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Transcript - 23193

Interview with Andrew Moore, Radio 2GB

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: 09/01/2014

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23193

Subject(s): The Government’s commitment to repeal the carbon tax

ANDREW MOORE:

Well look, it’s been 124 days since Tony Abbot was elected Prime Minister and I tell you what, it’s been a heck of a time hasn’t it? There’s been a serious diplomatic row with Indonesia over allegations spying took place under the Kevin Rudd regime in 2009, Holden announcing it will end its Australian manufacturing operations by 2017, a stand-off in the Senate over the carbon tax that the Australian public clearly demanded be scrapped and of course, he inherited a financial mess of the last six years. And the Prime Minister Tony Abbott joins me in the studio. Good morning, Happy New Year.

PRIME MINISTER:

And thank you Andrew. It’s lovely to be with you and my hope is that 2014 will be a very good year for the Australian people and that means getting rid of the carbon tax, getting rid of the mining tax, reducing red tape, getting started on the roads that we so badly need - and that’s what I’ll be doing every day this year.

ANDREW MOORE:

Well, when we were talking in the office when we discovered you were coming in, it’s hard to work out where to start because there are so many issues. You mentioned the carbon tax, which Australians want rid of and you promised to repeal and it was one of the first things you put forward when you became Prime Minister. How frustrating has that process been that The Greens and Labor in the Senate still won’t let it go? Were you expecting that, or did you think that they might yield to the public expectation?

PRIME MINISTER:

The longer the Labor party insists that a carbon tax is good for the Australian people, the longer the Labor Party insists that somehow families should be paying $550 more than they need to every year because of the carbon tax, the worse it is for their long term prospects.

Now I read in one of the papers today that the Labor Party is going to break its alliance with The Greens, well, prove it - prove it - and if you want to prove it, scrap the carbon tax, because the only reason why the Gillard government felt compelled to put the carbon tax in place was because of the deal with Bob Brown.

If they want to break the alliance with The Greens, prove it and allow the carbon tax repeal legislation to go through the Parliament.

ANDREW MOORE:

Well, they keep saying that and this now is coming out of Tasmania, that the Labor Party’s going to break its ties with The Greens, yet still they walk hand-in-hand together in the Senate and we’re being told continually, “bad luck you’re going to have to wait ‘til at least July.”

PRIME MINISTER:

They sure do. Well, we’ve all heard of sham marriages; I think this is a sham divorce that they’re trying to put on the front page of the paper, Andrew!

ANDREW MOORE:

Well, you’ve dealt with so many things. Now, we’ll get to those in a moment.

You’re a Sydneysider – there has been so much discussion above all else at the moment and doing Alan’s show here for the last couple of weeks, about violence, about alcohol and drug fuelled violence. There is a real feeling out there the state government isn’t doing enough to combat it, that the police don’t have enough powers and they’re not being backed-up by tough decisions in the courts. What’s your thoughts, as a Sydney resident – long term Sydney resident – and as Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, as Prime Minister I accept that the fundamental responsibility in this area is the New South Wales government’s.

Obviously, I’m a friend of Barry O’Farrell’s; I’m a political ally of Barry O’Farrell’s. I want to work closely with Barry and his Government wherever necessary to tackle this problem.

But as a father and as a citizen I am appalled by what seems to be happening in certain trouble spots here in this great city of ours.

I think we’ve got essentially two problems – the first problem, which is a broad problem, is the binge drinking culture which seems to have become quite prevalent amongst youngsters in the last couple of decades and look, I’m not a wowser - I like a drink - but there’s a world of difference between having two or three drinks a night and occasionally a bit more on a Saturday night…

ANDREW MOORE:

But people are getting bombed before they go out now.

PRIME MINISTER:

And drinking nothing from one week to the next, but then when you decide to have a drink, having 20 or 30. This it seems is the modern way. So that’s the first problem.

The second problem, and this is a truly insidious thing, is this rise of the disturbed individual who goes out not looking for a fight, but looking for a victim and all of these king hits - or we’re now calling them coward punches - all these acts of gratuitous violence are unprovoked. They’re completely unprovoked and inevitably the target is not some ‘tough bloke’ who might be able to fight back, the target is some mild, unprepossessing individual who’s not doing anything to anyone but it simply picked on.

Now, this is a vicious, horrible change and I think that really, the police, the courts, the judges ought to absolutely throw the book at people who perpetrate this kind of gratuitous, unprovoked violence.

ANDREW MOORE:

Well, you’ve spent many a year on a rugby field and in a boxing ring and even in those tough sports, that sort of cowardly action is not tolerated.

