Transcript of doorstop interview, Australian National University, Canberra
Period of Service: 24/06/2010 to 27/06/2013
Release Date: 21/03/2011
Release Type: Interview
Transcript ID: 17749
PM: I'm here this morning at our fantastic Australian National University, I'm joined by our local member, Andrew Leigh, and I'd like to thank the new Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Young, for having us here today.
We're here today looking at the future, the future of solar technology, the future being worked on by researchers here is this building today. I'm very proud that the Australian Government was able to contribute to these laboratories with a $5 million grant, part of $150 million of commitment to the Australian Solar Institute, part of $5 billion which we are investing in clean energy.
Here today, looking at the future of clean energy, the solar technology which will make a difference for Australian lives and Australian industry. Pricing carbon is about creating the right incentive to drive this clean energy future.
I want Australia to have a clean energy future. I want Australians involved from the research and development, like the research and development we've seen today of new technologies, through to having those new technologies where they live and where they work.
Putting a price on carbon will create the right incentive to create that clean energy future. It will cut carbon pollution. It will be good for our environment, but it will also be good for the future of Australian jobs as we transform our economy into a clean energy economy for the future.
I very much thank the Australian National University and the researchers we've met today. They're doing amazing things. Carbon pricing will create the market incentive to make sure these amazing new technologies become part of how we live and work.
Very happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, the Opposition Leader says your tax summit is meaningless. What meaning does it have?
PM: The Opposition Leader, of course, is doing what the Opposition Leader does - which is being negative about everything. The Government's got a big agenda and we're getting on with it, and of course I am making sure that every day the Government is delivering the things that we promised the Australian people: delivering changes in our family tax benefit system to benefit the parents of teenagers; delivering changes like our Minerals Resource Rent Tax; and I am committed to putting a price on carbon. We'll be getting on with the job of doing each of those things.
Later in the year we will have a tax forum and there are plenty of things in our tax system and our tax and transfer system which can be the subject of discussions at that forum, including how Federal taxes work with State taxes. So, plenty of things for the tax forum to have a good discussion about later this year, but in the meantime the Government will be getting on with the job.
JOURNALIST: On the intervention, is there case for a bipartisan approach to the Federal intervention as per the Opposition Leader's comments?
PM: Well, I've seen these reports today and let me say this in respect of those reports - the Opposition Leader on Friday mentioned to be his continuing concern about the circumstances in the Alice Springs town camps. He said he would write to me and then seek to meet with me on this matter. It's a serious matter.
Instead of taking that course, the Opposition Leader today has gone hunting for a headline.
Well, I don't think this should be about the politics. It should be about the policy for the lives of Indigenous Australians. So, I'm not going to get involved in Mr Abbott's politics but I will, with the Minister Jenny Macklin, be getting on with delivering new policies in Alice Springs, in those town camps, and I do note that Jenny Macklin, the Minister, has been able to work very cooperatively with her Opposition counterpart, Nigel Scullion. He's a man motivated about Indigenous Affairs. He has that portfolio for the Opposition. He's also a Territorian.
So, there's been good collaboration and work between Jenny Macklin and her Opposition counterpart because they put the policy before the politics. It's a pity Mr Abbott couldn't do the same.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister when the budget is delivered this year, can we expect to see the budgetary implications of the carbon pricing regime or compensation arrangements or will you have to wait till next year when that's all been finalised?
PM: With pricing carbon we are working on the decisions now and we will be announcing them during the course of this year and bringing legislation to the Parliament in the second half of this year. What that means is Australians will have full details of the price we are putting on the nation's biggest polluters for putting carbon pollution into our atmosphere, and full details of the generous assistance to households. We will, of course, also assist industry to adjust to protect Australian jobs and to make sure we've got the jobs of the future and we will fund programs to tackle climate change.
So, all of that carbon pricing package will be there for Australians to see and to judge, including the generous assistance for Australian households.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister with what we're seeing and hearing coming out of Libya, is this how you expected the military action there to proceed and if Australia was asked to provide troops for any further intervention in Libya, would we provide them?
PM: We've been clear all along that we would not be making any military contributions to the efforts in Libya. We are a long way from Libya and it is not our normal theatre of action. This is something being led by NATO and obviously involving forces from a range of countries, including the United States.
On Libya, can I say we welcomed the United Nations Security Council resolution to impose a no fly zone, amongst other measures.
Colonel Qaddafi was given an opportunity to abide by that resolution and to stop his violence against the people of Libya. He chose not to do that. He chose to continue the violence, to continue to bloodshed that we've seen in Libya.
