PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 18154

Transcript of interview with Lisa Wilkinson, Today

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: 18154

HOST: The Prime Minister joins us now live from our Canberra studio this morning. Good morning to you Prime Minister.

PM: Good morning Lisa.

HOST: Now first up, a dire warning from the International Monetary Fund overnight, warning of a dangerous new phase in the world economy. How are you going to protect Australia from rising unemployment and higher inflation?

PM: Lisa, this is a stark warning from the IMF about the global economy, but it also gives a ringing endorsement to the Australian economy and says we can look forward to growing faster than any other major advanced economy. We are in the part of the world that is growing, we've got low unemployment, we've got strong public finances and of course we've got a huge pipeline of growth coming into our resources sector. So Lisa, we're not immune from world trends, but this is a strong endorsement of the Australian economy.

HOST: But they have cut the growth rate from 3 per cent back to 1.8.

PM: Yeah, the focus of the IMF in this report, and it is a stark warning, but it's a warning very focussed on what is happening in the US and in Europe and a warning to decision makers there to make sure that they get their budgets in order, as they sustain growth in their economies. It does make a point about the Australian economy, and that's a ringing endorsement. We're not immune from global trends, but there's nowhere else in the world you'd rather be than in Australia as the global economy goes through this phase.

HOST: But if we're not immune, is it the right time to be bringing in a carbon tax and a mining tax, when so many Aussie families are really feeling the pinch? We do know that there's a two-speed economy.

PM: There is a two-speed economy, there's a multi-speed economy, a patchwork economy. Resources burning ahead, turbo-charged, hundreds of millions of dollars, hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in the pipeline, other industries feeling the pressure of the high Aussie dollar. The Minerals Resource Rent Tax is actually designed to meet the needs in the economy now, to take some more tax from that bit of the economy that is charging ahead, the mining sector and using it to support growth by cutting company tax and cutting taxation for small businesses in other parts of the economy, so that's definitely the right economic policy now.

As for putting a price on carbon, we need to get started on this, we've got bipartisan targets of cutting our carbon pollution by five per cent by 2020. The sooner we start, the easier it will be to do, the easier the economic adjustment and we'll be working with businesses to protect jobs every step of the way.

HOST: Alright, well let's move on to the standoff over asylum seekers. If you know that the Greens and the Coalition won't support you on this legislation, is it just a waste of time introducing the legislation today into Parliament?

PM: I'm sitting in Parliament today and this is the home of our democracy Lisa, this is where people come to represent their constituencies and have their names recorded in the pages of history for how they have voted. So it is the right thing to do to hold every member of this place to account and to require them to record their votes on this issue of national importance. And let's be very clear about what will be voted on, the Government's legislation doesn't rule out Tony Abbott's preferred policy of Nauru, he shouldn't act to rule out the Government's preferred policy of Malaysia and Tony Abbott has criticised us all ways here, some days he says we're too soft on asylum seekers, other days he says we're too hard.

Well people are sick of the politics of this, they want us to act and that's why I believe Mr Abbott should reflect again when the legislation comes to the Parliament. I'd suggest that he thinks about how he felt when he saw those dreadful images of a boat crashing against the rocks of Christmas Island. He should think about the national interest here, as he votes on this legislation.

HOST: Why aren't you asking Bob Brown to reflect, I mean you made a deal with the Greens, Bob Brown is your partner in Parliament but we haven't heard a word of criticism for Bob Brown on all of this.

PM: Well that's not true either Lisa. I was asked a question by a Greens member in the House of Representatives yesterday and made the very direct point, that every Member of Parliament should be reflecting on their obligations in the national interest here. Every Member of Parliament, but I don't expect Senator Brown to change his mind, he's opposed to offshore processing. What I do think is a bit amazing in all of this is Tony Abbott, after a year of frothing at the mouth about the Greens voting with the Government, is now intending to vote, sitting alongside Bob Brown, to end offshore processing for this country.

HOST: Prime Minister, don't you think it's unusual that we have a Labor Prime Minister trying to circumvent the High Court and the United Nations when it comes to the human rights of asylum seekers?

PM: Everything I do, everything this Government will ever do, will be completely in accord with our United Nations obligations under the Refugee Convention. Labor always has and always will uphold our Refugee Convention obligations, that's who we are, it's in our DNA to be a kind of political party that looks to multilateral work, that looks to the United Nations, and that accepts important conventions like the Refugee Convention. And everything I am proposing with the Malaysia arrangement is in accord with our obligations under that convention.

HOST: But Prime Minister, the High Court ruled against you, that's why you're having to make these changes and the fact is Malaysia is not a signatory.

PM: Well let's be clear about what the High Court ruled about Lisa. The High Court didn't consider the merits of the arrangement with Malaysia, it was construing the Migration Act, and it took a different construction that what has been done in the past and it's put this Government in a different position than government's were in the past. So Mr Howard's Government was able to send asylum seekers to a non-refugee signatory country, the High Court has now made a different set of decisions. What I am seeking to do is to have this Government and governments in the future in the same position that Prime Minister Howard's Government was and that is able to make appropriate decisions about offshore processing. In making a decision about Malaysia we have worked with Malaysia to make sure that the things that are really important about the Refugee Convention, the things that are pivotal to the humane treatment of refugees are catered for. That is people won't be returned to a country where they could be persecuted, their claims will be processed and they will have access to the ability to work and to schooling and health services and the like.

So we've worked hard on that, but we want to enter into this arrangement because I don't want to see boats, Lisa. I don't want to see people risking their life at sea and paying a people smuggler to do it, that's what this is about. Now, I understand that Mr Abbott doesn't agree with the Malaysia arrangement and that's a matter for him, but what he shouldn't do in a destructive way, is use his votes in this Parliament to stop the Government having the same power that he sought for the Howard Government to have. He had that power when he was in government, this Government should have that power too. I'm not ruling out his solution in this government legislation, if he's ever Prime Minister, based on this legislation he could implement the solution that he prefers. He shouldn't rule out the Government's solution in an act of negative and reckless politics.

HOST: OK, alright, just finally Prime Minister, you would know that the third episode of the sitcom At Home with Julia is on the ABC tonight. One scene depicting you and a character like your partner Tim, naked under the Australian flag. Are you offended by that image?

PM: Look, Lisa I won't be watching it and I'm not intending to comment on it.

HOST: No comment at all? You don't think you should put on the public record, because there's been a lot of talk about it over the last 24 hours?

PM: Lisa, I've got some bigger things on my mind, so I'm not intending to comment on it.

HOST: OK, you certainly do have a busy day ahead and Prime Minister thank you very much for your time this morning.

PM: Thanks Lisa.

Transcript 18154