Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Transcript - Doorstop Interview with Tony Abbott - Croydon Main Street

SUBJECTS: CCTV cameras and crime; Kevin Rudd’s failed border protection policies

E & O E

TONY ABBOTT:

It’s good to be here with my friend and colleague Tony Smith. The cameras that were put in here as a result of a Howard Government programme have obviously done a good job in terms of reducing petty crime, reducing vandalism, reducing graffiti. This was an important community safety programme put in place by the Howard Government.

It was specifically devoted to the installation of closed circuit television cameras to promote community safety.I’m a little disappointed that the Rudd Government didn’t continue the programme. The Rudd Government doesn’t have a dedicated programme for things like closed circuit TV for community safety purposes. This certainly is something that I’m looking at as we finalise our policies in the run up to the election. The point about these cameras is, as was pretty obvious today, you turn the cameras on, you turn the crime off. I think that’s what people want – they want safe streets, they want safe neighbourhoods, they want safe shopping centres, and if you want the safety you need the cameras.

If I could just say a few words on border protection. The Rudd Government has completely lost control of our borders. We’ve had more than 100 boats, we’ve had over four thousand unauthorised arrivals. We’ve had more than 30 boats this year, we’ve had more than 1,500 unauthorised arrivals. Before Mr Rudd changed the Government’s policy, there were three boats a year. Now we are getting three boats a week. The problem is that under Mr Rudd we do not decide who comes to our country and the circumstances under which they come. Under Mr Howard we did, and we’ve got to get back to the situation that we had under Mr Howard where we decided who came to this country and the circumstances under which they come, because under Mr Rudd we don’t decide.

QUESTION:

Is that a return to the Pacific Solution?

TONY ABBOTT:

It’s a return to doing what’s needed to have a tough border protection policy.

QUESTION: Can you rule out sending people to Nauru?

TONY ABBOTT:

I will do whatever is reasonably necessary to protect Australia’s borders, to keep our country safe and you can’t have a situation where the people smugglers have a product to sell, because there are lots of desperate people in this world and they will come to Australia illegally if they think that there is a reward in it for them.

QUESTION:

What specifically does ‘whatever it takes’ mean though?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well there are four essential ingredients in an effective border protection policy. First, you’ve got to have some form of temporary visas so that the people smugglers don’t have a product, so that the people smugglers aren’t able to say if you get to Australia almost certainly you will get permanent residency. Second, you’ve got to have rigorous offshore processing. Third, you’ve got to have good relations with source and transit countries, so you can try to cut off the flow of unauthorised arrivals. Finally, under the right circumstances, you need to be able to turn boats around. Now, Mr Rudd promised before the election that he would be tough enough to turn the boats around. Not one has been turned around since he’s been Prime Minister.

QUESTION:

So you’re saying Mr Rudd is failing. If you were Prime Minister today, what would be the first thing that you would do to stop this problem?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well the first thing you do is you stop bringing people who haven’t been processed from Christmas Island to Australia. Second, you would change the visa laws so that people who came in an unauthorised way had a special temporary visa, as they did in the time of the former government. Third, you’d immediately talk to Indonesia and other relevant countries and establish the kind of relationship of trust and confidence that existed when John Howard was Prime Minister.

QUESTION:

Are you looking to shift the focus away from health?

TONY ABBOTT:

I’m looking to ensure that our country is well governed and a country which has lost control of its borders is not being well governed.

QUESTION:

On health, is your change, as you’ve spoken, your lack of intent to as you say persevere for opposition’s sake, is that poll induce shift?

TONY ABBOTT: No, no. Look what my position all along has been that the problem with Mr Rudd’s position is that, at least on what we’ve been told so far, there are no new beds, no new doctors, no new nurses and not even any new dollars until 2014 at least. Now, that is a real problem for Mr Rudd’s so-called plan. If he can fix the plan, sure, I’m happy to be constructive, but at the moment it’s more of a press release than a plan.

QUESTION:

The temporary visas that you’re talking about, would they be the same as the temporary protection visas under the Howard Government?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, the essential thing is that they are temporary. That’s the essential thing.

QUESTION:

How temporary?

TONY ABBOTT:

They cannot have an automatic entitlement to permanent residency. There can be no assumption that people who get these visas will stay permanently in Australia. There has to be the capacity, should conditions in their country of origin improve, to return them.

QUESTION:

Would you also go as far as denying these people basic services and Medicare and all the rest of it plus demand that they repay the [inaudible]?

TONY ABBOTT:

The important thing is that you have to deter people who for all sorts of reasons might want to come here in an unauthorised way. The Howard Government succeeded. The Rudd Government failed.

QUESTION:

You didn’t answer whether or not you would actually return to what was known as the Pacific Solution, Nauru?

TONY ABBOTT:

But I did answer the question, though, Tony.

QUESTION:

No you didn’t.

TONY ABBOTT:

No, no, I answered the question. I gave you the answer that I wanted to give you, I didn’t necessarily give you the answer that you wanted me to give.

QUESTION:Sounds quite like a politician on the make.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well look, you know, it happens some times. Now, Tony Smith…

TONY SMITH:

Well, look, just on the security cameras, this is a great example of a partnership between the local community and the then Howard Government. These security cameras have been a great success here but also at neighbouring shopping centres in Mooroolbark, Lilydale and Mt Evelyn and those federal grants, as Tony said, have enable the cameras to be switched on and local crime to be switched off. Down in Lilydale which was at the end of the train line, they’ve seen a huge reduction in crime, more than 70 per cent, and it’s great to have some of the local police here today who were instrumental in putting forward that grant application and for Tony, for you to meet some of the traders who prior to the installation of the cameras were paying for local security guards to try and deal with the situation and it’s a very, very different place than it was just three years ago and it took that Howard Government grant programme for the first time to be able to fund these sorts of security cameras that help local traders, local communities and the police, and thanks for coming.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thanks mate. Thank you.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, would you support more intervention in terms of law and order in state matters or do you think the states are doing a good enough job?

TONY ABBOTT:

I think that people expect all levels of government to address their problems and I think people expect all levels of government to have something to say and some reasonable contribution to make. Now, I accept that the state governments control the state police forces and law and order in Victoria is primarily a matter for the Victorian government and the Victorian police, but I do think it’s important for the federal government to help where it can and this is why I think that the Howard Government initiative to install these cameras as part of community safety was a very good one and I wish there was a comparable programme under the Rudd Government.

QUESTION:

Have you spoken to Barnaby Joyce since he referred to Productivity Commission reports as toilet paper and if you haven’t, will you speak?

TONY ABBOTT:

It was a colourful phrase. I think that the Productivity Commission does an excellent job. It was set up by the Howard Government. I take its reports and its recommendations very seriously.

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