Subjects: Griffith bi-election campaign, Australia/Indonesia spying protocols, Toyota pay conditions, military handling of asylum seekers, Defence personnel allowances, Commission of Audit, Medicare co-payments, Nauru legal system
BILL GLASSON Good morning ladies and gentleman and thank you very much for coming. First of all I’d like to thank Foreign Minister Julie Bishop for making the time available today to come up and support me in my quest to become the next member for Griffith.
I’d like to say to the people of Griffith that in 11 days time, on the 8th of February, you’ve got a couple of important decisions to make, I suppose a couple of opportunities.
The first opportunity is to elect a new member for Griffith, a member who has knowledge and experience in the area of Griffith, a member who will bring a strong voice to the current Federal Parliament. I also remind you that if you vote for my opponent as a protest that will not help the people of Griffith.
The second opportunity you have is to send a clear message to Mr Shorten and Labor that we need to abolish this carbon tax and we need to put $550 back in the pockets of all families in Griffith and all businesses in Griffith. This is money that belongs to you and not to Mr Shorten.
So to the people of Griffith to remind them this is a bi-election not a general election. This is not about changing the government. This is about electing a new member for Griffith, a member who I say will have a strong voice and brings knowledge and experience of Griffith to the Australian Federal Parliament.
Thanks very much and I’ll hand over to Julie.
JULIE BISHOP Good morning everybody and thanks for being here
I’m absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to support Bill Glasson in my capacity as the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, for I believe that he will make an outstanding member for Griffith.
Bill has dedicated his life to community service and he’s offering to once more serve his community by being the member for Griffith. He will make a fine representative, a strong local voice for the people of Griffith in Canberra, and throughout his life he’s shown that he understands community’s needs. He understands this community, he’s lived here most of his life. So not only does he understand the community, he’s worked for the community and he’s prepared to do that again because he believes in this community, the people of Griffith.
I’m absolutely delighted that he has chosen to move on from being a remarkably outstanding medical practitioner to what I know will be a remarkable career as a Federal Member of Parliament. For as long as I’ve known Bill he’s always put the interests of the community first and I know that if he is elected he will put the interests of the people of Griffith above his own and dedicate his efforts and energy and considerable skill and experience to the betterment of this community.
A vote for Labor in this by-election is a vote for the carbon tax, for high electricity prices and for more debt and deficit. It’s also a vote for a party that is fighting like fury to prevent the union movement from being subjected to appropriate scrutiny. The CFMEU will fight like fury to prevent there being any accountability, any scrutiny of these very worrying concerns and allegations about corruption deep inside the union movement
Bill Glasson’s opponent is of the union movement, a former union organiser, a former union lawyer. She will have to tow the Labor Party line and that is to prevent there being a proper inquiry into illegal corrupt activities deep within the Labor movement.
So we are asking the people of Griffith, vote for a strong local representative, a man that you can be proud to call your elected representative, and a person who will dedicate his life to the community of Griffith.
I’m happy to take any questions.
JOURNALIST Australia and Indonesia agreed to set up new protocols regarding spying. Where’s that process up to at the moment?
JULIE BISHOP Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa and I have been charged with the responsibility of progressing the agreement that was made last December. We’ve sent a draft understanding, a joint understanding, to the Indonesian Foreign Minister – he is working through it. He’s been travelling overseas. I know he’s been in Montreux for the Geneva II talks and he’s also been in Davos. We’re in constant communication and we’re currently arranging to meet again shortly to conclude the rest of the protocol.
JOURNALIST What comment can you offer on behalf of the Government following the comments made by Mr Abetz last night confirming the government’s support of the alteration of paid working conditions for Toyota employees? [Inaudible]
JULIE BISHOP The basic question is who should determine an employee’s terms and conditions? And why does Labor want to prevent the employee having a say in their working conditions? We support Toyota in putting to the workers an offer that they can consider. They shouldn’t be dictated to by union bosses who are only interested in their own survival. The workers should have a say. This is a free country, they should have a say about the terms and conditions of their employment.
JOURNALIST An email was circulated yesterday from the ABC. One of its reporters was saying that there’s some doubt about the allegations relating to the military handling of asylum seekers. What’s your response?
JULIE BISHOP From the outset the Government has stood by the professionalism and competence of our defence forces including our Navy. From the outset we have said that it would be totally contrary to all that we have seen and know of the Australian Navy.
If the ABC now finds that these allegations were utterly unsubstantiated then it should come out and say so. Meanwhile people’s reputations are under question because of the ABC’s reporting of this matter. So I trust the ABC will do the right thing and confirm whether there was any evidence to back the allegations that were reported as fact.
From the outset I believed that they were unsubstantiated and until I see evidence I will continue to claim that that’s the case.
JOURNALIST Why has the government decided to cut the allowances to Defence personnel serving in the Middle East?
JULIE BISHOP This is a matter for the Defence Force to make determinations as to when particular allowances apply in what particular circumstances.
JOURNALIST Labor has accused the Abbott Government of delaying the Commission of Audit to avoid scrutiny for this bi-election. How do you respond?
JULIE BISHOP Labor spent time insisting that the Commission of Audit sit before a Senate Estimates inquiry – so time that they could have spent doing the job that they were asked to do by the Government they’ve been sitting there having to be subjected to Labor’s stunt of a Senate Estimates inquiry into a Commission of Audit that was carrying out its work. So it’s a bit rich for Labor to even raise that suggestion given that they are the ones that diverted the Commission of Audit from their work for a couple of days.
The Commission of Audit is a very important part of our overall commitment to better, superior economic management. The Commission of Audit will identify areas of unnecessary government intervention, where we can find savings, where there is unnecessary red tape and regulation.
