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Transcript - 24483

Joint Doorstop Interview, Brisbane

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: 24/05/2015

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 24483

Subject(s): Visit to Dolci Sapori

Location: Brisbane

TERESA GAMBARO:

Good morning everyone. It’s a great pleasure to have you visiting the electorate of Brisbane and we are here in Clayfield at Dolci Sapori. Aladino, lovely to have you here and to be with you at this wonderful establishment which has the best Italian sweets, I believe, in Queensland.

Aladino, you have been operating this business for close to 15 years and I know that you have benefited greatly from the recent changes that were announced in the Budget and it will give you an opportunity to grow your business even further, to enable you to do many things that you weren’t able to do before in terms of your delivery and your supply chain. So, thank you very much for hosting us, Aladino.

Prime Minister, to tell us a little bit more about that, I am going to hand over to you and it is great to have you here. 

PRIME MINISTER:

Thanks Teresa, thank you. Yes, it is great to be in the electorate of Brisbane with Teresa Gambaro, the hard-working Local member, and it’s great to be here at Dolci Sapori which is a Brisbane landmark and great to be with Aladino, who is producing Italian desserts for the Brisbane market and is a legend in this area – an absolute legend. I can understand why, Aladino, having sampled your product. The coffee was good but the sweets were just delectable! So, it’s really good to be here.

Right around Australia, I have been visiting small businesses over the last week or so letting them know that this is a Budget for small business. It’s the best Budget ever for the small businesses of Australia. Not only is there a tax cut for small business, but importantly, there is the instant asset write-off which allows the small businesses of our country to invest up to $20,000 in their business, if necessary again and again and again, and write that off immediately against their tax.

Everywhere I go I am finding that small businesses are saying to me: yes, this is a chance to buy that ute, yes, this is a chance to reequip my workshop, yes, this is a chance to refit my shop. In Aladino’s case what he wants to do is put some refrigeration into his van because it’s important that his products get around the great city of Brisbane in tip-top condition and you need a refrigerated van to make that happen.

So, this is a Budget that is designed to encourage everyone who is out there having a go. It’s a Budget for jobs – above all else it’s a Budget for confidence, because we by nature, as Australians, are confident people, we want to have a go, we want to go out there and grasp the opportunities that are there before us. We want to seize the future and this is a Budget for seizing what’s there, building on it and making tomorrow better than today.

I am so proud that we have been able to work with people in our community who are striving to build a better Australia. That’s frankly why people like Teresa and myself come into the Parliament. We come into the Parliament to build a better Australia by working with people not against them, by encouraging everyone to be his or her best and I think that’s what this Budget does. It encourages every Australian to be his or her best, to seize the opportunities that are there.

Now, in the coming week, Budget bills will be before the Parliament, particularly the legislation allowing the instant asset write-off. I know the Labor Party often feels very ambivalent about small business, but I would say to the Labor Party: work with us, work with the small businesses of Australia. Let us all have a go. We all know that the former government got us into a mess. This is a chance for the Labor Party to be part of the solution rather than the problem and I really hope that they are going to work with us and the small businesses of Australia in the coming fortnight.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, why has it taken a year and a half for the Government to crack down on welfare cheats?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, in fact, we have been constantly working to improve our welfare system. You might have noticed that before Christmas we made some changes that would mean that in order to go on the disability pension you had to come before a government doctor – no one would be able to go on the disability support pension simply on the say so of their own doctor. So, that was an important reform that we brought in before Christmas. But yes, we are constantly working to improve the system to make it fairer and part of fairness is making sure that people are playing by the rules. At the moment we think that up to a billion dollars a year in our $150 billion social security system can be defrauded because people are not being up front about their income. So, it’s important that we ensure that people are being straight with us.

QUESTION:

[inaudible] changes to citizenship rules for suspected terrorists?

PRIME MINISTER:

I flagged some change in my national security speech back in February. It’s long been the case that if you serve with the armed forces of a country at war with Australia you automatically lose your citizenship and what we flagged back then is extending that to people who are working with terrorist groups that are effectively at war with Australia. The Daesh death cult in the Middle East plainly is at war with our country. It’s at war with our values, it’s at war with our allies, it’s killing people indiscriminately as we see every day in the Middle East and while we Australians are reluctant to reach out to conflicts abroad, this particular conflict, as we have seen, is reaching out to the heart of our country.

QUESTION:

So, is the Government specifically thinking about stripping second generation Australians of their citizenship if they are reasonably suspected of terrorism offences?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am not going to go into detail because we will have more to say on this within a few days, but what we have long had in the Citizenship Act since, as I understand it, 1948 is a provision that people lose their citizenship if they have taken up arms against the Commonwealth of Australia. People who are serving with terrorist groups overseas, people who are fighting with terrorist groups overseas or who are engaged in terrorist activities here in Australia are effectively taking up arms against us. It’s very hard to imagine that we should allow to remain in the bosom of our country people who are trying to destroy us.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, what about the argument that it’s better to lock them up in jail so we know where they are and they can be monitored rather than them being out and potentially radicalising other people even if they don’t have Australian citizenship?

