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Sky News On The Hour 9am -

View in ParlView




5 AUGUST 2010

Subjects: Townsville Ring Road; James Cook University investment; election campaign; Kevin Rudd;
Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre; GP Super Clinics; Henry Tax Review; Leaders'

PM: Well it's great to be here in Townsville today and I'm joined of course by Tony Mooney, our
Labor Candidate. Tony is well known to this community, he's a great community advocate. And I'm
here today to make two important announcements for Townsville. First, a re-elected Gillard
Government will complete the Townsville Ring Road. This is important to the future of this place.
This is a growing community where, of course, with growth come more cars and more traffic. This is
a long-term solution to the traffic needs in Townsville as it grows. A re-elected Gillard
Government will commit $160 million - that's 80 per cent of the total cost - and we will work with
the State Government to deliver this project. Tony Mooney, as a local representative here, knows
how important this is to the future of Townsville and I am very pleased that we are able to
announce today that we will build the Townsville Ring Road. And I'm also pleased to be here with
Tony today, able to announce that we are going to build on the investments we have already made in
local healthcare. We have committed to redeveloping the Townsville Hospital. We have committed to
creating a cancer clinic here. This is important news for the people of Townsville as we work to
provide better health care. Today we will build on these important investments by creating a
rehabilitation clinic where people can go for rehabilitation and treatment and, importantly, there
will be clinical placements there so that the health professionals of the future can get the
practical skills they need to complete their training.

We will also continue to invest and work with James Cook University - a great university. And the
new investment that I announce today is the creation of a Centre for Research Excellence. James
Cook is at the forefront in research in many areas. It wants to now be involved very directly in
research that is important to healthcare and to treating cardiovascular disease, dealing with
matters in arteries that can cause healthcare problems for people. This is important news for
Townsville and I believe an important step forward. Of course, we're in a position to make these
announcements because when the Global Financial Crisis threatened, we made the right economic
judgements. The right economic judgements to support jobs, the right economic judgements to
continue to invest in places like Townsville. And I'm able to make these announcements today
because we are standing in this election campaign making the right economic judgements for the
future, including making sure that we can invest in infrastructure in great resource states like
Queensland by having new taxation arrangements for the mining industry. The investment in the
Townsville Ring Road will be funded from the infrastructure money which can flow because of our
Minerals Resource Rent Tax.

Of course, Mr Abbott is committed to cutting this infrastructure funding and taking directly out of
the forward estimates money for infrastructure and he would not see these investments for the
future in communities like this one. Mr Abbott, I believe, has made it absolutely clear that his
plan now is to try to sneak into the Prime Ministership without proper scrutiny of his lack of an
economic plan. And I say to Mr Abbott, the Australian people are entitled to hear from him on the
economic questions for the future. It's not good enough for Mr Abbott to say apparently he's too
busy to talk to the Australian community about jobs, skills, infrastructure, economic growth,
wealth and prosperity for the future. I will never be too busy to talk to the Australian community
about my plans and my actions to keep the economy strong, to support jobs, to support growth, to
invest in skills and invest in infrastructure. I'll now turn to Tony for some comments and then
we'll go to questions.

MOONEY: Thank you. Good morning, everyone. This is a red letter day for our city. The Ring Road
project has been long campaigned for. It is the number one priority identified by the northern
mayor's group for the national highway between Cairns and Sarina. It is a city-building,
community-building project. It will end traffic congestion and flood-proof the northern beaches of
our great city; the part of the city which is growing the fastest and which is under most pressure.
I'm delighted with this outcome because it will enable, between the federal and state governments,
a $200 million investment in that part of the city. It is in essence the number one priority that I
have putting forward for infrastructure provision in Townsville. The second issue I'd like to
mention - healthcare - I have made that my mantra for this election campaign. Healthcare is my
number one priority. I am delighted the Prime Minister could be here today, as part of the Labor
team, to announce this further commitment. It builds on what has already been provided and is
getting very positive feedback from our local community. I'm looking for more of this to come in
the future. Thank you.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, the Courier Mail today says, "I'm nearly sorry for the way Kevin Rudd
was treated." Are you sorry or not? And also in that piece and in other pieces you've said that you
share a vision with Kevin Rudd. I'm wondering about the contradiction there, how you can share a
vision with a man whose government lost its way. Is it then just the same government, same vision,
different leader?

