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Meet The Press -

View in ParlView


July 29th 2007


MEET THE PRESS PRESENTER PAUL BONGIORNO: Good morning and welcome to Meet the Press. John Howard
accuses the premiers of doing Kevin Rudd's dirty work, going where the Federal leader fears to
tread, Peter Beattie leading the charge, attacking the treatment meted out to Gold Coast doctor,
Mohammed Haneef.

QUEENSLAND PREMIER PETER BEATTIE (Sunday): What they are doing is undermining public confidence in
the anti-terrorism laws. But this is starting to look like it is just Keystone cops.

PM JOHN HOWARD (Thursday): Now he's giving a commentary, he's calling for a Senate inquiry, he's
condemning the Federal police. I think he ought to back off and keep quiet.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Queensland Premier Peter Beattie is a guest. And later, coal miners go green. The
CFMEU launches a new campaign to combat climate change. But first, what the papers are
reporting.The Brisbane 'Sunday Mail' sets the tone of the day. "Haneef heads home". Freed terror
suspect Dr Mohammed Haneef is on his way to India after the Federal Government said it had no
objection to him leaving Australia. His lawyer, Peter Russo, says the medico had the choice of
staying until his appeal against the loss of his work visa was heard early next month. He intends
to continue with that appeal. The Sunday 'Herald Sun' in Melbourne says "Premier in waiting".
Treasurer John Brumby is off to a flying start, with a key speech today promising to invest heavily
in skills and education. And the Sydney 'Sun-Herald' reports "Investors fret over share price
freefall". Jittery traders are bracing themselves for another damaging plunge on the stock market
tomorrow following last week's dramatic losses on Wall Street.

John Howard is convinced the Labor premiers are out to get him. One thorn in his side, Victoria's
Steve Bracks, has proved him wrong by quitting on Friday. Is his more outspoken ally from
Queensland, Premier Beattie, the next leader to lead the field of battle? And welcome back to the
program, Peter Beattie.


PAUL BONGIORNO: Good morning. Let's go to - we'll go to Dr Haneef in a moment - but just on your
own fate or future, you've already indicated you won't serve out the full term, will you undertake
today to remain Premier until the end of this year?

PETER BEATTIE: Paul, what I've said is that over the next 12 months is that I'll consider my
future, and I'll make a decision in that time. What I basically said at our ALP conference is over
the next 12 months I'll decide whether I contest the next election or not. I know after Steve's
resignation on Friday there's always going to be a lot of speculation. I haven't made up my mind
yet but I've been Premier of Queensland for over nine years. I've got a great Premier successor in
waiting if you like, with Anna Bligh. I have to make up my mind whether I have the determination
and energy to take us into the next term. All I can say, Paul, is I haven't made up my mind yet but
you'll be the first to know.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Thank you very much. 100 days out from the Victorian State election and two days
after it, Steve Bracks undertook to serve out the full term. At the very least hasn't his
resignation been a breach of trust with the people of Victoria?

PETER BEATTIE: I think one of the the difficulties is when you've been a long-term premier like
Steve, Steve's been there eight years, it's always difficult to find a time to resign and to do it
in a way that's in the interests of your State. He was very honest. Politics these days for
premiers and leaders is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. What he basically said was that he'd
given his absolute best all that time. He'd got to the point where he didn't feel he could continue
to do that, so he did the right thing. I mean, how many times do politicians hang around like a bad
smell doing a 50% job? I've got to say, I think Steve did the right thing. He was honest with the
people of Victoria and while, Paul, there'll always be that criticism and I understand it, the
reality is it's better to go when you're on top, when you're doing the job.

PAUL BONGIORNO: But Federal Labor is actually demanding that John Howard come clean with the people
of Australia and spell out whether he'll serve a full term as PM. It seems based on what you've
said today there's one law for the Labor Party and one law for the Liberals?

PETER BEATTIE: Not at all. I think the difference, Paul, is this - that what Steve Bracks did,
Steve said, "Look I have thought about this, I believe that I've done a good job but I don't
believe I can continue to do it at 100% so I'm going to stand aside for someone who can." I think
that's perfectly legitimate. Now, it's a different issue to seek commitments prior to and for a
term. If people change, if people get sick along the way, for example, then it's not unreasonable
for people to stand down or if their emphasis changes.

PAUL BONGIORNO: That's not a voluntary resignation, though.

