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Early Agenda -

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SUBJECT: Carbon pricing

GILBERT: ...I spoke to Greg Combet a little bit earlier and I began by asking him, won't Tony
Abbott have a very clear mandate, if he wins the election, to do just that and scrap the carbon

COMBET: Well in politics you've got to stand up for what you believe in. And this has been Labor
policy for years now. Having a price on carbon, through an Emissions Trading Scheme arrangement.
That's what we're implementing. We tried to do it in the last Parliament and were defeated. We're
doing it again. It's legislated. It's coming into effect and most importantly, at the end of the
day, Australia needs to make this change. We'll have obligations to reduce our greenhouse gas
emissions and we need to do it as part of a fair effort in the international community.

GILBERT: There are reports that some of your colleagues are skittish on this though, that they want
a reduction in the starting price, or an earlier move to an Emissions Trading Scheme. Is there any
prospect of that?

COMBET: I saw a report in the Herald yesterday along those lines. I just think it's a bit of monkey
business to be frank. We've been through this for a long time now. We've argued the issues out for
a long time. There's been a long public debate, it's time we got on with it. And don't forget, this
was John Howard's policy in 2007, Malcolm Turnbull's policy in the last Parliament and it's
something that the country needs to do. We have a responsibility to tackle climate change as part
of an international effort, play our fair share and to do that we need to make changes in our
economy and implementing a carbon price is the most effective way of doing that.

GILBERT: But obviously there's enormous volatility in the local economy and globally. 63 per cent
are opposed to it according to the Lowy Institute Poll today. People just don't think it's the
right time.

COMBET: Well, I think that just reflects the fact that there's been a pretty vibrant debate and
that Tony Abbott's run around trying to terrify everyone with stories of unimaginable price
increases and towns and regions being wiped off the map, whole industries destroyed. None of it is
true, Kieran. None of it is true. We're a few weeks away from the carbon price coming into effect
and Tony Abbott's going to have an awful lot of egg to wipe off that face of his over a long period
of time. Because what his play was, was to try and create such ferment and momentum to try and
unsettle a minority government, so he could grab the top job. Now, he's not succeeded in any of
that, and now he's going to have to defend some of the most ridiculous statements you've ever heard
and we're going to hold him to account for it.

GILBERT: He made the point yesterday though, that this is going to be a gradual impact, a
python-like squeeze.

COMBET: But a week ago it was going to be a wrecking-ball and a cobra-strike and now it's a little
python-squeeze. You know, Tony Abbott is getting desperate. He's getting desperate.

GILBERT: But they're not mutually exclusive are they? If it's going to be a wrecking ball, it means
it's going to be very damaging.

COMBET: Is it going to be a wrecking-ball, a cobra or a python? What is it? Or is it a teddy-bear?
You know, Tony Abbott's getting desperate. The closer this comes, he knows he's going to be found
out. Don't forget, from July the 1st, he forecast the entire coal industry will be destroyed - will
be destroyed. That was just one of his claims and yet there's $100 billion worth of investment
coming in.

GILBERT: But the point is then, going back to my original question, you've made it very clear there
that Tony Abbott has argued very strongly against this tax. There should be no confusion as to what
he believes should happen with that. Therefore, if he wins the next election, he would have one of
the clearest mandates in Australian political history to get rid of it.

COMBET: But the thing you've got to remember Kieran is it is a reform that is manageable. It'll be
environmentally effective, it's economically responsible and the Government's doing it in a
socially fair way. Billions of people will be better off. The other thing to remember is that Tony
Abbott has made a whole host of absurd claims, he'll run away from them, because they'll be proven
to be untrue. And the other thing to remember is that the man is a total opportunist. He'll just
switch and hope everyone will forget. He'll go off on some other tangent. I mean he doesn't really
care about the policy issues, all he wants is the top job and he'll say anything and do anything to
try and get it.

GILBERT: On the policy issues, a lot of confusion as to what companies are going to pay this tax.
The full list of companies hasn't been completed and we're less than a month out from the start of
the tax kicking-in. Are you annoyed that it's been left at this late stage?

COMBET: No, and there's not a lot of confusion either. An initial tranche of 250-odd liable
companies has been published by the Clean Energy Regulator, which is now responsible for this. They
are also working through two other groups of potential liable entities. One of them is some local
governments and they're in constant contact with them to resolve issues. Most of those I'm advised,
have now been resolved and they'll be published in due course. There's another group too where some
parent companies assign a liability to a subsidiary or vice versa. That's just being resolved at
the moment, but I'm very confident that the overwhelming majority of the liable entities will
certainly be published in coming weeks.

