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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 17735

Transcript of interview with Tony Jones, Q&A

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: 14/03/2011

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 17735

JONES: Good evening and welcome to Q&A. I'm Tony Jones and to answer your questions tonight the Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard. Please welcome the Prime Minister.Okay. Well, Q&A is live from 9.35 Eastern Daylight Savings Time but it's simulcast on ABC News 24 Australia network and News Radio and you can go to our website to send you questions and join the Twitter conversation using the hash tag that's just appearing on your screen now.

Well, Julia Gillard arrived back in Australia yesterday, fresh from her visit to the United States. Over there she was praised by Barack Obama and given a standing ovation in Congress. But following her proposal for a carbon tax in Australia, she's facing some of Labor's worst ever opinion polls. We'll get to those issues soon but our first question tonight comes from a Maria Bairaktaris.AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes, thank you very much. My question is in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, will the Labor Party continue to entertain the idea of nuclear power for Australia?PM: We haven't entertained the idea of nuclear power. The Labor position has been opposed to the development of nuclear energy. We don't need it. We're a country with abundant solar, wind, geothermal, tidal - you name it, we've got renewable sources of energy so we don't think nuclear energy is right for this country.JONES: You personally or the Labor Party? Because Martin Ferguson, who is one of your ministers, would like to see a debate on nuclear energy and I'm just wondering if that debate is now over.PM: Well, I think to be fair to Martin, Martin has talked about some matters involving exporting uranium but the Labor position is entirely clear, which is we don't think we need nuclear energy. We don't seek the development of a nuclear industry in this country. So that's where we are.

When we look at what's happening in Japan, I think what goes through all of our minds isn't so much a debate about nuclear energy. I'm sure we'll continue to discuss those things in our country, but just the humanitarian circumstance we're seeing on the ground, it's just truly shocking and so many people still in need of basic supplies, food and water and we're helping move some of them around and getting a search and rescue team in.JONES: Can Australia do more and are you being asked to do more and are you prepared to do more?PM: We're certainly prepared to do more and I spoke to the Prime Minister of Japan last night around 6 o'clock our time and said if you need us to do anything more then we're happy to do it.

Amongst the things we will probably be asked to do and will do, we've flown a C17 up, which is one of those huge military aircraft. It took the search and rescue team up and their equipment - they have a lot of equipment. We'll probably leave that in Japan so it can assist with moving food and water supplies around and we've given an open offer about medical teams, disaster victim identification, which is obviously not a nice thing but a necessary thing in these circumstances, but we haven't - the Japanese haven't indicated whether they want to accept those offers yet.JONES: Just on this nuclear question, well, the potential disaster and a potential meltdown in several reactors, Kevin Rudd yesterday asked his Japanese counterpart for urgent briefings on the safety of these reactors and the situation there. Did you get the briefings and are you still concerned at the regional implications if there was a nuclear meltdown?PM: We're getting information flows through, so they come from the Japanese counterparts to our own nuclear experts here and at every level of government - political levels, functional levels - there's collaboration between us and the relevant part of the Japanese government, so emergency management working together, military working together and our nuclear people have been exchanging information and the situation has been pretty grim and we're certainly hoping that there's improvement in keeping the coolant levels up over the next 24 hours.

But it's a tough situation. Having said that the Japanese have had nuclear power for a long time and they've got great experts and great engineers and all of that kind of stuff. So everything that can be done is being done but it's, you know, a pretty problematic situation that they're working their way through and pretty tough on top of everything else they're struggling with.

JONES: All right. Let's go to our next question. It comes from Kate Marshall.AUDIENCE MEMBER: Julia, I work for Red Cross and we've already seen a whole string of disasters and it's not a quarter of the way through the year. Do you think it's actually time for Australia to consider some sort of future fund against catastrophe and, if so, what form would it take?PM: We've certainly had a year of it, haven't we, and let's hope we don't see anything else for the rest of the year in this country. I think there's a live debate about how we make provision for disasters in the future. Certainly Senator Nick Xenophon opened up a conversation about insurance and I think we should have that conversation. Realistically we make proper provision for natural disasters.