PM: Well, first and foremost Mark I don't write the headlines in any of the newspapers. Some days I
wish I did. So, I'm not going to answer for the headlines. You'll need to talk to the headline
writers about that. What I can say, what I can say today and what I can say for the future is Kevin
has made it very, very clear that he will be supporting and campaigning for the re-election of the
Gillard Government and he's doing that because we do share a deep sense of belief about what is
right for this country, what is right to support jobs, what's right to invest in the future of
kids, making sure they get the skills they need, what's the right way forward to make sure that
people can get the healthcare that they need.

We are fuelled by a deep sense of belief - by Labor beliefs. Obviously as Prime Minister in this
election campaign I am putting forward my policies and plans for the nation's future. I welcome the
fact that Kevin Rudd, who of course is still recovering from an operation, will be actively
contributing to this campaign. Kevin's made it clear he doesn't want to see Mr Abbott sneak into
being Prime Minister without having proper scrutiny of his lack of economic direction for this

JOURNALIST: Two days ago the Coalition announced it would fund a third of the cost for a new
Entertainment and Convention Centre. Will you be making that commitment?

PM: I'm joined here of course by a great local advocate, Tony Mooney, and as a great local advocate
he has raised with me a number of the needs of this community, including the Convention Centre and
we will continue to work through, talk about the Convention Centre and some other local needs that
have been raised with me this morning as I've met with the mayor and local representatives but our
priority today is to announce that we will complete the Ring Road. This is a vital piece of
infrastructure for this growing community. It's not a bandaid solution. It's a real solution for
the needs of this community, as it grows, to get the traffic flows happening so that this community
can continue to deal with growth instead of having literally tens of thousands of cars bank up at
stressed intersections.

JOURNALIST: If Kevin Rudd was such a visionary, why does Labor need you at the helm and what can
you do that he couldn't?

PM: Well let's be very, very clear about this. On the first day I became Prime Minister I said that
Kevin Rudd, as Prime Minister, had achieved some remarkable things. He had achieved some remarkable
things, obviously the team worked together when we were threatened by the Global Financial Crisis
and we made the right judgements to support jobs. He'd written his name into the pages of
Australian history by delivering the Apology to the Stolen Generations and following it up with a
comprehensive plan to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. He had
worked hard on a transformative health reform plan which Mr Abbott wants to rip up and go back to
the days of health cuts.

So these are important achievements. Yes, there were a set of issues on which the Government had
lost its way and I formed the view and overwhelmingly the Labor team formed the view that for the
Government to be able to design the solutions it needed for the future that I needed to become
Prime Minister. That has happened. Standing here, obviously, as we move towards the 21st of August.
What can I say about myself and say about Kevin Rudd? I can say that we are fuelled by a deep set
of Labor beliefs. I can say that Kevin will be campaigning for the re-election of my Government.
And I can say that if the Government is re-elected then Kevin will be a senior member of the Labor
team. What I'm not doing is what Mr Abbott is doing. I'm not making any presumptions about the
results on election day and I'm not seeking to slide into office on the 21st of August without
having appropriate scrutiny of the thing that is at the core of this election campaign - strong
economy, having a job, creating the platform we need so we can keep investing for the things that
matter for Australian families - great schools, decent health care. Phil Coorey?

JOURNALIST: Ms Gillard you said this morning that you were going to have a chat with Mr Rudd in the
next couple of days. Are you going to initiate the contact?

PM: Look, Kevin and I will be talking in the next few days. Malcolm?

