Prime Minister Transcript of doorstop interview Hopetoun Park 18 February 2010
Period of Service: 03/12/2007 to 24/06/2010
Release Date: 18/02/2010
Release Type: Interview
Transcript ID: 17063
PM: Look, can I simply emphasise the absolute important of building infrastructure and protecting jobs? Neither of these two things happens by magic. It happens because governments decide to make it happen and businesses decide to make it happen with governments.
What's the benefit of projects like this? We build the infrastructure for tomorrow and we create the jobs of today. That's what we're here to do.
And this is part of a $36 billion investment by the Australian Government nationwide in our transport infrastructure. Building the infrastructure we need for tomorrow while creating the jobs, protecting the jobs, providing the apprenticeships, protecting the apprenticeships that we need for the young people of tomorrow.
Over to you, folks.
JOURNALIST: Ah, Tony Abbott's near miss yesterday, what does that say about the safety of Australian roads?
PM: Look, all's I could say about the events yesterday is that I think everyone's relieved that there was no injuries to anybody.
And it's a reminder for all of us, myself included, about the absolute importance of road safety because so many Australians are involved in near misses every day.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, safety is obviously a major factor here. Can you see a need for greater safety review of the solar power units that are being installed under the rebate scheme?
PM: On the question of the solar program which has been running for some time, safety is the Government's number one priority.
The Department of the Environment, I'm advised, is in discussion with the industry groups who've raised these concerns. We will take the advice from experts in terms of any further action that needs to be taken.
Let's be very clear about the fact that the Solar Homes and Community Plan and the Renewable Remote Power Generation program were established also under the previous government. And I'm advised that the safety standards and installation guidelines under these programs have been put in place for a long, long time and put in place under the previous Liberal government, as well.
These standards, I'm advised, have not been changed since we formed government. My advice is that the standards and installation guidelines concerning these programs have been around for a long time.
Therefore, what we will do is listen carefully to what industry has to say, take the advice of the experts and respond accordingly.
JOURNALIST: Should Peter Garrett accept responsibility for this?
PM: On the question of the solar program, can I say we will listen carefully to what industry has to say, take the advice from the experts and act accordingly.
On the question of Peter, can I just say this program has been around for a long, long, long time, going back to the previous Liberal government of Mr Howard. But, you know, we want to make sure that it's absolutely right and therefore safety's number one priority. That's why we'll be acting on the basis of what the experts have to say.
JOURNALIST: You say there are standards in place, so is it a fact that people are not meeting the standards, then?
PM: Well let's see what the industry has said. Let us see what the experts advise in terms of any changes which need to be made.
Compliance is critical in terms of safety. We've got to make sure that proper compliance has occurred in this case as well. But I emphasise the fact that this program, and the safety guidelines which underpin it, go back a long, long, long time.
JOURNALIST: (inaudible) your office instruct Peter Garrett not to make his speech that he was planning to do this morning in Canberra?
PM: I'm unaware of him making - or plans to make a particular speech today. I think Mr Garrett has been responding to advice from his Department, as is appropriate. And I'm sure that as of when any further announcements are necessary by him, he will make them.
Furthermore, the responsibility of a Minister is to act on the basis of the advice that he gets. And my information is that's what Peter has done throughout this process, and that includes today as well.
JOURNALIST: Was he advised by you or the Department not to speak this morning?
PM: I'm unaware of any such communication. As far as Peter's concerned as Minister, he would act according to the advice that he gets and make any appropriate statement to the country at large and to media as of when he's required to do so, based on his Departmental advice. That's the right way to head.
JOURNALIST: Do you think Peter Garrett will still be there when you go to the next election?
PM: Peter has been very effective as Environment Minister over a long period of time. Let's just call a spade a spade, there are problems with the implementation of this program, we shouldn't run away from that, that's just a fact.
But the key thing is to make sure we get the safety right, we get the implementation right, and we do it right for the future. I believe this is a job where we've got to get on with the business of problem solving, and get it absolutely sorted out for the future.
JOURNALIST: Do you stand by Mr Garrett in his role as Minister?
PM: Yes, as I said so in the Parliament the other day.
JOURNALIST: Mr Rudd, this afternoon the Landscape Guardians are going to expect to protest at your Community Cabinet. Now, wind power is a very big issue, lots of people are calling for -
PM: It's not unique for people to be protesting at a Community Cabinet - anywhere in the country, by the way. It's part and parcel of why we're out and about.
JOURNALIST: Anyway, groups are calling for state and national guidelines on wind farms. What is your, what is the Government's stance on this at the moment?
PM: I was recently at the launch of a major wind farm just outside of Canberra, not far from Lake George. It's a large one, and obviously these issues were relevant to that project as well, in and around the town of Bungendore. These are areas where we'll continue to work with both State Government and with the local planning authorities to try and get it right.
Wind power is a big part of our renewable energy future. That is a fact. It is also, depending on where you locate them and the wind geography of a country, a very efficient and effective way of generating renewable energy for the community.
The key thing is to get the balance right between what it yields in terms of clean, green energy on the one hand, and local environmental amenity on the other.
There is no magical solution to this, there's no magical solution. You're going to be out there providing a big injection of additional power through wind generators on the one hand, and some people are going to object to these wind turbines appearing on the landscape. That's just a fact.
How do we get the balance right? There's no magical solution, but we'll continue to work with State and Local Governments to try and get the balance right for the future.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, there's an inquiry, a Senate inquiry, at the moment into the insulation scheme. Do you believe claims that 40 per cent of homes aren't properly insulated?
PM: Well, there was further information provided in that inquiry yesterday. We welcome the further provision of information by the industry.
I think it's quite clear from some of the information that's been provided to that inquiry that some operators have not met high safety standards established by the Government for the life of the scheme.
And we will continue to work our way through the information provided, and we will seek appropriate Departmental advice. Each of these - each of these presentations made by various parts of the industry will be tested by Departmental advice, and we will then act appropriately.
The important thing to do is to get the information from the industry. It may be of some surprise to you that industry has often many different views about how this program should be implemented, and the guidelines and the way in which they're enforced.
But our key objective is to get the views of industry, test that against the best Departmental advice and to act appropriately.
JOURNALIST: Is it a case of rolling out the scheme too quickly?
PM: The key thing is to make sure that we adhere to the absolute priority of safety. And this is a tough and difficult area. And there have been some, you know, tragic incidents and some deaths.
There are something in the order of 300-plus industrial deaths in this country each year, and there are about 138,000 or so major accidents which occur in workplaces across the country each year.
Each of these is important. Each of them should be properly investigated.
That's why, for example, in the case of a number of these accidents that we've had, coronial inquiries underway, Work Cover inquiries underway, the Electricity Safety Office in Queensland has an inquiry underway. That's the right thing to do, to establish the facts in each case. That is, I believe, the right course of action.
Secondly, it's to then take submissions from industry, and that's why we welcome the submissions which have been provided by industry through the Senate inquiry. Test that with other submissions from industry, and make sure you get the advice right on the future implementation of the scheme.
That is the right way to go, and that's what this Government's in the business of doing.
Folks, I've got to be in Ballarat, I can't keep the folks waiting there. See you.