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Transcript 16951

Transcript of doorstop Fadden Primary School

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: 03/12/2009

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 16951

Well it's great to be out here at Fadden Primary with the kids, their worm farm and their veggie patch, and it's good to see kids being taught all about how you grow food, the importance of water, the importance of worms and what worms do and roosters and what roosters do, as well how all those things go together to make up sustainability and sustainability of food production as well.

One of the big factors which affects sustainability worldwide is of course, climate change. The decisions before Australia on climate change are pretty basic. Do we act on climate change for our families, for our kids or for our grandkids, or do we deny that climate change is real. Do we act on climate change for business certainty and for creating jobs in the future, or do we deny and continue to deny that climate change is real.

So when it is all boiled down, the choice is pretty stark between action on climate change and denying that climate change is real.

The decision by the Liberal Party in the Senate yesterday to vote against the bipartisan agreement on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme was a vote for climate change denial. The decision by the Liberal Party in the Senate yesterday to vote against the bipartisan agreement on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme was bad for Australia.

Denying climate change is bad for our kids, it is bad for our grandkids. Denying that climate change is real is bad for the economy and it is bad for jobs.

Acting on climate change is the only responsible course of action for Australia. That's the mainstream view of the Australian business community. That's the mainstream view of the Australian community at large Refusing to act on climate change is economically irresponsible. It's also risky for our kids and for their future.

What Australia needs is a calm, considered, responsible course of action on climate change. That is what the Government is resolved to do.

Talking about the impact on families of climate change, let me say one other thing about the impact on families, and that is that what has been said by the Liberal Party today on the re-introduction of AWAs and WorkChoices.

I was very surprised today to hear that the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition have confirmed that they would re-introduce AWAs. The Australian people rejected WorkChoices and WorkChoices-style AWAs at the 2007 election. They rejected it comprehensively.

I would suggest that the Liberal Party today should calmly reconsider what the Australian people had to say at the 2007 election on AWAS and on WorkChoices, because the reality is, bringing back AWAs means bringing back WorkChoices. And if you're bringing back AWAs and bringing back WorkChoices it means stripping away such basic protections as penalty rates, over time and holiday pay.

It's time I think, some cooler heads prevailed within the Liberal Party, both on this and on climate change. Over to you, folks.

JOURNALIST: They didn't say they were going to bring back AWAs. They said that they believed that there should be flexibility in individual contracts (inaudible)

PM: Let me just quote to you what Julie Bishop had to say this morning:

[JOURNALIST] "Finally, Tony Abbott is quoted in the papers this morning as saying he still wants individual work contracts. Did you give too much away when you abandoned WorkChoices after the last election?

Bishop, "Well, I believe that Australians should have the right to negotiate an employment contract with their employer."

Then you go to what Tony Abbott had to say in the Sydney Morning Herald, referring to those AWAs which the Government continued on an interim basis because they existed under contract law following the election of the current Government. Mr Abbott says "I don't see why it can't continue."

It's quite plain from what both the Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party have said today, is that they intend to bring back AWAs. If they did not want that to be the case, they would have used different language. Very plain that what we have here is a clear statement from the Liberal Party they intend to bring back AWAs, bring back WorkChoices, which strip away penalty rates, over time and holiday pay.

JOURNALIST: You say we need action on climate change (inaudible) a double dissolution election.

PM: What I have said all along is that I believe that governments should serve their full term. That's always been our intention. That is why the Government, on the first day that Parliament resumes next year, will re-introduce the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme legislation, and the reason for it is this: that over this long summer that cooler heads, calmer heads, more responsible heads within the Liberal Party may prevail.

I've seen some statements in the last few hours that I've been back in the country that is seems that the Liberal Party are now saying they don't want an emissions trading scheme at all, which would put them into a more extreme position than Mr Howard. I think this summer provides a great opportunity for, let's say, the calmer, wiser heads of the Liberal Party to prevail.

I'd also say it is good also, for the sage council of business to register their voice with the Liberal Party as well about what is needed for the future.

