Transcript - doorstop with Tony Abbott at North Bondi

August 11, 2013
Transcripts

11 August 2013
              
TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR
JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE WITH THE HON. MALCOLM TURNBULL MHR,
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND BROADBAND,
FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WENTWORTH,
BONDI BEACH, SYDNEY

Subjects: City2Surf; the Coalition's Policy to Reduce Drownings; Coalition to fund stage two of North Bondi Surf Club Redevelopment; Labor candidates; Labor’s carbon tax con; Labor’s debt and deficit; first Leader’s debate.

EO&E...........................................................................................................................................

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, it is terrific to be here at Bondi Beach, one of the most iconic beaches in our country with my friend and parliamentary colleague Malcolm Turnbull, the local member and the Shadow Minister for Communications. It has been great to participate in the City2Surf this morning. It was lovely to run with Nathan Johnston and the team raising money for motor neurone disease research. Here we are at Bondi with 80,000 of our fellow Australians, what a marvelous day, what a marvelous country, and our challenge is to make it better.

Now, at a beach like this, we've got terrific surf clubs who do so much to keep our beaches safe. Notwithstanding their efforts, we do have too many drownings in Australia, about 300 drownings a year in Australia. So, I'm pleased to announce today that a Coalition government, should we be elected on the 7th of September, will commit $15 million over five years to a drownings prevention programme. Some $10 million will go to Surf Life Saving Australia,  $2million of it to identify and sign surf black spots, $8 million of it to help surf clubs upgrade their rescue equipment, $4 million will go to Royal Life Saving Society – Australia, to identify inland water black spots. A current can be just as dangerous as a rip, a current in an inland waterway can be just as dangerous to the unwary as a rip at a beach, such as this, and there will be $1 million to SWIMAUST to train additional swimming instructors, particularly swimming instructors who will deal with people who often don't get access to this in their ordinary life.

I'm also pleased to say that an incoming Coalition government will commit up to $500,000 to the North Bondi Surf Club. North Bondi is probably the largest surf club in Australia. It is a vitally important piece of infrastructure if we are to keep this beach safe. This beach doesn't just serve locals, it essentially serves the world, because there would be very few tourists coming to Australia, certainly younger tourists coming to Australia, who wouldn't use this beach, who wouldn't visit this beach. So, by ensuring that the North Bondi Surf Club has the extra half a million dollars, we will help to keep this beach, this iconic beach, this great beach, safe for everyone who visits it, locals and visitors from right around the world.

I'll take a few questions in a minute. First of all Malcolm you might like to add to those remarks.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Tony, can I thank you very much for your commitment to safety in the water and in particular, to complete the building programme here at North Bondi. This is a great story of integrity, consistency, persistence but prudence. You know in 2007, John Howard, when this building, the surf club was really a building that deserved to be condemned. In fact I think Waverley Coucil was a bit embarrassed about its state at that stage the club needed to be rebuilt and John Howard made a grant of $1.7 million to North Bondi. Well, the paperwork hadn’t been quite signed when the election came around and Kevin Rudd and Anthony Albanese in a very vindictive manner decided to cancel that grant. Now, the club could have just laid down and said it is all too hard but with support from the council its Mayor, Sally Betts is here today, but above all support from the club whose President Grant McMah and his team are here today, they got on and continued to raise money and as you can see a lot of work has been done.

Tony, this grant of $500,000 or up to $500,000 honours that promise, that commitment that John Howard made in 2007. It shows great consistency, great integrity but it also shows prudence because we are not as flushed with funds as we were in 2007. So, it is less than a third of what John Howard granted but the club can handle that. We have reached into the community to get the money raised and this is a great demonstration of the way a Coalition government will combine real integrity in government, consistency, no abrupt or vindictive changes of direction as we've seen from Labor, but also recognising that these are tougher times and governments have to be prudent in managing your taxes.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, shouldn't you have worn your budgie smugglers for this announcement?

TONY ABBOTT:

I think election campaigns should be budgie smuggler free zones. You won’t see me in budgies this side of polling day.

