Joint Doorstop Interview, Mornington
Posted on Wednesday, 1 August 2012
Subjects: Julia Gillard’s carbon tax; Julia Gillard's mining tax; border protection; Wayne Swan; East West Link; foreign investment.
It’s terrific to be here at Hart Marine. I want to thank Malcolm Hart and his team for making Bruce Billson, the local member and the Shadow Minister for Small Business and I so welcome.
The Coalition is determined to build a stronger economy so that businesses like this here in outer metropolitan Melbourne can flourish and the way to build a stronger economy is to get spending down, it’s to get taxes down and to get productivity up. That’s why I am so determined to abolish the carbon tax and the mining tax because the carbon tax and the mining tax will act like wrecking balls through the Australian economy.
There are lots of people who think that the mining tax is only relevant for outback Queensland and Western Australia. Sure, there are no mines here in Melbourne, but there is a mining industry here in Melbourne because this business, Hart Marine, critically depends upon the continued expansion of the mining and resources industry in Western Australia for its existence. Most of the output from this business is going to those ports in the west which are critically dependent upon the mining expansion. So, our policy is to get rid of these bad taxes which are doing so much to hurt Australians’ cost of living, to hurt Australians’ job security.
Now, I notice the Treasurer this morning has resumed his attack on billionaires. Well, look, I'm not here to defend billionaires. Billionaires can defend themselves. What's important, though, is that the Treasurer's words attack billionaires but his policies attack middle Australian families, starting with the carbon tax that's going to make every family's cost of living worse and every middle Australian's job less secure. This is a government which just doesn't get it when it comes to the essential functions of government. This is a Treasurer and a Deputy Prime Minister who is more interested in attacking people than he is in getting on with the job of giving Australia the good government that it needs.
Now, when it comes to good government, one of the monumental failures of this Government is on border protection. The objective of the Coalition is to restore the strong border protection policies that worked under John Howard. We know exactly what they are. They are rigorous offshore processing at Nauru, they are temporary protection visas to deny the people smugglers a product to sell and the option of turning boats around where it is safe to do so. The problem with this government is that the flow has become a flood. It just gets worse and worse and worse. This government doesn't know what it's doing. We've had the East Timor Solution, the Malaysia Solution, now we've got the ostrich solution where Julia Gillard sticks her head in the sand and the boats just keep coming and coming and coming. We had another record month in July, 31 boats in 31 days. This government has no answers and the answer certainly is not reintroducing the Oakeshott bill. Put the same bill into the Parliament, you'll get the same result. It is essentially just wasting the Parliament's time.
So, everyone knows there is a better way. It is the strong and proven policies from the Coalition that will give to Australia the lower taxes, the better services, the stronger borders and the modern infrastructure that Australia needs and it’s good while I'm here in Melbourne just to remind people of the Coalition's commitment to give the East West Link, the missing link in Melbourne’s road network, $1.5 billion worth of federal assistance from an incoming Coalition government so within 18 months, work is underway on this vital project to the relief of the people of Melbourne.
I'm going to ask Bruce to say a few words then I'm going to ask Malcolm to say a few words. This really is a great Australian success story. This business, Hart Marine, is a sign that we can produce a world-class product. This is the Rolls Royce of pilot boats. This is better than anything produced anywhere else in the world. We ought to keep on making these vessels and that means getting rid of unnecessary new taxes like the carbon tax and the mining tax.
Over to you, Bruce.
Thanks, Tony. Can I add my thanks to you Mal and the crew at Hart Marine for having us in south-east Melbourne. Mornington hosts the best pilot boat builder in the world. Hart Marine needs to be world-class every day. Yet like all the small businesses in Australia that employ half of everyone in the private sector that has a job, he will be hit with unnecessary taxes that impede his competitiveness and make a difficult challenge to secure work even harder.
Rather than help and support small businesses, this carbon tax hurts and harms small business. No direct support, no direct assistance to deal with the impact of the carbon tax, yet, as is the example here with this outstanding manufacturing business, these businesses need to be world-class. They need to compete every day with competitors that aren't hit with a carbon tax and added costs. So, for the small businesses of Australia an Abbott government would provide the plan to restore to small business hope, reward and opportunity. We'll get rid of the carbon tax and there will be an ally in Canberra, not an adversary and that's what we aim to do if we can earn the support of the Australian public.
