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Transcript 18188

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: 14/10/2011

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 18188

HOST: Well let's start with the first Prime Minister, the Leader of the Labor Party. Bob Brown, Leader of the Greens joining us shortly.

Julia Gillard in Canberra, good morning to you.

PM: Good morning Jon and you've got the only Prime Minister.

HOST: Thank you. The failure of the migration legislation yesterday, is this a failure of leadership on your part, to strike a compromise with the Opposition on offshore processing?

PM: This is a failure of responsibility on behalf of Tony Abbott. Of course I was working with Tony Abbott to deal with this legislation, I had direct discussions with him, the amendments we seek would enable the Government to implement our arrangement with Malaysia. It would also enable a future government to implement arrangements like a processing centre on Nauru.

So what we have here is Tony Abbott deciding to pursue his political interest to such extremes that he is determined to vote down legislation he would need if he was ever Prime Minister to implement the policy solution he says he believes in.

HOST: Yes, but you have the carriage of the legislation, he doesn't. He's there to respond, you're there to succeed with your agenda as Prime Minister and therefore it's up to you to initiate the compromise, not him.

PM: My belief Jon is that everyone in the Parliament is here to serve the national interest and let's be very clear here - I have never asked Tony Abbott to endorse the Government's policies or plans in relation to Malaysia. What I have asked him to do is to support amendments that enable the government of the day, this Government, and future governments, to make appropriate choices about offshore processing.

So what Tony Abbott has done is voted to end offshore processing, that is the result of his conduct. And let's be very clear about what that means Jon - I believe we are at a real risk of seeing more boats, of seeing men and women and children get on boats and putting their lives at risk-

HOST: We've already seen this, Scott Morrison last night on Lateline had this to say about exactly that scenario:

MORRISON: She hasn't been able to command the confidence of the Parliament on this measure. Now of course Mr Bowen should resign and of course Prime Minister should resign, but what they must do now is simply call an election.

HOST: That's Scott Morrison last night saying if people drown, or if there is misadventure at sea, he says fair and square it's your fault.

PM: Well just listening to that clip from Scott Morrison, doesn't that tell you the full tale, doesn't that tell you that every action of the Opposition here has been about politics and about themselves. There's Scott Morrison on Lateline, seeing how he can politically profit from this and Jon, that's what it's all been about. It hasn't been about border security, it hasn't been about appropriate treatment of refugees, all it's ever been about is the political interest of the Opposition.

I mean we have legislation that would enable the executive government to act, for us to implement the Malaysia arrangement, if Mr Morrison was to ever find himself as Immigration Minister in this country, for him to implement the arrangement he says he believes in. But they have acted to end offshore processing through their negativity and Jon I was saying before and I do want to clearly make this point - we are at risk of seeing more boats, we are at risk as a result of this conduct by Tony Abbott of seeing more men, women and children getting on leaky boats. And if we do see that there is one person to blame - Tony Abbott for this mindless negativity, this wrecking strategy, which has brought offshore processing to an end.

HOST: Well no, is it a wrecking strategy or an electoral strategy? A short while ago on ABC News 24, Tony Abbott was interviewed about exactly this and explained it in this way:

ABBOTT: This week we have seen the Gillard Government adopt Green policy twice - first they've got the carbon tax, which is Bob Brown's policy, now they've got onshore processing, which is Bob Brown's policy.

HOST: So he's setting you up here and saying ‘I can, if you elect me as Prime Minister at the next election, I can sort all this out'.

PM: Well, once again Jon, doesn't it strike you that both times you've played excerpts of the Opposition, Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison, what they've been talking about is politics and things associated with their political interest.

When I talk about carbon pricing I talk about our clean energy future, I talk about having those clean energy jobs, I talk about reducing carbon pollution, I talk about the need to make sure we are shaping the future, rather than just drifting into it.

That is, I talk about the national interest and on the question of border security and refugee and asylum seeker policy, what has always driven me is my belief in strong border protection, my belief that we should honour the refugee convention and show appropriate compassion, genuine compassion, the deep compassion Australians are capable of, towards people who are genuine refugees.

That we should work in our region to get the best possible regional arrangements and we should go hard after people smuggling. That is what has driven me every step of the way, that is why we designed the Malaysia arrangement. I believe and continue to believe it would be the strongest possible deterrence. In answer to that, what we have seen from Tony Abbott is a wrecking strategy against the national interest, in his political interest, and if we do see more boats, if we do see more men and women and children taking risks by getting on those boats, then there is one person to blame and that is Tony Abbott.

HOST: Do you have to make Australian reception and arrival and welcoming procedures somewhat less hospitable if you're going to have an adequate deterrent, before we move on to other issues, Prime Minister? For instance, offering welfare payments to people whilst they're awaiting processing, does that make Australia just too inviting a destination for asylum seekers?

PM: Well Jon, let's be very clear, I believe in mandatory detention and of course we will have a mandatory detention system. If people arrive unauthorised they will be detained-

HOST: (inaudible) - processing we've heard that already from Minister Bowen.

PM: They will be detained for processing to check health and security and identity. What Minister Bowen and I indicated yesterday, is we have spare capacity in the detention network, but if we see more boats as a result of Tony Abbott's conduct then we will see pressure on the detention network. We have at our disposal a range of policy measures we can use, including community detention and bridging visas.

HOST: Moving on to other issues, how much is the government going to spend on its campaign now to spin or sell its climate plan?

PM: Jon, I think getting information to people is appropriate-

HOST: How much are you going to spend?

PM: Well, Jon, we've made some allocations for advertising and the provision of information and you will have seen that on your TV. And we will continue to provide information. Jon, let's be very clear, there are a lot of businesses out there that want information about how this is going to work-

HOST: And they are entitled to it-

PM: I took a question in question time yesterday from a Liberal Member of Parliament, from a business that clearly thought that the impact of carbon pricing on them was far greater than the reality. I know there's anxiety out there and we will keep providing information as necessary.