JOURNALIST: What did Mr Rudd mean when he said he feared Labor was (inaudible) Mr Abbott would win
by default.

PM: Well I think he, Kevin's referring to exactly the same thing I'm talking about this morning.
Last night we saw Mr Abbott on TV presuming he was already the Prime Minister. Last night we saw Mr
Abbott on TV once again saying, oh no, not going to have an economic debate - too busy, couldn't be
bothered talking about the jobs of Australians. Now what that all means of course is Mr Abbott
doesn't want to be held to account for the lack of judgement he showed when the Global Financial
Crisis threatened this country. The fact that he would have had more than 200,000 Australians out
of work and on the dole queues and he doesn't want to be held to account for the lack of judgement
he's got for the future. You know, no plan for jobs, a plan to put company tax up, a tax on
groceries, no plan for skills, he's going to rip Trades Training Centres away, no plans for
infrastructure, he's not going to build the National Broadband Network, no plans for national
savings and decent retirement incomes, he's not going to increase superannuation, no real plan to
support small business, he's not going to cut their tax or give them tax breaks. Now these are the
things he's trying to shy away from. I think Kevin Rudd was pointing to that and I'm pointing to
that today. Mr Abbott should step up for a debate.

JOURNALIST: You said Mr Abbott is trying to slide into office but we've seen a series of policy
announcements from him this week and we haven't seen much from you in terms of national policy
announcements at all. Are you saving them until last or what's happening?

PM: Well I don't agree with your analysis, with respect. I think any family in this country that's
got a child - either a teenage child or a child that's going to grow into a teenager - would have
said that the announcement that we made earlier this week to modernise the family benefits system
of this country and to make a difference of more than $4,000 for each teenager for families on
maximum benefit, keeping them at school, that was a major announcement. I think anybody who's got a
child in school or cares about education or the future prosperity of this country would have said
the transformative plan to empower school principals, building on my education reforms, is a vital
announcement for the nation's future and so the list goes on. We will continue to announce
important policies during this campaign as I've done this week.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister (inaudible) that you would acknowledge that Queenslanders do have a deep
respect for Kevin Rudd. Do you believe you have to have him on-side to win the seats you need to
win in Queensland to win this election?

PM: Well Kevin Rudd has said that he will be campaigning for the re-election of this Government and
obviously Kevin, as a Queenslander, has a special sense of connection and a special affection from
the people of Queensland. That's natural and that affection is there and I believe that affection
is deep. Obviously Kevin has said he will be campaigning. He wants to see my Government re-elected
and he doesn't want to see Mr Abbott wake up Prime Minister on the 22nd of August, not having been
tested in any real way on his lack of a plan for the economy. Kevin knows, as I know, that Mr
Abbott made the wrong judgement when we were threatened by the Global Financial Crisis. He will
make the wrong judgements for the future if he is elected as Prime Minister.

JOURNALIST: Is there an irony in the fact that you got rid of Kevin Rudd and now you desperately
need him back to help shore up those vital seats in Queensland?

PM: I think it is a very natural thing that Labor people, fuelled by Labor values, would come
together and work hard to make sure a Labor Government continues and that Mr Abbott does not become
Prime Minister of this country having not held himself up for scrutiny on the vital question of

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister why don't you actually pick up the phone today to Kevin Rudd? Clearly
this is a big distraction for you in this campaign?

PM: Look, I will be talking to Kevin Rudd in the coming few days. Obviously we're making
arrangements to do that.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, you've spent a lot of time with young people on this campaign. What
about our senior Australians? Have you forgotten about them?

PM: I have spent time with young people. I have spent time with Australians in all sorts of
settings. I do remember, for example, visiting the aged care facility where I used to work as a
teenager and a young person myself to say hello to some senior Australians who reside there -
Sunset Lodge in South Australia. I am a Prime Minister for all Australians. I'm a Prime Minister
that wants to make sure that each Australian gets the benefit of a strong economy, it's the
foundation stone of everything else. We need our economy strong and stable. It's with that platform
of stability that we can keep investing in schools, investing in healthcare, building important
infrastructure like the Townsville Ring Road and appropriately supporting older Australians and for
the future I want to see Australians with better retirement incomes. A key difference between me
and Mr Abbott in this campaign is I want to see superannuation grow. I've got a plan to do it. Mr
Abbott says no to decent retirement incomes, no to increased superannuation.

