Transcript of press conference, Cairns
SUN 05 AUGUST 2012
Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, Senator Jan McLucas
Subject(s): G20 Finance Ministers' meeting in Cairns; Olympic Games; Marriage Act; Asylum Seekers; Port Douglas
E & O E – PROOF ONLY
PM: I am delighted to be here today with Treasurer Wayne Swan and also with Jan McLucas our Queensland Senator and we are here in her home of Cairns. I’ve been spending the last few days having a wonderful holiday in tropical north Queensland. I’ve enjoyed it very much.
And I’m here today to announce that we are going to be sharing the delights of tropical north Queensland with the world. I’m very pleased to be able to announce that the G20 Finance Ministers’ Meeting will be right here in Cairns in 2014.
An announcement very well received locally as you can tell.
A little while back I had the opportunity to say we would be showcasing Queensland to the world by having the G20 Leaders’ Meeting in Brisbane. We said then that the Finance Ministers’ Meeting would be somewhere in regional Queensland.
There are many strong contenders in regional Queensland to host such a meeting, but we’ve decided that the best place to host this meeting is right here in Cairns.
What it means in 2014 is that you will see the counterparts of Wayne Swan from 19 nations around the world, meet right here. These are the nations that represent the world’s strongest economies. Indeed 85 per cent of the world’s GDP.
They will be joined by their Central Bank Governors, the equivalent of our Reserve Bank Governor, Glenn Stevens. And you will also have here the leaders of organisations like the International Monetary Fund, a representative of the UN, a representative of the OECD, as well as a number of invited nations.
So you will have the G20 Finance Ministers’ Meeting right here in Cairns.
Whilst the number of people who participate in the meeting itself is quite small, it is a big event. Including media, around 2,000 people will come to Cairns because of the G20 Finance Ministers’ Meeting.
It will be a great opportunity to showcase this wonderful place to the world. To showcase the delights of tropical north Queensland, to showcase to the world Queensland and Australia.
Wayne Swan has attended a large number of these meetings. He’s very keen to see it happen here in Cairns because he knows what an opportunity it will mean for the local tourism industry to not only welcome all of those guests, but to showcase this place to the world.
Of course Jan has been a great supporter of the G20 Finance Ministers’ Meeting coming here.
I’m absolutely certain that this is going to be a fantastic success. Over the last few days I’ve had the opportunity to experience for myself the wonderful weather, the delights of the scenery and the warmth of the welcome and I know we will be showing that to nations from around the world right here in 2014.
I’ll hand over now to Wayne Swan for some comments.
SWAN: Thanks very much Prime Minister.
As a Queenslander I’m really proud that we’re having a Leaders’ Meeting in Brisbane but also a Finance Ministers’ Meeting here in Cairns. I’ve been to something like 20 G20 Finance Ministers’ Meetings over a period of four and a half years. And I can think of no location better than Cairns, than tropical north Queensland, to hold a meeting like this.
Of course, this will bring not just the Finance Ministers, not just the Reserve Bank Governors, but many other people who will be introduced to the delights of tropical north Queensland. So it’s a fantastic opportunity, particularly for the tourism industry here, to promote tropical north Queensland.
I think it’s going to be a real boost to the confidence and to standing of the region and a chance to showcase our reef, our wet tropical rainforest and all the other attractions here in tropical north Queensland. It’s a fantastic opportunity for the region, a great opportunity for the state, and a great opportunity for the nation. Thank you.
PM: We’re happy to take some questions.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, a story in National Times says the leadership saga has to be dealt with by December, what do you have to say on that?
PM: Oh look, I can’t be bothered with any of that today. Any questions?
JOURNALIST: What convinced you that Cairns was the right place to host the finance meeting?
PM: Of course this place, this location has hosted international events in the past and done it very well. And because Cairns has done that very well in the past, we’re very confident that it’s the right place for this Finance Ministers’ Meeting.
You have to have the right hotel stock, the right meeting venues, the right outlook and atmosphere and certainly Cairns has got all of that. And I can imagine in 2014 journalists from around the world are being right here with cameras like this pointed at this beautiful backdrop, but it will be being beamed into France and Germany and the UK and the US and China and Russia and Indonesia, and the list goes on. So it will be a great boost for the profile here.
JOURNALIST: What do Cairns and the people living here and the people who run businesses need to do to make sure they’re ready?
PM: We’ll be working through our team organising the event with local business leaders, with the local council to make sure everything is in place. You know here how to welcome people, you do it every day, and the warmth of that welcome will be here I’m sure for the 2,000 people who will attend because of the G20 Finance Ministers’ Meeting.
JOURNALIST: Will there be a financial impost on people who live here?
PM: No, what people will see is people come and inject money into the local economy. People will come for the meeting of course, and the meeting is serious business – it’s about the strength of our global economy and that means jobs.
