mechanism for the right problem. That work on zinc, cadmium and lead, gave me the building blocks for where we are now. The message from that is that this is a fundamentally inefficient tax and the reason it's inefficient is it taxes electricity. What is the carbon tax? It's an electricity tax, it's an electricity tax, it's an electricity tax.

Electricity is an essential service. It's a fundamental good. In economic terms, it's inelastic, but in household terms, it is essential and taxing an essential service hurts families, hurts businesses, hurts jobs and simply ends up diverting funds from other elements in a family's budget. For Australian businesses, the one place where it does have effect is it sends vulnerable businesses overseas. You can see that in terms of leakage with regards to manufacturing and with regards, in particular, to the heavy metal sector. So, this is the worst of all possible worlds. We have a situation where the price of electricity goes up, but under the ALP's own figures, which they released last year and again gave to the United Nations just days before the election, between 2010 and 2020, our domestic emissions go up, not down, under the carbon tax. So it does do damage. It doesn't do the job. That's why it fails its fundamental test and I would say this – every day that Mr Shorten votes for the carbon tax is a day that he votes for higher electricity prices. The ball's in his court.

QUESTION:

Just to go back to Phil's question before, if the ALP doesn't do what you say they should do, and you do have to wait to the new Senate to get this repeal through, does that mean that the tax applies for another whole year or is there some mechanism in this repeal legislation that gets around that?

PRIME MINISTER:

I'm just not going to speculate on the distant future. What I am going to say is that every day the Labor Party tries to block this measure is a day when the Labor Party is going to get the Australian public more and more angry about the fact that they are giving them power prices and gas prices which are higher than necessary and they are giving them, the Labor Party are giving the people of Australia, job insecurity that we just don't need.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, Michael Williamson, he has pleaded guilty today to fraud charges, sentencing is still to come. But each of those charges carries hefty jail terms potentially. Is this not evidence that the law as it currently exists is sufficient to ensure that there are proper potential punishments for union criminals?

PRIME MINISTER:

I'm not going to comment on the particular case which is still before the courts. Obviously if there is a fraud charge, that attracts penalties under the ordinary criminal law. But in terms of breach of the governance rules, there should be the same penalties for dodgy union officials as there are for dodgy company officials.

That's the position we took to the election and that's the position that we will be implementing in good time.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, can I ask, did your plans to abolish the carbon tax come up at all during your talks with leaders at APEC or the East Asia Summit, the Chinese leaders in particular? And secondly, can you confirm when Parliament will resume?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, yes, they did come up in different contexts overseas, and I think the general reaction was that people are pleased to see that Australia is determined to be a low-cost business environment, not a high-cost business environment. Obviously the carbon tax and the mining tax help to make us a high-cost environment, help to deter investment, help to damage job growth and the last thing we want is restrictions on job growth here in Australia.

Now, as for Parliament, as you know, Parliament can't return until we’ve got the return of the writs. My strong expectation is that the Electoral Commission will get that job done as quickly as it can, that it will get the job done in time for Parliament to come back on November the 11th*. So, that's my strong expectation, and subject to the writs coming back as they should, we will have Parliament sitting on November 11.

QUESTION:

For how long this year?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, Parliament will sit sufficient to make a good start on the Government's legislative agenda. I don't want to comment beyond that, other than to say that I do expect that there will be some additional budget estimates in the course of the parliamentary sittings between now and Christmas.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, can I just get your views on the latest warnings from the IPCC on climate change, particularly as it pertains to Australia - the greater risk of death by heat stroke and greater risk of catastrophic bushfires, and sea level rises threatening 250,000 homes? What do you see as the risk confronting Australia through climate change and are you confident that your policies will be adequate to meet that risk?

