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Transcript 15812

Press Conference - National Binge Drinking Strategy Treasury Place, Melbourne

Photo of Rudd, Kevin

Rudd, Kevin

Period of Service: 03/12/2007 to 24/06/2010

More information about Rudd, Kevin on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 14/03/2008

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 15812

PM: First of all I'd like to thank the heads of these sporting codes for meeting with myself and Nicola Roxon and the Sports Minister this morning, Kate Ellis. And we've been talking about the whole challenge of binge drinking and I thank them: Ben Buckley, Andrew Demetriou, John O'Neill, David Gallop, Kate Palmer and Jane Sutherland for representing these major sporting codes in Australia.

Let me say at the outset, sport is not the cause of binge drinking but we all believe that sport can be a part of the solution for this problem which affects families right across Australia.

What I've been pleased about this morning is to listen to the presentations of each of the codes about what they are already doing in their own patch. A lot of works going on.

We want to, as the National Government, partner with the codes to fill some gaps and to make sure that the message about responsible drinking reaches right down into local community clubs and organisations.

Between them these codes represent hundreds of thousands of players right across the country. Tens of thousands of clubs. And huge part of the fabric of Australian community life.

For us therefore as the National Government, they form logical partners in dealing with a social problem which affects so many young Australians and their families today.

I think right across the table we had a common view that this is a challenge for all of us. When it comes to the causes of binge drinking, that's right out there deep in society at the moment, a whole lot of factors at work there.

What we need to do, as the National Government and as national sporting organisations, is work together in how we respond to the problem and provide some positive options for young people as well.

It's been my long standing view that young people involved in local community and sporting life are young people who are likely to lead a healthy life, and a good life.

That's why we as a Government also want to partner with these major sporting organisations to ensure that we have more and more young people participating in community support, not any reduction.

The other day in Canberra I announced that we were about to embrace a $53 million campaign, a national prevention strategy, an intervention strategy when it comes to binge drinking among our young people.

$14.4 million to invest in community level initiatives to confront the culture of binge drinking.

$19.1 million to intervene earlier to assist young people who already have a problem.

And $20 million for a national advertising campaign.

What I described the other day is some serious in your face advertising about the impact of binge drinking, particularly on very young people.

And remember the statistic I used the other day, from a 2005 survey, 168,000 young Australian's between the ages of 12 and 17 reported in that survey to be engaged in binge drinking. That is, in the case of a young male, seven drinks within a restricted period of time. A young female five drinks within a restricted period of time. And the impact on their health being huge.

What we discussed and agreed upon today is a four point approach for the future.

The first is this: here in Victoria there is a good sports program, and our friends from netball have already got some good experience about how that works effectively on the ground. At present the Australian Government is not a partner in that program and what we want to do is to ensure that program reaches out across a range of sports and across the country. That's why I am announcing support today to the tune of $5.2 million to roll out that good sports program nationally at a grass roots club level across the country.

The second is, we've agreed that we should have a $2 million program which we will call a club champions program. The idea being, that in grass roots sporting clubs right across Australia we identify a senior player and a senior coach, administrator or physio who together become the local ambassadors for responsible drinking within that local community club. And we think that's a good way ahead.

And the third is, the codes themselves have indicated to me this morning that they will now work together to harmonise their existing work and existing codes of responsible drinking so that we then end up with a uniform code which can be applied across all sporting organisations and clubs across the country.

Many of these codes and clubs have already done a huge amount of work in this area. I was talking to David Gallop about the work that's already been done in the Rugby League, and that goes for most of the other codes as well.

So they the codes have agreed that they will come back with their proposal about how these things are brought together and harmonised into a code which we can then universally ensure is applied across the country.

And finally, the fourth point, we've said before that we want to dedicate a significant amount of money to a direct, in your face advertising campaign pitched at young people using television, radio, FM radio, internet - the way in which young people use and get there information.

And I thank very much the codes for agreeing this morning for their preparedness to nominate significant stars and players from within their codes who would be willing to participate in that national advertising campaign, I thank them very much for that.

On the detailed and creative side for all that, that's not my province. I know what I am good at and I know what I'm bad at. In the creative side of things I'm generally bad at. So that will be left to others. But I thank the codes for being willing and prepared to put forward some of their stars to help with this in getting this message back to young Australians.

I conclude where I began. Sport is not a cause of binge drinking. Sport can be a part of this solution to this problem affecting so many families across Australia today and I thank these leaders of our sporting organisations who have been prepared to pitch in with the National Government to help deal with this national problem.

Now I might just turn to John to comment on behalf of the codes.