HOST: How much are you going to spend, tens of millions, hundreds of millions? What's it going to be?

PM: Oh Jon, the only people who ever spend hundreds of millions on advertising was the Howard Government in relation to WorkChoices.

HOST: They spend vast sums of money explaining the intricacies of the GST and quite rightly too. Are you going to match that?

PM: No Jon, we are not going to match that, but we are going to provide information to the community. I do think people want to know things like what is happening with their pension payment - it's going up. What is happening with family payments to assist people with kids - well there are increased family payments available. What is happening with tax cuts - well people earning less than $80,000 a year will get a tax cut.

And of course we are tripling the tax free threshold and many people will want to understand that in detail, because there are people, predominantly second income earners, women who have been out of the workforce having kids and caring for children, for whom this is a huge benefit and really changes the equation about going back to work.

HOST: How about an ad that says ‘Wondering why your power bill's soaring? Here's the reason.'

PM: Well, that would be very silly, because that statements isn't true, Jon. Why would you give people information that isn't true?

We have been very upfront with the Australian community that the carbon price will be paid by the big polluters, there will be some flowthrough impacts, including a 10 per cent increase in electricity that has been factored in in the compensation arrangements for people and those compensation arrangements have been struck so that there will be millions of Australians who receive more than the average impact of carbon pricing on them. For example we will see pensioner households come out in front.

HOST: I realise my time is running short and the other Prime Minister Bob Brown, I know you don't like that description, but I'm sticking with it.

PM: It's just a stupid description Jon and-

HOST: It's a bit theatrical, I'll accept that.

PM: No, well it's just wrong. Let's go through what has been done this year by this Government, if you want to have the discussion.

I, as Prime Minister, structured the flood levy and the package to rebuild Queensland and Victoria after our summer of natural disasters. I, working with my team, including Wayne Swan, delivered the Budget with a focus on participation and opportunity measures. I, working with my team, and particularly Stephen Conroy, achieved the structural separation of Telstra and the further rollout of the National Broadband Network.

I, directly in the room with premiers, including Premier Baillieu, struck the new healthcare agreement. I'm working with those same premiers now to change our approach to skills, to meet the needs of our economy today. I'm working with those premiers now to structure a National Disability Insurance Scheme and Jon I can tell you're trying to interrupt me, but perhaps before you make some silly statements you should be reflecting on the way in which I govern Australia and what this Government has directly done.

HOST: I want to cover pokies, but first Qantas. Why should the government get involved in an industrial dispute between unions and a publicly listed, privately owned corporation?

PM: Our Fair Work Act enables the government to play a role if disputes escalate. This dispute is at the stage where both parties say they want to negotiate a settlement, my view is they should get around a table and do it.

HOST: So why would the Government, Martin Ferguson says maybe the Government will get involved because of the national interest, but that's ridiculous isn't it? They're just (inaudible)

PM: I would refer you to that section of the Fair Work Act, Jon and I don't want to be here talking about industrial law over the ages, though I could if you want to have that discussion, and you will find that for a very long period of time in our industrial relations system there has been the ability of government to get involved in major disputes which have implications for the national economy, or implications for health and safety. That's been a long standing feature of workplace relations law. We have a comparable section in the Fair Work Act, of course the schema of the Fair Work Act is proper protections for employees, they've always got a safety net to rely on, that was the safety net that WorkChoices ripped away.

And then the schema of the Fair Work Act is standing on that safety net, working people through their unions, discuss with their employers and negotiate their arrangements.

Qantas and the relevant unions are saying they want to negotiate this dispute. Well I think they should get on and do it.

HOST: Alright, the Financial Review today reports on its front page that a $40 million war chest is being established by the clubs and pokies industry to do a seat-by-seat campaign against Labor sitting members in Queensland and in New South Wales over your pokies reforms.

PM: I've seen that report too Jon-

HOST: Are you going to buckle to their demands to avoid this campaign?

PM: I've seen those reports too Jon. I am concerned about problem gambling Jon, you know where I come from and you know what Melbourne's west is like and in Melbourne's west I'm aware that there are big venues and there are places where unfortunately lots and lots of people have a good time, but at the same time there are people who have problem gambling-

HOST: Are you prepared to compromise in order to save those marginal seats and their members?

PM: What we will do here Jon is what is right. That is what is guiding us in terms of problem gambling. Of course we want to work on a scheme that can be properly implemented and we want to ensure that people who are out and having a good night out and just having a flutter on the pokies, in the same way that people will go to the races and have a bet and have a good time, that's all good fun, very Australian and if that's what people want to do, then of course they should be able to do it-

HOST: But this is a campaign against 18 sitting Labor Party members just in New South Wales. They are going to spend a fortune to knock off your backbench. Surely that is political death for your government?

PM: Jon, we will do what is right and I am concerned about the circumstances of problem gambling. We want to make sure that we have a system that assists people to not get into problems with pokie addiction and problem gambling, whilst at the same time of course allowing venues to operate and people to get out and about for a good night out, that's what's driving me.

HOST: So you'll stick to your guns?

PM: Well, I just indicated that to you Jon, so you can ask the question a number of different ways, but I've just indicated to you what is my view.

On the view in relation to the story that you refer to, I understand that there will be people campaigning about reform, that is clear from the front page of today's Financial Review. I do think people will ask the question, well if they've got $40 million to spend on that campaign, doesn't that tend to indicate that some of the claims we are hearing about the profitability of venues aren't quite right.

HOST: I'm grateful to you for your time this morning, we've run over and I'm sorry about that and thank you for joining us.

PM: Thanks Jon.

Transcript 18188