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Sky News On The Hour 3pm -

View in ParlView



23 AUGUST 2010

Subjects: Caretaker period; negotiations for stable and effective government;

PM: I'm here today obviously joined by the Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, Wayne Swan. Both I
and the Deputy Prime Minister have come to Canberra to continue working during this period.
Obviously there is uncertainty over the election result, but there is no uncertainty over the fact
that stable and effective government is continuing in this period of time.

The Australian Electoral Commission is working its way through the votes making sure that every
vote is counted properly and every seat result is declared as of course we would expect at this
period of time. Government is continuing in line with the caretaker convention and obviously those
conventions contain within them, consultation with the Opposition as necessary about decisions and
obviously the availability of briefings for the Leader of the Opposition if he requests them.

What I would also say about this period is I think the results on the market show that the market
understands that stable government is continuing in this period of time.

I do want to say that even as votes continue, voting continues, it is clear that the government has
attracted the majority share of the two-party preferred vote. What that means is that the majority
of Australians wanted a Labor Government. Now I note that the Leader of the Opposition in the
context of the South Australian election said that it was the two party preferred vote, the
majority of what people wanted, that was the key indicator to be taken into account in
circumstances such as these.

What I would also say in this period is of course, I and the Deputy Prime Minister will be meeting
with and having negotiations and discussions with the Independent Members of Parliament and also
with the Greens. I want to assure everyone that those negotiations will be conducted diligently
with integrity and properly and in good faith.

I of course, with the Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister in those discussions will be talking
about our plans for a stable and long-term government. A government that delivers what we promised
at the election: broadband, better health and education systems, sustainability of our water, our
food, our population, our cities and our regions. We will be discussing all of these things.

I would submit that the key questions that need to be worked through in these discussions are as
follows. Which party is best able to form a stable and effective government in the national
interest? Which party can best process the business of the people of Australia and get legislation
passed? And I would say that it is the Government that is best able to undertake those tasks.

Now I do want to sensibly manage the expectations of Australians as this process takes place. It
will take a period of time, but people should be assured that stable and effective government is
occurring in the meantime and particularly in front of this crowd I want to say, it is not my
intention that these negotiations are conducted via the media. They will be conducted around a
table as they should be.

Of course there is a keen national interest in making sure Australians understand the processes
that are underway, so I and the Deputy Prime Minister will be publically reporting to the
Australian people during the days ahead. For the days ahead, we will be here providing stable and
effective government, engaged in these negotiations and obviously periodically reporting on the
negotiations publicly. I'm happy to take a few questions. Phil Coorey.

JOURNALIST: You said you don't want to negotiate through the press, but will things like Ministries
and Speakerships be on, be amongst the things that'll be talked out?

PM: I'm not going to play any rule in rule out game.

JOURNALIST: There's a bit of bloodletting going on in New South Wales with Morris Iemma and so
forth, what does that do to your claim of stability? Is it hurting your case, that you can offer

PM: Well look my priority at this time is providing stable and effective government and obviously
negotiating for a stable and effective Labor Government. That's my priority and it's the priority
of the Labor team.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister you just led the Labor Party to the brink of a disastrous defeat. Why
should the independents the Greens and the people of Australia imagine you've got control of the
party that you'll retain the leadership?

PM: Well, can I say firstly, number one - the majority of Australians through the two-party
preferred vote have indicated that they want a Labor Government. Secondly of course, what I would
say is we at the election campaign presented with a positive plan for the future of this nation and
what we will be talking about in the days ahead as we talk to the Independents and the Greens is
that positive plan for the future of the nation and what it means for communities around the
nation. I believe the question, I believe the question in these negotiations is which party is best
placed to provide stable government that requires of course being able to deal with the Parliament,
both in the House of Representatives and the Senate. It requires having a positive plan for the
nation's future. It requires having properly costed policies. As Prime Minister and as Leader of
the Labor Party I am in a position to obviously be talking to the Independents and the Greens about
each of these things.

JOURNALIST: Do you give an undertaking that when these negotiations are finished you will be
transparent about every undertaking that has been given, in other words, we won't have a secret
deal out of this, you won't claim confidentiality?

