Australian Government coat of arms

Prime Minister of Australia

The Hon Tony Abbott MP

Interview with Kyle and Jackie O, KIIS FM, Sydney

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Prime Minister

Subjects:

Budget 2014

E&OE

JACKIE O:

We have to interrupt this broadcast.

KYLE:

This ad break you were listening to has been interrupted by a phone call from the Prime Minister.

JACKIE O:

He is a busy man this morning. The Budget obviously was the big news last night. Everyone is talking about it today.

KYLE:

Hello Sir? How’s things?

PRIME MINISTER:

Kyle, look, things are good but it is not about me it is about our country. Last night’s Budget was tough but I think it was fair because we couldn’t go on paying the mortgage on the credit card.

KYLE:

Yeah, I told everyone it was Rudd’s fault for giving everyone $900 to go out and get pissed with and now we are having to pay the price.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, it is a bit like that because the former government was world champion at wasting money and now we have got to reign in that spending but in so doing we will actually build a better Australia down the track because we are spending less on short term consumption and more on long term investment as a result of this Budget.

KYLE:

Are you worried this could cost you the next election and people will be upset with this?

PRIME MINISTER:

Jackie O, look, sure we might take a popularity hit but this isn’t about what is good for politicians, this has got to be about what is good for the country and that is what we have done. We have done what we honestly believe is good for the country.

KYLE:

If Australia was a 7/11 we would have to shut down now and sell because there was no… you have to make tough decisions to keep business afloat.

PRIME MINISTER:

We weren’t making enough money to cover our outgoings that was the problem. So, you have got to make a little more and you have got to reduce your outgoings that’s what you have got to do to stay in business and in the end countries aren’t so different from households and businesses – we have got to live within our means.

KYLE:

I heard even the filthy rich – which should be Liberals main people…

JACKIE O:

You’re not looking after them either.

KYLE:

I heard they’re getting pumped as well.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, look Kyle you are right. Higher income earners will pay quite a little bit of extra tax. So, you and me will pay because it has got to be fair.

KYLE:

I don’t like fair. I have never been on the fair side of things.

JACKIE O:

One of the big things was the retirement age being lifted to 70.

KYLE:

That’s good.

JACKIE O:

No, because jobs for people…when you are 65 years of age it would be very hard to get a job.

PRIME MINISTER:

That’s a very good point Jackie O. That’s why in the Budget we are making available up to $10,000 to employers who take on people over 50 who have been on a benefit for a period of time. If you have been on a benefit we want to make it more worth the while of employers to take you on if you are an older person because we have got to get rid of this culture of youth when it comes to giving people jobs. Older people are just as capable as younger people at doing most jobs.

JACKIE O:

We did promise our listeners that we would give them access to you. I don’t know what we are going to expect here Mr Abbott…

PRIME MINISTER:

I’ll do my best.

KYLE:

He knows what he is doing.

JACKIE O

Alright Karl you are on the air with the Prime Minister.

CALLER:

Good morning PM, I’ve never spoken to anyone as high as you but I am glad I am because it is hard enough for someone like me who earns a normal wage to get a weekend away and go to Queensland. Why do you PM’s keep getting caught out on private air charters?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, that is a good question and look politicians should only travel when they have to for good government purposes and one of the things you will notice has gone in this Budget is the so-called gold pass which enabled ex-politicians to travel around the country free for life and that’s gone.

KYLE:

Free for life!

PRIME MINISTER:

It should never have been there in the first place and now it is gone forever.

KYLE:

Free for life – so Hawke and all these ones are all getting around going to Bali on the free?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, not international but certainly domestic and look it was one of those things that should never have been there and it has gone.

JACKIE O:

Natasha, you’re on air with the Prime Minister.

KYLE:

Hi Natasha, she’s 22. Go for it.

CALLER:

Hi Prime Minister, how are you going?

PRIME MINISTER:

I’m good Natasha.

CALLER:

Ok, I have a question for you. So, you are doing the six month thing for people who are on the youth, sorry, the unemployment and I have been looking for work for about six, seven months. I have got over five years’ experience in management and I can’t find a job. You know why? Because apparently that is not enough experience and I know a lot of people who are quitting their jobs. Why? They’re being verbally abused at work. They are getting treated like crap or they are not getting enough money for what they should be getting paid. Now, how are they going to live for six months if they are not getting the money they need? I mean like I live in Western Sydney. I have got a lot of people who are looking for jobs- not giving them a chance and people quitting their jobs because they are being abused for where they live.

KYLE:

I can answer this for you Prime Minister – toughen up is what I would say. Is that what you would say Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, what I would say to Natasha is that if you are a young person and you can’t get a job what about upgrading your qualifications by going to uni, doing a diploma course, doing an apprenticeship…

CALLER:

I have actually got two diplomas in my hand.