QUESTION:

Kevin Rudd had two of his candidates dumped in the last 24 hours. Do you support that action and do you commit to applying the same standards to your candidates throughout the campaign?

TONY ABBOTT:

It is really a matter for Mr Rudd. Yes, we will have high standards for our candidates.

QUESTION:

Do you think it is appropriate that candidates be judged against footage of themselves from as far back as eleven, ten years?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, again that is really a matter for Mr Rudd.

QUESTION:

The government is calling for you to outline your Budget savings and particularly your new saving measures when you go to the debate tonight. Will you answer that call, will you outline those savings?

TONY ABBOTT:

I want to make a couple of points in response. The first point I make is that well before polling day every Australian will know exactly what we are spending and exactly what we are saving. They'll know exactly how the fiscal position will be different under the Coalition, but overall, the Budget bottom line will always be stronger under the Coalition. I've got say to Mr Rudd, I'm not going to take lectures from a Government which has got all of its figures wrong. It's never got a figure right. It hasn't released any of its own costings and so far this Government has given us the five biggest Budget deficits in Australia's history.

QUESTION:

Don't the public deserve to know how you’re going to be paying for this $15 million policy?

TONY ABBOTT:

So far with our abolition of the carbon tax but keeping the carbon tax compensation, and with our company tax cut, we have committed $17 billion over the forward estimates period and with saves announced in my Budget Reply and in my National Press Club speech back in January, we have some $17 billion worth of saves. There's $17 billion of saves to fund $17 billion of spends. That's all out there on the public record.

QUESTION:

Isn't that quickly running out?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, you will see more saves announced as this campaign goes on.

QUESTION:

Any tonight?

TONY ABBOTT:

The one thing you won't see from us is an auction. You won't get an auction from us. We're not going to enter into an auction. We're not going to try to buy our way into office. I am asking the Australian people to support the Coalition because the Coalition has by far the better track-record when it comes to the economic management of our country.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Tony, if I could just say something here, I think it is quite clear what you're going to see from Tony Abbott tonight. You're going to see that Coalition consistency, competence, managerial competence in terms of the Budget and the economy, that's the track-record that we've had in government. Sixteen of our Ministry, Cabinet have been ministers in the previous Howard Government. It is a very proven team.

Now, I don't know how you're going to get on with this debate tonight. In fact I'm very anxious about Tony Abbott's debating challenge tonight because who is he going to be debating? Is it going to be Kevin the fiscal conservative, is it going to be Kevin the government must be at the centre of the economy? Is it going to be Kevin saving or Kevin spend, spend, spend? I mean you just never know. Kevin could quite readily debate himself. In fact, I reckon you could almost take the night off. He has got more than enough positions. You will have to be assertive, you will have to be nimble but you will also have to be assertive because he’ll keep on trying to debate with himself and you’ll be flat out getting a word in edgeways.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thank you, Malcolm, thank you.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, you consistently reference this $17 billion in saves that you outlined at the National Press Club, are we to assume then that that’s the vast majority of the savings that you will outline during the election campaign?

TONY ABBOTT:

We will announce sufficient saves during this campaign to cover our spending commitments and to produce what is overall a better budget outcome than the Labor Party’s. That’s what we’ll do.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, will you surprise us with any announcements in tonight’s debate and how important is this? Is this just a debate for political packs or do you think the public has really got a close eye on both leaders tonight?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, tonight is a traditional debate between two party leaders, questioned by the Press Gallery. So, there is a sense in which tonight’s debate will be a bit of an insiders’ club. One of the reasons why I have proposed two further debates where myself and Mr Rudd can be questioned by members of the public is because I want the public to feel that they are getting their say in this campaign and that debates are not just something for people living in the parliamentary bubble.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, what’s your strategy with the debate tonight, will you be Dr Yes or Mr Relentless-Negativity?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, I just want to be myself, and I just want to have the opportunity to present our positive plan to the Australian people because that’s what they’ll get from the Coalition – that’s what you’ll get from the Coalition if we win the election. You’ll get positive plans from the Coalition versus more of the same from the Labor Party.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, Mathias Cormann flagged the Coalition’s surplus in 2016/17 do you agree with that date and if so why not earlier?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, we don’t know what the Budget starting point will be until PEFO, and obviously I guess there’s the caveat over everything that we just don’t know how accurate any of these figures will turn out to be given the fact that the Government has so much trouble getting its figures right. In any one year you will see the difference between our position and the Government’s and overall the budgetary position will be better under the Coalition than under the Labor Party.