PRIME MINISTER:

The fact that there is this ongoing issue, the ongoing challenge is a very good reason to tackle it effectively rather than ineffectively. As Minister Hunt has just pointed out, under the carbon tax measures of the former government, our economy was damaged, but our emissions wouldn't actually reduce. So, we'll have direct action measures – you are all very familiar with them – that we are confident will bring about a five per cent reduction in our emissions by 2020.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, [inaudible] the election promising to reduce the foreign investment threshold to up to $15 million, do you still stand by that or is there room for compromise there?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well again, we are committed to the policies that we took to the election and, yes, we did have a discussion paper out there, which was a very good paper, which represents our view, our position, that the threshold for agricultural land purchases being reviewed by the Foreign Investment Review Board should be reduced from the current $240-odd million down to $15 million. I think it is a very reasonable position. I think it’s strongly supported out there amongst the Australian people, and yes, we will proceed with it.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, is it your intention to have the Senate vote on the carbon tax repeal before Christmas? Given you control the numbers in the Reps, I assume it will go through there relatively swiftly. Would you like to see a Senate vote on it before the end of this year?

PRIME MINISTER:

The short answer, if you like, Phil, is yes. But I'm only the Prime Minister. I realise that the Senate operates in accordance with its own rhythms and patterns. I would like the Senate to consider this matter as quickly as possible, but the last thing a mere Prime Minister does is try to give instructions to the Senate, because they do things their own way, and I don't think anything is likely to change about the Senate any time soon.

Who hasn't had a question yet?

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, did any of the leaders you talked to at the recent forums raise concerns about Australia scrapping the carbon tax?

PRIME MINISTER:

I'm trying to remember all of the various conversations that I had, and there were a lot of conversations with a lot of people in a lot of different contexts. I don't have any specific recollection of anyone raising concerns. The point I made throughout my conversations with the people I was talking to overseas is that we are determined to put Australia in the strongest possible economic position and that means eliminating, as far as we can, anything which is an obstacle to economic growth and to job creation and what I said to all of the leaders that I was able to talk to on my recent trip is that Australia’s focus, particularly in our year as G20 Chair, is going to be strategies for economic growth and that fundamentally means getting the Budget under control, it means reducing taxes generally, but abolishing unnecessary taxes. It means cutting red tape and it means building economic infrastructure. I’ve got to say, that was a very welcome message with the leaders I was talking to.

Thank you so much.

[ends]

[*week of]

Transcript - 23042

Address to the University of Western Australia New Century Campaign Gala Dinner, Perth

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

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

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

Release Date: 15/10/2013

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 23043

It’s hard to make a great deal of money. It is even harder to spend it very wisely.

Some time ago Andrew Forrest became one of our most significant entrepreneurs, now he is becoming one of our greatest philanthropists and I salute him on both counts.

You only make a fortune by providing a service to people.

Andrew Forrest is serving our country twice.

First, he is building the mines of which our country’s prosperity and our people’s livelihoods depend and second, he is investing his share of the proceeds not in his life but in that of others.

This University, indigenous employment and in combatting modern day slavery to name only the most prominent of his many causes.

He is a living, breathing embodiment of the parable of the talents.

He is a credit to his family, including his famous forbear.

He is a tribute to this University which taught him economics.

He is not an academic, but the very soul of that restless curiosity and yearning of higher things which should define a university.

Not a Rhodes Scholar, but exactly the kind of person that Cecil Rhodes sought.

He is the epitome of that stern but just injunction to whom much is given, much is expected.

Of course, it is my understanding that in the Forrest household it is Andrew who makes the revenue decisions, but it is Nicola who makes the spending decisions.

So, it is really you, Nicola, that we have to thank for tonight’s extraordinary benefaction.

The two of you are a remarkable partnership and we all salute both of you.

Ladies and gentlemen, until recently Australia has had a comparatively thin culture of philanthropy but that is changing I am pleased to say.

There has been Kerry Stokes’ generosity to the War Memorial, the Packers’ to the Chang Institute, the Lowys’ to many good causes. There was Greg Poche who donated $30 million to the Mater Hospital in Sydney. There was Graham Tuckwell who donated $50 million to the Australian National University and now the Forrests’ donation to higher learning here in Western Australia.

One of the things that I have always admired about our most successful people is their fiercely competitive spirit.

Wouldn’t it be good to see our greatest magnates outbidding each other not to buy a bigger boat or to build a bigger mansion but to create a better future, to leave a better legacy for our country?

