Transcript of doorstop interview, Singapore
TUE 24 APRIL 2012
Subject(s): Anzac Day; Centenary of Anzac; Peter Slipper; Interest rates; Andrew Wilkie
PM: Tomorrow, around Australia and around the world, Australians will gather to commemorate Anzac Day.
I will have the opportunity to be with the thousands of Australians who make the pilgrimage to Gallipoli to commemorate Anzac Day on that very sacred soil. Anzac Day, every year, is a significant event for our nation – a time we pause and a time we reflect.
As we move to the centenary in 2015, we are moving towards an event which will be a very significant commemoration for our nation.
Anzac Day in 2015, I believe, will be like the bicentenary. It will be one of the commemorations that shape our nation and our understanding of who we are today.
So, I’m very pleased to be able to announce that the Government will make available $83.5 million to assist with the commemoration of the centenary of Anzac.
This money will be used for a variety of purposes, including refurbishing the World War I galleries at the War Memorial, creating an Anzac Interpretive Centre at Albany in Western Australia, the last sight of land for many of our troops who ended up fighting in Gallipoli.
It will be used for grants around the country, to help local communities, in their own way, mark the significance of this centenary. It will be used for educational purposes and for refurbishment of our war graves around the world.
So, tomorrow is a significant day for our nation; the centenary of Anzac will be an incredibly significant commemoration for Australia, for all of us.
I am very happy to take a couple of questions and then our long journey awaits.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, overnight Rob Oakeshott has said that he’s open minded about a no confidence motion. He’s saying that if civil matters of substance against Mr Slipper are found, then he should stay suspended and that the Government assured him during talks on the speakership that all was OK with Mr Slipper. How do you respond to this?
PM: Look, Mr Oakeshott’s views are a matter for Mr Oakeshott. As I said yesterday, I believe it’s appropriate that the Speaker has stood aside for this period as he announced.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, Tony Abbott has accused you of making light of sexual harassment. What do you say about that?
PM: Well that’s a disgraceful allegation and it’s exactly what we expect from Mr Abbott – continued negativity. He’s prepared to say anything to be negative.
Of course, every Australian should be able to go to their workplace and feel safe at work; safe in every way. And every Australian should be treated decently in their workplace.
I’ve devoted much of my adult life to making sure Australians are treated decently in their workplaces, including getting rid of the obscenity of Work Choices that Mr Abbott supported.
So when it comes to understanding the needs of Australians, Mr Abbott just doesn’t get what working families need. He’s there with the blood of Work Choices all over his hands, and now of course he’s got plans for pain for Australian families, in the form of cutbacks of all of the services and support that families need.
JOURNALIST: In hindsight – they’re calling your judgement into question in relation to installing Slipper as Speaker. Do you regret in hindsight, that decision?
PM: As I said yesterday, we have been able, in this Parliament, this year, to do some important things for working families. Because the Liberal Party views its political purpose as being to look after the millionaires and billionaires, we couldn’t get through the Parliament, with their support, a change to stop apprentices for paying for the health insurance of millionaires.
We’ve been able to do that. We’ve been able to do that because of the arrangements that I made in the Parliament, and that’s important for working people, that their taxpayers dollars aren’t going out of their pay packet, into the private health insurance of people who can look after themselves.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, it’s been reported overnight that Mr Slipper has written to the Department of Finance requesting copies of the Cabcharge vouchers in question. Is it appropriate for him to be intervening in that way?
PM: Well, Mr Slipper would be now making arrangements in relation to answering these allegations. The Department of Finance deals with this at arm’s length from government.
JOURNALIST: Can you guarantee that taxpayer funds won’t be used to fund Peter Slipper’s legal defence.
PM: The Attorney-General’s dealt with that overnight and in some detail.
JOURNALIST: (inaudible) inflation data out today, how good a shape of the economy and what are the chances of getting an interest rate cut?
PM: Well you’d expect me to say that the Reserve Bank sets interest rates independently.
You’d also expect me to say what is the very clear truth, and something I had the opportunity to talk to business people about here yesterday in Singapore, which is the fundamentals of our economy are strong.
Nations around the world are battling double digit unemployment figures and huge debt burdens. In Australia, we managed through the global financial crisis, we kept people in work, and we’re managing the economy today in the interest of working people, and that does mean bringing the budget to surplus when we bring it down next month.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minster, Andrew Wilkie met with Anthony Albanese yesterday, what was the nature of that discussion?
PM: Look, you’ll need to speak with Mr Albanese about that.