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Transcript 18013

Transcript of interview with Annie Gastin, ABC Radio Darwin

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: 18/07/2011

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 18013

HOST: Joining us this afternoon our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.

PM: Good afternoon.

HOST: Prime Minister, I was talking to someone the other day who went from not liking the carbon tax to thinking it wasn't such a bad idea, honestly, in a matter of seconds. Are people confused or is the opposition just running a much better campaign?

PM: I think there's a lot anxiety around, a lot of fear, and there's been a lot of false information peddled as well, so I'm going to keep working through to explain to people the facts of our package. I believe the facts are on our side.

We're putting forward a plan that will cut carbon pollution by a big amount: by 2020 we will see the equivalent of 45 million less cars on the road. Australia's only got around 12 million, so try and imagine 45 million cars and the amount of pollution they generate.

And this is a plan which will protect Australian jobs as we secure a clean energy future, and where 9 out of 10 households will see assistance in the form of tax cuts or family payment increases or pension increases.

HOST: Now, you have been saying this, though, for quite some time. Why isn't it resonating with a lot of voters?

PM: I think when you're going to have a big reform and a big change of course it takes some time to work through. I'm not surprised by that.

When we've done big reforms in the past in this country - floated the dollar, reduced tariffs, created universal superannuation, indeed created Medicare - it's taken time to explain. Big changes always do take some time to absorb, and so we'll keep working through in an environment where people have seen so many shameful claims made that are there to generate fear.

HOST: People in the Northern Territory think they're going to get slugged more because of transport costs. Can you make any guarantees that those costs won't be passed on here, that we and people in regional areas won't be penalised?

PM: Well, first and foremost the petrol or fuel that people use in their car or in light commercial vehicles is not in the scheme at all. Second, heavy vehicles come into the scheme but not until the 1st July 2014, so when the scheme starts on the 1st July next year, what people should expect to see is around 500 of our biggest polluters paying a price for the first time for the carbon pollution they put in our atmosphere, which will cause them to innovate and change and reduce pollution. People will see a flow through on some goods that they buy. That affect will be less than 1% of the cost of living and that's where the household assistance comes in-

HOST: -If people actually start saying to us that's costing you more because of increased in transport costs, we can argue the toss with them quite comfortably?

PM: Oh, Anne, you can argue the toss and if you think someone is trying to sell you a pup and claim that a big price increase is due to carbon pricing, then you can ring up the ACCC, they will be there as a cop on the beat against false claims and we have ensured that they can fine people, they can take them to court and get penalties levied of up to $1.1 million for each false claim, so there's literally a million reasons for businesses to do the right thing.

HOST: So while we're talking about a fuel, our farmers of course are very, very unhappy here. You said that farmers will be exempt from carbon tax on fuel. However aviation fuel's taxed and so many of our station owners and farmers are concerned about that because of course they use planes and helicopters in their work.

PM: Yes there will be an effective carbon price on aviation fuel that's achieved through changes in fuel credits and taxes. What I would say to farmers who use that fuel in their daily pursuits is, of course, we do expect that there will be a flow through to prices that households pay, and that's what the assistance is there for - to assist households to meet those costs.

HOST: But you won't consider any exemption for farmers using aviation fuel?

PM: No, we've made clear exactly how the scheme's going to work and they're the announcements that you saw not yesterday but Sunday last week.

HOST: Now, what's the latest on the ground in Indonesia re the abattoirs?

PM: Well, we are working strongly with exporters to get the trade back up and running. Of course, they now know crystal clear the conditions under which the trade can get back up and running, so we need to track and trace animals and have reporting and accountability and independent auditing.

A number of exporters are working through to meet those conditions and Indonesia will grant import permits - it said that very clearly. So, we do want to see this trade resumed quickly under conditions where we know it's going to be sustainable for the long term.

HOST: Moving along, we had a priest on last week, Father Paul Webb, who described the conditions in detention here as worse than being in jail, not so much physically but that people who've been passed by immigration are still waiting sometimes over a year for ASIO to give them a full pass. They're dragging the chain. Is there any way to move that forward?

