PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 19246

Transcript of Interview with Jon Faine

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: 17/04/2013

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 19246

ABC Melbourne

HOST: Prime Minister, good morning to you.

PM: Good morning Jon.

HOST: The Opposition are of course making much of what they say are the failings of the Government, but sadly you also have some of your own colleagues saying that there are failings of this Government.

In particular Simon Crean's most recent outburst cuts to the very core of the way you deal with a number of issues, which I'll come to in a moment. Let's just remind ourselves, Simon Crean accusing you of class warfare.

CREAN GRAB: I think the way in which the Labor Party has always operated most effectively is when it has been inclusive, when it has sought consensus, not when it has sought division. Not when it has gone after class warfare. That's what the Labor Party has to get back to. That's the Labor Party I want us to return to. And that's the Labor Party that I want everyone to cohese behind.

HOST: Class warfare, but not calling it class warfare, is that the agenda Prime Minister?

PM: The Labor Party I joined, Jon, was one that was focused on spreading opportunity for all.

I joined it because I became very passionate about extending opportunities through education. I thought education changed lives. It changed mine.

And here I am, all those years later from first joining the Labor Party, and being a university student involved in student politics, to being Prime Minister and still pursing the same agenda about making sure everyone gets an opportunity through a great education, and everybody gets that transforming lifetime power that comes with a great education.

So that's what I've been very much focused on. It has been a patient process, but step by step over five years that's my agenda.

So if someone wants to understand what modern Labor is about, it's about opportunity for all and making sure that no one - particularly no child - gets left behind.

HOST: But it would be politically toxic to say that it offends you that the rich are getting richer and the poor are being left behind, so you don't say it, but that's effectively what you are doing, isn't it?

PM: Well what offends me is when someone misses out on an opportunity when our society could have extended an opportunity to them.

It does offend me that there are kids in Australian classrooms today and we know that their schools do not have the right level of resourcing in them to give them a great education.

And without the right level of resources, without the right way of working in schools, we know those kids will come out of school under-prepared for life and that will mark them for a lifetime of disadvantage.

I think we should all be concerned about that. I certainly am.

HOST: If it's about redistributing why not do it properly? Private schools are doing phenomenally well and have boomed in recent years under the Howard Government, the Rudd Government and the Gillard Government.

PM: Well Jon, I think you are missing two points. Number one, I'm about ensuring we've got a strong economy and strong economic growth.

So we get into, in my view, some false discussions about who believes in growing the pie and who believes in redistributing the pie. I think that's too simple.

I believe in doing both. And I'm very proud that during the most difficult of global economic circumstances, we've grown our economy since we came to government by 13 per cent.

Now when you look at many of the economies of Europe, they've gone backwards. Their economies are smaller today than they were five years ago.

HOST: And the distribution within that growth has been unequal. Yesterday we heard from the private schools crying poor saying that fees will eventually go up in private schools because they are not going to get the growth money that they need from you. Are you sympathetic to that plea?

PM: That claim is wrong. There is nothing about our changes which will cause fees to rise. And our changes are right for all schools because what they do for all schools, Jon, is end for all time the inter-sector divisions that you are pointing to.

I want to end the politics that says let's have independent schools play off against Catholic schools, play off against state schools, by saying that for every school there is the right level of resourcing, the proper level of resourcing.

We know what that is, it's a school resource standard with a base in it and then loadings for things that mean you've got to put extra resources in to get a great outcome for kids like more money to teach disadvantaged kids and indigenous kids.

And we know every school has that level of resourcing in it.

HOST: The prospect of a deal seems to be slipping away, particularly Western Australia. Are you going to tell the Western Australian Premier that after 100 years of the rich states subsidising Western Australia it's about time that a little bit of give came the other way?

PM: Well once again you are confusing two things Jon. There's the debate about the GST and how WA relates to the GST.

We don't set - the Government doesn't set - the GST distribution formula. That's set independently of government. And indeed Colin Barnett signed on to the current formula.

What the current formula means is that WA is distributing some money to other states, but overwhelmingly across the last 50 years it has been a net taker. Now it's a net giver.

I certainly as Prime Minister want to make sure wherever you are in this country, whether you are in Tassie or the Northern Territory or WA, that you can go to schools in your suburb that are good quality schools.

You can have hospitals and healthcare at the right standard.

Then separately to that there's what does our school resourcing agenda mean for Western Australia.

Premier Barnett has made some claims in this area which simply aren't right.

Our school resourcing agenda for WA means more money for Western Australian schools because they do need more money to come up to the standard that we want to see in all schools.

HOST: Why has your Government banned Senator Sarah Hanson-Young from visiting refugees in our detention centres?

PM: Well I don't think we have banned anybody. There are always proper processes to go through.

HOST: She's been told she will not be given access to this group on a hunger strike in Melbourne.

PM: Well that would be an assessment made about security and people being worked up and all of that sort of stuff Jon.

I'm sure it would have been an assessment made with the welfare of those asylum seekers first and foremost in people's minds.

HOST: Are you comfortable indefinitely detaining people in our immigration detention centres, even after it's been accepted that they are genuine refugees?

PM: The issue here for these people is security assessment questions. And as Prime Minister whilst it's never an easy set of decisions, you would expect us to run a system where people are properly assessed to see if they are refugees.

And people are properly assessed to see whether or not they pose any security issues.

