Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has told reporters that he wants to expand Tasmania’s forest industry, not shrink it, while visiting a Scottsdale vegetable farm this morning.
Mr Abbott said he would honour any government deals with forestry contractors when asked about the $276m intergovermental forest agreement.
The purpose of Mr Abbott’s visit was to attack the federal government’s proposed carbon tax and poker machine reforms.
When asked about Julia Gilard’s leadership, Mr Abbott said the Prime Minister was “on the verge of being politically assassinated”.
Mr Abbott will also meet forestry workers and hold a public forum at the Scottsdale RSL Club later today.
• LIBS NEGATIVITY HITTING HOME
Business Will Benefit from Forest Transition
Tim Morris MP
Greens Economic Development Spokesperson
Monday, 26 September 2011
The Tasmanian Greens today said it’s no surprise that the TCCI’s latest Survey of Business Expectations showed many businesses did not support the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement given the lies and misinformation peddled by the Liberal Party.
Greens’ Economic Development spokesperson Tim Morris said he was confident that business community support for the IGA process would start to increase as the direct benefits began to be felt.
“While it’s clear that there are some concerns in the business community about the IGA process, the economic benefits of this transition will to become more apparent as it rolls out.”
“It’s important to remember that this deal will inject $276 million worth of Commonwealth Assistance into the local economy, much of which will flow directly to local businesses including the paying out outstanding debts for struggling contractors.”
“The Greens are confident that once this transition occurs, and once the forestry industry is placed on a sustainable footing, Tasmania’s economy will be stronger and better for it.”
“The Greens make no apologies for supporting the restructure of an unsustainable industry that has done nothing but bleed state coffers dry for decades, while laying waste to vast tracts of high conservation value forest.”
Mr Morris said the survey otherwise presented a mixed picture of business confidence.
“It’s clear that energy costs are a growing concern for Tasmanian small businesses,” Mr Morris said.
“More needs to be done to assist small business with energy saving programs, because ultimately that’s going to be the best way to adapt to rising prices.”
“It’s pleasing to see a slight increase in plant and equipment spending predictions, which is a lead indictor for future economic activity.”
“It’s good news that unemployment has remained relatively steady, meaning that there are still jobs out there to be had, but not so many as to create excessive wage pressures for employers.”
Mr Morris also said that the bind support for the controversial Gunns Ltd pulp mill project was out of step with shifting the economic base to a more resilient and sustainable footing, and breaking out of the cargo-cult mentality.
• What Tony said: Doorstop transcript
TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR
JOINT DOORSTOP INTERVIEW WITH SENATOR RICHARD COLBECK, SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR FISHERIES AND FORESTRY,
AND MR ANDREW NIKOLIC, LIBERAL PARTY CANDIDATE FOR THE ELECTORATE OF BASS,
Subjects: Julia Gillard’s carbon tax; Labor’s waste and mismanagement; forestry; Kevin Rudd.
It’s good to be here at Moore’s Farm Fresh Products. I want to thank Cameron Moore and his family and his staff for making myself, Richard Colbeck and Andrew Nikolic so welcome today. This is typical of the businesses that are going to be impacted by the carbon tax. There are tens of thousands of small and medium sized businesses right around Australia that are going to be badly hit by the carbon tax. This business has an electricity bill of about $300,000 a year. That’s going to go up by $30,000 a year even on the Government’s own figures and that’s just for starters. We all know the competitive pressure that businesses like this are under; we know that the world economic situation is threatening. The last thing we need at the moment is a great big new tax that will make our exports less competitive. The carbon tax is not an economic reform, it’s an indulgence. That’s what it is and it’s the last thing we need at a difficult time like this.
The other point I want to make this morning is that Labor is never going to deliver a surplus. This is a Government which will predict plenty of surpluses but it’s never going to deliver them and it’s always going to find an excuse, it’s always going to blame someone else for its economic ineptitude. But the fact of the matter is this is a Government which is just never going to be able to get its own spending under control.
Now, I’m going to ask Richard to say a few words and then Andrew and then we’ll take a few questions. Richard?
Thanks Tony. Firstly I think it’s important that Tony has come out to a community such as this that has been hit really badly and very hard by Labor-Green policies that are looking to close industries down rather than to help them grow. This community has seen huge job losses, it’s seen reductions in property values and for Tony to get a first hand view of the circumstance here I think is really important. This has been a really vibrant community, it’s got a lot to offer and, as you’ll all see as you travel around here today, the opportunity for growth is one that we should be working towards, not really paying money to communities to get out of work. So it’s an important day for us and for Andrew to have Tony here to have a good look at what is a community that has got a lot to offer but really is being crushed by bad policy and bad decisions by Labor-Green governments at both the state and the Commonwealth level.
