The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of David Bradbury

David Bradbury

Assistant Treasurer, Minister Assisting for Financial Services & Superannuation and Minister for Competition Policy & Consumer Affairs

5 March 2012 - 18 September 2013

Transcript of 18/07/2012

NO.072

Doorstop Interview

Sydney

18 July 2012

SUBJECTS: Tony Abbott's irresponsible comments, Leadership, ACCC investigation into shopper dockets and petrol pricing

DAVID BRADBURY:

It's only been a few weeks since the carbon price was introduced and we all recall that Mr Abbott said that he would be fighting against the carbon price every day until the next election and we saw towards the end of last week that he finally grounded, at least temporarily, grounded his reckless and irresponsible scare campaign to jet off overseas. But what we've now seen is an extraordinary turn of events. From Mr Abbott, we've seen him out there talking to an international audience and trashing Australia's national security credentials. This is extraordinary to think that the man who would be the alternative Prime Minister is out there addressing an international audience and trashing Australia's national security credentials. This is unprecedented and frankly not only is it unprofessional, but it's un-Australian. We've seen that from Mr Abbott that he's reckless and irresponsible… [pause for background noise]

We see from Mr Abbott that his reckless and irresponsible negativity is carried with him over to the US. Unfortunately he wasn't able to leave his reckless negativity at the airport, he took it with him all the way to the US. And what we've seen from him is trashing Australia's national security credentials in an attempt to try and gain some political advantage. This is unprofessional and it's un-Australian.

I'd also like to address the issue of reports in the papers today about the ACCC and its investigations in relation to shopper dockets for fuel. Can I say that whilst we are very concerned to ensure that consumers and motorists are always able to get the best value at the bowser, we want to make sure that if there are any uncompetitive practices occurring within the petrol sector, that they are rooted out. The ACCC is an independent body, independent of government. They are investigating these matters and it's appropriate that they do that because we want to make sure that consumers get the best deal at the bowser.

JOURNALIST:

What do you make of Mr Abbott praising Mr Rudd on the world stage? Mischief?

BRADBURY:

I think the extraordinary thing has been Mr Abbott out there saying every day between now and the next election he'll be fighting against the carbon price but he grounds his campaign, jetting off overseas.

JOURNALIST:

Why would he be praising Mr Rudd though, why would he be doing that?

BRADBURY:

Well, I think that it's a bit of mischief from Mr Abbott, but he might be making a little bit of mischief on that front but when it comes to his comments in relation to our national security, I think its extraordinary that the man that would be the alternative Prime Minister is out there trashing Australia's national security credentials and doing it to an international audience.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Abbott has praised Kevin Rudd for being intellectual and eloquent. Can you say something nice about Kevin Rudd for us?

BRADBURY:

I am on the record as having said many nice things about Kevin Rudd, who was a very good Prime Minister, but of course, we have a very good Prime Minister in Julia Gillard. She is a tough leader and she is going to lead the Labor Party to the next election.

JOURNALIST:

Are you still indelibly devoted to Julia Gillard? Are you prepared to get that tattoo?

BRABDURY:

I said at the time that was subject to a right of veto from my wife and she called me in on that one. But my support for the Prime Minister continues, as does the rest of the Caucus. The Prime Minister resolved these matters, they were resolved in February. She is a tough leader and she'll be leading us to the next election.

JOURNALIST:

Will you take a political bullet for Julia Gillard then?

BRADBURY:

I'll leave the flowery analogies to others. I'm out there campaigning hard for the best interests of people in my community and I support Julia Gillard because she is taking the tough decisions that our country needs our Government to take today so that we can build a stronger economy for the future.

JOURNALIST:

Why is this gathering so much steam just six months after the spill? Just seems like yesterday that it rears its head every day. What's your theory on the momentum that it's gathering again?

