PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 17494

Transcript of interview with Leon Byner, 5AA

Photo of Gillard, Julia

Gillard, Julia

Period of Service: 24/06/2010 to 27/06/2013

More information about Gillard, Julia on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 07/12/2010

Release Type: Economy & Finance

Transcript ID: 17494

HOST: Let's talk to the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. Julia, Merry Christmas.

PM: To you, too, Leon.

HOST: The reason I wanted to chat with you today is I have a concern that our government in South Australia has done something which I think the pensioners feel most aggrieved about - and they should - and that is that when Kevin Rudd gave the $30 to the pensioners there was an understanding by all states, including South Australia, that that money would be quarantined, but unfortunately in the last state budget this government have decided not to do that and include it in income assessment and this will mean that our pensioners are going to be markedly worse off than other pensioners around Australia, and I'm wondering what you think about that?

PM: Leon, I can say to you that I am not at all happy with this decision by the South Australian Government and believe that they should reconsider it.

When the Federal Government gave this historically large increase for pensioners, we actually went to state governments, including the South Australian Government, and said we want this to be for pensioners. We want them to get the benefit of it and so we don't want public housing rents moving because the pension's gone up, and looking around the country, we did get assurances from state governments that they would not put rents up to eat into this pension increase.

We got that assurance from South Australia, from the Minister for Housing, in October 2009, just following the pension increase, and now, of course, we and pensioners who are in public housing are confronted with the news that the South Australian Government has changed its mind and is seeking to put rents up and eat into this pension increase, so I'm definitely saying to the Government of South Australia this is the wrong decision and they should immediately reconsider it.

HOST: If I was Jennifer Rankin now, what would you be saying to me?PM: Leon, if you were Jennifer Rankin, I would be saying precisely this - that in October 2009 she gave her word that pensioners would benefit from this increase and she should hold to that position, what she put in a letter to the Federal Government in October 2009.

HOST: Another issue, the poll has come out today and these polls are fairly regular. Whilst you are ahead, and comfortably as preferred Prime Minister, the Party position is 50/50. You surely must to disappointed, because you've made a number of announcements that you have heralded, for example the broadband network and so on, and there are other things that you plan to do next year on the environment, which no doubt will be controversial. Are you surprised at this 50/50 balance, where it looks as if, if we want to an election now, Prime Minister, we'd have another hung Parliament?

PM: Leon, I'll leave commentating on the polls to the people who get paid to do it, and there's no shortage of those, many people working in the newspapers and beyond who will comment on the polls.

For me, the important thing as we leave 2010 is we've demonstrated in the weeks that the Parliament has sat that this Parliament can work, it can work to deal with big reforms like the reform to lay the way for the National Broadband Network, which will be so important right around the country, including to the people of Adelaide; and as a Government we have shown that we can govern effectively and well.

2011 is a year in which we will deliver on the vision that I have outlined for the country. We will be delivering on a stronger economy. I want to make sure Australians right around the nation have the benefits and dignity of work, that we're continuing to create jobs and get more people into jobs.

We'll be delivering on the education reforms that are so close to my heart. We'll be delivering on health care reforms, because there is nothing more important to people than making sure the health care system is there when they need it, and of course we'll be tackling some the big and complicated issues that we need to tackle as a nation - border reform and pricing carbon are two of the big ones.

HOST: Alright, now, in the business of pricing carbon, are we going to have a carbon tax run by Treasury and somehow connecting it to the normal taxation methods, or are we going to try and run some kind of ETS that bit the dust, particularly Copenhagen and beyond when Kevin Rudd was last there.

PM: Well, we're going to work through the question of what's the best way to price carbon. We have a Multiparty Climate Change Committee working on that question now. We obviously have parliamentarians of good will sitting around a table and working through these complex issues.

But at the same time, as the Prime Minister, I have been saying to the nation, through speeches I've given and interviews I've given, that 2011 is the year that as a nation we've got to come together and deal with this issue. I am incredibly confident that as a nation we're up to this. We are filled with ingenuity, with ways of working for change and that's what I believe the nation will do in 2011 - we'll come together and we'll find the right way to price carbon.

HOST: I have a concern that we need a broad-based national discussion about what the national interest is, because for me investment is one thing, which is good, but just allowing nations to come in, or companies to come in and buy something- I mean, for example, we've just sold our bulk grain storage to a company in Canada, and they've been shutting silos, so now we have a 3km queue of cars from farms trying to deliver wheat. Now, this is the old chestnut, if you like, that what you don't own you can't control. Will you support such a debate, because that's something that I feel must be on the national agenda next year.

PM: We have a structure for looking at foreign investments in this country and making sure that major investments are in the national interest. Now, we're a great trading nation and it's in our interest to be fully engaged in the global economy.

We've got to remember that being fully engaged in the global economy comes with a tremendous upside for this country. We are great exporters. We export resources, our farmers export their produce, we grow twice as much food as we need to consume ourselves, so we export a great deal and we earn money from it. So, we've got to be out there, engaged in the global economy. We do have structures to make sure major foreign investments are in our national interest.

HOST: Well, we do, but I would argue that for the Foreign Investment Board to be looking at only $230 million-plus, when in New Zealand the same rules are five hectares of land, I think we do need to rethink this.

PM: Land, I know that there has been some commentary about this in the newspapers, but overwhelmingly farmland is owned by Australians and worked by Australians, so we need to make sure that we're getting the facts out.

I'm very happy to see the nation talk about issues that are on people's mind, and if this is an issue on people's mind then, sure, let's talk about it, but let's talk about it informed by the facts, and that is overwhelmingly farm land is owned by Australians. We make money on selling food. We generate twice as much food as we need to consume-

HOST: -We'll need to do more than that Minister, because the big problem's going to be with a growing world population of an extra three billion within the next few years, we need to be producing a lot more than we are now.

PM: Well, currently between what we sell and what we buy in food, we make around $14 billion on the deal. That is, we export more and earn more than we import, so we're a great trading nation. Our farmers are amongst the best in the world - the most efficient, the most ingenious, the ones that are always out there looking for how they can adapt and change their farm practices to be even better, and that's great for this nation.

HOST: What are you doing for Christmas?

PM: I'll be in Adelaide for Christmas, Leon.

HOST: A little more, are you having Christmas lunch with the rellies, are you going to the cooking, or will you be purely the guest that enjoys what is on the table?

PM: I'll be with my parents, staying with my parents, and the full family will be gathered as we always gather at Christmas time. We have some very clear Gillard family rituals for Christmas. We tend to do the same things in the same order and there's something wonderfully comforting about that, so I'll be going through the Gillard family rituals and they do include me helping with the food preparation, Leon.

HOST: Really?

PM: They do. I do the simple tasks. I'm not going to pretend I do any of the complex ones.

HOST: So no Masterchef for you?

PM: It's more like peeling potatoes and things like that - the things that require labour but not high degrees of skill are the jobs that I get allocated.

HOST: Oh well, they're jobs that go offshore, but not this time.

PM: No, there'll be a bit of potato peeling and carrot peeling happening on Christmas morning.

HOST: I wish you well, Prime Minister. You've got a tough year next year.

PM: I'm looking forward to it Leon. It's a great privilege to be Prime Minister of this country and a great privilege to be in a position to lead us for changing the nation in ways which mean we'll be even better in the future.

Transcript 17494