PRIME MINISTER:

People who have committed crimes in Australia will be in jail regardless of their citizenship. They will be in jail. If you commit a crime in this country, whatever your citizenship – Australian, British, whatever – you go to jail. So, there is no question of letting people off because they are not Australian citizens. What we are going to do is severely punish people who break our law, but if you have so set yourself apart from our country by engaging in terrorism against our people, against our values, well plainly, you no longer deserve to be in the bosom of the Australian family.

QUESTION:

But will you get the legislation through this week do you think?

PRIME MINISTER:

This is not legislation that I am expecting to pass through the Parliament this week, although obviously I am expecting to have more to say about this in the next few days. The priority this week is getting the Budget bills through. The priority this week is unleashing the latent creativity of the small businesses of Australia by getting the instant asset write-off legislation through the Parliament and that’s what I urge the Labor Party to help us to do.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, do you share Scott Morrison’s concerns that if Australia doesn’t do more to integrate the 50,000 asylum seekers who have arrived by boat over the past decade then we risk creating a migrant underclass and everything that goes along with that?

PRIME MINISTER:

What we have always said since coming to office back in September of 2013 is that we expect people to be part of team Australia and that’s the great thing about our country. The story of our country – and Aladino is part of that story, Teresa and her family are part of that story, in my own way I am part of that story because I was born overseas; my grandparents were all born overseas – the greatness in our story is this idea that you can come from the four corners of the earth to this country and settle in Australia, make a go of things in Australia and be an absolute first-class citizen. That’s the greatness in our story.

QUESTION:

But specifically do you share Scott Morrison’s concerns about the potential of a migrant underclass, specifically due to our failure to assimilate people who arrive by boat?

PRIME MINISTER:

No one who comes to this country to embrace our values, to get stuck in, to have a go is ever going to be part of an underclass.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, there has been a gay marriage vote in Ireland. Is it time Australians had their say on this social issue?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, thanks for asking me that question. This is obviously a serious issue – a very serious issue. I take it seriously. I know there are millions of Australians who take it seriously. Good people can be on either side of this question. Decent people can disagree on this issue. There are a range of views inside the Parliament. There are a range of views inside my Party Room. Frankly, there’s a range of views inside my family – inside the Abbott family – I am probably the last hold-out for the traditional position.

So, look, it is a serious issue. I don’t know if and when it’s going to come before our Parliament again. It came before our Parliament in the last term and was dealt with fairly decisively. If it comes before our Parliament again, our Party Room will deal with it, our Party Room will decide whether our existing policy continues or not and then we will have a good debate.

QUESTION:

But Australia is the only developed English-speaking country that doesn’t have same sex marriage as its law now. That surely puts pressure on you?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, as I said, it really is a matter for the Parliament. If someone raises the matter in the Parliament and if by parliamentary vote it’s clear that it is to be debated extensively and ultimately voted upon in the Parliament, our Party Room will have a discussion and it will be up to people in the Party Room to say their piece and if the Party Room view is that our policies should change, well then, obviously, it would be a free vote.

I should just make it clear that as far as the Liberal and National parties are concerned, as far as the LNP is concerned, there’s a sense in which every vote is a conscience vote because we don’t have Stalinist rules in our Party where you’re expelled if you cross the floor. So, there’s a sense in which every vote in our Party is a conscience vote, but if it’s no longer policy then it would be a free vote where people would be able to simply make up their own mind and vote accordingly.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, it’s come before the Parliament a number of times though. Isn’t it time now to just give it to the public and make it a referendum?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, that’s an interesting point. Referendums are held in this country where there is a proposal to change the Constitution. I don’t think anyone’s suggesting that the Constitution needs to be changed in this respect. Under the Constitution, questions of marriage are the preserve of the Commonwealth Parliament; other matters of regulation of society are normally a matter for the state parliaments. Plainly, this is a matter that could quite properly come before the Commonwealth Parliament if members of Parliament wanted it to be raised.

Now, it came before the Commonwealth Parliament in the last term. It was dealt with fairly decisively then. It’s up to members of Parliament who are eager for change to decide whether they want to bring it forward. If there is a strong desire to bring it forward then, obviously, it would be dealt with in our Party Room just as I imagine it would be dealt with in the Labor Caucus and appropriate decisions would be made and votes would or wouldn’t go forward on the basis of those decisions.

But, can I just say this: not for a second – not for a second – do I want to underestimate the feelings that people have on this issue, both for and against. Not for a second. As I said, even inside my own family there are strong feelings both ways on this, but my priority as Prime Minister, the Government’s priority in the coming fortnight, is to give the small businesses of Australia the confidence boost that they deserve. My priority in this fortnight of Parliament is to help Australians to face the future with confidence and the best thing we can do is get small business investing and employing, to get all of the customers of small business out there spending. That’s the best thing that we can do and that’s what I am determined to ensure happens in the next fortnight.

Thanks so much.

[ends]

Transcript - 24483