Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts.These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Meet The Press -

View in ParlView



November 9th 2008


MEET THE PRESS PRESENTER PAUL BONGIORNO: Good morning and welcome to Meet the Press. The past week
saw dramatic and historic change at the apex of the world's most powerful nation, and politics has
changed with it - no longer will there be a climate change sceptic in the White House, just for

US PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA (Wednesday): We know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are
the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a

PAUL BONGIORNO: And there's a global hope Barack Obama will be a more inclusive player on the world
stage as we all confront the financial crisis.

TREASURER WAYNE SWAN (Wednesday): There's no point in trying to sugar-coat these figures. The
global financial crisis has smashed a $40 billion hole in the budget.

SHADOW TREASURER JULIE BISHOP Wednesday): The Government can't be trusted on these figures. The
Government is using the global financial crisis as an excuse for its incompetence and

PAUL BONGIORNO: The Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Emissions Trading Andrew Robb is our
guest. And later, the toll the financial crisis is taking on our most vulnerable citizens. But
first, in breaking news, the three Bali bombers have been executed by firing squad. Indonesia
announced the three mass murderers were shot at midnight local time. We cross to Ten News reporter
Nick Way in Bali. Good morning, Nick. What's happening?

TEN NEWS REPORTER NICK WAY: Good morning, Paul. Yes, it's finally happened. Five years after
Amrozi, Muklas and Imam Samudra were sentenced to death by firing squad, yes, they were actually
executed about five hours ago. There have been scenes of jubilation here in Bali. Aussies have been
at the monument and in nearby night clubs celebrating in different ways, some in quiet
contemplation, others boisterous. But there are definitely fears here. People have told us they've
been avoiding the busy night spots as well because there are fears of reprisals. They're hoping
there's no violent sequel to this bloody chapter. The bombers were executed and there were reports
they were taken from their cells just before midnight. They were shouting, "Allah Akbar" - "God is
great." And they believe that they will become martyrs. They were taken to the site about three
kilometres from the jail. The bodies have been autopsied and wrapped in cloth and they'll be put in
to helicopters and flown away at first light in about an hour's time to the villages. This was an
effort to reduce the chance of violent reprisals if there had been a road convoy. We do know that
in East Java, at the village where Amrozi and Muklas's families are, up to 900 extra police are in
the area, including the elite anti-terror squad which was formed after the 2002 bombings. So some
real fears of reprisals. And those fears are tipping over in to Bali.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Thank you very much, Ten Reporter Nick Way in Bali. In other news - The 'Sunday
Age' says, "voters oust Clark as New Zealand turns right." The New Zealand National Party's John
Key is the new Prime Minister after voters firmly rejected Labour's long-serving Helen Clark. Ms
Clark accepted responsibility for the ending of nine years of Labour rule and is to quit as Party
leader. The 'Sunday Herald-Sun' headlines, "Wayne Swan warned of melt-down." The World Bank has
warned finance ministers attending a G20 meeting in Brazil, the impact of the global financial
crisis is unprecedented in scope. And welcome back to the program, Andrew Robb.


PAUL BONGIORNO: What's your reaction to the news the Bali bombers have been executed?

ANDREW ROBB: I think it might hopefully give a lot of people in Australia a sense of closure. All
of those that had some association with the many that were killed in two incidents in Bali. And I
do hope that there are no reprisals. Though, I think we must have quite a lot of confidence in the
Indonesian authorities. I think they've done a first-class job over the last five years in dealing
with this issue.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Moving on to the other big news of the day - the Clark Government has fallen in New
Zealand. John Key is promising to wind back Helen Clark's emissions trading and to cushion business
more. I notice one commentator said, even so, New Zealand will be further ahead of where
Australia's now at.