Thanks, Tony and thanks, Bruce, for coming down. We're a small business here on the Mornington Peninsula. We’ve been in business for 30 years. We endeavour to build what we say is the world's best pilot boats here in Australia, in the world. We're doing it here in Victoria. We are building these for the mining industry. We need all the support as a manufacturer here in Australia to ensure we stay competitive. I always say the question is, is manufacturing a fundamental and if manufacturing is a fundamental, we need to look after it. I think everyone will agree that manufacturing is a fundamental and the higher the taxes, the higher the carbon tax, there’s all these things that we set ourselves, alone from the rest of the world, make us more uncompetitive. I don't want to be saying to my guys in 18 months’ time or 12 months’ time or six months’ time, we're no longer competitive, we can no longer compete with the world market and we actually have to close the doors because there’s a lot of jobs here and there's a lot of families to feed here and we support the local community on all fronts.
Thanks so much, Malcolm.
Ok. Are there any questions?
Mr Abbott, Wayne Swan actually said that he should have attacked Andrew Forrest and Clive Palmer more fiercely in their opposition to the mining tax. So what do you think about those comments?
Well, as I said, I think this is a Treasurer who should be governing the country, not getting out there and attacking people. I'm no great defender of billionaires, but his words attack billionaires, his policies attack middle Australian families and that's the problem with this government: it just doesn't get it when it comes to the economy. This is a government which is interested in redistribution, not creation. They're interested in wealth redistribution, not wealth creation. Wayne Swan talks about dividing up the cake. The problem is this government has devoured the cake. This is a government which is destroying wealth, not creating it. That's why this Treasurer is so manifestly not up to the job.
Mr Abbott, in your opening speech you mentioned a wrecking ball. Is it a little bit ironic that Wayne Swan says he takes inspiration from the songs of Bruce Springsteen, and his latest album is titled ‘Wrecking Ball’?
Look, The Boss gets it in a way that Wayne Swan doesn't. As I keep saying, the carbon tax is a wrecking ball that's going to roll through our economy doing damage everywhere it goes, including at businesses like this. Every small business in the country is going to find its costs going up and there's no compensation whatsoever for small business.
Do you think Andrew Forrest and Clive Palmer have exercised reasonable or unreasonable influence in this mining tax debate?
I think people are perfectly entitled to stand up and say this is a bad tax. It’s a very bad tax and, in the case of the carbon tax, it is a bad tax based on a lie. Why shouldn’t the people of Australia, rich or poor, be able to stand up and say, ‘We do not trust a government which says one thing before an election to win votes and does the opposite after an election to stay in office’?
Tony Abbott, what’s your reaction to the latest deal allowing the Australian Navy and Customs personnel to go into Indonesian waters and rescue stricken and suffering asylum seekers?
I think it’s very important that our Navy be there to uphold safety at sea but everyone who is picked up in the Indonesian search and rescue zone should go to Indonesia. That is the ordinary understanding of the Law of the Sea. The last thing we want is the Australian Navy being used as a water taxi service for the people smugglers and that’s what’s happened, thanks to this government.
What are your thoughts on Barnaby Joyce’s calls for more farmers and small businesspeople to be involved in the Foreign Investment Review Board?
Foreign investment is welcome. The Coalition unambiguously supports foreign investment. It has to be in Australia’s national interest and I think it’s important that everyone understand how the Foreign Investment Review Board works and has confidence that the Foreign Investment Review Board is operating in Australia’s national interest. Now, in a few days’ time, the Coalition will be putting out a discussion paper which will be designed to ensure that Australia remains, first of all, a good place for foreign investment and, second, a place where the public understands the good that foreign investment is doing because I am on fundamentally about building a stronger economy because if we have a stronger economy, we will have a stronger Australia, a stronger society, a society where people can get the better services, the modern infrastructure, the secure borders, the lower taxes that they need and deserve. That’s what I am about. I am about building an Australia where everyone can better approach their best selves and that’s what all of our policies are on about: hope, reward and opportunity and part of that is ensuring that foreign investment is working in favour of everyone.