Transcript of press conference, Hobart
SAT 23 JULY 2011
Subject(s): Oslo attacks; Carbon price; Clean energy future; Renewable energy; Forestry Statement of Principles; National Broadband Network; Malaysian agreement; Tasmanian economy
PM: Good afternoon. First I’d like to make a few comments about the events in Norway. Australia condemns the brutal and shocking acts of evil we’ve seen in Norway overnight. People have been killed, many more have been injured and from the tales that are now being told by survivors, it’s clear that many have lived through absolute nightmares.
Australia and Norway are countries which are good friends. I’ve taken steps to convey to the Prime Minister of Norway the sadness and concern of Australians as we watch these events unfold. The family and friends of those who have been killed and injured have our most sincere sympathies. And of course Australia stands by prepared to help in any way that it can.
We are not advised that any Australians were involved in these incidents. Clearly anyone who is concerned about a family member who may be travelling in Norway should contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, but at this time we’ve got no advice suggesting any Australians were caught up in these brutal acts of evil.
So, out thoughts today are with the people of Norway, as their Prime Minister has said, they are a very strong democracy, they are a resilient country, but this is a very, very tough time for them, living through these acts of evil and trying to now come to grips with the number of people who have died and been injured in these events.
On a very different and far happier topic, I’m in Tasmania today and I’ve had the opportunity to come here via King Island. I’m the first Prime Minister to visit there, apparently, since 1961 when Robert Menzies visited. I had the opportunity to talk to locals community members and I also had the opportunity to see how they are using the renewable energy sources and clean energy sources of the future.
The island was originally powered by 100 per cent diesel and they’ve taken steps over time to harness the abundant wind and the solar energy that falls on the island, so now 40 per cent of the power used is generated by renewables. They want to take further steps to increase their clean energy mix, moving to 60-70 per cent.
It’s this kind of movement to clean energy sources that putting a price on carbon is all about. What we want to see is less carbon pollution, what we want to see is a clean energy future and putting a price on carbon pollution will drive new investments and new opportunities in that clean energy future.
I had the opportunity to share breakfast this morning with a number of community members and to be able to talk to them about our plans to put a price in carbon pollution. A number of people expressed support for our plans, a number had questions, a couple asked me about our plans and were very concerned.
And that’s what being out and about talking to Australians about putting a price on carbon pollution is all about. So, for the couple of people who raise concerns with me and I had the opportunity to talk to them, that’s what I want to do – be there providing information to people about our plan to put a price on carbon pollution.
One of the people who raised concerns with me questioned how this can all be done in the most efficient way. Economists have told us and told us consistently that putting a price on carbon pollution, to be paid by the biggest polluters is the most efficient way of cutting carbon pollution and creating a clean energy future.
Our plan is very different to Mr Abbott’s plan. Treasury has modelled Mr Abbott’s plan, Treasury has modelled what a carbon price per tonne would be under Mr Abbott’s plan and it's clear from that modelling that Mr Abbott’s plan, if you add it all up and work it all out, would mean an additional tax burden of $1300 per family in 2020.
Now, it’s as high was $1300 because Mr Abbott has ruled out any international linking of his plan. That is, he’s ruled out the mechanism that economists say is the way of making sure the costs of getting a clean energy future here in Australia are the same as the costs being faced by people in other nations.
$1300 of extra tax in 2020, so if you compare the two plans, Mr Abbott’s is all about putting a tax on families and giving money to polluters. My plan is about getting polluters to pay, to give money to families, it’s about cutting carbon pollution, cutting tax and increasing the pension. And I think people will want to contemplate this $1300 additional tax figure that Mr Abbott’s plan implies in 2020 for Australian families.
Can I conclude by saying that I’m here in Tasmania today and will be meeting with the Premier of Tasmania and others to talk about Tasmanian forests. As we know over decades there’s been disputation in Tasmania about forestry, then the commercial conditions changed, the commercial arrangements changed, and stakeholders who had spent many years in bitter opposition to each other, came round a table to talk, to see if they could find a way to a shared future. That involved employers, the union and of course environmental stakeholders as well.
Arising out of those discussions from people who had in the past been fierce opponents of each other, a statement of principles was brought together. We were pleased to support Mr Bill Kelty working with the groups that had nutted out that statement of principles and facilitating brining that to a further stage of detail.
Now Minister Burke, the relevant Federal Minister, has been in Tasmania for a number of days, involved in intense discussions around the statement of principles. I am here today personally to engage in further discussions. There’s a real opportunity to be seized here and I believe we should seize it.
