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9am with David and Kim -

View in ParlView

STEVE: Kevin Rudd, good morning.

RUDD: Good morning. Thanks for having me on the program.

STEVE: You've been doing the rounds this morning.

RUDD: I've done a few things. I've been on FM radio and the ABC -

KIM: Talking about sex, of all things.

RUDD: There was a bit of that. Too early in the morning for me.

KIM: There's another line there.

STEVE: There's another line there but we won't go there this morning.

RUDD: Can we start this again? (laughing)

KIM: No sorry, it's live. (laughing)

STEVE: There's so many issues floating around at the moment, including children's health,
Afghanistan, Iraq, climate change, workplace relations. How hard is it to zero in on one particular
subject you think that really hits home with the voters that can be an election winner?

RUDD: Well, at the end of the day, you've got just to be real about what is important to working
families in Australia. What I think is real is what I keep talking about which is the Education
Revolution. That is how do we make sure that our kids have got all the skills necessary once they
get out into the big wide world out there to compete and get a decent job. Part of that is what we
were talking about yesterday, which is when they start school - littlies, five years old - let's
just make sure with a check that their hearing is order, that they've got no real problems with
sight and vision, that their allergy tests are done, because if you don't get these things right
early, what we find is that it actually impairs a kid's ability to then effectively learn and lead
a happy, well balanced life. So, that's just one practical thing which we think will work.

KIM: Just with that, from the health checks that go on in families (inaudible) ...

RUDD: What I find is, right across Australia, it's so different. Some State governments and local
authorities, for example, will have school nurses go in and do these sorts of checks with some of
the kids but not all of the kids. And in some systems this is not happening at all. So, what we're
saying is right across the nation let's just make sure that when they start school, little tots,
age of five, that everything's basically in working order. Because if we find out that there's a
problem either with hearing or with sight, let's not let that hold a kid back for three years,
let's act on it, do something about it.

KIM: I think that all makes perfect sense but the thing that we were discussing this morning is the
issue of taking measurements of kids and testing their weight. Obviously, you would have to be so,
so careful in doing that.

RUDD: Well, local schools will have discretion on this. And when we talk about things like that -
body mass index - you're not talking about the shape of a kid. We've all been to school; we all
know that all kids come in different shapes and sizes. The key thing, though, is to provide local
schools with this option, and that's what we want to do. Because if there is an emerging problem
with childhood diabetes, it's far better we get it early ...

STEVE: And nip it in the bud otherwise the cost to the country is enormous as they grow up.

RUDD: And to the kid. I mean, in terms of life expectancy and in terms of esteem and all those
sorts of questions, we think that if you act early with our kids, whether it's with early childhood
education, pre-literacy, pre-numeracy. And today I'll be launching a new National Strategy on
Literacy and Numeracy and what we do with kids when they're starting out in life in the early years
of primary school, but also getting these early health checks right, which our Shadow Health
Minister, Nicola Roxon, has done a lot of work on this.

STEVE: With all these health checks and literacy and numeracy, is this going to be put on a data
base or will the individual parents get the information on their child, because that's important?

RUDD: It is an important question and, of course, parents have access to this. The other part of
our plan is this: that parents themselves, when their kids start, say, Year 5, will also be given a
helpful guide, you know, a printed document, on how you can assist your kid when it comes to proper
diet, exercise, those sorts of basic things. A lot of us take these things for granted. It happens
normally. But you'd be surprised, a number of kids, a number of parents, you know, have allowed
some of these things to fall through the cracks. We want to help. We want to enable parents to do
this job. We don't want to take over from them but we think it's so important that every kid gets
the best start possible in life.

KIM: Well, there's lot to talk about; obesity issues in schools and the role that tuck shops play.
Should we be legislating across the board in all States that soft drinks and junk food should be

RUDD: Decisions should be taken by local schools on this. I'm confident that with the amount -

KIM: Can't they be led by the government?

