PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 17867

Transcript of joint press conference, Tamworth

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: 17/05/2011

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 17867

PM: It's great to be in Tamworth and I'm joined by Tony Windsor, the local Member. I've had the opportunity today, with Tony, to formally open the Tamworth Sports Dome. This was part of the Government's economic stimulus package and a great partnership between the Federal Government and the local community. The Federal Government contributed $5 million, but that was well and truly matched by a very sizable investment from the local council.

I'm very pleased I was able to be here today to take part in the celebration at the formal opening and to see some of the kids that are going to be using that facility and are using it already to play netball and to play basketball.

I'm now here at the Tamworth Hospital and this is a hospital that is meeting growing local need and every step of the way we've wanted to work with Tony Windsor, with this hospital and with his local community to make sure that the facilities at this hospital could keep pace with local need.

We've invested more than $30 million in the cancer centre. That will be an investment including the State Government contribution of more than $40 million and you can see from the fencing that we've walked past today that construction work is about to get underway. We've walked through the current maternity section and as a result of us dedicating $120 million, that part of the hospital will be able to be replaced by a modern facility as part of the stage two developments.

This is a development worth $220 million, with a $120 million contribution from the Federal Government and it was great to be able to meet some of the staff there, to meet a young mum and her very small, very new baby. Obviously the staff are doing a great job in that section of the hospital, but the facilities do need to be replaced and I'm very pleased that we are able to make a contribution to their replacement.

I'm also very pleased to be able to announce today a further $20 million investment. This investment will go to the School of Rural Health. We've been through the training facilities that are currently being used to train young medical and allied health personnel right here in Tamworth. This additional $20 million investment will provide $15 million of investment right here, for more training facilities and student accommodation. $5 million of the $20 million will be invested at the university in Armadale and it too will participate in the training effort.

What all of this means is that more of the health workforce that this community needs can be trained locally and all of the evidence tells us that if people get a great quality training experience in a regional centre, then they are much more likely to stay in that regional centre when they start their professional life. So, the more doctors, the more allied health professionals we can train right here locally, will make a difference for the workforce in this community for many years to come.

I'm also pleased to be able to announce today that we will be backing this investment in and this training with some more training positions, by supporting 8 new positions to train specialists and 16 new positions to train general practitioners. I've been hearing as I've talked to the staff here at this hospital about shortages and how they affect the provision of health care here locally, so training efforts here locally will make a difference for being able to meet the health needs of this community.

I'll turn now to Tony Windsor and then we'll be happy to take any questions.

WINDSOR: Well, thank you Prime Minister and thank you very much for coming today, the community appreciated you being here. The announcement that the Prime Minister has just made, or the announcements, are tremendous for this community, and not only for this community, because the investment in medical professionals is about the future of rural medicos and allied trades - that's the wrong word - allied people that will provide services right across the nation. So, we've got a unique opportunity, I think, in terms of the relationship between Newcastle, the University of New England and this particular hospital and the teaching arrangements that will take place in this hospital.

And that's built on a very successful structure, the university's department of rural health, and the relationship that's grown over the years with Newcastle and the University of New England. So, thank you Prime Minister, we appreciate it. The $120 million, in terms of new building in concept with the State Government, I think you can see today that it is needed and it will, again, add value, not only to this community but to the teaching of medicos and others that will take place in this particular facility.

I'd just like to thank those people who were involved in the planning process, I think too often we overlook the hard work that people do put in. So I think they deserve congratulations, because if they hadn't been shovel ready they wouldn't have been able to pass the criteria in terms of the health and hospital funding arrangements.

So, thank you to all those people who put in the hard yards and no doubt you'll have to put in some more now. Thank you Prime Minister.

PM: Thank you. Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, the Greens seems to have named their preferred price on carbon. Greg Combet says it will be ‘well south' of $40 a tonne, doesn't this put you at odds with the Greens?

PM: It just means we've got some work to do and we'll continue doing it. It's the right thing to do to price carbon and that price will be paid by the thousand biggest polluters in the country. Big companies, who currently can put carbon pollution into our atmosphere for free, the most efficient way of reducing that pollution is to put a price on it. Businesses will innovate, they'll change, they will generate less pollution and of course we'll use that revenue to compensate households, protect Aussie jobs and to fund programs that will tackle climate change.

So we're still working through, as the Minister has said, Greg Combet, the Government is aiming well south of that $40 figure. That figure comes out of a report released by Martin Ferguson in his capacity as Minister, and it was exploring a range of options for transition for what would drive clean energy transition. So, no one should read that as the government's intention.

JOURNALIST: How far south, would it be half of $40?

PM: I'm not here today to name the carbon price, we've got work to do and we'll keep doing it, but Minister Combet is right, that the Government's aim is for a price well south of the $40, named in that report.

JOURNALIST: Is it true though, this report questions if it's not at $40, is it economically viable?

PM: Certainly, the carbon pricing mechanism that we've announced is there to drive a change to the clean energy future we need to have. We've announced the mechanism, a fixed price for a limited period, then moving to what's called an emissions trading scheme, where you put a cap on the amount of carbon pollution your economy will generate and the market generates a price.

We've announced that mechanism, that mechanism is to drive change to a clean energy economy. People want to do the right thing by the environment and cut carbon pollution, that's what it's all about, we also don't want our economy left behind as an emissions intensive economy, when the rest of the world is changing.

