Transcript

Tony Abbott transcript - Interview with Andrew Bolt, The Bolt Report

Subjects: Margie Abbott; the Coalition’s plans for a stronger economy and a stronger Australia; infrastructure; David Murray’s comments; government spending.


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ANDREW BOLT:

Tony Abbott, thanks for your time.

TONY ABBOTT:

Andrew, it’s nice to be with you.

ANDREW BOLT:

Your wife doesn’t much like getting involved in politics. Was there a particular attack on you – and I’m thinking of Nicola Roxon’s – that finally made her speak up?

TONY ABBOTT:

Andrew, I think Margie just thought that a whole lot of unfair claims are being made and as the person who knew me best, certainly as the women who knows me best, she should put a counter position.

ANDREW BOLT:

Yeah but there has been some very low blows – Tanya Plibersek and Nicola Roxon, in particular – it seems the timing of when your wife decided to do this coincides with those particularly low attacks.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, about a fortnight ago, Andrew, we were having breakfast one Sunday morning and she said, look, enough is enough, I think I should say something about this and I said, well darling, it’s your call but why not, because it simply isn’t true and I think Margie made a terrific speech on Friday and I’m very proud of her.

ANDREW BOLT:

I thought it was a great speech. I’m just wondering, though, is this a sign that the Labor smear campaign, which I think has been deliberate, I think it’s been disgraceful, I think it’s been dishonest, is it a sign that it’s working against you?

TONY ABBOTT:

No, it’s a sign that Margie thought it was time to say look, that’s what you think, but this is the man I know.

ANDREW BOLT:

I’m thinking of Nicola Roxon and Tanya Plibersek being trotted out to do this. Is it actually part of Labor’s campaign?

TONY ABBOTT:

Andrew, we saw in Queensland – before the state election up there – a nasty, personal campaign against Campbell Newman and his family. Now, this is typical of the contemporary Labor Party: when you can’t defend your record, when you’ve got nothing of substance to say, you go personal and that’s what they’ve been doing.

ANDREW BOLT:

Who do you pin this on?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, look, in the end I suppose the person who has got to take responsibility for what happens with any political party is the Leader.

ANDREW BOLT:

And do you think the hiring of John McTernan – the very tough Scot operator who made the same claims against David Cameron, the British Prime Minister when he was working for Labour, that he had a women problem – do you think that’s part of his strategy?

TONY ABBOTT:

Andrew, again, look we can go into all of this stuff but as far as I’m concerned I really just want to focus on the things that matter to the people of Australia and that’s why I keep talking about repealing the carbon tax, because that’s the best thing I can do to stop people’s power bills from going up and up and up. Just the other day, I was very happy to stand next to Barry O’Farrell to talk about getting this WestConnex roadway built in Sydney. We’re going to build the East West Link in Melbourne, the Gateway extension in Brisbane, we’re going to get the Pacific Highway finished. What I’m on about, Andrew, is building a better Australia for the forgotten families of this country. I’ll let the Labor Party play all this nasty personal politics. I don’t think it is going to do them any good.

ANDREW BOLT:

Well look, speaking personally Tony, I know you and this campaign shocks me in its viciousness and its dishonesty, I’ll just say that as a mini-editorial. But you mention your spending plans, you’ve seen David Murray, the former Future Fund chairman, say that the way that we’re using borrowed money to pay for entitlements and the economy seems to be going south a bit, we could end up like Greece – you’ve repeated that. Greece, a big call, do you actually believe that?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, that was David Murray’s observation and the point I’ve been making is that countries’ fiscal position can change very quickly…

ANDREW BOLT:

But Greece. Do you believe the Greece line?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, if you look at Ireland, for instance, just a decade ago Ireland was a Celtic Tiger, now of course it’s a Eurozone basket case. So, countries which lose control of their fiscal situation can very quickly go from a comparatively strong position to a desperately weak position and the problem we’ve got in Australia at the moment is that we’ve got a government which is spending like a drunken sailor. It’s making tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars worth of unfunded commitments – there’s the Financial Review’s $120 billion budget black hole that the Government is laying up for itself. This Government is mortgaging our future, making promises that I don’t believe they’re ever going to be able to keep. The Government is a bit like the tenant trashing the house before it gets evicted.

ANDREW BOLT:

But you’ve just mentioned a number of big spending promises of your own. Could I add to them the parental leave scheme, which I think is hugely generous, $3 billion a year and nearly a billion dollars a year in your plan to cut emissions. Has the fall in Australia’s income from the mining boom ending too soon made you think wait a minute, some of these things I can’t afford anymore?

TONY ABBOTT:

Andrew, we will fully fund all of our promises and we will make our fiscal position absolutely crystal clear in the run up to the election, but one of the things I want to do is get our economy growing again and we have a five point plan to help the resources sector: get rid of the carbon tax, get rid of the mining tax, restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission, try to ensure that we have less green tape, we have one-stop-shop environmental approval processes and take a billion dollars worth of red tape off industry every year.

ANDREW BOLT:

We’ve heard that before and fine, but what I’m saying is, the money is not there that people are expecting. The Reserve Bank is saying that. The Treasury is saying that. What sign is there in your approach that suggests there’s a new reality, the money isn’t there, you’re revisiting promises?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, Andrew, as I’ve said to you before, I think on this very programme, before the last election we identified $50 billion worth of savings. We have a similar task before the coming election. We will rise to this task, as we always have.

ANDREW BOLT:

These will be a bigger challenges I think, Tony.

TONY ABBOTT:

Andrew, I accept it’s a big challenge, but we’re up to it and in the end this is about restoring economic growth. We can do that if we get spending down, if we get taxes off and we get productivity up.

ANDREW BOLT:

Tony Abbott, thank you very much for joining me.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thanks, Andrew.