Media Release

Tony Abbott Transcript - Interview with Lisa Wilkinson, Today Show

Subjects: Julia Gillard’s carbon tax; US Presidential Election; the Coalition's $1.5 billion commitment to Melbourne's East West Link.

E&OE……………………….…………………………………………………………………

LISA WILKINSON:

Good morning to you, Mr Abbott.

TONY ABBOTT:

Good morning, Lisa.

LISA WILKINSON:

A good proposal by the Government to bring those energy prices down?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, this is a government which has presided over a massive increase in prices. Power prices are up 89 per cent since Kevin Rudd became Prime Minister and the carbon tax is now making a bad situation worse. I think if the Government was serious about bringing prices down, it wouldn't be lecturing the states about what they might do. It would be doing what it could do and that is getting rid of the carbon tax and that would instantly, on the Government's own figures, reduce prices by 10 per cent.

LISA WILKINSON:

But the truth is that the carbon tax is only contributing a small amount to those price rises. It's only been in since July 1 and for these proposals that the Government is putting forward to work, it does need cooperation from state governments to deregulate power prices. Now, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has already said no. We're getting similar indications from the NSW Coalition Government. Is that because it's actually politically convenient to keep those prices high leading up to the federal election and just keep blaming it on the carbon tax?

TONY ABBOTT:

No one wants to see prices high. Everyone wants to see prices down. But the most practical thing the Commonwealth could do right now to get power prices down is to take off the carbon tax and, you know, the whole point of the carbon tax, Lisa, is to raise power prices. The point I keep making is every time your power bill goes up, the Prime Minister has a smile on her face because that is the carbon tax just doing its job.

LISA WILKINSON:

Alright. Well, you've already promised that, should you be elected Prime Minister, you will get rid of that carbon tax. That leaves you 79 per cent of those price rises you've got to play with. Can you guarantee that an Abbott government will bring energy prices down beyond taking off the carbon tax?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, that's a very, very good start. That is a very good start and we would have the ACCC out there making sure that businesses did not profiteer once the carbon tax was off.

LISA WILKINSON:

Ok, but you still haven't answered my question. How much will you bring down energy prices beyond taking off the carbon tax?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, we will do vastly better than the Labor Party, Lisa, because there will be no carbon tax under a government I lead…

LISA WILKINSON:

You're still not answering my question, Mr Abbott.

TONY ABBOTT:

But, Lisa, I'm saying there will be no carbon tax under a government I lead and when I say that, I'm telling the truth.

LISA WILKINSON:

So should I get from that that you don't actually have a plan on how to bring prices down beyond the carbon tax, beyond getting rid of the carbon tax, Mr Abbott?

TONY ABBOTT:

That's a very, very good start, Lisa.

LISA WILKINSON:

Ok, well, I'll have to take it that you don't have a plan. Unless you're going to put one forward, it doesn't look like you've got a plan, Mr Abbott.

TONY ABBOTT:

Lisa, the plan starts with getting rid of the carbon tax.

LISA WILKINSON:

Ok. I think you've answered the question.

TONY ABBOTT:

No one who is serious about getting power prices down whacks on a carbon tax because the whole point of a carbon tax is to get prices up. If they don't go up, the carbon tax isn't working. That's the whole point of a price signal, Lisa.

LISA WILKINSON:

Ok. Let's move on. The front page of The Financial Review this morning, the heading is "Boxing in Abbott - Labor's Obama strategy". It says and I’ll quote, "The Labor Party plans to borrow strategy and campaigning techniques from Barack Obama's election campaign to convince key groups, including women, to reject Liberal leader, Tony Abbott." Mr Obama was swept to power this week. How does that make you feel?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I congratulate President Obama on what was a hard-fought victory. I think regardless of who leads the United States, regardless of who leads Australia for that matter, the relationship between America and Australia will be strong. But what I don't think Australians particularly want to see is the importation into this country of American-style political campaigning and I don't believe the Australian people, Lisa, want to see the nasty personal side which sometimes came into the American campaign coming into our campaign which is why every day I'm out there talking to people about how their lives can be better. That's what I was doing yesterday. That's what I do every day.

LISA WILKINSON:

The assessment seems to be, though, that it was women who were very significant in having Mr Obama re-elected. The other assessment is that the Republicans just didn't offer up an economic alternative to the country's financial woes. That's also something that's an area of concern for you, isn't it?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, if we can get government spending down, if we can get taxes down, if we can get productivity up, then we get growth up and that's at the heart of our economic plan and you only have to look at what happened last time the Coalition was in government. We did get taxes down. We did get spending down. We did get productivity up. We did get growth up and that's why that now looks like a golden age of prosperity compared to the current much tougher times.

LISA WILKINSON:

So, when will you start revealing those plans, Mr Abbott?

TONY ABBOTT:

Every day, I'm talking about what we are going to do. For instance, in Melbourne yesterday I was talking about our plan to get the East West Link built. We want work underway within 12 to 18 months of a change of government in Canberra. That's going to allow people to get home from work earlier, spend more time with their families so that they don't spend as much time sitting in traffic jams. This is an economic reform as well as a social improvement.

LISA WILKINSON:

Alright. Well, we look forward to seeing how some of those numbers play out hopefully in the months to come. Mr Abbott, we thank you very much for your time this morning.

TONY ABBOTT:

Good on you, Lisa.