ANDREW ROBB: Well, in some respects. They've excluded major sectors like agriculture, so if we
brought in a scheme, we'd have major parts of our industry at a competitive disadvantage
immediately, even with New Zealand. But, clearly it was an issue in the New Zealand campaign. There
was a political agenda to rush a scheme in by the New Zealand Labour Party, Labour Government. It's
done in a way which will possibly lead to jobs and emissions being exported overseas. They've moved
too far ahead of the rest of the world too quickly. It was an issue in the campaign. And it will be
instructive in terms of how the Rudd Government has got to wind back the sort of unnecessary haste
and take some measured approach to this, so we get the right scheme in place, not some politically
inspired scheme.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Do you think, just looking at the results in New Zealand, following on what
happened certainly in the US of America and indeed Australia a year ago, that there's a mood for
change out there in the electorates?

ANDREW ROBB: There's a strong mood for change. You see incumbency around the world under threat.
People, they're fearful. I think in New Zealand there was a lot of merit seen - I've spent some
time there over the last couple of months - there was merit seen in having someone in charge who
has strong business and financial experience. John Key benefited from his background because
they're in recession. And people are worried about their jobs, quality of life, about the future
for their kids and they are looking for, you know, a sense of strong resolve, experience, measured
approach to dealing with a very uncertain world.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Alright. At the end of the week Kevin Rudd flies to Washington for the G20 summit.
But can George Bush trust him after the 'Australian' had an unflattering leaked version of his
phone conversation with the President? The American Ambassador is diplomatically optimistic.

US AMBASSADOR ROBERT MCCALLUM (Thursday): The relationship between our two countries is not going
to be necessarily diminished by any particular article in a newspaper about any particular subject.
The Prime Minister's office said the article was inaccurate. The White House has said the article
was inaccurate. As far as I'm concerned, it's a closed matter.

PAUL BONGIORNO: As far as the Federal Opposition is concerned, is it a closed matter?

ANDREW ROBB: Well, Paul, vanity is a very dangerous trait. And I think we've seen it in spadefuls
here. This issue is not a closed matter. Certainly not in the diplomatic community. It is
reverberating very strongly throughout the diplomatic community. As long as Kevin Rudd is Prime
Minister, no world leader will have a fully frank discussion with him on the telephone. And I
suspect even the President Obama call the other day, I suspect he let Mr Rudd do most of the
talking for fear of seeing the conversation somewhere in the newspapers.

PAUL BONGIORNO: The Opposition was calling for an inquiry into the matter. There's nothing much
left to inquire in to, is there?

ANDREW ROBB: Well, no, the point is Mr Rudd said there were only two people in the room, himself
and a note-taker. If the note-taker leaked the essence of the conversation, that is a matter of
great consequence and it is a police matter. If the note-taker did not leak that material, there's
only one other man that it could have come from, it came from the lips of the Prime Minister.
That's another matter of great consequence because we're talking about relationships with world
leaders for years to come, and the Prime Minister needs to explain what has happened. We need to
get to the bottom of this.

PAUL BONGIORNO: When we return, Barack Obama says he'll pledge the US to a cap and trade system to
cut greenhouse gases. Where does that leave Australia? And the uplifting event of the century so
far came on Wednesday Australian time.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Whether they supported me, or Senator Obama, whether they supported me or
Senator Obama, I wish God speed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my President.

BARACK OBAMA: It's been a long time coming, but tonight because of what we did on this day, in this
election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.


Welcome to our panel, Malcolm Farr, from the 'Daily Telegraph' and Philip Clark from Radio 2GB. In
the final week of the presidential election, the Republicans made a play for coal miners votes in
Ohio, Colorado and West Virginia. They reminded voters in those States that the Democrat had once
warned coal fired power stations could go bust as the cost is put on carbon pollution. They forgot
to mention he's in favour of carbon capture. His policies are also to encourage a cap and trade
system any more a more ambitious target than in Australia.

BARACK OBAMA (September): I've put forward a very substantial proposal to get 80% reductions in
greenhouse gases by 2050.

