Transcript

Tony Abbott transcript - Joint Doorstop Interview, Brisbane

Subjects: The Coalition’s Real Solutions Plan; school funding; Kevin Rudd’s failed border protection policies.

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

GEORGE BRANDIS:

Ladies and gentlemen, it's a great pleasure to be here at Villanova in Coorparoo this morning - my old school, to welcome Tony Abbott and Bill Glasson to Villanova. Tony and Bill and I have spent the morning talking to the staff and the students. This is a lovely school and Tony, I'm delighted that you have been able to make this visit in the heart of Griffith while Mr Rudd, who is seldom seen in these parts, is gallivanting around elsewhere.

TONY ABBOTT:

George, thanks so much. It's lovely to be here. I want to thank Dennis Harvey and his team for making George and Bill and myself so welcome here at the school. This is a great school. It's a great school. It's part of a great city and a great state and a great country. And I am so proud to be leading the Coalition, I am so proud of my team, I'm so proud of our country. The challenge is to make a great country even better and for that to happen we need a change of government, we need a government which has real plans, real solutions, not just more talk about our problems.

With the Coalition, the Australian people know exactly what they will get. The abolition of the carbon tax, the abolition of the mining tax, a strong border protection that stops the boats, getting the Budget back into the black and here in Brisbane we will get cracking with the Gateway Motorway upgrade. By contrast, all you get from Mr Rudd is more talk and no real action. So I say to Mr Rudd, if you want to improve productivity, change the Fair Work Act. If you want to reduce power prices, scrap the carbon tax. If you want to stop the boats, be prepared to turn them around where it's safe to do so and if you want to boost confidence, well name the election date and let's get on with it because the Australian people are sick of this hung Parliament. They're sick of minority government, they want to be able to plan their futures with certainty and confidence and that means ending the political uncertainty in Canberra.

I’m going to ask Bill to say a few words and then obviously we'll take some questions.

BILL GLASSON:

Thank you Tony, thank you, George. I just want to say briefly, while Mr Rudd is running around the world I, Bill Glasson, is running around Griffith. I'm only interested in becoming the federal Member for Griffith as part of the Tony Abbott team. I’m not interested in becoming the Prime Minister. So I want to represent the people of Griffith strongly, I want to get their trust and I really want to take the Griffith issues to the Federal Parliament and I thank the people of Griffith for this opportunity.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thanks so much, thanks Bill. Ok do we have any questions?

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, Christopher Pyne has been saying that if the majority of states sign up to Gonski, you’ll keep it, but you said, you made it clear that it needs all states. Which is it? Can you be clear about whether it's a majority of states or all the states for you to keep the new funding system?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well what is the new funding system? I mean that's the point. No-one can say what the new funding system is and the last time the Government actually tried to explain it, a school like this one here at Villanova, was 17 per cent down on its funding. So it's really incumbent upon Mr Rudd and Mr Shorten to tell us exactly what the new proposal is, exactly how much every school will get under it and the point I make is that to follow the Gonski plan, but to ensure that no school is worse off, is going to cost $6.5 billion a year more and no-one has that kind of money. Now the point I made yesterday, it's a very clear point, is that you don't have a national scheme unless you've got national agreement and that means all the states and all the territories. At the moment not only is there no national agreement, Mr Rudd hasn't even got a majority let alone an overwhelming majority of the states and territories.

QUESTION:

So if there's an overwhelming majority you may scrap it still?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, the point I make is what exactly is it? I mean what is this proposal? The Government doesn't know. There are a series of secret arrangements, secret offers being made to different states and different school groups but the bottom line is no-one has $6.5 billion a year extra to spend on education. And the key to better schools is not just more money. The key to better schools is more principal autonomy, better teachers, better teaching, more parental involvement and stronger curriculum. That's the key to better schools.

QUESTION:

What are you trying to say by being in Mr Rudd's electorate today?

TONY ABBOTT:

What I am trying to say and I am not just here in Mr Rudd’s electorate. I was earlier this morning out in the electorate of Moreton and I've got a couple more Labor-held seats to visit today in Brisbane. What I'm trying to say to Mr Rudd and indeed to all Labor Members of Parliament, we want to give the Australian people a real choice to elect a strong Coalition member and we have a very strong candidate here in Griffith. I know Bill Glasson very well. You would go a long way to find as good a bloke as Bill Glasson. He was an outstanding president of the Australian Medical Association, he served his country in the uniform of our armed forces for 30-odd years, he's done an enormous amount of pro bono work in western Queensland for Aboriginal people. This man is one of the great citizens of a great country and while Mr Rudd had a plan to drag down a Prime Minister, he doesn't have a plan to make our country great. I do. This is the plan that we've been campaigning on now for the last six months and for the last three years the Coalition has had the same strong team and the same clear plans.

QUESTION:

Do you regret not going to the debate yesterday because it seems like Kevin Rudd is running the news agenda and not you?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, that's the whole problem with the contemporary Labor Party. It's all about managing the media. It's not about running the country. It's a very shrewd observation that you've made or a very shrewd inference in your question. That's the whole point with Mr Rudd. He's not interested in governing. He's just interested in celebrity. He is, in a sense, the ultimate celebrity politician but what the Australian people want is a real government, they want an adult government, they want a government which is prepared to sit down and talk things through rather than engage in the kind of flim-flam that we constantly see from Mr Rudd.

QUESTION:

Are you concerned about his popularity in Queensland? I mean, you're here today, Joe Hockey's here today?