PM: Well, I don't make any apology for ensuring that we have our security agencies like ASIO security checking people. We have worked with ASIO and the Department of Immigration to ensure that this can happen as efficiently as possible, but there are cases where it takes some time and us doing the appropriate thing to check security issues is obviously right by the nation.

HOST: But if we've got, if Immigration has passed these people and it's taking 18 months or something for ASIO, there are still people in prison who are waiting and they're protesting, they're stitching their lips together, people are attempting suicide, surely there's some way of fast tracking that, having more people staffed in ASIO to do these checks, etcetera?

PM: People don't get any change or advantage in processing because of conduct like that in detention centres. It makes absolutely not difference to the time their claim takes or the way their claim is treated. I'm trying to do this as efficiently as possible, but there are circumstances where it does take some time and we do want to take a very rigorous and effective approach to security checking.

HOST: Would you consider upping the staff levels in ASIO departments so that this could be fast tracked?

PM: Well, look we've made our decisions about resourcing of our security agencies.

HOST: OK, you made a promise, we're moving to get children out of heavily secured detention facilities. You said you'd get them out by June 30th. Has that happened?

PM: Yes, the Minister met the commitment that he gave.

HOST: Malaysia's facing unrest, as you are well aware, of violent protests this weekend, people actually liking it to the unrest in Arab countries. How's that going to affect the Malaysia solution?

PM: Well we continue to be in advanced discussions with the Government of Malaysia about this innovative plan to break the people smugglers' business model and we are working through in those advanced discussions.

HOST: So nothing's going to change?

PM: No, we'll continue to be engaged in those discussions with the Malaysian Government.

HOST: Prime Minister re the Intervention, your Minister Jenny Macklin got a beating up here last week in Maningrida. People are still unhappy. They feel humiliated by the Basics Card and probably more the general emphasis on their shortcomings with little or no change to their living conditions. Are you going to take this response, which is quite unusual for Aboriginal people to speak out in such a fashion, are you going to take it seriously or is it another token consultation?

PM: This consultation is a real consultation. Jenny Macklin is leading it for the Government.

As Prime Minister, I've said I understand some of the feelings of hurt and shame that were caused by the way in which the emergency response first started. I also understand that there are things that have happened in the emergency response that have made a difference to the lives of indigenous people in a positive way. I've had direct feedback myself when I've met with people in the Northern Territory about some of the improvements, including more fresh food in camp stores; some of the improvements with kids getting meals in schools; some of the improvements in housing that have been delivered, and I've seen some of those houses myself; and I've also heard from people who do feel under less pressure in terms of being humbugged out of money as a result of income management.

But we are engaged in a genuine consultation process so that we shape the next phase in strong consultation with local people.

HOST: What about the proposal of keeping the outstations? What do you think of that?

PM: Well, look, these are the things that Jenny Macklin's obviously working and consulting on, so if you are going to consult and work through with people what the next stage should look like, it's really inappropriate for me to prejudge.

HOST: Do you get shocked when you visit some Aboriginal communities and town camps?

PM: Oh, look, I've visited communities over, you know, all the years I've been in parliament. I've been in parliament since 1998 and for a period of time, admittedly a quite brief period of time, but for a period of time I was shadow minister for indigenous affairs, and yes I've seen some shocking conditions.

I've also seen some improvements. I did go to a town camp outside Alice Springs a number of weeks ago to see the improvements that have happened there. That's a town camp where literally people have died because of dog attacks, and now we are seeing that town camp getting more houses with the aim that it gets the sort of services that suburban Australia takes for granted, but there is more that needs to be done.

HOST: On a more personal level, I know you'll say as everyone does that polls are fickle things, but how do you actually feel when you read that your popularity's going down, you know, that men don't like you as much as they used to; that it might be your turn to get the boot; that, you know, history could repeat itself and you might suffer the same fate as Kevin Rudd, you might get your comeuppance. How do you cope with that?

PM: Well, I'm spurred on by my determination to make sure we do the things we need to do today to ensure that we have a strong economy and better opportunities for all Australians in the future, so it's a sense of determination.

HOST: What about you? What about your spirit?

PM: That is my spirit.

HOST: Thank you, Prime Minister.

PM: Thank you, thanks very much.

Transcript 18013