Thanks Tony. Can I also thank Tony for being here today. It appears that there’s only one of our national leaders who is wearing out their shoe leather listening to the concerns of local people and he’s with us today. I think what Tony will hear today is the fact that forestry workers and their families and the businesses that rely on this very important industry, that their interests are being subordinated to the interests of the Greens. So thank you Tony for being here and I’ll be interested to see what the community says today.
Ok, thanks so much. Have we got any questions?
Will you be catching up with anyone from the forestry industry? Obviously the contractors still haven’t been paid and [inaudible]?
The short answer is yes. I will be talking to people in the forestry industry in just a little while and the point that Richard makes is dead right, the Coalition is dead against paying people to get out of work. We think that if there’s any government money involved it should be to keep people in work or to create jobs, not to close them down.
Does that mean you wouldn’t pay compensation to [inaudible]?
We want to see the industry grow, not shrink. Now, if the Government has done a deal it’s got to honour the deal, absolutely. But we’re in the business of expanding the forestry industry not shrinking the forestry industry. We’re in the business of trying to see more jobs in forestry, not fewer jobs in forestry. The trouble with the current Government is that it’s always handing out money but it’s usually handing out money to close industries down not to start them up.
Would you cap it at a million dollars like the Commonwealth Government?
Well, again I think it’s important that any deal that government does is honoured and it’s got to be fairly honoured and the idea that there can be yet another rip-off of the forestry industry strikes me as quite wrong.
You touched on the surplus. Wayne Swan has stopped talking about returning to surplus in 2012-2013. What do you read into that?
Well, this is going to turn out to be yet another Labor broken promise. He’s been promising up hill and down dale that we’re going to get into surplus by 2012-13. This was supposed to be a badge of the Government’s economic management. Well, it’s going to turn out to be yet another indicator that you can’t trust Labor governments with money.
He’s also said this morning that Gillard will lead and will win. Your reaction?
Well, whoever is leading the Labor Party we will I think be a very effective opposition and a very credible alternative. It’s been pretty obvious ever since the election that this is a very fragile government. There’s been an air of impermanence about this Government from the word go. We take nothing for granted. The Government could collapse tomorrow, it could go for two years and at all times our job is the same – to be an effective opposition and a credible alternative.
[Inaudible] an election?
I think we’ve basically been ready for a new election from the beginning because what you’ve had from the beginning of this government is a sense of fragility and impermanence. Oppositions have always got to be ready for an election because you just never know when governments might call them, you just never know what might happen.
Have you told them to prepare for a December election?
As I said, we’re always ready for an election and frankly this is a Government which should go to an election as soon as possible because this is a Government which has totally broken faith with the Australian people. Let’s never forget that this is a Prime Minister who said before the last election “there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead”. Almost as soon as she scraped back into office she said there would be a carbon tax. It is a fundamental travesty of democracy for prime ministers to say one thing to win votes and to do the opposite to hold office. Now, if the Prime Minister was fair dinkum she would not be trying to ram a carbon tax through a parliament that has no mandate for it; she would take the carbon tax to the people at the election and let the people decide.
How important is the separation of church and state when it comes to things like gay marriage and what do you think of Tasmania’s parliamentary motion?
Look, the Coalition has a clear position on this. We’ve always had a clear position on this and we intend to continue having a clear position on this.
What’s that position?
We think that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Is the Opposition factoring in a Kevin Rudd return for the next election?
The problem with the Labor Party is not its leadership but its policies and if the Labor Party is fair dinkum about re-engaging with the Australian people it’s got to change its policies, not just change its leader.
Who would be easier to face, Rudd or Gillard?
The point is that Kevin Rudd was doing such an ordinary job before the last election that the Labor Party politically assassinated him. Julia Gillard is doing such an ordinary job now that the Labor Party looks to be on the verge of politically assassinating her. So there are just problems and problems everywhere you look for the Labor Party. It doesn’t matter what they’re doing it appears to be disastrous for them. Their carbon tax is a disaster, their border protection policy is in chaos and now of course you’ve got what Eddie McGuire is calling the ‘footy tax’ disaster which is just about to hit them.
Your thoughts on that, obviously the NRL and AFL are very concerned about their major revenue streams being impacted?
I think that these clubs are an important part of our social fabric. I think that they’re an important part of the great networks which support our sporting codes. I think that governments should be doing whatever they reasonably can to build up the social fabric not to break them down and I think it’s typical of this Government that in order to hold office it would agree to something which almost certainly is going to do serious damage to these clubs which are an important part of our social fabric.
Wouldn’t you be doing the same if Andrew Wilkie had chosen to support your side?
Well, as was famously the case back in September of last year I was happy to accommodate Andrew on hospital funding but not when it came to poker machines. I mean, we were always happy to have a look at the Productivity Commission’s recommendations but we never made the commitment that he sought. I think that mandatory pre-commitment is going to be very expensive, quite ineffective and that’s why it’s not Liberal Party policy.
Thanks very much.