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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript - 23521

Joint Press Conference, Campbelltown

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: 23/05/2014

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23521

Subject(s): Safer Streets Programme

Location: Campbelltown, New South Wales

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s good to be here at Campbelltown Police Station with Russell Matheson, the local Member, with Michael Keenan, the Minister for Justice in the National Parliament and also with Stuart Ayres, the New South Wales Police Minister.

It’s good to have been briefed by senior officers in the New South Wales Police and the Local Area Command on the effectiveness of CCTV in preventing and solving crime. I’m very pleased that as part of this year’s Budget we are going ahead with our community safety programme and as part of the community safety programme we’ll be spending some $350,000 on getting CCTV installed here in the local Campbelltown area.

This is a very important part of doing the right thing by local people. This is a very important part of trying to make a difference to the lives of the people of Australia. I want to congratulate Russell Matheson on the way he's fought for this kind of benefit for his area and I might ask him just to say a few words.

RUSSELL MATHESON:

Thank you, Prime Minister. It's great to see you back in the Macarthur region again in south western Sydney with Minister Keenan and Minister Ayres. It certainly is a pleasure to be able to make this significant announcement that's going to be a great benefit to our local community and for tackling crime, solving crime, preventing crime and it's something the community will embrace. It's something we've been waiting for for a long time and it’s about creating that safer environment and building stronger communities and I thank you very much for the $350,000 in funding it will be well utilised by the local police and the local council.

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE:

Well thanks, Prime Minister. It's good to be here with Russell Matheson in his electorate, yourself and Minister Ayres. This is part of a $50 million commitment that we’re making; investing in community safety all around the country. Labor froze the proceeds of crime and used it towards the Budget bottom line. We have reversed that decision and we're now taking the money that we take from criminals and we're directly reinvesting it in communities all around Australia in projects like this which tackle crime. This is part of a number of things we've done since we've come to Government to make sure that the Commonwealth Government is doing everything we can to assist New South Wales Police and other state and territory police forces around the country to do their job to make the streets of communities like Campbelltown a better and safer place to live.

STUART AYRES:

On behalf of the New South Wales government, I'd just like to say thank you for committing over $6 million towards making the streets of New South Wales safer. This is a continuation of giving police the technology and the resources that they need to get criminals off the street, but most importantly ensure that when we do catch criminals we've got a body of evidence that ensures that they go to jail.

QUESTION:

Any indication yet as to how many CCTV cameras and where they might be placed around the Campbelltown?

PRIME MINISTER:

That's an issue that will be worked out in consultation with the police, with the council and with the community groups. But I'll ask Russell to elaborate.

RUSSELL MATHESON:

Thank you Prime Minister. At this stage there will be 20 cameras and the network that goes with those 20 cameras to connect the police and the local government together with local council. So they’re 20 cameras initially; it’s state-of-the-art technology and we're looking forward to – if you involve yourself in criminal activities in the Campbelltown and Macarthur region you'll soon be found out.

QUESTION:

Whereabouts will these 20 cameras be?

RUSSELL MATHESON:

Well it’s about the flexibility of the cameras themselves. It will be up to the Local Area Commander working with council to develop strategies where they'll place those cameras.

QUESTION:

Will they be continually monitored?

RUSSELL MATHESON:

They'll be continually monitored, you know, they're wireless cameras. They’ll be downloaded each day through the council and any information will be forwarded onto to the Local Area Command in what will be a direct line in the police station itself for approval and the Local Area Command’s. Mr Benson, he’ll be working closely with the general manager and mayor of Campbelltown city council, as I said to develop strategies in relation to fighting crime in the Local Area Command.

QUESTION:

Is the any sort of indications statistically on how much the police expect the cameras to impact on the level of crime in Campbelltown?

RUSSELL MATHESON:

Well obviously when you see this technology and the way it's being used it’s going to be a deterrent to criminal activities, anti-social behaviour. I know that the Local Area Commander, Mr Benson, will be targeting different areas in relation to intelligence that may be gathered. So it’s flexibility of these cameras that's very, very important to the local needs of the police.

PRIME MINISTER:

This is an important element in our Budget. I know this has been a tough Budget, in many respects it's been the toughest Budget for at least two decades, but this isn't just a Budget for saving, it’s also a Budget for building and part of building is trying to ensure that Western Sydney is a better place to live. We've got the CCTV announcement today which is at the grassroots level, but at the macro level we've got our Western Sydney infrastructure package which is very substantially funded by the Budget. So I just want to stress that this is a Budget for building as well as for saving. This is a Budget in which we have tried to spend less on short-term consumption and more on long-term investment, more on long-term infrastructure which will make our country strong.

That's what this Budget is all about, it's about making our country strong, spending less on short-term consumption, spending more on long-term investment and trying to ensure that everything we do is more focused on participation and having a go so that all Australians can maximise their potential. I know that it's been an interesting week or so for senior members of the Government but this is a good Budget and this is a Budget which will ultimately be seen as a watershed in the life of our country. A Budget which made a decisive break from six years of borrow and spend, which was putting us into a completely unsustainable situation, the situation where right now the Commonwealth is borrowing $1 billion every single month just to pay the interest on the earlier borrowings and that couldn't go on and thanks to this Budget it won't go on.

QUESTION:

Are you having a hard time convincing Australia of that though?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I always knew, my senior colleagues always knew, that this was going to be a big ask of the Australian people because for too long, under Labor, there had been this assumption that you could just keep spending money, money that you didn't have, money that you couldn't even always afford to borrow. There was this assumption under Labor that the Government would always be there as the lender of last resort and it just can't go on and thanks to this Budget it won't go on.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, why do you believe that it isn’t necessary for you to disclose your daughter’s $60,000 scholarship on your [inaudible] interests register given that the man who personally recommended her for it is a Liberal Party donor?