TONY ABBOTT:

And as you can see, I'm so concerned that I am campaigning in his own seat. Look, the Australian people obviously were relieved to see the back of a very unpopular Prime Minister. The Australian people in their goodness and decency are prepared to give even Mr Rudd the benefit of the doubt for a time, but so far a fortnight has gone by, we've seen stunt after stunt but no real solutions and I say to Mr Rudd instead of giving us a stunt a day, what about a solution a week? That's not too much to ask. Tell us what you're going to do to stop the boats. Tell us what…

QUESTION:

What's your education solution?

TONY ABBOTT:

Our education solution is to stick with the existing system until such time as we are confident that there is an alternative which is both better and affordable.

QUESTION:

So Mr Abbott, have you got in contact with Premier Campbell Newman at all or your office to try and get him to fix the politicians pay rise fiasco?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look there was an independent Member of Parliament who seemed to be fantasising in this area yesterday. I speak regularly with Campbell Newman. I regard him as a friend as well as a colleague but no, he's more than capable of fixing these things himself and that's exactly what he did yesterday.

QUESTION:

But has it been politically damaging for the Federal Liberal Party?

TONY ABBOTT:

No, the important thing is that there was a problem, the Premier has addressed it, the problem is now fixed.

QUESTION:

So was 42 per cent too much to be giving to Queensland MPs?

TONY ABBOTT:

I'm just not going to go into the detail because it's essentially a Queensland issue. The important thing is that the problem has been fixed thanks to the strong action of the Premier.

QUESTION:

What will you do for Queensland then?

TONY ABBOTT:

I'll abolish the carbon tax, I'll abolish the mining tax and while abolishing both those taxes the people of Queensland will keep the compensation, so they will be better off when it comes to doing their weekly and fortnightly budgets.

QUESTION:

Specifically Queensland?

TONY ABBOTT:

And the carbon tax and the mining tax are very important here in Queensland because coal is the main stay of the Queensland economy. Here in Brisbane, we will get cracking with the Gateway Motorway upgrade and I'll have quite a bit to say in the next few weeks about the Bruce Highway which is not only the lifeline of Queensland but it is the gateway to northern Australia and it's very important if we are to make the most of our country and to give Australians the opportunity to develop our country as it should, that the Bruce Highway is upgraded quickly.

QUESTION:

Your immigration spokesman is urging the Indonesian President to overrule the courts and allow the extradition of an accused people smuggler to Australia. Is that intervention wise?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well obviously we do want to see the extradition of this individual and that's a bipartisan position. The Government wants to see this person extradited. The fact that it's proving so difficult is yet another indication that this is our problem. We've got to solve it. We can't rely on anyone else solving this problem for us. Mr Rudd created the problem. We've got to solve it here in Australia. Mr Rudd is the best friend the people smugglers have ever had. He put the people smugglers back in business and unfortunately the guy who created the problem has no hope of solving it. To solve the problem you need a Coalition government.

QUESTION:

The Queensland Government and the Rudd Administration seem to have headed towards a new era of cooperation in regards to the environment and maybe education as well. Do you support this?

TONY ABBOTT:

Adult premiers always sit down to talk with the Prime Minister of the day if the Prime Minister seeks a meeting, as Mr Rudd has, but it’s really up to Mr Rudd to offer something different, something better to the Queensland Government and to the people of Queensland and there's no evidence whatsoever of that. What I think we'll see from today's meeting between the Premier and the Prime Minister is just more promises from Mr Rudd that are never backed up with any real action.

QUESTION:

Do you have a tougher fight on your hands in Queensland now that Rudd is back in and it's not Gillard anymore?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well as I said, today I'm going to be in three or four marginal Labor electorates because we are determined to give everyone in Queensland a real choice to vote for a strong LNP member.

QUESTION:

But you have a tougher fight now?

TONY ABBOTT:

It was always going to be a tough fight. I have always said that the polls would narrow. I have always said that it will be hard to beat a Labor Party which is hopeless at government but brilliant at low politics and the lower the politics the better they are at it. I've always said that. Whether it was Julia Gillard or whether it was Kevin Rudd it was always going to be a fight. My disappointment is that Mr Rudd had a plan to drag down a Prime Minister but he has no plan to make our country great. We do. This is it, our Real Solutions Plan, and we've been campaigning on it for months now.

QUESTION:

Do you have any immediate solutions for education?

TONY ABBOTT:

I’m sorry?

QUESTION:

So do you have any immediate solutions for education?

TONY ABBOTT:

We ensure that no school anywhere in Australia is worse off by continuing with the existing system until such time as we are confident that we have got a system which is an improvement and affordable. It's got to be better and it's got to be affordable in order to make change.

Now I heard someone mention Ashton Agar and I could tell that some of the kids looked slightly bleary eyed this morning because I suspect many of them were a bit sleep deprived last night watching Ashton Agar hit up that magnificent near tonne and look, what a remarkable day in Australian cricket. What a marvellous start to the Ashes series and let's hope we can give the Poms the hiding in cricket that sadly we weren't able to give them in the rugby last weekend.

QUESTION:

What are your thoughts on Kevin Rudd's business union pact, do you think it is a good idea?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, again what is it? What is it? It's just a word. As always with Mr Rudd what he's proposing is a meeting, a process, not an outcome. Now we all want to get productivity up. The sad truth is that under this Government, multifactor productivity has declined by three per cent, it hasn't risen, it's declined by three per cent. We all want to get productivity up but how are we going to do it? Mr Rudd has an aspiration but he doesn't have a plan to make it happen.

Thank you.