PETER BEATTIE: Oh no, it's not; but if somebody feels that someone else can do the job better, then
isn't it in the interest of their State or the country they stand aside for someone else? I think
the position is quite clear and I think it's consistent with both the Howard case and the Bracks

PAUL BONGIORNO: Going to Dr Haneef, an exclusive nation wide Ipsos Meet the Press poll taken
earlier in the week as the case against him was unravelling found 72% agreed with the detention of
the terror suspect for 12 days without charge. Of those, 39% strongly agreed. Only 15% disagreed.
Does that surprise you?

PETER BEATTIE: Not really. I think, Paul, the important thing is that people are quite rightly
concerned about terrorism and they want everything done to protect this country. That's why the
premiers signed up with the PM tough anti-terrorism laws which you'd have to say were draconian in
many senses. People are worried about their security. I think that's perfectly understandable, but
I bet the same percentage of Australians also want to make sure we protect our quality of life and
to do that you've got to get the balance right. Yes, you've got to have tough anti-terrorism laws
but you've got to make certain that they're applied fairly, and that's a different issue.

PAUL BONGIORNO: On the question of using the migration laws to detain him, it wasn't quite as
decisive. 53%, still a majority, agreed, 27% strongly agreed, 24% disagreed and a very high 23%
were undecided. So, it could be that maybe the electorate saw the cancelling of the visa as more a
political act?

PETER BEATTIE: I don't think there's any doubt about that and I think there needs to be a clear
inquiry into what happened here. Kevin Andrews' behaviour in this does need to be subjected to
greater scrutiny. Clearly the outrageous aspect that happened here, Paul, was that the magistrate
in Queensland decided he'd be granted bail and before that could happen, Kevin Andrews made a
decision to cancel his visa. Bang, right over the decision of the magistrates court. Frankly, I
think Kevin Andrews has a lot to answer for and the PM should at the very least be disciplining him
and I think he should be the subject of an inquiry. Little wonder that Australian people are saying
that they're a bit sus about what happened. I think that's the least you could see about it.

PAUL BONGIORNO: But on this issue it seems that politics was being played all around. You beat the
PM and the Attorney-General, the Federal Attorney-General, to the punch by announcing that Dr
Haneef was being detained.

PETER BEATTIE: No, what happened was this - the Attorney-General and the Queensland Government made
announcements that indicated subject to - sorry, what had happened, Paul, is this matter had become
public in the sense that the rumours were everywhere that something was going to happen. What we
did was simply explain to Queenslanders what the circumstances were. I make no apology for that.
This was a Queensland doctor in a Queensland hospital, who'd been detained at an airport the night
before, it was all through the media, what we had to do was simply explain to Queenslanders that
there was not a terrorist threat in this State. All I've ever done here is to do two things Paul -
one, to make certain there was no panic, if you like, that there was a terrorist attack to any
building or any person in this State, therefore, what do you do? Tell the public the full truth,
which is what I did, and I make no apology for that. When there are a number of things that happen
that were questionable, what I did was simply ask the Federal Government to explain what the
inconsistencies meant. What was the true case? For my trouble I got attacked by the PM, by
Alexander Downer, by the Deputy PM and, who knows, the dog at the Lodge. I mean, everyone had a go.

PAUL BONGIORNO: But what contributed to the view that the Keystone Cops were at work were a number
of leaks coming out of the investigation, about blowing up a building, etc. Now, the Federal Police
Commissioner pointed out on Friday that there are 200 Queensland police involved in that
investigation. And I can tell you that there is a view in Canberra that those leaks were coming
from the Queensland police. Are you worried about that and will you try to find out where they came

PETER BEATTIE: Paul, two things about that. The reason I made the comment about Keystone Cops came
as a result, you're quite correct, there was a front page story in the 'Sunday Mail' which said
Federal police are investigating these matters. That was the quote in the 'Sunday Mail' and it led
an inference that there was a possible threat to an icon building on the Gold Coast. Paul, the Gold
Coast is our second city. It is a tourism destination, a world-class tourism destination, I am not
not going to have a damage to our tourism, one of our tourism destinations by some.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Are you worried where the leak's coming from?

PETER BEATTIE: Let me make this point, Paul. I'm not going to allow one of our big industries to be
damaged by some police leak. Now, I'm told that there is a Federal police investigation into this
leak. One of the things that Mick Keelty has to release is the outcomes of that investigation. Of
course I'm concerned. It's one of the reasons I got cranky and why wouldn't I as Premier of
Queensland get cranky if there's a four page story that says there's a likely threat to one of our
buildings in the heart of one of our tourism destinations and the source is a police source. They
can complain all they like, Paul. They should explain how it happened, and I don't care whether
it's State police or Federal police, they need an investigation and they should be telling the
world how it got into the newspaper.

