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Transcript 18153

Transcript of interview with John Laws, 2SM

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: 18153

HOST: Prime Minister, are you there?

PM: Yes I am John, good morning.

HOST: Good morning and clear as a bell I might say.

PM: That's very good indeed, given the troubles we had earlier.

HOST: Yeah, are you very happy with Wayne Swan?

PM: Yes, I am. Wayne is to be congratulated on this, but as Wayne has been making the point this is really a reward for the Australian people for the work that we all did together to keep people in jobs during the global financial crisis. So, it took Government action and certainly Wayne Swan played an incredible role in making sure that Government supported jobs, but it also took action by employers right around the country and trade unions working with those employers to keep people in work.

HOST: OK, I'll just read you an email that I have here from a fellow called John Rowles who is in Surfers Paradise - I don't think John Rowles the singer, I think he's in Honolulu - but I'll read this to you: ‘John, Swanny's award is arrant nonsense. It's an award for Coalition surplus and for China. This bloke's pink batts and school halls waste overstimulated a sound economy and way too long. The result was an extra percent of interest rates which killed retail last November. Swan backed the full mining tax which killed Rudd off , then your thoroughly decent bloke knifed Rudd over the phone and wouldn't even look him in the eye.'

That's a cranky email, so obviously some people are cranky.

PM: Inevitably, in a democracy of more than 20 million people, people are going to have a variety of views, John.

HOST: Good, isn't it?

PM: It is good. It is good and absolutely we want people to be able to express their opinions and that opinion is expressed very sharply. It's also factually wrong in many, many respects, not a correct analysis of our economy, not a correct analysis of what has led our economy to a point where the International Monetary Fund overnight, in what is a report that is a very sharp critique of the global economy and has some warnings about the global economy and particularly pointed things to say about US and Europe, that that IMF report points to Australia as the standout economy that can look forward to more rapid growth than major advanced economies anywhere else in the world.

HOST: Why are we the standout economy, Prime Minister? Tell me all the good things about Australia.

PM: We're the standout economy because of our growth rates. You would have seen in the June quarter that we had a growth rate of 1.2% - very solid growth.

Of course, our economy was disrupted by our summer of natural disasters with so much of economic infrastructure brought down in that time, but our economy has recorded solid growth and we can look forward to more growth.

Our economy has low unemployment by the standards of the world. There are many nations with double, triple, even as much as four times our unemployment rate.

We've got strong public finances with low government debt. We've got a strong banking system which is well capitalised, and we are in the region of the world which is growing at this time and will be the powerhouse of growth in this century, and that's why our resources are so much in demand, our great mineral resources. It's why our terms of trade are so strong, but our century here in Asia won't be simply about selling minerals to Asia - we will be living in the part of the world with the world's biggest middle class and they will demand services and tourism, fine food, fine wine, all the of the things that Australia is so good at and has to sell.

HOST: Tell me this, you reel all that off in a wonderfully articulate way. Do you rehearse?

PM: Well these are just the simple facts. They're very easy to list.

HOST: No, no, but I mean, do you rehearse? Do you have to go through it? Do you make a point of memorising all this stuff - you must?

PM: John, I talk about this every day to people, so of course it comes easily to my tongue. I would have a conversation about the Australian economy every day. Many days I would have hundreds of conversations about the Australian economy.

I already today, for example, have been to a tourism and transport forum to talk to people about the Australian economy. Yesterday I was in a manufacturing round table with representatives of all kinds of manufacturing businesses and their trade unions talking about the Australian economy. The night before that I was addressing the Australian Industry Group dinner talking about the Australian economy. So, John, this is what I do all day, every day - think, worry and design policies to make sure that we've got the benefits of jobs and prosperity for the future.

HOST: Can I ask you a personal question? I mean we know each other fairly well.

PM: Sure.

HOST: What's your IQ?

PM: I've got no idea John. I don't sit round doing tests.

HOST: I thought you might have had one done when you were younger. Most of us have to have one done. Anyways, I would imagine it would be very high because you are very articulate and you're admired by many people for that.

Sadly, you're not all that admired for some of the ideas you have about governing our country, otherwise we wouldn't perhaps do constantly hear these polls being taken and some of them don't look good. Do you take any notice of the polls?

PM: My focus is on doing the things we need to do for our nation's future. We're a nation of never-ending polls. They come frequently, and yes, of course, they're a talked about by commentators and in the debate about politics nationally, but what I do John is I sit here as Prime Minister working on the things we need to make sure that we do have jobs and prosperity in the future and that those things are shared, and as I've described the Australian economy to you, there's a clear risk that we will see some parts of the economy leaping ahead - the resources sector, the mining sector, more money, more wealth - with other parts of the economy left behind.

HOST: Yeah, that can't keep going. The mining sector and the resources sector can't keep going forever and a day, can it?

PM: Well, it will be sustained for a long period of time, the resources boom, but yes, we do have to be planning today for what our economy will look like beyond the resources boom, and the point I was just about the make John, I've talked about jobs and prosperity, but there's a lot of work to do to make sure that's shared, that we don't see some industries and some regions left behind: manufacturing, tourism, those kind of industries left behind because they are experiencing the burden of the high Australian dollar which flows from the strength of our mining industry.

