Transcript of interview with Alan Jones, 2GB
FRI 25 FEBRUARY 2011
Subject(s): Carbon price; Flood levy
HOST: The Prime Minister Julia Gillard is in the studio in Canberra. Prime Minister, good morning.
PM: Good morning, Alan.
HOST: Prime Minister, look, can I just make a minor point? I’ve got my job to do, you’ve got your job to do. Your people rang here yesterday. It was agreed this interview would take place at 7.10. We accommodated that and cancelled someone who was to be here who’d made very significant personal arrangements as well. 7.10 is 7.10, isn’t it?
PM: Well, I’m sorry about that, Alan, but I’ve been delayed on another interview.
HOST: Yes, but I mean, this is what your staff, we have made many requests for you to be on this program. None of those requests have ever been acknowledged. I can understand you may not want to come on or you can’t come on, but surely courtesy has to be part of the way in which the way the public are treated?
PM: Alan, I believe I am a very courteous person, I’m also a very busy-
PM: If I can finish my sentence Alan-
HOST: -We’re all busy-
PM: -I’m also a very busy person and-
HOST: -We’re all busy-
PM: -And Alan, if I can finish my sentence uninterrupted, I’ve had media commitments this morning and I was delayed-
HOST: -You had a media commitment this morning at 7.10 which your staff agreed on this program.
PM: Well, Alan, I am happy to apologise to you for being late. I am now here. If you have a question in the nation’s interest then please feel free to put it.
HOST: Thank you. I’ve got several.
HOST: Do you understand that there is white-hot anger out there and there was yesterday and there will continue to be, because five days before the August 21 poll you said there will be no carbon under the Government I lead, I mean this what you’ve said:
AUDIO CLIP: There will be no carbon tax under the Government I lead.
HOST: And then, in case there was any doubt, you repeat the line in The Australian newspaper the day before the election. You said ‘I rule out a carbon tax.’
PM: Well, Alan, let me answer that. In the last election campaign I talked consistently about how climate change was real, it was caused by human activity, that we needed to cut down on carbon pollution and that the best way of doing that was to price carbon through a market-based mechanism, and that’s what I announced yesterday-
HOST: -No, no, Julia, you didn’t say that-
PM: -And when I announced that yesterday, Alan, I announced that there would be a fixed price for the first few years, and rather than play any semantic word games - that is a market-based mechanism - but rather than play any semantic word games I was frank enough with the Australian people to say that that first few years would work effectively like a tax.
But, Alan, I know, and if we’re going to go through history let’s just be really clear about the history, I know that you speak to Tony Abbott regularly on this show and you listen to what he has to say-
HOST: -Well you’re welcome anytime. You’re welcome anytime-
PM: -Let me remind you of what, Alan, let me remind you of what he’s had to say about carbon pricing, and I’m reading from a sheet here, ‘why not just do it with a simple tax?’ He’s actually said the simplest way to price carbon is by putting a fixed price on it.
HOST: He went to the election, he went to the election, Julia, saying, quite clearly, there will no carbon tax. You said, in 2009, on the ABC, ‘I think when you go to an election and you give a promise to the Australian people, you should do everything in your power to honour that promise.’ Now, your Deputy Prime Minister, who became the Deputy when Kevin Rudd left, your Deputy Prime Minister said this also to the nation during the election and prior to the date of the vote:
AUDI O CLIP: No, it’s not possible that we’re bringing in a carbon tax. That is a hysterically inaccurate claim being made by the Coalition.
HOST: Do you understand, Julia, that you are the issue today, because there are people now saying your name is not ‘Julia’ but ‘Ju-liar’, and they are saying that we’ve got a liar running the country. Just listen to Brad here, who rang this morning. Julia the lines were on fire, believe me, about this, and this is what Brad said:
AUDIO CLIP: I felt sick in the stomach. I felt like I could cry. How much of this raping have we got to tolerate from this Government. The wastage, the pink batts, the school halls, the bloody internet thing, and now this. I feel sick throwing out a carton of milk that goes out of date. These people could throw out billions of billions of dollars, without giving a stuff how hard it is to earn money every day. I’ve been up since 3.00 this morning trying to earn money, but these clowns, they pee it up against the wall, Alan. I’ve had enough. How do we organise a march or a petition? This has to stop.
HOST: Do you understand those sentiments?