BRADBURY:

Well, if you ask those questions every day then there will be steam that surrounds those questions. But when I'm out there talking to people in the community, this is not an issue that is top of mind to them. They're concerned about many of the issues that our Government is confronting. And we are undertaking some tough reforms, pricing carbon we said was never going to be an easy thing to do. It's a difficult reform. But if we think that governments can take the hard decisions that our country and our economy need us to take for the future and to not take a little bit of paint along the way, then you're kidding yourself. The reality is that hard reforms come at a cost, but it's important that we have strong leaders, and Julia Gillard is a strong and a tough leader, to implement those reforms and she will be leading us to the next election.

JOURNALIST:

With families doing it so tough, aren't you concerned on the ACCC front at anything that might crimp the benefits of these dockets?

BRADBURY:

We obviously welcome opportunities for consumers and motorists to get petrol at the cheapest possible rates. But if promotions or various schemes that are in place that on the one hand appear to give benefits but on the other might belie some uncompetitive activity then of course we would expect that those matters would be dealt with. The ACCC is an independent authority, they investigate these matters and are investigating these matters and I'm sure if there are any uncompetitive practices that are occurring that they will take the necessary action. That's the way they've always been in the past and I've no reason to believe that they won't continue to be diligent in their functions into the future.

JOURNALIST:

Asciano's shed close to 300 jobs only a day after Ford Australia announced the shedding of several hundred jobs. How much trouble is Australian manufacturing and stevedoring in at the moment?

BRADBURY:

Well, when we handed down the Budget we had forecast that unemployment would increase slightly over the coming year and it is always a very sombre occasion when any Australian loses their job. It is also important to recognise that in a sophisticated economy like ours that jobs are being created and being lost every day and that is small comfort to you if you happen to lose your job. But of course, in our economy there are many jobs being created at the same time as we're seeing some jobs lost. I would point to the fact that since coming to office, over 800,000 jobs have been created in this economy and of course all of that occurred at a time through the GFC when the global economy shed up to 27 million jobs. Job creation and ensuring that Australian workers have access to appropriate levels of pay and conditions is something that is top of mind for our Government.

JOURNALIST:

There are reports today that pokie revenue's gone up and it may be as a result of carbon tax compensation payments. What do you say to those claims?

BRADBURY:

I have seen some of these reports. I understand that most of the data that's been relied upon has come from Queensland and indeed there are some seasonal anomalies there, given the fact that many clubs this time last year were not operational as a result of the floods, so I think we should be very cautious about relying upon that data that has been offered in the commentary that's been out there today. What I can say is that we believe that it's important and appropriate that the Australian Government provide some assistance to families and to pensioners that might be doing it tough and as part of our Clean Energy Package we want to make sure that households have the ability to cope with the modest price increases that we're expecting. Now, we've always taken the view that the overwhelming majority of families and pensioners that receive government assistance are going to apply that to sustain themselves and to look after their household budget and to make ends meet. Of course, Mr Abbott on the other hand, he was out there on the public record saying that you shouldn't give assistance to people because if you give assistance to people they're going to blow it on all of these social evils. Well, we happen to have faith in the Australian people and we take the view that the overwhelming majority of people in receipt of these payments will be using them to help them balance their budget and make ends meet.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think Joel Fitzgibbon should mind the way he talks about popularity of leaders?

BRADBURY:

Mr Fitzgibbon has made some remarks, they've received a lot of commentary. I don't intend to add to that other to say that the Prime Minister is a tough leader and she will be leading the Labor Party to the next election.

JOURNALIST:

But how important is popularity for a leader's standing?

BRADBURY:

I think that there's a lot of focus on opinion polls and one of the things that people, average citizens out there in the community, have been saying to me since I was first elected to public office is that "the problem with you politicians is you spend too much time worrying about opinion polls". Then you get a government that is more focused on getting on with the job and people can't understand why they might be doing that. We're undertaking important reforms so that we can build a stronger economy into the future and we'll continue to get on with the business of doing that.