We believe that the Australian people do not need the government dictating every aspect of their lives and so this Commission of Audit will be able to identify areas where the government need not be involved, and leave it to the private sector who can do it more efficiently and more effectively.
JOURNALIST Labor has also said that Dr Glasson is trying to airbrush Tony Abbott out and airbrush any sort of links to the Abbott Government because their polling is going down.
JULIE BISHOP Well that’s absolute nonsense, Labor should wish. Tony Abbott will be here for the launch of Bill Glasson’s campaign. I’ll certainly be here for the launch. The Federal Liberal Party is proud to have Bill Glasson as our candidate for the seat of Griffith. He is an outstanding Queenslander and I believe that the people of Griffith will also be very proud of Bill Glasson as their local member, a man who puts their interests above his own.
BILL GLASSON Can I suggest by the way the only person that’s been airbrushed out of this campaign is Kevin Rudd? The only reason we’re having this election is because of Mr Rudd, the man who promised he’d serve his full three year term, the man who promised the world and delivered Christmas Island. So can I suggest to you the only person whose been airbrushed out of this campaign is Mr Rudd.
I’m proud to have, remember that the Prime Minister Tony Abbott has got the job of running this country, that’s his priority (to come and support Bill Glasson I’ll be honest with you is secondary) but having said that he was the first up here when the election was announced before Christmas, he’ll be up here this Saturday launching my campaign and he probably will be up here even a third time. So don’t try and tell me that Tony Abbott’s going to be airbrushed. I’m proud to stand beside him. He’s going to make the tough decisions this country needs.
The people have endorsed this Government to get on and do the job and people are sick of rhetoric they want change and they want a better future for them and their children. So, airbrush, let’s airbrush Mr Rudd
JULIE BISHOP This is our man, this is the guy. Well done Bill.
JOURNALIST Labor is also associating you with Campbell Newman fairly heavily. They’re suggesting that Campbell Newman is also hurting your chances of winning.
BILL GLASSON Hey listen, I keep saying to the people of Griffith that this is not a state campaign. In fact it’s not even about Mr Abbott himself, it’s actually about Bill Glasson and his opponent the Labor opponent and so the clear decision is – who do you want to represent you as your member for Griffith? That’s the only decision you have to worry about.
There will be a lot of scaremongering. There will be a lot of distractions about the fact Mr Shorten has $550 in his back pocket that belongs to you etc. but the reality is there’s only one decision the people of Griffith have to make. Who do you want to represent you in the current Federal Parliament? Who could be the most effective voice for you in the current Federal Parliament.
And can I suggest to my Labor counterpart, if you want to send her some sort of protest vote, she’ll be hardly effective in the current Federal Government so I suggest to vote for our side of politics and a vote for Bill Glasson will give you that voice that we need, that you need, to drive this country forward.
JOURNALIST What’s your view on the co-payments for Medicare which hurt you, seemingly hurt you, early in the campaign? You seem to have backtracked.
BILL GLASSON I made it very clear that there is no plan, no plan by the current Coalition Government to introduce a co-payment on Medicare, or on bulk billing. And can I remind the people of Griffith and the people of Australia – who was the party, the only party that’s introduced a co-payment on bulk billing? That was Labor ladies and gentleman, it was Labor introduced a co-payment on bulk billing so they have the history, we don’t.
My personal support for Medicare over the years, certainly as AMA president is unresolved [inaudible] It was Tony Abbott and I that ensured the Medicare rebate was increased from the 85 per cent to the 100 per cent. It was Tony Abbott and I who worked on ensuring that a safety net was put in place to protect the most vulnerable in our society. So there’s no greater force for the health system and no greater advocate for the health system than Bill Glasson and Tony Abbott and the current LNP team.
JOURNALIST So what is your view? Do you believe that Medicare is sustainable without co-payments into the future?
BILL GLASSON I won’t speculate on speculations at this stage. I’ll see what the Commission of Audit comes up with in terms of recommendations. We need a complete review of our health system moving forward, but in saying that we’ve got to make sure that the poorest, our children and our pensioners, the sickest and poorest in our community are looked after first and foremost and so we need a sustainable Medicare system, we need a sustainable bulk billing system and to remind people also that governments don’t dictate bulk billing. GPs decide to bulk bill to serve the patients that they look after. So thank you to the GPs who do bulk bill and I thank those GPs who are trying to appropriately look after the patients in their communities. So governments can’t dictate bulk billing. Bulk billing is something that is chosen by the GP to look after the community.
JULIE BISHOP And let’s not forget where this story came from. It’s scaremongering on Labor’s part. It was a submission made to the Commission of Audit by an entity, it was not a proposal of the Federal Government. I’m in the Cabinet, this has never been proposed, this is not before the Cabinet. And so once more somebody puts forward an idea and Labor mischievously, dishonestly attributes it to the Government. What nonsense.
JOURNALIST So what do you think of the idea?
JULIE BISHOP I believe that the focus must be on ensuring that Medicare is sustainable into the future but we have no plans for a co-payment. It’s talking about a hypothetical upon a hypothetical. Let the Commission of Audit do its work. Our focus under Tony Abbott, as a former Health Minister and a very successful Health Minister, is to ensure that people can get the best health care that can be available in this country and I can’t think of a better person to argue that case than a former head of the AMA, a medical practitioner of standing in this country Bill Glasson.
JOURNALIST Ms Bishop, on the legal crisis in Nauru, have you spoken to the government of Nauru and is there any update on that situation?
JULIE BISHOP We are in constant contact with them. I’ve not personally spoken to the President. I had a meeting with him last year, I was in Nauru. We understand that it’s very much focussed on domestic issues but our representatives in Nauru are being briefed by the government about it, but I expect to hear more in the days ahead. It’s very much focussed on a domestic situation in Nauru.
Thank you everybody.
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