PAUL BONGIORNO: When we return with the panel, John Howard points the finger at the States for
putting upward pressure on interest rates. And the tumble of the week, a perfect 10, goes to the
PM. JOHN HOWARD: Well, that can happen to anybody, too. Particularly when it's been raining. See,
I've prayed too hard for rain.

PAUL BONGIORNO: You're on Meet the Press with Queensland Premier Peter Beattie. And welcome to our
panel, Patricia Karvelas, the 'Australian'. And Clinton Porteous, the 'Courier-Mail'. On Wednesday,
skyrocketing petrol prices, fruit and vegetables and rents among other factors saw inflation rise
above expectations. And the markets forecast the Reserve Bank will raise interest rates another
0.25% within two weeks. John Howard says don't blame him. J

OHN HOWARD (Wednesday): We're not adding any pressure to interest rates because we have no net
debt. And I would therefore state it as a fact that the only level of government that is exerting
upward pressure on interest rates at the present time are Labor State governments.

CLINTON PORTEOUS, 'COURIER-MAIL': Mr Beattie, in your Budget this year there were borrowings of, I
think, $3.6 billion on worthwhile things like roads and other things. But aren't you playing into
Mr Howard's hands, aren't you giving ammunition on interest rates?

PETER BEATTIE: Clinton, the answer is "No". We've got the best books in the country. Our growth for
the last 11 years has been higher than the national growth. We've got 3.4% unemployment. Federally,
it's 4.5% or 4.6%. The reality is we are borrowing for infrastructure and it's sound borrowings,
it's modest, we're building the roads, the schools, the hospitals - all the things we need to do.
It would be really nice if the Federal Government actually invested some money in infrastructure.
We are in the best net debt position in the country. But one of the reasons we have to invest in
infrastructure is because the Commonwealth isn't.

PATRICIA KARVELAS, THE 'AUSTRALIAN': Mr Beattie, in this term we've seen John Howard take over
industrial relations, water, disability services, even the other day he mentioned housing,
indigenous affairs in the Northern Territory. Has there been an erosion of State rights and have
the States been made redundant?

PETER BEATTIE: Look, there's been a great deal of centralism when it comes to this Commonwealth
government. That's true. The reality is we've tried to work in partnership with the Commonwealth.
You see that at COAG meetings. The States have a vital role to play, and we intend to play it. But
frankly, there's a lot of politics in this from the Commonwealth. You saw the other day the housing
comments made by Mr Brough. Basically what they're going to do now is take away the grants from the
States for housing, and basically put the poor and the sick out to tender. That's what they're
going to do. If they think that's going to help the housing crisis in this country, they're wrong.
We need to have more money from the Commonwealth. They have taken $400 million out of funding for
housing for Queensland alone. Yet we've doubled the amount we've put into public housing. But you
are right. They are seeking to erode the power of the States at every opportunity. That is not in
the national interest.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Just going on the relations between the Labor States and the Liberal PM, in
September last year, South Australia Labor Premier Mike Rann wrote "picking up 16 seat across the
country is difficult but within Labor's reach, particularly if there's a more energised and
coordinated partnership between successful State and Territory governments and the Federal

PETER BEATTIE: Well I agree with that, Paul.

PATRICIA KARVELAS: Premier, isn't the evidence in, surely the Premiers are doing Kevin Rudd's dirty
work now?

PETER BEATTIE: But Patricia, that's not true. I mean, one of the things that's important here is
that we don't simply buy the nonsense and propaganda from Mr Howard and his team. They attacked me
this week because I took a view on the Haneef case. Now, why wouldn't I? Queensland doctor,
Queensland hospital. I was one of the premiers who signed up to the anti-terrorism laws, but I
wanted to seek protection for the individuals, and, by the way, I think the public interest
monitor, that is, where you have an independent person giving advice to the courts, which we have
in Queensland, after what's happened this week, I think there should be a public interest monitor
in all the Federal anti-terrorism laws across the country. But all we were doing is our job. We
will make strong statements on behalf of the States to look after the interests of our communities.