GILBERT: Mr Combet, thanks for your time.

COMBET: Thanks Kieran.









SUBJECTS: People smuggling

KIERAN GILBERT: Joining me on the program now from Brisbane the Deputy Opposition Leader in the
Senate Senator Brandis and in Sydney the Minister for Small Business, Housing and Homelessness
Brendan O'Connor.

Gentlemen, it's good to see you both. Brendan O'Connor I want to ask you first of all, you used to
be the Minister for Justice and Home Affairs, with oversight of the Federal Police. Did you ever
hear suggestions that people smugglers had fraudulently obtained refugee status and set up
operations in Australia?

BRENDAN O'CONNOR: Well yes, well I am aware of a situation that occurred when the Howard Government
determined the refugee status of a person who is currently facing 85 charges, including the
organising of the vessel that sank on Christmas Island or near Christmas Island, so I do recall
that vividly. It wouldn't surprise me, on occasion these things can happen, they happened under the
Howard Government and they may well happen under other Governments.

KIERAN GILBERT: It does seem bizarre though that a television program could locate a senior people
smuggler, with all the resources that the Federal Police and the Government Agencies have, that
they can't do the same.

BRENDAN O'CONNOR: Well, as I say the police do their job and do a good job, they work very closely
with the Indonesian National Police, other police within the region, to determine these types of
matters, and as I outlined to you we managed to arrest a person who was deported from Indonesia,
who had been determined as a refugee eight years prior, I think it was, and he's now facing more
than 80 charges for people smuggling. Now, his status was determined under the Howard Government,
he committed the offences under this Government and we're bringing him to justice.

KIERAN GILBERT: Senator Brandis, ok what's your response to that. Obviously it's not something
solely that this Government has seen, if Brendan O'Connor makes the point there that similar cases
were observed during the Howard years as well.

GEORGE BRANDIS: Well Kieran I'm afraid I'm at a bit of a disadvantage because I could barely hear
anything Brendan O'Connor just said, so perhaps your technical people could fix that up, but I did
- I think I heard him mention the Howard Government, and can I just remind you, Kieran, that the
Howard Government did not rip resources away from our frontline policing agencies in a way that
this Government has done.

Last month, for the fourth consecutive year, we saw funds ripped away from the Australian Federal
Police, we saw funds ripped away from the Customs and Border Protection Service and we saw funds
ripped away from ASIO as well as, of course, massive cuts to the Defence budget as well. So if we
have a problem then we might start by properly resourcing the front line agencies. But of course
this is a problem that has only emerged since the Labor Government introduced weak border
protection policies in August 2008.

Let me just remind you, Kieran, that in the last six years of the Howard Government there were 18
boats - an average of three a year. There have been three boats in the last three days. In the last
six years of the Howard Government there were 300 unlawful entrants apprehended. In the last four
years of this Government there have been 18,500. There is a direct cause and effect relationship
between the foolish decision to weaken border protection in 2008 when Mr Rudd was Prime Minister
and this massive uptick in the number of unlawful arrivals. And it's hardly surprising that in
2010, according to the Four Corners report, the people smugglers who now are back in business,
thanks to the Labor Party, decided to make their operation even more sophisticated by locating some
of the personnel on shore. So you have the double whammy of weak border protection policies, and
stripping away resources from the Australian Federal Police and Customs and goodness me, what
happens? We find that the people smugglers are developing a more sophisticated business model.

BRENDAN O'CONNOR: Kieran, can I just say in relation to the AFP -

KIERAN GILBERT: Ok Brendan O'Connor, ok, you can respond to that let me ask you Mr O'Connor, let me
put to you though -

BRENDAN O'CONNOR: - that's entirely untrue because -

KIERAN GILBERT: Mr O'Connor please let me ask you the question, I do want to ask you -


KIERAN GILBERT: The point that Senator Brandis makes there, you pointed out one example of a people
smuggler that evaded the authorities during the Howard Government. It does seem from the Four
Corners program that this is a more sophisticated set up where they actually running operations
from Australian soil.