RUDD: As I understand it, in some States, and I stand to be corrected on this, I was in Bennelong
yesterday with Maxine McKew and we were talking to the local school community there while I was
launching the policy I've just be describing. And I was talking to the local school community there
about what the State Government does in terms of State-wide education policy in making sure that
certain foods aren't for sale in tuck shops. As I understand it, certainly in NSW that's the case,
what happens in other States, I'm not sure -

KIM: Victoria's one, a similar thing.

RUDD: But the detail of what goes onto the tuck shop menu, I'd much prefer that local parent
communities, through P&Cs and P&Fs, made those decisions. These are sensible folk. They represent
the local parent community. Really dangerous stuff, of course. State governments have got a role.
But I think you can be too Big Brother about this in saying, you know, here is what you've got to
eat today. Yeah, you've got to have some discretion.

STEVE: Moving on to a completely different subject. We know your policy on Iraq and Afghanistan, at
least 300 troops are going over now. And you agree with that? I just wonder what your exit strategy
is with Afghanistan, because it seems like it's going to be, it's almost more strategically more
important than Iraq.

RUDD: The challenge with Afghanistan is this. It's a military objective which is to see the
destruction of Osama bin Laden. Now, that has been our objective for five years, and we failed in
it. Part of the reason we failed in it, by the way, is remember at the start of the September 11 we
saw the tragedy of that day. And then, 2002, we had a hot war in Afghanistan. We had Osama bin
Laden on the run. Guess what happened at the end of 2002? Various people got the bright idea of
then invading Iraq. All Australian troops then came out of Afghanistan and we then deployed a
significant force into Iraq. The American force in Afghanistan was drawn down hugely and then a
large force was sent into Iraq and the rest of Iraq is history. The problem was we exited
Afghanistan before the job was done. And for two years Australia was not there. I visited
Afghanistan in 2004. Do you know how many Australians were in Afghanistan then? One bloke who was
sitting in Kabul who was a military liaison officer. And what the President of Afghanistan told me
at the time then was that there was a danger of the Taliban beginning to regroup. What we're now
doing -

KIM: The other danger is there are members of the old Taliban actually in the Government.

RUDD: Well, there are real problems, there are real problems. But I've got to say it's been made
worse by us having exited too early. We can still focus our efforts on the elimination of Osama bin
Laden, that is critical. Remember the people who did the Bali bombing were all, in large part, not
all, trained in Afghanistan, drug money coming out of the opium crop in Afghanistan, two or three
billion dollars a year out there sloshing around the global terrorist network.

STEVE: Are you happy to leave them there? If you become Prime Minister are you happy to leave them
there as long as need be in Afghanistan?

RUDD: The military objective is to destroy Osama bin Laden. We must do that. Now, when it comes to
the military strategy towards achieving that end, I think what Mr Howard is doing at present in
Afghanistan is right. I'm always prepared to say when I think the Prime Minister is doing something
right and get behind him. But I think his policies in Iraq have been absolutely wrong, and I've
said that for a long period of time as well. But we've got to get rid of this guy. Five years down
the track the guy was responsible for the mass murder on September 11 and the training, ultimately,
of the people who murdered nearly 100 Australians in Bali. He's still alive and well. And when it
comes to the war against terrorism, this guy must be eliminated.

STEVE: Stay there for as long as it takes to get the job done.

RUDD: To eliminate Osama bin Laden is a critical objective.

KIM: Alright. Speaking of terrorism, David Hicks, what do you think of the David Hicks drama?

RUDD: Well -

STEVE: Will it be an election issue?

RUDD: I've got no idea. It's a matter for the Australian people. I'm concerned about what's right
about our handling of the guy. Remember, I'm no defender of Mr Hicks or what he's done, or alleged
to have done. But if it was any kid of anyone watching your program this morning who got themselves
into trouble overseas, I'd have the same response, which is what are their legal rights, what their
human rights are, are they being properly upheld by the Australian Government. In this case, it
hasn't been the case. I mean, five years in the slammer in Guantanamo Bay, that's a disgrace. The
fact that it's taken this amount of time, in those quite appalling conditions, to bring this matter
to what appears to have been a trial, is something quite wrong. Now there's been a trial process,
he's pleaded guilty on the basis of the advice from his lawyers, and apparently he's now going to
come back to Australia in due course.