Sorry, I said yes here first, and then over to you.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

PM: No, I've been back in the country since quite early this morning and what we believe is that we have the balance absolutely right when it comes to this approach, which is acting on climate change and providing adjustment supports for business and for families, low-income families, middle-income families. That's been out there in black and white for a long period of time. Again, as I said, it's time, I think, for the calmer heads, the more reasonable and responsible heads within the Liberal Party to reflect long and hard over the summer ahead and hope that there is a change of view, which is why the Government will be reintroducing this legislation on the first day we resume.

Malcolm, and then over here.

JOURNALIST: Do you think, in acknowledging your obligations to CHOGM and Washington, didn't you essentially abandon the field here at a time when Parliament was considering what you give to be the most important economic change, certainly, in post-war Australia.

PM: I think the first thing I would say, Malcolm, is that our friends in the Liberal Party had indicated through their bipartisan agreement that the legislation would be passed come the end of that week, come Thursday. They obviously changed their mind.

Secondly, consistent with my predecessor, Mr Howard, it is important for the Prime Minister of Australia to honour our international obligations. We take seriously our membership of the Commonwealth, and on the question of climate change, what we do nationally is really important. What happens internationally is really important, and I would draw your attention to what the 53 member states of the Commonwealth had to say, developed and developing, about the future course of action on climate change.

They came in and backed the process which is being led by the Danish Prime Minister. Some of us have been working with him on that for quite some time, and these are countries across southern Africa, India, the small island states of the Pacific, the small island states of the Caribbean. Secondly, backed an approach which deals with some of the unresolved questions on climate change finance.

So, what's my responsibility as Prime Minister? To do everything you can to get our legislation through the Australian Parliament. The Liberals then turned around and abandoned a bipartisan agreement with the Government which we had worked our way through painstakingly over weeks and months. That of course is a matter for internal Liberal party dynamics. My job as Prime Minister of Australia, consistent with what Mr Howard had done over many, many years, is to act consistently with our international obligations.

JOURNALIST: Mr Rudd, Mr Abbott-

PM: Over here, and then you.

JOURNALIST: Are you concerned by (inaudible) New South Wales Government, and the second question, a bit different - Tony Abbott, he's seen as a plain speaker, he gets around in the budgie smugglers, maybe more of a normal bloke, are you worried about his political appeal (inaudible)?

PM: Let me take the first, first. And that is, you know something about New South Wales? There are just too many days I find myself being asked questions about this. And I would frankly say to all those folk in the New South Wales Government, get your act together. Get your act together, the people of New South Wales expect good Government. It's time to end the games.

On the second question, you know something, if there was a referendum tomorrow between budgie smugglers and boardies, I think I'll be voting for boardies. I think all of you would too. I think there are certain things the Australian people should be protected from -

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

PM: And hang on, there should be certain things the Australian people are protected from and one of those things is national political leaders, so attired.

JOURNALIST: Mr Rudd, Tony Abbott -

PM: By the way, what is it about the Libs and swimming gear, I mean it's actually a bit of a pattern there.

JOURNALIST: Tony Abbott's now talking about accepting the same targets for reductions of emission as you are, but he believes that you can do that without a carbon tax or an ETS. Is he kidding himself, do you believe that it is possible to tackle this issue without a market-based mechanism?

PM: Well, on the question of bringing down greenhouse gas emissions and doing it in a responsible, considered way, our plan's been out there for nine months, in all its detail. And that's the basis upon which we have actually had what we thought were good faith negotiations with the Liberal party on how to secure its passage through the Senate.

Around the world, there is a virtual consensus in developed countries that the best, most responsible way of bringing down greenhouse gas emissions is through an emissions trading scheme, what we call a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. Not just the consensus here, it's the view in the United States, it's the view throughout Europe as well, and elsewhere, including in Japan. And there are very basic reasons for that. For the Liberals now to say that there is a magic pudding solution on climate change, that somehow if you throw a bit of fairy dust at it and say that bang, it all happens, without any adjustment challenges, I don't think that's being fair dinkum.

And you know something, Mr Howard said that quite plainly when he was Prime Minister, about his commitment to an emissions trading scheme, and that fact that if you had it, it would also affect prices. That's what he said.