BRENDAN O'CONNOR: As I said the person that's currently facing 80 or more charges that was
determined to be a refugee under the Howard Government was in fact having, did in fact have a very
sophisticated operation. He was allegedly involved in a number of operations and of course that
will be determined by a court later. But can I say since we were elected in 2007 we've increased
the penalties against people smugglers, we've introduced legislation to make it an offence with a
10 year jail sentence if you are - up to a 10 year jail sentence if you are engaging in providing
support for people smugglers. In Australia we've had an expansion of the ASIO oversight to
investigate these matters domestically in relation to these crimes and we'll continue to do so.
That is, continue to focus on those activities in order to bring those people to justice because we
believe that you need to have strong penalties. It's not true to say that we've reduced the AFP
numbers, in fact we've expanded the AFP numbers since the election. And we'll continue to work with
our friends in the region to combat these crimes, but let's remember -

KIERAN GILBERT: Mr O'Connor let me ask you though -

BRENDAN O'CONNOR: - Tony Abbott refuses to accept the proposition we've put to him because he wants
to see more boats arrive in this country.

KIERAN GILBERT: Mr O'Connor are you worried though -

GEORGE BRANDIS: - Brendan, Brendan -

KIERAN GILBERT: Just quickly, I'll come back to Senator Brandis in a moment just quickly, Brendan
O'Connor are you worried that the images we saw last night, the report, the revelations will
diminish any sense of good will that Australians have, those that support asylum seekers in their
bid for asylum in Australia, that these sort of things will totally undermine that?

BRENDAN O'CONNOR: Look, anytime a person who's been determined to be a refugee commits an offence
or allegedly commits an offence it diminishes, I think, the capacity for Australians to welcome
people who are in need. That is, people who are fleeing persecution. That will happen. But as
leaders of a country we have to say we should take our fair share of refugees, like the United
States, like other developed nations do. We should do that, but of course if they commit criminal
offence then they should face justice and they should be prosecuted, and they should be jailed.

KIERAN GILBERT: Senator Brandis your response now, but I also ask you do you concede that it's not
- these sorts of matters, as Brendan O'Connor reasserted there, can happen under any Government and
with any border protection framework, that someone can always slip the net.

GEORGE BRANDIS: Well there's no guarantee that people won't commit crimes, if that's what you mean,
but the likelihood of this particular crime being committed is a function of the capacity of people
smugglers to sell a product to a market. And the point I make is that the Howard Government removed
the capacity of people smugglers to sell that product and Brendan can wrap it up in all the weasel
words he likes but the fact is the numbers don't lie - 300 people in the last six year of the
Howard Government, 18,500 people in the four years -

BRENDAN O'CONNOR: It's a (inaudible) comparison -

GEORGE BRANDIS: - In the four years. Well those are the figures Brendan, you might be in denial but
those are the figures -

BRENDAN O'CONNOR: - Because - I'll give you a comparison, under the Fraser Government there was
waves of boats coming -

GEORGE BRANDIS: Under the Fraser Government?

BRENDAN O'CONNOR: - During the Hawke Keating period there were none.

GEORGE BRANDIS: Brendan would you like to go back to the Government of William Morris Hughes, like
some of your trade union leader would like to do?

(Talking over each other)

GEORGE BRANDIS: I'm sorry, I thought this was my go.

KIERAN GILBERT: Brendan O'Connor, please, please, can I ask the studio -

GEORGE BRANDIS: I thought this was my reply?

KIERAN GILBERT: Senator Brandis, it is. Please finish your answer. Brendan O'Connor I will come
back to you. We can't, the viewers can't hear what Senator Brandis is saying, or Brendan O'Connor,
so let's just try and keep it a bit clear. Senator Brandis, your answer please.

GEORGE BRANDIS: Three hundred people, in the last six years of the most recent Coalition
Government, the Howard Government - 18,500 in the less than four years since the Labor Government
weakened the border protection policies. That's the comparison and you can't run away from those

The other point I wanted to make through, Kieran, is this: there's absolutely no point in
increasing the penalties for people smugglers if you don't enforce the laws, and that's the
problem. The problem doesn't lie at the end of the process where a people smuggler might be
sentenced. The problem lies at the start of the process where the Government has taken resources
away from the front line agencies, weakened the policies, and sent the clearest price signal
possible to people smugglers that you have a worthwhile product to sell.

And can I finish on this, Kieran, Brendan said the Labor Government announced an increase in the
numbers of the AFP. Yeah, sure, they announced an increase in the numbers of the AFP but then they
didn't follow through by in fact increasing the number of sworn officers because it was back-end
loaded and they're still, like so many other they're still to deliver on that commitment as well.

KIERAN GILBERT: I'm sorry I've got to interrupt, we've got to go to Tony Abbott here live at the
House of Representatives.