KIM: Is it coincidental timing, do you think, in an election year?

RUDD: You can reach your own conclusions on that.

KIM: I want to know what you think.

RUDD: Mr Hicks, obviously acting on the advice of his legal team, have done what they think's
appropriate. I don't make a comment on that. In terms of any behind the scenes negotiations between
the Australian Government and the United States Government, I'm unaware of that.

STEVE: Obviously being an election year, the Budget's going to be a cracker. What do you think is
the big rabbit Mr Costello's going to pull out of the hat?

RUDD: I think what they have done in previous years is this. When you're in an election year just
fasten your seatbelts about three or four months before an election as the spending spree starts.
And suddenly those things which have never been important before suddenly become important.

STEVE: But that's normal policy for whichever government's in power.

RUDD: Well, I've got to say, it's been a script used by Mr Howard consistently in the elections of
1998, 2001, 2004, and fasten your seatbelts, it'll happen again. Take climate change. Mr Howard and
his Government have basically said climate change is not happening, it's not a problem. That's what
they've been - climate change and deniers and sceptics for a long time, despite the problem we've
got with water. Now, I notice in today's paper, suddenly climate change has popped onto the agenda
with the Premiers this Friday - whoops. And I wouldn't be surprised if we see something on climate
change in the Budget - whoops. Because we've got to try and convince the Australian people we've
actually been serious about climate change all along - whoops again. I think people actually see
through that. You're either on the bus, on the cart committed doing real things about climate
change and water a long way out. I think people are now seeing through a quick pre-election fix.

KIM: Alright. Will there be an issue for you, if you do win office, and the polls are fantastic,
obviously, at the moment, you must be very happy about them ...

RUDD: A long way to go.

KIM: There is a long way to go, and I heard you talk about Everest yesterday, but if you do win
office, how are you going to deal with the perceived conflict of interest with your wife and her

RUDD: Well, Therese set up her own business back in 1988-89, thereabouts, and she has started with
a bank loan and half a secretary and she's built up a company which she owns which now employs 700
or 800 Australians -

KIM: She's done extremely well -

RUDD: And a whole bunch of people overseas.

KIM: Thanks to government policy.

RUDD: Well, no. She operates overseas. She's an exporter for Australia. She operates in four
countries and she employs about 300 or 400 people overseas as well. All her own work. She's the
brains of the family, by the way. She's very clever. I'm really proud of the fact that she's done
that and the work that she does is fantastic.

STEVE: What does it mean for spouses of politicians, particularly if you become leader of the

RUDD: Well, in the 21st century, I hope we've got to a stage where people either vote for me or not
vote for me based on what I stand for, what I believe in and the policies I put forward for the
next election. And I'll respect their decision on that. I hope we've got to the stage where my wife
is treated quite separately to that. And we are quite separate people. I've never been a
shareholder in her company. I've never been a director of her firm. It's been all her own effort.

But on the conflict of interest question, coming back to what you raise, what we decided to do is
this. If I'm elected as Prime Minister, big if, Everest, big mountain to climb, that, if I'm
elected, the first thing I'd do is go to Dr Peter Shergold, who's the Secretary of Mr Howard's
Department, ask him for formal advice, which would be, how do we adopt a procedure here which
removes any substance of conflict of interest. We would then act on that advice completely, and
furthermore, this is where I go one step further, whoever then is the Leader of the Opposition, Mr
Costello or whoever, we'd say is this to your satisfaction. And it is only on that basis that we
would proceed.

KIM: OK. If the advice is that she's got to get out or she's got to sell, you would do that?

RUDD: We would act on the advice. Therese and I have had long conversations about this and I didn't
enter this business of politics unless there'd been a family conference about where it was all
going to go. Therese, myself, three kids, cat and the dog, got all involved in the discussion.

STEVE: Mr Rudd, we've got to leave it there.

RUDD: The cat objected, by the way.

STEVE: I'm sure we'll see you again before election time.

KIM: Yeah, great to see you again. Thanks for coming in.

RUDD: Thanks for having me on the program.