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Friday, April 30, 2010

Tony Abbott transcript - Panel Discussion with Julia Gillard, Channel Nine Today Show

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E&OE


KARL STEFANOVIC:

Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott join us live now. Thank you for showing up you two, I'm not sure why I
would show up after a bollocking like that, but anyway you’ve got thick skins, that’s why you’re in the game you’re in.

JULIA GILLARD:

We like to see you and Lisa. I don't know about each other, but you and Lisa.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

You love seeing each other, calm down. Let’s start with cigarettes this morning. Did you have a ciggie this morning by the way?

JULIA GILLARD:

No Karl, I didn’t.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

It’s got a whole lot more expensive. Did you stop by your local corner shop to see how difficult it’s going to be for small businesses to make that change in such a hurry?

JULIA GILLARD:

Karl, there’s definitely not a pack of cigarettes shoved up my sleeve, I can promise you that. This is a health measure. It’s very important. All of the experts are saying to us that if you take the colour and movement off the packages, they're plain paper, they’re less attractive and putting prices up makes a difference. It makes…

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Why don't you just ban cigarettes then, why don’t you just go the whole hog?

JULIA GILLARD:

Well I mean we’re, we're taking all of the responsible measures health experts have talked to us about and it’s a bad thing to smoke.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Health experts say don’t smoke at all so why not just ban it?

JULIA GILLARD:

Well, the way this nation has reacted to smoking is a step at a time, we’ve banned cigarettes, you used to be able to smoke in restaurants for example, this is the next step to crackdown on smoking and that's in everyone's interests. What amazes me is that Tony can't back this reform and I wonder whether that's about donations from tobacco companies?

LISA WILKINSON:

Well Tony, there does seem to be some confusion over whether or not you support this.

TONY ABBOTT:
No, there’s no confusion.

LISA WILKINSON:

There’s some confusion between you and Peter Dutton.

TONY ABBOTT:

There’s no confusion. This is not a reform. It is a tax grab, but let me just say this…

JULIA GILLARD:

So you don’t support it Tony?

TONY ABBOTT:

…let me say this, I’m not going to defend smoking and I'm not going to oppose the measure because it might have some useful health spin-offs, but let's be under no illusion – this is a panicky tax grab by a Government which is as addicted to spending and to taxing as some people, sadly, are addicted
to nicotine.

LISA WILKINSON:

So, do you support it?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I'm not going to oppose it. The tax measure will go through. The tax measure will go through.

JULIA GILLARD:

Well that was a fair bit of pollie waffle. So you’re going to support the tax and you’re going to support the plain paper packaging?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, the only plain packaging is the plain paper packaging you were trying to wrap your ETS in, your emissions trading scheme. I mean this is the one thing you are really running away from. Do you…

JULIA GILLARD:

Right, well Tony there’s one simple question, plain paper packaging yes or no?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, let me ask you a question. Do you think that climate change is the great moral issue of our time?

JULIA GILLARD:

Plain paper packaging, yes or no? And are you going to…

TONY ABBOTT:

Fine.

JULIA GILLARD:

…keep taking tobacco donations?

TONY ABBOTT:

Fine, if it’s shuts you up for a second, yes Julia.

JULIA GILLARD:

And tobacco donations, are you going to keep taking them?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look Julia, you keep taking donations from the CFMEU, we’ll take donations from companies engaged in legitimate business.

JULIA GILLARD:

So that’s a yes to tobacco donations?

TONY ABBOTT:

I’d better refer that to Brian Loughnane, but look it’s a legal business and I’m not saying we won’t take the donations.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

If you are so against, if you are so against smoking, it probably is time for you to say, well, you know what, let's not take the donations from the tobacco company?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, it is legal to smoke. It’s not the mafia. It’s not even the CFMEU. I don't see why, if they want to make a donation, we shouldn't accept it. But look, I'm not out there touting for business, and in the end it’s up to the lay party to make these decisions.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

On the subject of climate change, that's been a big issue this week. Let's have a look at what Kevin Rudd had to say about that.

KEVIN RUDD: Climate change is the great moral challenge of our generation.

JULIA GILLARD: The costs of inaction are greater than the costs of action. We are a Government that was elected to deal with climate change.

CHILD: Can you tell people to look after the environment?

KEVIN RUDD: I will bring it into my meetings with world leaders, is that ok?

