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Transcript 17946

Transcript of joint press conference, Darwin

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: 30/06/2011

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 17946

PM: I'm here with the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory Paul Henderson. I've had the opportunity to tour this wonderful training facility with the Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett, and with Chris Evans, who covers tertiary education and skills education like what we are seeing happening right here.

I'm also very pleased that we've been joined today by Senator Trish Crossin from the Northern Territory and Warren Snowdon, the Member for Lingiari, is also here, and of course I've been visiting with Warren in his capacity as Minister for Veterans Affairs and for Defence Personnel, as well as Indigenous Health, over the last few days.

Can I start by saying here we are in a training facility with its connection to INPEX. INPEX is a fantastic project for the Northern Territory, I'm very pleased that earlier this week Minister Burke was able to announce that the final regulatory hurdle for INPEX has been cleared and INPEX can go ahead a create jobs and wealth right here in the Northern Territory.

I'm also pleased that during this visit I've been able to announce that we have entered into Heads of Agreement to settle the Kenbi land claim. What that will mean is a new suburb will be delivered in Darwin, more housing for the people of Darwin, and a great economic future for the Larrakia people.

I've also this morning had the opportunity to visit new Defence Force housing that is being constructed. Since 2007, we've provided more than $600 million to develop new Defence Force housing. We've got more than 1,000 new residences to come online. That's a great investment in the local economy and local jobs.

So, if you look across each of those areas - INPEX, the settlement of the Kenbi land claim, the investment into Defence Housing - for each of those areas it means there will be a demand for skills and trades; there will be new jobs. Which is why I'm so pleased to be here at this training facility operated by the Larrakia Development Corporation where we are seeing young people get the skills they will need to get these jobs which are going to be part of the continuing prosperity of the Northern Territory. It's exciting news.

And I'm also pleased that we were able last night to talk to a large number of members of the local community about their vision and their plans for the future of this place. It was a great opportunity to exchange views about the future of the Northern Territory.

During the course of this visit I've also had the opportunity to talk for a second time to representatives of the live cattle industry. I've talked to industry representatives and I've talked to a number of individuals involved in the live cattle trade.

At the conclusion of my visit in the Northern Territory I want to say this about the live cattle trade: the live cattle trade does have a strong future. The best thing we can do for the live cattle industry is work hard to resume the trade with Indonesia, and the best thing we can do for the sustained strong future of this industry is get the animal welfare issues right now - which is why we are working hard to address the animal welfare issues and resume the trade with Indonesia.

But I understand that there is pressure on people now, and so I want today to announce a $30 million live cattle industry assistance package. This is a package to meet the short-term hardship that the industry is facing now. It is a package which will enable people to get direct monetary support. It will enable people to get an immediate injection of $5,000, and it will enable them to make a further claim for $20,000 against expenditure in their business.

In order to get the money to hit the ground as soon as possible, it will be provided through Centrelink, and this assistance will be provided to those directly in the live cattle industry - the growers in the industry, the people who run the live cattle farms - but it will also be available to businesses that rely on the live cattle industry for their work, so for example the trucking businesses whose business it is to transport cattle, the helicopter businesses who make available helicopters and pilots to work with the live cattle industry when they're mustering. This money will be available quickly through Centrelink.

Now I want to stress this is a short-term hardship package. The best thing we can do for the industry is get the trade resumed with Indonesia with the animal issues addressed and we are working hard on that, and the best thing we can do for the industry so it's got a strong, sustained future is get the animal welfare issues right now.

I'll turn now to the Chief Minister for some comments, but I do want to say this before I do so: we've been working strongly on this and I thank the Chief Minister for that. He has been advocating to me the needs of the live cattle industry, as has the Member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon, who represents so many of them in the Federal Parliament.

We are working together on resuming the trade in Indonesia. The Ministers of the Federal Government directly involved, Minister Ludwig, Minister Rudd and Minister Emerson have been working directly with Indonesia on getting the live trade resumed. Minister Ludwig has travelled to Indonesia and we are taking a ‘team Australia' approach and working together to get this done.

So, I'll turn now to the Chief Minister for some comments, and then we'll be happy to take your questions.

CHIEF MINISTER HENDERSON: Thank you Prime Minister and first of all can I say I welcome the assistance package, this is going to help people who are really hurting out there in the Northern Territory at the moment. Today, I'm also announcing that our Primary Industry Minister, Kon Vatskalis, will visit Indonesia next week to see firsthand what is happening on the ground to upgrade facilities in partnership with the Indonesian Government.

