Transcript of doorstop interview, Sydney
TUE 24 JULY 2012
Subject(s): Health Services Union; Newspoll; Council of Australian Governments; National Disability Insurance Scheme; Border security; Tasmania forestry talks; Super trawler; Colorado shooting; Gonski review; Finkelstein review
PM: If I can start by saying what a great pleasure it is to be here in such fine company, to have a look around the set of Wolverine.
I am very proud to be here because this is a tremendous venture but it also means Australian jobs.
Last week, I was in WA and there we were talking about the future of the mining industry, the future of the north of our country, all of the jobs in resources, all of the jobs in agriculture and all of the benefits of a diversified economy.
It is great to be here in Sydney talking about how our creative industries can play their part in that strong diversified economy.
This movie is going to create over 2,000 jobs, and I have met some of the people who are already working today.
They are in jobs that, from the outside, you wouldn't really identify with movie-making.
Whether it is the people who are bent over the sewing machines making the clothes, whether it is the craftsmen who are making the soft furnishings or all of the vases and decorations you will see in this movie, it is bringing together people with a wide skills set and creating work.
So it really is great to be able to be here. I am proud we were able to support this movie with $12.8 million of government funds.
I spoke to Hugh about that earlier in the year and he explained to me that without government assistance it would be very hard to see this venture take place in Australia.
I wanted these Australian jobs, I wanted the injection into our economy.
I wanted the skills that it would mean for the future and I am very, very satisfied, having walked around, that this movie is going to accomplish all of that as well as be a great film.
So thank you very much for having me here.
HUGH JACKMAN: Thank you Prime Minister. Thank you Prime Minister for being here. I would like to introduce James Mangold our director. Thank you all for coming.
We start filming in a week and I am so happy to be home, to be shooting a movie of this magnitude here at home is one of the great privileges I have had in my career.
I am lucky that both 'Wolverine' movies have been shot here, which is such a great thrill.
We have a terrific Australian movie industry, as you all know, and I think what these foreign or international films do, by having them here, with really can train so many people within the industry.
As you all know we punch above our weight. Aussies punch above our weight.
Not only as actors but as crews, I think in the last 20 years five cinematographers have won Oscars,editors, costume designers, production designers and we really have a great reputation and movies of this scale, this movie will bring in over $80 million into the country and movies of this scale really help keep the skills high at a world class level.
I wanted to thank today in particular the Prime Minister and your Government for all that you’ve done to make this possible.
I want to thank the NSW government who have also contributed to make this possible and James, thank you so much for coming here.
JAMES MANGOLD: It is a pleasure.
I can guarantee you, you will have the best crew of your life here in Australia. Not only that, the best beaches, the best food. You will have the best time ever.
Thank you so much for coming. It will be a great four or five months. I am sure we will see you all again at some point.
PM: That’s a good question and Hugh's certainly spoken to me about the importance of this for getting these big movies, these real blockbusters here in Australia. It is something that Minister Crean is working his way through as he deals with our cultural policy.
That is going to deal with movie-making but right across Australia's cultural landscape.
For example, yesterday I had the very special delight of giving out the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.
So we will be looking to that cultural policy later in the year, and Minister Crean will be dealing with those questions then.
PM: This is a grant, a support. The question before about better location tax arrangements, obviously it is the kind of support the movie would have got if we moved to that new tax regime.
It is about attracting the investment here but also the skills and profile.
We decided it was a good investment. The NSW Government played its part and I think for our industry – I mean Hugh said to me very consistently as we have walked around, these people with their very special skill sets, they’ve got to work and if we're not able to provide them with something that holds them in Australia, then they have got to go where they have to go to get work.
We haven't seen a blockbuster in Australia since Australia with Hugh and Nicole and we are at risk of the skill sets being dispersed around the world and importantly not bringing the next generation through and one thing that is definitely happening here, I have met some young people, they are getting to hone their skills, their craft because this movie is here.
[HUGH JACKMAN & JAMES MANGOLD DEPART]
PM: I have had the opportunity to speak about WolverinesoI am happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, the DPP today dropped its case against David Hicks. Do you have any comment to make about that? He says that David’s been cleared.
PM: Look this is a decision for the DPP, independent of Government.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, on Bob Carr and the US, have you had a chance to speak to him to find out if he said anything that you consider inappropriate or that could cause an international incident?