LISA WILKINSON:

Julia, how can that whole issue of climate change go from being our greatest moral challenge to being completely put on ice?

JULIA GILLARD:

Well, we’ve just got to face the reality here which is we can't get our carbon pollution reduction scheme through the Parliament.

TONY ABBOTT:

Have a double dissolution.

JULIA GILLARD:

We went to the last election…

TONY ABBOTT:

Have a double dissolution, Julia.

JULIA GILLARD:

…saying that we’d introduce the carbon pollution reduction scheme, so did Tony, so did Mr Howard.

LISA WILKINSON:

Why won’t you have a double dissolution on this?

JULIA GILLARD:

Well, we started this term with everybody saying they would support an ETS. We're in this position because Tony’s back-flipped.

TONY ABBOTT:

Have a double dissolution.

LISA WILKINSON:

So have the double dissolution as Tony says.

JULIA GILLARD:

Four times. So what we’re saying now is obviously international action has not as rapid as we would have liked. Tony’s black flipped four times.

TONY ABBOTT:

Then have a double dissolution, Julia.

JULIA GILLARD:

Something we all went to the election on last time can now no longer be got through the Parliament. We will monitor international action, we get to the second period for the Kyoto protocol, we're still committed to a carbon pollution reduction scheme. We can't get it through this Parliament and that's about Tony.

TONY ABBOTT:

So, when will it happen?

JULIA GILLARD:

Well, the Prime Minister has made it clear.

TONY ABBOTT:

When? What date?

JULIA GILLARD:

International action. Tony, do you want me to answer the question?

TONY ABBOTT:

Give us a straight answer.

JULIA GILLARD:

Ok, the straight answer. Kyoto, the next commitment period starts at the end of 2012. We'll see what international action has happened then and legislate in 2013. That's what the Prime Minister said. We would be dealing with the legislation now if you hadn't back flipped four times.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Julia, if you believed in it so fervently, you’d go the double dissolution. Why don't you do that?

JULIA GILLARD:

Well, we're in this situation where we went to the Parliament, we had bipartisan support. Tony to get the leadership, back flipped four times. That's the reality and international progress…

KARL STEFANOVIC:

But why not just take the double dissolution? Why not just go the polls?

JULIA GILLARD:

And international progress hasn’t been as fast as we would’ve liked.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

But why not just go to the polls?

JULIA GILLARD:

Because we want to monitor international progress for the next Kyoto agreement.

LISA WILKINSON:

So you want to follow the rest of the world?

JULIA GILLARD:

But on the question of belief in these things, I mean obviously Karl, you're asking me about it. We're the Government. I accept that we should be asked about it, but you do have to ask Tony too why has he back flipped four times on this? Forwards, back, forwards, back, forwards, back. Now he’s opposed to it.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Quick response Tony.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, it’s sheer gutlessness on the part of the Government, absolute gutlessness. You can't take seriously a Prime Minister who says that climate change is the greatest moral challenge of our time and then runs away from a policy to deal with it.

JULIA GILLARD:

Why did you back flip four times?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, our policy is we will have an emissions reduction fund…

JULIA GILLARD:

When?

TONY ABBOTT:

It’s a very clear policy. Within six months of being in government.

JULIA GILLARD:

And you’ve said you’ve got the door open to emissions trading, to a carbon pollution reduction scheme…

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Let’s move on for a moment. The Henry Tax Review now is… it looks like there’s going to be some detail released this Sunday. We're all going to find out finally, and it's been a long wait for this Henry Tax Review and we're all not sure why. But in the light of day, they're looking at now, at a possible rent tax on mining as one possible measure, taxing all of that income coming out of our mines. Is that going to go ahead?

JULIA GILLARD:

Well, I can’t today confirm for you what’s going to be announced on Sunday.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

You know, though?

JULIA GILLARD:

Well there will be Budget lock-up style on Sunday where all of the journalists go into a room, get to study the documents and come out at the same time, all taking in their little treats to get them through the day, their chocolate frogs and things like that. And then the Treasurer…

KARL STEFANOVIC:

As bribery.

JULIA GILLARD:

No, they take in their own chocolate frogs, we don't pay for them. And then the Treasurer will make the announcement, not only about the Henry Tax Review, but the Government's response to it.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

15 per cent tax on superannuation lifting to 30 per cent tax on superannuation. That is going to be incredibly unpopular.