MALCOLM FARR, 'DAILY TELEGRAPH': Mr Robb, President-elect Obama has a heavyweight climate change
program. This has got to change the international equation on this issue. How will, what will that
change be?

ANDREW ROBB: Well, this is a point. We have to wait and see what he does deliver. Clearly, he has
put on the table hat he supports a cap and trade scheme. We support a cap and trade scheme. But he
has also made it crystal clear if you look at what he said and what he's written over the last 12
months, that the only real solution to climate change is to have all of the major emitters
involved. And he's really put a condition on America's leadership that China and Brazil and India
all commit to some scheme. So, we've got to look at how we can deliver that. They've got a
recession in the US. There's millions of people going out of work. We have to look at when and how
they'll start a scheme. It puts all the more onus on the Rudd Government to wait and find out what
can the new President deliver? When can he deliver it and how can he deliver it before we get too
far ahead of the world?

MALCOLM FARR: But we'll see that at the UN meeting in Poland in December and Copenhagen in December
2009, won't we? His election has got to change the dynamics of those important meetings.

ANDREW ROBB: I suspect it will change the dynamics. He won't even be the President by the Poland
meeting and he probably won't have an environment person in place until June-July next year the way
their system works. And they've got a recession, right? They're losing millions of jobs. He's got a
lot of other issues. We don't know how quickly and in what form any scheme will take place. The
Congress just voted almost overwhelmingly, both sides of the House, against a scheme. So he's got a
lot of internal politics to deal with. There's a lot of uncertainties, that's the point. Our whole
point has been - we've got to get this scheme right, not just bring it in for crass political
purposes. The Rudd Government are prepared to cut corners, in part, to save the political skin of
some senior ministers who are under threat from the Greens. There's no doubt about that. It's one
of their motivations. They want a new source of income. If they introduce the emissions trading
scheme, it's a new tax, indirect tax. In two years time, it's the equivalent of increasing the GST
from 10% to 12.5% in 2010. All of these things are hugely relevant, especially if the rest of the
world is still years away from implementing their own scheme.

PHILIP CLARK, RADIO 2GB: There are two basic views here. You're either a climate change believer
because you believe this is the greatest economic threat to the planet's future or alternatively
you believe in climate change on the balance of probabilities given the science that it's wiser to
do something or nothing. Just from a personal point of view, where do you sit in that debate?

ANDREW ROBB: I'm not a climate change sceptic, I'm a Rudd sceptic. I don't think...

PHILIP CLARK: But what's your personal view. Well, go on then...

ANDREW ROBB: I do not think they're competent and their motivation on this is appropriate. We've
got to protect Australian jobs and fix up the climate. You best tackle climate change from a
position of economic strength. That's what we've always got to keep in mind. And also there's no
Australian solution. There's a global solution. We've got to go hand in hand. My view is we've got
to give - I agree with Rupert Murdoch - the science is very difficult for any of us to grapple
with. We've got to rely on the people who know the science. I agree with Rupert Murdoch - we have
to give the planet the benefit of the doubt, therefore we need to get on with and get a scheme in
place, reduce CO2 emissions. There's a lot of efficiency benefits at the same time with all of that
to preserve our resources and our energy sources. So we've got to get on with the job but we've got
to do it in a way where we don't export Australian jobs and export emissions. And that's the
trouble with getting too far ahead of the world. If we do something which exports emissions, we'll
end up with more CO2 going up in to the atmosphere from China and India, so we'll do damage to the
climate and at the same time shoot ourselves in the foot economically.

PAUL BONGIORNO: The mid-year update of the budget shows the global financial crisis has shown put a
bomb under the Rudd agenda? WAYNE SWAN (Wednesday): What we can do, whether it comes to
infrastructure, whether it comes to reform of federal-state relations or a whole host of other
areas, there's tough decisions that must be taken.

