Australian Government coat of arms

Prime Minister of Australia

The Hon Tony Abbott MP

Press Conference, Melbourne

23 June 2014

Melbourne

Prime Minister

Subjects:

The Government’s commitment to repeal the carbon tax; Budget 2014; Peter Greste; ASIO; paid parental leave scheme.

E&OE

PRIME MINISTER:

It is very good to be here at Oxford freezers again. This has been one of the many businesses very badly damaged by the carbon tax. Oxford has a $4 million a year power bill. They have a $60,000 a month carbon tax bill. It is high time that this business and so many businesses like it right around Australia were liberated from this toxic tax. It is high time that the households of Australia were liberated from this toxic tax.

This current Parliament was elected to get rid of the carbon tax. If there was one thing that I said time and time again before the election, it was this – change the government and you will lose the carbon tax. Well, the people did change the government. The people did change the senate. I will be reintroducing the carbon tax repeal legislation into the Parliament today. It will be dealt with urgently by the new Senate after 1 July and I expect this carbon tax – this toxic tax – to be gone and a business like this will benefit to the tune of $60 thousand a month, but perhaps more importantly, every household right around Australia will benefit to the tune of $550 a year.

So, this is a $550 a year windfall to every household in Australia. The only people who don't get that are the Australian Labor Party. The only people in denial about the election result are the Australian Labor Party. The legislation is going back into the Parliament today. It will be dealt with by the Senate urgently after the first of July and I expect this toxic tax will be gone.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, are you confident you have the support of the crossbenchers to get rid of the legislation – the tax?

PRIME MINISTER:

If the Labor Party were fair dinkum, the crossbenchers would be unnecessary. Let’s not forget that the Labor Party said prior to the election that they were terminating the carbon tax. Having told the people they were terminating the carbon tax- they have consistently voted in favour of the carbon tax in the Parliament.

So really, it is the Labor Party which is hitting every household with $550 a year in unnecessary expense. As for the crossbenchers, every crossbench member of the Senate has stated opposition to the carbon tax, which is why I think the public are entitled to be confident that the carbon tax will be gone – will be gone – shortly after the first of July.

QUESTION:

There is a raft of Budget legislation yet to be passed before July 1 - what impact will that have on both the federal Budget and household budgets?

PRIME MINISTER:

We were elected to do a number of things; to repeal the carbon, to stop the boats and to get the Budget back under control. The Budget that Joe Hockey brought down just a few weeks ago does precisely that.

It scales back the debt and deficit disaster to a situation of budget balance in 2017-18. It cuts $300 billion almost off projected peak debt. We have brought down our answer to Labor's debt and deficit disaster. The challenge now is for the Labor Party to tell us what their answer is to the debt and deficit disaster that they created.

QUESTION:

Journalist Peter Greste’s verdict should be handed down today. I understand you have had a conversation with the Egyptian Prime Minister. What are you hoping to achieve, what do you think you can achieve for Peter Greste?

PRIME MINISTER:

I did have a conversation with President El Sisi over the weekend. President El Sisi is determined to do whatever he can to restore peace and security to Egypt and I commend him on that.

I did make point that as an Australian journalist, Peter Greste would not have been supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, he would have simply been reporting on the Muslim Brotherhood. The point I made was in the long run a free and vigorous media are good for democracy, are good for security, and are good for stability.

QUESTION:

How critical is it that he is released?

PRIME MINISTER:

In the end it is up to the Egyptian justice system to do its job. I did my best to put it to the President that as an Australian journalist, Peter Greste would not have been taking sides. He would have simply been reporting on the events that he saw before him. He certainly would've had no interest in promoting the Muslim Brotherhood. He simply would have been providing his viewers with what he thought was the story of the day because that's what Australian journalists do.

QUESTION:

Is there an extradition treaty in place with Egypt with any possibility of having him extradited if he is jailed?

PRIME MINISTER:

That's a fair question but I’m afraid I don't have an answer for you.

QUESTION:

On another matter, are you considering broadening ASIO's surveillance powers? If so what safeguards would be there to protect normal Australians at home on their computers?

PRIME MINISTER:

The best thing we can do for Australians at home is to ensure that jihadis do not come back to this country. We will do everything we humanly can to stop jihadist terrorists coming into this country and if they do return to this country, we will do everything we reasonably can to ensure that they are not moving amongst the Australian community. I want to make it absolutely crystal clear that this is a Government which believes in border security we have demonstrated not just that we believe in border security, but we are effective in establishing border security.

We have for the last six months stopped illegal boats arriving in Australia and we are determined to be just as tough in stopping jihadists arriving in Australia. We've stopped the illegal boats, we will ensure that we stop the jihadists as well because the last thing we want is people who have been radicalised and militarised by experience with these al-Qaeda offshoots in the Middle East – the last thing we want is these people who have been radicalised and militarised returning to create mischief here in Australia.

QUESTION:

Do we need to revisit the debate on metadata or data retention? It’s something Nicola Roxon tried to do – is it important for safeguarding Australia, keeping Australia safe?

PRIME MINISTER:

It's important to ensure that our police and our security services have the means at their disposal to ensure that our community is safe. The safety of our community is the paramount concern of this Government. I want to repeat that- the safety of our community is the paramount concern of this Government and we will do whatever is reasonably necessary to secure the safety of our community.

QUESTION:

On another topic, do you think the Greens will support your paid parental leave scheme?

PRIME MINISTER:

The paid parental leave scheme that the Coalition will be in due course bringing before the Parliament is the same paid parental leave scheme that we took to the 2010 election and to the 2013 election. We have a definite mandate to bring this scheme in. Let’s not forget that this scheme is designed to ensure that paid parental leave is not a welfare entitlement but a workplace entitlement. It is designed to ensure that people throughout Australia get access to the same kind of paid parental leave rights that public servants have long had. If it's right and proper for public servants on paid parental leave, staff at the ABC on paid parental leave to be paid at their real wage, well then it's right and proper for people in the small and medium size businesses in the suburbs and regional towns and country centres of Australia to get paid at their real wage when they're on paid parental leave. I see this as a matter of fundamental fairness, of fundamental justice. I see this as a matter, not just of social progress but of economic progress as well. This is an economic reform as well as an important measure of fairness for families.

Thank you.

[ends]