So, now the United Nations Security Council resolution is being enforced. I welcome that fact. The end point here is to stop Colonel Qaddafi engaging in this bloodshed and violence.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, should the end point, though, be the end of the Qaddafi regime. Shouldn't we go further than just protecting civilians and make sure that he can't do this again?
PM: Well, the United Nations Security Council has spelt this out. It forms the legal basis of acting and the motivator here to act and act now, to call on Colonel Qaddafi for a ceasefire, and when he failed to respond to that call to commence the action you've seen, to put in place the no fly zone, the motivator here is our responsibility to protect, as human beings, the people of Libya.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, given that the two big- firstly, can I ask why are the two tax instruments included at the tax forum, carbon tax and the mining tax, and are you expecting any blowback from the country independents?
PM: Well, we're getting on with the job. This is a Government of action. This is a Government of decision and delivery. That's exactly what we're doing in 2011, what I promised: decision and delivery; getting on with the job every day; making decisions that will make this a nation of greater opportunity and greater prosperity and fairness in the future. So, I'm going to get on with that job every day.
Yes, we'll have a tax forum later in the year, and there will be plenty for that tax forum to focus on, but I am not going to engage in days of inaction waiting for a tax forum. We've got a big job to do: a big job to do to manage our economy; a big job to do to price carbon; a big job to do to make sure that in the future we've got a cleaner environment, less carbon pollution, the clean energy jobs of the future, the kind of jobs that the technology I've seen here today will help create.
We're not going to delay in that. We're getting on with it.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, residents of Christmas Island say that the Government put their safety at risk by failing to deal with overcrowding the detention centres. Why did it have to escalate into a full-scale riot before anything was done?
PM: Well, the Minister for Immigration has been upfront and clear about this all along, been upfront and clear that the Christmas Island detention centre was under pressure in terms of numbers and upfront and clear that the Government was taking action to relieve some of that pressure, and you've seen across the months of this year the Minister for Immigration make a number of statements about detention centres and detention capacity.
I understand for the people of Christmas Island that they feel under pressure with the detention centre there. There are some Christmas Island community members who have expressed that. I can understand that they feel concerned. The Government is taking action to relieve the pressure in terms of numbers on the Christmas Island detention facility.
JOURNALIST: How many detainees are missing?
PM: Look, my advice from the Australian Federal Police is that, overwhelmingly, the detainees at the Christmas Island centre are accounted for. To the extent that any are missing obviously the Australian Federal Police will take appropriate action to locate them.
JOURNALIST: There's been significant violence and destruction. Do you expect people will be charged with criminal charges?
PM: Look, ordinarily, your ordinary understanding as a layperson is if violence has occurred - and violence has occurred here - and the police are able to identify the culprits, then charges do get laid, but it is not for me to make a guess about what might happen here. The Australian Federal Police need to go through their proper police processes.
I'd say that about violence on Christmas Island the same way I would say about violence in the streets of one of our capital cities if that occurred, that police have to go through proper processes, and that's what's happening now.
JOURNALIST: Will the Government be willing to consider creating a new visa category that would allow genuine asylum seekers who haven't got security checks to stay on the mainland?
PM: Look, I've seen these reports this morning and I've also seen that the Minister for Immigration has said this report is based on some documents that have been generated within his Department. As people, I think, well and truly understand, Government departments canvass policy options all of the time, and this is a document in his Department. That's the status that it has.
JOURNALIST: We heard estimates that there are some 900 people in this case, though? Wouldn't it be necessary to relieve pressure on Christmas Island?
PM: Well, I've indicated to you what the Minister has said about the document that forms the basis of that report.
OK, we'll take last question. We've really got to go.
JOURNALIST: The Government's handling of indigenous affairs in the Northern Territory appears to have failed, with rising crime and violence. Are you suggesting that Tony Abbott's offer was disingenuous and won't be taken up, the offer for a joint trip that he's presented to you?
PM: The Government has been acting across the nation and in the Northern Territory on the circumstances of Indigenous Australians. We've taken real steps to improve housing, to improve health, to improve education.
In Alice Springs itself we have a $150 million transformation plan for the Alice Springs town camps. This means more new houses - more than 80 new houses. It means houses being fixed - more than 130 being fixed. It means more police, more lighting. These things are already happening and some of them are happening as a result of productive discussions between Jenny Macklin and her Opposition counterpart, Senator Nigel Scullion.
Now I'm not underestimating, and never have, the difficulty of closing the gap for Indigenous Australians. I refer you to the speech I gave in the Parliament on closing the gap.
The Government's acting. Making sure you get a headline on the front page of a newspaper is politics, not policy. We'll get on with the policy.
Thank you very much.