PRIME MINISTER:

Ok, but all of these things will be easier under us because we are deregulating universities.  We are going to allow support for people doing non-degree study, diplomas and things like that and very importantly there are the trade support loans we are bringing in which means that if you are doing an apprenticeship or traineeship in one of these skills that are in demand you can get up to $20,000 from the Government on the same basis that uni students do. We think it is very important for young people to be earing or learning and we are making it much easier for people to be learning if for whatever reason they can’t be earning.

KYLE:

Ever think earning is a bit overrated – I mean learning stuff? The earning is required, the learning, is it that important?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, Kyle, yes it is because if you are not actually out there working for a wage you should be trying to ensure that you are more employable and that is what all this skill support is about it’s trying to ensure that people are more employable.

JACKIE O:

Joanne you are on air with the Prime Minister – go ahead.

CALLER:

I’m just calling up wanting to know the pension till the age of 70. So, labour intensive jobs and not specifically fire fighters – how do you expect these men and women to wear that gear and work until the age of 70 on the back of a truck?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, Joan most of us change jobs at some stage during our lives and it is true that you are unlikely to be a labourer in your late 60s but there are all sorts of reskilling, retraining opportunities and as I said…

JACKIE O:

That’s tough for a 60 plus to get their head around. That they have done this all their life and now suddenly…

CALLER:

You can’t just change jobs. Fire fighters especially – things like that.

KYLE:

You know what – my Dad is in this exact position. My Dad retired and he was so bored and he had so much more he thought he could give he was a salesman like, in management and stuff his whole life and now he is working at some bus depot in Brisbane but he loves it. I was like ‘oh you’re driving busses.”

JACKIE O:

I can’t imagine what my Dad…my Dad is a builder I can’t imagine what he would do.

KYLE:

He’d go and he’d become a ticket inspector at the council bus station.

PRIME MINISTER:

Or you might go drive a truck. I mean there are all sorts of things that people can do which don’t involve heavy manual work. That don’t involve lifting and twisting which, as you say, once you are on the wrong side of 50 it starts to become more difficult. You start to become more prone to injuries and this is why this restart programme which will give employers up to $10,000 if they take on someone over 50, which is such an important compliment to our plan to move up the retirement age.

KYLE:

Let’s get a couple of oldies in here! Would you give us some money if we get a couple of grannies in here?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, yeah that’s it! The short answer is yes, Karl. If you take them off the disability pension or unemployment benefits you will be entitled under us…

KYLE:

To ten grand for me in my pocket.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, for the employer. Now, if you are the employer, if you have got them providing services that you need and if you are paying them a wage Kyle, well then yeah, you get the money.

KYLE:

Sweet. We can get a scam going there, get some grannies working for us. I don’t mean a scam you know I mean a plan.

PRIME MINISTER:

Prime Minister, thanks for talking to us this morning.

KYLE:

Hang on, hang on, hang on I know it’s all Budget day but did you see your daughter smoking a cigarette with her boyfriend.

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I saw that.

KYLE:

Did you know about the smoking?

PRIME MINISTER:

Sprung!

JACKIE O:

Did you know?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I do know that she likes the social cigarette on special occasions. Yes, I did know that.

KYLE:

What was so special about that night? Was it a special night?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think it was a bit of a fun night and she decided to let her hair down with one cigarette. I don’t approve but nevertheless…

KYLE:

What about this boyfriend?

PRIME MINISTER:

Nevertheless, if you want to relax with a cig it’s…

KYLE:

Your own choice. A free country.

PRIME MINISTER:

…a free country.

JACKIE O:

So, have you ever smoked before?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, my Mum and Dad were both heavy smokers and that kind of put me off smoking. I have never been much good at the old drawback I am afraid.

JACKIE O:

But you tried it.

KYLE:

You’re a bum puffer.

PRIME MINISTER:

I think there are few things that most of us haven’t tried at some stage.

KYLE:

Not me. I’ve tried everything.

PRIME MINISTER:

I’m talking Budget today.

KYLE:

Ok, I think you have answered all the Budget questions. We’ll let you know but what do you reckon of that boyfriend? Is he a keeper or is he no good?

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s not my call.

KYLE:

But you get in there with your influence. You have got to have some influence in there.

PRIME MINISTER:

I’m not sure how much influence I have in these matters.

KYLE:

Well, we’re off to Dubai next week so if you need anything from us you are going to have to ring over there.

PRIME MINISTER:

Good on you Kyle, good on you Jackie O.

KYLE:

If we get in any trouble I am going to give you a call because I don’t know anyone else that can get us out of a drama.

PRIME MINISTER:

I understand.

KYLE:

Cool. Thank you Sir and have a nice day.

PRIME MINISTER:

Watch out for their laws. Ok?

JACKIE O:

Yeah we know.

KYLE:

See, that’s what I am worried about.

JACKIE O:

No, we’ll be fine. We’ll be fine.

KYLE:

Thank you Mr Abbott.

[ends]