PATRICIA KARVELAS: But are State Premiers running hard-line arguments to make Kevin Rudd's work

PETER BEATTIE: No. I've had no discussions with Kevin Rudd about any of the positions I've taken on
behalf of Queensland, and nor would I. The reality is I represent Queensland. The other premiers
represent their States, we're out there, if you like, doing the dirty work for Queensland and I
make no apology for that.

CLINTON PORTEOUS: Mr Beattie, aren't you making it harder for Mr Beattie (sic) in some ways with
that announcement on Friday about council amalgamations? Won't anger out there might be vented at
the polls?

PETER BEATTIE: Clinton, I am confident that Queenslanders are smart. We've had these Liberal, Labor
voters in Queensland for the last number of elections where people can discern the issues. It's
quite clear that if anyone's angry about these amalgamations it's my fault. It's got nothing to do
with Kevin Rudd. And I've said this publicly. This is a State decision of my Government for which I
am responsible.

CLINTON PORTEOUS: On politics in your State, you've had a lot to say about the AFP and DPP. I want
to ask you about the AFP investigations into the three Federal Liberals over the so-called
Printgate. It's been almost five months. Aren't they bumbling? Shouldn't they get on and get out a
decision on what's happening there?

PETER BEATTIE: Clinton, I don't know the full details of that. Obviously the sooner the decision is
made the better, and I think most people would like the see it done prior to the election, but I'm
not going to interfere in the day to day matters. I don't know how complicated that issue is. I'm
not aware of any difficulties with it but I would like to see it as soon as possible but I'm not
going to interfere in that investigation.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Thank you very much for being with us today, Peter Beattie. And up next - the coal
mining union goes green. And it probably won't impress the Greens Party who have launched an ad on
the web lampooning Labor, attacking Kevin Rudd and John Howard. AD: John Howard has been asleep on
climate change for the past 11 years. Kevin Rudd thinks he has woken up to global warming but his
pollices are a climate change nightmare. He won't set short-term emission targets and his clean
coal pipe dream is decades away. As alarm at global warming grows, Kevin Rudd and John Howard are
in bed with the coal industry. Howard and Rudd, in bed with the coal industry.

PAUL BONGIORNO: You're on Meet the Press. A few months ago John Howard accused Kevin Rudd of
putting at risk thousands of coal miners' jobs with his target of reducing greenhouse gases by 60%
by 2050. The coal miners union today is launching a million-dollar campaign urging the PM to do
more to combat climate change.

AD: You know, global warming is putting our jobs and industries at risk. If we don't act, we could
lose a $6 billion tourism industry. Could mean the end of a $9 billion farm industry. All of your
jobs could be gone if the the coal industry isn't cleaned up. John Howard refused to sign Kyoto.
And he won't even set targets for reducing greenhouse emissions. We need a government that will
take climate change seriously.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Welcome to the program, Tony Maher, president of the CFMEU's mining division.


PAUL BONGIORNO: Are you guys trying to do yourselves out of a job?

TONY MAHER: Couldn't be further from the truth. The fact is that our jobs depend on cleaning up the
coal industry. Climate change is real, we've been engaged in this for 20 years, 25 years, really.
And we know that our job security depends in the medium to long term on reducing CO2 emissions -
and that's the long term job security four our members.

PAUL BONGIORNO: But don't we need a shorter term solution than that?

TONY MAHER: There are a range of measures that need to be buttressed and they are an increase in
the mandatory renewable energy target, an emissions trading scheme. For a start, we need some
leadership such as ratifying the Kyoto protocol. All of these policies have been embraced by our
members in a national plebiscite. And, importantly, we need a clean energy target, a target that
guarantees a market share for all of the technologies that can produce a low emission future. And
that's what's missing from the debate at the moment. The Federal Government is proposing an
emissions trading scheme, but they won't tell us what it's going to look like until after the
election. And what we really need is we need investment in all the technologies - and that's
starting to happen - but we also need the certainty, we need business certainty as well as job
security certainty arising from a guaranteed market share, and that's what a clean energy target

PATRICIA KARVELAS: A million dollars is a lot of money from union members. Is your ad really
motivated by environmental concerns or are you just trying to get Kevin Rudd elected?

TONY MAHER: No, we've been engaged in this for 25 years. We were at Kyoto, we were at the Rio Earth
Summit and the fact is that our members' job security totally depends on the reduction of emissions
through these policies. So the real issue that we have to come to grips with is not whether or not
the government changes but whether or not the industry survives, and that's what we're on about.

