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Transcript 18334

Transcript of press conference, Hobart

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: 16/01/2012

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 18334

PM: I am delighted to be here in Hobart. I'm joined by the acting Premier, Bryan Green. I'm also joined by my parliamentary colleagues, Julie Collins, who is here in her capacity as the Member for Franklin, and Senator Lisa Singh.

As we stand here, the 100-year memorial for Douglas Mawson's epic journey into the Antarctic is being commemorated. The service is underway as we gather here.

So, no better time to talk about our future, our future for marine studies and our future for Antarctic studies.

And here in Hobart today I'm very pleased to be on the site of where we will construct a $45 million Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies. This is going to be an important facility, housing 290 students and staff who are devoting their intellectual endeavours to furthering our understanding of our oceans and Antarctica, and they will be joined by the CSIRO scientists who work in the facility right alongside here, and for those scientists to do their best work they need to be able to research out there in the ocean, so I'm also very pleased to have been able to inspect today the vessel that has been doing that work for us, but will be replaced by a new vessel with greater capabilities.

The RV Investigator, the new vessel, is due to arrive in Hobart in June 2013, and we've been told by the people who work on the current vessel that the new vessel, the RV Investigator, will be able to take more scientists for longer journeys out into the ocean so that they can use the new technology to research what is happening in our oceans, and most particularly on the ocean floor.

We've been told today that since the advent of robotic technology for investigating what is happening in our oceans, which only happened comparatively recently, the amount of information available to humanity about our oceans is greater now than it has ever been in our history, indeed more information has been collected in this period than was available to human beings throughout human history before.

So, it's a wonderful time to be investing more in our research capacity, investing in our connection with Antarctica, a history 100 years old but with a great future in front of it.

My congratulations go to the University of Tasmania for the work it has done getting ready for this Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies. They made a very impressive bid to our Education Investment Fund, and that's why we were able to make the $45 million available.

And I'm also very pleased that through our Super Science initiative we have been able to make available the $120 million necessary for the new vessel.

Secondly, I will, during the course of my day in Tasmania today, go to Bellerive Oval, and I'm very pleased that we are able to make available $15 million for a much-needed upgrade.

Now, I'd have to say this has come about because of the persistent advocacy of Julie Collins as local member. She has been carrying not only the hopes of her electorate but the hopes of the people of Hobart who wanted to see Bellerive Oval upgraded, who wanted to see it as a facility that could not only be home to cricket but could also host AFL football, and as a result of our investment we will be able to see new facilities.

There will be a boost of capacity to about 20,000, which is an important extension of capacity for Bellerive Oval, so more fans will be able to get in and see more events.

This is about the local community, but it's also about boosting tourism in Tasmania, because we know that many people choose to come here to watch sporting events.

And then finally, I'd like to make some statements about circumstances in Europe. I know many Australians have been watching the news over the weekend with concern about the economic developments in Europe and what they mean for Australia.

Last Friday, Standard and Poor's announced that they had downgraded the sovereign debt ratings of 9 of the 17 countries of the Eurozone. That included the loss of the AAA ratings of France and Austria. It also included a downgrading by two notches of Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Now, these downgrades weren't unexpected, but they do indicate that there continues to be concern about the Eurozone crisis by market participants. Eurozone leaders last year reached an agreement to stick to stricter spending rules, and to establish a liquidity fund to help struggling members.

The European Central Bank has also been playing a role by lowering interest rates and providing assistance to the European banks.

While these are all steps in the right direction, more needs to be done to address the far-reaching problems in Europe. More has got to be done to convince markets that the right long-term steps are being taken to solve Europe's problem.

The truth is European countries now face some very hard choices about how to restrict their spending and reform their economies and pay off their debt. The downgrade engaged in by Standard and Poor's is likely to mean that paying off the debt is more expensive for those countries because it will be more expensive to borrow.

So, it is absolutely critical that European leaders lay out credible, medium-term plans to get their budgets on a sustainable footing. Taxpayers rightly expect governments to be prudent with their money and to have sustainability in their budgets.

In terms of what this means for Australia, well the Australian economy is in a very different place. The Australian economy has sound fundamentals - we have growth, we have low unemployment, we have low debt, and we have inflation in the RBA's target zone. That means the fundamentals of our economy are strong. Our circumstances could not be more different from those of Europe.

So, it's a very stark contrast, but clearly as a Government we continue to monitor developments in the Eurozone, and we will continue to urge European leaders to do everything they need to do to address the Eurozone problems that have now been rolling for some time.

I'll turn now to the Acting Premier for some comments, and then to some comments from Julie Collins, and then we'll be happy to take your questions.

ACTING PREMIER GREEN: Well, thank you very much, Prime Minister, and welcome to Hobart. It's fantastic to have you here, and of course today's update with respect to the IMAS construction is another step forward in terms of the relationship that Australia, and indeed Tasmania, has with the Antarctic.

