PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 15918

Doorstop Interview with Frank Lowy, North Sydney Oval

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: 20/05/2008

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 15918

PM: It's great to be here at North Sydney Oval and to spend some time, just now with the Socceroos and Matildas, and also the Maltilda's opponents this afternoon, the Canadian team.

The Socceroos are off on a huge number of games over the coming four or five weeks. They carry with them the best wishes of the nation. The Matilda's also are heading off very soon to Vietnam to begin a series of games in terms of the Asian Women's Cup.

Both teams carry the nation's best wishes. Both teams are going to bring about a general insomnia on the part of the country as we all have to get up at ungodly hours and find out what has gone on, how the game is going, and whether we are through.

But it is all to a good purpose and that is, that this game, this game of football, is the world game and to do well in the world game means doing well for Australia.

But both of these teams, the Socceroos and Matilda's are ambassadors for Australia. They are our diplomats. More people observe what they do around the world, than ever observe any speech that I deliver anywhere.

And therefore, the hopes of the country ride with them.

Of course the other reason for being here today, is to underline again, the Australian Government's support for Frank's efforts to secure the 2018 World Cup for Australia.

This will be a marathon of all marathons. It is going to be tough as hell. But our approach, together with Frank's is, you have got to be in it win it. And if we want the best for this game for the future, then bringing that World Cup to Australia in 2018 is the way to go.

So, all of our best wishes continue to be with you. And it is going to be a very, very challenging period of diplomacy, both at our level and at yours in the period ahead. Starting when all those FIFA guys come to Australia fairly soon.

JOURNALIST: Next week.

PM: Next week, that's right. Do you want to add to these words Frank?

LOWY: Not much to add except to say thank you to you Kevin for all the support that you have given, your government, and you bring the nation with you for the game and I really appreciate that. All of us appreciate that you speak from here and everybody who loves this game. Thanks very much

PM: More importantly I discovered that about four or five of the Matilda's live in my electorate in Brisbane, so I am keenly following their progress on the fields. Over to you folks.

JOURNALIST: Mr Prime Minister, your Government's committed $32 million over the next four years to football. Some other codes aren't too happy about that. Some other sports aren't too happy about that. Why football?

PM: Well we have got a huge challenge ahead which is to get behind soccer for the 2018 World Cup. Also, we know that there are particular development needs which are associated with this game.

But when it comes to the other football codes, let me tell you we have other things planned as well.

A lot of those codes are well established and have been around the country for 100 years or so. Less so with soccer, but we believe the country is big enough to support all football codes. We want to be behind all football codes and we will be behind it in different ways at different times.

JOURNALIST:Could this game's involvement in Asia give it some special appeal to the Government, no?

PM: Well when you look at soccer, it is a game for the world and it is a game played right across Asia and of course we are now active in both those, theatres of engagement when it comes to football. But can I say, I have been to see and enjoy so many games of rugby over the years, so many games of league over the years, the only one that cant claim to be fully international is AFL, but I enjoy that as well.

Each of these are fantastic codes, but each needs different level of support at different stages of development. If we were to take this code and take it to the next level in Australia and to secure for Australia, the 2018 World Cup, it means putting our shoulder well and truly to the wheel.

JOURNALIST:The lack of a right sized stadium seems to be the main block, what is the Government going to do about that?

PM: Well I have said to the Premiers, because if we secure the 2018 World Cup, it does have implication in terms of our Soccer Infrastructure across the country. But I am confident that we can work cooperatively with each of the states and the Premiers, to make sure the facilities will be in the right working order.

We in Australia, don't put our hand up for a bid unless we are confident we can deliver the infrastructure to support the bid and that will be the case here as well.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister that might help placate the other codes as well. If the stadiums are upgraded, I hear that some of them, Parramatta Stadium, Wollongong

PM:Shall we start the list? Alphabetical by state.

JOURNALIST:So a lot of other codes will benefit from those stadium upgrades anyway, wont they?

PM:Look, the Government supports sport in Australia for a whole range of reasons. One is, it is a part of who we are as Australia. It's fantastic. It is part of community life. And the more we have our kids engaged, the better it is for community life. The third is, basic physical fitness and the big challenges of course, we still have with obesity.

For all those reasons we are going to get behind each sport in our own way. As I said, others, other codes, whether it is football or other sports, beyond football, have different needs at different times. But we are quite passionate about being supportive of what our sporting codes do because we think it is the overall physical health of the nation. And in the case of (inaudible) it basically does Australia a power of good on the world stage, beyond anything any politician could ever do.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

PM: You mean, by saying in Chinese, ‘please don't'. It might take a bit more than that. Frank and I have been talking about this. This will be difficult. The Chinese can be very formidable competitors, but remember we were up against China for an earlier bid for the Olympics too and we managed to prevail.