We in Australia have a strong economy, we’ve come out of the global financial crisis strong, but around the world nations like France and Spain and the US and the UK and so many others, are seeing huge unemployment rates, millions of people out of work.
So the G20 and what happens at that meeting is important to the strength of the global economy, but I am sure people will take the opportunity to soak in some of the delights and that means expenditure in local shops, local restaurants and at hotels.
JOURNALIST: Cairns has been hard-hit economically over the last few years, did that help you make your decision?
PM: We have wanted to benefit Cairns because we do know that it’s been a bit tough in the recent period. Tourism has been impacted by our high Australian dollar.
We’re working with the tourism industry here. Indeed Senator McLucas and our Tourism Minister, Martin Ferguson in the week that’s gone by were making some announcements about support for local tourism. And we’re very focused on growing the Chinese market as more and more Chinese people become middle class and have money to spend, more of them will want to travel.
But I do think this too will inject confidence for the future here in Cairns, in tropical north Queensland.
JOURNALIST: Will you be asking the State Government to contribute to the cost of hosting this?
PM: The State Government is going to be working with us. An event like this requires security arrangements. That means that our federal security people work very strongly with local police.
JOURNALIST: Will it be a similar arrangement to the G20 Meeting in Brisbane where the Federal Government is covering most of the cost?
PM: We have budgeted $370 million to meet the cost of the G20 in Brisbane as well as the Finance Ministers’ Meeting here.
What we need a partnership with the Queensland Government on – the partnership will work well I’m very, very confident of that – is about security arrangements and that involves local police.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, who was our nearest rival in terms of (inaudible)?
PM: I can’t do any of that for you. There are so many beautiful parts of Queensland, it was always going to be a tough contest. But you should be very pleased that you’ve come out winners.
JOURNALIST: Was this decision made before your holiday?
PM: Can’t be divulging any of that either.
JOURNALIST: Do you have anything to say to David Farley about comments he made while you were on holidays?
PM: No I don’t.
JOURNALIST: On other national matters, should the Government be spending more money on our athletes or Australian coaching staff given the disappointing results that we’re seeing in London, do you think?
PM: I’ve had the opportunity, being on a bit of leave, to absorb some of the Olympic Games and I very much enjoyed watching it.
We’re proud of all of our athletes and we’ve got a number of days to go where we can be cheering our lungs out for our athletes as they compete in their events in London.
In terms of support for the Olympic Games, all Australians have got their eyes trained on London, and they are urging our athletes on. We as a Government have provided record funding to support the Olympics team.
But what we need to do now is to keep those messages of support going to our athletes. We’re proud of them, we want to support them and there are days of the games to come for us to still be showing all of that support.
JOURNALIST: Many Australian coaches are coaching international athletes to gold medals. What should we be doing to retain those coaches?
PM: I think there will be plenty of time after the Olympic Games is finished for people to reflect on the Games that was. At the moment I think our efforts need to be in putting our voice to the cheering and sending all of the messages through social media, all of our messages of support, to our athletes going about their work in London.
There’s a lot of pressure on people’s shoulders, many of them very young. But there’s so much to be proud of as we watch our athletes at the games.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what are your thoughts on Tasmania’s decision to legalise same-sex marriage?
PM: The Marriage Act is a federal law and we do have a Bill before the federal parliament dealing with same-sex marriage.
I determined that this should be a conscience vote for the Labor Party and people will be free to determine how they vote.
As for any laws that may be the subject of consideration in Tasmania, we don’t have any details at this stage so I’m not really able to offer a comment.
JOURNALIST: There are calls for you to rule out a legal challenge to the Tasmanian State Government’s plans for gay marriage, would you?
PM: We don’t have any details on them, so it’s far too early for anything like that.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what’s your comments on the high cost of transporting refugees around? Is it worth around $70 million like Nine News reported?
PM: We’ve given the tick to Nauru and the tick to Malaysia, we want to see action here and I know that’s what Australians want to see too.
Unfortunately Mr Abbott and his Opposition have voted against Nauru in the federal parliament. So we’re prepared to act, we need to see a preparedness by the Opposition to act in the national interest here.
JOURNALIST: Just back on your holiday, why did you choose Port Douglas and what was the highlight?
PM: Well I have had a great holiday, I wanted to escape some cold down south, wanted to come to somewhere very beautiful and Port Douglas, tropical north Queensland, certainly fits that bill.
So somewhere that we could spend a little bit of time relaxing, we’ve done all of that, so the highlight for me really has just been being able to sit in wonderful weather, watch the beautiful scenery and have an opportunity to take a little bit of time out.
JOURNALIST: Did you go out on the reef, experience any of our (inaudible)?
PM: Not on this trip, I must admit, we very much stayed put. But the reef is a magical experience and I’ve had the opportunity in the past to enjoy its delights.
We did have a wander through Port Douglas, a meal out, got to meet some of the locals including two local cockatoos as you may have seen.
Okay, thank you very much.