That way great individual wealth would seem less a personal benefit and more a national asset.

We wouldn’t just be a richer country, we would be a better country.

So, may there be many more nights like this to celebrate generosity on an epic scale and hearts as big as our country.

Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript - 23043

Federal and Queensland governments sign up to a one-stop shop for environmental approvals

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: 18/10/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23044

The Federal and Queensland Governments have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to create a one-stop shop for environmental approvals.

This reform is important for the Australian economy and is a key part of the State and Federal Governments’ deregulation agenda.

It will slash the growing burden and duplication of red and green tape which is a handbrake on investment in Queensland because two sets of environmental approvals cause delays to projects and investment across the state and the country.

The one-stop shop does not replace any State or Federal environment laws – it simply streamlines the process, ensuring just one application, instead of two, needs to be made.

That means the same strict environmental standards but ensures swift decisions and more certainty, whilst increasing jobs and investment in Queensland.

State governments already administer environmental law and should be able to make environmental approvals on the Commonwealth’s behalf while maintaining the same strict standards.

Within 12 months a bilateral agreement will be reached between the Federal and Queensland Governments. The work to achieve this will be undertaken by the Environment Ministers.

Creating a one-stop shop for environmental approvals in Queensland will help to grow the state’s economy, reduce costs for business, boost productivity and create jobs.

18 October 2013

Transcript - 23044

Address to Legacy Clubs of Australia 2013 National Conference

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

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

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

Release Date: 18/10/2013

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 23045

Location: Brisbane

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for welcoming me. My parliamentary colleague and former Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Warren Snowdon, thank you so much for the support that you give to Legacy.

Before I formally address you, I do want to take a moment just to acknowledge the fire emergency which is still unfolding in New South Wales and to convey our nation’s sympathies to all those who are suffering, to all those who have lost homes, whose homes have been damaged, and in particular, to acknowledge that there has already been loss of life and we fear more.

Australia is a country which is prone to natural disaster but every time it strikes, it hurts and we grieve for all of those who are now hurting because of what’s happened in New South Wales. I hope later today to be in at least one of the affected communities, but I think I should begin this formal address with an acknowledgement of just what has happened and with our nation’s sorrow and sympathy for all who are suffering.

On that note, may I now move to begin my address to this Legacy conference. Of course, you were expecting the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Senator Ronaldson. I know he was very much looking forward to being here. I know some of his former constituents in Ballarat were very much looking forward to seeing him here. He is doing our nation’s work in Europe to help prepare for the Centenary of ANZAC but he does very much send his apologies. I gather he’ll be saying something to you by way of video message later in the conference and I’m very honoured to be here as the Prime Minister representing the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs!

Ladies and gentlemen, Australia has always played a significant part in the affairs of the world. We have always done what we can to defend our interests, to uphold our values, to protect our citizens and, where necessary, to support our allies. We’ve always done this – always have, and as far as I’m concerned, always will.

Our nation was formed in the midst of conflict and the new nation participated in the Boer War, then of course we sent large forces to World War I, large forces to World War II, significant forces to Korea, to Vietnam and, more recently, to Iraq and Afghanistan.

As well as our participation in war, there’s been our role in peacekeeping operations around the globe over the last 60 years. The British Commonwealth occupation forces in Japan, the forces that we’ve sent to Cyprus, Sinai and other parts of the Middle East, the forces that we sent to Somalia in the early 90s and, more recently, the forces that we’ve sent to East Timor and the Solomon Islands.

The truth is that you cannot have casualty-free combat. Even the best and most professional armed forces will take casualties in combat and we have suffered as a nation because of the stand that we have taken for justice and for our friends, right around the world. We suffered 60,000 war dead in World War I. We suffered almost 40,000 war dead in World War II. In Korea and in Vietnam there were hundreds of war dead and, tragically, we have lost 40 outstanding young men in Afghanistan. Then, of course, there are those who have died from complications arising from their war service.

We cannot ask our young men and women to put themselves in harm’s way for our country if we don’t ensure that we give them the best possible care on their return. And it’s not enough simply to care for those who come back; we must also care for the loved ones of those who don’t come back; for the widows and the orphans of those who have paid the highest possible price in the service of our country.

