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Transcript 17220

Transcript of interview Sunrise

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: 16/04/2010

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 17220

KOCH: The PM is with us now. Congratulations.

PM: That's 'cos Therese tweeted first.

KOCH: She broke the embargo?

PM: She broke the embargo. So, she's in London on work at the moment.

KOCH: Give us the details?

PM: Well, Nick proposed to his long-standing girlfriend, Zara- he's a romantic old dog, he bought a huge rock for her here in Sydney some time ago. Popped the question while they were overseas together. So they are over the moon. And Therese is even more over the moon. I am too.

KOCH: There he is, doing Kokoda with us-

PM: He's obviously not thinking about that decision there.

KOCH: Is he a romantic like you? Where did you propose to Therese?

PM: I was at a restaurant somewhere in Canberra. Lakeside Hotel, there you go. There you go. He actually chose the Charles Bridge in Prague. So he's romantic.

KOCH: Oh okay. He's a lot more romantic than you. Alright, congratulations. Let's get down to business. Now, the papers are reporting today that you're preparing to give us new incentives to save, tax breaks if we park our money in banks for periods of at least a couple of years. Are they right?

PM: Well, you know something Kochie? We've had this thing called the Henry review on taxation. We said we're going to release it all before the budget. The budget's due next month. We'll do that, and we'll also be releasing our response to it as well. But I'm not going to go into any element of what's in the recommendations, our response to it.

KOCH: Have you got a day you're going to release it?

PM: Not yet. But before the budget. The budget's due, what, the second week of May? So-

KOCH: It is weird, though, that money in savings accounts gets treated more harshly tax-wise than capital gains, isn't it?

PM: I think we've got an interest generally in encouraging savings in the nation. I'm not trying to give an indication as to which way we're going on tax. We're still working that through as a budget committee of the Cabinet. But encouraging savings is important, because it's good for the country, good for the pool of savings, but good for people looking after their own future as well.

KOCH: Okay, let's get down to questions. Sara Nathan in Sydney, you have the Prime Minister's ear. What would you like to ask?

VIEWER: Mr Rudd, I'm a Tamil who fled Sri Lanka due to the Sri Lankan Government's systemic killing of Tamil civilians. United Nations figures indicate there's more than 88,000 Tamils civilians still kept in internment camps, even though the war finished eleven months ago.

UNHCR has not changed its guidelines on Sri Lanka since the end of the war. Given our own Australian Department of Foreign Affairs tells us not to go to Sri Lanka because of violence in that country, under these circumstances, is it a political move, or a humanitarian move, for you to suspend processing of asylum seeker applications from Sri Lanka?

PM: Sara, thank you for your question. Our policy hasn't changed. Our policy is that, when it comes to asylum seekers who are not genuine, they are not accepted, they are sent back home. For those who are genuine and in genuine fear of persecution in their countries of origin, then of course Australia will process people and provide appropriate safe haven.

That's the balance and the policy. But what's happened Kochie and Sara is that we have now changing security circumstances in large parts of Sri Lanka.

They've recently had democratic elections there. Outside of the Jaffna peninsula at the very top of the country, the rest of the country's going okay. We're therefore basing our changing processing arrangement for asylum seekers from that country based on what the reporting is from within the country.

Large parts of it are more secure. Some parts are not. Therefore, it depends where the people come from. The same with Afghanistan. So, the decision we've taken is to suspend all processing now, and we're going to see how the security situation unfolds. If it continues to improve, you'll find more and more of these applications rejected, and more sent back home.

KOCH: Okay- is that fair though, to suspend it? Because, you know, the Afghani situation is still just as volatile as previously, and that northern part of Sri Lanka, and particularly the Tamils in these camps- and the Government there is not letting any observers go and see these, what, 40-80,000 people that they've locked up. Is that fair to suspend it?

PM: It depends where people come from within the island-

KOCH: Okay.

PM: If you look, as I said, the Jaffna peninsula-

KOCH: So if they've still come from the north you'll process them?

PM: You've got to look carefully- the suspension applies right now, okay -

KOCH: Right.

PM: - because the situation is still unfolding, but in other parts of the country, it is stabilising. That's the point. You mentioned Afghanistan. Afghanistan, there are parts of that country which are also more stable than they were before. Therefore, you've got to make a decision which fairly reflects where people come from, not just from the country, but from the parts of the country as well as I said- if people are not genuine asylum seekers, then they'll be rejected and sent back home.

If they are genuine asylum seekers, then consistent with Governments in the past, we have an annual quota I think of about 13,000 across the nation. Same under Mr Howard, same before that as well. And those who seek asylum would be accommodated within that national quota for Australia.

KOCH: Okay. You're going to have an interesting weekend ahead of your meeting next week on health reforms.

PM: That's an understatement.

KOCH: Victoria's digging in. We hear that New South Wales will be seeking an extra $500 million if you want their support. Do you reckon you'll get it?

