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Transcript 18138

Transcript of interview with Chris Uhlmann, 7:30

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: 14/09/2011

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 18138

HOST: Julia Gillard, welcome.

PM: Thank you.

HOST: What will you do if Tony Abbott rejects your call to amend the law to allow offshore processing?

PM: Well I'm going to keep speaking to Mr Abbott and providing briefings to get him to work with the Government to amend the law. So Chris let's take this in order, the position is we will bring amendments to the Parliament next week to the Migration Act, we'll brief Mr Abbott on those amendments on Friday, it's our expectation he'll be able to sit there and have a full briefing and we are simply saying to Mr Abbott whatever is his preferred plan in relation to refugees and asylum seekers, the Migration Act needs amending to give government the power to have people processed offshore with legal certainty and he should work with us to do that.

HOST: Surely, but what if he says no?

PM: Well I'm going to keep putting that position to the Leader of the Opposition.

HOST: But it looks likely that he will say no and you must have a fallback position?

PM: First things first, it's a matter for the Leader of the Opposition and his judgement.

HOST: Do you regret dismantling the Pacific Solution?

PM: This is not an easy policy area, it's been vexed in our national debate for a long period of time. When Chris Bowen came forward with this innovative plan to work with a third country, to work with Malaysia for a transfer agreement, I did think it was a new way forward, I do think it sends the strongest possible message of deterrence and that's why we're working to implement it including amending the Migration Act.

HOST: That's all been patched up because you had a solution that did stop the boats, 288 boats in five years before you came into government, after you came into government - 288 people I should say, after you came to government, 11,600. You had a solution, you dismantled it, surely that's where the problem started?

PM: Well Chris I think that's a gross over-simplification of all of the things that have happened, for example you've forgotten the civil war in Sri Lanka which got people on the move, so there are a broad range of circumstances here, global circumstances, that cause people to move. Regional-

HOST: So it was all push factors?

PM: Regional circumstances that cause people to move-

HOST: It had nothing to do with you?

PM: Chris, I don't think you can pretend that there wasn't unrest in Sri Lanka that caused people to get on the move and cause us-

HOST: Can you pretend that the changes that you made had no effect?

PM: Chris, let's be frank about this. There will always be global factors and regional factors that cause people to get on the move, we've seen one in our own region in the last few years in relation to Sri Lanka, we are still seeing people from Afghanistan turn up on our shores in boats, we're seeing increasing numbers from Iran, so this is a problem that moves and changes depending on global circumstances and what's happening in different parts of the world. So that is the circumstance that we deal with.

There will always be one big pull factor for Australia which is it's a very desirable place to live, we understand that. We've got to get our regional settings right which is why we work through a regional process and we've got to work for new innovations that send strong deterrence messages and that's what the Malaysia arrangement is.

HOST: At the heart of this, when people look at this externally and they see a solution (inaudible) and they see the boats start to rise up with your Government coming into power, then they hear about East Timor and now the Malaysia solution, isn't the question one of competence, that your Government has not handled this competently?

PM: Well at the moment the question is one of law and that is the circumstances we find ourselves in after the High Court decision and Chris we are looking to put ourselves back in the position we believed we were legally before the High Court decision and which the Howard Government believed itself to be in and acted upon. So the High Court decision was unexpected and I thought it was disappointing, now we do need to act to amend the legislation so that we can implement this new and innovative arrangement with Malaysia which will send a strong deterrence message.

And let's be very clear about the advice to us about past policies and plans. The advice to us is that boat turn arounds worked, the advice to us is that the Pacific Solution obviously had a sort of shock factor when it was first put into effect but now people smugglers know that you go and you get processed in Nauru, well, you know you can get resettled in Australia.

HOST: Now on carbon tax, of course you said that you are on the right side of history but again, isn't the problem that you've got there not one of whether or not you've got a good policy, it's the problems you've got with your own legitimacy on the question because before the last election you said there wouldn't be a carbon tax?

PM: Well Chris, once again let's have a go at the facts, I know that they're not fashionable sitting here in Parliament House when we go to Question Time everyday and listen to some of the nonsense spoken by the Opposition. At the last election I spoke to the Australian people about action on climate change. I've always believed that putting a price on carbon was the best way of doing that. I've brought to the Parliament a package that has a fixed price for the first three years, effectively a carbon tax, and then gets to the emissions trading scheme that I spoke about during the election campaign.

HOST: During the election campaign you talked about community consensus and a citizen's assembly, that you need to build community consensus before you've moved on.

PM: During the election campaign I talked about the need for action on climate change and when I said the words during the election campaign about not having a carbon tax I meant every word of it. Then in this Parliament, which I didn't expect, I had the opportunity to act and to achieve what this nation has been striving for for a long period of time now. When I had the opportunity in the Parliament yesterday to introduce the legislation I spoke of words of my predecessor Barry Jones more than 20 years ago taking about action on climate change. So this is the time to get it done and we will legislate through this Parliament.

I talked yesterday about the judgement of history but Chris I think we are going to get to a situation very soon where Mr Abbott is in a position that is not only on the wrong side of history but he's going to be going to Australian families and saying ‘I want your tax cut back, I want your family payment increase back'.

HOST: The questions that have been put to you are perhaps questions of competence and legitimacy that go beyond any policies that you might have. How do you overcome those sorts of problems, that the questions are about you and not your policies?

PM: Well, and how do you put that Chris? I mean let's get real about examples here. Of course the Opposition uses language about legitimacy, it is still smarting -

HOST: You don't think you have any questions for that?

PM: Well the Opposition is still smarting from not being the government and so they use words of abuse and they speak about legitimacy. Our democracy is one where government is formed in the House of Representatives and government has been formed. And I serve as Prime Minister because I command a majority in the House of Representatives, that's how our democracy works. And I really think it's probably - people should think to themselves when they hear these cat calls from the Opposition, well what's their actual answer to some of these policies? Mr Abbott came to the Parliament today to give his speech on carbon pricing - 30 minutes, one sentence about his alternate policy which was factually incorrect.

HOST: But you reject any suggestion of any notion that there is a problem with your Government in convincing the people of the Australian electorate that you have problems with competence and legitimacy?

PM: I'm well aware, Chris, that we are Government with a lot of hard work to do, but we are a Government that is governing legitimately in accordance with the rules of our democracy. Mr Abbott's insults are about his political advantage rather than bringing to the Australian people any alternate policies and plans and so his insults should be seen as a thin veneer to cover up that lack of policy alternate.

HOST: Is being Prime Minister what you'd imagined it would be?

PM: Look I had a very good insight into this job before I took it; I understood what it would be and I understood the weight of the responsibility that would come with it. And this job isn't about wandering around doing what's popular and it's not about worrying about next fortnight's opinion polls, it's about working through the best thing for this nation for the long term and we are doing that. And I understand how difficult the carbon pricing debate is, no one would understand that more than me, but when I spoke those words yesterday about being on the right side of history I was absolutely convinced they were true, I am convinced they're true, just the same way they were true when Labor brought Medicare in and just the same way they were true when we brought superannuation to this country, bitterly contested by the Liberals every step of the way.

HOST: Julia Gillard thank you.

PM: Thank you.

Transcript 18138