PHILIP CLARK: There are, and the key questions that have to be taken what sort of infrastructure
decisions should the Government be taking? The State Governments, particularly in NSW, are pushing
for urban transport solutions. They are electorally popular, albeit needed. Should we be going down
that route or be going down the key drivers of economic growth like port developments and national
highway developments? Where would you be?

ANDREW ROBB: It's a very good question. In fact if you look at all the reforms of the Labor
Government has been championing for two years, it all involves spending money. Now they've lost $60
billion. No matter whether you take COAG, education revolution, infrastructure, even the ETS, the
emissions trading, it's all a matter of spending money. Now the money has been lost, a lot of their
reforms have evaporated. The real challenge for the Rudd Government, what now are they going to do
to keep Australia strong? On the infrastructure, the only money they'll have to spend on
infrastructure is money that was delivered by the former government. That's all they'll have. And
it really means with a lot less money than they were projecting. They've lost $60 billion. The
quality of decisions needs to be paramount. We need to see real transparency in measuring whether
we go ports, where do we get the biggest productivity kick from our investment? And if it's just
done behind closed doors with all the best benefit cost analysis not on the table, none of the
assumptions on the table, we can then greatly fear that again this money will be used as a Labor
slush fund to bail out failed States.

MALCOLM FARR: OK, can we say, "Liberal Party to Sydney commuters - walk?" Is that what you're

ANDREW ROBB: Well, there hasn't been one decision by this Government in 12 months. They've been in
office 12 months - not one infrastructure decision. Not one, despite the fact they came in to
office saying they would reform infrastructure. So to the people in Brisbane and Sydney and
Melbourne, tomorrow in a traffic jam, congestion is a big economic problem. We've got to solve
congestion in these cities. It's costing our economy a lot of money. In other areas like Western
Australia, get the raw materials out of the country. Ports and congestion are big items. But we
need to have this stuff on the table so we can make objective decisions, not politically inspired
decisions behind closed doors.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Andrew Robb, thank you very much for joining us.

ANDREW ROBB: Thanks, Paul. Up next, the peak welfare body ACOSS has a new CEO who will be familiar
to many. We speak with Clare Martin. And Lethbridge on the 'Courier-Mail's web site raises the
stakes on a famous big-noter. BOOKIE: Place your bets on the Melbourne Cup. Mad Rush $7. Zipping
$20. Rates cut, $1. US election, Obama, $1.15, McCain $5.15. Gordon Brown $10. George Bush $2. MAN:
What are we betting on? BOOKIE: The Kevin Rudd name dropping stakes.

PAUL BONGIORNO: You're on Meet The Press. A couple of weeks back there was a food giveaway that
served as a stark reminder many struggle in this wealthy country. Hundreds turned up to take
advantage of an offer of free food and groceries from a church on Brisbane's southern outskirts.
During the week the PM praised the work of Vinnies looking after the homeless in Sydney.

KEVIN RUDD (Thursday): As our prosperity in recent years has increased, so too have our numbers of
homeless, continuing test that we must pass is how we treat our weakest members.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Welcome to the program, the new CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service and
former Northern Territory Chief Minister Clare Martin.


PAUL BONGIORNO: It's a big change. Why did you make it?

CLARE MARTIN: It's not that much of a change, when you consider that in government you work with
the kind of issues that are the community sector issues. What I've done is move from the government
side to the community side. So it is still the same platform of issues, the issues of housing,
homelessness, of how you deal with people who need the most kind of government resource strategy
and assistance.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Is there a new agenda for ACOSS with the Rudd Government?

CLARE MARTIN: With the Rudd Government, there are signs and a strong indication from the Rudd
Government that they are going to deal with the issues that are most concern to ACOSS. Take the tax
system, pension review, homelessness, the cost of housing, the issues of climate change and its
impact on low-income earners. There are a whole raft of issues the Rudd Government has indicate a
strong commitment to. From the point of ACOSS, what we need to do is make sure that the focus keeps
on those least able to kind of deal with the change we're seeing in the community, whether that's
the financial downturn whether it's climate change, those whole range of issues.