PM: I understand people work incredibly hard, Alan, and I understand people worry a great deal about making ends meet, and that’s why on your show I can say that I’m determined to price carbon; I believe Australians agree that climate change is real and it’s the right thing to do to have a clean energy future for this country with all of the jobs that go with it; that people don’t want Australia left behind and losing those jobs in the future-
HOST: -Left behind whom?-
PM: -But I understand, Alan, if I can just finish, I understand people will think about ‘how is this going to impact me?’, and what I can say to them is that the single biggest use of money from the money raised by pricing carbon will be to assist households with cost of living.
And I can also say to people like Brad, any dollar figure he has seen referred to in today’s newspapers suggesting a particular family would pay a specific dollar cost is a misleading figure. We haven’t determined the price yet and households will get assistance with the cost of living.
HOST: See, that’s because you haven’t determined the price because Christine Milne said yesterday it’s happening because we have shared power in Australia. Brown, Senator Brown, was at least honest enough to say that this will rise every year. How can you, as the, you see, you just said before ‘We don’t want to get left behind.’ Who are we being left behind? America? Europe?
PM: The world is moving, Alan. There are more than 30 countries with emissions trading schemes, and 10 American States with emissions trading schemes. The world is moving. Now I don’t believe Australia has to move in front of the world, but I also don’t believe we can afford to be left behind.
We are very big emitters of carbon pollution per head of population, one of the biggest emitters in the world. That means if we don’t change as the world moves we could get stuck with an old-fashioned, high-carbon-pollution economy and not have the jobs of the future-
HOST: -But PM, today-
PM: -I am not, Alan, going to put the nation in that position. Pricing carbon is the right thing to do and I said that during the election campaign.
HOST: No, you did not.
PM: Yes, I did Alan-
HOST: -Julia, you gave a policy speech-
PM: -Get all of the statements out, Alan, and you will see-
HOST: -Julia, people-
PM: -During the election campaign I said climate change is real; I said we needed to address it-
PM: -that pricing carbon-
PM: -is the most efficient way to do it-
PM: -that is what happened during the election campaign.
HOST: PM, PM, this is untruthful. You launched-
PM: -Alan, Alan, check my statements-
HOST: -You launched the campaign- PM, you launched the ALP campaign. You uttered 5,400 words in that speech to the ALP faithful when you launched the campaign. You did not mention carbon tax and you had one sentence on climate change. That’s your prospectus-
PM: -Oh, Alan, Alan, are you suggesting in a 35-day campaign the only speech I ever made, the only statement that ever came out of my mouth, was on the day of the ALP campaign launch-
HOST: -At the launch you weren’t game to say it because-
PM: -How ridiculous, Alan, and how calculated to mislead your listeners. I am asking you to look at all of the statements I made in the election campaign-
HOST: -You said specifically there will be no carbon tax under the Government I lead-
PM: -Alan, and any Australian after three years that have just been in Australian politics-
PM: -seriously say-
PM: -that the Labor Party was not committed to pricing carbon and dealing with climate change.
HOST: You weren’t prepared to say that in the policy speech because you knew it would alienate a major constituency that you wanted to support, namely the working families. You knew they’d be alienated and you left it out. Now-
PM: -What I can say to those working families, Alan, is the carbon price mechanism I announced yesterday will assist households with cost of living pressures. Obviously I understand there are many households that really struggle to make ends meet, many families that do it tough and for those families we will be providing assistance.
No-one should be fooled by any of the dollar figures in today’s newspapers. Those figures are not based on any known facts.
We will price carbon. We’ll have a specific price and we will have an assistance package to help Australians under cost of living pressure.
HOST: How can you say to the Australian people that this will cut our emissions of carbon dioxide when you’re pocketing - because you represent us, the government - billions of dollars from selling coal and iron ore to China and the rest of Asia?
Surely this is hypocrisy and deceit rolled into one, isn’t it?
PM: We’re a resource rich economy, Alan. We’re going to use those resources and we’re going to export them around the world, correct. That creates jobs, that creates wealth–
HOST: -Helping China?
PM: That’s good for Australia -
HOST: -Helping China double or triple its emissions?-
PM: -What’s also good for Australia’s future is to move to a clean-energy, low-pollution economy. That means Australian jobs too.
What’s the theme here Alan? Australian jobs. I want Australian people to have the benefits and dignity of work with everything that gives them in terms of supporting their families. I want this nation to have jobs. That’s why I believe in a clean energy future. That’s why we can’t afford to risk being left behind as the world moves and the world is moving on climate change.