You know, normally we're able to step up and do it through our natural disaster arrangements, working with the states. What was different this year was the size and scale of the economic damage. What happened in Queensland with the floods particularly is probably the most costly natural disaster we've ever seen in economic terms. That's why we had to strike some special measures like the flood levy. But I think it is worth thinking our way through. Can we do this better for the future and that conversation will continue.JONES: You talked about that before, a conversation continuing. What's the conversation going to include? I mean, does it include the real possibility of a permanent natural disaster fund?PM: Well, I think it includes looking at these insurance questions and we've got a process now to do that. In terms of making budget provision, you know, we are normally able to make budget provision. That's been the history. What was different this time was just the size and scale of the disaster.JONES: Okay. We'll go to our third question tonight. You're watching Q&A where you get to ask the questions. The next one comes from Ruby Hamad.AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi. Prime Minister, in your gushing speech to US Congress last week, you tearfully proclaimed that America "can do anything!" Millions of Australians cringed. In the year 2011, can we really not have a relationship with the United States without paying lip service to the myth of American exceptionalism?PM: Well, that's an interesting question. That's an interesting question and I thank you for it but I guess I'm taking a little bit of a different view. I think we can be bold and confident in our own right as Australians and still acknowledge what is great about American and their capacity for reinvention, for change, for innovation and that's what I sought to do in that speech to Congress. We've been in an alliance for 60 years. We're different nations. We're different peoples. I've said we're not little Americans. We're Australians. We've got our own values and our own way of approaching things.JONES: How are they different?PM: Well, I think it's a set of things really. One of my favourite quotes is about how prisoners of war responded in Changi and the historian Gavan Daws has recorded that right down to the depths of degradation people kept their national characteristics. So he's talked about the UK holding on - the British soldiers holding onto their class system, the Americans holding onto their individualism, being the great individualists of the camps, and Australians forming male bonded welfare states to support each other through these dreadful, dreadful times of starvation. Now, I don't think in modern Australia we talk about male bonded welfare states and I don't think that that's how we think of ourselves but I do think we still have that sense of a fair go and pulling together. I think Americans tend to a more individualised view of the world. They look less to government. You know, health care is a good example of that, where we look at the American debate and think what on earth are they going on about? We know public health works. We know Medicare works. We know the PBS works.JONES: But you didn't take the opportunity to tell them that. I suppose getting back to the question...PM: Well, Tony, to be fair to my speech, I took the opportunity to tell them a few things that I thought it was important for them to hear. I think a confident America is good for the world and...JONES: What was it - because the questioner asked about the tearful part of the speech and that was right at the end when you were talking about seeing a man land on the moon. What was it that brought a tear to your eye, frankly, about that?PM: If I was having a conversation with you, Tony, over a cup of coffee one morning or a glass of wine one night and we were recalling our school days and started talking about the moon landing I doubt that I would feel tearful about it. But in an occasion like the Congress, there was a lot of emotion and warmth in the room. I think that was emotion and warmth about the bonds between our two countries.JONES: Did you get carried away by the personal warmth shown to you?PM: No, I just think I was reflecting the nature of the occasion and I did want to say to that very special place to speak - I did want to say be bold, which I think is amongst the best of the American traditions, that sense of ‘can do', which actually led them to the moon. You know, something that when it was first said sounded ridiculous - we're going to put a man on the moon - and yet they did it. I think that that sense of can do, of America being bold, is good for the world. We don't want a hesitant, inward-looking America and that was the message of my speech.JONES: Briefly, when I was a small boy my first impression of America was of the Vietnam War and the fact that young Australians were being conscripted to go and fight in this war and there were demonstrations in streets and the notion of ‘all the way with LBJ' and at that time Labor figures were leading the demonstrations. There's no sort of reflection of any of that Labor tradition in your speech - a sort of cynicism about American power.PM: Now, Tony, I'm going to have to be unkind and say that's because you're older than me.JONES: Not that much.PM: I'm sorry -JONES: Not that much actually.PM: Well, no, it's not that much now that we're this age but when you're little it is a fair bit. I don't remember the Vietnam moratorium demonstrations. I just don't. I think - I mean, the big demonstrations were 1968, 1969. I was seven and eight years old. I don't remember them. So that is not my first impression of America. Now -JONES: Your Labor colleagues didn't bring you up to speed on that when you (indistinct). I'm surprised.PM: I didn't have Jim Cairns lecturing in my primary school in South Australia. I'm sorry to disappoint you.JONES: Okay. Let's pass it back to the audience. We've actually got another question and it comes from Adam Marsters.AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thanks, Tony. Prime Minister, following Wikileaks publishing of classified documents in December of last year, you labelled the organisation's actions illegal, despite being unable to identify any law which had actually been broken. Given the increasingly vocal support for Wikileaks, do you now regret such comments?PM: I can tell already my answer is probably not going to please the audience but let me make my attitude clear. First, I want to lay to rest one myth that's kind of got out there. We are supporting Julian Assange the same way we would support any Australian citizen who got into a legal difficulty overseas.

We support people who are accused of drug trafficking. We support people who are accused of murder. Whatever view people have about those kinds of crimes, and I'm sure everybody here would say, "Well, drug trafficking is wrong. Murder is wrong," we support Australian citizens who have got into trouble overseas. So my view about the conduct is neither here nor there in that sense. He's getting the same support someone called John Smith would get in the same situation.

But I do have a view about the merits and morals of the act and I simply don't see the moral force in it. I have got a lot of respect for people who whistleblow. I know enough about American history to know the history of Watergate and Deep Throat did the right thing getting that information into the public domain.