But this will be tough, and I mean what I said before, tough as all hell, to pull this one off, but the Chinese are in the race, it will be really, that much harder. But that shouldn't deter us. We will certainly have our own quiet discussions with the Chinese in due season. I think it is important to pick the time and moment for such discussions to occur.

JOURNALIST: Will you be meeting with the president of FIFA next week when he is here to discuss the World Cup bid?

PM: We certainly have got FIFA in town and I know I'm meeting FIFA. I know I'm speaking with FIFA, at this point for fear I say anything wrong I'll turn to Frank.

LOWY: You will be meeting them, thank you

PM: I know I've got the gang in town so I'm looking forward to it

JOURNALIST: Do you think the fact that they are coming to town (Inaudible)

PM: I think what is really good and I congratulate Frank's effort in this respect is to bring this significant world body to Australia because apart from anything else they actually get to physically (inaudible) and see. When you see what a stupendous country this is, what a great city Sydney is, how good the facilities are and I hope through their engagement with the Government to understand that we're serious about this.

We as a culture, as a people and as a Government. This is not a political comment, it goes back over time. When we say we're going to put on a major world sporting event. We get on with the business of putting it on. We don't leave anything to risk. That will be our attitude to this as well and that's what I will convey to the FIFA team when they are here.

JOURNALIST: Do you think with your level of support at the moment (inaudible) the number one football code in Australia?

PM: So you'd like me to make a punt as to which of the four codes is going to be the number one?

JOURNALIST: We're trying to get you to show us your direction?

PM: It's called AFL is great, I really enjoy rugby league, rugby I played a bit when I was at school and I really enjoy the round ball as well.

In this country can I say that it's big enough and broad enough to embrace all four codes and globally of course each of these codes has got their own challenges. But you know I don't think it's a question of who comes first, who comes second. What's great about this country, we have many American visitors that come to Australia. They admire the fact that in a country of 20 million people we can support such a diversity of football. And I think it says everything about the rich diversity and geographical differences of Australia that we can do that.

And the fact now that who would have thought 20 years ago where I come from in Bris Vegas, that we would have won three AFL premierships through the Lions. Who would have thought that Melbourne would be putting up a major national rugby league team. Who would have thought these things. I think it's fantastic it says everything about the diversity and strength of the country. So the answer to your question is, no I'm not going to comment.

JOURNALIST:Have you been filled in on the politics of FIFA, pretty animalistic?

PM:FIFA makes the ALP look simple, don't you reckon?

LOWY:Well FIFA is complicated, it's like a United Nations. These things are complicated because they are so (inaudible). A lot of interests are there, but I think we will get heard very well.

PM:I think it is complex and national passions run high and that's where I think diplomacy is going to be very important. But you know pulling off the Olympics for Australia twice in half a century says a lot about Australia, and if we can do that we can give this a good shake and we intend to.

JOURNALIST:Prime Minister (inaudible) Macquarie bank (inaudible) once again we see these enormous salaries earned by executive Allan Moss (inaudible) do you like other political leaders in the past. Are you dismayed when you see these numbers (inaudible)

PM: I've said before and I'll say it again, I think at a time when a lot of Australians are pulling tight on their belt that it's important for our corporate leaders to do the same and to show salary restraint. I would urge our corporate leaders to do that, it's disappointing that we don't see it. As much as we should but at a time when a whole lot of people are under real financial pressure, I'm not about to discourage any incentive in Australia, but I think it's important that we show signs of restraint as well.

JOURNALIST:Prime Minister how concerned are you that you may be alienating the ageing Australians in the latest budget? The polls seem to be showing that you've alienated a lot of that sector of Australians.

PM: Look I said before the budget that it would be tough and we've had of course a lot of people who have been upset with parts of it since it was brought down. Our first challenge is to deliver a responsible budget. A conservative, cautious responsible budget at a time of great global financial uncertainty. That's why we needed to bring about a healthy surplus.

Secondly when it comes to seniors and carers, can I just emphasise that on senior themselves, we are delivering significant additional payments over what they were delivered at the last budget by Mr Howard and the same goes for carers. In the case of seniors, the payments that we are delivering for them is annually $400 more than Mr Howard delivered at the previous budget. And in the case of carers some $500 more than were delivered to them. I understand fully that this is still a real, real challenge and that's why the Henry commission of inquiry looking at tax, income support and retirement income will be looking at all these matters in the year ahead.

JOURNALIST:Today's poll Prime Minister. Record result for you but I imagine you'll stay well above will you with the antics of the other side. Emails and so fourth (inaudible) that's all beneath you?

PM:What I know is on the question of, like the budget question you have just raised, we have to deliver a responsible budget for the long term, rather than get up and get concerned about, or enthused about opinion polls which are about short term political results.

The Government I lead is about the long term interests of the nation and opinion polls will come and they will go, and some will be up and some will be down, and frankly, you shouldn't pay too much attention to them.

Thanks for your time.

Transcript 15918