HOST: Well, Barack Obama is doing nothing on climate change.
PM: That’s completely untrue, Alan.
HOST: But let me just come to the jobs business –
PM: -You should look at Barak Obama’s State of the Union address and that statement you’ve just made to your listeners, Alan, is not true.
HOST: Every business person, not every business person, significant business people, last year the Reserve Bank board member Dick Warburton said Australia had to follow Mr Obama’s lead and investigate other ways to cut carbon emissions. He said we’d be stupid to introduce a carbon price without the United States.
Now, Alan Joyce, the Chief Executive of Qantas, said at the end of last year, against a carbon tax, ‘We’re one of the biggest users of fuel and where I think the carbon tax is going to be important to us to make sure that Australia doesn’t go on its own and applies a tax that causes distortion to competition and ends up with wrong outcomes for both the environment and business.’ He said ‘We spend $3.5 billion on aviation fuel a year, so the potential for us to move to sustainable fuel is huge. What we need is not a penal tax, but to try and encourage people to move in a direction and help people who’ve made the commitment to move in a direction to actually get there with the right investment.’
PM: OK, Alan, and I would hope that over the next few days when you’re broadcasting you’ll get out the statements of the Business Council of Australia that talk about the importance of tackling climate change and the importance to business of the certainty of knowing what the price on carbon is.
I hope you get out the reports of the Australian Industry Group that says the same thing. I hope you get out the statements of many leading Australian business people that say we do need to tackle climate change, we do need to price carbon -
HOST: -Is Dick Warburton a leading business person?-
PM: -And it is preventing investment that we do not have a price on carbon now. It is certainly preventing investment in electricity generation, so if you want to give your listeners, Alan, and it’s right for you to do so, a representative selection of the views of business, then go right across the board. The biggest business organisations in this country have said consistently to government ‘We need the certainty of knowing what a carbon price is.’
HOST: Prime Minister, you can give the certainty to the business community, and I’ve said this over and over again, by saying there’ll be no carbon tax, which you said during the election. Do you accept the fact that you’ve stolen an election with a false promise?
PM: Oh, Alan, what a load of nonsense. The Australian people voted for the Parliament that I am sitting in here today. I’m sitting in Parliament House, I sat in the House of Representatives yesterday, Australians voted for the people sitting in that House of Representatives-
HOST: -149 of them –
PM: -and when you look at the people sitting in that House of Representatives, the Labor representatives have consistently said to the Australian people ‘you remember the debates about the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme - we need to price carbon’. I am working with the others in the Parliament of good will who also believe that we need to price carbon.
HOST: You and I talked about about those things off air, you might remember. Julia, we talked about that off air, didn’t we? We talked about the emissions trading scheme off air, didn’t we, Julia? Do you remember that?
PM: I’ve got no idea what you’re referring to, Alan, so if you’re going to try and make some allegation, get out there and make it. You haven’t got the guts to make it, then don’t refer to it.
HOST: I’ve certainly got the guts to make it. I told you in a discussion we had here that that emissions trading scheme proposal was going to bury Kevin Rudd and your Government. I told you that off air and I said you’d be unwise, off air, to be part of that debate. I told you that and the emissions trading scheme buried Kevin Rudd and this will bury you.
PM: Alan, I’m not responsible for the statements you make off air. I’m responsible for the statement I make on air and off air -
HOST: -I made it to you, I made it to you. Just coming -
PM: -And Alan, you would be aware from discussions I’ve had with you on air and off air, that I have always supporting pricing carbon using a market-based mechanism –
HOST: -Well then why did you say that–
PM: -because that is the most efficient thing to do. If you look across the election statements–
HOST: -But why did you say that?
PM: -you will see me saying those things, when you look at the Parliament – Alan, if I can finish – when you look at the Parliament that Australians voted for–
HOST: -One Greens member-
PM: -they voted for Labor members-
HOST: -One Greens member-
PM: -Alan, if you can let me finish my sentence, they voted for Labor members committed to pricing carbon. They voted for some Independent and a Green member, many of whom are also committed to pricing carbon.
I believe in pricing carbon. It’s the right thing to do for this country’s future.
I am not going to risk Australian jobs in the future. I am going to get on with doing this and I will work with people of good will voted for by the Australian people to get it done.
