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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 16584

Doorstop Interview Sydney Cricket Ground

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: 23/05/2009

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 16584

PM: Thanks very much and good luck, eh. I think, speaking on behalf of all Australians, this is going to be a fantastic series. The Ashes series is what it is all about in cricket and last time they were out here, you narrowly scraped home -

PONTING: Just got over the line.

PM: Just got over the line. Five was it?

PONTING: Five-nil.

PM: Yeah we don't talk about that in case it puts the mockers on us, is that right? But it was a fantastic series last time and I saw a lot of that series. And I think all Australians are really looking forward to this series in England.

The team's going to be away, Ricky has just told me, for five months. This is a huge undertaking and think of the impact also on the families of players in what is going to be a long stretch away from the country. But the good wishes of all Australians go with this fantastic team in what is going to be a fantastic series in England.

All Australians should put their workplaces, their wives, their partners on notice that the season of bleary-eyed mornings is about to be upon us, as people tune into the cricket late at night and watch into the early hours.

And if I know something about Australians and our love for this game and their support for this team, led by this fine captain, that they will be up there supporting, watching, getting behind their Australian team who have done this country so much by way of national pride over such a long period of time and will continue to do so during this period ahead.

I will just say one or two other things then happily take any questions you've got.

Firstly on the floods in south east Queensland and in northern NSW. I have just received a report that, and I am advised that we have lost the life of a 70-year-old man in northern NSW as a consequence of the floods. Of course, our condolences go out to his family.

We continue to monitor closely the flood situation in northern NSW and in south east Queensland. The Minister for Human Services Joe Ludwig is in and around the Ipswich region today, working with local authorities on what needs to be done in terms of response to that extraordinary downpour and the damage which has resulted from it.

Also the Attorney General Robert McClelland will be in northern NSW this morning, working with local communities there on appropriate emergency response procedures and delivering whatever Commonwealth assistance is necessary to help those who have been affected by this extraordinary downpour.

One other thing I would mention is of course the developments in the last 24 hours concerning swine flu and I have just come from a telephone conversation with the CMO, the Commonwealth Medical Officer.

As you know, actions were taken yesterday through the statement by the CMO and by the Health Minister to move to a stage of containment here in Australia. This is necessary because what we are dealing with is a serious global public health challenge.

The Government has acted in response to each and every recommendation put to the Government by the professional health authorities across our nation. This will of course involve inconvenience in certain communities. Certain schools are temporarily closed down. We understand that that imposes inconvenience on families.

However, we also have a responsibility for the public health of the nation and therefore we will take whatever actions are necessary to underpin the public health of the nation, even if that involves inconvenience in certain locations.

We will continue to maintain the closest possible dialogue between the Commonwealth Medical Officer and his counterparts in each State and Territory and as anything further emerges on this front, we will act appropriately and act decisively.

The other thing I would ask you to all bear in mind is the preparations which the Government put in place well prior to this, this problem concerning swine flu and that was to ensure that we had a substantial stock of antivirals.

And that substantial stock of antivirals was put in place well before this particular problem emerged and we are well served by the presence of that stock of antivirals at this time. Over to you folks.

JOURNALIST: Should Australia be prepared for deaths from swine flu?

PM: Look we take this swine flu problem deeply seriously because of what has happened around the world. We are part of a global community. We have seen deaths abroad, and therefore every effort by our public health authorities has been taken to avoid deaths at home. And that is what we are doing. As I said, our first responsibility as a government is to take whatever steps are necessary to support and maintain the public health of nation.

That will involve inconveniences for a range of people and I understand that. But our overriding responsibility is to take necessary preventative action, containment action to reduce the risk of any fatalities from this disease in Australia.

JOURNALIST: Is it still 13 confirmed cases?

PM: As I am advised, the most recent information release by the CMO remains accurate. If there is any change to that during the course of the day we will advise you further.

The CMO, the Commonwealth Medical Officer is in constant contact with both myself and with the Health Minister and with State and Territory counterparts. It is important to proceed in a measures and balanced fashion in response to the information which we have at hand. And we are acting directly and immediately in response to any further information or advice we receive from the health authorities.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

PM: Well I spoke to the Commonwealth Medical Officer literally just in the last hour and the Commonwealth Medical Officer's advice is that we are currently taking all necessary and proper measures to support containment.

As for our concern to minimise risk to the public health, we believe that by taking the actions that he has recommended and implemented through State and Territory health authorities against containment, against early detection, against early treatment and the early deployment of antivirals, that all necessary steps that can be taken are being taken now.

JOURNALIST: On another subject, how concerned are you about reports that an RBA agency might have been offering bribes to win business?

PM: I understand that this company was established back in 1996, but I also note that the company has indicated it's referred all matters to the Australian Federal Police.

JOURNALIST: Ricky, could you comment on Gilchrist's performance (inaudible)?

PONTING: Yeah, it was pretty spectacular last night wasn't it? I think he brought up the fastest half century in IPL history - I think it was off 17 balls last night - and led his team to a very good win over Delhi who have been the frontrunners of the tournament right the way through.

So I think we will get a couple of the guys back from the Delhi team now to our camp on Sunday and Monday up at Coolum which will be a good thing for us so. Yeah Gilly and Matty Hayden and the guys that have retired from international cricket are certainly still playing very very well over there and it has been great to see them doing that.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, will you be touring any flood-affected areas yourself (inaudible)?

PM: I am keeping in contact with the local authorities on this and as appropriate I will visit myself. But as I said, we have the relevant line ministers; as you know in the Federal Government, the Attorney General is responsible for counter disaster measures, the Minister for Human Services is responsible for the delivery of a range of Centrelink payments and therefore they are the two line Ministers.

As appropriate I will visit these areas myself but will keep in close contact with the local authorities. The last thing you want is, frankly, politicians getting in the road when action is being taken on the ground. And therefore, the line ministers being there, given their particular set of responsibilities, is right and I will visit as appropriate, based on the advice of the local authorities as well.

One thing about the rain by the way is that, I suppose given where you are going, England, a bit of practice in the rain does help.

PONTING: It won't hurt us.

PM: A bit of practice in the rain won't hurt in terms of getting ready for what is usually a pretty damp season. Anyway, good luck to the team and thanks very much for being with us today.

JOURNALIST: Will there be any more (inaudible) assistance provided to the floods?

PM: Look, we will activate all the necessary counter disaster arrangements in response to any request from State Governments. We have always done that. It doesn't matter where natural disasters occur in Australia, rain, hail, flood, drought, we act in response to the advice that we receive and automatic natural disaster relief payments flow.

So that will be the same in this case, as it would be in the case of any other disaster-affected area.

Thanks very much.

Transcript 16584