Today's been a really interesting opportunity to have a look at the important work that's going on by the CSIRO, but importantly from the State Government's point of view, the partnership that we have with the University of Tasmania is in fact quite a unique one. Given that the University of Tasmania is the only university in Tasmania means that we can work very, very closely with them, and the construction of this IMAS building means that the work that we need to be done in ensuring that all of the science and management techniques associated with managing our fishery around Tasmanian waters is once again confirmed.

Obviously, the $45 million investment is very significant to the State's economy, but at the same time it builds on the strengths that we've been able to achieve, in terms of the partnerships that are being built.

Obviously, this site is a fantastic one, there's no doubt about it. Adjacent is CSIRO, and as you quite rightly pointed out, 290 students working here, together with a whole range of people taking it to about 1,000 students brings the economies of scale to a level that gives us a status internationally, well and truly.

So, an amazingly positive announcement for the State of Tasmania.

We want to build on the fact that we have such a close affinity with the Antarctic. The 100-year celebration of Mawson is amazingly significant, and from time to time we're reminded - when we get those cold southerlies, Prime Minister, you can just about smell the penguins - that we are right on the doorstep of the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic and really that allows us, through our economic development plan, to continue to build on the 890-odd people that are employed around the Antarctic spectrum, and of course as a State we are looking for every opportunity to continue to build that.

So, it is a great pleasure to have you here today, and I'm looking forward to the construction of this building, the new vessel coming here so that everybody gets the complete understanding that Tasmania, and indeed Australia, have got it right when it comes to the relationship with the Antarctic.

Thank you very much.

MINISTER COLLINS: Thank you and it is fabulous to have the Prime Minister here in Hobart.

I particularly want to thank the Prime Minister for her announcement about funding for Bellerive Oval. As many people here in southern Tasmania would be aware, there was a real threat that Hobartians and Tasmanians would not have access to World Cup cricket without this upgrade. I know that many sporting Tasmanians will be really thrilled that this development is going ahead and that we will indeed have World Cup cricket here in Hobart, access for Tasmanians.

It is also, though, a real demonstration of the Commonwealth Government continuing to invest in Tasmania as a whole. We've heard about the $43 million here with the IMAS development, the $120 million for the Southern Surveyor replacement. The Federal Government has continually invested in Tasmania, keeps investing in Tasmania, working with State and Federal Governments to ensure that we get the best value for the taxpayers' dollar here in Tasmania, and it's great to have the Prime Minister back down here again.

PM: Thanks very much. We're happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, just on poker machines, Nick Xenophon has suggested that you're not serious about the reform, that you're putting it up to knock down and you're not particularly bothered if that happens. Can you respond to that suggestion?

PM: I came to Tasmania for a variety of purposes, including being here today with my colleagues and talking to people about what's going to happen here with the new Institute and the new vessel, and of course to make the announcement about Bellerive Oval, but I also came to Tasmania to meet with Mr Andrew Wilkie and to talk about poker machine reforms. Those discussions are ongoing and it's not going to be my intention to be commenting on them in the media, but we had a constructive discussion yesterday. Both Mr Wilkie and I said publically following it, that it was a constructive discussion.

In terms of Senator Xenophon's comments, of course Senator Xenophon was not in those discussions yesterday, so the people who best know how those discussions are going are the participants in them, and both participants - me and Mr Wilkie - described them as constructive, because they were.

JOURNALIST: You would remain on course, then Prime Minister - you remain on course for the legislation to be ready?

PM: Look, I've said all I'm going to say. It's not my intention to be commenting on these discussions as they're had.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible) $1 bet option (inaudible).

PM: I'm not going to be making comments on the discussions I'm having, as I've just told you.

JOURNALIST: Could you though, Prime Minister, just clarify that you remain committed to mandatory pre-commitment?

PM: I'm not going to be engaging in comments on the discussions I'm having. When we've got something to say, we'll say it.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: We're in a course of discussions, and it's my intention to pursue those discussions to the end, and then when we've got something to say, we'll say it.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: We'll be continuing discussions over coming days.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible) sanctions against Japan (inaudible) look like they remain determined. Every year they return to the Southern Ocean (inaudible).

PM: We are taking the most effective action that can be taken against whaling.

I am as anti-whaling as anybody else in this country. I do not want to see whales slaughtered, so we've got to take the most effective action, and the most effective action is the case that we have launched in the International Court of Justice to get whaling stopped. We will pursue that case to the end.

We dispatched a vessel in an earlier whaling season to get the footage, the proof of what's going on, and we are now pursuing that court case in the international court. That's the most effective way forward.

Now, I understand that people want to make their views heard about whaling, that Australians are anti-whaling and they want to lift their voices, and that's all to the good. I do believe when people do that they need to stay the right side of the law.

JOURNALIST: The three protestors that were rescued, should they contribute to the cost of the rescue?