PRIME MINISTER:

All the disclosure requirements were fully complied with.

QUESTION:

Do you agree with Tony Shepherd’s comments that Australians should stop complaining about the Budget and that all sectors need to play a role?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think people are perfectly entitled to pose questions to the Government. They're perfectly entitled to express concerns to the Government and it's my job and it's the job of my senior colleagues and indeed of every Coalition member and Senator to level with the Australian people and to listen to them and to explain why it is that we could not go on running up $667 billion of projected debt, running up $123 billion of projected deficits. We could not go on borrowing $1 billion every single month. You know what it's like if you've got a credit card and you are borrowing on one credit card to pay the interest on the other credit card. It's a completely unsustainable situation and that, sadly, thanks to the excesses of the former Labor Government, is the situation we were in.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, do you not believe that there is at least the apprehension of a conflict of interest surrounding the circumstances of your daughter’s scholarship?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, as I said, all the disclosure requirements were fully complied with. She won the scholarship on academic potential, she kept it on academic performance. I’m very, very proud of her and I think that family should be off limits when it comes to party political contention.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, what I am asking about is the apprehension of that conflict though? Do you not believe that there’s at least an apprehension of a conflict not withstanding…

PRIME MINISTER:

No, look, I think this is just a bit of dirt digging and I think families should be left out of it.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, are you worried about Bill Shorten's refusal to say if he'll support a debt levy?

PRIME MINISTER:

Mr Shorten basically is kind of Australia's whinger-in-chief. He has given himself this new job as the head of the complaints bureau. I believe on radio in Victoria this morning he would not even give the Government credit for stopping the boats. Well, this is just not on. The job of the alternative prime minister is to come up with constructive solutions to our nation's problems and this is someone who's got complaints but no solutions and, frankly, the Labor Party, the once great Labor Party, ought to be better than that.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, were you ever lobbied by the director or any other representatives of the Whitehouse Institute at any point in time over the higher education reform?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I know this is something that The Guardian is obsessive about and fair enough, if you want to have these obsessions, go for it, but what I think the Australian public are interested in, they want to know what’s in the Budget, they want to know they want to know the whys and the wherefores of the Budget and that is what I am here to explain. I am here to lead our country. I am here to lead our country, not to cooperate with some kind of taking out the trash exercise. Now, to answer your question, no I wasn’t.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, can you clarify with the co-payments – there seems to have been a bit of confusion and misunderstanding – can you clarify today now who is eligible for the 10 visits and after that because in the Budget papers it’s saying that that only applies to concession card holders under the age of 16 but you said the average person, it will go straight to bulk-billing after the 10 visits?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, no, it’s absolutely crystal clear in the Budget. It is absolutely crystal clear in the Budget that while it will remain open for doctors to bulk-bill their patients, we expect that the vast majority of patients will face the co-payment – the $7 co-payment – but for concession card holders and children under 16, the current arrangements will resume after 10 visits. Let me just focus for a moment on the rationale for this. It is important that there be a price signal in the system – important that there be a price signal in the system. Medicare services may be free on occasions to the patient, but they’re certainly not free to the taxpayer. It is perfectly reasonable to put a price signal into the system. Bob Hawke put a price signal into the system and what was good for Bob Hawke I think is fair enough for me and for this Government. We don’t say it’s unfair if people face a modest co-payment when they get PBS drugs. Similarly, I don’t believe that it’s any way unfair for people to face a modest co-payment when they go to the doctor.

QUESTION:

When you were the health minister though there was a large boost for bulk-billing. What’s changed since then?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it’s very simple – really very simple. In those days we had $20 billion a year surpluses; now, thanks to Labor, we have $50 billion a year deficits. In those days, we had paid off debt and we were actually earning interest income; today we’re spending $1 billion every single month to pay the interest on our borrowings.

QUESTION:

Here in Campbelltown and in the Macarthur area, do you think it could be perceived as unfair the fact that, yes, each thing, the Medicare co-payment, the PBS, all that sort of thing, they’re little amounts of money, but in this area there’s lot of lower socio-economic people and everything stacks on top of each other. Do you understand how some people would say this is an unfair Budget?

PRIME MINISTER:

I’m not denying for a second that this is an additional cost. I am not for a second denying that this is an additional cost and I absolutely accept that hard pressed families will find this burdensome – I absolutely accept that. But, there are pluses as well as minuses in the Budget and I really want to stress that the abolition of the carbon tax – the abolition of the carbon tax – will save the average household $550 a year and if the Labor Party was fair dinkum about trying to look after average families, they would scrap the carbon tax now. If the Labor Party was fair dinkum about listening to the people, they would scrap the carbon tax now. Thanks to Bill Shorten and his colleagues, Australian families right now are paying $550 a year that they need not and should not pay. So, I absolutely accept that this co-payment is a cost – I absolutely accept that – but I am confident that the abolition of the carbon tax will make it much easier for people to deal with it.

QUESTION:

Will you reconsider the Disability Discrimination Commissioner?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, his term has expired. The Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission will certainly be continuing to deal with disabilities issues in the normal way, but his particular term has expired. I want to stress how seriously this Government takes the welfare of people with disabilities. Obviously we are totally committed to the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and frankly, that is the best thing that we can do for people with disabilities right now: it is to responsibly and intelligently, learning the lessons from the various trials, get cracking with rolling out the National Disability Insurance Scheme and I am proud – very proud – to be heading up a Government which is doing just that.

Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript - 23521