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Sunday Agenda -

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Interview with Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett

Sky News Sunday Agenda program, 11th April 2010

Helen Dalley: David Bartlett, thanks for joining us on Sunday Agenda.

David Bartlett: Thank you Helen, great to be with you.

Helen Dalley: Now as late as Thursday lunchtime you said you expected that Governor Peter Underwood
would accept your advice and commission the Liberals' Will Hodgman as premier. But by the day's
end, it was a completely different story, wasn't it?

David Bartlett: Well yes and no. Essentially His Excellency did accept my advice, and my advice was
that in the event of a ten/ten number of seats that I would ask the Governor to talk to Will
Hodgman to ask if he was willing and able to commit to form a government. The facts of the matter
are that Will Hodgman failed to convince the Governor that he could, was unable to form a
government, and hence His Excellency returned to me and has asked me to form a government on the
floor of the House of Assembly, and that's exactly what I intend to do.

Helen Dalley: But in a sense you are forming government against your own advice to the Governor.
You virtually said go to the other guy, he got more votes than me.

David Bartlett: No.

Helen Dalley: And against the advice of Will Hodgman who told the Governor that he could form a
government, so in a sense the Governor went against both of your advice?

David Bartlett: Well ultimately I don't think that's quite true, because what I said all the way
through the election campaign was that the party that effectively won the election on seats or
votes or what have you, should be given the opportunity to form the government in the first
instance. Now Will Hodgman clearly failed to form that government and therefore His Excellency . .
.

Helen Dalley: . . . But he said he could form it and it wasn't tested in the house at the
parliament.

David Bartlett: He was unable to convince His Excellency of that point.

Helen Dalley: Can you understand why many people are perplexed by this? Presumably there's a number
of voters in Tasmania who are angry about it. Both of you have the same number of seats. You
essentially offered the other guy the chance to form government because he got more votes than you.

David Bartlett: And he failed.

Helen Dalley: Then the Greens come out after that and say that they could best work with the
existing Labor government. Then the Governor instead of giving Will Hodgman that chance to test it
on the floor of the house, he gives you the right to test your support on the floor of the house,
even though you've said there's been no deal to work with the Greens. So why should you be given
that chance?

David Bartlett: Well look, essentially I'm not going to reflect on His Excellency's decision. He
has published on his website I think a very comprehensive set of reasons for his decision. I'd
encourage people to read that in detail rather than me I think trying to interpret what His
Excellency might have thought. I don't think that's particularly becoming or appropriate for a
premier to be doing. But what I'd just say is this, that I understand the Greens' last minute
decision to support Labor, which shocked me I've got to say, I understand that in His Excellency's
explanation, he says that had no bearing and was completely immaterial to the constitutional
decisions that he made.

Helen Dalley: That's right.

David Bartlett: Yes, I accept the premise of your question though. There are many in Tasmania who
didn't vote for me as premier, and there are many who did. Essentially the outcome of the election
is this; my key task now is to make it work. Ten/ten/five in Tasmania is a very complex and
challenging parliament, but it is my duty, my responsibility now, to make it work on behalf of all
Tasmanians. And the only way we can do that, I believe, is to build trust. We must build trust
within the parliament, across the parliamentary and political divides, because if we try to go it
alone and try to go in there and just be a government that thinks it's got a majority, it's a
recipe for disaster, not just for the Labor Party, but more to the point for the people of
Tasmania, the working men and women of Tasmania and their families, because what is at stake here
is of course jobs, our economy and the very future of the state.

Helen Dalley: Was Will Hodgman of the Liberals out-manoeuvred by continually saying he wouldn't do
any power sharing deal with the Greens?

David Bartlett: That's a question you'd have to ask him, but I'd say this. Will Hodgman was gifted,
handed on a plate the opportunity to form a government and he failed to do so. Now to what extent
or what advice or what machinations his party room decided on in attempting to form a government,
they failed. Those are the facts, and therefore it's my duty and responsibility to get on and make
this work.

Helen Dalley: David Bartlett, could I put to you though, you also said that you perhaps really
couldn't do any power sharing with the Greens, but perhaps you didn't mean it because now you're
going to have to.