This is where Legacy has responded magnificently, on behalf of our country, to help the loved ones of those who did not return. For 90 years, you have been caring for the widows and the dependents of those who have not returned. In more recent times there are those who did return, but returned incapacitated or became incapacitated as a result of their war service and as time goes by, I am sure you will evolve as an organisation into that premier group, supporting the families of all who have suffered because of their service in the armed forces of our country.

There are 50 clubs, there are some 6,000 Legacy volunteers serving on average, as I understand it, 100 hours a year for this important cause, looking after right now some 100,000 widows and dependent children. This is magnificent and necessary work. Nothing can make up for a lost father, a lost husband, a lost brother, a lost parent, a lost spouse, a lost sibling, but Legacy does what can be done to fill that void, practically and emotionally, and I salute you for all the work you do.

You carry the torch for the families of our war dead. Be yours to hold it high, be ours to salute you for what you do.

So, I do salute you. I do encourage you in your work and I do very much encourage you in your deliberations over this conference as you work out how best to promote and advance not only the work of Legacy but the ideals of Legacy in the year and in the decades ahead.

I thought I might also – because you are part of the wider Defence community – say a few words about some other relevant issues, starting with the Defence policy of the new government.

As we know, for all sorts of reasons, Defence spending has dropped over the last few years; regrettably, to the lowest levels as a percentage of GDP since 1938. The incoming government will do its best – budgetary circumstances permitting – to restore Defence spending to two per cent of Gross Domestic Product and we hope to do so again – as soon as budget circumstances permit – by increasing Defence spending by three per cent in real terms every year.

In the meantime, there will be no further cuts to Defence spending. We will be as efficient as we can, but there will be no overall cuts to Defence spending under the incoming Coalition Government.

It’s important that we give our Defence forces what they need to do their job. It’s particularly important that we give our veterans what they need to live a decent life and what they need to appropriately acknowledge and honour their service to our country.

We will retain the Department of Veterans’ Affairs because you deserve a dedicated department to serve you.

We will properly index DFRDB and DFRB pensions come the 1st of July next year. Despite the difficult budgetary circumstances that the incoming government faces, this will be done in next year’s budget and it will apply for veterans over 55 from the 1st of July next year.

Finally, ladies and gentlemen, a few words on the Centenary of ANZAC – the business which detains my distinguished friend and colleague, Senator Ronaldson overseas right now. Yes, as all of us know, Gallipoli was in a sense, the cauldron that helped to shape a young nation. It wasn’t our first war – that was the Boer War. Nevertheless, it was the conflict, it was the battle, it was the campaign which seized the imagination of a young nation and helped to shape the way we think about ourselves as Australians.

We know a fair bit about the Gallipoli campaign. It’s a story that we tell again and again each year on ANZAC Day, but the coming few years mark not just the Centenary of ANZAC, they will mark the centenary of many First World War events and it is important while we acknowledge and honour the Centenary of ANZAC that we also acknowledge and remember the role that the First Australian Imperial Force played, not just at Gallipoli and in the Dardanelles Campaign, but elsewhere in that terrible conflict. There was the Australian Light Horse who effectively drove the Turks from Palestine and there was, of course, the mighty First AIF and work that was done over three years on the Western Front.

This was a time when Australia and Australians shaped the world. So, in thinking of the Centenary of ANZAC, we should think not just of Gallipoli itself, not just of the ideals of duty and service which motivated the young men who rallied to the colours in those days, but of our role in world history at that time.

So, the incoming government, as its predecessor before it, is determined to ensure that we appropriately celebrate and appropriately honour the Centenary of ANZAC. I thank the former minister Warren Snowdon for the hard and good work that he has done to this end and I am confident that we can build on that work to ensure that we leave a lasting legacy for the future.

We are increasing the amount that will be available for local Centenary of ANZAC commemorations and appropriate events to $125,000 per electorate. There will be a major travelling exhibition put together by the Australian War Memorial and in just over twelve months, there will be the opening and dedication of a memorial and commemorative centre at Albany in Western Australia, which was the last sight of our country that many of those troops had. These will happen.

