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Transcript 18139

Transcript of interview with Philip Clark, ABC Sydney

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: 15/09/2011

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 18139

HOST: Prime Minister Julia Gillard joins me on the line this morning. Prime Minister, good morning.

PM: Good morning Philip.

HOST: Big week for you, carbon tax bills, it's fair to say that the fate of things hangs on these bills, isn't it?

PM: This is a very important piece of legislation and I was very pleased to bring it to the Parliament on Tuesday. This is about cutting carbon pollution, the right thing by our environment, but also making sure we've got the clean energy jobs of the future. Now of course we've been having a vigorous national conversation about this and that is continuing in the Parliament. Mr Abbott made his address yesterday, but I do note today in the newspapers the Australian Industry Greenhouse Network is confirming what the Government has said for some time, that Mr Abbott's carbon plan is twice as expensive as the Government's and we are concerned that his plan would cost families $1300 a year.

So we'll keep having this debate, but the legislation will go through the Parliament and what people will see on 1 July next year is a price on carbon, they'll see taxes cut, family payments increased and pensions increased.

HOST: It's not a policy that you were once enthusiastic about, I can understand that people change their minds and that's fair enough, that's what politics is about and to some degree your hand's been forced by the agreement with the Greens. Why do you think this policy though has been so hard to sell to the public? The public think we should do something about climate change, they don't think we should have a carbon tax and that's been pretty clear. Why is that gap there?

PM: Philip I'm not sure I'm going to accept your version of history, but I will say this-

HOST: I'm happy for you to contest it, you're on record as being not enthusiastic about the carbon tax from the beginning.

PM: Look, let me just go through that. When I spoke to in the Parliament, I referred back to my predecessor, my very great predecessor in my local electorate, Barry Jones, who was talking to the Australian Parliament about carbon pollution 24 years ago, so this has been a long debate.

Prime Minister Howard went to the 2007 election with an emissions trading scheme-

HOST: Exactly. We were all in agreement once, but we're not anymore. Why?

PM: I think we're in agreement about some of the central points, I believe Australians generally agree that climate change is real, that we should accept what the scientists are saying to us and they do want to see Government do something about it, they want to see action. Of course across all of those many years of debate there's been policies and plans put and during the last election campaign I spoke to the Australian people about an emissions trading scheme, where you cap the amount of carbon pollution in your economy and a market which buys and sells permits sorts it all out.

Now we're going to get to that cap and trade scheme, via a mechanism I didn't foresee in the election campaign, a three year fixed price, effectively like a tax, but we will get to that emissions trading scheme. But what's it all about, what is this mechanism for, why would you put a price on carbon? Well it sends a signal to the big polluters who are paying the price to change, to innovate, to work out how to do what they do whilst generating less carbon pollution. And one of the great privileges of this job is I get to meet really smart business people who are already designing the policies and plans that they'll swing into operation to cut carbon pollution and cut the amount they have to pay for that carbon pollution.

Whereas at the moment they can just put that carbon pollution into the atmosphere for nothing, so there's no incentive for change.

HOST: Do you accept that the message, if that is the message, has not been sold well, that it's not been communicated well and do you accept yourself, personally, responsibility for that?

PM: I'm always happy to accept responsibility for my role and my actions. There's been a huge fear campaign here, a huge fear campaign and a concerted attempt to distort the facts. We've seen revealed in the newspapers over the last two days, and there's more in today's Sydney Morning Herald, about a plan basically involving Premier O'Farrell's office and the Daily Telegraph, where a story was run - striking fear into people's hearts about public transport fares rocketing up - and it simply wasn't true. And all of the emails between the political staffers in Mr Abbott's office and Premier O'Farrell's office are now there for everybody to read about how this story was concocted.

But what we don't know yet is what Premier O'Farrell did personally and what Mr Abbott did personally to help concoct this story. There are some questions there for them to answer.

HOST: Do you hope that once the bills are passed, the numbers are there to pass it, do you hope that once the bills are passed and the earth doesn't end and the sky doesn't fall in, that you might hope for a reversal in poll fortunes on this issue?

PM: Big reforms aren't easy. If we look across our history, whether it was Medicare when Labor introduced that against the bitter opposition of the Liberal Party, or whether it was superannuation where we were told by the Liberal Party this would bankrupt the nation. Big reforms aren't easy, this is a very big reform and it's a vital reform for our nation's future, for our environment and to create clean energy jobs.

I think the best way for Australians to judge this reform is through their own lived experience and I'm very confident on 1 July next year, when people get up in the morning and rush round and get ready to go to work and get the kids to school and all of the things people have to do in the early hours of the day, that people will find the world the same, except they will see a cut in their taxes and they will see an increase in their family payments and they will see an increase in their pensions and we will see businesses changing so they create less carbon pollution.

HOST: There's been a lot of comment about the level of vituperation directed against you personally and the Office of the Prime Minister, with that show on television etcetera. There been many people who have pointed to the level of debate at the moment being of a nasty edge that's almost unprecedented in Australian politics. Some have said it's due to some deep seated misogyny in the Australian public. Do you think that's right?

PM: This is a debate that I know is going on in media and in the community. For me I don't spend much of my time thinking about that-

HOST: Might be hurtful for you though?

PM: Look, I've got very broad shoulders and what I spend my time thinking about and doing is implementing the policies and plans our nation needs. I didn't come to this position hankering for people to say nice things about me every day, I came to this position absolutely determined to do what we need to as a nation to make sure that we've got opportunity for all, right around the country, whether that's the chance to get a job, the chance to get a better job, the chance for a kid from a disadvantaged home to get a great education. And to make sure we don't leave people behind, which is why I'm so passionate about things like a National Disability Insurance Scheme.

And I also don't think it's in us as a nation to really cower in the face of the challenges of the future, which is why it's so important we stump up to big changes, but important changes, like pricing carbon. So it's those things that drive me every day, not debates about what is said in politics, or personal matters. It's not what drives me.

HOST: Just a couple of things, because we are running out of time. The Reserve Bank, Glenn Stevens recent pay rise, the Treasurer, Mr Swan says it wasn't in line with community expectations and he's intervened to strip the Bank's independence in relation to setting these salaries. Do you think the Glenn Stevens pay rise was warranted?

PM: I'd absolutely agree with the words of the Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan.

HOST: Poker machines, are you going to push ahead with this? Andrew Wilkie says he'll pull out from the agreement if you don't pass this poker machine legislation early next year. Are you going to the wall on this one?

PM: Look, the important thing here is the problem gambling that we see and the way it impacts on people's lives. We started on this policy thinking about change before the last election, before Mr Wilkie was elected to the Parliament and that's because so many Members of Parliament, including me, in my capacity as a local member, see too many people turning up at our electorate offices absolutely desperate, because they or a member of their family has a big problem with poker machine addiction. And what we're trying to do here, the aim, is simply to make it transparent to people how much they're at risk of losing. If you do to the horse races and you say I'm going to put a bet on a horse, then you know how much you're going to lose-

HOST: So the legislation's going ahead?

PM: Yes, but I do want to be clear about the purpose, because I think there's some misunderstanding here. It's about people setting limits for themselves, so if you go to the horses and say I'm putting a $10 bet down, you know you can lose $10, this is about going and using the poker machines and saying how much is it that I am prepared to gamble today.

HOST: We'll have to leave it there Prime Minister. But you're backing yourself and from your point of view I'm sure you hope your wagers come in. I do appreciate your time this morning. Thank you very much.

PM: Thanks Philip.

Transcript 18139