JOURNALIST: You say now that Australians are entitled to a debate on the economy. Why weren't they
entitled to one when you said no, you wouldn't have three debates and there is a debate on the
economy happening on Monday? Why is that not enough - between Wayne Swan and Joe Hockey?

PM: Ok, well the traditional election debate between the Treasurer, Deputy Prime Minister and the
Shadow Treasurer is happening next week. My belief is that as this campaign has unfolded, it has
become clearer and clearer that Mr Abbott has absolutely no economic plan for the future. No plan
to return the Budget to surplus. No plan to invest in the drivers of growth - skills and
infrastructure. He made the wrong economic judgement when the Global Financial Crisis threatened
this country. The wrong judgement on jobs. For the future he's making the wrong judgement on tax,
putting company tax up, a tax on groceries, the wrong judgement on national savings and
superannuation. I believe when I was asked would I participate in a debate, that if there is to be
a further debate it should be on the economy. Mr Abbott is declining that. I believe he's declining
it because he now is presuming what the election result is going to be and he's presuming he can
get there without being held to account for his lack of an economic policy.

JOURNALIST: Mr Abbott has released his, or is releasing at the moment, his health plan - more beds
for hospitals and making states accountable. Do you think voters will see this as a better plan?

PM: Well I presume the cover of it says rock-solid, iron-clad guarantee - promises I will break by
Tony Abbott. If it doesn't say that then obviously it's not an honest document. What people would
know about Tony Abbott is he is one of the longest serving Health Ministers in this country's

Question one - why didn't he get anything positive done when he was Health Minister? Question two -
isn't he entitled to be judged by the Australian people based on what he did when he had the power
to make a difference rather than what he is whispering in an election campaign?

And what did he do? He cut $1 billion out of health. He cut services and having engaged in those
cuts what he wants to do now is rip up the biggest reforms, since Medicare, to our healthcare. Well
I think that's not good enough. He should give an explanation for why he thought it was right to
cut $1 billion out of hospitals. He should give an explanation as to why he thought it was right to
cut GP training places and the consequences of that is still showing today. The cuts he made as
Health Minister are hurting now. If he is elected as Prime Minister the cuts he will make in
healthcare will hurt for decades to come.

JOURNALIST: Why has Labor gone cold on the Henry Tax Review and why aren't there now further plans
to implement more recommendations from the Henry Tax Review in your second term of government?

PM: Well, frankly, I'm not agreeing with the premise of that question which I think is completely
wrong. This is a Government that stumped up to the task of having an overarching review of tax.
Twelve years, Mr Abbott and his senior colleagues there and they didn't have this kind of tax
review. We did it and out of it we picked some measures to implement and we're implementing them
now and they will transform our tax system - transform our tax system by getting Australians a
fairer share of the mineral wealth that comes out of the ground of great resources states like this
one. Transform our tax system by then using that money to cut company tax, to cut tax on small
business, to give small business tax breaks, to back in national savings and superannuation and
back in infrastructure like the infrastructure we're talking about today in this great place of
Townsville, the Ring Road that it needs. The person who has turned their back on tax reform in this
campaign is Mr Abbott. What's he done? Well he's got a blank sheet of paper and he's written on
that blank sheet of paper: I want to put company tax up, I want every Australian to pay more for
their groceries, full stop, end of story.

JOURNALIST: You didn't deliver on the policy for a GP Super Clinic in Townsville. Is that part of
the malaise in Government or some sort of pay-back for this Liberal claimed seat?