I guess the question is, can and should we do more? There are a couple of projects which I think are worth considering.

First, a national war cemetery in Canberra – Australians’ Arlington, if you like – in which significant ex-soldiers could be interred.

Second, a major interpretative centre on the Western Front – something that does for Australia and for the Australians who visit the Western Front in such large numbers these days what the Canadians have done to commemorate their extraordinary work in World War I.

These are questions that I hope we might ponder and decide in the next few months so that we can ensure that we go through the four years, if you like, of the Centenary of ANZAC with something to remember and with a lasting legacy, so that this generation has appropriately honoured the sacrifice, the service, the achievements of our mighty forbears.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honour to be with you today.

Every one of you give up a significant and substantial part of your life to serve your fellow Australians – in your case, particularly deserving fellow Australians: those who have been left behind by those who have served our country in the armed forces.

I cannot think of a better cause.

I cannot think of a more honourable and worthy thing to do.

I thank you for it.

I congratulate you for it.

On behalf of our nation, I wish you well for the future.

[ends]

Transcript - 23045

Federal Government to provide recovery assistance to victims of NSW bushfires

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: 18/10/2013

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 23046

The Federal Government will provide much needed assistance to those affected by the devastating bushfires still raging in New South Wales by making available the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (AGDRP).

While the full extent of damage caused by the bushfires is still unfolding, the payment of $1,000 per eligible adult and $400 per eligible child will assist those already affected, particularly those who have lost their homes or suffered damage, are seriously injured or have lost an immediate family member.

The AGDRP will be made available in the following severely affected areas: Blue Mountains, Lithgow, Muswellbrook, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Port Stephens, Wyong and Wingecarribee.

The AGDRP payment is in addition to the joint funded Commonwealth-State Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements, which provides assistance to individuals and families, including emergency food, clothing and accommodation.

As the situation is still unfolding, the Government will continue to assess whether broader relief and recovery assistance may be needed. We will work closely with the NSW Government to ensure the recovery needs of the affected communities are met.

The Government recognises the heroic efforts of the firefighters for their courage in battling the fires and protecting individuals and communities under threat.

Further information about assistance payments is available on the Australian Government’s Disaster Assist website at www.disasterassist.gov.au or on 180 2266.

18 October 2013

Transcript - 23046

Joint Doorstop Interview with SEnator the Hon. Marise Payne, Minister for Human Services

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: 18/10/2013

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23047

Subject(s): New South Wales bushfires

Location: Winmalee, New South Wales

PRIME MINISTER:

I'm here at the Winmalee Rural Fire Brigade command post. I have had the benefit of a briefing from Shane Fitzsimmons, the New South Wales Rural Fire Brigade Commissioner. I have also had briefs from some of the local incident controllers. I am here with Marise Payne, the Minister for Human Services with Louise Markus, the local member and also with Senator Doug Cameron, who is a local resident and is now the newly appointed Shadow Minister for Human Services.

I guess the first thing to do is to say on behalf of the people and the Parliament of Australia how much we feel for everyone right around the state of New South Wales, but particularly here in and around Winmalee, how much we feel for everyone who has suffered through these devastating fires.

Today is a much quieter day than yesterday, but this is a fire emergency which could go on for quite some time. There are hundreds of people who are grieving the loss of property. Tragically there has been, it seems, one life lost further north, someone who was defending his house. We grieve for everyone impacted by these fires and we thank and congratulate everyone who is working to keep the state of New South Wales safe right now. We've had hundreds of police, we've had hundreds of New South Wales fire brigade workers and we've had literally thousands of Rural Fire Brigade volunteers and State Emergency Services volunteers out over the last 24 hours.

These are ordinary people who, on extraordinary days, come together to support their community and to protect their fellow Australians. We are incredibly lucky to have them. We're also lucky to have supportive employers and supportive families who allow their loved ones to go out and do this kind of work when it's needed.

