(Questions were not recorded – the words in brackets are the theme of the questions)
Justin Smith: (is Tony Abbott finished following the spill)
Senator Macdonald: I would probably say no, but I think it is an irrelevant question. Tony has indicated that he is going to change and I take him at his word. I mean he is a honourable man, Tony. We haven’t always seen eye to eye on a lot of things but I think, as he said, he’s been shaken by this, at what he said was a near death experience. He has made commitments. I believe that he will honour those. There will be a whole new different approach to governance, perhaps to the budget. We will all be watching that very carefully.
Justin Smith: ( Can you believe he can change and be a better Captain? That he will improve the way he plays it.)
Senator Macdonald: Look if you told me that about your bowling I would be watching you and when I saw you bowl a couple of underarms in 3 months’ time, I would say (a), you have lied to me, you were never going to bowl properly and (b) we want to get rid of you out of the team. Quite frankly it is similar here. I mean Tony has made these commitments. I think he is a honourable man I think he will do it, but if it doesn’t work, if he isn’t turning the public around, I think Tony will be the first to realise that and people, including me, have indicated to him, and I think heunderstands, that if it is not working, that the people of Australia aren’t with him, and we’re heading for a train wreck at the next election, I think you would find that Tony would do the right thing. But I don’t think that will be relevant as I believe he will turn it around.
Justin Smith: (News Poll low figures for Abbott)
Senator Macdonald: I’ve seen them down that way before; I have seen both John Howard and Paul Keating both recover from those figures. Look the proof will be in the pudding, if Tony doesn’t change, his time is limited. I am confident he will, I am confident that Australians will get the sort of government they want. If they don’t, the first one to know that without anyone telling him will be Tony Abbott and I think Tony is honourable enough to do the right thing then.
Justin Smith: (About what was discussed in the private meeting)
Senator Macdonald: I am confident you are right. I won’t give away the details of a private conversation. But I can say this to you if we got the time. I went into this private meeting with Tony and said how long have we got, he said half an hour or so, I said good, can you keep quiet, I have a page of dot points that I want you to hear on this one occasion I’ve got this opportunity , because I don’t normally go around knocking on Prime Minister’s doors. But he sat there and listened to my list, the conversation lasted almost an hour. He really didn’t interrupt. He made a couple of comments and at the end we had a chat between us. I am absolutely confident that he has listened to what I said, and I think he has done that with others as well. Look Tony is a remarkable person you know and this is coming from someone who isn’t always one of his greatest fans but I think he has listened and he knows that people like me and others will be watching intently. Tony is clever enough to understand that. I think you will find quite a different style with a new approach to policy and you will find the government the Australian people wanted when they changed the government last election.
Justin Smith: (About the Prime Minister’s office and Peta Credlin, should Joe Hockey go)
Senator Macdonald: Look Tony knew my views on his office, I made them publicly 15 months ago. I haven’t had anything to do with his chief of staff or his office since that time. I didn’t really need to mention it anymore. I did indicate that I thought it was unfortunate that the heads of the Liberal Party Organisation and the Prime Minister’s office had a connection but again that is nothing new. In relation to the Treasurer no I didn’t say that, I did say to Tony and yes I have said this publicly, Tony is not a one man band. Some of his minsters need to be more forceful, not that I have been in this cabinet but I have been in cabinets in the past and I find because of our system where the Leader appoints ministers, some ministers are not as forthright as perhaps they should be. So you cannot just blame Tony. You can blame the cabinet as a whole for not saying to Tony at the time of the budget, look that co-payment won’t fly, it’s just bad.
Justin Smith: (About Hockey and the Budget)
Senator Macdonald: Having said that I don’t have a lot to do with Joe, and I’ve said publicly, I thought the budget was badly sold. It wasn’t discussed beforehand, a case wasn’t built. We erred with that silly Commission of Audit that came down a week before the budget and everyone thought it was the budget. So there was a bit of management issues. I would have hoped it to be better organised. But who’s fault is that? Is it the Treasurer’s? Was it the Prime Minister’s? Was it the Prime Minister’s office? I don’t know that. I am just sure it won’t happen again.
Justin Smith: (Can Abbott Survive)
Senator Macdonald: Look time will tell, Justin. As I say, I and you, and all your listeners will be equally diligent and vigilant. I am confident that things will change. You will get a government you and your listeners would be proud of but if it doesn’t happen then the first one who will know about that because he is an intelligent man, will be Tony Abbott and if that happens I think he will take the appropriate action.
Justin Smith: Senator thank you very much for your time.
Senator Macdonald: My pleasure Justin