And therefore, you've got to be fair 'dinkum about this, and this is a tough debate. We've been in it for quite some time. But look at kids, look in their eyeballs. Think of your own kids, think of your own grandkids. Think of how we'll all feel and be in 20, 25 years time if we had this historical opportunity to nationally and internationally act, and we walked away because it was all too hard, and decided instead to just play political games, as I said, playing magic pudding politics with it. I don't think it adds up.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, do you think a protracted debate and the failure of a sort of strong outcome possibly at Copenhagen is going to dull support amongst voters at the next election here?

PM: You know, all I can do as Prime Minister is try and put your best foot forward and give it a go. It's what I've tried to do domestically, in the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, we've already got through the Renewable Energy Target legislation, we're acting on energy efficiency, we're investing in clean coal technology, we're investing also in what we hope will become the largest solar power generating plant in the world. We're doing those things.

We're also putting our best foot forward internationally. Because the only way which this works for the next generation, our kids, our grandkids, the economy and the jobs of the future, saving the Barrier Reef, and the great, wonderful assets which we regard as part of the Australian soul, is to act internationally, and so all I can do as Prime Minister of Australia is have a go.

That's what I've been doing at the Pacific Island Forum, what I've been doing at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, what I've been doing most recently with President Obama. Having got back from the States this morning I went straight to a video conference with other world leaders on this subject again. This time involving countries as diverse as the Prime Minister of Vietnam, the Prime Minister of Algeria, the UN Secretary General, Prime Minister Rasmussen of Denmark and a bunch of others as we again try and use every effort, every bit of energy we've got, to shape as strong an outcome as possible for Copenhagen.

Nothing's guaranteed. The obstacles are formidable. Climate change sceptics are at home and abroad and they're both active, and the political resistances are great. Over here, and then there.

JOURNALIST: Do you accept that the Government hasn't done enough to sell the scheme to the general public, explained what it's going to do, and a second question, does Nathan Rees have your full support or does he need to get his act together too?

PM: On the first question, the Government has used about a two year process. Remember, a Green Paper on climate change, the Garnaut report on climate change, a White Paper on climate, the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, then draft legislation out there for circulation nine months ago. There was always going to be a challenge - hang on, you've asked your question, I'm just responding to that - and therefore there's always a challenge in communicating the detail to it. I understand that. That's the job of Government and it will be a continuing challenge for Government.

But you know, our plan's clear. It's pretty easy just to whip up a fear campaign in reverse. That's one of the easiest things to do in politics. Our plan is clear. Every national leader I know around the world finds this a tough challenge, a really tough challenge, because it's always hard and the detail's always hard, but the plan is clear. That's why we spent so long on it.

It's always going to be a continuing responsibility to communicate its contents clearly. I accept that. But know something? Having a plan which is based on the science, which is market-based and provides the best adjustment mechanism for businesses and for families, and provides all the support mechanisms necessary for families and for businesses in adjustment, that's the right step forward.

The alternative cocktail of a fear campaign and some magic pudding economics, I just don't think is the right way to go.

The answer to your second question is yes.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) Tony Abbott's said that your refusal to sell uranium to India is damaging relations between Australia and India. Is that the case? And secondly, could you not time that nuclear be thrown into the policy mix as a way of reducing carbon emissions?

PM: I notice the Liberal Party has now thrown nuclear power back onto the debate, and it's quite plain that they see this as a real energy option for Australia's future. Well, if that is the case, as I have always said in debating various Liberal leaders in the past, is 'OK, you want to be fair dinkum about that and not just play a bit of fast and loose politics, what are your plans for reactors?' If you can't go down to location-specific questions, where, broadly, should they go? If you're going to be fair dinkum about this, tell us where your reactors are going to be. Our plan, our policy on this, has been as I have always stated it.

On the question of India and in response to the interjection from my good friend from The Oz over here, our policy on India has not changed one bit, as he full well knows.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

PM: Look, I congratulate him on his election to the leadership, but seriously, the questions of the Liberal Party and their internal arrangements are just a matter for them, and a matter for continued debate. They've had a lot of heat in their internal discussions in recent times.

Going back to the debate about both climate change and WorkChoices, I think over this summer, it'll be very important for cooler, calmer heads to prevail.

Having said that, I've got to zip. I've got to go to Sydney and give a speech.

Transcript 16951