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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript - 23007

Joint Doorstop Interview, Melbourne

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

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

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

Release Date: 26/09/2013

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23007

Subject(s): Stronger economy

Location: Melbourne

PRIME MINISTER:

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

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

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

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

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

ALAN TUDGE:

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

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

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

QUESTION:

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

PRIME MINISTER:

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

QUESTION:

Are they getting the balance right at the moment?

PRIME MINISTER:

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

QUESTION:

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

PRIME MINISTER:

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

QUESTION:

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

PRIME MINISTER:

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

QUESTION:

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

PRIME MINISTER:

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

QUESTION:

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

PRIME MINISTER:

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

QUESTION:

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

PRIME MINISTER:

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

QUESTION:

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

PRIME MINISTER:

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

QUESTION:

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

PRIME MINISTER:

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

QUESTION:

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

PRIME MINISTER:

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

QUESTION:

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

PRIME MINISTER:

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

QUESTION:

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

PRIME MINISTER:

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

QUESTION:

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

PRIME MINISTER:

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

QUESTION:

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

PRIME MINISTER:

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

QUESTION:

Will you scrap the student services fee?

PRIME MINISTER:

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

QUESTION:

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

PRIME MINISTER:

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

QUESTION:

Have you set a date for the first Parliamentary sitting?

PRIME MINISTER:

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

QUESTION:

Tell us about your relationship with Clive Palmer.

PRIME MINISTER:

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

QUESTION:

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

PRIME MINISTER:

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

QUESTION:

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

PRIME MINISTER:

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

Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript - 23007