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Meet The Press -

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MEET THE PRESS PRESENTER PAUL BONGIORNO: Good morning and welcome to Meet the Press. Rising
unemployment gave a human face to the global financial crisis during the week. It added to the
degree of difficulty for the Government as it pushes ahead with its agenda to scrap WorkChoices and
to reduce carbon emissions. It was also the week billions of dollars in bonus payments began to
roll out in 'stimulus mark II'. Nobody, according to the Government, needed it more than our
farmers. Drought, fires, floods and cyclones all adding to their misery.

AGRICULTURE MINISTER TONY BURKE (Thursday): Today a number of them will start receiving for their
families either the back to school bonus or the single income family bonus and as of the 24th of
March the farmers hardship payment will start making its way through.

PAUL BONGIORNO: But the Opposition opposes the payments and says the Government's emissions trading
scheme will will do even more damage to the economy. LIBERAL MP ANDREW ROBB (Tuesday): It will cost
jobs, it will kill investment and will not do anything of any consequence about C02 emissions.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Agriculture Minister Tony Burke is a guest. And later, pollster Randall Pearce
finds Australians hot under the collar about the economy and the climate. But first - what's making
news in the nation's papers this Sunday March 15. The 'Sun-Herald's front page says, "Rock 'n' roll
to the rescue." Environment Minister Peter Garrett's revived band Midnight Oil capped off one of
the two Sound Relief concerts. Some of Australia's biggest rock stars performed in Sydney and
Melbourne, raising an expected $5 million for victims of the Victorian fires and the Queensland
floods. The 'Sunday Age' reports, "G20 ministers fight over bail-outs." Disagreements between the
United States and Europe have clouded the results of the G20 finance ministers meeting to discuss
the global financial crisis. There are also reports that Australia was relegated to a B team of
nations at the gathering. The 'Sunday Telegraph' leads with, "Please explain." In an exclusive, it
talks of Pauline Hanson's betrayal and says nude pictures of her taken when she was a 19-year-old
by an estranged boyfriend may derail her political come back in next Saturday's Queensland
election. The 'Sunday Mail' in Brisbane reports, "'Pacific Adventurer' oil spill is 10 times worse
than first thought." More than 230,000 litres of oil is now believed to have spewed into the
pristine waters off the Sunshine Coast. The massive clean-up of about 60km of beaches has began.
And it's good morning and welcome back to the program, Tony Burke.

TONY BURKE: Good morning.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Let's go to that G20 report. If the United States and Europe can't agree, it
doesn't augur well for coming to grips with the financial crisis.

TONY BURKE: Well, Wayne Swan is over there with a clear agenda from Australia in terms of dealing
with toxic assets, looking at other countries, conducting similar stimulus packages, as much of the
world is doing, and also looking at the form of the IMF. We go there with those issues on the

PAUL BONGIORNO: Those issues would seem to be crucial to restoring confidence.

TONY BURKE: Those issues are, in Australia's view, a very important part of dealing with a global
recession on a global basis and that's what the G20 meeting is about.

PAUL BONGIORNO: There were reports yesterday that Wayne Swan was relegated to a B team of nations
and I see today that when our Prime Minister goes in a couple of weeks, he'll in the B team as
well. Is that putting Australia in its place? Or means that we can't get our agenda up?

TONY BURKE: The report you're referring to, Paul, goes to an analysis of countries as to whether or
not they have strong non-government organisations, whether or not they have a strong media and the
extent to which they need to be lobbied in that context. So I think the actual way that list was
put together is in a very different framework to how it's otherwise been perceived.

PAUL BONGIORNO: So we're not second-rate?

TONY BURKE: We're there at the G20 as a partner in those discussions.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Well, let's go to the other major issue - and that is the emissions trading scheme
as a way of dealing with global warming. On Tuesday, we saw the odd couple - the Liberals' Andrew
Robb and the Greens' Christine Milne - combine to force a 2-month Senate inquiry into the
Government's low targets for emissions cuts.