There are people who have worked for big tobacco who have got information into the public domain, being whistleblowers. They've acted and they've acted for a moral purpose. I respect that. At the centre of Wikileaks, I don't see that moral purpose. It's just...JONES: You didn't see - you didn't see -PM: - here it is, have it.JONES: You didn't see any potential moral purpose in the leaked documents which showed that Middle Eastern potentates were behaving corruptly?PM: Well, no. In this sense, to the -JONES: Because some people say that some of those issues helped lead, for example, in Tunisia, to the overthrown of the government.PM: But what I'm going to really is Assange's motivations and I think if you're motivation - I can respect whistleblowing if your motivation is to right wrong. His...JONES: So what do you think his - what do you think his motivation is?PM: Well, his motivation, as stated, is a sort of anarchic here it all is, just have it and I don't have a great deal of respect for that. Now, I understand people will take different views on it but that's the view that motivated me to make those comments.JONES: Okay. You're watching Q&A. Remember you can send web or video questions to our website. The address is on the screen to find out how to do that. Well, the next question is a video question and it comes from Julian Assange, who is under house arrest in England.JULIAN ASSANGE: Prime Minister, you just got back from Washington but what Australian citizens want to know is which country do you represent? Do you represent Australians and will you fight for Australian interests because it's not the first time that you or a member of your cabinet has been into a US government building and exchanged information.

In fact, we have intelligence that your government has been exchanging information with foreign powers about Australian citizens working for Wikileaks. So Prime Minister, my question to you is this: when will you come clean about precisely what information you have supplied the foreign powers about Australian citizens working or affiliated with Wikileaks and if you cannot give a full and frank answer to that question, should perhaps the Australian people consider charging you with treason?JONES: Take the treason part first, if you like.PM: Well, of course, as Prime Minister of this country I represent this country all day, every day. You don't have an accent like mine and get confused with being someone from another nation so let's just put that to rest. On the exchange of information he's talking about I honestly don't know what he is talking about so I'm afraid I can't help him with full and frank disclosures. I don't know anything about exchanging information about people who work for Wikileaks.JONES: So it hasn't happened to your knowledge?PM: To my knowledge it hasn't happened. But on the more broad allegations he makes about do we exchange information about Australian citizens with foreign governments, yes, we do sometimes. Following up transnational crimes like people smuggling, following up transnational crimes like drug trafficking, following up like transnational crimes like terrorism. Of course we exchange information.JONES: What about espionage which, of course, is the charge the United States would like to lay at the feet of Julian Assange?PM: Well, Mr Assange hasn't been charged with anything relating to Wikileaks. He's got some legal issues relating to personal conduct questions - alleged personal conduct questions in Sweden - and no one in the United States raised with me Mr Assange. No one.JONES: Okay. I mean but you are acknowledging and I suppose we're going to find out eventually from him - he didn't supply us with any information, I must say, to prove this but he says he has the information. There is an intelligence sharing arrangement with the United States, as you've just acknowledged. It's not inconceivable, is it, that we could have shared intelligence, Australia, that is, with American security agencies about him or his colleagues in Wikileaks?PM: Well, I'm not going to do hypotheticals on hypotheticals on hypotheticals. Do we exchange intelligence with the United States? Yes, we do. It's part of our alliance and it's in the best interests of this country. We are a small place. We therefore - in population terms - we therefore can't have the world's best intelligence networks. We just couldn't support them in terms of money and capacity. It's in our interest to share intelligence with a nation like the United States which is part of our defence arrangements with them and so it should be.JONES: Okay. All right. We've got a web question on this subject. It's from Nin Butrus in Melbourne: "American politicians have called for the execution of Australian citizen Julian Assange. Will you guarantee that Mr Assange will not be extradited to the US where he may face espionage charges and the death penalty?"PM: Well, once again we're doing hypotheticals on hypotheticals here. But policy-wise we do not extradite people who could be subject to the death penalty. That's not a question of Mr Assange or not Mr Assange. That's Australian policy. We just don't.JONES: Okay. Our next question and we'll move onto a different subject completely, comes from Joanna King.AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, Julia. Since becoming Foreign Affairs Minister, Kevin Rudd has become Eddie Everywhere, providing media commentary at seemingly every opportunity. Today, an opinion poll has Mr Rudd ahead of you as preferred Labor leader. Do you think he needs to be reined in and although you say you don't put any weight behind opinion polls, how do you explain his clear rise in popularity?PM: Well, I don't put any weight behind opinion polls and I don't think leadership is about opinion polls, so that doesn't really, you know, cause me to consider it any way. I just don't worry about those kinds of things. On Kevin's role as Foreign Affairs Minister, when I appointed him to that job, I always knew Kevin was going to be an activist foreign affairs minister and, yes, he is and he's someone with enormous work capacities and you're seeing that on display as he travels around the world.

But as he does that, he's doing things that are in our national interest every step of the way. He's been very active on the question of responding to the dreadful violence that we're seeing in Libya. He's very active now on dealing with the issue in Japan. We've got Australian citizens to locate and make sure they're safe. That's done through our embassy.