David Bartlett: What I say is this. I said I wouldn't do any backroom deals with the Greens, I
wouldn't do any backroom deals with the Liberal Party, but what I have always been committed to is
on the floor of the House of Assembly where governments are formed to work constructively with the
other parties to get our legislative agenda through. Sometimes that'll mean compromise and
sometimes that'll mean they also want to get a legislative agenda through, and that'll be
challenging for us to defeat on the floor of the house.

Helen Dalley: Exactly.

David Bartlett: So these are complexities, but they are not unknown in Tasmania, these
complexities. This is the first time in some 12 years that we've had a hung parliament, and the
truth is that parliaments in the past that have been in this situation have not worked well in the
interests of Tasmanians. It's my commitment to do everything that I can to make it work well. I
want this parliament to work for four years. I don't want to go to an early election.

Helen Dalley: How can you make this work when your side, during the campaign, told voters wrongly
that the Greens were planning to legalise heroin?

David Bartlett: Well that wasn't wrongly and that's not what we told the voters. But yes, in the
heat of campaigns, lots of things happen. As I've said already, I am responsible for both building
trust and I've been responsible in the past for tearing that trust down. But so too has Nick McKim,
so too has Will Hodgman, my two opponents. We are all equally responsible for the destruction if
you like of trust over recent years. We're now all equally responsible for building that trust,
which is the key ingredient to making this parliament work. As reported today, as the start of
that, on Friday I gave the leader of the Tasmanian Greens a call and asked him if he wanted to come
for a mountain bike on the glorious Mount Wellington yesterday morning. We enjoyed a two hour bike
ride together, and we started talking about the things that we do share in common, and starting to
build that trust.

Helen Dalley: Did you agree on that two hour bike ride, which was very pally of you both after
locking horns for some weeks, did you agree to anything that the Greens leader asked for?

David Bartlett: We did not make offers or requests of each other in any way, shape or form.

Helen Dalley: So he had two hours with you and he didn't ask for anything in this new government?

David Bartlett: We talked about the future of Tasmania and the very real need to build that trust
to make it work. But you know it's a bit like a courtship. The first date might be a cup of coffee
and a bike ride or what have you, but there's a long way to go to build that trust, a very long way
to go, I accept that. And trust is like a game of snakes and ladders. It takes a long time to get
to the top of the board, but one wrong move and you can find yourself very quickly down at the
bottom again.

Helen Dalley: You have to decide on ministries as a priority now. Will the Greens leader Nick McKim
at the very least get a portfolio? Because you're going to have to give the Greens something,
aren't you, to secure some of their votes to get legislation through?

David Bartlett: Well I'm not. No, that's not true at all. When we go back to the parliament, we'll
deal with the Greens with the respect they deserve given the vote they achieved. But the facts of
the matter are these. Nick McKim has guaranteed supply, he has guaranteed confidence in Labor,
therefore there is no gun to my head, there is no need to be . . .

Helen Dalley: . . . But if you want to get some legislation through, you've got ten. If the
Liberals block it, you need a Green support.

David Bartlett: That's right. But I intend to deal with policy issues, legislative issues that
arise from policy decisions, on the floor of the house. Now that's a completely separate question
to whether we will use the parliamentary forms such as the committees, legislative committees, in a
stronger way that allows Greens more representation on them. Those are the sorts of things we can
look at.

Helen Dalley: Are you saying that Nick McKim will not get a portfolio?

David Bartlett: What I'm saying is I have not had any discussions within the parliamentary Labor
party room since His Excellency made his decision about these things. I will be discussing a whole
range of ways we can make the parliament work better in the interests of Tasmanians. But as you
said, we've had a two hour bike ride after what has been a couple of years of pretty serious
acrimony. It is a great start on a new foundation for a trusting relationship, which is a new
foundation for a working parliament. But that's the only place we're at, at the moment.

Helen Dalley: Alright. Aside from all those constitutional issues which are extremely important,
another issue that's ongoing for state governments, you have been a strong supporter of the Prime
Minister's health plan from the beginning virtually, partly because Kevin Rudd promised $350
million extra for Tasmania. Now as the premier's meeting is looming, are you still steadfast in
your support?

