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Transcript 18152

Transcript of interview with Jon Faine, ABC Melbourne

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: 21/09/2011

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 18152

HOST: The Prime Minister Julia Gillard joins me in our Canberra studios at Parliament House. Prime Minister good morning to you.

PM: Good morning Jon.

HOST: The deadlock on asylum seeker policy seems to means that we're going to end up with a policy that neither major party wants and that you, in fact, say also won't work. Why won't you compromise?

PM: Jon I've worked hard and worked to extend to the Leader of the Opposition the ground he needs and the information he needs to make the right decision in the nation's interest. I've made sure he's fully briefed, including by legal advisers, I met with him personally and I am continuing to say to the Leader of the Opposition that he should act in the national interest. The legislation that we will bring to the Parliament does not rule out his Nauru option and he should not be seeking to rule out the Government's preferred option of Malaysia, which we have strongest possible advice is the best deterrent to people getting on leaky boats and potentially losing their lives.

HOST: But last night on 7.30 he was asked about this issue and his answer was fairly straightforward in articulating what he sees the role of opposition to be:

ABBOTT: Well, the Executive Government will put its proposals to the Parliament and the Parliament will deal with them, but there has never been any principle that says that the opposition has got to support bad policy from a bad government to give a blank cheque to the Executive.

HOST: Bad policy from a bad government Prime Minister.

PM: Tony Abbott, playing politics when the national interest requires him to do something else. This is a time for something more than politics as usual. Australians are sick of this Jon, they want to see their national leaders working together to get something effective done on the question of refugees and asylum seekers and I'm determined to do it.

We will bring the legislation to the Parliament and Tony Abbott appears to want to just slam the door on the national interest, that was clearly what he did on Monday when he basically said he would slam the door on the national interest. I continue to say to him and to members of the Liberal Party and the National Party, that they will have to walk into the Parliament and vote, their votes will be recorded and if they vote against offshore processing effectively, they will end offshore processing in this country-

HOST: Your version of it. Your version of it-

PM:No Jon. They will be voting against legislation which is not my version of it. They will be voting against legislation which empowers Executive Government, this Government or governments in the future, to have the same range of choices that the Howard Government had in the past, that's what they're voting against.

HOST: And your job - and you lose face, not him - your job is to deliver outcomes, his job is not, his job is to articulate what might make him the next Prime Minister. So you failed to get your policies through, he then promises at the next election - this is his strategy surely - to say well I'll fix the problem that Julia Gillard failed to fix, leave it up to me and I'll do it. And that leaves you looking vulnerable and him looking as if he's got a solution? That's the strategy.

PM: Well, first and foremost, I don't agree with your characterisation of the job of the Leader of the Opposition. I believe the job of the Leader of the Opposition is to pay regard to the national interest. Now Tony Abbott might think the national interest should never trouble his mind and the only thing he should ever think about is the political interest, his own political interest. But I do not believe that that is the right characterisation of his job, he's got an obligation to the nation-

HOST: No, his-

PM: -second Jon and I am going to make this point, because it's very important for you to understand and your listeners to understand - Tony Abbott cannot put in place his Nauru option without legislation. You just said to me, well he'll go to the next election saying he'll fix the problem, well he cannot put in place his Nauru policy without a change in the legislation. A change in legislation that I will bring to the Parliament, the change that I will bring to the Parliament, that the Government will bring to the Parliament, would enable Tony Abbott if he was ever Prime Minister of this country to implement the Nauru option and he can't do it without huge legal risk without legislation-

HOST: Don't you think-

PM: All he is being asked to do is to vote for legislation which would enable him, if he was ever Prime Minister to put in place the Nauru option, even if that is in the teeth of very strong expert advice that it won't work and it will be very costly. My simple point to him is he should not rule out the Government's option, we are not seeking to rule out his, we are just seeking to give Executive Government the power it needs to act and if Tony Abbott smashes that then he effectively smashes the ability of this nation to have offshore processing and I think he'll be judged by that.

HOST: It's ridiculous, isn't it, that this issue that ought be a third or fourth tier of political significance is dominating our national agenda when there are so many more important things that ought to be occupying your mind?PM: I continue to work on all areas Jon. Of course this is dominating the public conversation and it's a very important issue in the nation's interest. At the same time, we continue to debate the carbon pricing legislation and we will deliver a price on carbon and a clean energy future. At the same time I spend my days, and I will today as well, speaking about the economy and about jobs and prosperity for Australians and how we best manage this patchwork economy of ours - strong overall, but obviously with pressures in parts - to ensure that people have jobs and prosperity for the future.

