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Transcript 16921

Interview with CNBC Singapore

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: 15/11/2009

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 16921

JOURNALIST: You chaired a session on climate change at the APEC summit. There is a sense that the momentum may be starting to get bogged down at the official level. The leaders are having to step in. How crucial are the talks next week - President Obama and Hu Jintao of China - going to be towards securing more hope at Copenhagen and a new deal?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, the climate change outcome is critical for the planet. The clock literally is ticking, not just for the planet but for Copenhagen itself - three weeks to go. So what we've done here in Singapore today at the APEC conference is we invited Prime Minister Rasmussen of Denmark as President of the Conference of the Parties to brief leaders here in Singapore at APEC on the problems that are being encountered and the ways through.

The good news is we had a strong resolve from leaders including the President of the United States and the President of China, the Prime Minister of Japan and others, including the President of Indonesia, who is author of the Bali Road Map two years ago on climate change, a strong indication of the highest level of political support for the Danish Prime Minister to fashion a draft agreement.

That's what we are working towards. It may not be perfect in the eyes of some but I've got to say it's critical to achieve a breakthrough, and as for the meetings which will be held in Beijing in the next few days between President Obama and President Hu Jintao, they're really important. These are two huge economies, but I've got to say both spoke very well and very positively in the breakfast which I helped chair this morning.

JOURNALIST: Critical at this junction that these talks next week- let me ask you bluntly, how hopeful are you there will be a breakthrough and there will be a new deal in Copenhagen?

PRIME MINISTER: I'm trained in the great craft of Australian political realism, which is, 'it's tough but you never give up until the end', and I believe there is a way through here. We do have the scope to bring about an ambitious agreement at Copenhagen. Of course, it all hangs on political will. The officials' process, as you've rightly indicated in your earlier question, has bogged down. Leaders are stepping in to try and pull this thing out of the fire. Many obstacles lie in the way, but speaking as Prime Minister of Australia, and I believe on behalf of so many of my colleagues, we intend to give this thing a darn good go.

JOURNALIST: At home, your own plan for the carbon tax has failed once, I think it was in August in the Senate. It's coming up again. In the last 24 hours we've had, I guess, a concession from the Government to take out the agricultural sector, which has been a key demand of the Opposition. Is that going to be enough to get this through so that you can take it and present it at Copenhagen? You need seven votes in the Senate.

PRIME MINISTER: Well these are tough negotiations at home and abroad. Let's look at both America and Australia. We've both taken over governments, President Obama and myself, from our predecessors who were not party to Kyoto, not substantively party to the global negotiations on climate change. We have to start from a zero start, and so both of us are obviously having to put together cap and trade systems, negotiate them with industry, and craft them through our respective parliaments or legislatures - our Parliament, his Congress. It's tough going.

For us, we will of course engage in good faith negotiations with the political Opposition in Australia. We'll know in the course of the next fortnight whether we get it through or not, but we're out there trying to make it work. We think it's important for Australia. We think it's important to be able to go to Copenhagen with the possibility of a resolution of this in Australia as well.

JOURNALIST: Let's talk about APEC, the final communiqué, the language on climate change halving the amount of carbon emissions by 2050. That was watered down to have the emissions cut down by 'a significant amount'. How disappointed are you by that?

PRIME MINISTER: Look I wouldn't get too obsessed with all of that. The reason is that we are three weeks out from Copenhagen. Everyone is engaged in a negotiation at present. Negotiations are kind of like negotiations anywhere - there's horse trading, there's deals cut and it's going to be a while before we get to the precise landing point.

I'm much more focussed on the meeting that I was privileged to co-chair this morning with, as I said, 17 or so world leaders around the table representing 56 per cent of the global economy, all saying 'the officials process is running into trouble. We need a political leaders-level process to get an outcome for Copenhagen', and a resolve to head in that direction. President Obama and President Hu Jintao are strongly on the bus for doing that.

JOURNALIST: Very quickly, the summit, APEC, the 20th we have had so far. When this whole thing first started, it was, if I'm not mistaken, very much, partly at least a Bob Hawke initiative. You are calling for the backing for an Asia Pacific community, more security based. What's wrong with APEC or the other regional for, and for that matter why on earth do we need another one?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, you're right. One of my Australian predecessors, Bob Hawke, a great Australian Prime Minister, about to celebrate his 80th birthday back home in Australia - happy birthday, Bob. He was instrumental in getting this thing going 20 years ago, and it's been very successful - rolling out a free trade agenda across the Asia Pacific, underpinning so much of the growth which has occurred here. At the same time, providing a forum for leaders to gather on other questions, as we have just done on climate change. But here's the problem: APEC has no security policy mandate.

If you look for those with a potential security policy mandate, the ASEAN Regional Forum for example, it hasn't really taken off. Australia was involved in the establishment of it as well, 15 years or so ago. And we have the emergence of the East Asia Summit, but it excludes the United States and APEC excludes India, a major economy for the Asia-Pacific region for the 21st Century.

So what have we put forward? Let's begin with a discussion about how we evolve over time an Asia-Pacific community which has a broad mandate: political; economic; security; climate change - in other words, the whole scope of our future engagements and one which critically includes America and India as well.

JOURNALIST: Let's talk about your relations with India. 'Strategic partnership' is the way that you're describing it now. Australia is, of course, a very significant supplier of raw materials to China. India though, obviously you have your eye on possibly supplying uranium for their nuclear program. What about the fact, though, that India is not a part of the NPT and you've said before 'no NPT, we're not buying, we're not exporting'?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, as far as our energy relationship with India is concerned, it's going ahead in leaps and bounds. Take, for example, LNG. Most recently, one of the Indian power companies signed a $20 billion contract for a huge new Australian resource development off the North-West Shelf of Western Australia called the Gorgon development. So that's happening, and it's happening across the board.

You raise the question particularly of uranium. What I've said to our Indian colleagues and friends, Prime Minister Singh, is that we have no particular problem with India's good and strong record on non-proliferation in the past. However, our policy has been, since 1978, to provide uranium to those countries which are signatories to the NPT, the Non-Proliferation Treaty. I understand that causes some concern in New Delhi but we have so many other things on the energy front in that relationship that I believe we have a strong future overall.

JOURNALIST: If you could, in just a few seconds, because we don't have that much time left, describe if you could, how would you describe Australia-China relations at this point in time, after, I think, you went through Stern Hu, the Rio Tinto deal collapsing, etcetera?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, obviously there are always challenges in any relationship. International relations are not all that different really from personal relations. They go through a few ups and a few downs, but you know something? Strategically, the Australia-China relationship is in first-class working order. In the last month I think I've spent a considerable amount of time with President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, Vice-Premier Li Keqiang, who came to Australia, General Chen Bingde, the head of the PLA - they've all been down.

This relationship is in good working order. From time to time there will be bumps on the road, but you know something? This is a big economic relationship for both of us. It's big for the long term. We both get that, and therefore it's just a question of managing the hiccups when they arise and I think we're doing that okay.

Transcript 16921