PM: Oh look, there's three or four days to go between now and Monday. I've spent a lot of time with these Premiers in the last six weeks or so. Some really want a deal. Some want an outcome for health and hospitals, others maybe less so. But you know something, I think each of your viewers wants a real outcome, because the health and hospital system's not working at present properly. So I think, I think that a whole lot of Premiers will want to act in the national interest, but I can't guarantee that all will.

KOCH: Okay. Will you pay for their support? Will you give them the half a billion if they want it?

PM: I said very carefully the other day, Kochie, that the Australian Government had put forward its final position on the question of more hospital beds, more doctors, more nurses, more support for emergency departments, more support for elective surgery. I think it's a reasonable position. And you know something, some say, some of the states are saying, just give us another blank cheque and it'll all be okay in the morning. I don't think, frankly, your viewers wear that either.

What they want to see is the system fixed so we get rid of the duplication, waste and overlap between the two levels of Government. That's the key part of the reform, and then for the Australian Government to become the dominant funder of the system for the future. That's our position. No blank cheques from us.

KOCH: Okay, we've got to get it right. Let's move up to Maroochydore now. Dave Hooper, what's your question?

VIEWER: Good morning Prime Minister-

PM: G'day Dave, how are you?

VIEWER: And congratulations- I'm fine, thank you- and congratulations on your son's engagement.

PM: Well thank you mate, we're getting ready for the party.

VIEWER: Prime Minister, I'm aware that you're a strong advocate for donor awareness.

PM: Kochie is too, but the way.

VIEWER: Yes, I'm aware of that as well. My question is this- in light of the fact that your advisory committee has ignored or dismissed the option of going to an opt-out country such as Spain, why has this occurred? What chance do we have of increasing our donor rates by becoming an opt-out country?

PM: It's a great question, and I've asked it right around the country. And like you, I have a big interest in this. I'm the recipient of someone having donated their aortic valve, and I received a transplant probably, you know, ten or fifteen years ago, whenever it was. So therefore, I'm deeply interested in this as well. And how, therefore, do you get it right. The problem is, we have one of the lowest donor rates in the world, that is among the developed countries, right now.

So how do we change that, that's the trick here. So what we have tried to do is to look at all the experiences around the world. We've looked at Spain, where they have this opt-out arrangement. Yes, it works to some extent. But all of our experts have looked at this very carefully and said the key thing that makes a difference in Australia would be to have a dedicated team in our major hospitals to make sure it works.

So what have we done in the last year or so? We've appointed about 157 specialist workers, in I think 70 or so hospitals across the country, whose job exclusively it is to deal with the real practical problem if a loved one has died, what do you then do in terms of that critical hour or two following their death to make sure the decision is right. You need social workers, you need counsellors, you need people with surgical skills, you need all of that dedicated within the hospitals. In the past, we haven't had that.

They are now in place, DonateLife is now working across the country. We'll have a big TV campaign starting, I think, next month, from memory.

KOCH: Yep, in May.

PM: And look, I think we just need to give this a go. It's going to take a while to change this around, but we've got to lift that donation rate. How many folk have we got in the country on lists? Is it nearly 2000?

KOCH: On the official list, in reality it's a lot more-

PM: It's nearly 2000 on the official list.

KOCH: And 25% of those will die waiting. Dave, I'm on the advisory council. Just to clear up a couple of things, Spain does not have an opt-out system. It's just presumed everyone will be an organ donor. But families still have to give consent. And the big thing is-

PM: Kochie's corrected me there. I didn't even know that.

KOCH: Yeah, not only what the Prime Minister is saying about the hospitals, but the biggest thing you can do is talk to your family. If you're a registered organ donor, we have the highest level of organ donor registrations in the world, 6 million Australians are registered. But you've got to tell your family, because they make the ultimate decision, and that's what this campaign's about. Hospitals, awareness, mate, we'll get it right. Opt-out just doesn't work in other countries.

PM: But just give me 15 seconds to round off what Kochie's said. We have this huge rate of people who say on their drivers licences, as I do, yes, take my, you know, organs, for the purposes of organ retrieval. But we have the lowest actual donation rate when someone dies. So, talk to your family. Therese and I have done this with our kids, we've signed papers, etcetera. Everyone watching the program, I'd just encourage you to do that. Remember, a couple of thousand people waiting for a donation, now.

KOCH: Exactly right. Something a bit lighter, Justin Bieber. You've got young kids. Have you heard about him? We can't believe what a phenomena it is. Joins us next- week after next. Are you a fan?

PM: A little bit, but I mainly know of him vicariously through the kids. You've got him here?

KOCH: Yeah.

PM: Really?

KOCH: Yeah, yeah. The 26th.

PM: Really.

KOCH: Yeah, so we'll save you a spot.

PM: Up the back here?

KOCH: Well, we're asking Council. So if you could put in a good word for us, it'd be much appreciated.

PM: Okay, sounds good.

KOCH: Mate, congratulations, and pass on our best to Therese as well.

PM: Nick will be over the moon. Thank you.

Transcript 17220