Transcript of interview with John McGlue, ABC Perth
TUE 17 JULY 2012
Subject(s): State election; Carbon price; Asylum seekers; Roy Hill project
HOST: Prime Minister, good morning.
PM: Good morning.
HOST: Welcome again to 720 Mornings. Welcome to ABC Perth. Unfortunately I think you’re Labor Opposition Leader here in Western Australia sees you as somebody who’s not so welcome. It seems you’re bad for his popularity. He was on the program here with me last week and I’d like you to listen to what he had to say.
MARK MCGOWAN: The next state election will be a contest between the state Labor and state Liberals, their record versus our policy ideas. I wouldn’t expect the Federal Government has any involvement whatsoever.
HOST: Would you invite her here to campaign for you during the election campaign?
MARK MCGOWAN: I wouldn’t think so, I would think it’s a contest between the State Labor and State Liberals.
HOST: Prime Minister, what’s your response to that?
PM: Well I think Mark McGowan is saying something that’s self-evidently true, that state elections are about state issues, and the people of Western Australia will know that what they’re voting for is who should be the State Government.
HOST: But clearly you’re not very popular here in the west. Labor at a federal level’s not popular here. What’s your plan to win back West Australians as Labor voters?
PM: Well my job as Prime Minister is to get the big decisions right for our nation today and for the future. Some of them aren’t popular decisions. Some of them aren’t easy decisions. But if they’re the right decisions for the future then they have to be made.
So certainly, we’ve had a fast and furious debate about carbon pricing, I’m under no illusions about that; carbon pricing is not popular.
But I participated in a forum last night which showed very clearly that you can change people’s minds about carbon pricing when people get the opportunity to talk it through and to have all of the facts at their disposal. And then the fear campaign falls away.
So, what I’ll be doing is continuing to lead our nation, to make sure we’ve got the benefits of a strong economy, that we’re managing this huge resources boom and sharing its benefits across Western Australia, so people don’t feel like they’re on the sidelines missing out.
As well as continuing to improve our hospitals and the services families rely on, whilst we build the education system we need for the future, and very new and important instruments of fairness like the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
HOST: 1300 222 720 if you would like to ask a question of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. John, good morning. What would you like to ask?
CALLER: Good morning, I’ve got two quick questions.
HOST: Well make it one, John, if you would, many people want to ask questions.
CALLER: Okay then, well I’d better stick to the most important one and that is, if this carbon tax doesn’t work, if it makes no difference in carbon emissions, will it be rescinded?
HOST: Prime Minister?
PM: Well I’m happy to answer that, it will work and it will make a difference to carbon emissions. It will make a difference of 160 million tons in 2020, that’s the equivalent of getting 45 million cars off the road.
And I personally have spoken to the business people about how they are going to transform their businesses and cut the amount of carbon pollution they generate, because it’s now priced.
HOST: John, thank you for that. Jim, good morning.
CALLER: Good morning. And good morning Prime Minister.
PM: Good morning.
CALLER: I’m really concerned that this debate on carbon tax is completely missing the point.
Neither you nor Tony Abbott is addressing the issue of what is going to happen environmentally in this state, and for instance, in Western Australia we’re going to be seeing a new push to get more desalinated water here because in fact we’ve not got enough water falling in the south-west of this state.
We’re seeing people slugged huge amounts of money with insurance in Collie because they live near a river and the floods in Queensland pushed up the price of that. And the price of bananas that Tony Abbott was standing in front of an IGA supermarket used to be $14 a kilo.
HOST: So what’s your question Jim?
CALLER: My question is, why is the environmental side of this debate, and the cost of not doing anything, not being discussed?
HOST: Thanks Jim, Prime Minister?
PM: Well we are certainly motivated by the environmental debate to use your caller’s words. I mean, what is this all about, why did we get on the journey of putting a price on carbon?
Well we did that because it is now beyond doubt that our climate is changing and that’s because of the carbon pollution we, human beings, are making.
The last decade for example, was the hottest decade on record compared with the 1960s. We’ve seen a 300 percent increase in extreme weather events like cyclones and floods.