GREENS DEPUTY LEADER CHRISTINE MILNE (Tuesday): The Government has said that their legislation is
as big as the Canberra phone book, but what we know is that it's full of wrong numbers. We know the
wrong number is 5 and it has to be changed.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Well, minister, the Greens say the number is too low and, ironically, the
Opposition agrees. It says it can do much better but your scheme will, in fact, do more harm. In
fact, Malcolm Turnbull yesterday said that his scheme, the way in which he would approach it,
would, in fact, be better for food security and agriculture.

TONY BURKE: Well, the Liberals' description of their scheme goes to saying that emissions will be
higher and that emissions will be lower. They've been asked what target they would actually prefer.
They told us that they would provide their target once Garnaut reported, then once the Treasury
modelling came out, then once the white paper came out. Then they said they'd conduct their own
inquiry. They've now conducted their own inquiry. That finished a month ago and they still haven't
been able to say what their emissions targets are so, yes, the Greens are arguing that we should go
further. The Liberals, in terms of precisely what they're arguing, it does change day to day.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Have the Liberals, however, tapped into community sentiment in light of the
financial crisis that there shouldn't be any major change to the way we do business in Australia
until at least 2012?

TONY BURKE: There has always been a reason in the view of the Liberals for delaying. For 11 years,
there were reasons why we had to delay. I think the Australian people understand that we need to
take long-term action on climate change. We're more affected than most other countries in the
world. It's in our interests to take that long-term action and the Treasury modelling says that the
countries that fail to take the long-term action, that actually delay those decisions, end up at a
15% financial disadvantage in terms of costs.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Well, the Opposition says that the Government has failed to produce modelling on
the effects, particularly, of the ETS, of the scheme, on agriculture. They do cite the Australian
Farm Institute modelling which says that your carbon reductions scheme would reduce agricultural
production by $10.9 billion by 2030.

TONY BURKE: Well, have a look at the assumptions within that modelling. One of the assumptions of
that modelling from the Australian Farm Institute is that there will be no behavioural change from
farmers. Now, that won't be the case. So, when you look within the assumptions you can see why that
conclusion is there. But farmers are being given the tools and the Government for through
Australia's Farming Future, is making sure that farmers have more options at their disposal to
reduce emissions, whether it be nitrous oxide, methane or sequestering CO2. Interestingly, as those
tools become available productivity goes hand in hand with a lower emissions profile.

PAUL BONGIORNO: There's a view that the Government wouldn't mind its Emissions Trading Scheme going
down - it will buy time and won't get the blame. Is that right? Or is it full steam ahead?

TONY BURKE: We want to take long-term action for the future. That's what we promised we'd do.
That's what was reflected in the white paper. And our intention is for the carbon pollution
reductions scheme to commence on the dates as presented.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Minister, there is an issue that was brought to my attention from farmers in
north-eastern Victoria. They say they've been getting literally hundreds of thousands of dollars
worth of hay sent down to them from NSW and Queensland. But the farmers doing this have to bear all
the transport costs. They say some help should be given to the donors, tax relief or something
along those lines.

TONY BURKE: Yes, it's a real issue. It's something where there's very different, divergent views
among farmers in Victoria. The approach so far has largely been for the payments to be given
directly to bushfire-affected farmers and for them to then work out how they would best spend that.
And some people have a view that we shouldn't go past them and give the money in terms of making
sure that the donors are being able to deliver. It's a live discussion and something that the
Government continues to talk to Victoria about.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Will there be a resolution soon?

TONY BURKE: Well, in the mind of some farmers in Victoria, bushfire affected, they want the
low-interest loans and payments to be continued to prioritised directly to them.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Time for a break. When we return with the panel - is the Government getting it
right on jobs? And last week began with a pottery-mouthed Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER KEVIN RUDD: Because there's going to be the usual political shit storm. Sorry -
usual, political storm over that.

INDEPENDENT SENATOR NICK XENOPHON: I think we need a parliamentary swear jar and I think in next to
no time we'll be able to make a big dent into the deficit.

PAUL BONGIORNO: You're on Meet the Press with Agriculture Minister Tony Burke. And welcome to our
panel, Michelle Grattan from the 'Age'. Good morning, Michelle.


PAUL BONGIORNO: And Glenn Milne from the 'Sunday Telegraph'. Hi, Glenn.


PAUL BONGIORNO: Last October, the Prime Minister nailed his colours to an unemployment target with
a 3 in front of it. On Thursday that became a shattered dream and fuel for an Opposition attack.