JOHN O'NEILL: Thank you Prime Minister and I'd like to acknowledge Kate Ellis, the Minister for Sport, and Nicola Roxon, the Minister for Health. Thanks Prime Minister for inviting us here today. On behalf of the sporting bodies I've been asked to speak and to say how pleased we are to be here. The Prime Minister gave us the opportunity to talk about our programs and what we're doing currently. But importantly the recognition that binge drinking, excessive alcohol consumption, is not just a problem for sport, or sporting bodies, it's a problem for society. And to the extent that we collectively touch a lot of people. Sport touches a very, very large percentage of Australian's in one form or another and we can be part of the solution, we want to be part of the solution. All the initiatives that the Prime Minister has indicated this morning are ones that we will support.

We can work together on this. There's lots of rivalry between us on the park in terms of the battle for hearts and minds, but we are united in wanting to confront the reduction in the consumption of alcohol, bringing it back to responsible levels. And we believe harmonising the approach, a universal code of conduct in this area, is a sensible way to go.

Again thank the Prime Minister and his two Ministers for giving us the opportunity to meet. It was very constructive and I think the way forward under the initiatives announced this morning will improve the situation, not just in sport, but within society in general. Thank you.

PM: Thanks very much John, Happy to take your questions if they deal with this matter, and if you want to go into other matters, I will liberate our colleagues so they can go and do some serious work elsewhere in the country today.

JOURNALIST: Is it time, Mr Rudd, to stop alcohol sponsorship in sport?

PM: When it comes to alcohol sponsorship and alcohol advertising our view is the challenge right now is to encourage a culture of individual responsibility when it comes to responsible drinking.

When it comes to the role played by alcohol in the sponsorship of sport I see no prima facie reason why that should not continue. When it come to advertising, already those matters are going to be considered by the upcoming Senate inquiry which is already got underway in Canberra.

Therefore, on those other matters, let's see what shakes out of the inquiry in due course.

But what I am concerned about is practical action now.

And practical action now means in your face advertising to young people about the impact of drinking on their lives, binge drinking on their lives.

Secondly, using our relationship with these very good sporting organisations to get a message out and intervening with young people already in trouble.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) role the elite sportspeople (inaudible) whether they should be role models (inaudible)

PM: Look when it comes to role models, none of us, repeat none of us, is perfect. I'm not perfect I make mistakes, everyone does. Sports people make mistakes, everyone does.

You see, I'm actually dead serious about the proposition, we are dealing with a grass roots social problem right across the Australian community. And I am dead serious about my argument that sport is not the cause of binge drinking. Sports men and women are not the cause of the binge drinking across Australia. But sport can be part of the solution. And that's where we want to partner with these great sporting codes to help push the tide back in the other direction.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what is the cause of binge drinking in your view?

PM: You know something I wish I knew. It's something where I'm sure researchers through the health department, health portfolio, will be doing some work through the course of the year. But one thing is obviously an expanding reach of tolerance and social attitudes.

The number of parents who roll up to me in shopping centres and say, ‘look, my kids were out the other night at a 16th birthday party and the parents allowed alcohol into the party and what should we do about it? When do we start educating our kids when it comes to responsible drinking?'

These are the challenges that Mums and Dads are dealing with.

It's a far deeper level of societal and generational change in Australia which is brought about I think a big change on social attitudes.

What I'm saying is, it's time we actually turned the tide on this. Because it's gone too far. And, again I thank our sporting organisations for being willing to partner with us in forming part of the solution.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) Australians who are involved in sport?

PM: Well, part of this outreach program which we've got here for $14.4 million to invest in community level initiatives, as the Health Minister outlined this morning in our conversation with the heads of sporting organisations, about half of that will be in partnership with sporting organisations, half of it with non-sporting community organisations as well.

There are multiple ways in which you reach young people. I've got to say, one of the most effective ways though still, is, I think, some direct, in your face, no holds barred advertising. So that people are confronted with the fact that if you binge drink as a 14 or 15 year old, you could end up with permanent brain damage. I don't believe that message has got through yet. It needs to.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

JOHN O'NEILL: I think as employers of high profile and well paid players, we expect them to adhere to the code of conduct that we have in place now. And, it doesn't do the image of sport and individual games a lot of good for players to get themselves into trouble, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and (inaudible).

So, we have a reputation risk every time one of our players ends up on the front page of a daily newspaper for behaving badly. I think we all share the intent of the message, you don't put yourself in harms way. And, there are things like curfews, and guidelines, a lot of money is going in from all of our resources into the education of the players and I think this morning we heard loud and clear from all of us that we're spending a lot of money now educating players, about performance enhancing drugs, illicit drugs, recreational drugs and alcohol. So, we're dealing with a less than homogenous group, and we need to just really keep the emphasis on up front education.

PM: And I think, to add to what John's just said, after this meeting today and after we earlier this week launched this national campaign against in binge drinking, guess what: some time this season you're going to find a seniors sportsman or sportswoman out there who would have drunk too much, and guess what, you'll probably find a politician or two who has been up there and has drunk too much as well.