We've got a backstop staff. We've got to get more resources in and Kevin is making sure all of that happens. So you should expect to see him doing an activist job as foreign minister. I think that's a good thing for this country.JONES: What about the last part of the question which was "Do you feel threatened by the fact that he might want your job?"PM: Well, I think that's an assumption on an assumption too. I mean every -JONES: Probably based on the fact that you wanted his job.PM: Well, everybody - Tony, everybody knows the history here and everybody knows where we are now, which is Kevin is being our Foreign Affairs Minister following up the passion he's had over a lifetime for foreign affairs questions, for pursuing our relationship with the world, particularly in our region with his expertise on China. So, yes, he'll be travelling. That's what foreign ministers do.JONES: Do you know, by the way, which of your advisers supplied journalists with the quote, "Kevin Rudd is out of control"?PM: Well, I don't believe that that quote came from anybody on my staff.JONES: What about one of your advisers, because that's what it was -PM: Well, yeah, but I don't know -JONES: - it was listed on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald as one of your advisers. Not necessarily someone on your staff. It could be on another staff but someone whose advising you.PM: I simply don't know who that is set up to -JONES: It's a very damaging leak, isn't it?PM: Well, you're assuming that it's somehow connected with me. I don't know who it is, Tony.JONES: No, I'm not assuming that. I'm just saying it's a -PM: Well, can -JONES: I'm wondering have you tried to find out who it was, because it is a damaging leak. It damages the credibility of the foreign minister and, arguably, your credibility.PM: Well, I am very satisfied that it is no one who is properly described as an adviser to me, being on my staff. I've got no idea who it is. I don't agree with the comments which were made and, Tony, you would be aware too that there is some calibrations in the media about how they explain anonymous sources so you get, you know...JONES: Adviser to the Prime Minister.PM: Well, you get cabinet minister. You get senior government source. You get an adviser in the Prime Minister's office. This was kind of miscellaneous adviser. I've got no idea who it refers to.JONES: Okay. Let's go to our next question. It comes from Lyn Stevenson.AUDIENCE MEMBER: Good evening, Prime Minister. Mine follows on from the last question. I'm wondering particularly is a no-fly zone over Libya an integral part of Australia's foreign policy and something which Cabinet has decided or is Mr Rudd once again off on a frolic of his own?PM: Well, we decide these things as a government and the government decision is that - well, we're all appalled by the violence in Libya. That goes without saying and you don't need to be sitting around a government decision making table to come to that conclusion. You just need to turn on the TV and I think Australians have been absolutely appalled by the violence.

So we're all appalled by the violence. We're all focused on what we can do to try and make this stop and so we've said to the UN Security Council we want them to consider a no-fly zone. We think that that's very important. You would probably have seen in the last 24 hours the Arab League, which represents countries in the region, has called for a no-fly zone, so indicated their support. That's a significant diplomatic development.

We're specifically saying to the Security Council now you should positively respond to this initiative from countries in the region and get on with doing your job and considering a no-fly zone. So, you know, yes we're positively advocating the position that has now been put by countries in the region and I do think that's tremendously significant that there should be a no-fly zone.JONES: Did you advocate that to Barack Obama, by the way, in your discussions with him? Because a no-fly zone probably wouldn't work so well without the Americans and NATO.

PM: We certainly - I certainly discussed the situation in Libya with President Obama and also with Secretary of State Clinton.JONES: Did you advocate a no fly zone?PM: Look, I'm not going to go into specifics in those conversations.JONES: Did you talk about a no fly zone.PM: But, no, Tony, what you're reacting to, I suspect, if I can guess what's in your mind, what you're reacting to is some media commentary that somehow my position on this changed or was different after meetings in the United States.

This is just simply not true. I'd say to anybody have a look at what I said day after day after day after day. Exactly the same thing, exactly the same thing, exactly the same thing.JONES: Okay. This is Q&A, the live and interactive forum. Sorry, we had people with their hands up there, we'll try and come back to you. The next question comes from Chris Travers.AUDIENCE MEMBER: Prime Minister, how much of your recent poor polling results do you attribute to your lie on the carbon tax?PM: Well, poor polling I'll - questions of polling I'll let other people talk about but I'm actually glad you asked me that question because it gives me an opportunity to explain and I do want to talk to the Australian people about what I said in the last election.

Now, I did say during the last election campaign - I promised that there would be no carbon tax. That's true and I've walked away from that commitment and I'm not going to try and pretend anything else.

I also said to the Australian people in the last election campaign that we needed to act on climate change, we needed to price carbon and I wanted to see an emissions trading scheme.

Then we had the election and the 17 days that were and we formed this minority government. Now, if I'd been leading a majority government I would have been getting on with an emissions trading scheme. It's what I promised the Australian people.

As it is, in this minority parliament, the only way I can act on climate change by pricing carbon it to work with others and so I had a really stark choice: do I act or not act? Well, I've chosen to act and we will have a fixed price, like a carbon tax, for a period and then get to exactly what I promised the Australian people, an emissions trading scheme.

Now, when I said during the election campaign there would be no carbon tax I didn't intend to mislead people. What I believed then is an emissions trading scheme is right for this country. I believe that now and we will get to that emissions trading scheme.JONES: Keep your hands up. We'll get a comment from - sorry. Keep your hands up if you've got a comment. We will come back to you in a moment. First we've got a video question on this subject. It comes from Denis Gow on the Gold Coast in Queensland.AUDIENCE MEMBER: Is the proposal for a carbon tax coming from the real Julia and was it the other Julia that before the election stated that "there would not be a carbon tax”? All Australians are totally confused in regard to your two personalities.PM: Well, maybe I can help on that. There's only one Julia. That's the one that's sitting here. That's the one Julia who has always believed in an emissions trading scheme and fundamentally here to act on climate change, we've got to put a price on carbon pollution.