QUESTION:

So, will you still guarantee a Budget surplus in your first term?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, if the Budget figures that the Government has so far put out are correct, yes. Let’s remember that the Friday before this election was called the Government announced that the budgetary position was deteriorating to the tune of $3 billion every single week. They also announced that debt was skyrocketing towards $400 billion and unemployment was marching towards 800,000 so when you’ve got a Government which has got its figures so consistently wrong, we will tell you how much better than them we will do, but we can’t guarantee what the starting point is.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, if you’re aiming for first term, sorry first year, Mathias Cormann says 2016/17- which is it?

TONY ABBOTT:

All I’m saying to you is, and I know it’s a sort of a press gallery game to go and parse the semiotics of everything. We will tell you exactly what we’re spending, exactly what we’re saving and you’ll be able to see from that exactly how the budgetary position will be different under us, and the overall budgetary position will always be better under the Coalition than under the Labor Party.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Can I just make one point, the key point is this. You know, we all know that we live in a world with lots of uncertainties, right? We all know that there are a lot of challenges. The fundamental question is, which is the team that you, the Australian people, believe has the capability and the competence to manage this economy. We have seen how good Labor is, six years of record deficits, record debt, one project bungle after another. They have a proven track record of failure, to put your faith in Kevin Rudd’s management ability would be to defy all of the experience that we have had of him. Now, the fact is that Tony and I, as many of our colleagues, most of our colleagues, were Ministers in a successful government that managed our finances well. So, what we are offering is a team. Not just one big, you know personality, one celebrity, one big selfie, we are offering a team, a team with proven capacity - and that’s the big difference.

QUESTION:

Mr Turnbull, do you want to be the Finance Minister if Tony Abbott is elected Prime Minister?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

No, I’m committed to sorting out the NBN…

TONY ABBOTT:

He would be an extremely capable Finance Minister but nevertheless he’s committed as he said to sorting out the NBN.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Yes, the NBN is a big enough mess to challenge anybody.

QUESTION:

So, Mr Abbott you sound like you might appoint him as Finance Minister?

TONY ABBOTT:

I know we can now go through another particular game, people love to play on circumstances such as this but I am very happy with my team. It’s a strong team, it’s a united team, and you know it’s been the same team for last three years, while we have had nothing but change, division and dysfunction under the Labor Party. So, we are going to the election with a strong team and we will take a strong team out of the election should we win.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, Julie Bishop said on TV that you would have to either raise taxes or cut, you would have to do both raising taxes and cutting spending to bring the Budget back to black, what taxes do you propose to raise?

TONY ABBOTT:

The only party that will raise taxes after the election is the Labor Party. They hit us with three taxes on the Friday before the election was called. Three new taxes before the election was called. If they hit you with three new taxes before the election, just think what they are going to be like after the election. We all know, if the Government gets re-elected, on July 1 next year the carbon tax goes on to heavy transport.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, if you don’t want to finish the City2Surf today are you fit enough to hold office? You’ve got the four weeks ahead.

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, you know I thought to myself as I was pounding up heartbreak hill, running for office has rarely been so tough. I was buoyed by looking at those splendid portraits of the local member marching up the hill in front of me. So, look it’s been a great day as you know I like to start my days with a bit of exercise, it’s part of my mental health regime and I am hoping that that will put me in a good frame of mind for the debates later on this evening.

Thank you

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Thanks guys.

[ends]

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