PM: No, I believe that these negotiations and their end point, obviously the negotiations need to
be conducted in good faith, it's not my intention to conduct them through the media, but I do
believe there has to be transparency about the outcome.

JOURNALIST: Do you agree with Morris Iemma that Mark Arbib and Karl Bitar ran a hopeless campaign?

PM: Look there's obviously going to be speculation and talk about the respective campaigns, I note
today that there's discussion about the campaign run by the Coalition as well. My view is that the
focus for me, the focus for the Deputy Prime Minister, the focus for the team I lead is on stable
and effective government and obviously working through the discussions with the Independents and
the Greens.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, yesterday you accepted that the people wanted a change is how politics
is governed, one of your MPs who lost in the election has said today that the Labor Government was
too focused on getting a grab up on the nightly news as opposed to explaining policies. Is that
something that you would like to change if you are the Prime Minister again?

PM: Well I'm certainly someone who believes in explaining policies, for example, when we had the
MySchool website go live in January this year, I had been explaining my policy to the Australian
people and its import for the future of education for the best part of two years, that's my track
record, I believe that that's appropriate. When I legislated the Fair Work Act, we explained the
processes that we were going through to get the details of the Fair Work Act together and that was
done over a twelve month period, I believe that that's appropriate.

I do believe Australians are looking for more engagement in difference processes in politics. I
think that's the message from the election campaign and I anticipate that those things will be the
subject of discussions with the Independents and the Greens during the coming days.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister you mentioned that you thought Labor had a better prospect of actually
getting legislation through. Does that mean that you will have a greater chance of dealing with the
Greens in the Senate not just Independents in the House and what demands would you give in to the
Greens in the Senate, particularly on a carbon tax?

PM: Well, once again, we'll obviously be having discussions in coming days but as I said yesterday,
let me reiterate today. We went to the election with a comprehensive and positive plan for
Australia's future. That comprehensive and positive plan dealt with climate change, obviously from
the perspective of someone who believes in climate change. We will be having discussions over the
coming days but in those discussions I will be indicating we do have a positive plan for the
nation's future, it's properly costed.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) saying you're likely to have a better relationship with the Green than Tony
Abbott would, which is (inaudible)?

PM: Oh look, we will have discussions in the coming day.

JOURNALIST: Tony Crook the WA National, he ended Wilson Tuckey's thirty year reign in Parliament.
Have you written him off as just a sort of a Coalition stooge, even though he got to Parliament in,
off the back of Labor preferences and do you intend on contacting Mr Crook to ask what he might,
might not want?

PM: I understand that someone who would have anticipated - someone who Mr Abbott would have
anticipated being a member of his Coalition is saying that he intends to conduct himself as an
Independent, I do understand there's been that break away from Mr Abbott's Coalition if that's the
right term, and I understand that one thing Mr Crook is asking for is that the Minerals Resource
Rent Tax not proceed. Obviously I entered a breakthrough agreement with the Australian miners, our
biggest miners, about the Minerals Resource Rent Tax and I will be honouring that agreement. I'm of
course happy to talk to Mr Crook, but the agreement for the Minerals Resource Rent Tax will be

JOURNALIST: Can I just go to the mechanics of the talks you're going to have with the Independents
are you going to call them in one by one with you to have a chat with them? Is it a group meeting?
What's the process going to be?

PM: Well look, I think as the Independents, the three Independents in the House of Representatives
have indicated publically, they are talking to each other and then obviously they will talk to the
Government and those talks will involve me and the Deputy Prime Minister.

JOURNALIST: If you are able to form government, will you give the Australian people any assurance
that they won't be going back to the polls prematurely?

PM: Well, look you know, the Government is formed in the House of Representatives so it's not for
me, I can't individually or even as Leader of the Labor Party in present circumstances give that
assurance. Obviously as we work through with the Independents and the Greens the subject of those
discussions is the forming of a stable government that can be in place processing the business of
the Australian people through the House of Representatives and through the Senate for the full
three-year term.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) situation arose about eight years ago and the Rann Government signed
contracts with independents and Nationals where they gave them the freedom to vote against the
Government on certain bills, they agreed to support them on no confidence motions, could you see
yourself entering into a similar agreement with independents in this situation, like a contract as
such and have you sort any advice from Mr Mike Rann about how things operated in South Australia?