PM: In terms of our, I'll turn to Tony for a comment as well, but our healthcare investments in
Townsville - let's go through them. Completely redeveloping the Townsville Hospital, a Cancer Care
Clinic including a PET scanner so people can get the vital treatments they need for cancer closer
to home, the investments that I've announced today with the rehabilitation clinic and the Centre
for Research Excellence. We are committed to training more doctors and more nurses. Obviously when
we train more doctors and nurses, they can work around the country and the places that tend to show
the shortages, that Mr Abbott left us, are places like this. The shorter we are of doctors and
nurses, the harder it is to get appropriate workforce into regional and rural Australia. I'll turn
to Tony for a comment.

MOONEY: The Super GP Clinic has been approved and is operational in an interim location. There's
been a final location approved and it will be up and functioning in the very near future. Ads have
appeared Tony, in your paper calling for all of those related professionals to be there. I think
it's a fantastic decision and the sooner it's up and running the better.

PM: Ok, now, who, you haven't had a question. Yes. I'm trying to be - and then go to the back. Have
you had one Phil? Ok. He did?


JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, since you've been telling everyone that you'll give Kevin Rudd a senior
portfolio, I sense [inaudible] why don't you just announce a portfolio for Kevin Rudd before the

PM: Well first and foremost, unlike Mr Abbott I'm not presuming what happens on election day. So,
you know, Mr Abbott, on TV last night presuming he was going to be Prime Minister. I actually think
this is a decision for the Australian people and the Australian people will make that decision on
the 21st of August and the economy and who is best placed to keep it strong will be at the centre
of that decision. If we are re-elected, then I will make the choices about Labor's team. We have a
strong team and obviously Kevin Rudd will serve in a senior portfolio. Yes, we'll go to the back,
we just promised that.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd said point blank on radio last night that he was not the
source of the leaks. That then would indicate wouldn't it that someone currently in Cabinet is the
source of the leaks. How concerning is that for you? And secondly if Tony Abbott is doing as badly
as you say, on everything then why are Australian voters going towards him as the polls have
indicated and what does that say about you?

PM: Well the important poll is the one that happens on election day. That's what I've got my eyes
on, that's what I'm fighting for, because I believe it is pivotal to the future of this country.
Whether people have the benefits and dignity of work, whether they have a pay packet to support
their families, whether their kids go to a great school or one that suffered Tony Abbott's cuts.
Whether they can get healthcare through a GP Super Clinic, ring a doctor at night through our GP
hotline or that's all gone in the bin as a result of Tony Abbott's cuts. Whether we'll have a fair
share of the jobs of the future, by building the infrastructure we need like the National Broadband
Network or we'll watch those jobs exported to Korea and Japan and Singapore. Whether or not
Australians will retire on decent incomes, whether or not company tax goes down - as it will under
me - or up under Mr Abbott, with prices going up as a result. These are the things I will keep
fighting for, explaining, talking about every day between now and election day.

JOURNALIST: If the economy is such a key issue for this campaign, why won't you say who will be
your Finance Minister?

PM: Look, we are there with the economic plan and the key contrast here is, people know what we're
going to do if we're re-elected. People know we made the right judgement calls, when the Global
Financial Crisis threatened this country, to support jobs. Yes, not everything went according to
plan, but we supported jobs, and look at the contrast with countries overseas: six million jobs
lost in the United States, 450,000 jobs created here. The unveiled part of this campaign, the thing
that's still shrouded in mystery, is what Mr Abbott would do with the economy apart from putting
prices up by putting a tax on groceries.

JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese today is announcing a feasibility study for [fast] rail from Newcastle to
Sydney. It's sort of been talked about for a lot of years, there's a bit of cynicism of it ever
actually happening. Can you be any firmer today, beyond the study, that you will deliver this or is
it all contingent again on this study?