At the moment you can put it into the atmosphere for nothing. If we put a price on it businesses will innovate, there will be change in our economy. There's two ways to do it and it relates to the question I just answered from over here. There's two ways to do a carbon price. You can fix a price, a tax, and say for every tonne of carbon pollution you have to pay X amount or you can cap supply and say whole economy, we're not going to generate more carbon pollution than a fixed amount and you can let a market trading permits set the price.

I believe this is the better system. Fix the amount, let a market trading permits get to the price. That's where we'll get to. Yes, we have to go through the carbon fixed price, the carbon tax on the way through working with this parliament. I chose action.JONES: All right. I want to see - we've got a few people with their hands up and I'd like to just get a sense from the audience. Give comments if you can as to what you are thinking. We'll go to this gentleman in the front row first of all.AUDIENCE MEMBER: How much is the carbon tax going to be and if you do not known, why did you announce it?PM: That's a good question too and I thank you for that. Look, this is going to be a big change to our economy, a big change to the way we live. It's a necessary change because I genuinely do believe that climate change is real.

It's going to cause more droughts, more bushfires, more extreme weather events. It's going to affect the barrier reef. It's going to affect food production. We've got to act.

Now, when you're doing a big public policy reform like this, I actually think the best way to do it is for me to lead and to give people a sense of the direction we're going to go. We're going to go in this direction and then to consult on the details.

If you look at what Prime Minister Howard did with the Goods and Services Tax, that was a big change too. He basically went out and said we're going to have a tax on goods and services. Everybody went, gee, I don't know about that and started debating it and it was 15 months before he then put out all of the details the way that tax would work. So it was a process.JONES: But you know the fundamental difference is that after he did that he then took that policy to an election and he let people vote on it.

PM: That's true. That's absolutely, Tony, dead right. Absolutely right. We went - Labor - we went to the 2007 election saying we wanted an emissions trading scheme. We went to the 2010 election saying we wanted an emissions trading scheme and you know what's the...JONES: But you went to the 2010 election - you've just acknowledged it - and you said you walked away from this saying you were not going to have a carbon tax.PM: Certainly. Absolutely.JONES: I mean that's what people are angry about. Let's hear some people.PM: Well, if I can just say I'm acknowledging that absolutely. My preferred mechanism is an emissions trading scheme.

If I'd be elected into a majority government then what I would have done is legislated an emissions trading scheme. But with this parliament I had a choice, act or don't act. I've chosen action and just on who went to elections with an emissions trading scheme, so did Prime Minister Howard in 2007.JONES: All right. Okay. We've got a few people with their hands up and what I'd like to do is get comments from you people. So over to you first, sir.AUDIENCE MEMBER: Prime Minister, it appears that you're splitting hairs between saying you rule out a carbon tax but you didn't say that you - sorry, you said you would support an emissions scheme.

To be honest, during the whole campaign, I don't recall you actually mentioning that you were supporting an emissions trading scheme. It was a non-issue and now you're splitting hairs saying I didn't say that but I did say that. I don't recall it even being an issue. Do you recall a time where you said that?JONES: Well, hang on a sec. I want to hear a few other comments. We'll go to this gentleman in the front row here first.AUDIENCE MEMBER: If we act before other countries do, does that not mean we're going to fall behind?JONES: And there's a lady in the back row there as well. Let's hear from you.AUDIENCE MEMBER: I just wanted to know how much the Coalition or the Greens has an influence on a carbon tax.JONES: All right, a range of issues. You could probably answer them together.PM: Sure.JONES: But you can see there's a - we see this ourselves, there seems to be a lot of confusion about this issue, a lot of anger over the broken promise and a feeling that you've released something with no detail.PM: And, Tony, I'm just going to keep explaining it.

One of the reasons we're doing it the way that we're doing it, releasing the mechanism first, is so I can have this conversation with the Australian people, so that there's time to explain. It is a big change and it's going to require a lot of explanation.

On what was said during the election campaign, certainly we put out policy documents and I did events during the election campaign talking about the need to price carbon and have an emissions trading scheme.

I particularly remember one event in Brisbane where all of the attention went on a protester who was trying to get into the room whilst I was giving a speech about pricing carbon. So the images you probably saw on your TV screen that night were of some Federal Police officers wrestling a protester to the floor.

I can't help the selection of what makes the nightly news, but that was just one of the days that we talked about an emissions trading scheme and, certainly Tony Abbott was in no doubt about this because he was running the fear campaign back the other way, saying if you vote Labor you'll get a price on carbon and that's a bad thing, with all of the hysterical claims we've seen made in recent days. So that did happen.JONES: Just to pick up on some of the points, that person over there asked whether the Greens were involved in this decision.

They clearly were because you have an alliance with them now. I mean was it on their advice you decided to go for a carbon tax rather than the emissions trading scheme that you talked about in the election campaign?PM: We've got the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee, which is the government, the Greens, Mr Windsor and Mr Oakeshott and I think it was the lady here who asked this question. Yes, we did talk about all of this in that Multi-party Climate Change Committee.

