CELINA EDMONDS: Senator Birmingham, you have to admit that we are going to hear that line, ‘phoney Tony’ a lot now? It does seem that ‘straight shooting Tony Abbott’ may have shot himself in the foot on this one.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Celina, Tony’s only sin last night was to give a direct and honest answer to a difficult question. That’s all he did last night on The 7.30 Report – he answered the question that he was asked and if that’s become a sin in Australian politics, well there’s something wrong with it… and this confected outrage we’re hearing from the Labor Party truly rings hollow. We look back on their track record over the last couple of years… Kevin Rudd is the one who has backflipped, broken promises, failed to deliver, time and time again… went to the last election promising that he would end the blame game between states, yet he seems to be pretty good at continuing to shuffle the blame around wherever it suits… promising that he would ease the squeeze on working families, that he would help reduce the cost of living pressures. Well, what happened to FuelWatch, Grocery Watch, all of those sorts of things? All promises that he abandoned and walked away from. What happened to his commitment to the environment? Abandoned and walked away from. So this is a Prime Minister where you can’t believe or trust anything that he says, because you can’t be sure that he believes himself in anything any more, and this outrage about Tony Abbott honestly answering a question, directly answering a question on The 7.30 Report, is just a smokescreen for a government that really is in trouble at present.
CELINA EDMONDS: Well Senator Birmingham, are you prepared for you and your colleagues all to be asked now whether you’re telling the gospel truth right through to the election?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Celina, we will go to the election with direct, clear policies and policies that we intend to deliver on and stand up to. Tony Abbott throughout his career has always been suggested as being somebody who has spoken the hard stuff, talked about the difficult things that need to be done and not been afraid of a fight. That’s the Tony that has taken the Opposition leadership, he’s taken the fight up to the Government, sometimes taking difficult decisions when the media and others would have said he shouldn’t have done so. We’ll continue to do that and the policies we take to the election will be a stark contrast to the ones of the Government. Because we’ll make sure they are reasonable policies, policies that are achievable, that we can deliver on in government, rather than all of the backflips and backdowns and disappointments the Australian public has seen over two and a half years of Kevin Rudd.
DAVID BRADBURY:  … and Simon was talking about the CPRS a little bit earlier on, which … I find it just extraordinary that someone from the Liberal Party, like Simon, who actually supports the CPRS but never ever had the stomach to vote for it in the parliament would come forward and say that this is an example of us not delivering. Well we didn’t deliver, because Tony Abbott … we would not be in the position of not being able to deliver that had it not been for the Opposition blocking it. Now sometimes these… 
SIMON BIRMINGHAM:  David, Kevin Rudd doesn’t have the courage of his convictions to stand by those policies. This is a Prime Minister who when…
DAVID BRADBURY: Well you don’t have the courage of your convictions, you weren’t even prepared to vote for it in the parliament.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: David, this is a Prime Minister who when it gets tough, walks away… backs down, backflips. This is a Prime Minister who stood there hand-on-heart to the Australian public and said ‘this reckless spending must stop’, who has been leader of the most…
DAVID BRADBURY: So you no longer support an ETS?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: … the most wasteful, profligate Government in Australia’s history. Now, if you want to fight an election on the ETS, let the Prime Minister… let Mr Rudd perform yet another backflip and say he’ll take it to a double dissolution, because if he believed in it, if he had the courage of his convictions, that’s what he would do. But he doesn’t… he’s stepped away from it, just as he has disappointed the Australian people on everything that he claimed to stand for before the last election, and in no greater way than his wasteful spending, his big deficits, his massive debt, all of these things that he said he was a fiscal conservative and wouldn’t do, he has failed the test on every one of those counts.
DAVID BRADBURY: Give me a break Simon. Of all the hypocritical things to say, you are someone that went into your party room and voted to support a CPRS, but you’ve not been able to stand up in the parliament and do the same thing. 
DAVID BRADBURY: Now you come forward and you start lecturing about having the courage of your convictions. Are you fair dinkum?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: David, you’re not able to look down the camera lens on this program and stand up for your Prime Minister, Mr Rudd, and the fact that he lacks the courage of his convictions. You can turn this into a debate about me if you like… the Australian people are far more interested in their leaders, and whether Mr Rudd has delivered what he promised to two and half years ago and I challenge you to find anything on which he has lived up to the expectations and beliefs that he put in place at that last election. It’s fail, fail, fail almost anywhere.
DAVID BRADBURY: Okay, well let’s begin with WorkChoices…
CELINA EDMONDS: Senator Birmingham, isn’t it the case that… Sky News has been told this morning that there are rumblings within the Liberal Party, that people are saying that Tony Abbott went too far last night in his honesty, if you like?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Celina, I haven’t heard anything of that nature. The reality is, we want to get on with the job of prosecuting a message to the Australian people about the clear alternative plans that we have for direct action and responsible government, contrasted with the failure of the Rudd Government and their failure to deliver and live up to their promise – that’s the debate we want to put forward in the future… that’s what we will be doing day in, day out.  David can talk about WorkChoices if he likes… Kerry O’Brien put those questions to Tony immediately after the other issues were raised last night and Tony gave, in the context of that interview, direct answers to it and made sure that he reassured the Australian people that yes, we made some mistakes in our last term in office, we had to have a period in Opposition, we’ve learnt some lessons and one of those key lessons is that we will maintain safety nets, in place, under a workplace relations regime. But we do think that Labor has gone too far, that indeed even in the area of WorkChoices they broke their promise to the Australian people, because rather than just undoing WorkChoices, they undid more than a decade of workplace relations reforms, they have taken Australia back a long, long way and indeed we need to put a bit of flexibility back into the system, but we learnt our lesson and that flexibility will come with a very strong safety net for the future. We have some clear plans.
CELINA EDMONDS: Senator Birmingham in Adelaide, you’d have to admit Peter Dutton would be pretty happy that the spotlight’s off him for the moment and it’s on Tony Abbott?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, David wants to mount his entire argument, it seems, in favour of the mining tax on the purchase of 50 BHP shares. I would rather look at the comments of the Labor Government in South Australia, the Labor Government in Queensland, governments who have said this tax is poorly structured and risks future investment decisions, puts those future investment decisions at risk and that of course means you’re risking jobs. Future investment in Australia equals jobs for Australians. This tax is a triple whammy. It’s a tax that will hit employment and jobs, trade and exports, it’ll hit consumers and household budgets eventually as it flows through the entire economy. It’s a tax that has been implemented by Kevin Rudd purely to make up for his wasteful spending. He needs this 9-billion-dollar-a-year tax to pay his 8-billion-dollar-a-year bill on his interest payments, so it’s a desperate measure from a desperate government, and it’s one that even Labor Party leaders in Queensland and South Australia and elsewhere are starting to stand up against, have the courage to speak up against and say it’s bad policy, poorly thought out, and the Government honestly needs to accept that this will cost Australia into the long term future. Canada’s crowing about it, Papua New Guinea’s crowing about it… they all think it’s great for investment in their countries but it’s bad here.