Transcript of Joint Doorstop Interview
WED 03 OCTOBER 2012
PM: I start by saying I understand that there is interest from members of the media about the matter involving Mr Alan Jones.
It is not my intention to make any comment about that matter. The only thing I want to say is this.
Both I and my family have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for us since the death of my father.
From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank Australians in their tens of thousands who have been so warm and so supportive at what has been a very difficult time for us.
So thank you very much.
On with the job and I am here in the federal electorate of Bass in the wonderful town of Launceston with our local member, Geoff Lyons and it is a pleasure to join him here.
And we are here for a series of events today, including having a Community Cabinet tonight which will give us a great opportunity to meet with local community members.
I am also joined by the Premier of Tasmania and by the Minister for Health, Michelle O'Byrne.
We have had the pleasure today - and I can see representatives of this great place in large number. We have had the special pleasure today of officially opening this Northern Integrated Care Centre.
This is a fantastic building, an award winning building and it is here to provide care and support to people who have chronic and complex conditions.
They might have had diabetes, they might have heart disease and they are here getting support.
Whether it is understanding how to better manage their health through exercise classes, whether it is healthy living and learning how to cook for themselves through the kitchen, whether it is the exercise work that we can see people doing just over there.
I’m being acknowledged now with a fist pump by those engaged in that exercise work. This is a place that is really bringing an integrated model of care for this community.
It is also a place in which the health professionals of tomorrow are being trained and they are being trained in a way that doesn't have them in silos, they are working together because the future of healthcare is going to be about health professionals collaborating to support patients who have chronic and complex conditions.
I am glad that in a partnership with Tasmania, we were able to make this facility happen. This is an emblem of what we are achieving in healthcare in this state and around the country.
Working together for change, working together with more resources flowing into health than has ever been made available before by a Federal Government.
And we are doing that because we want Australians to have the best of care and the best opportunity to live their lives supported by facilities like this one.
I will turn to the Premier for some comments and then we will be happy to take questions.
PREMIER GIDDINGS: Thank you Prime Minister and it is indeed an honour to have you with us here today in Tasmania and your cabinet colleagues as well.
It is a fantastic opportunity for Tasmanians to have access to ministers across a number of portfolio areas.
We are very pleased to be part of this acknowledgement today of the partnership between the State and Federal Government which has culminated in this fantastic Integrated Care Centre here in Launceston.
It is important that we continue to work with those Tasmanians who already have a chronic disease and help them to manage that chronic disease.
But it is equally important that we encourage other Tasmanians to help look after their own health and wellbeing now, to try and prevent the onset of chronic disease and therefore prevent the onset of other complications which then require acute care assistance as well.
There is a lot of challenges in our community but the best way that we can meet those challenges head on is to be working with you and we welcome your interest in our State.
PM: Thanks very much. We’re happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, the comments from Mr Jones were deeply personal. Surely you would like to say they are unacceptable?
PM: I am not intending to get involved in commentary on this matter.
JOURNALIST: Would you go on his show again?
PM: No, I would not. I haven't spoken to Mr Jones and I don't intend to.
JOURNALIST: Putting the comments aside, what is your opinion now of Mr Jones?
PM: I am not going to be drawn on comment.
JOURNALIST: Is it hypocritical for Labor ministers to be condemning Jones when they or Labor hasn’t come out and condemned hurtful attacks on senior Coalition figures?
PM: Consistent with what I said at the start of this press conference, I am not going to engage in comment on this matter.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, Tony Abbott’s been directly quoted as saying the mining boom has ended prematurely due to bad policy by this Government. Do you have any comments on that?
PM: That is clearly a nonsense remark and it is wrong and inappropriate for anybody to be talking the Australian economy down. Let's be very clear about what is happening in our economy.
We came out of the global financial crisis strong. We saved 200,000 jobs. We didn't have a recession. We have an economy that is growing at trend. That means that it is expected to grow by about 3 per cent in the coming year.
We have got a resources boom where we are yet to see the investment peak and the production peak. They lie in front of us. And the Reserve Bank was crystal clear about that yesterday.
At the same time and partly because of the strength of the resources boom, we have got a strong Australian dollar, a very high Australian dollar.
That is putting pressure on other industries and so there are parts of the country experiencing that pressure.
We understand that and we have been working with those parts of the country.
We understand here in Tasmania, there are some special economic pressures arising from the changes to the forestry industry and we have been engaged in a good partnership with the Tasmanian Government on that.
So for Australians, I think it is important no-one talks our economy down. We acknowledge that it is an economy with strengths, which means jobs and opportunities for Australians.
It also means we have got to keep building on today's strength so we have got tomorrow's opportunities too.