PRIME MINISTER:

Exactly right…

ANDREW MOORE:

Let alone out on the streets.

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s one thing to have a confrontation with someone who knows what’s going on and where there is at least some kind of an explanation for it. It’s another thing to be walking down the street and then to pick an innocent person and that’s what happening.

Brutal people are often with a history of this kind of thing – with a history of violence and assault – are deciding for their own reasons that they are just going to pick on a particular individual. It is utterly cowardly. It’s brutal, it’s gratuitous, it’s utterly unprovoked and it should be dealt with, with appropriate severity by our system.

ANDREW MOORE:

Even if it’s up to the states, do you think we are being severe enough?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well look, I’m not going to run a commentary on my colleagues. I know that this is something which the O’Farrell Government is concerned about and is looking at. I don’t think the Government is sitting on its hands at all here, but we don’t want knee-jerk responses, we want considered and effective responses and I’m confident that’s what will happen.

ANDREW MOORE:

Moving on – Indonesia. Now there are a lot of aspects to that discussion obviously, but we go back to what was labelled loosely as ‘spy gate’, when these revelations were exposed by the ABC. Now, clearly there was issues with the relationship then between Australia and Indonesia. You wrote a personal letter upon receipt of one from President Yudhoyono. How is that relationship? Has it eased? Is it better than it was?

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s a very strong relationship and I suspect that there are few countries which have as strong and underlying official relationship as Australia and Indonesia.

There are enormous levels of exchange and understanding between Australia and Indonesia, as evidenced by the discussion that seems to have taken place between General Moeldoko and our own General Hurley not long ago. There’s a lot of co-operation and mutual understanding here.

But the important thing for us is that we do stop the boats Andrew. I mean this is a non-negotiable for us. This is for us, a matter of our sovereignty.

Now, I absolutely understand Indonesia’s concern for its sovereignty and I fully respect Indonesia’s sovereignty. There is no way on God’s earth that any Australian government – particularly a government that I lead – would in way trespass on Indonesia’s sovereignty.

But, but, when these boats keep coming illegally to our country, that is a sovereignty issue for us.

It is absolutely non-negotiable. These boats will stop. These boats must stop and we will do whatever is necessary, consistent with our international obligations and ordinary decency, to stop the boats and that’s exactly what we are doing.

ANDREW MOORE:

You’ve campaigned about that loudly and for a long time - well before the election campaign – you’ve done it for years in opposition and the same with Scott Morrison. I understand the decision taken by the Immigration Minister and your Government not to run a daily commentary on boats arriving here, because you don’t want to encourage people smugglers obviously in Indonesia.

PRIME MINISTER:

And we don’t want to give rise to a whole lot of mischief making. And I’d rather be criticised for being a bit of a closed-book on this issue and actually stop the boats.

And that’s the point, the point is not to provide sport for public discussion. The point is to stop the boats and I am pleased to say that it is now several weeks since we have had a boat and the less that we talk about operational details on the water the better when it comes to stopping the boats.

ANDREW MOORE:

The only thing I would put to you is why not announce or talk about the fact that you have sent boats back if you have? Whether it is one, two, five, ten or none? Because does that not serve the purpose of not commenting daily on boat arrivals in terms of being the opposite effect of promoting it for people smugglers saying this is what is going to happen?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Andrew, if boats were coming at the rate of 50,000 illegal arrivals a year which was the case in July and if not they are hardly coming at all obviously some things have changed.

Now, the important thing is that the measures have been put in place which have dramatically slowed boat arrivals - that is the important thing. Not to have a micro-detailed discussion about every last particular measure given that having that discussion just causes unnecessary fights.

The only fight I want is a fight with the people smugglers and I am pleased to say that just at the moment, I am not declaring victory, I’m really not, it is far too early to declare victory here, but just at the moment things are going much better than they were.

ANDREW MOORE:

Which is exactly what Australians are after, and look, I know there is a certain Green Senator who I don’t wish to give any publicity to this morning bleeding on about this but I know there is a Nine MSN poll at the moment – should asylum seekers be taken back to Indonesia. Yes – 62,923 votes. No - 7,809 so it is pretty comprehensive. Now, on the Indonesian issue with the spy claims that were revealed, I know Alan has been very vocal in his thoughts about Mark Scott he says he should be sacked, the ABC should be stripped down, start again. What is your view on the ABC? I spoke to your Foreign Minister last week on the programme about complaints she had had from overseas via the Australian Television Network and we were inundated with complaints after their New Year’s Eve coverage. What are your thoughts on the ABC and what can be done?

