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TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS UHLMANN

ABC TV NEWS

20 APRIL 2008

Subjects: 2020 Summit

UHLMANN: Well Prime Minister, hasn't this Summit just endorsed an agenda that you already have?

PM: No, there are ideas here which are not part of our existing agenda. For example, take a
proposal to create a seamless national market. That is the creation of a single national regulatory
framework across all markets. Whether you're talking about labour markets, product markets, or
carbon markets. We haven't been as comprehensive as that in what we've put forward. The economics
working group did, that's what they want to see happen.

UHLMANN: But Lindsay Tanner, he's already working on regulation. It's not out of step with what
you're doing.

PM: No, we're working at present on 27 sets of regulation. But the overarching goal is let's create
a seamless national market, whether it's in electricity, energy, whether it's working in the labour
market, whether it's working in carbon markets and water markets. This is an ambition we haven't
been presented with before. And that's certainly worth having a look at. It's a big agenda.

UHLMANN: Well, you talk about some of the big ideas that came out of this, and particularly when it
comes to governance and it came over the economic stream as well, and also through the rural
stream. Are you talking about a complete refashioning of the way that Australia is governed?

PM: Well, one of the core problems at the moment is the way the federation works. It's duplication,
overlap, cost shift, blame shift. We talked about that in the pre-election period. We've got seven
working groups underway at the moment through the Council of Australian Governments to try and
improve that. But the overwhelming chorus of complaint from this Summit was, the federation is not
working to help people. Whether it's on the business side, or the delivery of social services. It
underlines the Government's resolve to get this right.

UHLMANN: And as you said, you said on the first day that you became leader, you focussed on the
federation. So one assumes that you are looking at a complete refashioning of the way that
Australia does business. Is that the case?

PM: Well, when it comes to the federation, yes. Of course, the recommendations of this Summit went
wider than that as well. It went in the direction of open Government, rolling back existing FOI
laws to be more open in what is made available to the community. Ideas such as, you know, Cabinet
portals or Cabinet level engagement with the wider community, well, Government wide engagement with
the community so that there is maximum access to the information which Government holds.

There is a whole raft of proposals there. We'll go through them each in detail. But, I think it was
a well developed group, the governance group, and they've given us a lot to think about.

UHLMANN: Will the power of the states be erased over time? You're looking at health already
yourself.

PM: Well, it follows that if you are going to establish a single national regulatory market, if,
brackets, if, we go down that direction, it does mean chopping down a lot of pre-existing, state
regulatory barriers. Now, we're already seeking to do that with emissions trading by establishing a
national market. We're seeking to do it with mandatory renewable energy by establishing a national
system, not just state systems. But there are other areas that we've still got to work. Tim Fisher
today but up a very practical example, of B-triples and B-doubles. These trucks which roll across
our major highway systems from one state over to the other where you physically have to adjust the
road train as you cross the state line. These are very practical challenges which we now need to
step up to the mark on.

UHLMANN: Will there be a rapid move towards a Republic do you think now?

PM: I think what the Summit was saying, loud and clear, is that there is a big groundswell of
support for a Republic in Australia. In order to bring a Republic about, and I'm a longstanding
Republican, and we're committed as a party to bringing about a Republic, you do need widespread
community support. We lost the last referendum we had ten years ago. We don't want to lose the next
one. So we'll be building this one up very carefully.

UHLMANN: Parent and Child Centres, this is an idea that you brought to this Summit, and idea that
has came back out of this Summit, I assume it is now a good idea (inaudible)

PM: Well, I -

UHLMANN: I assume you thought it was a good idea to start with?

PM: Well, I've had a big passion for Early Childhood Education for a long time, going back to some
reading I did a couple of years ago, a year and a half ago. I think what's happened at the Summit
is that they've broadened this out into the idea of effectively community hubs. Not just for zero
to fives, and that proposal still stands, but how do you better do, what's called, joined up
Government, for people in the suburbs and towns of Australia so there is much more an emphasis on
one stop shops for families and communities needing to consume Government services. So there were
variants of that proposal discussed today. And again, we'll be looking at each of those, and if we
support them, they're going to cost. And that will take a lot of work.

UHLMANN: Isn't the very hard part in all of this turning plans into policy? And then you've got to
put dollars on them?

PM: Yep, that's right. That's where the rubber hits the road. But that's the sequence. One, develop
a plan. Two, flesh it out with ideas. Three, build policy out of that. And four, cost it. And five,
implement it and measure it. That's the process. We're at the front end of that process. There is a
long way to go. But we're slowly turning things around.

UHLMANN: But finally, at one level it might look like this whole Summit is beyond politics, but at
another, it could be seen as deeply political in the sense that everyone sits inside of the fence.
Where does that leave the Opposition to go? Is this a political exercise?

PM: Well, Mr Nelson, as you know, was invited to come to the Summit, as were the State Opposition
leaders. And we had a former National Party leader as a Chairman of a working group, and he did a
great job, Tim Fisher. Warwick Smith, former Liberal Party Minister, chaired the productivity
working group.

Look, I'm just interested in decent ideas. I don't particularly care where they come from. What
Australians want is for us to plan for the long term. They're sick of short-termism. This is one
modest step in that direction.

UHLMANN: So everyone is in the same tent now?

PM: Well, that's a matter for others to conclude, I can't speak for them. But what I'm saying is on
key fundamentals like boosting national productivity, establishing a single national market, or a
seamless national economy. Moving towards practical ideas as why don't we have a community youth
core, so that people can off-set some of their HECS debt. These are practical ideas that I think
all sides of politics could, and should, get behind. But there'll never be complete agreement.

UHLMANN: Prime Minister, thank you.

PM: Pleasure.