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Transcript 16646

Interview with Madonna King - ABC 612

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: 30/06/2009

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 16646

KING: Good morning.

PM: Good morning Madonna.

KING: How much of today is a PR exercise and how much is about genuinely finding out what's needed in the community?

PM: Madonna, prior to the last election we said that we would take for the first time the Australian cabinet around the country. And from memory this is either number 12 or number 13 that we have done over the last 18 months that we've been in office in every state of Australia. And it is the first opportunity that all these communities have had to sit down with the Australian cabinet, ask any question they like about any subject they like. And if you are a person with a particular concern or a community organisation, then we've had literally hundreds and hundreds of individual meetings between these organisations and individual Ministers -

KING: Well today-

PM: And we undertake to get back to each person either to say yes we can do this, no we can't and to give the reasons why or what else we are doing.

KING: Well today at my listeners' request we're focusing on solutions in three big areas - crime, health and ageing and unemployed. Does that accord, those areas accord with what you're hearing of the concerns elsewhere in Australia?

PM: On the question, you mentioned unemployment. Let me just go to that in particular. Because of the global economic recession, this is huge and big in terms of the problems for jobs and small business right around the country, south east Queensland, particular challenges as well, so that resonates exactly with number one priorities for the Government and you know our strategy for responding to that, our nation building plan.

You mentioned also health and we understand the huge challenges which lie in that area and therefore the need to increase the Australian Government's investment in the public hospital system. We've done that through the most recent Australian Healthcare Agreement which increased total investment by the Australian Government by 50 per cent nationwide.

On the crime question that you raise, this of course in terms of detailed community policing is primarily a state responsibility. At the federal level through the Australian Federal Police we are particularly engaged in the whole problem of narcotics and drugs where we work very closely with the state police services. And one of the reasons we've increased the number of Australian Federal Police in our recent budgets by, an intention to increase the force by 500, is to give our federal police greater capacity to work in this area with their state counterparts.

KING: One issue that didn't make our final three but was in our final five was the behaviour of politicians. Do you ever look at a replay of Question Time and think that was really bad?

PM: I think people in recent times Madonna are legitimately concerned about what I described I think yesterday as rolling politics of fear and smear -

KING: But on your own side too, it's not just one side.

PM: Can I just complete my answer to your question? Which is what I think the Australian people want is, is for their elected representatives, Government of the day including the Opposition, to get in with the core challenges, core priorities of the nation which right now are jobs, small business, apprenticeships, how do we improve the overall state of the hospital system, how do we improve the education system, how do we deal with the long term challenges of climate change, as well as these big things which are affecting people's daily lives and the wellbeing of their communities. That's what we're focused on and I think the Australian community legitimately expects that of all politicians.

KING: Have you ever thought of having a really independent speaker to improve that parliamentary process?

PM: I think the responsibility there, Madonna, lies with the behaviour of any individual member of parliament. It goes to state parliaments, federal parliaments.

The key thing is one of priorities - there is always going to be robust debate - the key thing though is whether you've actually got your sleeves rolled up and dealing with how do you make a difference for example with the worst global economic recession in three quarters of a century to reduce the number of unemployed? That's number one.

And number two is how do you get out there, roll up your sleeves and help small business who are doing it tough, how do you actually make a difference there. And how do you make a practical difference to schools like the one we're visiting later this morning at Marsden? And our practical response there is investment in a new science centre and we're doing that with science centres in secondary schools right across the country.

KING: One of the issues that we're discussing today is unemployed. We've just spoken about that. But a couple of years ago you asked your MPs to visit a homeless shelter to find out about how some people were doing it. Did you ever follow up on that? Do you know how many of your MPs have actually gone and sat down with the homeless?

PM: I couldn't give you an exact number but a large number.

You ask about follow-up. The first thing that I did when I became Prime Minister in terms of commissioning a Government White Paper was to do one on homelessness. That was commissioned in early 2008. They've reported at the end of last year and it was called A Place Called Home.

Since then the Australian Government has done two things - committed to the fundamental reform of the delivery of homelessness service right across the country in the country's history. Secondly, what we have done in the most recent response to the global economic recession is increase the national investment in units of social housing by 20,000 and engaged in the repair of some 50,000 units of social housing.