So that continues, as all of that work continues, as the national debate on asylum seekers rightly dominates a lot of the media coverage. This is dominating because of the recklessness being shown here by the Leader of the Opposition. He had an opportunity on Monday to act in the national interest, every request he had made of government had been responded to, he wanted a briefing, he was given it, he wanted a legal briefing, he was given it, he made some remarks on the amendments he was presented with, we presented him with new amendments which addressed some of those concerns and in the face of all of that he has still decided to go down this reckless, negative path. And we all know what it's about Jon - he actually wants to see more boats because he thinks that's in his political interest and he's absolutely terrified that the Malaysia arrangement would work and that's why he wants to try and stop the Government implementing it. Well it isn't good enough, the Leader of the Opposition has an obligation to conduct himself in the national interest and we will keep calling on him to do so and the pages of history in Hansard will record whether or not he's met that obligation.

HOST: You're continuing to put your climate change agenda through the Parliament and the debates will through this session continue to dominate. The state governments, Liberal state governments by and large, are doing their best to help their Federal opposition colleagues. Yesterday Ted Baillieu was again mentioning the Deloitte Access Economics report claiming, as did the Treasurer here in Victoria Kim Wells, that Victoria will be hit hardest by your climate change legislation.

PM: I think Premier Baillieu and his Liberal colleagues interstate would be better off sticking to their day job and actually doing what they should do as state premiers, than doing Tony Abbott's bidding and being out there pedalling false claims and fear.

HOST: What's false about it?

PM: What's false about it? Well, there's a long list Jon, but I'll whizz through it as quickly as I can. Firstly, it doesn't model in our jobs and competiveness program in its entirety, that is the program that supports businesses to make sure they are internationally competitive and can keep offering people jobs-

HOST: So it's talking about the debits, but not the credits, if you want to put it in those terms?

PM: Correct. Second, it overestimates the growth in emissions, so does that more than any other modelling. So once you say emissions are growing far higher, then obviously the task of cutting them five per cent is a far biggest task, so it makes a whole different set of assumptions on that than has been by any other modelling.

Third, it assumes that all electricity price rises are the result of putting a price on carbon, whereas Jon you and I know electricity prices have been going up in Victoria and they will continue to go up for factors not in any way associated with pricing carbon, so it makes the wrong assumption there.

Then it purports to give regional effects, sub-regional effects for smaller geographical areas than the State of Victoria and the consistent advice of Commonwealth Treasury has been that you can't do that with reliability.

HOST: OK, my time's running out. Have you yet had a chance to have a look at any of the episodes the ABC's screened of the comedy about you, At Home with Julia?

PM: I did watch the first episode, not on the night that it was shown, but at a later time. I'm not intending to watch tonight's episode, I've got more to do Jon.

HOST: Did you laugh when you saw it?

PM: Look Jon, I think aspects of that first episode was funny, but seriously I've got more to do than sit around watching ABC TV, with respect.

HOST: I don't doubt that. Was your partner Tim Mathieson offended?

PM: Look Jon, I'm really not going to be drawn on lots of commentary about this. I've got some very serious issues on my mind that are about the national interest.

HOST: Well, on that - Liberal backbencher Theresa Gambaro says the ABC should be punished or even some say it should be stopped this episode from going to air, that involves you and - well, the comedian playing you and the comedian playing your partner engaged in a little bit of a romp in the prime ministerial suite. Do you think the ABC should be punished?

PM: Jon, I'm not engaging in commentary on this and I'm not going to help you with a cross promotion.

HOST: I think you just did. Well, I don't know that it's a cross promotion either, it's also about whether or not you are able to accept that people might be getting a laugh at your expense or whether you think it's wrong, I suppose.

PM: Jon, you know me fairly well, you know I've got a good sense of humour, but I'm not going to be drawn on further commentary on this matter.

HOST: My favourite bit in the first episode, at the risk of pushing it just too far, is when the character playing you had a sip on a mug that was a Kevin 07 coffee mug and went “Oh, bitter”. I actually thought that was one of the funniest things I've seen for quite a while.

PM: Well Jon, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

HOST: I can't even draw out of you whether you thought that was a funny moment?

PM: Jon - end of commentary. Full stop.

HOST: We'll be doing our TV analysis later on and maybe we'll get more from David Knox than we have with the Prime Minister this morning. I'm grateful to you for your time this morning in our Canberra studios Julia Gillard.

Transcript 18152