JULIA GILLARD:

Karl, I’m not going to play a rule-in, rule-out game. On Sunday, you will see the Henry Tax Review and the Government's response to it. We received the review, we’ve worked on the response and they're both going public on Sunday.

LISA WILKINSON:

Tony, your thoughts?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, think Henry is cover for tax increases. They will, I suspect, try to say that they're going to increase some taxes to reduce other taxes. Basically these will be tax fiddles, they won’t be tax cuts because this is a Government which is addicted to spending. It’s out of control, the spending, and they have to find more tax sources to cover the fact that this is a Government that can't make tough decisions on spending.

JULIA GILLARD:

But Tony, that's you all over. You’re saying no and you haven't even seen it. Surely you should see it before you rule out supporting it.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, you’ve been leaking selective bits of it for the last four months. What you should have done is published it when you got it on Christmas Eve.

JULIA GILLARD:

But shouldn’t you see it…

TONY ABBOTT:

That is another act of cowardice, a Government that commissions a report and then won’t release it.

JULIA GILLARD:

As a responsible person, shouldn’t you see it and then make a decision, not just rule it out and say no before you even see it?

LISA WILKINSON:

Ok, yeah, let’s move onto the next one. Tony, you are looking to cut immigration into this country as a way of reducing population growth. By how many and from what countries?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, we think that policy should be conducted on a rational basis, and we would like the Productivity and Sustainability Commission, as we will reconstitute it, to give us annual advice on bands within which population should move given our economic situation, given pressures on our infrastructure, on our environment and so on. So, within a few months of entering government, that's what we'll do and we'll make the decision about immigration intake based on that independent expert advice.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Any ideas?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, plainly, the 300,000 plus that we've got at the moment coming in under Mr Rudd, which will give us a 42 million population by 2050, a 32 million population in just 20 years time, that's unsustainable.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Julia, final word?

JULIA GILLARD:

Well, this is another Tony back flip. As recently as January this year, he was saying Sydney and Melbourne being at seven or eight million each was fine by him. Now he’s back…

TONY ABBOTT:

I didn’t say that.

JULIA GILLARD:

25th January, Derryn Hinch, 3AW. Now he’s back flipped again. This is a man who’ll say and do anything but he won’t hold a consistent position.

TONY ABBOTT:

I didn’t say that Julia.

JULIA GILLARD:

Yes you did, Tony. 3AW, Derryn Hinch.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

I'm sure we’re going to see a transcript of that in the news a little bit later if that’s true…

JULIA GILLARD:

You certainly are.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Julia, thank you very much and Tony, always, thank you very much for coming in. We appreciate it.

TONY ABBOTT:

Good on you. Thanks Karl, thanks Lisa, thanks Julia.

[ends]



Welfare Reform: Mark Arbib all talk, no action on

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Ten days after the Coalition attacked the government’s watering down of Australia’s welfare system, junior Labor Minister Mark Arbib has adopted the Kevin Rudd approach to the situation, talk tough, but do nothing.


“It’s not good enough to talk tough when your track record includes overseeing the implementation of changes that have watered-down mutual obligation requirements. Welfare recipients don’t even need to get out of bed to claim anymore” said Kevin Andrews, Shadow Minister for Families, Housing and Human Services.


“Mark Arbib is talking tough but the reality is that it’s all spin. I am happy to tell him how to fix this problem, and that is, to revert back to the strong system put in place by the former Coalition government” Mr Andrews said.


Shadow Minister for Employment Participation, Mathias Cormann said that ordinary Australians were being forced to pay for people not meeting their mutual obligation requirements.


“Minister Arbib thinks that nobody has noticed that Labor has gone soft on programs like work for the dole and is using yet another review as a way of tightening up loopholes that his government created.”


“Now he says we need to get tough. Well, Minister Arbib shouldn’t need a review to tell him what we already know, that is Labor has been too soft on welfare recipients for too long,” Senator Cormann said.



Tony Abbott interview with Tim Webster (2UE) - sustainable population growth; welfare to work

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Subjects: Sustainable population growth; welfare to work.



E&OE

TIM WEBSTER:

Tony Abbott, g’day.

TONY ABBOTT:

G’day, how are you Tim?

