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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript - 23370

Interview with David Koch and Natalie Barr, Sunrise, Seven 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: 23370

Subject(s): Malaysia Airlines aircraft

DAVID KOCH:

Good morning to you, Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER:

Good morning Kochie.

DAVID KOCH:

Any new information on the investigation this morning?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, not really. It wasn’t possible to fly missions over the area yesterday because of the weather. There will be, I believe, up to 12 aircraft searching again today. We will have later today, we think, some Chinese naval vessels joining HMAS Success in the search area. There is another Australian Naval vessel that will be joining operations in the next few days. Black box recovery equipment is coming to Australia, so we’re doing everything we humanly can.

Yesterday I spoke to Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia and assured him that Australia stood ready to offer every possible assistance.

This is about the most inaccessible spot imaginable. It’s thousands of kilometres from anywhere, but nevertheless, we are the closest nation. We are a capable nation. We will do what we can to solve this riddle.

DAVID KOCH:

Oh yeah, too right.

Look, this black box recovery equipment – what’s that? Is that submarines or special radar?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well my understanding is that it’s the equipment that was used to ultimately recover the black box of that French aircraft that crashed in the South Atlantic. This is obviously a very logistically difficult exercise once we’ve managed to pinpoint - as far as we can - the place where the plane actually went in.

NATALIE BARR:

Ok look, just such a big job ahead.

Let’s move on now and the Opposition obviously fired up about your proposed changes to race hate laws, it’s occupied a lot of commentary this week. You want to remove the words ‘offend’, ‘insult’ and ‘humiliate’ from the Act and we understand keep the word ‘intimidate’. It is a very fine line. It’s stirred up an awful lot of feeling this week. Why are you doing it?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Nat, let’s first of all say that the main thing this Government is focussed on is making life easier for families and that’s why last week we tried to get rid of the carbon tax – the Labor Party voted to keep it, so we’re stuck with it for the time being.

Yesterday we tried to get rid of the mining tax – the Labor Party voted to keep it, so we’re stuck with that for the time being.

But this is a Government which can do several things at once and yes, yesterday we released an exposure draft of legislation which keeps the red light on racism, but which removed the amber light on free speech which had existed since the Bolt case a couple of years ago where, as you know, Andrew Bolt was successfully prosecuted on the basis on an article that he’d written.

NATALIE BARR:

But you’ve got, you know, obviously the Brandis comments about you know, everyone has a right to be a bigot created huge storm this week and you’ve got people like Senator Nova Perris saying those comments are a green light to racism and other sorts of hate speech. So you would think people like her, you know, would know about this topic and are very hurt by it.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, the best antidote to people saying the wrong thing is for people to proclaim the right thing. The best response to a bad argument is a good argument. The best way to combat bigotry is to proclaim decency and this is why we support free speech.

Now, the laws that we are proposing do actually make racial vilification an offence; in fact in many respects they’re stronger than the laws that they will replace. But what we are going to do is ensure that you’ve got strong safeguards against racial vilification but strong protections of the right of free speech.

DAVID KOCH:

Ok. You shocked everyone yesterday by bringing back knighthoods and do you call them damehoods, or Dames? Anyhow, why do we need another level of honour here in Australia?

PRIME MINISTER:

This is going to be a very rare honour; only four a year at a maximum. The first new Dame will be Dame Quentin Bryce, the outgoing Governor-General. The first new Knight will be General Peter Cosgrove, the incoming Governor-General. This is an honour that will be reserved for a very small number of Australians who have served our country in an extraordinary and pre-eminent way.

Look, I think it is fitting – it’s fitting – that people who have given service of the quality and length and strength of Dame Quentin Bryce should be appropriately honoured.

DAVID KOCH:

What about Warnie? Have you got a soft spot for him?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, he’s a terrific cricketer but I don’t think we’re going to see Sir Shane any time soon.

DAVID KOCH:

Oh that’s a slap down from the Prime Minister!

Prime Minister, thank you for that and also congratulations as well – 20 years today that you entered Parliament. That’s an enormous amount of community service, so well done.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Kochie, thank you.

Look, it’s been an honour to serve. Every day is a privilege and I look forward to quite a few more years.

DAVID KOCH:

Ok. Good on you, thank you for joining us.

NATALIE BARR:

Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript - 23370