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PRIME MINISTER

27 February 2015

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER


THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MP
DOORSTOP INTERVIEW,
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND
Subjects: Visit to New Zealand; Iraq; Daesh death cult; Liberal Party.
E&OE.
PRIME MINISTER:
Its terrific to be here in Auckland. Its great to be in New Zealand. This is an exciting time for New
Zealand. Not only is New Zealand doing well economically, but obviously theres the excitement of New
Zealand and Australia co-hosting the cricket World Cup. Were both very sports-oriented countries and this
is an exciting time for all of us.
Its also good that Ive got the opportunity to have my annual meeting with the New Zealand Prime
Minister. Obviously, John Key and I meet at various international for a, but its important that we have our
annual meeting as part of the close and intimate relationship between Australia and New Zealand.
While we are juridically separate countries, we have an extraordinarily close relationship. There is an
intimacy to the Australia-New Zealand relationship which doesnt really exist between any two countries on
earth.
Weve got quite a bit on our plate at the moment. We have particularly on our plate the ongoing struggle
against the Daesh death cult in the Middle East, a death cult which is reaching out to the wider world,
including in Australia. We've already see two terrorist incidents in Australia inspired by the death cult and
there was an interdicted terrorist event just a couple of weeks ago. So, I am obviously talking to Prime
Minister Key about a joint Building Partner Capacity mission in Iraq. There are still some processes that
need to be finalised before Australia can commit to this. Obviously, New Zealand has committed to it. I'm
delighted that New Zealand has committed to it. It shows that New Zealand is prepared not just to be a
splendid, magnificent, hospitable country which is such a great place to live, but New Zealand is also
prepared to play its part in the wider world.
It's good that New Zealand is prepared to play its part in the wider world and it's terrific that Australia and
New Zealand are prepared to play a part together in the wider world, and, as I said, I look forward to further
announcements on this subject in the next few days.
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QUESTION:
Could that be as soon as Tuesday next week?
PRIME MINISTER:
It could be as soon as Tuesday, but as I said, there are some processes that need to be finalised before
Australia can formally commit to this training mission. But, as you know, we are already involved in the
campaign to disrupt and degrade the death cult. Our air force is flying strike missions in Iraq nearly every
day. So far we've flown over 550 sorties against the death cult and we already have a Special Forces
contingent that is working with the Iraqi counter-terrorist service. So, this will be a modest but significant
further step against the death cult, and should we finalise our processes as I expect in the next few days, it
will be good to have our Kiwi partners with us.
QUESTION:
On trade, Prime Minister, you mentioned a free trade agreement with the EU that Australia and New
Zealand are both working towards. Could you put a timeline on negotiations for that deal?
PRIME MINISTER:
Look, as soon as possible is always our objective with these free trade negotiations, and one of the things
that I'm really proud of over the last 12 months has been our successful conclusion of difficult and
previously drawn-out negotiations with Korea, Japan and China. So I'm really, really pleased with that. I'm
not saying that the EU is going to be an easy one to land, because the EU has traditionally been more
inward-looking than outward-looking, but to the EU's credit, they seem to be adopting a different and, I
would say, better approach, so let's see where it goes.
As I said in my speech a little while back, we did a double act with ASEAN and while that is a good
agreement, it's not as ambitious as the agreements we have subsequently negotiated. It doesn't have much in
it about services and what I don't want to do is team up with even our best mates, the Kiwis, and got a
substandard agreement, but if we could get an ambitious agreement; if it was an agreement with Australasia
as opposed to simply with Australia, that would obviously be a better agreement.
QUESTION:
Mr Abbott, is this your final trip as Prime Minister to a foreign country, or is that in the hands of the Party
Room?
PRIME MINISTER:
Obviously I am the subject of the Party Room and I'm the subject of the electorate. All democratic
politicians in our system have different constituencies to which they are necessarily and rightly beholden.
There is the Party Room and there is the people and I'm looking forward to continuing to have the
confidence of both.
QUESTION:
Have you sought any advice or reports from any of your colleagues back in Australia while youve been
here in relation to leadership?

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PRIME MINISTER:
I obviously look at my text messages, I listen to my phone messages, but above all else, I get on with
government. That's what I do, I get on with government and every day this government has been getting on
with the job that we are elected to do. I have been getting on with the job that I was elected to do. I was in
Rockhampton earlier today to announce an extension of Commonwealth assistance to the people hit by the
cyclone. I'm in New Zealand this evening to further deepen and strengthen this intimate partnership across
the Tasman, and we've got more to do: whether it is economic security, whether it be national security, there
is always more to do and I'm expecting to get on with the job.
QUESTION:
Prime Minister, are your colleagues telling you that they are happy with your performance?
PRIME MINISTER:
Yes, they are yes, they are. I enjoy, I believe, the full confidence of my colleagues because we are getting
on with government we are getting on with government. We are doing absolutely what we were elected to
do. Now, I know that the press gallery in Canberra likes nothing more than a bit of insider intrigue and, look,
I don't say for a second that there aren't people around who are prepared to do a bit of background briefing
against colleague A or colleague B. I mean, sadly, that's been with us since time immemorial, but the
important thing is: what is the Government doing, what is the Prime Minister doing, and this Government is
undistracted, I am undistracted. We are getting on with government because that's what the people expect of
us.
The people of Australia hate it when their representatives in Canberra are self-absorbed and selfpreoccupied and I give them, I give you, this assurance: that that will never be my approach to this job. It
will never ever, ever be my approach to this job. Every single day in this job, I am, I will be, focused on
what's good for the people of Australia.
QUESTION:
Julie Bishop, your hard-working Deputy appeared to doze off at times during your speech today. Did you
notice that? What did you make of that?
PRIME MINISTER:
She certainly is an incredibly hard-working Deputy, there is no doubt about that, and she has been a
magnificently successful Minister for Foreign Affairs. Now, I've dozed off from time to time in conferences.
I think all of us from time to time have dozed off in conferences. I've missed some very great speeches I've
got to say, because occasionally I've been, as it were, contemplating the inside of my eyeball. Given the pace
at which all of us work, it's absolutely understandable and I also noticed her smiling and nodding and I think
she was nodding in agreement rather than doing any other kind of nodding while listening to the speeches
both John Key's speech and my own speech this afternoon.
Thanks so much.
[ends]

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