TIM WEBSTER:

Yeah, good. Look, first things first. Other than immigration, which you can control, how do you accurately predict what sort of a population we are going to have in 10, 20, 30 years?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, you I suppose look at the birth rate and you make some intelligent estimates as to what might happen to that in the future...

TIM WEBSTER:

Yep.

TONY ABBOTT:

You look at current immigration figures and you project that forward and you say this is what’s going to happen, and then I suppose you look at the environment, you look at the physical environment, you look at the natural environment, you look at the economy now and possibly into the future and you make an informed judgement as best you can as to what kind of population increase makes sense. Now, the one thing a government can’t and shouldn’t try to alter is the decisions that Australian families make about how many kids they are going to have…

TIM WEBSTER:

Absolutely, yeah, absolutely.

TONY ABBOTT:

I think if anything we should be in favour of the ability of families, and we should be encouraging families to have more Australian children. But the factor which the Government obviously should have total control over is immigration…

TIM WEBSTER:

Yes.

TONY ABBOTT:

And I guess one of the difficulties is that by losing control of our borders Mr Rudd has, to that extent at least, compromised the Government’s ability to look after immigration.

TIM WEBSTER:

Yeah, Tony, I’ve been for a long time saying to my listeners I don’t have a problem with more people coming to this country because we actually do need them as workers but, look, in this city of ours, you and I both know and the Government actually knows, we’re not prepared for them. We are miles behind at infrastructure. There’s no point in having people here if you can’t look after them.

TONY ABBOTT:

That’s right, I mean, there are many paradoxes here. On the one hand we’ve got a continuing unemployment problem, on the other hand you’ve got businesses that need workers and can’t find them, including unskilled workers. So, you’ve got business saying that we need people to keep going but then you’ve got the problem of where do they live, how do they get to work…

TIM WEBSTER:

Absolutely.

TONY ABBOTT:

…because you can’t get a house in Sydney for under a half a million bucks anywhere close to the CBD. Rents – a lot of people are paying $500 and $600 a week for very modest accommodation. It costs an enormous amount of money to get around our city and the time is a real problem. So the difficulty is that, yes, businesses say they need workers but Government policy is not giving them workers and it’s not giving all of us the infrastructure that we need if our cities are to remain as liveable as we’d like them to be.

TIM WEBSTER:

Yeah, look, your opponents are saying well, look, Tony Abbott wants to force people to go and live in the bush or force them to go and work in Western Australia, but surely look we’ve tried this before, I mean I’ve been around a long time with Albury-Wodonga and Bathurst and Orange, and it just sort doesn’t work Tony because people either don’t want to go there, they want to cling to the coast where the big businesses are, where the big cities are, it’s a very difficult thing.

TONY ABBOTT:

And if someone is providing for himself or herself, sure, we have a right to say well you know I’m doing as well as I need to and I’m going to stay put, but the suggestion that I floated – and I did just float it – was what about people on welfare benefits, particularly on unemployment benefits, particularly younger people on unemployment benefits. I think this is where you do have the right as a society to say well we need a regime of carrots and sticks here. Certainly under the former government we had a trial program for trying to encourage younger unemployed people to move to areas where there were jobs and it was quite successful and we can’t give up on trying to ensure that we match people to jobs and the point I keep making Tim is that if there is a job available that you can do and you are on unemployment benefits you are obliged to take it and I think under the Rudd Government there has been serious weakening of that principle of mutual obligation.

TIM WEBSTER:

I doubt too many Australians would have a problem with that concept and I have to say to you, I mean this is where sometimes politics and common sense clash. I’ve got a 20 year old, about to be 21, just about to qualify as a mechanic and I’ve said to him ‘mate, you’d be nuts if you didn’t investigate the possibility of getting a job in Western Australia, you’d make a fortune doing what you do, looking after trucks’.

TONY ABBOTT:

And you don’t have to go up to the mines to do that because what’s happening is that the mining sector in the West is attracting people out of Perth, which means that to do jobs in Perth you are getting higher pay, generally speaking, because of the competition of the mining sector. So, it’s not as if you’ve got to go and live in what some people I think wrongly and unfortunately describe as the Australian equivalent of Siberia to earn a decent income – no, because the mining sector is paying higher wages that is certainly producing competitive pressure on wages everywhere and that’s not a bad thing for workers because it means that they can get higher pay.