OPPOSITION LEADER MALCOLM TURNBULL (Thursday): How will the Prime Minister reduce the unemployment
rate from 5.2% to a number with a 3 in front of it? Or is high unemployment the inevitable outcome
of the rising risk of the Rudd recession?

PAUL BONGIORNO: Michelle Grattan.

MICHELLE GRATTAN: Mr Burke, the forecast of unemployment going to 7% next year is obviously now
shot to pieces. Do you think it's possible that unemployment will reach the level of 11%, which was
the last recession figure in the early '90s? Or can you guarantee that it won't get as bad as that?

TONY BURKE: Well, the forecasting is best done by the authorities doing the forecasts themselves.
The truth of the figures we're dealing with at the moment is that we are in a global recession, and
while, if you were going to be anywhere in the world it's difficult to find a better place than
Australia at the moment, we are still going to be affected by it and we're starting to see some of
the impacts of that. Every job loss is one job loss too many.

MICHELLE GRATTAN: So you really haven't a clue as to whether it could get as bad as it did in the
early '90s?

TONY BURKE: I don't think it's helpful for me to become the instant forecaster on these issues.
It's best done by the agencies who conduct the forecasts.

GLENN MILNE: You've got to stay ahead of the curve, surely. You must have some idea as to whether
the rate will end up.

TONY BURKE: In terms of the global recession, if you go back last year, in advance of Lehman
Brothers falling over, people knew there were economic storm clouds on the horizon but I don't
think anyone, anyone, predicted the sort of global impact we'd be dealing with at the moment.

GLENN MILNE: Are we going over 7%?

TONY BURKE: So there are, as the global situation continues, that does have an impact on Australia.
If the global situation continues to get worse, then Australia will be affected by that. We're not
going to pretend to be immune. It's still true that in those circumstances, the worst option is to
simply sit back and wait and see.

MICHELLE GRATTAN: In terms of where things are going, though, what hope can you hold out to
Australians in terms of the timetable as to when things will get better? The end of this year? Next

TONY BURKE: The challenge for us is to make sure action can be taken and we're taking action both
in the domestic economy and the work being done in the G20 internationally and for us to be doing
everything we can to make sure we're keeping economic activity moving within the Australian

MICHELLE GRATTAN: It sounds as though we're without a map, a bit, here.

TONY BURKE: In terms of the situation around the globe, Australia is in the same position as any
other country in predicting where the global recession will go next.

GLENN MILNE: Hang on, but President Obama has said we're likely to see some pick-up towards the end
of the year. Do you believe that's possible?

TONY BURKE: Oh, there's no doubt, what I've said, Glenn, and I don't depart a moment from what I
said at the beginning of this part of the conversation, which is those forecasts are best made by
the economic modelling agencies and I don't think it's helpful for me to be throwing numbers around
beyond that.

GLENN MILNE: Just going back to the G20, there's slow progress there, the Doha round on agriculture
has all but collapsed. We're trying to resuscitate that. We're headed off to a global climate
change conference sponsored by the UN in Copenhagen in December. The ETS scheme you're trying to
push through the Senate is very reliant on the outcome of Copenhagen. What chance have we got of an
outcome when all these other summits have collapsed? First of all, I don't accept in advance of the
G20 meeting we can reach the conclusion you've reached there. With Doha, the work is still going
very hard to try to get a successful conclusion to that round. On the climate change negotiations,
the one thing you can be absolutely sure of is that Australia is best positioned to get a good
outcome if we have maintained a position of some level of leadership. And if we were to go down the
path being suggested, as just do nothing and wait till the outcome, then at Copenhagen we go there
with no negotiating credibility at all - and that is the option that the Opposition is pushing for.

MICHELLE GRATTAN: But you can't get this through the Senate surely, now that Malcolm Turnbull
yesterday has come out firmly against the scheme. You've got the Greens on one side, far divided
from the other cross-benchers. How on earth could you hope to get this through the Senate in these

TONY BURKE: I don't think anyone can judge Malcolm Turnbull's position on any one day as being

MICHELLE GRATTAN: It's "just say no".