We have made probably more progress in dealing with the challenge of homelessness than any other previous Australian Government. I think you would find that validated by most people who are active in this sector as well.

So you ask, are we fair dinkum about it? I believe we are.

KING: We all self-assess at some point and see how we are going in our job, how would you rate they job you're doing as Prime Minister of the country?

PM: That's for other people to judge and that's for your viewers to make judgments of.

KING: Well, let me ask you this question, a wider question in relation to the Labor Party I guess. The polls have been going in your favour, but not that of your state colleague Anna Bligh. One recent poll showed that a third of your party, the Labor Party, believes she lied about the scrapping of the fuel subsidy and asset sales. Do you support the privatisation plans of your party in Queensland?

PM: In terms of Anna and can I say this to you Madonna that every Australian government, state or federal, has got to make tough decisions. Anna Bligh had to make tough decisions. And she's had to do so in the most recent Budget. At the national level and at the state level, what we're all wrestling with is the impact of this global economic recession. It's tough, it's hard, it's difficult and people are deluding themselves if they don't think it has an effect on taxation receipts.

In the case of the Federal Government, we've taken a $210 billion hit in terms of lost tax revenues to the Australian Government because of the impact of the global recession. That is massive. That's the equivalent of abolishing all Federal funding for the hospital system nationwide if we were not to for example engage in temporary deficit and temporary borrowing which we've had to do.

So we are simply not conducting a debate in its proper context if we simply take it out of the global reality which every government in the world is wrestling. On that score, can I just say this, notwithstanding all the challenges and given the actions we've taken, Australia right now according to the reports of the IMF and the OECD most recently has the fastest economic growth of the 30 economies in the OECD.

We have the fastest growth certainly among the major advanced economies. We're the only of the major advanced economies, among the major advanced economies not to be in technical recession. We have the second lowest unemployment and the lowest debt and the lowest deficit -

KING: Alright I think you've answered the question -

PM: All I'm just saying these are, Madonna, these may be facts which others may not wish to have properly put into the context of the debate. But I'm saying it's tough times, globally it's difficult. We're doing better than most economies and all governments around the world are having to make very tough decisions.

KING: A very quick answer to this, I think my listeners want to talk about this probably even less than you, but on this Utegate affair, one question that my listeners have been asking is why would someone of your means, in your position even put yourself in that position and accept a car. Will you give it back? Are you sorry you ever borrowed it?

PM: Can I say Madonna that on this matter that when you have this entire affair resting on the existence of a forged and fake email and that the various people in politics have prosecuted a campaign alleging that the Prime Minister and the Treasurer of the day are engaged in corrupt behaviour and that that in turn has been reflected in the content and tone of reporting by various newspapers around the country including in Brisbane, I think these matters have been canvassed in recent times and I think -

KING: But you haven't answered that question. The question is -

PM: I think the Australian people would like Madonna is for us all to get on with the job of dealing with how we handle the recession, how we handle the problem of jobs, how we handle the small business challenges today. And also for people to scratch their heads and ask, how can newspapers today for example run stories based on forged emails and assume that they are simply accurate as The Courier-Mail has done in Brisbane.

KING: But are you going to give the car back? Are you sorry you borrowed it?

PM: Madonna, can I say that when this ute was lent to us, it was fully declared on the pecuniary interest register -

KING: I understand that, no one's saying you did anything wrong. The simple question is, are you sorry it's caused so much trouble? Are you going to give it back?

PM: Madonna, if the vehicle is declared on the pecuniary interest register of the Parliament and as you've just said that involves no particular error on my part and I think that speaks for itself, I think what all your listeners would expect, as they would expect of proper objective, balanced and honest reporting from local papers like The Courier-Mail and rather than base their reporting on forged and fake emails, that we all get back to the priority of dealing with the challenges of jobs, small business, schools -

KING: I'll let me listeners decide whether that was answered yes or no. But can I ask you a simple yes or no here -

PM: It's a question of priorities for your listeners as well.

KING: Alright, lottery $90 million tonight, have you taken out a ticket?

PM: I beg your pardon?

KING: Have you taken out a ticket?

PM: I think others could engage in the lotto as they see most appropriate.

KING: But you haven't taken one for the $90 million prize tonight?

PM: I don't think so Madonna, no.

KING: Alright Kevin Rudd, thanks for your time.

PM: Good morning.

Transcript 16646