CLINTON PORTEOUS: You're ad talks about targets, but really, Labor hasn't got a short-term target,
they've got 2050, isn't your ad basically backing up the Greens? I think they want a 30% cut by
2020 and 80% by 2050. That sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

TONY MAHER: No, they're different targets. There's an emissions reduction target, that's the 2050
target. We're talking about a guaranteed market share for the energy producers to have to use a
certain amount of clean energy, whether it be renewables, solar, wind or whether it be carbon
capture and storage geosequestration. So that's what needs to happen. They need to be required to
do that. We know those policies work, because we've had a mandatory renewable energy target, a
guaranteed market share. It was a paltry 2% and that was met by the renewable sector in a very
short time frame.

CLINTON PORTEOUS: But solar and wind don't help you sector. Where's clean coal at the moment? Could
be 10, 15 years away. Could be too late?

TONY MAHER: It will be available from about 2014 according to the mining companies, and that's
what's got to be understood.

CLINTON PORTEOUS: And you believe them?

TONY MAHER: Absolutely. The mining companies support a clean energy target. There's actually an
emerging consensus that there needs to be a target to pull through those technologies. In the next
decade they will all need a leg up, whether it be solar thermal, geothermal or carbon capture and
storage. The free market on its own cannot produce the low emission future that this country and
the world needs.

PATRICIA KARVELAS: On that, would you like to see the Greens hold the balance of power in the
Senate and would you like the ALP to do a national preference deal with them?

TONY MAHER: I think the Greens are on a hiding to nothing in this coming election. They've
marginalised themselves from the climate change debate. This should be the year when the Greens are
at their most prominent because of the climate change issue. But the fact is they've marginalised
themselves by stepping outside the mainstream debate. The mainstream debate where the policy
decisions will be made are not where the Greens are. The Greens are saying, phase out the coal
industry. That's actually not only an economic disaster but a policy that will have a zero impact
on the emission levels, because that coal that we export from Australia would simply be replaced by
other countries. So their policy is ineffective in terms of climate change, and they are irrelevant
to the debate.

CLINTON PORTEOUS: There's been a couple of expulsions or attempted expulsions from the Labor Party.
I was actually looking through one of your speeches from last year and you seemed to use some
pretty fruity language yourself. Can I quote you? It says, "I'd like to thank John Howard for
WorkChoices, it has reminded people in the labour movement of why we were formed, what we stand for
and why we hate those Tory bastards so much." Are you proud of that sort of language?

TONY MAHER: We've got a lot of reasons to be angry with John Howard and the Government in

CLINTON PORTEOUS: Should Kevin Rudd kick you out of the party for that?

TONY MAHER: Coal miners have had their award rates frozen for seven years. John Howard tried to
take our long service leave fund off us and he stood by and did nothing while the Oakdale miners
went without their $6.3 million. So we've got a lot of reasons to be very angry and to use
colourful language. So we don't apologise for that.

PATRICIA KARVELAS: If John Howard wins the next election is the union movement over?

TONY MAHER: No, absolutely not. The future of the union movement is in the hands of employees. I've
got no doubt there's a bright and rosy future.

PAUL BONGIORNO: If John Howard wins the argument over nuclear energy, that spells the doom
long-term, doesn't it, for the coal industry?

TONY MAHER: Well, the real threat to coal miners' job security and power workers' job security is
25 nuclear reactors in Australia. That's the harsh reality. A solar farm down the road is not going
to close down a coal-fired power station. But 25 nuclear reactors will.

CLINTON PORTEOUS: What about uranium mining? Do you have members who are into uranium mining. Do
you support the expansion of uranium mining?

TONY MAHER: We don't cover uranium mining.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Glad of that?

TONY MAHER: Well, it hasn't arisen. It belongs to somebody else.

PAUL BONGIORNO: But even the debate over renewables and nuclear energy, we are basically looking at
a long-term demise for coal, it's the power source of the 19th century?

TONY MAHER: No, that's not right. The coal industry is $6 billion tonnes of coal is consumed. You
can't solve global warming without having clean coal technologies. You can't do that without
turning the lights off across the world. You have to develop the technologies and sell them to the
world or give them to the world so that they can have energy without climate change. That's the
challenge and under that scenario there is no doubt that there is a long-term future for low
emission coal technology. There's not a future for high emission coal technology.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Thank you very much for being with us today, Tony Maher. Until next week, goodbye.