And that’s why I'm in Tasmania's today and I'm looking forward to the discussions to come.
Given I will be involved in discussions during the course of today it's not my intention at this stage to deal with any questions of detail. I will look forward to those discussions first.
I'm very happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, will you be staying until there is an agreement on forests?
PM: Well, there’s an opportunity to seize here and I think we should seize it. That’s why I’m here personally.
JOURNALIST: The Australian Trade and Industry Alliance is going to start a TV advertising campaign against the carbon tax from tomorrow morning. So, how do you feel about that, what’s your response to that?
PM: Well, there has been some print advertisements already and as I remarked during the course of the week looking at those print advertisements, to take just one point – a false claim was made about employment, there was a suggestion in those print advertisements that employment was going to somehow slow or go backwards under pricing carbon, simply not true. Employment in this country will go up by 1.6 million jobs by 2020, half a million of those new jobs in the next two years.
So, I think it’s important that Australians get the facts and, of course, that facts are on our side, the facts support our plan to put a price on carbon pollution, to cut carbon pollution, to cut taxes as we do it and to support Australian families.
JOURNALIST: What did you make of the comments by business saying some of your big policies have a whiff of illegitimacy about them?
PM: Well, I’m very happy to deal with some of those comments in detail. First and foremost, there’s been today, from some business people, criticism of our plans to put a price on carbon pollution – well, there are many, many Australian businesses people who have endorsed this plan, endorsed this plan because they wanted certainty, endorsed this plan because they can see the investment opportunities and the jobs which will flow from it, as we seize a clean energy future.
And then I see amongst these comments today, there’s a comment that the NBN is a thought bubble. Well, I suggest before people make comments like that they might want to come here, to Tasmania, and talk to people for whom the NBN is now a way of life and supporting the way they want to live their lives.
And then there was a comment too, about our Fair Work laws. Well, I suggest anybody who wants to make those comments might want to have a conversation first with the Australians who lost basic pay and conditions, and lost their jobs unfairly under Work Choices.
As Prime Minister, I’m standing up for a clean energy future, for the technology of the future, the National Broadband Network, and for fairness and dignity at work and I will continue to stand up for those things.
JOURNALIST: How is the Government’s relationship with business?
PM: Well, as I’ve just made it clear, I this week have spoken to many, many business people who have welcomed the fact that they now have certainty, have welcomed the fact that they can now get on and make long lived investments for the future, including in clean energy, because of our plans to price carbon.
On the specifics of the criticism today, as I’ve just made it clear, I will stand up for decency at work, I will stand up for a better environment and a stronger economy in the future and I will stand up for continuing to roll out the National Broadband Network.
JOURNALIST: When can we expect a forest industry package, given that (inaudible) you’re here now, is it fair to say that it’s weeks rather than months, days? What’s the timeframe we’re looking at?
PM: Well, I’m here today. I think there’s an opportunity to be seized and that’s what I’m here for.
JOURNALIST: Julia, have you gotten involved because they were (inaudible)?
PM: I’m here to engage in discussions. It’s obviously my job as Prime Minister to be involved on behalf of the Federal Government, so I’m coming here with Minister Burke already having been here for a considerable period of time.
JOURNALIST: What percentage of funding should be State and Federal in any package-
PM:- As I indicated, I’m not dealing with any matters of detail.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, just on the deal with Malaysia, has agreement been reached on where the 520 people who arrived in Australia since May will be processed?
PM: Well, the Minister for Immigration dealt with that matter yesterday and I haven’t got anything to add to his comments.
JOURNALIST: So, you’re personally confident that the human rights issues will be dealt with?
PM: I’ve dealt with that in the past and the answer has always been yes.
JOURNALIST: Who exactly will you be meeting today, you said the Premier, but will you be meeting with-
PM:-Look, I’ve got a set of meetings today, but I will certainly be meeting with the Premier.
JOURNALIST: Tony Abbott made some comments about the state of Tasmania’s economy earlier in the week. Have you any comments about what he said?
PM: Mr Abbott believes his job is to talk our nation down and to talk our economy down. He does it day after day. He’s made some very specific comments about the economy of Tasmania, and I think Tasmanians would be pretty upset to see Mr Abbott talking down their state the way he’s talked it down this week.
As Prime Minister, I believe my job is to be working with people, so we can secure a good future for them and a good future for jobs. Mr Abbott thinks his job is to simply talk everything down, including this very great state of Tasmania.
Thank you very much.