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Transcript - 23369

Interview with Karl Stefanovic, Today, Nine Network

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: 26/03/2014

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23369

Subject(s): Malaysia Airlines aircraft

KARL STEFANOVIC:

We’re now joined by the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. PM, good morning to you.

PRIME MINISTER:

Good morning, Karl.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

What is the latest information you are getting out of Perth and from our personnel?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, Karl, obviously we’re throwing everything we have at this search. There are many aircraft that will be in the area today. Soon, there will be Chinese naval and civilian ships joining HMAS Success out there. We owe it to the families, we owe it to an anxious world to do everything we can to finally locate some wreckage and to do whatever we can to solve the riddle of this extraordinarily ill-fated flight.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Given the search has been wound back in that northern corridor, how many more vessels, how many more aircraft are we expecting to join the search in the coming days and weeks?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, we will obviously be putting a lot of Australian resources into it. There are four Royal Australian Air Force Orions involved in the search, as well as the HMAS Success. There’s another Australian Naval vessel that will soon be involved. We’ve got black box recovery equipment coming from the United States that we’ll be taking to the relevant area. So everything, Karl, that we can do we are doing. I spoke to Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia yesterday. I pledged to him Australia’s help, support and cooperation. Malaysia, of course, has legal responsibility as the owner of the aircraft for the recovery and investigation efforts, but obviously we are the closest country. We have the capacity and we will do whatever we can to help.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

There are some awful scenes out of Beijing again from the relatives who are very angry about the way things have transpired and that anger has been directed towards Malaysia. But in terms of them coming to Australia, how many are going to make that journey and for how long do you think they’ll be here?

PRIME MINISTER:

We don’t know at this stage, but what we have said is that we will give them a welcome, they will be in the arms of a decent people while they are here and we’re certainly going to waive visa fees because obviously there’s a terrible trauma involved, there’s the uncertainty, there’s the anguish, there’s all of that. It’s just an unspeakable time for these people and if they want to come to Australia we’ll make them welcome and we’ll do everything we can to assist.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

This is a very difficult question but probably one that will be asked, certainly in the coming days and weeks. How long do we continue searching for?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, we keep searching until there is absolutely no hope of finding anything. Plainly, there is quite a bit of debris in this part of the Southern Indian Ocean. We’ve photographed it on a number of occasions now. We have not yet recovered any because of the difficulty of locating bits of debris in a vast ocean, but we are just going to keep on looking, Karl, because we owe it to people to do everything we can to resolve this riddle.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

It’s open-ended?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, it’s not absolutely open-ended, but it’s not something that we will lightly abandon.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Alright. Thank you for giving us the latest information on that story.

Just moving on to a lighter story now depending on which way you sit on this particular story. Republicans at the moment this morning are up in arms in many of the papers about things of a regal nature, saying that you should be focussed on more pressing matters on the Australian agenda. Why did you decide to reintroduce the titles of Knights and Dames, PM?

PRIME MINISTER:

Karl, we are focussed on the pressing matter of trying to produce more jobs, trying to get families’ cost of living down.

Yesterday, for instance, we tried to get the mining tax repealed – the Labor Party voted to keep the mining tax.

Last week we tried to get the carbon tax repealed – the Labor Party voted to keep the carbon tax and keep that $550 a year hit on families.

Yesterday I gave a major speech about my upcoming trade mission to Asia which will be good for jobs and good for prosperity.

So, that’s what the Government is focussed on. But, yesterday was the retirement event for Dame Quentin Bryce. On Friday we will be welcoming a new Governor-General and I think it was a fitting time to bring back this special recognition for Australians who have served our country in an extraordinary and pre-eminent way and Dame Quentin Bryce has been a very, very elegant and dignified Governor-General and I’m sure General Peter Cosgrove will be likewise.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

She has been all of that. You know you’re on a winner when Malcolm Turnbull supports the very thing you’re trying to initiate. Sir Malcolm Turnbull, has he been sucking up to you in any particular way to try and get that particular honour?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I think Malcolm believes that his best service can be given to the nation through the Parliament and in particular by being an outstanding Minister for Communications who is bringing fast, affordable broadband to your home! That’s what Malcolm’s focussed on at the moment!

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Oh come on, he wants a Sir in front of his name, PM! We’ve got one for you too, Sir John Howard – Sir John Howard, that’s got a ring to it and what about Sir Shane Warne as well, what about those two?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, look, the point I keep making is that this is the kind of special honour that, as far as I’m concerned, ought to be reserved for people who have accepted public office rather than sought it and Governors-General don’t seek public office, they accept it when it’s offered to them and certainly in the case of Dame Quentin Bryce, she discharged the duties of the job with great distinction and I’m confident that General Cosgrove will do likewise.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Alright. PM, we appreciate your time today.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you so much.

[ends]

Transcript - 23369