SENATOR THE HON PENNY WONG

MINISTER FOR FINANCE AND DEREGULATION

TRANSCRIPT

17 September 2012

CHANNEL NINE MORNING NEWS WITH AMELIA ADAMS

TOPICS: NEWSPOLL, STATE BUDGET CUTS

E&OE - PROOF ONLY

ADAMS: Minister Wong, a very good morning to you.

WONG: Good morning. Good to be with you again, Amelia.

ADAMS: Let’s go to the polls first. On a two party preferred basis, Labor and the Coalition are now both on fifty per cent – you must be very pleased with that. What do you think is behind Labor’s boost in the polls?

WONG: Polls come and go, as you know, every couple of weeks, and I’ve got to say we focus on other things other than polls. I’m much more focused on things like making sure we get a National Disability Insurance Scheme, making sure we can invest in our schools and improve standards, and things like rolling out the National Broadband Network, because this is what is important for the future of our economy and for future generations of Australians.

ADAMS: Tony Abbott’s character has come under fire in recent weeks. Do you think that’s revenge for his attack on Julia Gillard’s time at Slater & Gordon?

WONG: Tony Abbott is the person who said character is an issue when it comes to leadership. He’s the one who has been telling Australians, as he’s participated in what is a pretty extraordinarily negative attack on the Prime Minister, he’s the one that’s been telling Australians that character is important. Now, he’s saying it’s not when it comes to him. To my way of thinking, people have seen a fair bit of Tony Abbott’s character. He’s been pretty aggressive and pretty negative since he’s become Opposition Leader.

ADAMS: Senator, I know you say you don’t pay much attention to polls, but it is a sign of how the public is thinking. There is also a poll out this morning showing that Malcolm Turnbull is significantly more popular than Tony Abbott. Do you think there might be a leadership change there?

WONG: I think you’d probably better ask the Liberal Party that, rather than me. That’s a matter for them ultimately. But I’ve got no doubt that people do see Tony Abbott as a very negative figure and he’s certainly portrayed himself as aggressively negative for his entire period of Opposition leadership.

ADAMS: Just finally, as Finance Minister, of course, you know a lot about balancing the books – are those public sector cuts that we’ve seen in Queensland and New South Wales needed to bring the States’ budgets back into surplus?

WONG: This is a slash and burn approach from the Coalition and really the sorts of cuts to frontline services that we’re seeing, particularly in Queensland, demonstrate the sorts of plans that Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey have but won’t be upfront with the Australian people about.

ADAMS: Alright, Penny Wong, we’ll have to leave it there for now. Thank you so much for joining us.

WONG: Good to be with you.

ENDS