So, all of the details will be announced in the middle of the year. I understand that people will speculate, I also understand that Tony Abbott will continue his fear campaign. What we'll do is the patient work, the methodical work, that's necessary to get all the details right and then we'll announce the details.I'd say to Australians that they should have a look at all of this when all of the details are available and they can look at the compensation their household will receive.

JOURNALIST: You're confident once July does roll around and all these details are available that will put to bed any uncertainty for the business community?

PM: Absolutely. The business community will have all of the details. The only uncertainty that will then exist for business is Mr Abbott's scheme to repeal carbon pricing and to rip out of the hands of households the assistance we've given them. So he's got a plan, once carbon pricing starts, to make households worse off, that's going to make households uncertain, people around the nation uncertain and of course it's going to make business uncertain too.

But the Government will be there to provide certainty to business about the way the carbon pricing scheme will work.

JOURNALIST: Do you agree with the Deloitte report that says even $40 a tonne won't be enough to switch coal fire power stations to gas?

PM: It follows from what I've said that our aim is for a price well south of $40 and we will obviously be aiming for a price that works to drive a clean energy transition.

So, this is a report released by Martin Ferguson, people can have a good look at it, but we are working through, as a government and through the Multi-party Climate Change Committee, in consultation with business, to get all of the details right. So rather than speculate on the one hand, or have people fear monger on the other, as Tony Abbott is doing, the best thing will be for people to judge when we announce all of the details in the middle of the year.

JOURNALIST: But you can appreciate that this fear mongering, or this speculation, is going to continue until the details are released?

PM: Well there's no excuse for raising fear in the Australian community and there's no excuse for blatant misrepresentations and that's what Mr Abbott has been engaged in - plucking figures out of the air and trying to terrify Australian households and small businesses with them. That's not a good thing to do, it's not the right thing to do, it's not the right thing to do by the people you're feeding false information to, it's not the right thing to do by our country. Our country needs to change, we need to cut the amount of carbon pollution we're putting in our atmosphere, we need to become a cleaner energy economy, that's what I'm determined to do and carbon pricing is the most efficient way to do that, because it gets the 1000 biggest polluters in our economy to pay.

JOURNALIST: Mr Windsor, can I just ask you about the carbon tax. Previously you have said that the Government possibly isn't selling the message as effectively, but also not to get too swayed by the polls, how do you think they're going at the moment, since last poll, selling this carbon tax?

WINDSOR: Well, I think we've got a process in place and I'm more than happy to be part of that process and that process is unfolding - we've had a meeting in Canberra this morning - the Multi-party Climate Change Committee. The Productivity Commission will have a report sometime in the not too distant future, the Treasury - there's a number of different reports to come through.

I think we make up our minds when we've got all the information and I think what's happening - and it's easy politically to pick a spot and say ‘well this is where it's at, let's attack someone for taking a position'. The situation is we're working through this quite critical process and then there'll be informed decisions made and, as I said, I'm more than happy to be a part of that.

JOURNALIST: What about people in New England, how are they feeling about the carbon tax? Is the uncertainty being felt here as well?

WINDSOR: Well, if you ask people about how they feel about taxation generally, they'd probably suggest that it's probably not a great idea, someone else should pay it. But if you ask them, if it's part of the Murray Darling system, are they prepared to drop off in rainfall for future generations, they'd probably have a different idea. If you ask them about where some of the revenue might go in terms of landscape and some of the technologies that are out there in the farming and grazing community they'd probably have a different answer again.

So, ask someone whether they agree with taxation is a fairly simple question and I think you'll get a fairly simple answer to it.

JOURNALIST: I mean this report today, it said that - possibly scaremongering - but electricity prices could go well past $1100 a year, can people in New England afford something like that?

WINDSOR: Well, let's wait and see. I haven't seen that number you're talking about, I haven't seen the report you're talking about. Electricity prices seem to be going up quite dramatically without any taxation arrangements being imposed on them and I'd suggest that's probably the result of an underspend at a State Government level, more than some of the scare mongering that's going on a the moment.

PM: And just on that question, can I say anybody who is representing that they can tell someone the changing electricity price is from pricing carbon is making the number up. When we announce all of the details we will be clear with Australian families about every detail of carbon pricing, about the price per tonne, the biggest polluters in this country will pay for putting carbon pollution in the atmosphere, that price means businesses will innovate and change and generate less pollution and then we'll use that revenue to assist households.

So before we announce any of those details, anybody who's purporting to give someone a number is making that number up.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, about today's announcement, has this extra money that's been announced for Tamworth and Armidale been made because of Mr Windsor's support of the Government?

PM: Certainly, Tony Windsor is a great advocate of his local community and makes sure that his local community knows how to engage with government processes and makes sure that government understands what this community needs. But we've been through a set of decision making processes that involve experts, for example our health and hospitals fund makes recommendations about the best investments we can make in hospitals and they recommended the stage 2 investment that we've talked about here.

JOURNALIST: Can other regional hospitals, such as the Dubbo Hospital (inaudible) some of this money that's been thrown at Tamworth what would they have to do (inaudible).

PM: No, there are proper processes here and the investment here has been through that proper process. So the same process applies to everyone and that is that the health and hospital fund experts look at applications and judge where the money can best be put to use. So, we've got to be clear about this, we've got a process involving experts who make recommendations and therefore provide advice to government about the best way of spending precious heath dollars.

Of course, Mr Windsor is a very vocal advocate of his local community's needs, that's understandable and that's appropriate, but when we look around the nation and engaging with the health and hospitals fund, the rules are being equally applied.

Thank you.

Transcript 17867