PM: Look I haven't sought to speak to Senator Carr and I won't. He's explained those comments already.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what’s your reaction to the reports in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning about the HSU East?
PM: I’ve seen those reports. As I’ve said on more than one occasion, it’s clear that there have been real problems at the Health Services Union and that's distressing, I think,to everyone who cares about working people getting decent representation from their trade union.
We’ve already acted by having an administrator appointed to the HSU, we’ve alsoalready acted by toughening up penalties for trade unions and registered organisations through new legislation.
But I would note that the overwhelming bulk of people who work in trade unions representing their fellow workers are decent people doing a great and professional job.
JOURNALIST: The report seems to give the Member for Dobell a good run, it was favourable to him in comparison to Mr Williamson?
PM: For the Member for Dobell, I’ve consistently said that the matters involving him need to go through a proper process and be resolved that way.
JOURANLIST: What’s your message to the union members who see these leaders being paid $400,000?
PM: Well my message would be we’ve already acted. We have already acted to make sure that there’s an administrator in the HSU and we’ve already acted so that there’s new transparencies and indeed new penalties for trade unions and registered organisations.
But for union members around the country, my message too would be clear, overwhelmingly, trade union officials, the staff who work for trade unions are in there doing it all for the right reasons and doing it with decency and with professionalism.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, the introduction of the carbon tax on 1 July was being seen as a game changer for the Government; at least with the respect to the polls today, more bad news for you.Why aren’t voters listening to you? Why isn’t their reallived experience of the carbon tax helping increase support?
PM: I don't comment on opinion polls and I’m not going to break the habit and comment on today's opinion poll.
But I will say this. Government is about governing, it’s about getting the big things done, the hard things done that set our nation up for the future, that make sure we're stronger and fairer in that future.
And if we look at our Labor history, it teaches us that the big reforms don't come easy.
Floating the dollar, creating Medicare, universal superannuation, Mabo.
The big reforms don't come easy but our Labor history teaches us that if you want to make those big reforms, you’ve got to stick to your guns, stick to your guns on those big reforms and you can't afford to be obsessed by the opinion polls.
There will be the poll that matters, the election day in 2013 and on that election day, Australians will have a choice, a choice between a negative, destructive Liberal Party with absolutely no plans for the future, or Labor, that has got some big hard things done, that set us up for the future and has got a plan to make sure our nation keeps getting stronger, keeps getting fairer and keeps being a winner in the world in which we live today.
JOURNALIST: Willyoubeleading the Labor Party on election day?
PM: I most certainly will.
JOURNALIST: How do you keep your backbenchers calm in the face of repeated poor polling?
PM: As I’ve just said, government is about governing it’s about getting big things done for the nation's future, even when they're hard.
JOURANLIST: Prime Minister, regarding the disability insurance scheme, do you believe can get a resolution with the states when you meet about the trial sites?
PM: I will be working very hard on that. We have the Council of Australian Governments meeting tomorrow and I’ll first see the Premiers and Chief Ministers this evening.
I want our nation to take the next step forward to a National Disability Insurance Scheme. People with disabilities have waited too long.
We’ve got a billion dollars on the table to get launch sites in operation, making a difference for people and teaching us lessons about the full rollout of the scheme.
I will be putting the case very strongly to my State and Territory colleagues that this is a shared task, a shared responsibility and we’ve got to get it done.
JOURNALIST: How much money with the states have to give?
PM: Well we’ve got a billion dollars on the table.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, we’ve seen more than 1200 people arrive on asylum seeker boats this month alone.
What sort of impact will that have on the budget bottom line?
PM: Well we’ll make appropriate provisions as we always do.
But with the number of arrivals we’ve seen, I know Australians want to see us get this fixed. I’ve been prepared to give a tick to Nauru to get this fixed, unfortunately we’ve been met every step of the way with negativity from the Opposition, negativity that’s truly destructive.
Now, of course, I have given our nation an opportunity to find a new way of resolving this with the expert panel led by Angus Houston.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, just on Tasmania and the forest peace talks that have beenextended there. Will you consider requests for more funding?
PM: We’ve been clear about the funding, that is already on the table through the intergovernmental agreement.
But we’ve also been clear that the money we are prepared to allocate to strengthening Tasmania's economy over the longer term and to diversifying that economy is contingent on the forest issue being resolved.
