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Transcript 18848

Transcript of Doorstop Interview - New Delhi

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: 16/10/2012

Release Type: Video Transcript

Transcript ID: 18848

New Delhi, India

PM: It's a great delight to be here India. I have had the opportunity to meet some fantastic kids today.

Education changes lives, it transforms lives. That is true in our country; it is true here in India.

And when you combine sport with education, you get a very powerful combination.

We know that from a lot of the work we do in indigenous communities and with kids from poorer backgrounds in Australia; that if you combine sport, whether it is AFL, rugby, soccer or cricket, with aspirations to go to school and finish school, it makes a difference.

So it has been good to be able to say hello today to our Australian indigenous cricket development squad who are over here in India playing a few matches; unfortunately not successful in their first match, but determined to come back.

It has also been great to meet with the Magic Bus people and to hear about this remarkable story, where young people in slums become mentors for younger children, where those younger children participate in physical activities including cricket.

But importantly all of that is paired with them finishing school, getting vocational education and training and getting on with a job.

So this is a fantastic program of change, reaching out right across India and we have met with some delightful young people today from the most impoverished backgrounds you could imagine, but determined to make a life for themselves.

I am very proud that our Australian Sports Commission has been able to support this program.

If I can pay tribute too, to the staff of our High Commission, who through their own social club, through their own resources have been fundraising and we have been able to present a little bit of cricket gear because our High Commission staff have taken it upon themselves to support this program.

Cricket is, of course, a great bond between Australia and India.

We are both cricket-mad nations, so I am also very pleased that we are going to confer on Sachin Tendulkar membership of the Order of Australia; an AM.

This is a very special honour, very rarely awarded to someone who is not an Australian citizen or an Australian national.

Sachin is away playing cricket, surprise, surprise, but the award will be conferred on him by Minister Crean when Minister Crean visits India.

So a very special honour and a very special recognition of such a great batsman. I will be very happy to take some questions.

JOURNALIST: You were not tempted to showcase your skills for the kids today?

PM: I was not tempted to showcase my skills. Number one, because I do not really have cricketing skills, so that would be a problem.

Number two, whilst I didn't agree with Prime Minister Howard's policies in many respects, I watched and learned from his Prime Ministership, and a key lesson was to never pick up a bat in India in front of our friends from the media.

JOURNALIST: What are you saying about John Howard's cricket skills, Prime Minister?

PM: I am saying nothing about it but I do remember the media had a fair bit to say at the time.

JOURNALIST: Can I ask you about a domestic issue? Tony Abbott was in Indonesia; he met the President, and he didn't raise the tow-back policy apparently. What do you think of that?

PM: This is a very cowardly approach from Mr Abbott.

Firstly, looking at it through domestic eyes, Australian eyes, what it means, is it means that Mr Abbott does not have the guts to raise with international leaders issues that he says are important.

So he beats his chest at home but when he is overseas he doesn't have the guts to raise them.

Then looking at this with a foreign policy hat on, it is only a day or two ago that Mr Abbott was promising a no-surprises policy with Indonesia.

That he would talk through everything with Indonesia before it was implemented.

Well, that lasted about a day, and then it got thrown off because if he was truly interested in consulting with Indonesia on policies, why on earth wouldn't he raise such a big policy with the President of Indonesia?

Now we know why this has happened, it's because Mr Abbott is peddling a myth to the Australian people.

He knows the Indonesian government will not agree to facilitate tow-backs and he is trying not to be exposed as telling the Australian people something that can't and won't work.

JOURNALIST: Marty Natalegawa made quite clear this wasn't raised in the conversation with President Yudhoyono very immediately after the conversation. Is that in diplomatic terms a signal from the Indonesian Government that this is something about which they are displeased?

PM: The Indonesian Government will speak for itself.

My words are about Mr Abbott's conduct, who's been saying to the Australian people one thing and then doing something entirely different when he is overseas.

JOURNALIST: The Shadow Immigration Minister, has indicated that he raised the policy during his talks. Is that not good enough?

PM: It says something about Mr Abbott and his team that something that Mr Abbott hasn't got the guts to raise, he asks a shadow minister, someone down the hierarchy, to do for him.

Leadership is about having the fortitude to do some of the hard things yourself.

JOURNALIST: Do you think it's appropriate for the Opposition to be raising this issue of tow-backs with Sri Lanka? Apparently Scott Morrison and Julie Bishop are planning to go to Colombo to raise this whole issue?

PM: Well, on the current settings one would wonder what they are going to raise anywhere.

It is certainly not going to be the same, as what they say in Australia, if what we have seen so far is any evidence of how they're going to conduct themselves overseas.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, looking at the meeting on a whole it's quite unusual for an Opposition Leader to meet with a President. Do you think this is a signal that perhaps they think that at the next election, Tony Abbott might be Prime Minister and not you?

PM: This is actually entirely normal diplomatic courtesy. Indeed, here today in India I will meet the Leader of the Opposition.

That's something I do routinely as I travel, and routinely opposition leaders meet foreign leaders.

It's a standard part of the program when foreign leaders come to Australia that they meet the Leader of the Opposition. That is always done.

That's why Mr Abbott met President Yudhoyono in Darwin, Mr Abbott's met every parliamentary guest we've invited; the Prime Minister of Singapore in the last sitting week to take one example, and it's absolutely routine for the leader of the Opposition, whoever he or she is, when they travel, to meet with counterparts overseas.

JOURNALIST: On cricket, Prime Minister, to your knowledge, has any other non-Australian cricket player been given an Order of Australia and if so, do you know who they might be?

PM: To my knowledge no. We can get you full details of that but this is a special thing to do.

But then, Mr Tendulkar is a very special cricketer.

JOURNALIST: Will you continue to accept Craig Thomson's vote in all circumstances in the Parliament?

PM: Mr Thomson is an independent Member of Parliament. He can vote on behalf of his constituents in Dobell.

And there's a lot of double standards being peddled about this by the Opposition who have accepted votes from opposition members and parliamentary members in comparable circumstances, indeed, when criminal charges were pending.

And I do note that a shadow minister was out looking for Mr Thomson's vote as recently as the last sitting week.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, when you meet with business leaders, both Australian and Indian business leaders, what will be your message about Australia?

PM: My message about Australia will be number one, we are a nation open for business. We are a great trading nation.

Number two, we are a nation with a strong economy. We've come out of the global financial crisis strong and we now want to build on our strengths.

Number three, we understand that the nature of change in our region in this century is going to reshape the Australian economy. And if we play our cards out cleverly, then it can be an era of huge opportunity for us.

And no better opportunity than the one here with India where we've seen our economic relationship just go up and up, but we want to broaden and deepen it and that's what the CEO Forum is focused on.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, how have the talks on uranium sales progressed with India so far?

PM: On that matter, I will be seeing Prime Minister Singh tomorrow. But we have changed our party policy, so that there is now no fetter for us selling uranium to India.

We've changed our government policy. The thing that would have to happen next is the negotiation of a comprehensive civil nuclear cooperation agreement.

Okay, I understand everybody's under time pressure including me so thank you very much.

Transcript 18848