So, as Prime Minister the things that I focus on are managing our economy so we've got jobs and opportunity for all right around the nation, as well as bringing in the new policies and plans which mean people aren't at risk of having their life ruined by an event like an accident which means they have a disability. That is, that we look after each other and we do that now through things like Medicare - great Labor invention - but we look after each other in the future for things like disability and obviously the challenges that will come with ageing of our society.

HOST: It's going to be a long day for you in parliament, well for everybody today in parliament, debating the Migration Act. How will the day end, do you think? Is Tony Abbott simply outplaying you?

PM: Well, just a factual correction John. The migration changes have been introduced into the parliament today-

HOST: -Will they be approved?

PM: They won't be debated today, it's not normal for-

HOST: -Sorry I used the wrong word, but will they be approved?

PM: The debate is not happening today, there are no votes happening today, so just to clarify that.

On the question of will they be approved, well, I will continue to put the argument that our national interest requires that politicians come together and deal with these amendments in the nation's interest. I believe people are sick of the politics, they're sick of watching all of the politics around this. They want the nation's representatives to work together so our nation can make the decisions we need to to protect our borders as well as properly protecting people who are genuine refugees.

The legislation that Minister Bowen has introduced in the parliament this morning does that. It would enable the Government to implement our arrangement with Malaysia. It would enable Tony Abbott, if he is every Prime Minister of this country, to implement his plan with Nauru, and my simple case to the Leader of the Opposition is we are not trying to do this legislation so we rule out his plans about Nauru. He should not insist that this legislation is amended so it rules out our plans about Malaysia.

HOST: OK, but he's assumed that? Will Nauru cost $1 billion?

PM: Yes, it will.

HOST: That's a lot of money.

PM: Yes, it will, for a plan that the best possible expert advisors have told us won't work.

We are advised, John, by the same experts who advised the Howard Government. They still work here in our great public service. They are not people of politics. They are people of expert advice, and what they say to us is that Nauru won't work.

Certainly, when the Howard Government enacted the Pacific Solution it had a lot of shock value. It obviously sent a lot of shock value up the people smuggling pipeline, but now people smugglers know that if you get on a boat, if you end up in Nauru, that you are far more likely than not to be resettled in Australia. They will be able to say that to people. They will be able to point to the fact that of the people who were found to be genuine refugees, who were processed on Nauru under the Howard Government, they went to Australia and New Zealand. They will point to all of that and that is why our expert advisors are saying it won't work, and that our arrangement with Malaysia has a far stronger deterrence value.

But the legislation before the Parliament is not ‘yes to Malaysia'. What it is is giving executive government the power it needs to make decisions about offshore processing of asylum seekers. Prime Minister Howard had that power in his hands when Tony Abbott served in his Cabinet. The High Court has changed and reinterpreted the law. I believe as Prime Minister I should have that power in my hands and the hands of this Government, and it should be in the hands of prime ministers to come and governments to come, and I think it is just political game playing for Tony Abbott to seek to deny that power to government and to effectively end offshore processing.

HOST: Are you going to win?

PM: Well, we will bring it to the parliament, John, and people will have to come into the parliament and stand up in the eyes of the Australian people, stand up and if they want to vote for the destruction of offshore processing then they will be judged by that.

HOST: What's the most humane way to handle the refugee crisis?

PM: Well, the most humane way to deal with asylum seekers and refugees is to do everything you can to deter people from getting on leaky boats where they can lose their lives-

HOST: -They've got to be desperate to do that, haven't they? I mean, you wouldn't put your kids on a leaky boat unless you were absolutely desperate?

PM: Well, John, I think when we're talking about people getting on boats, they are getting on boats out of Indonesia. We are talking about people who have fled places like Iran or Afghanistan or Pakistan, so they've been on the move for some time. Many of them would have come through Malaysia on their way to Indonesia.

What we don't want to see is people getting on boats, paying basically a criminal figure, a people smuggler, someone profiting from crime, paying them all of the money they've got and then running the risk of losing their life at sea. And tragically, we've seen people do that on the shores of Christmas Island not that long ago.

So, that is what the Malaysia arrangement is about - sending the strongest possible message of deterrence to stop people getting on boats but extending the compassion that Australians are known for to genuine refugees, so out this arrangement we would take 4,000 more refugees, people who are in Malaysia now who have been processed and been found to be genuine refugees, but at the moment have no prospect of getting a new life and new opportunity in a new land.

HOST: Yeah, well they should be given the opportunity shouldn't they, I believe?

PM: Well, we would make that opportunity available to 4,000 more as part of the Malaysia arrangement, but to implement the Malaysia arrangement we need the laws changed, so we need the Opposition to come in and to cut the political game playing and to vote for legislation which enables government to act, and if they were ever to form the government in the future, would enable them to institute Nauru if that's what they believe in.

HOST: OK, Prime Minister you've been very, very generous with your time and I'm sorry about the mess up earlier but these things happen, and it was very good to talk to you. I appreciate it.

PM: Thanks very much, John.

HOST: Goodbye.

PM: Bye-bye.

Transcript 18153