TIM WEBSTER:

I think Broome’s a fair way from Siberia mate.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well absolutely right. I mean look I’ve been to the remote parts of Australia and sure it’s not for everyone but I think it’s beautiful, absolutely beautiful.

TIM WEBSTER:

Yeah. So, the question comes back to immigration and cutting it. What are you suggesting?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well what I’m saying is that we’ve got to bring in people on a national interest test, we’ve got to be confident that they’re going to join the team and they’re going to make a contribution and we’ve got to be confident that bringing people in is going to help the rest of us and that’s why I think that we need a more rational basis for making decisions about immigration numbers. That’s why I think we need to reconstitute the Productivity Commission as the Productivity and Sustainability Commission and task it with giving us independent, expert advice on the kind of numbers which, bands within which if you like, the intake can move up and down, that will be good for the economy and which is environmentally sustainable both in terms of the physical…

TIM WEBSTER:

Absolutely, yeah.

TONY ABBOTT:

…and the natural environment. Now, obviously part of that will be saying well, you know, Sydney needs x thousands of new homes and that will hopefully put a bit of a bomb under the state government not just to produce the homes but also to produce the infrastructure needed to make them liveable.

TIM WEBSTER:

Exactly. The roads, the rail lines, the parks, the hospitals, everything else. Ok, look before I let you go, surely it’s not Tony just about numbers, though? Don’t we need to establish who we need, what we need them for, where we need them and then act accordingly?

TONY ABBOTT:

And one of the reasons why public acceptance of immigration substantially increased under the Howard Government was a) the Howard Government got control of our borders by stopping the flow of boat people and b) the Howard Government refocussed the immigration programme on to economic migrants and away from family reunion migrants. Now, people understood that by bringing migrants into the country who were going to boost our economy that was in Australia’s national interests and I mean we are, let’s face it, a nation of immigrants or the descendents of immigrants…

TIM WEBSTER:

Of course we are.

TONY ABBOTT:

…we are naturally disposed to be pro-immigration but we’ve got to be confident that the immigration programme is helping the nation, not just helping the individual immigrant. That was what the Howard Government did so well.

TIM WEBSTER:

Look I know you’ve got to go, you’re busy, but my listeners know my thoughts on that. We’ve just become concierge for these boat people. Will you please, if the Australian people elect you, remove the term ‘irregular maritime arrivals’ from the Hansard?

TONY ABBOTT:

Yes, it’s a horrible euphemism, isn’t it?

TIM WEBSTER:

They’re boat people. Well, I suppose people are questioning whether you call them legal or illegal but all I’m saying is that they’re jumping the queue.

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, if I rocked up at Los Angeles without a visa, without papers, the Americans would give me very short shrift indeed and they would say ‘mate you’re illegal, simple as that’.

TIM WEBSTER:

Yeah, exactly. Thanks for your time.

TONY ABBOTT:

No problems.

TIM WEBSTER:

Have a good weekend



Home insulation: after two months, two unforgivable lapses – no support for business or home owners

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It’s been almost two months since Minister Combet gave a commitment first to help businesses and second to establish safety inspection programs for the millions of Australians affected by the Home Insulation debacle, and we are still waiting.


Two months, two unforgivable lapses, millions of Australians waiting.


Many legitimate small businesses across Australia are still waiting for payment of legitimate claims that are months overdue and they are still waiting for the details on how to access the $15 million fund for business announced by Minister Combet on 10 March 2010.


The Rudd Government must today release the guidelines on how businesses can access this fund and announce a buy-back of legitimately-acquired insulation by legitimate installers.


In March and then again on 1 April, Mr Combet promised a safety program for non-foil insulated homes. We are still waiting.


There are over one million households insulated under the Home Insulation Program with an estimated 240,000 homes with dangerous or sub-standard insulation, yet Mr Combet’s safety program will not inspect over 800,000 of these homes.


The Rudd Government must commit today to inspecting every one of the one million plus roofs insulated under this program.


The Prime Minister will overcome the inspection regime today and advise that it will begin by May 7.


Two months is too long, action is needed today.



Credit unions the latest to give Rudd Government a Green Loans blast

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Building societies and credit unions have joined banks in expressing dissatisfaction at Peter Garrett’s incompetent mismanagement of the bungled Green Loans program, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Action Simon Birmingham said today.