Now, the government makes its own decisions but we work through that committee because unless we can get a consensus in that committee, we won't be able to get legislation through the parliament. That's just the practical mathematical reality of the parliament that the Australian people voted for.

So once again, I had to make a decision, given the position of others in that committee, given the need to get legislation through the parliament, am I for action or am I for inaction?

I chose action and if I can use an analogy here - lots of people here, Tony probably himself - will leave this place tonight and they'll drive home. If you find that you're blocked on your normal route driving home, do you just sit there and say, "Gee, I'm never going to see my home again" or do you find a different way through?

I want us to have an emissions trading scheme. I've found a different way through.JONES: Okay. We've got a few people still with their hands up but I'd first go to a web question to give someone from outside of this room the chance. Brenton Jury in Paddington, Queensland asked: Prime Minister, the language by the Opposition and their supporters to criticise your Government and you personally continues to be testosterone fuelled, macho and crude.

When people like Alan Jones use words like "Ju-liar" what would you really like to say in response?PM: There's some words you probably can't use on the ABC Tony, even at this time of night.JONES: I'm sure that's not the case.PM: I think it would be a bad result if tomorrow people were showing on TV and then the Prime Minister said beep beep beep so we'll try not to do that.JONES: So why do you go on these talkback radio shows if you feel about them as you - well, these unspeakable words?PM: Because I'm not going to let people spew nonsense out into the public uncontested and Mr Jones gets on his radio show and he says things like climate change isn't real, carbon dioxide is a good thing.

You know these politicians just want to price carbon so they can use the money themselves instead of talking about how we're going to assist households and people have just got the radio on. They're listening to it, there's no reason for them to suspect that everything they're being told is wrong and you just can't let people do that - you know, actually try and hoodwink people and not tell them the truth.

Now, I'm going to get on there and even if it means that it's a not pretty exchange and there's a few raised voices and I've got to give back as good as I get, I'm going to get on there and I'm going to stop someone putting out that kind of nonsense uncontested.JONES: Do you share Tony Windsor's fear? Do you share Tony Windsor's fear that Australia could go down the same route as the United States where these kind of debates lead to violence, including violence against politicians?PM: I wouldn't say I share that fear. I understand what made Tony Windsor make those comments. I can understand how he is concerned about an edge in this debate and I don't like to see us importing the language of the Tea Party from the US.

I may go and make speeches at the Congress that are very approving of America but I don't approve of all things American. I certainly don't approve of that kind of Tea Party hardness in the public debate and when you're calling for a people's revolt I think we're getting into some fairly silly terrain but I...JONES: Dangerous terrain, is that what you say?PM: No, I wouldn't say dangerous.I don't pick up that - I can understand why Tony Windsor made those comments but I don't adopt them for myself. But I do think it's better in public policy if we have a more sensible debate and that's not because I fear violence. I just think we make better public policy if we're actually talking about ideas and sensible things.JONES: All right. Let's hear from another questioner, Cate Cadell, in the audience.AUDIENCE MEMBER: Prime Minister, much of the scepticism surrounding your carbon tax proposal has to do with the household cost of living.

Have you made any concrete decisions on who will be compensated and by what means?

And will household compensation be the feature of any upcoming ad campaign?PM: Thank you for that question and I might, too, just try and answer the gentleman's question down here about are we in front of the world and will that cost us.

What we're going to do with the carbon price is we're going to put a price on carbon pollution.

It will be paid by some of the biggest businesses in this country that generate carbon pollution. There's less than 1000 of them but they will pay the price.

So I think there's some confusion here, people are expecting they'll go to the shops and on the docket they get from the checkout they'll see carbon tax as the last item. That's not what's going to happen.

It's the big polluters that are paying the price for carbon. Now, that does have price impacts. It does feed through to things that people buy in the shops and I'm not going to pretend anything different. Because of that we will assist households.

So of the money we raise by putting a price on carbon pollution, the single biggest thing we will do is we will assist households. We'll also assist businesses.JONES: What households? How far will you go up the income scale because there are middle income families who are worried they're not going to get any assistance?PM: Look, and I can understand why people are anxious about this and I can understand -JONES: That's because you haven't given any detail.PM: No, well, I can understand that people are anxious about it and I can understand that cost of living pressures are really acute for people.

But we will, of course, compensate generously. It won't be for real upper income earners. I won't expect to get any assistance with this but -JONES: Do you have an imagined cut off point in the income scale?PM: Well, I hate to disappoint you, Tony, but I'm not going to announce the household assistance package here on Q&A tonight but we're -JONES: I'm not after the whole package just the income levels would cut in at.PM: But we're a Labor government and we'll do this fairly. We're a Labor government and so we will focus on the needs of people who are under pressure.

I didn't go to hell and back in the last parliament to get rid of WorkChoices because I fail to understand the kind of pressures that can be on people when they're trying to make ends meet.

Getting rid of WorkChoices was to make sure people knew what money was coming in the door in their pay packet and they couldn't have it ripped off them. Fair compensation in carbon pricing will be to make sure that people aren't getting put under more pressure. We'll do that.