PM: The truth is it has been a costly venture to go and retrieve these three men. As I've indicated, we'll be able to tabulate the full costs now that the voyage is completed, because the principle additional cost is in fuel, but my anticipation is that it will be in the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Now, I believe the conduct of these three individuals was irresponsible. I do not understand them to be people who probably have that kind of money at their disposal, so unfortunately it is the Government, the Australian taxpayer, who to date has had to bear these costs, which is why, amongst a variety of other reasons, I think the conduct was irresponsible conduct: irresponsible because it was the wrong side of the law; irresponsible because these people could easily have been taken to Japan and charged - once you're on a Japanese vessel you're under the Japanese legal system; and irresponsible because of the cost that it's put Australian taxpayers to.

JOURNALIST: What happens when they put foot on land today?

PM: Well, they are not being charged by the Japanese Government.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, in regards to the forest agreement, are you still confident it's on track to (inaudible).

PM: I think we've got to be very clear, here, about the forestry agreement and the work that we've been doing with the State Government and with stakeholders on all sides of this debate. The truth is that market conditions changed for forestry in Tasmania, and that meant that we knew, with Gunns exiting the industry, that workers were going to lose their jobs, that contractors were going to exit the industry and go out of business.

Now, as Prime Minister I could have sat in Canberra and watched that happen, or I could have got myself involved to make a difference for those workers and those contractors and the people those contractors employ, so I did get myself involved, and that means we've made money available to assist workers who are losing their jobs; money available for contractors exiting the industry; and we are working with the Tasmanian Government to diversify the Tasmanian economy, and that process is underway now.

We said, in the course of that, that we would have a verification process. There's 572,000 hectares. We said we would be looking to ensure that there was conservation, interim conservation for around 430,000 hectares.

You read the agreement. We always said that we would be guaranteeing wood supply for current contracts, and we've done that.

As a result of the interim conservation agreement Minister Tony Burke signed with the Tasmanian Government, 99.5% of the nominated area for interim protection is being protected - 99.5% - and we will keep working through the rest of the process.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, that 99.5% (inaudible).

PM: And it always was going to be under the agreement.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: As everybody who's been a participant in the process knows, the verification process is being undertaken by Professor Jonathan West. He was the expert that all stakeholders agreed had the experience and the know-how to get this job done, and so it's his verification process that we will rely on.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: Well, let's just backtrack in the history here. This isn't the Federal Government, or indeed the State Government, saying to stakeholders that you must do this or must do that - it happened the other way around. The stakeholders realised market conditions had changed. They got together, people who had been at war for a long period of time, who'd never seen eye-to-eye over forestry questions, got together around a table to work through, to see if, in this changed set of circumstances, they could work out a way forward, and when they, together, had a statement of principles, we became involved.

So, this is a process that the stakeholders, including the environmental groups, have been involved in, indeed, were the first architects of. So, this is the process. The process has been agreed to. Jonathan West was the person agreed to. And so I do expect people who have been in the process every step of the way to hold to the process that they agreed to.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: No, I won't today. I will be having a discussion with the Acting Premier.

JOURNALIST: Back on whaling, (inaudible) Japan's got the message that (inaudible).

PM: Well, we have stated to the Government of Japan on more than one occasion that whaling vessels are not welcome in our territorial waters. There was a boat that did come into our territorial waters. We have reiterated to the Government of Japan that those ships are not welcome, and that vessel left our waters.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible) why hasn't there been (inaudible) these meetings with the Coalition, and will you be (inaudible).

PM: Well, let's get all of these facts right, too. The facts of this are as Prime Minister I commenced a process before Christmas to have discussions with the Opposition to get a solution here, and I indicated to the Opposition that we were prepared as a Government to join with the Opposition and pass the Government's amendments to the Migration Act, and having secured those amendments through the parliament to action both the agreement with Malaysia and a processing facility on Nauru.

Now, the Opposition has always said that its policy was to have a processing facility on Nauru, so we've basically said that we would action that policy alongside Malaysia. That is in the written correspondence.

Following that written correspondence, it was agreed that there would be a set of meetings, the participants in those meetings have been the Minister for Immigration, Chris Bowen, his counterpart, Scott Morrison, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kevin Rudd, and his counterpart, Shadow Minister Julie Bishop.

Those discussions are ongoing.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible) state government put up some money as well

PM: Well, Commonwealth contribution of $15 million is there. On State Government contributions, I'll turn to the Acting Premier.

ACTING PREMIER GREEN: Well, obviously, the State Government is not in a position to make a contribution to the project now. The fact is, though, that this is upfront funding which will allow us to work closely with the Clarence Council and Cricket Australia to understand how we can bring this project to fruition.

So, our concentration is obviously on making sure we can provide core services. The budget strategy remains intact, and we will, as I've just indicated, work closely with those parties, and including the Commonwealth, to see this project through.

PM: Can I just conclude by thanking everybody who's made us so welcome here today, from the University of Tasmania and from CSIRO. We've got to meet staff, we've got to meet scientists, we've got to meet students, we've got to meet people who actually crew the vessel that currently does the ocean surveying, so thank you very much for making us so welcome, and this is a good day, I think, for Tasmanian jobs, with these new investments both in the Institute here and in Bellerive Oval.

It's a good day for science in Australia and our connection with our waters and with Antarctica and it's also a good day for sporting fans, so thank you very much.

Transcript 18334