PM: I'm not playing rule in rule out games.

JOURNALIST: Treasurer do you have any words as Treasurer to the markets? And also do you actually
continue to support Labor's policies on tariffs and trade?

TREASURER: We will continue to provide strong economic management within the framework of the
convention Dennis. And of course our policy framework has been put before the Australian people in
the election campaign and that's the policy framework we are taking forward. But I think everybody
can be confident that the Government has rolled up its sleeves, it's back at work providing the
strong economic management that saw this country avoid a recession and has made this economy one of
the strongest in the advanced world.

JOURNALIST: A couple of the Independents have raised emissions trading over the last couple of days
Ms Gillard, are you intending to persist with your citizen's council given that a couple of people
who may help you form government are basically saying why don't we do emissions trading now? Will
you honour that promise?

PM: We took to the election a range of climate change policies, a comprehensive range of climate
change policy and that was part of our positive plan for the nation's future. The Citizen's
Assembly was one part of that, one way of engaging the public in a discussion about carbon
pollution. How we set a cap on it, how we design a market mechanism to deliver that cap. In the
days that lie ahead, obviously I will be talking, assisted by the Deputy Prime Minister, talking
with the Independents and with the Greens. I'm not going to play games of ruling things in and
ruling things out. Our intention is to have those negotiations in good faith with due diligence
with respect with the individuals involved. There is a keen interest from the Australian nation in
these discussions of course and we will be reporting to the Australian nation periodically as the
discussions occur.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) that you can form stable government?

PM: Well, look I don't think that there's any mystery about requirements about supply and no
confidence measures and all the rest of it, but these are for the discussion.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) the Greens or the three rural independents, when will you have the first
face to face meeting with any of them. Will it be tonight or tomorrow morning as they trickle into

PM: These discussions will be happening during the course of the coming days.

JOURNALIST: Could I get back to the subject that you mentioned earlier and Dennis and Patricia have
both asked you about, which is, you're making, you're asserting that you would be able to get bills
through the upper house better than Tony Abbott, but you haven't said why or you haven't provided
any evidence of that. Given that the CPRS was knocked back, what's the evidence that you could do a
better job?

PM: The question I posed and I think the two questions relevant to who is best positioned to form
stable and effective government are who can do that direct task, who can provide the stability, the
positive plans in the nation's interest. The costed plans in the nation's interest. Who can do
that? Number two, who can best process legislation through the House of Representatives and the
Senate, obviously the best processing of legislation is something that I will be discussing with
the Independents and the Greens during the course of the coming days.

JOURNALIST: Sorry can I just clarify your answer in relation to the question I just asked I thought
the answer you gave implied that you may not pursue the Citizen's Assembly if -

PM: The policies of the Government are the policies announced during the election campaign.

JOURNALIST: - (inaudible) the Independents said to you let's just dispense with that and move on -

PM: - And then - and obviously we're going to have a set of discussions and I'm not playing rule in
rule out games.

JOURNALIST: There have been Labor frontbencher's blaming State Premiers or State Governments for
the poll, there have been people blaming National Secretaries in the campaign. Are you happy for
the blame game to run or is it time for people to be quiet and buckle down?

PM: Well look I've seen election analysis on all sides, you know, Guy Barnett I think giving some
free advice about the nature of the Coalition's campaign in Tasmania just to take one example. My
priority and the priority for the Labor team is providing stable and effective government in this
period and obviously the negotiations to provide stable and effective government in the days

JOURNALIST: On parliamentary reform, not asking you to rule in or rule out Independents thoughts,
it seems inevitable we will have a minority government. Is parliamentary reform, changes to
question time, is that inevitable?

PM: Look, I have heard the message from the Australian people and I think that message is they want
to see something different than business as usual.

Thank you very much.