We’ve got the most emissions-intensive economy in the world; we generate more carbon pollution per person than basically anybody else on the planet.
So in those circumstances we’ve got to act, we’ve got to cut carbon pollution, we’re choosing to do that in the cheapest and most efficient way.
It will not only bring environmental benefits, but it will make sure that we get the jobs of the future, the clean energy jobs, and I had the opportunity to look at some of those jobs yesterday at Carnegie Wave, using tidal power to generate clean energy.
And of course we’re going to look after households and families on the way through, through tax cuts and pension increases and family payment increases.
HOST: Jim, thank you for your question. Prime Minister, on the issue of the asylum seekers, clearly frustrated with both the Opposition and Greens on asylum seekers. What else can you think of that might secure a breakthrough?
PM: I can understand the community’s sense of frustration, they just want to see Parliament get something done. They want to see this issue addressed and addressed effectively. That’s what I want to see too.
Now, I haven’t wanted to see all of this bogged down in politics. I’ve been prepared to compromise, to secure action in the Parliament. I’ve been prepared to say yes to Nauru; to opening a detention centre on Nauru, the key element of the Opposition’s policies.
So, basically I’ve said to the Opposition, let’s get together, key element of our policy, the Malaysia agreement, key element of your policy, Nauru. Let’s do them both.
To that, every step of the way, the Opposition’s twisted and turned and said illogical and inconsistent things just so it can keep saying no. And the Greens have said no too.
So, I’ve asked Angus Houston, a former Chief of the Defence Force, and a very expert panel, to provide a report – not just to me – but to the whole nation about what we should do next in these circumstances. And that report will be available before the Parliament next meets.
HOST: Dallas, what would you like to ask the Prime Minister?
CALLER: Prime Minister, when the Howard Government was in office and they were dealing with the arrival of boat people, you had a constant refrain – another boat, another policy failure.
Given the number of boats that have arrived during your stewardship, how many policy failures do you allow yourself?
HOST: Prime Minister?
PM: Well, I am absolutely saying to you I want to see change here. What has happened, which didn’t apply way back then when I was in Opposition, and I was Shadow Minister for Immigration.
Back then the Government of the day, the Howard Government, had the powers to decide to process people offshore.
The High Court has come out with a decision during the life of my Government, which means that that is not possible now under current law.
We need to change the law in order to have the same degree of power as the Howard Government did to make decisions about offshore processing.
That’s why I need the Parliament to endorse change, and whenever I’ve sought to get that change from the parliament, unfortunately the Opposition has said no.
I do want to see change here, I’m continuing to compromise in order to secure it. And I’m looking now to the expert panel, to guide our nation through.
HOST: Dallas, thank you for that question. Prime Minister, I’d like to ask you a Western Australian question, one that relates to the state here. WA unions are furious about the deal that your Government has done with Gina Rinehart to allow foreign workers – 1,700 foreign workers – to be imported for her Roy Hill project.
In retrospect, was there a better way for your Government to sell the deal to the union movement? After all, they are supposed to be on your side.
PM: I can understand people being concerned about Australian jobs. And when I’ve come to Western Australia in the past, I’ve certainly said to the people of Western Australia, I understand the concern that comes when mining employers are there screaming out for we want more labour, we need more people coming to work for us.
And yet at the same time, people who live here know a kid who lives in their street who can’t get an apprenticeship and can’t get a chance.
So I think the unions are expressing some of that concern that is in the community; what about the boy who lives at the end of my road, why can’t he get a start in the mining industry?
Now we’ve got to make sure we get all of those linkages right so that kid can get a start in the mining industry. And we’re very focused on that skills and training work, and so are our local members like Gary Gray, who’s hosting jobs expos in his electorate to get people those opportunities.
Even with all of that, we will need some foreign labour, but I think it is the right thing to do, to look to create opportunities for Australians first.
HOST: Prime Minister, thank you for joining us this morning and enjoy your stay in Western Australia.
PM: Thank you very much.