JOURNALIST: But even the cut was somewhat of an admission from the RBA that the economy does need some form of stimulation?
PM: There are these pressures arising from the high Australian dollar. I have referred to it as the patchwork economy. It means different things for different industries and different places.
But when you read when the Reserve Bank says, in its statement yesterday, they verify their expectation that the economy will grow at trend.
That means if you compare us with nations around the world - look at the sluggishness of the US economy; look at their unemployment rate of more than 8 per cent.
Look at the problems being faced in the UK and high unemployment there too.
We have jobs and opportunities here. We have strengths in the Australian economy. There are of course some challenges and as a government, we have been managing those challenges and building for the future.
It is about clean energy; it is about the National Broadband Network; it is about giving the Australian people the skills they will need for the future.
JOURNALIST: Some of your ministers in the past couple of days have essentially been putting Tony Abbott and Alan Jones in the same category. Mr Abbott was quite sensitive and fairly (inaudible) in his remarks in Parliament in relation to your father. Do you believe that they are in the same class?
PM: I am not getting into it at all.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, you mentioned before that you recognised there have been special pressures on the Tasmanian community due to the breakdown in the forestry industry. Is there anything at all else that the Federal Government can do for Tasmanians and the forestry industry in particular other than what is already in the IGA?
PM: The step forward we need to take here is the parties coming together for a final agreement. The Premier and I signed the inter-governmental agreement and we still want to see that inter-governmental agreement come to fruition in full.
We want to see the long-term diversification of the Tasmanian economy so that there are jobs and opportunities here.
Now we have been working on that together for some time, that is why Tassie is the stand-out and you are in front with the National Broadband Network. That’s going to make a difference for jobs and opportunity and productivity in this State.
It is why our Minister for Regional Australia Simon Crean has been a very constant visitor here and very constantly in touch with the Tasmanian Government and we have made some resources available for projects that will help diversify the economy of Tasmania.
I actually think this economy has got a great future. I think you will see innovation from the National Broadband Network.
You have got your great strengths in clean, green food and your reputation for, not only growing that food but turning it into amazing dining experiences.
You have got the tourism advantages of the very great natural splendour of this place and all of the innovation that has happened in the tourism industry here.
You will see mining come on-stream in this state. I think you will continue to see people involved in innovative manufacturing and both the Federal Government and the Tasmanian State Government are focused on working together to keep lifting skills and capacities so people can get the best of these opportunities.
So there is a lot to be optimistic about, there is a time of challenge now and we are working together on those challenges.
JOURNALIST: Given the past couple of months and what’s gone on in Tasmania concerning the IGA, are you still confident that that can be signed off with your agreement, or are you concerned that it’s actually falling apart (inaudible)?
PM: I remain cautiously optimistic that people will see the need to come together for Tasmania's future.
JOURNALIST: (Inaudible) the trade deficit dropping 12 per cent?
PM: We are a great exporting country. We are also a country that imports some commodities and we're also an importer of capital which is important at this time of economic change and development.
When we look at our economic statistics overall though, we are seeing growth in exports, that is good. We are seeing growth in jobs; that is good.
We are seeing low inflation, low unemployment and low interest rates. We have strong public finances, AAA rated by all three credit agencies for the first time in our nation's history.
All of these things speak to the strengths of the Australian economy but every day you have got to keep building for tomorrow.
That is what the NBN is about; it’s what the clean energy future is about. It is what my personal focus on skills and education and opportunity is about.
JOURNALIST: Should all banks be passing on yesterday’s rate cut?
PM: I certainly believe that banks should be passing on the interest rate reduction from yesterday. I want to see Australian families get the benefits.
For a family, mortgage typical size, say $300,000, they are $4,500 better off as a result of the interest rate reductions that have happened during the time of this Government since its election in 2007.
That makes a difference to families. It makes a difference to their cost of living pressures and their abilities to make ends meet, so I do want to see interest rate reductions passed on.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, how confident are you that a buyer will be found for Gunns’ pulp mill project?
PM: The Federal Government has been a consistent supporter of the pulp mill. We continue to support a pulp mill project in this State.
Everything we need to do in terms of environmental approvals has been done, so that it is available for a new investor to come onto the scene and to pick up where Gunns has left off and to develop the pulp mill.
Now ultimately, that will be a commercial decision for any potential investor, just as Gunns had to make a set of commercial decisions about its future.
But we are supportive of the pulp mill and everything we need to do for the pulp mill to become a reality has been done. Last question.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, do you think Alan Jones should be taken off the air?
PM: I have indicated to you I am not going to be commenting on this question.
Thanks very much.