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Rudd offers solution

The World Today - Friday, 26 September , 2008 12:18:00

Reporter: Michael Rowland

TONY EASTLEY: Well, the financial crisis has been the key topic of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's
address to the United Nations General Assembly.

Mr Rudd has told world leaders the problem was a global one and it required a global solution.

He's urging all countries to move quickly towards standardising regulatory structures and market
oversight to make sure the events of the past fortnight aren't repeated.

North America correspondent Michael Rowland reports from the United Nations in New York.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: The initial plan was for Kevin Rudd to use his first speech to the United Nations
to highlight issues like climate change and the campaign to reduce global poverty.

But like most other world leaders stepping up to the General Assembly podium, Mr Rudd had to make
some last minute changes to his formal address.

Climate change and poverty reduction did get a mention but it was the financial crisis and ways of
dealing with it that dominated Mr Rudd's remarks.

KEVIN RUDD: The global financial crisis of today presents us afresh with a critical opportunity to
act comprehensively and collectively for the long term rather than selectively and separately for
the short.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: The Prime Minister told the assembly the world hadn't learned the lessons from the
Asian financial crisis of a decade ago.

KEVIN RUDD: And as a global community we resolved that we would act to reduce the risk of such
systemic crisis in the future. The problem is, a decade on, systemic lessons were not learnt.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Mr Rudd said political will was needed to strengthen the global financial system.

He said bodies like the International Monetary Fund and the G20 had to move quickly to ensure
regulatory structures around the world were standardised to minimise the prospects of further
market failure.

KEVIN RUDD: Systemically, important financial institutions should be licensed to operate in major
economies only under the condition that they make full disclosure and analysis of balance sheet and
off-balance sheet exposures.

The central bank in each country should have responsibility for financial systems stability. This
should be embedded in globally agreed best practice standards of financial regulation and assessed
by the International Monetary Fund.

Second we need to ensure that banks and other financial institutions build up capital in good times
as a buffer for bad times using predictable rules.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: The speech capped off a three day visit to New York by the Prime Minister that was
overshadowed by the mayhem on Wall Street.

His schedule was changed as much as his UN speech.

Hastily organised meetings with financial figures were inserted into his program to allow Mr Rudd
to show he was actively concerned about what was happening on the markets and its potential impact
on Australia.

Just before his speech the Prime Minister scored a meeting with senior Federal Reserve official
Timothy Geithner, who'd been heavily involved in drafting the financial rescue package now before
the US Congress.

Mr Rudd did set aside time for other issues.

He lobbied heavily for Australia to get a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council.

KEVIN RUDD: On the question of our Security Council candidature, it is a competitive race. The vote
is not until 2012 and so frankly every vote counts. It is like one huge global caucus ballot.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: And the Prime Minister did devote some of his precious minutes before the UN
General Assembly to underscore Australia's efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

KEVIN RUDD: We are determined to be part of the solution to climate change - not just a part of the
problem. We have acted to begin the process of developing a comprehensive emissions trading or
carbon pollution reduction scheme to bring down CO2 emissions over time.

We will also implement a national energy efficiency strategy as well as a renewable energy
strategy.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: But like every world leader Mr Rudd is, for the moment, more concerned about
re-energising the battered US financial system.

At United Nations headquarters in New York, this is Michael Rowland reporting for The World Today.