But I also want to say this: don't imagine that the choice here is between no cost of living rises and pricing carbon and seeing price impacts. Here's the news: the price of electricity is going up. Either way it's going up.

The only choice we're making is with rising electricity prices are we pricing carbon so we drive innovation in renewable and cleaner energy or are we just watching electricity prices go up because business is uncertain about carbon pricing and they won't make the long-lived investments we need to to add to our electricity supply.JONES: I'm just going to quickly bring you briefly to the last part of that question. Will household compensation be a feature of any upcoming ad campaign?PM: Well, we haven't made any decisions about an upcoming ad campaign. We haven't even made a decision about having a campaign.JONES: Well, I mean, there was an FOI story in the Australian today that said you already had a $30 million ad campaign ready to go for the emissions trading scheme. Don't you still have the same campaign there ready to roll out?PM: Just so people are clear, that's a reference to the carbon pollution reduction scheme in the last parliament. I'm not going to rule anything in or out here. I do think if you're making a big change then it's fair to get information to people.

If I was here saying I'm going to make a big change to Medicare, I think people would say, well, it's fair enough. You know, I use Medicare, I use it when I go to the doctor, I want to understand all the details of what's changing.

I consequently think it's fair when we're doing a big change like carbon pricing to say we're going to keep open the option if that's the best way of getting information to people to use that way.JONES: All right. We've got another gentleman with his hand up right there.AUDIENCE MEMBER: Prime Minister, isn't the whole point of having a carbon tax to affect the prices that consumers pay? If there's no change in consumer behaviour, you're not going to achieve what you're trying to achieve to reduce carbon pollution.

So if it's compensating households, aren't you simply undermining the effect that your tax is going to have and ultimately make no change?PM: That's a very perceptive question and I think a lot of people are thinking about this, about how does it work? If I'm getting compensation, what's actually changing?

Let me just explain that. The carbon price affects the big polluters. Yes, they will cause some price impacts for consumers, that's true. We will then assist consumers and I can understand why people then intuitively go, well how does all of this work? Isn't money going in and money going out? What's the effect?

Well, the effect is that in the shops when you come to buy things, products that are made with relatively less carbon pollution will be cheaper than products that are made with more carbon pollution.

So you're standing there with your household assistance in your hand. You could still keep buying the high carbon pollution products if you want to or what you're far more likely to do is to buy the cheaper, lower carbon pollution products.

That means that the people who make those things will get the consumer signal, gee we will sell more, we will make more money if we make lower pollution products. That drives the innovation.

So I want you to have that household assistance in your hand but I also want you to see price effects which make cleaner, greener things cheaper than high pollution commodities. That's why it works.JONES: Okay, we have another video question. Thank you. We have another video question giving people outside of the room a chance to get involved. It's from Richard Glegg in Tottenham, New South Wales.AUDIENCE MEMBER: Prime Minister, I am a farmer from regional Australia and I am interested to know what policies, if any, the Labor Party has to re-engage rural and regional Australia between now and the next election, in light of the massive damage that has been inflicted on the Labor brand because of Labor's u-turn on the carbon tax and the growing perception that the Labor Party is becoming the party for the inner city elite?JONES: The party for the inner city elite is how that ended up.PM: Yep.JONES: But he does - I think that's reflecting that there is a lot of anger about the back flip on the carbon tax out there. What's your response to someone from regional and rural Australia, I should say?PM: Well, firstly, I'd say there will be opportunities for farmers through addressing climate change. They're often the ones who are at the forefront of the best practices for using our land and we're going to have a system where they can get a new stream of income through carbon credits through things like soil carbon, trapping carbon by better land management practices. So there's an economic opportunity there.

Beyond that economic opportunity there are all of the things we want to do working with regional Australia. The National Broadband Network is a really important economic opportunity for regional Australia. Bringing the cost of telecommunications down, the quality of telecommunications up, one of the big things that regional Australia has rightly complained about is that they've been left behind as telecommunications has changed.

NBN will fix that and we're very focussed on delivering things like better hospitals, better education services for regional Australia, which is why out of our capital investment funds we're having dedicated rounds for regional Australia to bring new services to them that they haven't had before.JONES: Just come to the end of his question. "The party of the inner city elites" is what he said and I think you can read Greens for inner city elites in terms of what he's saying there, I think anyway, so are you prepared to admit your formal alliance with the Greens is coming at something of a cost?PM: Well, I have an agreement with the Greens. I have an agreement with Mr Windsor from regional Australia. I have an agreement with Mr Oakeshott from regional Australia and I have an agreement with Mr Wilkie from Tasmania, not from regional Australia, from the electorate of Dennison.

So that is the set of agreements which enable me to govern as Prime Minister. I think when you go through that list you'd see Mr Windsor and Mr Oakeshott, champions of regional Australia, they're there, able to talk to me about things that matter to regional Australia and they're there in the Multi-party Climate Change Committee putting the views of regional Australia as we work our way through the carbon pricing scheme.JONES: All right. Let's move onto another topic. I'm sorry to interrupt you there. We're running out of time. Our next question comes from Rick Samimi.AUDIENCE MEMBER: Prime Minister, I do have a very serious question to ask, but may I just make a comment? If you truly think ETS is a better option than carbon tax, why don't you go back to the polls? That's a comment.

