Transcript of Interview with Karl Stefanovic, Today
THU 31 JANUARY 2013
Subject(s): Election date 2013; Queensland floods
HOST: Good morning, PM.
PM: Good morning, Karl.
HOST: Nice of you to be with us this morning. An eight-month campaign, are you trying to kill us?
PM: Karl, relax, relax, relax. This is not day one of the election campaign.
I made it perfectly clear yesterday, what I wanted to do was cut out all of the silly nonsense that goes with election date speculation.
Let people know when the election is so that they can plan their year. It is 14 September.
And also, give enough notice so everyone contesting the election can put out all of their detailed and properly costed plans before election day.
The writs will be issued on 12 August. That's the first day of the election campaign.
For now, these are the days of governing, and what I will be doing today is going to Bundaberg to meet with people and to get local briefings about the situation there.
HOST: But PM, in effect, it is day one of the campaign, isn't it? Everything you and Tony Abbott will do from here on will be through the prism of election 2013.
PM: Not on my part, Karl. I've got work to do as Prime Minister.
Serious issues of governing, serious issues about strengthening our economy and making sure people have got the benefit of jobs, serious issues about improving our Australian schools, so we're not left behind the standards of the world, and every kid gets a chance, and I want to start the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
So I'll be doing my work as Prime Minister and it is now perfectly clear to everyone which are the days of governing and which are the days of campaigning.
HOST: The Australian reports this morning that Rudd supporters are calling this an act of bastardry, designed to save your leadership. Your response?
PM: Look, whatever to all of the flibbertigibbet politics that goes on in newspapers and beyond.
The reasons for my decision were outlined yesterday. They are about cutting out election speculation, Karl.
You and I know that a lot of this year would have been spent on stories and rumours and half-truths about when the election was going to be.
I would have had my car chased down the street to see whether or not it was going to the Governor-General's.
All of that nonsense is now out of the way, and we can get on with the serious business of governing.
Time’s not for wasting. There is a lot to do. And for the election, people have got all the time they need to get their policies and plans out there.
HOST: You have also managed to get Kevin Rudd out of the way by doing this, haven't you?
PM: Look Karl, nothing about this decision was in any way related to that. We decided those things last year.
HOST: Okay. Tony Abbott says this election will be about trust - that was his response yesterday. No doubt this from your last campaign will be part of their campaign. Take a listen.
PM GRAB: There will be no carbon tax under the Government I lead.
HOST: So if it is about trust, how will you combat that tactic-wise?
PM: Well, I'll be perfectly clear with people that I always wanted us to tackle climate change. We are living through climate change. It is a serious issue for our nation, and for the whole planet.
I always wanted to tackle climate change. I always wanted to put a price on carbon.
I didn't imagine we would have a fixed price, a carbon tax for three years but yes, we are having it for three years and then it will go to an emissions trading scheme.
So the case I will be putting to people, Karl, is climate change is real, the best way of tackling it is pricing carbon and we have it done. That is done. Carbon is being priced.
Our economy is still working well, all of the horror claims and all the rest that people had to listen to have not come true.
So we've got that job done. We should leave it being done and get on with the rest of what we have got to do for the nation.
HOST: PM, why did you tell the Independents before members of your own party about the election?
PM: In the agreement with the Independents, there's a reference to the election date, so I thought as a matter of courtesy, I would let them know.
HOST: But why wouldn't you tell your own party before them?
PM: Well Karl, obviously, I told the whole nation through the National Press Club.
HOST: But not your own party before the Independents. Are there problems with your own party in relation to your communication with them?
PM: Karl, all of this kind of process stuff, political commentators care. I don't think anybody else does.
Setting the election date has always been the decision of the Prime Minister, it would have been my decision had I chose to make it later in the year.
I've chosen to do an unusual thing, admittedly, but something that I think is in the interests of the nation, and I announced that decision. I made a couple of courtesy calls along the way.
HOST: What do you say to members of your party who may well be justified in saying, "Hang on a second, you told Rob Oakeshott before you told me, what does it say about our relationship?"
PM: Karl, I don't think any of this is meaningful or matters. People in the Labor Party in the Labor caucus can always get on the phone and speak to me.
I speak to my colleagues regularly. But this is my decision as Prime Minister and I've made it.
HOST: Okay, there appears, just before we finish up, a bit of anger in Queensland anecdotally, that you have not visited the flood zone, and the timing of the announcement.
What would you say to Queenslanders?
PM: Well, I'm going to be in Bundaberg today. I of course get round the country to visit Australians who are facing natural disasters.
This year already, I've been to Tasmania to see the site of the bushfires, I've been to country Victoria to see what happened there, and I’m going to Bundaberg there to get on-the-ground briefings and to see it for myself.
There is always the right time to go and I'm very careful that I don't go during the absolute emergency response, because I don't want my visit in any way to distract resources from the emergency effort.
So today is the right time to go, so that I can be on the ground talking to people.
HOST: I think the response so far from what I saw on the ground in Bundaberg has been exceptional from State and Federal Governments thus far.
Appreciate your time PM on another busy day.
PM: Thanks very much.