David Bartlett: Look I'm very supportive of the Rudd health reforms. I believe that they are the
right reforms for Australia at a conceptual and high level. There's obviously an enormous amount of
detail to work through. What I've said right throughout the campaign is that we want to roll up our
sleeves, work with Kevin Rudd to end the blame game, to make hospitals better for Tasmanians, and I
think this is a very real opportunity to do that. But no one should underestimate how challenging,
how difficult that will be to achieve those outcomes. But certainly the Prime Minister can count on
my broad support for these reforms, and we will continue to work through the detail in the
interests of Tasmanians.

Helen Dalley: The PM this weekend is floating the idea of an extra $500 million to improve services
and time spent in hospital emergency wards. Would you expect to get some of that on top of the $350
million he's promised?

David Bartlett: Can I just clarify that $350 million number that you've referred to. It's my
estimate or our estimate of the net benefit to Tasmania's budget bottom-line over the coming
decade, just through these reforms, removing any extra funding that may come about. So of course
half a billion in extra funding into our hospitals and particularly emergency services wards is
very welcome, and those are the things certainly that I think other premiers will be also be
looking for. Look, we all realise that structural reform in health is vital, number one. But also
that must come with more resource, because ultimately costs in health are growing at somewhere
between 8 and 12% a year, and frankly state budgets with far lower tax bases now, or narrower tax
bases, are unable to cope with that significant growth, or will be unable to cope with that
significant growth over the coming decades.

Helen Dalley: David Bartlett, so you'll be giving your support to the PM on Monday, April 19?

David Bartlett: I will be. But as I say, there's lots of work to be done and lots of detail to be
worked through, and I look forward to doing that.

Helen Dalley: David Bartlett, we do thank you for your time this morning.

David Bartlett: Thank you, Helen.

Interview with Queensland Premier Anna Bligh

Sky News Sunday Agenda program, 11th April 2010

Interviewer : Sky News Queensland reporter Laura Jayes

Anna Bligh: Look, I'm very distressed by the fact that this ship has gone aground on a very
precious part of The Great Barrier Reef, and I hope that the federal authorities investigating this
take a very rigorous approach and make sure that whatever can be done to impose the highest
penalties will be done.

Question: But Premier, how was this ever allowed to happen?

Anna Bligh: There are shipping lanes throughout this area, and this ship is outside of any
authorised zone. It has gone aground on a restricted zone of The Great Barrier Reef. This means
there's a lot of questions to answer, and I want to know the answers as much as any other
Queenslander. Because it has gone aground in commonwealth waters, it'll be the federal authorities
doing the investigation. Until we see the outcome of that, it's hard to really know what happened.
But I want to know, and I want to make sure that penalties are imposed, there are tough penalties
there, and they should be paying the price.

Question: And how can we stop this from ever happening again here on The Great Barrier Reef?

Anna Bligh: Obviously the investigation into this incident will help both the state and federal
authorities understand what went wrong here, how did it happen, and you need to answer those
questions I think before you can really put in place the best preventative measures in the future.
But one of the things I would certainly like the commonwealth to be looking at in those waters is
better vehicle tracking down to areas further south of where it currently extends. We expect to see
more ships in these areas as we see liquid natural gas being exported out of Queensland. So this is
a timely opportunity for state and federal authorities to look at the background to this incident,
learn from it and make sure it doesn't happen again. That's what I'm determined to do.

Question: Another glaring issue at the moment is of course the issue of hospitals and health.

Anna Bligh: At the outset let me say, Queensland is very supportive of the need for significant
reform of commonwealth state relations around managing our hospitals. We think this is one of the
most important areas of government activity. There is no doubt that the rate of growth in funding
needed for hospitals is going to be beyond the reach of state governments within probably about a
decade. So we have to work together at a commonwealth state level to improve this situation. We
have said from day one that we are willing to sign an agreement that gives the commonwealth more
involvement, because we think that is good, particularly in a high growth state like Queensland.
Having said that, we've also said the detail will also be the important part to get right. There's
been a lot of work between Queensland and other state officials and commonwealth officials, but
we're still working through a lot of that detail. I want to sign an agreement, but I want it to be
the right agreement. I want it to be one that is in the best interests of Queenslanders.

Question: Premier of Victoria, John Brumby, has put forward an alternative plan to the Prime
Minister. Have you seen it and what do you think of it?