PRIME MINISTER:

Ok, well look, every network occasionally upsets people. There is not a network that doesn’t from time to time upset people. I dare say Andrew even 2GB occasionally upsets people.

ANDREW MOORE:

Recently of course to the ABC.

PRIME MINISTER:

So, look, the fact that the ABC sometimes upsets people. The fact that the ABC routinely upsets people of a more conservative disposition is not of itself something that requires official action.

I was disappointed though, just incredibly disappointed, that rather than report that, the ABC chose almost to advertise it. I thought it showed a serious lapse of judgment on the part of ABC journalists and management. In the end the ABC is supposed to be, at least abroad, the voice of Australia. It is seen as the mouth piece of Australia and for the mouth piece of Australia to be damaging Australia’s national interests in that way I thought was completely unwarranted. That said I accept that freedom of the media means that the Government does not dictate what is written and said and broadcast even by the ABC.

ANDREW MOORE:

By the same token where as if you don’t like what you are hearing on 2GB you can turn us off, who cares. That’s life, we all do it. But the ABC we can turn off, which many of us have done, but we are still paying for it. Are they fulfilling their charter?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, that is a fair question and that is a question which I am sure the management and the board are constantly debating and let’s see where that debate goes.

ANDREW MOORE:

A number of very passionate emails this morning about your appointment of two people who listeners are describing as previous Liberal haters in Natasha Stott Despoja and Greg Combet on the advisory panel for SPC. Can you explain those appointments?

PRIME MINISTER:

Sure.

ANDREW MOORE:

And why those people and not people within your own Party?

PRIME MINISTER:

Ok, well we tried to appoint the right people for the job and sometimes the right person for the job might be a former politician. Very occasionally it might even be a former Labor politician.

The Stott Despoja appointment is an ongoing part time appointment as Ambassador for Women and Girls and I think that she will do a good job and while Natasha has certainly been a critic of the Liberal Party at times and a critic of Liberal governments occasionally she has also been a critic of Labor governments. I think whatever her particular judgments on particular things, most people would say she is a decent, fair minded person.

Then there was a specific task that was given to Greg Combet by the relevant minister and that was to join two other experts to look at the situation at SPC Ardmona and decide how amongst other things labour relations might be better managed there to give those workers and that company an ongoing future. Now, it was a short term, one-off task that he was given and it is certainly not my intention to be giving former ACTU officials too many jobs. Occasionally, they will get a job, it will be limited and short term normally but Coalition Governments aren’t in the business of appointing people who don’t share our broad thinking to critical positions.

ANDREW MOORE:

Just one last thing because you have got to rush off – wind farms. Now, this is something that Alan has spoken to you frequently both when you were in opposition and now as Prime Minister. There was a report in The Australian yesterday that the Government is set to commission fresh research is that right and will it again be with the National Health and Medical Research Council?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, from time to time we do need to refresh the research, we do need to consider whether there have been new facts that impact on old judgments and that is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. It is some years since the NHMRC last looked at this issue, why not do it again?

On the broader question though, we have a terrible problem with high priced power in this country. The carbon tax has been a key driver of power prices in the last year or so, that will go, it will go quickly I hope but it will certainly go under this government. We will get rid of the carbon tax and that is the best thing we can do to get power prices down.

We do also have to have a look at the impact of renewable energy on power prices. The problem at this stage with renewable energy is that there’s always got to be a backup because sometimes the sun doesn’t shine, and the wind doesn’t blow. If the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow the power doesn’t flow. That is a simple fact and that is why we are going to have a good, long, hard look at this with the fundamental objective of doing what we can to get power prices down.

Australia should be, Andrew, the affordable energy capital of the world. We have a super abundance of coal, we have a super abundance of gas, these are the drivers of prosperity and let’s make sure we can get access to them at the lowest possible price.

ANDREW MOORE:

Prime Minister I have got about 14 sheets of notes that we can’t get to there is so much on your agenda but I do appreciate you very much coming in. I hope you have a very successful 2014. It does seem like there is confidence returning to the Australian people, business and people are happy to spend some money again.

PRIME MINISTER:

I certainly do detect the green shoots of spring at least in some areas and Andrew look, I hope everyone has a really good 2014. It is not about me, it is about our country, its people, our prosperity, our future and that is my dedication to try to ensure a better life for our people.

ANDREW MOORE:

Thanks for coming in.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thanks Andrew.

[ends]

Transcript - 23193