HOST: If you rely on, for instance, the government that was pursing these people for the intelligence that classifies them as alleged terrorists, a government that fought a vicious and bloody war against the Tamils, you wouldn't rely on them for a security assessment would you?

PM: Security assessments are done by Australian agencies-

HOST: Relying on intel from-

PM: Jon, seriously. Our agencies-

HOST: We've just had Four Corners playing a BBC Panorama show telling us that a war was started in Iraq ten years ago in which our government then participated, based on absolute rubbish security assessments.

PM: Well, Jon, once again we're stirring everything together as if it's all related. Let's unpack it.

Australian agencies make decisions about security questions in Australia.

They are not naïve people. They know about things like the conflict in Sri Lanka.

They're not naïve, they're analysts, they use the best intelligence they can to give us the best advice they can.

So any suggestion that these people are just naïvely ringing up governments around the world and saying ‘what do you reckon?' is not fair to those intelligence analysts and you should not create that perception in people's mind.

PM: On the Iraq war ten years ago, I didn't get to see the Four Corners, I understand that it was very hard-hitting. I just didn't have an opportunity to watch it on Monday night.

I'm a woman with many commitments and I had one on Monday night which meant I couldn't be in front of the TV.

HOST: I recommend iView, the ABC's catch-up television software.

PM: I'm a big user of iView, I love iView, but I haven't had time to sit down and have a look at it on iView either.

I understand it was very hard-hitting, but what was my perspective on the Iraq war, well my perspective, the Labor Party perspective, was we should not have gone to war in the circumstances that we did.

I am sure from what was exposed on Four Corners on Monday night and of course from other inquiries and reports that there have been since, there are many lessons to be learned by intelligence agencies and by governments.

And we should all learn those lessons.

HOST: Thank you for the promo for iView, we'll send that off to Mark Scott. He'll be delighted.

The Premier, Denis Napthine, spoke to us on this program on Monday, Prime Minister, have a listen to what the Premier said about the amount of money Victoria isn't getting from your Government.

NAPTHINE GRAB: Well we just want a fair go for Victoria, and just recently in the recent round of GST revenue distribution, we got hit again. We got further reductions in GST share for Victoria. We believe that's unfair.

HOST: And the Premier says, and the Treasurer agrees, that we're about 1.2 to 1.5 billion dollars down on our share of GST revenue.

PM: I don't decide the GST shares, I don't. They get decided independently by the Commonwealth Grants Commission.

Periodically there are discussions, between treasurers in particular, about what guidelines will be given to the Commonwealth Grants Commission. And way back when Victoria advocated some changes to Commonwealth Grants Commission guidelines.

But I don't set GST distributions. What I do do is I make decisions about monies that flow in health and education where Victoria, and indeed everyone around the nation, is better off in terms of money in health and education under this Government than they were under the Howard Government.

And when I sit round tables with premiers - the Council of Australian Governments table - and we talk about money, sometimes perhaps a little bit whimsically, I say to the premiers around the table ‘okay, anybody want to go back to the old Howard healthcare deal, just let me know. Anybody want to go back?' And everybody goes ‘no, no, don't even think about it.'

Because they are billions and billions and billions of dollars better off under this Government in healthcare and they know it. And what we are trying to do is make sure that there is an extra $4 billion available to schools in Victoria.

And I'm prepared to go two-for-one to every dollar that the Premier puts in because it's so important to me to make sure for our kids, for our future, we get this done and we get it right.

HOST: Alright, and finally I know you won't comment on the polls, I won't waste time asking you to, but Tony Abbott's Pollie Pedal shows that the Liberal Party are now ambitious towards not just Corangamite, McEwen, the seats that are regularly thought to be vulnerable in Victoria, but now Chisholm, Aston, Deakin, Bendigo - they reckon they could pick up half a dozen in Victoria alone, Julia Gillard?

PM: I don't know what you want me to say in response to that.

The people of Australia get to decide these questions and they'll get to decide on 14 September, and it will be the clearest of all possible choices between me leading a majority Labor Government with a clear plan for the future, versus Mr Abbott and the team he leads with their clear plans for cutbacks.

And I do hope as Tony Abbott is cycling away - and raising money for charity, and that's a good thing, that's a great thing - but I'm sure he's cycling past a lot of schools. I hope that he looks at those schools and he asks himself the question why are they committed to cutting school funding for those schools, to cutting them to the bone?

HOST: You're accused of having a tin ear by Simon Crean and other critics within the party and about exactly that issue, about vulnerable seats and policies that might save some of your colleagues and even save the furniture, for the federal parliamentary Labor Party.

PM: My prism Jon is what's right for the nation's future.

I've outlined the plan for the future in the age in which we live, the white paper we delivered on Australia in the Asian Century.

I get to travel in the region, going to meetings and meeting with the leaders in other nations. I was just in China, and I can tell you from the evidence of my own eyes that we live in an incredible era of opportunity. The growth in our region is truly staggering.

We can get wealth and prosperity from that growth, but our future in seizing that wealth and prosperity is not assured. We've got to make the right decisions now to do it.

And amongst the things we've got to get right is our education system and looking after our kids because around the region they are focussed on improving their schools, and that means that if we don't keep up, indeed get in front, that they will have the high-skill, high-wage jobs of tomorrow and we won't.

HOST: Well, it's going to be a fascinating couple of months still to come. I look forward to you coming into the studio to take some talkback next time we get to speak, thank you for your time today.

PM: Thanks Jon.

[ENDS]

Transcript 19246