PM: Well look, what I can do is confirm Minister Albanese's statements and announcements. We will
fund the feasibility study in what is a big growth corridor. Obviously I stand for a sustainable
Australia, not a big Australia. I understand that there are parts of the country that feel the
stresses and strains of growth. We'll have this feasibility study in one such part of the country,
and I am here today standing in a community that is experiencing growth where we announced our plan
to support development of affordable housing for the people who will come to regions like this one
to get the opportunities of the future. We'll go to, we have done Sid have we? Alright, we need to
keep, Mark Riley's keeping a list for us.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, ok you've got the economy at the centre of your election pitch. Is one
of the problems with that pitch, that when you unpack the economy, the mining sector is going very
well but if you look at retail, hospitality, entertainment, transport, those sectors are all,
according to the surveys, experiencing either flat or pessimistic conditions. Is that one of the
problems with your campaign, that people at home in those sectors don't actually see the economic
boom and then your pitch about a strong economy and having a better economic plan doesn't ring true
to those people, what do you say to those people? And secondly, since I've had such a hard time
getting the call today, can I also just ask just following you around in Perth on Friday, it seemed
pretty clear that your camp and Kevin Rudd's camp weren't talking because there was sort of a
disconnect. He was going to campaign in Griffith then he made clear that he wanted to have a wider
role. So I guess the question that comes to my mind out of that is, can the two of you work
together, given what's happened?

PM: Ok, well I'll take the second question first. What I said to you on that day, what I've said
consistently is I will respect Kevin Rudd's wishes about campaigning. He's made his wishes very
clear and I think that's fantastic. On working together, we've obviously worked together strongly
over the life of this Labor Government. We will work together strongly in the future with Kevin
Rudd as a senior member of my team.

On your first question about the economy, which is a good question - wise, perceptive work from Sid
with that question - you are right, you are right that when we look across the Australian economy
what we see are businesses and communities who are still doing it tough. I understand that, and in
saying to those businesses and those communities that when the global financial crisis threatened,
we made the better set of judgements, what I am saying to them is that they are still doing it
tough, yes.

But imagine where we would have been if Mr Abbott had been there making the wrong judgement call,
seeing this country go into recession, more than 200,000 extra Australians out of work, not having
money to spend, not going to those small businesses and shops, with all of the knock-on
consequences that would have had for bankruptcies and business failure. And I'm saying to those
businesses, for the future we are making the smarter set of economic judgements. Taking from the
mining industry, which is booming, the additional tax that our three biggest mining companies have
agreed to pay and using that to support the development of the very businesses that you talk about
by reducing company tax early for small businesses and by giving small businesses tax breaks. It is
Mr Abbott who would deny those struggling businesses any relief.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister you said that Wayne Swan would remain as Treasurer. But if it's
presumptuous to name a portfolio for Kevin Rudd, why then can you guarantee Wayne Swan his job?

PM: Look, I'm abiding by the Labor convention that the Deputy Leader of the Labor Party selects
their portfolio. As Deputy Prime Minister, Deputy Leader of the Labor Party, Mr Swan will select
his portfolio and he will select Treasury. Ok we'll just do a local question.

JOURNALIST: The Council here doesn't -

PM: They are very pushy, feel free to -

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) $200 million towards a cruise ship terminal. Would you consider increasing
your pledge?

PM: Look, I've had a discussion with local representatives about that very matter today and I
understand those local perspectives. I'll turn to Tony, who's been in the discussions with me this
morning, on precisely that.

MOONEY: We met with Mayor Les Tyrell and the Deputy Mayor. The Federal Government currently has
offered $30 million towards the naval ship component of that terminal. The State Government has
offered $32.5 million, the Council has offered a road component of about $5 million. There is an
opportunity there, I think, for all players to maybe take a step back, consider their positions and
come forward to get the ocean terminal happening. We're only talking about a few million dollars,
from my point of view, to make this happen. And I believe that all players should look at how we go
forward on that. Certainly, the Federal Government component, $30 million, is on the table. It's
guaranteed. The naval vessels will be able to come into that port and that will bring a lot of
money into this community.

PM: Thank you very much.