Transcript of Interview with David Koch
TUE 08 JANUARY 2013
Let's go straight to Prime Minister, welcome. First up I want to get your reaction to these catastrophic conditions in New South Wales. Have you been briefed on the situation and what’s your view?
PM: Yes I have been briefed, Kochie and I will be continuously briefed during the course of the day. I have also touched base with Premier O'Farrell.
We, of course, are very concerned about these extreme weather conditions in New South Wales.
The word catastrophic is being used for good reason, Kochie.
So it is very important that people keep themselves safe, that they listen to local authorities and local warnings. This is a very dangerous day.
Now, I'd like to end this day with nothing having happened and everybody saying, "Gee, what was that all about?" That would be the best think that could happen.
It is a dangerous day and people do have to stay focused.
And even if you aren't in a region at any risk, this extreme heat is very damaging for human health.
So we have got to keep an eye on each other and particularly on older relatives.
HOST: Really good tips. Have you offered Federal Government resources to New South Wales, for example, Defence Forces if needed?
PM: Absolutely, and people from our Defence Force are integrated into the New South Wales planning.
We’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot about the best way to work together.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature has provided us with too many opportunities to practise for all of these emergencies.
So we have now got very good systems where federal officials, state officials, the Defence Force all start collaborating early so when it gets really rough they are already working with together and know what to do.
HOST: You spent yesterday in Tasmania looking at the worst-affected areas. What did you see? How did it affect you?
PM: Well, I saw a lot of devastation, Kochie, and Tassie was in the same position as New South Wales a few days ago.
It knew that it had fires burning and that extreme heat was coming, and for Hobart particularly, extreme heat is a very, very rare thing. And that extreme heat did then fan these flames.
The flames have done a lot of damage to homes and community infrastructure, to vital community places like schools.
I got the opportunity to see it for myself yesterday and to meet people who have been affected; lots of really human stories.
A young kid called Billie I met who was looking at the ruins of the school that she’d gone to and that she was going to go to this year. She had been so distressed she hadn't been eating.
And then on the other side of the ledger you meet some amazing people; the publican of the local pub who had been turning out free meals for days to keep everybody going.
Just a great Australian effort of pitching in the best way he knew how.
HOST: If only we could bottle it for the rest of the year, that community Australian spirit in times of need, it’s wonderful.
But situations like this again raise the question, maybe is there need for a national disaster insurance scheme? Are you giving any more thought to this?
PM: There have been some looks at this question, Kochie.
We don't have any immediate plans to move to a new model.
The model we've got now is one where we make provisions for disasters and we are able to step in and give people emergency money and then work with our state colleagues for the rebuilding.
We did, of course, have to strike a levy for what was the most costly natural disaster Australia had ever faced in Queensland.
We'll be out there providing support.
We are already providing payments in Tasmania.
But gee Kochie, it would be nice if we could end today with no one needing a payment because no one had suffered any loss and that is what we’ve got to aim for.
HOST: Yep absolutely. Prime Minister, thanks for joining us.
PM: Thanks, Kochie.