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Rudd heads to local government summit -

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Rudd heads to local government summit

Broadcast: 17/11/2008

Transcript

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: The Prime Minister's casting his net wide in an attempt to solve the
economic problems of the world. Kevin Rudd's flying back from a whirlwind visit to Washington, but
when he returns to Canberra, it'll be straight into the middle of another leaders' summit, albeit
on a much lower level.

More than 500 mayors and shire presidents have already gathered in the national capital and they're
all hoping some of the Government's economic stimulus package will flow their way.

Dana Robertson reports.

DANA ROBERTSON, REPORTER: They say all politics is local; but Kevin Rudd's taking it to extremes.
After a weekend with the world's most powerful leaders, tomorrow morning, the Prime Minister will
be keeping company with more than 500 local mayors.

KEVIN RUDD, PRIME MINISTER: This is the first time that the Australian Government will call
together representatives of each of Australia 565 local authorities.

DANA ROBERTSON: And all of them will have their hands out.

DENNIS WOOD, TOWN OF KWINANA: Everything from libraries to roads, to bridges, to you name it. It's
all a problem.

ROB DARE, DIAMANTINA SHIRE COUNCIL: Our immediate need would be the broadband - the internet.

LOCAL MAYOR: Money would be nice.

CHRIS HOLSTEIN, GOSFORD CITY COUNCIL: I'm hoping that the purse strings'll be loosened.

MURRAY STEWART, ALICE SPRINGS TOWN COUNCIL: Bring on the wrestle. I guess there's going to be a big
wrestle over the same bucket of money.

DANA ROBERTSON: There are high hopes that local infrastructure projects could be in for a boost
worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Before he left Washington, the Prime Minister was coy about
his spending plans.

KEVIN RUDD: We'll make a decision on what we announce when I get to the conference.

JOURNALIST: Is there likely to be - the Australians, are they likely to see any ...

KEVIN RUDD: And it may not be anything at all.

MURRAY STEWART: I got this: the red suit. And let's hope the pollies play Santa.

DANA ROBERTSON: They already have to the retail sector, but so far it's not doing much good. Sales
almost flatlined in the September quarter, dragged down by NSW, where buyers are holding on to
their cash.

The Federal Government's already promised nearly $10 billion to prop up consumer spending, but that
money won't hit bank accounts for another two weeks.

KEVIN RUDD: There's one, clear stated policy objective: to boost domestic consumption - now. Not in
six months time, not in 12 months time, now.

DANA ROBERTSON: But Kevin Rudd knows that no matter what he does at home, globally, it's barely a
drop in the ocean. And Australia's economy is still at the mercy of international forces.

At their one-on-one meeting, Mr Rudd congratulated the Chinese President Hu Jintao for his efforts
to keep China's economy growing.

KEVIN RUDD: Obviously, China has acted in its national economic interests, but in addition to that,
it's been to the advantage of the regional economy.

DANA ROBERTSON: But with Australia's fortunes so closely tied to China, talk of other issues like
human rights was pushed aside.

KEVIN RUDD: In our nearly hour long conversation today, we focused exclusively on the economic
relationship. And that is appropriate, given the challenges we face today.

DANA ROBERTSON: And the two nations' economic dependence looks like getting nothing but closer,
after the leaders agreed to speed up work on a free trade deal.

KEVIN RUDD: I don't wish to mislead people by giving a completion date, but there is political will
on both of our parts to get this thing done.

DANA ROBERTSON: The Prime Minister says he didn't go to Washington for fun and frolic.

Back in Canberra, the mayors tell the same story.

LOCAL MAYOR II: I haven't come here for the handshake, the feed or the photo on the steps of
Parliament House.

DANA ROBERTSON: On a much smaller stage. Dana Robertson, Lateline.