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Transcript 16351

Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard Interview on 2UE Radio

Photo of Rudd, Kevin

Rudd, Kevin

Period of Service: 03/12/2007 to 24/06/2010

More information about Rudd, Kevin on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 16/01/2009

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 16351

GEORGE: Julia Gillard is the Acting Prime Minister at the moment and we have her on the line. Good morning and our first question is now going to be our second question because the first question is going to be different. Good morning.

JULIA GILLARD: Good morning.

GEORGE: Our first question is what do we actually call you? The reason we ask you is on that our weekend program we always called John Howard ‘Mr Howard' and listeners would get very upset if we did it a different way and so on. So what should we call you?

PAUL: Yes - are you Julia or the Acting PM, Gillard - who are you today?

JULIA GILLARD: Who am I today? Well I think everyday I'm Julia.

GEORGE: You want to be Julia?

JULIA GILLARD: That's fine.

GEORGE: You'll be Julia with us. Now question two: where's Kevin?

JULIA GILLARD: Kevin's been on a few weeks holiday in Sydney with his family. He'll be in Canberra on Monday and back at work.

GEORGE: OK, so it all gets sort of back to normal from what, from Monday, does it?

JULIA GILLARD: That's right, it does. Kevin'll be back.

GEORGE: All right now the unemployment figures - 4.5 - I just said before you came on the line, of course, 4.5 is still reasonably low. But we're all worried and we've been reading about it for months about how tough things are going to get.

JULIA GILLARD: Of course last year had the global financial crisis which shook the world and it's now feeding into economies around the world. Our unemployment rate yesterday went to 4.5 per cent. The United States is at 7.2; the United Kingdom is at six per cent. So I think the figure that we got yesterday - 4.5 - is showing the impact of the global financial crisis on our economy and as a Government we've always been clear with people - our economy wasn't going to be immune from the global financial crisis but we have acted to keep our economy moving and to protect jobs. That's what the Economic Security Strategy, the $10 billion statement was all about; it's why we've been so focussed on infrastructure, on protecting the car industry, on money for local government because that's about local jobs. So over the last three months there's been $36 billion of investments which have been focused on protecting and investing in jobs.

PAUL: Are you encouraging employers to keep workers on lesser hours or just keep them on as much as they can just to get them through these hard times, Julia?

JULIA GILLARD: Well one of the things we've certainly seen in the past when there have been economic downturns is that people have let staff go and then when times improve they're all screaming because of skills shortages and they can't get the staff that they need and I think one of the things that is probably informing the employer outlook today is that they know, as recently as a few months ago when they needed that extra skilled staff member, they were finding them really hard to get. And so having fought so hard to get skilled staff, many employers I think will take the view that retaining their staff is very important to their business. Many business people I meet would, you know, very freely say, the first sentence, they would say the first words after good morning or good afternoon is that their business is all about their skilled staff, most valuable asset for their business and I think that's why they're reluctant to let them go.

GEORGE: And in many ways employers do say that all the time so this is a chance I guess now to prove that, isn't it.

Now Barack Obama, the inauguration coming up on the 20th, are we represented there? I know U2 are playing there so surely we'd send somebody, wouldn't we?

JULIA GILLARD: Certainly our nation is represented through our ambassador who goes to the inauguration. The convention with inaugurations is that ambassadors go.

GEORGE: You don't send prime minsters or deputy prime ministers or anything?

JULIA GILLARD: No, no, that's not the American tradition.

GEORGE: OK.

JULIA GILLARD: It's not an occasion for visiting heads of state but it is an occasion for other nations to be represented through their diplomatic staff and it's going to be an enormous and exciting event. I mean so many people are going to converge on Washington. It's truly going to be amazing.

GEORGE: All right. Now we've got to move fairly quickly because there's so many things and we've got so little time. The other thing is that there are calls by Australians for our Government to do something about the tourists stranded in Fiji. Have you got a response to that?

JULIA GILLARD: Our Department of Foreign Affairs has been working to assist people who are having problems in Fiji. It's been in contact with people on the ground. There are special contact numbers for people in Fiji to get in touch with the department to get assistance. There have been more flights into Fiji so for people who have been able to get to the airport there's been a few more options to get out of the country. But for anybody who needs assistance, get straight on to the Department of Foreign Affairs and they're standing by ready to help and they have been helping Australians there.

PAUL: Is there anything new on the family stranded overseas where the mother's been put in jail and the sons have been put in jail for what seems to us to be quite barbaric charges? Can we help them in anyway, Acting Prime Minister?

JULIA GILLARD: I don't think that there are any developments overnight on that. But certainly of course we act on behalf of Australians overseas who get caught up in all sorts of circumstances including these circumstances so we'll keep working through that through our diplomatic and foreign affairs structures to assist that family.

GEORGE: All right now yesterday you defended the Fair Work Bill which I'm sure I mean you, I mean you put a lot of working into getting it into place, but there's also criticisms on the emissions trading scheme and I think these criticisms are about the impact on the economy at this time while we're having such a rough time and it looks like getting worse. So what do you say there?

JULIA GILLARD: In both doing the Fair Work Bill and the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, we had a long period of consultation, we listened to everybody, we particularly listened to businesses. The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme was designed through green paper-white paper process where we said this is what we're thinking, come and tell us what you think and we believe that we've got the balance right. We are very mindful about protecting Australian jobs - you don't invest $36 billion to keep the economy moving without thinking about Australian jobs each and every day.

GEORGE: But can I also say, if you don't mind - sorry to cut in - but there are, as people would say, ok you've got the plan in place - why not put it off for a couple of years until this all recovers?

JULIA GILLARD: Because it's very clear from all of the expert advice and discussion about climate change that the costs of inaction are greater than the costs of action. If you start now you can start dealing with this in a measured way. If you leave it and leave it and leave it then of course huge adjustments are going to have been made very quickly.

GEORGE: Why don't we leave it until China and India and the United States get involved?

JULIA GILLARD: Well what we've said of course is that we've set targets for this country. We will work internationally. We obviously want to be engaged in the global debate and should other countries come into arrangements which mean that they have set targets then we would review the targets we have set but we've set targets which we think are appropriate for this country. And we believe in setting those targets we've got the balance right so that we're looking after employment but we're also starting to make the adjustments we need to given the huge impacts of climate change.

PAUL: Ok, the recent $10.4 billion in handouts, we get the impression that most people think that it didn't work simply because it wasn't enough. Do you think it's time to bring the tax cuts of next year forward?

JULIA GILLARD: Well the $10.4 billion was a very big stimulus package and I believe it has made a difference. People have been out there obviously in spending the money and that's been part of keeping our economy moving and keeping people in work. The estimates were that the $10.4 billion was support for 75,000 jobs. It's not the only thing we've done though. Of course we've made some big new investments in infrastructure. Building infrastructure takes a lot of labour obviously so it means jobs and new investments through the Council of Australian Governments.

GEORGE: The clock has beaten us I'm afraid. We've got to go. The clock has beaten us. Wonderful to talk to. Thank you very much.

JULIA GILLARD: Thank you.

ENDS

Transcript 16351