HOST: 150 people in the Parliament. There’s only one Greens member. Why did you say–
PM: -Well, Alan, have you seen today’s newspapers and that Mal Washer, a Liberal member, has said we need to price carbon? Have you ever read any of the things that Malcolm Turnbull, the Liberal Member for Wentworth, has said about pricing carbon?
HOST: Yeah, I’ve read them all, that’s not the issue Julia.
PM: How can you say to your listeners–
HOST: -That is not the issue-
PM: -that the people who sit in the Parliament, apart from one, are not committed to or interested in pricing carbon? You could get a Liberal member, Malcolm Turnbull, on this show, following me right now, and he would say that we need as a nation to price carbon.
HOST: I’m sure he would.
PM: So don’t try and mislead the Australian people, Alan-
HOST: -I’m not misleading anyone-
PM: -on the positions of people in the Parliament.
HOST: Malcolm Turnbull was ditched as the Leader of the Liberal Party–
PM: -And he believes in pricing carbon–
HOST: Because of pricing carbon he was ditched.
PM: Mal Washer believes in pricing carbon, half of Tony Abbott’s backbench believes in pricing carbon and Tony Abbott himself is on record as saying-
HOST: -Julia, Julia-
PM: -a carbon tax is the simplest way of pricing carbon.
HOST: All of that, all of that we could accept, all of that –
PM: -All of that’s true Allan.
HOST: Whoa, whoa, whoa - if it’s true, why then, why then, before the election, listen, why then did you say this:
AUDIO CLIP: There will be no carbon tax under the Government I lead.
HOST: Why did you say that?
PM: We, in the election campaign, were talking about climate change, pricing carbon, what are the mechanisms to do it–
HOST: -Why did you say that?-
PM: -There are various mechanisms to do it and I was answering a question dealing with all of that–
HOST: -But why did you say that?-
PM: -Alan, I didn’t want to get into any word games yesterday. The mechanism I am now advocating to the Australian people is a market based mechanism. Ultimately the market will set the price of carbon –
HOST: -But why did you say that Julia?
PM: There will a fixed price in the meantime. That is effectively like a tax and I just wanted to be straightforward about it–
HOST: -But why did you say that?-
PM: -but we will go to a market-based mechanism, which is what I talked about in the election campaign.
HOST: Why did you say, no, hang on–
PM: -I just explained it to you Alan.
HOST: Why did you say there’ll be no carbon tax under the government I lead?
PM: Well, I’ve just explained it to you–
HOST: -I rule out a carbon tax, you said-
PM: -and you may not have been listening–
HOST: -I was listening.
PM: -because you’re too busy to interrupt but–
HOST: -No, I didn’t interrupt.
PM: -but I’ve just explained it to you Alan.
HOST: I rule out a carbon tax.
PM: The Australian people voted and they voted for this Parliament and we’re getting on with the job of pricing carbon.
HOST: All of that would be accepted by the electorate and they wouldn’t be as angry as they are today were it not for the fact that you said there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead. You said I rule out a carbon tax and Wayne Swan, your deputy, I just want to, so that you understand, Wayne Swan said this, your deputy:
AUDIO CLIP: No, it’s not possible that we’re bringing in a carbon tax. That is a hysterically inaccurate claim being made by the Coalition.
HOST: What’s your response to that?
PM: My response to that is Alan, is I speak on a lot of radio shows and I often get told that people who commentate on those radio shows, like you, somehow know what the electorate’s thinking.
I did a lot of radio immediately after I announced the flood levy and I had people saying to me ‘the Australian community hate it, they’ll never accept it, no-one will ever pay it, this will destroy your government, how could you make such an error’, and I patiently and methodically said ‘I reckon Australians are people of good will and common sense and I reckon they’ll come to accept this’, and I think on the flood levy I’ve been proved right Alan.
And I understand having announced a carbon price mechanism yesterday, we’ll get the same reaction and it’ll be fast and furious and it will be a difficult debate and people will do television polls and phone-in polls and take talkback and all the rest of it and people will quickly conclude that somehow this is a grave error of judgement by me. I do not accept that.
I believe I will patiently and methodically explain to the Australian people this is the right thing to do. People want us to act on climate change. People want a clean-energy future. They’ll want the jobs of the future. They won’t want this nation left behind. That’s what I’m going to deliver and I’ll be out there explaining it to the Australian people.
HOST: Just one final point, because you’re the Prime Minister and I believe you’re entitled to be heard and I’ve tried to allow that to happen today. I’m concerned about the commitments that you gave before the election, but we’ve covered that ground.