Anna Bligh: I've asked my treasury officials to have a good look at it. You know, if there are some
good ideas in there that can improve the total package, well we should all have an open mind about
that.

Question: Well John Brumby suggests that the funding should be around 50/50. Is that something that
you would consider supporting?

Anna Bligh: I've asked treasury officials here to model what that would mean for Queensland. We've
been very supportive of the commonwealth proposal, because what it does, which has never happened
before, is it represents an acceptance by the commonwealth that they will take some responsibility
for growth as it happens. In the past what they've said is, here's an allocation of money, say $100
million, for you to improve elective surgery waiting times. When that money's run out, well that's
it. Despite the fact that your population might be growing, you might have an ageing of the
population, so the demand for some of those procedures is actually increasing beyond the money that
was there. So the acceptance by the commonwealth of the need for them to be funding growth has in
my view been the best part of this commonwealth package. So we'd certainly look at the Victorian
model, but if it didn't accept the importance of funding growth, then from a Queensland perspective
it's not in our interest.

Question: The COAG meeting is fast approaching. It's only about a week away. Are you confident that
all the premiers can come to some kind of agreement at this meeting?

Anna Bligh: Ultimately I think Australians want to see the premiers and the federal government work
together to get a better outcome for their hospitals. And I think we've got an obligation to find a
way through. That means I think burning a lot of midnight oil over the next week or so. And I hope
to see that when we do get to COAG, that there is something that we can sign up to. It might be in
some parts of the agreement that we accept that more work needs to be done. But I do think
Australians want to see out of COAG that we have taken some very significant steps to a new set of
arrangements that will comprehensively reform the funding and operation of our hospital system.
Queensland will be going to COAG with that in mind. We want to sign a deal, but we want it to be
the right deal, and we want to make sure that it's a good deal for Queenslanders.

Question: What are the major sticking points for you?

Anna Bligh: Right now, we want to see more detail on how activity based funding will work and what
the protections are for small and regional hospitals. We want to see more detail on what local
health networks will be responsible for, so that we're confident that they will actually work in
practice. We want to see funding for the funding packages around aged care. In Queensland
hospitals, and I think it's the same around the country, every night we have hundreds of people
occupying an acute care bed in a hospital who have already been assessed as actually needing
nursing home care. Unless we fix that, it won't matter who funds or who runs the hospital system,
we will still have bed block. Bed block is what stops hospitals operating effectively and
efficiently. So aged care needs to be a very big part of the package. Then there's a number of
other things. I don't think any of these are if you like deal breakers, but the questions need to
be answered before I think any premier could responsibly hand over a third of their GST income.
Because that money currently funds our hospitals and we need to make sure that it will still do so.

Question: Kevin Rudd has said that if there is no agreement at COAG, that a referendum will be
called. Do you think he needs to go that far?

Anna Bligh: Ultimately if there isn't any agreement, the Prime Minister I think has made his views
very clear, that the Australian public should have a say on that. Health is a very important issue.
That's why I think it's important that we reach an agreement, because ultimately that's what
Australians expect of people elected to leadership positions to do. I don't think a referendum will
ultimately be necessary, but let's wait and see.

Question: Premier Bligh, the polls haven't been too kind to you this year. We are getting closer to
a federal election. Do you fear that those negative polls will have any effect on this upcoming
election?

Anna Bligh: One thing that I've noticed over many years of involvement in politics is that
Australians are pretty smart about how government works, and when they go into a polling booth on
polling day, if they're voting for their local council they'll make a judgment on council issues.
If they're voting for a federal government, they'll make a judgment on federal issues. Yes, we've
had some issues that have been a bit tough at the state government level, but I think when people
walk into a federal polling booth, they're going to be making a decision about whether they want
Kevin Rudd or Tony Abbott to run the country.

Question: And are you enjoying the job as Premier of Queensland?

Anna Bligh: I love the job! Queensland has had some big challenges in the last 12 months, but we've
also got so many wonderful opportunities. It's been very exciting to see the liquid natural gas
industry start to really take shape, and the big contracts being signed. We've got some big reforms
that we're putting in place in our education system. I'm loving seeing what's happening out there
in our schools and being part of the opportunity in an area as important as health to really
overhaul the commonwealth state funding arrangements in the interests of people who need a good
public health system.