We’ve been prepared to give the stakeholders extra time, but parties in Tasmania need to be working to get this done, get it legislated and then unlock the money we’ve been prepared to put on the table to keep strengthening the Tassie economy.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, other than the NDIS, what will be the important talking points at COAG this week?
PM: Well the central focus will be the launch sites for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. But COAG also has work to do on furthering our seamless national economy agenda.
That’sabout making sure that businesses around the country, and indeed working people around the country, can apply their trade, can run their business without tripping over different regulation in different states.
Things like occupational licensing nationally, so if you’vegot a trade certificate and you want to move interstate you don't have to re-credential in order to ply your trade in that state. We’ll be focusing on those things too.
JOURNALIST: Back to Tasmania. Some of your Labor senators have come out against the super trawlercoming there. What are your thoughts on that, do you support it?
PM: This is dealt with by an independent authority, by the Fisheries Authority. It has to give a permit to any vessel for that vessel to gofishing. The permit doesn't depend on the size of the vessel; it depends on what the Fisheries Authority thinks is appropriate in terms of the sustainability of our fisheries.
So the fact it’s a super trawler doesn't mean that it gets a super licence. The Fisheries Authority would only ever, if an application is made by this vessel, give it a licence for an appropriate amount of fishing that doesn't jeopardise sustainability of the fish stocks.
JOURNALIST: Standing in the studio today and on the back of Colorado, do you have a personal opinion or personal misgivings on the level of violence in movies and also in the games that kids are playing (inaudible)?
PM: Look,I don't think we can draw some simple link between movies, whether it’s the Batman movie or anything else, and this act of violence.
I don't think can you draw a simple link. I think we were all shocked when the news first came through that people who were doing something as innocent and familiar as just going and sitting in a movie theatre, could be subject to so much violence and so much death.
Clearly, you can't just draw simple links here about what motivated the young man involved.
But our hearts do go out to everybody who is grieving and everybody who would still be suffering a tremendous degree of shock.
You're just out for an ordinary every day kind of event and then that happens, it’s very hard to imagine the impact of that on people in that movie theatre.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, just again on the super trawler, is there a split emerging on this issue? Does it bother you that these senators have come out against it?
PM: Well the decision is made by an independent authority and that is appropriate.
JOURNALIST:Surely that could be overridden?
PM: No, it’s an independent authority that does it.
JOURNALIST: But parliamentary sovereigntyin the grand scheme of things.
PM: But Parliament has decided to give this responsibility to an independent authority thatthen gets about doing the task.
JOURNALIST: And they could call the authorities, their entitlement to do so, surely?
PM: But I don't think that there’s any suggestion of that from anybody. Government sets up independent authorities for all sorts of purposes.
We have the Tax Office and Medicare and on the list goes. Because this is a scientific question about sustainability of the fish stocks, it is appropriate that it is with an expert agency.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, how will the Government afford the education reforms that Gonski has recommended?
PM: We're working hard on making a difference to Australian kids. It’s very important to note, we haven't simply waited for the report from David Gonski and his expert review panel.
We have ensured that out on the ground in schools today as we speak, there’s more money in disadvantaged schools to make a difference tothe kidswho come from the poorest homes.
And to make sure they get a great education. There’s money in literacy and from numeracy to make sure kids get the foundation stones of learning.
There’s money in teacher quality, in bringing the best and brightest into teaching. There’s new transparencythrough MySchool.
All of that reform agenda is already out there making a difference in Australian schools as we stand here.
We do want to make a long term difference by ensuring that our reforms continue and that they're appropriately resourced.
That’s what we're working on through the process of responding to David Gonski's expert work and that response will come out from Government in coming months.
JOURNALIST: Have you sought a compromise with media organisations over regulation?
PM: We might make this the last question. It is fairly cold in here. You're all rugged up. Thank you for that question.
The Government's received the Finkelstein report and the Convergence Review and Government has not made any decisions yet about how to respond to these two reviews.
I haven't made any decisions about how to respond to these two reviews.
I value freedom of the press certainly, but also quality and diversity and weare working on the reform agenda flowing from Finkelstein and the Convergence Review, the Government response to these two reviews.
Of course we seek to talk to people in media as we work out the Government response.
But noone should assume that we are not serious about the reform agenda here.
Okay, thank you very much.