The headlines from Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s interview with the Washington Post are all about what was pretty much the last thing he said: that the previous Labor government lived in a “wacko world”.
But the interview covered a lot of territory. Abbott outlined his views on a range of policy matters to Lally Weymouth, senior associate editor of the Washington Post, including on asylum seeker boat arrivals, the mining and carbon taxes, and ensuring smaller and more efficient government.
Abbott also reaffirmed support for US soldiers rotating through Darwin and said that he expected to visit Washington sometime next year.
And yes, he called the Labor government “wacko”, “incompetent”, “untrustworthy” and “embarrassing”.
Many of the comments online at the Washington Post on October 25 about the interview appeared to be from Australians. Americans didn’t seem to object (or perhaps they didn’t know what to make of it) a lot although one did compare him to Sarah Palin, former Republican nominee for Vice President.
In the question and answer format interview, Mr Abbott said:
Foreign Investment: US investment in Australia is over $600 billion. Chinese investment is not much over $20 billion.
China: “By a long way our biggest trading partner. I’d like to see the relationship deepen [and] the trade relationship continue to strengthen.”
Climate Change: “I accept that climate change is a reality. And I support policies that will be effective in reducing emissions, but I do think there is too much climate-change alarmism.”
Carbon Tax: “The carbon tax was basically socialism masquerading as environmentalism, and that’s why it’s going to get abolished.”
Mining: Growth in China has slowed to 7 per cent from 9 per cent, still high. Australia’s iron ore and gas exports are up, not down. “The investment side of the resources boom is slowing down but the production side is cranking up.”
Infrastructure: “In the years ahead, we will be needing investment in areas other than resources. Over the next half-decade or decade, we are going to have to invest massively in roads and other infrastructure which have been neglected by Labor governments.”
Small Government: “We will do our damnedest to shrink the public service and have a bonfire of red tape and unnecessary taxes.”
Revenue: “If you get taxes and regulations down, you will get creativity up and ultimately that means more growth and more revenues. The best way to get growth is to have a smaller, more effective government.”
Asylum Seekers: A “massive illegal immigration racket”. In July of this year, “we had illegal arrivals by boat at an annual rate of 50,000, which is a massive influx. Now the numbers have slowed dramatically, particularly since the election”.
Also: “Of course we can support a bigger population, but people have to come in the front door, not the back door.”
Foreign Policy: “I hope that I will be more consistent and predictable. The difficulty with the former government was that one day they were focused on this, the next day they were focused on that. They found it difficult to consistently follow through on anything.”
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