In its submission* to a Senate inquiry into the Green Loans debacle, Abacus (the Association of Building Societies and Credit Unions) has echoed the frustrations voiced by the Australian Bankers’ Association in its submission.


Abacus represents 21 of the 24 financial institutions participating in the Green Loans program, the mismanagement of which has left 100,000 Australians unable to access the promised loans and thousands of assessors out of work.


“Of potential greatest concern is the suggestion from Abacus that many participating financial institutions have expressed a strong reluctance to be involved with any future similar Government programs,” Senator Birmingham said.


“This follows similar comments from banks, but is sadly not surprising given the frustrating experiences they detail after making significant investments in developing their Green Loan products.


“Abacus says many institutions have been left out of pocket by the sudden abandonment of the program’s loans component, which in the case of mutuals has a direct impact on members.”


Other problems identified by Abacus include sporadic and poor communications between the environment department and financial institutions, and a completely inadequate invoice payment system that saw most institutions not paid for months at a time.


“Banks and credit unions are just one group of people to have lost time or money as a result of the Green Loans debacle, with thousands of assessors left virtually unemployed and many homeowners disillusioned,” Senator Birmingham said.


“I look forward to these and other issues surrounding the Green Loans debacle being fully explored by our Senate inquiry.”



The Oceanic Viking Had To Go?

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The announcement by the Minister for Home Affairs, Brandon O’Conner, of a new Southern Ocean maritime patrol vessel raises serious questions about the protection of Australian waters.


Senator Ian Macdonald, who was Fisheries Minister at the time the Oceanic Viking was acquired and armed for patrol work in the Southern Ocean, has queried the fate of the Oceanic Viking.


“Is it going to be maintained as a second Southern Ocean patrol vessel, or is it now going to become a permanent home for illegal boat people in Northern Australia”?


“Or, is the lease of the Oceanic Viking not being renewed because the name is synonymous with another of the Rudd Government’s failures – this time in its border protection policy,” asked Senator Macdonald.


“As Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Northern and Remote Australia, the announcement of this work by a Newcastle company also reminds northerners of the way the Federal & State Labor Governments have conspired to shut the once vibrant ship building industry in Cairns.


“It now seems that all major ship building works in Australia are being conducted in politically sensitive southern electorates whilst the Cairns ship building industry is again overlooked,” he said.


“Perhaps Mr Jim Turnour, the Labor Member for Leichhardt and Senator Jan McLucas, both of whom claim to be advocates for Northern Australia, might explain why yet another government ship building opportunity is being overlooked for the North.


“The Oceanic Viking was primarily responsible for cleaning up the illegal Patagonian tooth fish trade in the Southern Ocean.


“I only hope that whatever the government is now doing, doesn’t in any way lessen Australia’s first class record in the protection of the Southern Ocean from environment and fishing vandals,” said Senator Macdonald.



Broadband problems roll on despite huge cost

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The Federal Government can add the National Broadband Network to its list of failed programs which have blown the country’s budget out by billions of dollars, Northern Territory Senator Nigel Scullion said.


“Northern Territory Communications Minister Karl Hampton said yesterday in Parliament only 17 of the Territory’s 20 Growth Towns are going to get access to the network. Which three will miss out and have they been told?” Senator Scullion said.


“Territorians want to see quicker, more affordable and more reliable broadband. They don’t want to have to pay for a $43 billion program which they won’t even get access to, and which after one year is already fraught with problems.


“Mr Hampton claimed telecommunications company Nextgen was investing $75 million in the NT, but it’s in fact the Australian taxpayer. It’s difficult to think of another example of a project with so much money involved, rammed through with so little planning.


“This plan is not the most responsible, nor the most cost-effective option to deliver better broadband.


“In Tasmania yesterday there were reports about potentially deadly work practices in the first state to receive works under the NBN. A sub-contractor was reportedly sacked for speaking out about safety after he saw an apprentice installing fibre-optic cables receive an electric shock.


“In Queensland last week a Senate committee heard that existing homeowners will be connected to the network for free, but new homeowners may have to pay up to $5,000 to connect.


“And in the Northern Territory, we have a minister who has no idea where works are up to, who is paying for the project, or how to actually deliver internet access for all Territorians, not just people living in larger towns.”