TONY BURKE: being conclusive of where he will end up. It's not long ago that his position was
"just say yes". He came to the leadership on the back of saying we needed to take action on climate
change. The two issues that he came to the leadership on in terms of a position on climate change
and a position on WorkChoices are the very positions that we can now say he's trying to be
defiantly in a different space. I just think his position has been a day-to-day event and it's
difficult to read too much into yesterday in that space.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Minister, just going to another issue, on Thursday Australia and Iraq agreed to a
new wheat deal and for you to lead a delegation to that country. But just as we were announcing
more Australian civilians are to head there, 60 people were killed in mass attacks in Baghdad.

IRAQI PRIME MINISTER NOURI AL-MALIKI (Thursday): I must stress, notwithstanding the gruesome
operations that took place and the large number of victims, al-Qaeda, the extremists and terrorists
in Iraq have lost their capabilities of confronting and challenging the security forces in Iraq.

GLENN MILNE: Well, Minister, does that mean that it's safe for Australians to go back into Iraq now
and business as usual?

TONY BURKE: Well, the travel advisory is the guideline as to the safety for Australians to
physically be there in Iraq. There's no doubt that we want to see a successful Iraqi economy and
there's also no doubt that Australian farmers suffered terribly when the Iraqi grains board shut us
out of wheat sales following the wheat-for-weapons scandal. To be back in there and able to sell
Australian wheat to Iraq again is a very important boon for Australian industry.

GLENN MILNE: But can we get on with it now? Well, within the, to the extent of are we able to
resume trade, the answer is yes. Should individuals be travelling there at any one time? That's
something where people would be guided by the travel advice.

MICHELLE GRATTAN: The AWB was involved in a scandal of hundreds of millions of dollars and yet
there's not been one conviction out of all that at this stage. Aren't you disappointed about that?
And how could this be?

TONY BURKE: Well, the decisions on convictions or on people being charged will be taken by the AFP
and they certainly haven't, you know, abandoned that process. What's happened is a number of civil
actions have actually been suspended awaiting decisions on whether or not criminal charges will be

PAUL BONGIORNO: Well, one of our viewers says he's sick of seeing his representatives playing
politics with serious issues. Graham from Epping wants to know, "With Australia in its greatest
economic crisis since the 1930s, why doesn't the Government bring the Opposition into a war
cabinet-style alliance and remove the current non-productive bickering between the parties on this
critical issue?" What about a war cabinet?

TONY BURKE: One of the challenges that we've got there is for us to be able to work constructively
with the Opposition, they have to be willing to work constructively and they have to know what they
believe. We had, with the nation building and jobs package, the Leader of the Opposition standing
up from the beginning and saying, no matter what, they'd vote against it in the Reps and vote
against it in the Senate - makes negotiation difficult. And on issues where they previously had a
different position, because of their leadership tensions, we're now finding instead of them saying
WorkChoices is dead and climate change is something they want to act on, they're now pandering to
climate change sceptics and WorkChoices believers.

GLENN MILNE: Do you think you'll face Peter Costello rather than Malcolm Turnbull at the next

TONY BURKE: I don't know the answer to that. I don't think they know the answer to that. It's
certainly the case that they're now in a competition as to who can be the biggest cheerleader for
WorkChoices - and they're both making a decent fist of that.

MICHELLE GRATTAN: Just going back to the bushfires, have you got any estimate about what this is
going to cost in terms of lost primary production?

TONY BURKE: We've got more information than we had. It looks like now it's in the order of 12,000km
of fencing that's been destroyed. Stock losses are 6,000 confirmed dead with stock, but a further
6,000 stock just missing. There's a whole range of work needing to be done as a result - permanent
plantings, for example, will take five years before they're in production again. And it will be
even longer before we know the impact of the Queensland floods.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Well, thank you very much for being with us today, Agriculture Minister Tony Burke.
And coming up - some surprising poll results on climate change and the economy. And Malcolm
Turnbull's overshadow, Peter Costello, inspired the Prime Minister in Parliament and Moir in the
'Sydney Morning Herald'.

KEVIN RUDD: Come on down the front, Pete. Because I gather that's where you were yesterday in the
party room - down the front, there or there, I'm not sure.