Could I just say, though, on the flood levy, you made a very specific statement that you’d issue a flood levy. You thought the damage, you quoted $5.6 billion, and you said and I’ll pay for the other stuff by cutting certain Government programs. That’s what you said to everybody, that’s what I’m going to do, flood levy, and everyone said right-o, $5.6 billion. They said right-o, flood levy, I mightn’t agree but she’s told us what she’s going to do, she’s going to pay for this here, 1.8, and then she’s going cut programs.
Then, when the Greens found out that some of those programs were Greens programs, you immediately did a double somersault like Esther Williams and said ‘oh, well we’ll reinstate half a billion dollars of Greens programs. In other words, what I said last week’s not true, I’m going to change my mind now.’
PM: Alan, what have just said to your listeners is completely untrue. Either you misunderstand what happened or you are trying to deceive. We are–
HOST: -We don’t try to deceive.
PM: Well, let’s get your listeners the facts then, because what you’ve just told them is not the truth.
HOST: You reinstated Greens programs that you said you were going to cut.
PM: Well, Alan, are you going to let me give people the truth or are you going to insist on your lie?
HOST: No, you’ve had a fair go.
PM: The truth, the truth–
HOST: -Did you reinstate Greens programs that you said you would cut?
PM: -the truth, Alan - I’ll finish my sentence, thank you - the truth, Alan, is I obviously talked to members of the Parliament. We made an adjustment to the cutbacks of less than three percent - less than three percent, Alan.
HOST: About half a billion.
PM: That is completely – did you just say half a billion?
HOST: Half a billion.
PM: Completely untrue. That is a lie.
HOST: What, 350, tell me how many million?
PM: That is a lie.
HOST: Tell me how many million?
PM: It was an adjustment of $150 million, less than three percent. You are trying to deceive your listeners with the wrong figure.
HOST: We’ll call it half a billion.
PM: That is the wrong thing to do, Alan. You shouldn’t treat your listeners like that.
HOST: I think it’s not $150, but even if it were–
PM: -Well, it is, Alan. Maths is maths, facts are facts, and you can’t distort them.
HOST: But hang on, let go of the facts are facts, I’m just simply saying your credibility–
PM: -Less than three percent, Alan-
HOST: -when your credibility, you stood up and said this is how we’ll pay for it, but when the Greens got a bit dirty you said we’ve got to get this thing through–
PM: -Oh Alan, what a load of nonsense. I needed to work with people to get the flood levy through because Mr Abbott irresponsibly, completely irresponsibly, putting the politics first, said he wouldn’t vote for it.
In the past he’s never seen a levy he didn’t like. He loves levies. He went to the election with a $6 billion levy that he wanted to put on the shoulders of Australian business, but when it came to having a levy to rebuild Queensland and around the nation, because he put his political interest in front of the national interest, he opposed it.
In those circumstances I did need to talk to other Members of Parliament to get the flood levy through and we made an adjustment of less than three percent in the package.
If Mr Abbott had put the nations interest first, rather than his perceived political interest, we would not be in that position, and if Mr Abbott comes on your show and talks about climate change, you may want to ask him, Alan, why he said that a carbon tax was the simplest way of pricing carbon and why he’s walking away from that and engaging in a hysterical and hollow fear campaign today without any plans for the nation’s future.
HOST: OK, one final thing. You mentioned Bill Gates yesterday.
PM: Yes, I did.
HOST: And you said the reason he’s rich today is that he got in on the change.
HOST: Now, do you understand that Bill Gates invented stuff that’d make him money. You’re inventing a tax that will cost us money.
PM: What I’m doing Alan is I am pricing carbon to drive innovation and to create a low-pollution, clean-tech future. There are lots of smart Australians out there and what they will do is they will invent the low-pollution, clean-energy products of the future and they’ll make a fortune out of it and that’s fantastic, because so will the nation and we’ll have jobs here.
I want to see as many Bill Gates-style people in this country as possible, making their living creating the products of the future - low pollution, the products the world will want to buy.
What I don’t want to see if that young Australians get left behind and they don’t have the jobs of the future whilst people in other countries do.
HOST: OK. Thank you for your time and you’re always welcome, it’s just that sometimes we can’t get answers from your office. But anytime, as you were in opposition, so to in government, you’re welcome to present your views.
PM: Thank you, Alan.