I want to say thank you to the employers of New South Wales for making so many of their staff available to serve in the emergency services, particularly in the New South Wales Rural Fire Brigades at this time. It could be a long, hot, dry summer. Over the last three months, most areas of New South Wales have had above average temperatures and below average rainfalls. It's projected that over the next three months, most parts of New South Wales will similarly have above average temperatures and below average rainfalls.

I trust that the employers of New South Wales will be patient with those of their staff and workers who need to get out and serve with the emergency services, particularly with the Rural Fire Brigades in coming months. This is an important way in which families and businesses can serve our community by supporting those of their members who are out with the Rural Fire Brigades. But again, I just want to say how sorry we are on behalf of the people and the Parliament of Australia for the heartache which so many hundreds of people in New South Wales are currently dealing with, but how proud we are of the thousands of volunteers and full-time professionals who are out there keeping us safe on a difficult day.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, you've seen many fires over many years. How serious are these compared to others that you've been experiencing before?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I will take a couple of questions and then I will ask Senator Payne to talk about the Centrelink response which the federal government has made available. Look, I’ll leave the incident controllers and the New South Wales Commissioner to comment on operational aspects of the fire, but plainly, this was a very big fire. It's quite a long time since we’ve had property losses in the order of hundreds here in New South Wales. So this was a very, very big fire. Marise, do you want to just talk about the Centrelink response?

MINISTER PAYNE:

Thank you very much Prime Minister. First of all, let me say that the emergency response number for those seeking support from Centrelink who have been impacted by the fires right across New South Wales is 180 22 66 and the call centre is staffed and people will be able to take your details now and ensure that the support that you need is provided to you. We are able to support people whose homes have been tragically lost in the events of the last few days, whose homes have been significantly damaged and those people who have suffered serious injury as well, and there are a number of people who are currently in hospitals around this area and elsewhere who have been impacted personally by injury from the fires.

The Centrelink office in Springwood specifically will be open over the weekend to support the people here in this local area and Mrs Markus, the Member for Macquarie, has been assisting us enormously today with making sure that the resources her constituents need are available to them.

We will also have a mobile service centre up and running from first thing tomorrow morning in the Winmalee area itself, with Centrelink officers that are able to assist people in this community who have been so badly affected by these events and Centrelink officers in other areas of the state where significant damage has also occurred will make themselves available as well and we are very, very keen for those who are concerned and who have suffered these impacts to call the emergency response number: 180 22 66 and hopefully we can support those people at this very difficult time and to make sure that the Australian Government backs them in every way we can.

Thanks Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thanks Marise. Are there any further questions then?

QUESTION:

These fires that we see all around the world seem to claim many more lives in other countries. Australia does seem able to cope with them much, much better. Why is that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, we have had a long, long experience of bushfire in this country. We’ve been dealing with bushfires in this country almost as long as we’ve had European settlement here. For thousands of years before the Europeans arrived, Aboriginal people were practicing a form of fire management which in some respects was more successful than that which has been practised since, but we do have very long experience dealing with fires.

We have a very strong, fulltime, paid and volunteer professional infrastructure to cope with fires. As you can see here at this command post we’ve got the Rural Fire Brigade,  we would no doubt have in the area the New South Wales Fire Brigade, we’ve got police, we’ve got ambos, we’ve got a whole range of volunteering community groups that come together to support the fire fighting apparatus.

So look, we’ve just got a very, very long experience and I guess it’s engrained in our culture. We’re not called a land of droughts and flooding rains, a sunburnt country, for nothing.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, the Premier has indicated that you may be close to or have already reached an agreement on disaster funding. Are you able to shed any light on the details?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, the standard disaster relief arrangements are now in place. The New South Wales Government will be dispensing money under those arrangements and the Commonwealth, under the standard apportioning arrangements, will be picking up at least 50 per cent of the tab.

QUESTION:

I know it’s early days, but is there any figure on the cost of rebuilding?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, it is very, very early days. We think that property losses are in the hundreds but it’s too early to say what the precise number of homes destroyed, buildings destroyed and damage is and it’s far too early to put a price on how much it would cost to restore the situation.

Thank you so much.

[ends]

Transcript - 23047

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