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Transcript - 23814

Joint Doorstop Interview, Launceston

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: 11/09/2014

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23814

Subject(s): Visit to Turners Blackwood Furniture

Location: Launceston

ERIC HUTCHINSON:

Welcome Prime Minister to the electorate of Lyons, as the local Member I’m most grateful that you’ve taken time out of no doubt what is a busy schedule to spend a significant amount of time today in my electorate. Particularly, I’d also like to thank Mark and Helen and Wendy for allowing us to visit this significant business in Northern Tasmania that is making magnificent furniture out of fine Tasmanian timber, but also importantly, focussed on training young people in apprenticeships and a very structured process of engaging young people to go on and have a successful career in this fine furniture making business.

Again, thank you for the opportunity and this is indeed significant in terms of Tasmania and the focus that we must all have on jobs. It is our number one issue in this State and it is the challenge there, and the work that Mark and Helen and Vicki are doing here is supporting our agenda of creating jobs in Tasmania.

Prime Minister, I’ll hand over to you. Thank you very much.

PRIME MINISTER:

It is great to be here in Tasmania. Tasmania is a great state with great people, people who are prepared to have a go and Turners Blackwood Furniture here is another example of Tasmanian people who are prepared to have a go, to produce quality products.

As I hope everyone knows, I am determined to ensure that Tasmania is an economy, as well as a national park; that Tasmania is a great place to work, as well as a great place to visit. We’ve got a range of policies in place to bring this about – $400 million on the Midland Highway is going to be an important boost to Tasmania’s economic infrastructure; $40 million on the Hobart Airport runway – again, important economic infrastructure. Scrapping the carbon tax, scrapping the mining tax, getting rid of red and green tape – an important part of making Tasmania a place to work as well as a place to live.

Hand in hand with all of this is revitalising our apprenticeship system. We’ve got some terrific young people who are doing excellent work as apprentices here at Turners and that’s great, but we need to have less paperwork, we need to have more support for the employers who are taking on the apprentices. We need an apprenticeship system which is employer led and outcome focused and that’s exactly what the Coalition Government is aiming to achieve.

A couple of elements of the apprenticeship system that we are building which I announced the other day are worth repeating – the Youth Employment Pathways Programme for youngsters between 15 and 18, who may well end up unemployed will be working with community organisations to ensure that they get the right start. There’s the Training Scholarships that we will be giving directly to employers such as this, so that they can get their young workers the precise job related training that they need.

Overall, this is about more jobs for more people in a more prosperous economy. The best form of welfare anyone can have is work and I am determined to ensure that there is more work here in Tasmania and I’m delighted to be working with outstanding local Members such as Eric Hutchinson to bring this about.

QUESTION:

Do you think this will solve Tasmania’s youth unemployment crisis?

PRIME MINISTER:

There is no single thing that is a panacea to an engrained and entrenched problem. Over time, the way to reduce youth unemployment is to build a stronger economy and to have a stronger employment culture. As long as you’ve got a welfare system which is saying to young people, “you’re just as well on welfare as you are in work”, that’s a big problem. One of the reasons why I am so determined to pursue our learn or earn changes that were announced in the Budget is because every young person needs to know that the expectation is that you will start your life – your adult life – either in the workforce or in useful education or training, you won’t start your adult life on welfare.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, what’s your expectation of jobs growth in the timber and forestry industries now that the agreement has been repealed?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I certainly want to see more employment in timber and forestry. I think timber and forestry is a very prospective area for Tasmania and I can never understand why sections of the environmental movement are so hostile to employment in timber and forestry because let’s face it, this is the ultimate natural product – the beautiful handmade crafted timber furniture that we see here at Turners. Timber is the ultimate renewable resource and these days at least all of our forests – particularly our Tasmanian forests – are very, very well managed in accordance with the best environmental values.

QUESTION:

What else is on your agenda while you’re in Tasmania?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I’ll shortly be going to a dairy farm elsewhere in the electorate and there I’ll be able to look at the new irrigation system which is just coming on stream. This is a Government which is never going to allow a Green veto on environmentally suitable development. Certainly this is a Government which doesn’t believe in a Green veto on sensible new irrigation schemes. We certainly aren’t a Government that has a dam phobia and for too long too many governments in this country have had a dam phobia. This Government thinks that we do have a water management problem rather than a water problem in this country and dams in the right places are an important part of a sensible, economic, and environmental future.

QUESTION:

Will Australia’s terror threat level be lifted and if it is will you make a detailed explanation why?

PRIME MINISTER:

The terror level is determined by our experts, it’s not determined by the politicians. It’s not a decision of the Parliament or the executive government, it’s a decision for ASIO and our other security agencies. I know they are constantly reviewing the situation. As David Irvine – the head of ASIO – said the other night, the activity level by people who would do us harm is elevated. So, we’re very much in the hands of our security intelligence experts which is as it should be.

QUESTION:

Given that we’re hearing those messages though about potential terror threat being lifted – is Hobart at risk of being considered a soft target by pulling out Federal Police from Hobart Airport?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, international airports are Federal Police responsibilities and domestic airports are state and territory police responsibilities. So, all we're doing is what is normally done in this country when it comes to airport policing. But this is a Government which takes national security very seriously indeed, that is why we have just invested an additional $630 million in our police security and intelligence agencies.