But on a much, much more serious note, I'd like to know if Peter Garrett offered Midnight Oil's "US Forces" for inclusion in the iPod that you gifted to the President?PM: Well, there are some Midnight Oil songs on there, I'm sure President Obama has got enough of a sense of humour to get a laugh out of listening to "US forces get the nod." I remember the words of the song too. Peter Garrett doesn't wander around the ministerial corridors singing it or anything else. Maybe we should entice him to.JONES: It's quite interesting imagining Barack Obama walking around the corridors or the White House singing it though.PM: That is a little bit interesting and I doubt that's going to be happening. On the question of having an election, my view is we went to the people 2007 and said an emissions trading scheme. So did Mr Howard with Tony Abbott on his front bench.

We went to 2010 and said an emissions trading scheme. Now, is the moment, now is the time, let's get this done and one of the reasons we need to get it done, and it relates to the question from here, is the rest of the world is moving.

There's this image that somehow we're the only ones, simply not true. You know, China closing down a dirty coal-fired power generation facility at the rate of one every one to two weeks. Putting up a wind turbine at the rate of one every hour. Set their own targets by 2020 of reducing carbon pollution by 40 to 45 per cent per unit of GDP.

India, taxing coal to create a revenue stream for clean energy. India in April this year will have an energy trading credits scheme. The rest of the world is acting and we with our high emissions economy can't afford to be left behind, stranded with a high pollution economy when the rest of the world has gone forward. Now is the time.JONES: We've got a question on a completely different subject. We are running out of time. It comes from Bek Leys.AUDIENCE MEMBER: Prime Minister, I'm a teacher at a small independent school in south western Sydney. There has been much discussion of My School recently and NAPLAN is coming up again soon.

Is it really fair that you impose a grossly inadequate and inequitable test on all students or students of particular grades and then publicly publish the results as basically the sole indicator of a school's success?PM: Well, I think unfortunately you and I aren't going to agree on this. I think it's incredibly important that parents have and the nation has this information about schools and literacy and numeracy matters and that's what NAPLAN tests, the national tests, and the comparison is not a simplistic league table telling you that the most advantaged school in the richest suburb in Australia is doing better than an outback Indigenous school.

I would agree with you that comparison is not telling you anything you wouldn't have known anyway but My School is enabling you to compare an individual school with schools that teach students with comparable levels of advantage or disadvantage and that individual school with the national average. That's information people should have.

Now, do schools do other things than teach literacy and numeracy? Of course they do and of course they should. But whatever else you get taught at school, whatever else, you've got to come out able to read, write and do maths. Whatever else you've been taught and so it's fair to test that.AUDIENCE MEMBER: But Prime Minister, it's very unfair, it's very unfair to ESL students, to students that are special ed...JONES: English as a second language students.AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yep. Yep. It's unfair that only those two of the multiple intelligences are tested and only one of those tests is numeracy. The rest are all literacy.

How is that fair to a English second language student or a special ed student who wants to do the same as their peers but is discouraged by their teachers or their school or their parents because of how they may affect the school's performance. How is that fair?PM: Well, there's, as you would know, the number of special education students is on My School so you can assess how that may - the participation of those students may have connected with the tests.

There's only a limited number of reasons why kids can properly be withdrawn from the tests. The attendance rates at the tests are on My School, so if you see one school that's got sharply low attendance then you would go in and investigate - have kids been artificially withdrawn from the test in order to pump up the results. So those things are there. Now, this is a very detailed conversation. I'd be happy to come back and have it. I'm a big advocated of My School -JONES: I think we might -PM: - but philosophically school transparency matters. This nation has got a right to know what is happening in our schools and nothing matters more for this nation's future than what is happening in primary schools and high schools today. I should know that, you should know that, everyone should know that.JONES: We're rapidly running out of time. We have time for one more question and it comes from Liz Rowell.AUDIENCE MEMBER: Prime Minister, in the movie Sliding Doors a woman had her life changed for her in moments. Are you the Gwyneth Paltrow of Australian politics? Knowing what you know now, would you take that walk to Kevin Rudd's office again?PM: On the comparison with Gwyneth Paltrow, I suspect I'm, oh, two foot shorter and probably 20 kilos heavier so I'm not sure I'm going to be able to do that comparison that easily.

On Sliding Doors moments I think when you look back - I'm going to turn 50 this year. So when you look back over your life you do wonder about some decisions that you could have made differently at parts of your life and you wonder about the other life not lived, what would have happened if I had stayed in South Australia and not moved to Melbourne, for example, but -JONES: Or what would have happened if you hadn't walked into Kevin Rudd's office.PM: But I'm - .JONES: That's what the question was about.PM: Yeah, and I am coming to that. But I've never - so I have in my own mind run the control test about some parts of my life. What would have happened if I hadn't moved to Melbourne?

What would have happened if I had picked teaching instead of law, which I almost did, but I've never run that control test because I'm convinced that was absolutely the right decision.JONES: Walking through the doorway?PM: Correct.JONES: All right. That's all we have time for. Please thank our guest, the Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

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