I can assure Territory families and reassure Territory families that work is happening right now, today, to upgrade facilities in Indonesia. MLA have a budget of $9.2 million to upgrade abattoirs, to put in non-slip floors, better restraining boxes, a whole heap of infrastructure to upgrade these abattoirs to ensure we never see again the sort of images that we saw on the Four Corners program.

Kon is going to visit these facilities to see firsthand what is being done and how quickly the work is progressing in Indonesia, and then he will report back to Territory business and industry and if there are issues that aren't being addressed, if there are issues that need to be moved on further and quicker, I'll be talking to the Federal Government and to industry about how we do that because Territory families want certainty; Territory families want their jobs back, want their livelihoods back; want to be able to sleep at night knowing that they can pay the bills and this trade is back on track again.

So, it is working in partnership with the Prime Minister and all of the Federal Ministers that the Prime Minister just mentioned, I'm in constant contact with those Ministers, the Australian Embassy in Jakarta meeting daily with our industry representatives here, and Kon will also have meetings with other Indonesian Government officials to assure them that the friendship that exists between the Northern Territory and Indonesia is only going to be strengthened through us working together to get this trade back up and running to benefits of people here in the Northern Territory and people in Indonesia - and back to the PM for questions.

PM: Thank you.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, the previous funding that was announced to assist farmers, a lot of them were complaining that we ineligible for it. Will this funding also be means tested?

PM: Well, can I say this is the third piece of assistance for the industry, so what we have done is provided the income subsidy support. Second, we provided through the industry - and I thank the Cattle Council again - the $5 million animal welfare fund to meet the needs of cattle that have been moved off farm, expecting to be exported.

Now, this is hardship grants directly for business. The key criteria here is that expenditure is being made. So what I would say, people should be checking eligibility with Centrelink, but I know the means-testing issues you're referring to with the income subsidy arrangement and those means-testing issues on the income subsidy arrangement do not apply to this package.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) costly decision for the Government. Do you still maintain it was the right move to make banning live cattle exports?

PM: We suspended the trade, and it was absolutely the right decision. I want this industry to have a long-term sustainable future, and the only way we could say to ourselves as a nation that this industry would be there providing wealth and prosperity in 5 years' time and 10 years' time, 15 years' time and into the future beyond that, is to get the animal welfare issues right now.

The worst thing that would happen for the industry is that we didn't resolve the animal welfare issues now and in 2 years' time there's another problem and in 4 years' time there's another problem and so on so that there are continuing disruptions to the trade. This is the time to get the animal welfare issues right so the Australian community can be assured that this trade is meeting their expectations about the treatment of animals and we don't see the kind of cruelty to animals that we saw on that Four Corners show.

And I would also say, having had the opportunity on two visits now to Darwin to talk directly to representatives of the industry, everyone has started those discussions with me by saying words to the effect ‘I work with cattle, I've worked with cattle all my life and I don't want to see my animals treated like that'. I've had people tell me that they watched that footage in tears. I've had men, strong-looking men, tell me they couldn't take it and they walked out of the room because they couldn't watch that footage. That's the view from industry - they don't want to see animals treated like that. We don't want to see animals treated like that. The suspension was necessary to make sure Australian animals aren't treated like that.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

PM: This is a different structure to assistance. Monday's assistance was for individuals who have lost their principle livelihood in this period of suspension and we used income subsidy arrangements that have been used on other occasions in Australia when people have, for a short period of time, been unable to ply their normal trade in life.

So to give you an example of that, in the days of the Queensland floods, there were coal mines that were either flooded or the access routes to those coal mines were flooded. People couldn't get to work, they couldn't go and ply their normal trade as a coal miner, so we made income subsidies available and we structured Monday's announcement in the same way.

This is a different announcement. This is about supporting businesses as they are in a situation where costs continue but income is not available to them as a result of the suspension of the trade. But let me reinforce this is a short-term hardship package. What we are aiming to do, what my eyes are on as Prime Minister, is getting the trade back up and going. That's the best thing we can do for the industry and making sure that when it is back up and going, it's back up and going under conditions which mean it's got a strong, sustainable future.