BRONWYN BISHOP: If the answer to every question is Peter Costello, then I suggest that they are
simply not being relevant.

PAUL BONGIORNO (Reading from cartoon): "Ah, poor Malcolm Turnbull. As I was walking up the stair, I
met a man who wasn't there. He wasn't there again today."

PAUL BONGIORNO: You're on Meet the Press. Putting a price on carbon to encourage polluters to pay
and consumers to be more environmentally conscious would seem to be a no-brainer. But life's never
so simple, especially with jobs and the economy at stake. Two nationwide polls, taken last
September and last month, have found 9 in 10 Australians say the country should take a leading role
in combating climate change and shouldn't wait for the global recession to end. In September, the
environment on 46% led the economy on 33% as the most serious issue facing Australia. In February,
the economy leapt to the most serious issue on 69% with the environment second on 41%. Good morning
and and welcome to the program pollster Randall Pearce from Thermometer Survey. Good morning,


PAUL BONGIORNO: The difference in what was the most serious issue between September and February is
stark and the economy is so far ahead. Doesn't that push the whole debate on ETS into the
background as far as the Australian public is concerned?

RANDALL PEARCE: Not at all, Paul. I think what's really surprising by this particular result is how
little the environment fell. The environment fell only 5 points through five months of
unprecedented economic turmoil.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Yes, but the economy went up about 20, didn't it?

RANDALL PEARCE: It went up 36 points, absolutely. It's top of mind for most Australians, without a
doubt, but environment has held its place in the top two and I think that is most surprising out of
this poll.

GLENN MILNE: To what extent, though, should the environment be seen as an economic issue anyway?

RANDALL PEARCE: We ran a second question which showed that only 12% of Australians think we should
wait until the economy improves to take action on climate change. I think, Glenn, what they see is
that there's cost to waiting. The longer that we wait, the greater the costs are and the longer we
put off the economics opportunities that are involved in addressing climate change. I think Nick
Stearn said this week the effect of decarbonising the economy would be roughly equivalent in this
century to building the railway in the 19th century - and Australians are very conscious of that.

MICHELLE GRATTAN: Malcolm Turnbull is if anything is now pushing out the timetable for an emissions
scheme even longer. Do you think in light of the polling results that that's a savvy political
strategy or not a savvy political strategy?

RANDALL PEARCE: Well, one of the effects of not being in government is you're really flying blind
out the aid of research and our research would show he's leading an army of about 12% of
Australians. That's the number of people that want to wait. Most Australians believe we need to get
on with the job. They're calling for action, first by government and then by business. Not
certainly by individuals, because they don't have the tools yet in order to reduce their carbon
footprints, but they want our government to take an action right away.

PAUL BONGIORNO: But Randall, did you test the proposition that if it came down to your job or, say,
putting a price on carbon, that people would always go for 'my job first'.

RANDALL PEARCE: Oh, look, Paul, I think that's an unfair comparison to make. I mean, people draw a
distinction between their private economy and the broader economy and so they do as well on climate
change. They see that there's a difference between government action and business action and action
that they can take as an individual. Individual action is probably some years off yet.

PAUL BONGIORNO: What about, you know, electricity is dearer, for example, that will hit people.

RANDALL PEARCE: That will hit people but they also understand that it's a cost that we have to
bear. Unfortunately, there are some very human costs associated with climate change. We've seen
devastating bushfires in Victoria and while we don't have precise information on whether people
trace that back to climate change, what we do know is that Australians feel a certain level of
concern about this issue because the drought is the physical manifestation of...

GLENN MILNE: But, on that point, you say the physical manifestation is the drought. Surely the
jobless index is the physical manifestation of people being put out of work and when we go through
that transition phase to any sort of ETS, environmental trading scheme, job losses are only going
to compliment that feeling of insecurity, won't they?

RANDALL PEARCE: Look, losing a job is a terrible thing for anyone, absolutely. But even at 5.2%,
Glenn, 95% of Australians still have jobs and those people say we need to learn to manage two
crises at the same time, that we cannot pursue the idea that there's only one priority. The world
is a complex place.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Thank you very much for being with us, Randall Pearce and thank you Michelle
Grattan and Glenn Milne. Until next week, goodbye.