Human nature is like that, there is going to be failures, I understand that.

But, as a nation, it is time to start turning the tide on this, and that's why I'm pleased to be able to partner with these sporting organisations to do so.

JOURNALIST: As a father in your own home, what would you say to your own kids about this?

PM: I try, with all my kids, Therese and I have always encouraged an attitude towards responsible drinking. You know, people will choose whether they want to drink alcohol or not. I accept that and respect that. But if you're going to drink alcohol, then, in our family, and I don't put myself up as any model parent on these sort of questions, but in our family, from an early age, we tried to encourage our kids to understand what responsible drinking is.

That is, in moderation. Nothing wrong with having some fun, nothing wrong with going out and, you know, kicking your heels up and having a party. As long as you draw some lines around it.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) harmonised code of conduct (inaudible) this morning about (inaudible)

PM: No, on the second point, no. But I am respectful of the fact that the codes here in their existing work is already substantial.

We will have them come back to us in the course of the next several months in terms of their proposal for a harmonised code. I'm confident, given the good will which is around the table, and the excellent work we have already done, that we can get to that point before too much longer.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

PM: Well, on that question, we have already an approach which is there should be a consistent code. And, the Sports Minister, in fact, raised some of these matters with the codes earlier today.

Work continues in that department, and we're confident we can get to that as an end point.

A lot of work has gone on within the individual codes, as you're fully aware, but we're confident we can get to the point of consistency. It'll take a bit of time yet. But, there is some good will around the table and we're confident we can get to that end point. I might allow our colleagues to go, some of them have to catch aircrafts, and then, I'll be available for general monstering on any other subject.


JOURNALIST: On the minimum wage issue (inaudible) do you think the union claim (inaudible) too high?

PM: We believe that what we need for the minimum wage case is a fair, balanced and reasonable outcome for working families under financial pressure.

Working families right now are dealing with mortgage rates going through the roof, 12 interest rates rises in a row.

Working families are dealing with petrol prices going higher and higher. The price as of yesterday was something like $110US per barrel.

The cost of groceries as well as the cost of child care.

Therefore, assisting working families under financial pressure is important. That's why a fair, balanced and reasonable outcome for working families through this minimum wage case is important.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

PM: Well, we've made out submission the terms which the Deputy Prime Minister has put this morning. I notice some commentary from the Opposition about why a number isn't advanced. According to my information here, in their 2006 submission, no submission on a number. 2007 submission, no submission on a number. Frankly, I mean, the standards being applied by the Opposition on this are completely inconsistent.

And, it's very important that we have a decent outcome for working families. We put our general case, and we want to make sure that working families get a decent outcome from this.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

PM: Well, we believe this is the appropriate way to go. We've had lengthy Cabinet deliberations on this over recent weeks and again last night. We think it is the right way to go. Of course, since the introduction of the Fair Pay Commission, circumstances have changed somewhat. It's an independent body. And, we think this is the appropriate way to go.

We are very mindful of the constraints which exist, which is we are fighting the fight against inflation. At the same time, we've got working families under financial pressure. We think a fair and balanced and reasonable outcome up the middle for working families is the way to go.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

PM: Well, it's an independent commissioners job is to do that. As the Deputy Prime Minister said in an extensive interview on this this morning. She's confident that a proper outcome can be delivered by that mechanism. And as I've said here, the way in which this new body as operated the last couple of years, it hasn't attracted a submission with an identified number from the previous Government either in 2007 or 2006, and, frankly, it is an extraordinary double standard on the part of the previous Government to suggest that we should now do something which they did not do.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

PM: Look, I think what we need is to get a fair and balanced outcome. Unions will obviously argue hard in one direction. I understand that. But, we must do everything we can to ensure there is a fair and balanced outcome which is compatible with us fighting the good fight against inflation, that's really important. Higher inflation pressures result in higher interest rate pressures. And on the other hand, working families now under financial pressure need every bit of assistance they can get.

And let me just conclude with this. Apart from this determination of the minimum wage, we've got to do everything we can to assist working families which is financially and economically responsible.

We are delivering our tax cuts. They come into force on 1 July. They will assist working families.

Despite the fact that many across the country are called upon us to abolish that pre-election commitment, well I won't be doing that. I honour my pre-election commitments to the Australian people. We said we'd being in tax cuts, they're going to come in.

Secondly, we also have an increase in the childcare tax rebate from 30 per cent to 50 per cent, which comes in at the same time. The reason we're doing both of those things is that working families are under pressure. Working families need help with the tax system. They need help with childcare, and they also need some assistance with the outcome of this national minimum wage case determination. And having said that, I've got to run.

Transcript 15812