QUESTION:

Is Tasmania a soft target as Andrew Wilkie is suggesting?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am confident that the state and Commonwealth authorities are working together to ensure that the terrorist threat in Tasmania is no worse than elsewhere in our country. What we have to understand is that there are people here and abroad who wish to do us harm. The regrettable truth about the modern world is that there are some movements that regard us and our way of life as something almost demonic. That is why it's very important that we retain a high level of vigilance and you will always find national security being taken very, very seriously by this Government.

QUESTION:

Are you concerned about a specific plot and if there isn't one why is it necessary to raise the threat level?

PRIME MINISTER:

Again, I make the point that the level of threat is set by our experts, it's not set by the politicians. It's not set by Ministers, it's determined by the experts, particularly by ASIO. So, I don't want anyone to think that this is done on the basis of politics, it's done on the basis of expert assessment. We know that there are some 60 Australians working with terrorist organisations abroad, fighting with terrorist organisations abroad. There's at least 100 Australians that we know of that are supporting terrorist organisations abroad. At least 20 have come back from fighting with terrorist organisations abroad to this country. This is why these conflicts in the Middle East are not remote from us. They might be happening a long way away, but they are reaching out to us in the form of people going from Australia to these conflicts and some of them at least coming back to our country. This is why it's important that we retain a very high level of vigilance.

QUESTION:

Are you anticipating being asked to help conduct air strikes, with President Obama's speech just hours away?

PRIME MINISTER:

Obviously, Australia and America are close allies and partners. Australia has a range of military partners and we are talking to a whole lot of like-minded countries about what can best be done to deal with the terrible humanitarian threat posed by the ISIL movement in northern and western Iraq and also in Syria.

I want to stress that this is at least as much a domestic security issue for us as it is an international security issue. Again, I stress, there are at least 60 Australians that we know of fighting with terrorist organisations in the Middle East. There are at least 100 Australians that we know of supporting terrorist organisations in the Middle East. This is not a conflict which is remote to us. It might be thousands of miles away, but there are people from here going there, and there are people from there coming here.

I am in regular contact with our friends and partners including President Obama. I spoke with President Obama on Tuesday. He thanked Australia for the humanitarian support we provided to the people who were besieged on Mount Sinjar, the people who were cut off in the town of Amerli. He thanked us for the military airlift that we have provided into Erbil in the Kurdish regions. No specific request for further military assistance has yet been made. A specific request for military assistance in the form of air capability, in the form of military advisers could come – it could come – but it hasn't yet come and if it does come it will be dealt with in the normal way. There will be consideration by the National Security Committee, there will be consideration by the Cabinet, and there will be consultation with the Opposition. On that note I should thank Opposition Leader Bill Shorten for the very steady way in which he's approached this. There are lots of arguments between the Government and the Opposition but I am pleased to say that there is a good measure of bipartisanship when it comes to the security of our nation.

QUESTION:

Scott Morrison has signalled he is prepared to let asylum seekers who arrived in the second half of last year come to Australia on temporary protection visas – that’s a broken promise, isn’t it?

PRIME MINISTER:

I want to make it absolutely crystal clear that no one who comes to Australia illegally by boat is ever going to get permanent residency of our country. That is an absolute commitment by this Government. You come to Australia illegally by boat you will never get permanent residency of our country. Our absolute determination is to stop the boats and thank God the boats are stopping, because if the boats stop the deaths stop as well. We stop the boats by denying to the people smugglers a product to sell. The product they are selling is permanent residency of Australia. Well, it's off the table – now and forever.

QUESTION:

But isn’t offering them temporary protection visas a broken promise?

PRIME MINISTER:

Temporary protection visas were our policy and the thing about temporary protection visas is they're temporary – they're temporary – and when the protection is no longer needed, the visa is not there, and you go back to your home country.

QUESTION:

Did we learn anything new from Julia Gillard’s evidence at the union Royal Commission yesterday?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am not in the business of offering a running commentary on what happens in front of royal commissions and other judicial or semi-judicial inquiries. I will let the evidence sit and I’ll let the Royal Commission deal with it.

QUESTION:

The Guardian has published emails from the contractor running Nauru centre, they say they're running out of water because the treatment facility put in place by the Immigration Department has had outages. Why is Nauru still an appropriate place to send or resettle refugees if water resources are so scarce?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am confident that everyone who is in these centres is being well looked after, from time to time there are problems, it doesn't matter where you are, from time to time there are problems. We are a steadfast people, we face problems, we deal with them, we move on, whether it's in the towns and cities of Australia, whether it's in places overseas where Australians are involved, whenever there are problems we face them, we deal with them, we move on.

QUESTION:

I understand there are talks with Cadbury and the federal Government today about their tourism development – is that still going ahead given that they are having a shut-down over Christmas?

PRIME MINISTER:

I understand that it is quite normal for Cadbury to shut down over Christmas – not unusual at all. We made a commitment to Cadbury. We made a commitment to Tasmania because this has long been an iconic tourist attraction at Cadbury. One of the most visited tourist sites in Tasmania. We stand by our commitment, we will deliver on our commitment and of course our commitment was fully supported by the then Labor Premier, it was fully supported by federal Labor members of Parliament and I just hope that Labor members of parliament will be saying the same thing in Canberra that they say in Hobart.

Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript - 23814