JOURNALIST: Should both packages been announced on the same day to save a lot of grief amongst cattle farmers who were concerned they weren't eligible for the first lot? Wouldn't it have just been easier to announce both on the same day so everyone knew they were going to get help?

PM: I think the best thing to do when you're working with an industry that is facing days of hardship is to work in consultation, so I wanted to come up here and get the view from the ground. I wanted to listen to people who are in the live cattle industry. I did that directly with industry representatives. I did that at Community Cabinet last night. As people would have seen at Community Cabinet, the vast majority of the questions were about the live cattle trade, from people involved in the industry. I think it's good thing that I can be here as Prime Minister directly listening, and having directly listened, responding with a short-term hardship package to assist people.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) some of the traditional owners here quoted in Community Cabinet are saying they're not supporting the plan for housing and they don't want their land developed once the claim is settled?

PM: Well, the claim has been settled now, with the Heads of the Agreement. We've talked to representatives of this development corporation, the Larrakia Development Corporation, who are determined to deliver housing because it will make a difference to the people of Darwin. It will also generate an economic stream for the Larrakia people, and there is more land settled under this land claim than the land that is going to be used for housing. There is land that can be collectively used by the Larrakia people for their future.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister John Symond, also John Singleton, has called on a snap election. They say the country's miserable under your Government. What do you say to that?

PM: Well, I read those comments and they were complaining, as I saw it, about negativity. Well, I'm very positive about this nation's future and every day we are putting in place plans for our nation's positive future to keep the economy strong and share the benefits of that strong economy with Australian's and create opportunity for all Australians. That's what our economic policies are about, our education policies, our health policies - sharing the proceeds of this booming period in our nation's economy with every Australian. So, it's a very positive vision for the future and I'm determined to pursue it. Yes, there's a lot of negativity around and I suspect people would need to direct questions about that negativity to someone other than me. I'm not the cause of it.

JOURNALIST: There are also reports today that the final details of the carbon tax are locked in. Any idea on when the public might know these details?

PM: There is a lot of speculation today about carbon pricing, and when we're in a position to make a full announcement about carbon pricing and give people all of the details, then off course I will do so as Prime Minister. And we are working hard on carbon pricing to get all of the details right, so I understand that there is speculation around today.

But I do want to confirm as people think about carbon pricing that my aim as Prime Minister has always been to have an emissions trading scheme. That's an aim that I share with John Howard and Malcolm Turnbull - an emissions trading scheme for our nation's future.

An emissions trading scheme is the best of cutting carbon pollution and making sure that we tackle climate change. It's the cheapest way of cutting carbon pollution and making sure we tackle climate change.

Now, what Tony Abbott likes to refer to as a carbon tax, a fixed priced period for an emissions trading scheme, is a period I believe should be as short as possible. I've always been determined to create an emissions trading scheme, and I've always been determined that the fixed price period would be as short as possible and we would get to that emissions trading scheme, and as Prime Minister I've been determined to do that because it's through pricing carbon and creating that emissions trading scheme that we will create the clean energy economy of the future.

So, people have heard a lot of debate about a carbon tax, and today can I say to Australians the debate that they are hearing about a carbon tax is a debate about what Tony Abbott calls a carbon tax, which will be for a limited period of time and then we will move to an emissions trading scheme which I support, John Howard supports, Malcolm Turnbull supports, and the period of time before the emissions trading scheme is something I'm determined to make as short as possible.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) decide that it would be okay for INPEX to blast Darwin Harbour where the threatened snub-finned dolphins live?

PM: Well I'd refer you to all the environmental conditions that have been attached to this project. Minister Burke who deals with the environmental management questions under the federal legislation for the environment has attached a wide range of conditions to this project including the protection of the marine life you refer to.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, are you disappointed you're leaving before Territory Fireworks Night tomorrow night?

PM: Well, I am a bit disappointed.

CHIEF MINISTER HENDERSON: There you go - you're more than welcome to stay. Wanguri is a pretty good place to watch the fireworks from, Prime Minister. You're more than welcome.

PM: I like fireworks. I would have liked to have stayed, but I've spent a lot of time in the Northern Territory, loved every minute of it, fifth trip as Prime Minister, but it is time for me to get on and do some things in other parts of the country, but I hope everybody enjoys the fireworks and enjoys the Centenary. It is a special event for the Northern Territory.

Thank you.

Transcript 17946