PHILIP CLARK: These are difficult times and the Government's essentially said, OK, next year we'll
keep our promise on pensions and there will be a pension increase." They can hardly do otherwise.
But that's going to be it as far as new commitments in the budget next year?

CLARE MARTIN: Looking at how we move to the future, from ACOSS's point of view, the pension is very
important. If you're unemployed, you get $219 a week. You might then get rent assistance on top of
that. I challenge anyone to live on $275 a week. How do you live on that in Sydney, Melbourne,
Perth? It is really tough. So that pension review is very important. The other thing that's
critical, that you talked to Andrew Robb about, was the infrastructure. Now, when you're looking at
the infrastructure spend, which is the Federal Government is committed to, despite the kind of
concerns about "Where's the money?" then it can't be only about major roads, bridges. It's got to
be about social housing. It's got to be about tackling in its parallel paths. You've got to look at
the housing situation and how people can afford to live.

MALCOLM FARR: But the dole...


MALCOLM FARR: unreconstructed people like me call it, was always meant to be a transition
payment between jobs. Now, that might get a bit harder in the next few months as we know as the
economy slows, but essentially it's just to help people get by. It's not supposed to be a full-time
living wage, is it?

CLARE MARTIN: We have the lowest unemployment now, at the moment, for a decade. So what you've got
are people who are finding it very difficult to leave unemployment because of a whole raft of
issues. Now the predictions are over the next 12 to 18 months, we could see another 250,000 people
unemployed. We don't know when the jobs will be created again. To say to people, "You're in
transition, so therefore you get a very much lower payment than anyone else," they're still going
to live and are still finding it tough. And the dole payment is about $80 less than a pension.
That's tough every week to cope on that.

PHILIP CLARK: But you've still got a Government who has got to find new ways of creating some
wealth rather than handing it down. The boom times are over. The Government is likely to be moving
to a Budget deficit over the next two to three years. It's not the ideal time to go down to
Canberra and ask for new welfare spending proposals? Well, we've got a federal government, Kevin
Rudd saying they will look at the recommendations of the Henry Harmer pension review and will take
action in the next budget. So I'd like a good focus on what the changes will be. From ACOSS's point
of view, rather than having a different basis for Newstart, the dole, and an aged pension, we
should have an Australian minimum standard of living. While you want people to get off that if
they're unemployed, as soon as they can, and there are good strategies in place for that, there
shouldn't be a difference if you're aged or if you're disability or unemployed. There should be
allowances on top of that, there should be a basic wage.

MALCOLM FARR: So, the living wage...

CLARE MARTIN: The living benefit.

MALCOLM FARR: The living benefit, t as it were.

CLARE MARTIN: Other countries have that. And it makes sense. We have such inequities in the system

MALCOLM FARR: Can I ask you a broader question? Has the Rudd Government lived up to the
expectations raised 12 months ago?

CLARE MARTIN: There are a lot of reviews in place. That's inevitable for a new government. There
are going to be reviews. Reviewing the tax system is not easy. Reviewing the pension system, again,
difficult. I would have liked to have seen infrastructure move more quickly. The commitment to
doing some major infrastructure projects is terrific, but that has moved very slowly. So, that is
something from ACOSS's point of view, we would like to see greater action and certainly like to see
that issue of housing, which can be done quickly with State Governments, move very quickly.

PAUL BONGIORNO: You'd be looking for some big resolutions coming out of COAG later this month?

CLARE MARTIN: In terms of COAG, from ACOSS's point of view, the community sector would like to be
involved in it. Because of the changes of what are called specific purpose payments, that's where
the funding from the community sector comes from. So unless the community sector is involved and
you have a Federal Government talking to States, but not actually talking to the service providers,
that's the key area for ACOSS.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Thank you for joining us, Clare Martin and our panel, Malcolm Farr and Philip
Clark. Until next week, goodbye.