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(generated from captions) officers, of course ambulance staff. We've got a massive operation going on to try to recover the bodyWe have the PM Kevin Rudd about to speak after a briefing on national Syria. We'll go of the serious situation in Syria. We'll go there live.It is too horrible to believe that in the year 2013 we could see in the year 2013 we could civilians, men, women and children, being slaut trtd by what appear to be chemical weapons. Based on reports from we now have their reports of 355 deaths and some 3,600 injured as a result of this attack. Last night, together
with the Foreign Minister, and others, we received a briefing from relevant national security officials here in Canberra. There are three or four points wish to make to you. The first is the Government's a assessment is that the indications point strongly in the direction of the use of chemical weapons and indications also point in the direction of the Syrian regime. However, definitive conclusions on this await final and full access to the site by a UN weapons's inspectors. On the question of UN weapons inspectors, the UN high representative on disarmament affairs arrived in Damascus yesterday. There is also a team of weapons inspectors in Damascus. Where the rubber hits the road now is for the Syrian regime to grant access to these inspectors and the UN high representative to this site. The Burden of proof now lies with the Syrian regime to establish their cup willability or absence of culpability on this matter. Therefore, in the UN Security Council where Australia is active and a member, our efforts are focused primarily on forging the consensus necessary with other members of the UN Security Council to support access by the weapons inspectors to this site and to obtain immediate compliance by the Syrian regime to their unfettered access to this part of Damascus. This is the next most critical and urgent step. Australia, as you know, assumes the presidency of the UN Security Council in a week's time. This will be a testing time for our ambassador who is qualified, highly qualified in these matters, working with
ambassador Quinlan. We will be working with all members of the Security Council, both the permanent five and the non permanent members to forge the consensus necessary to ensure that, firstly, this access is obtained rapidly and secondly, that if it is concluded that the Syrian regime is responsible for a chemical then act
weapons attack, that we would then act in concert with other countries to determine an appropriate set of responses. Furthermore, Australia also Furthermore, Australia for Furthermore, Australia also has
for a long time been active in for a long time been international diplomacy on the question of international diplomacy on question of chemical and
biological weapons. question of biological weapons. There is a
group question of chemical and biological weapons. group of 42 member states in the United States group of 42 member the United been long chaired by Australia
which is the United States which has
been long which is called the Australia
group. United been long chaired by Australia
which is group. United Nations. That's group. because of our longstanding work on a chemical work on a chemical weapons convention going back to the days of Gareth Evans. Australia in the capitals of the world, those 42 capitals at present s working to forge consensus around a common position to place maximum pressure on the regime in Damascus to accept weapons inspectors to this site now. That is what we're doing through our diplomatic network around the world as we speak. Since we met last night, we've also sought information from our officials on the question of Australian military personnel who are currently in the region. This is an important matter. We have a small number of Australians who are currently attached to UN missions on the Golan Heights, both on the Syrian side and on the Israeli side, as well as Australian troops who are also active on the Israeli-Lebanese border. Our concern, of course, is for their well being. We've confirmed from the defence chiefs that these Australian personnel have been trained in handling chemical weapons attacks and are all equipped appropriately to handle any such attack should this event
there be any proliferation of this event that we've seen in Damascus. We will be seeking further reports during the course of the day on any other Australian personnel in the wider Middle East region and I have in mine there our forces currently in the Sinai under the multi-national force which is present there. The final point I would make before I turn to the Foreign Minister
and his recent discussions with both the British and French Foreign Secretary and Foreign Minister respectively, is to note the statement which has been issued by the White House overnight Australian time which refers to the convening of a national Security Council in Washington and the reported Syrian Government on Wednesday, 21 August near Damascus. It states and I think it is important Australians to note this, in coordination with
international partners and mindful of the dozens international partners mindful of the dozens of mindful of the contemporaneous witness accounts and record of symptoms of those who have been killed, of those who have been the US intelligence committee continues to gather facts to ascertain what's occurred. On the response question, the President also received a detailed review of a range of potential options that he had requested be prepared for the United States and the international community to respond to the use of chemical weapons. These matters will be the subject of discussion in a continuing series of meetings in the UN Security Council in the days ahead. My responsibility as PM is to keep the Australian people informed of this during this caretaker period and consist dent with the caretaker conventions to ensure that Mr Abbott is informed from officials as to what is happening in capitals around the world and in the events unfolding in Damascus Foreign Minister
itself. I might turn to the Foreign Minister and then take Foreign
your questions. Both the Foreign Secretary of the UK, William Hague, and the Foreign Minister of the French republic Laurent Fabius, share our concern and the assessment of the available material is again, as the PM put it, everything points to chemical weapon use in the Eastern Suburbs of Damascus and, second, to that use having been instigated by the Assad Government. The assessment of the Australian Government by Accords
our intelligence community Accords with that, that the freb French and British shared with us. The PM spoke with some detail about the work we'll be doing on the Security Council, but in addition to that, our work with the Australia group is worth underlining. This group came together to give effect to a universal ban on chemical weapons by seeing that the component parts of chemical weaponry was not able to move across borders. We're circulating the draft of a strong statement to all these members to recruit these 42 nations concerned and educated about the problem as a constituency in the major world forums on this matter. Australia had back in the time of Australia had a leadership role Evans when it came back in the time Evans when it came to Evans when it came the Evans when it came to elevating
the importance of a universal and effective ban on chemical and weapons use. This and effective ban on weapons use. This gives credibility to us showing some leadership with this constituency at this grave time.Finally before taking your questions, I will be speaking later today with the French president and other leaders as times are identified to monitor closely these developments and I conclude these remarks where I began, and, that is, for me it is gut wrenching to see this unfolding. The thought that these sorts of attacks could occur against unarmed civilians and with the graphic and horrific deaths of children and women, men and families, unfolding before us, it is like a barbaric scene rather than something we would expect on our television sets in the year 2013. We, as a responsible member of the international community and particularly with our responsibilities in the UN Security Council, take these matters as being central to our foreign policy responsibilities, not marginal. Over to you.If there is a military response, is Australia prepared and willing to be involved in that? The first point I would make is as the Foreign Minister indicated before, working through the assessment as to what has occurred and who is responsible conclusions based on information to hand so far. The next critical step is The next critical step is for the international community, Security
with the support of the UN Security Council, or in the absence of that support, to have weapons inspectors on the ground with access to this site now - now. If, for example, Sarin is used in these attacks and there are a number of reports to that effect, Sarin is a chemical element which can disperse. When it's located within human bodies it takes longer to disperse. There is an urgency in terms of the definitive conclusion. Therefore, the priority now is to forge the international consensus necessary to pressure the Syrian regime into accepting these inspections to start happening now at this location. The third element in this is if this conclusion is reached, then what constitutes an appropriate set of responses? I underline the gravity of the statement that White
I've just read out from the White House from President Obama's meeting with his own national Security Council within the last 24 hours.What are the leaders to put pressure on the Assad regime?The UN Security Council has the full force of international law. There are two approaches in my judgment. The first is to cause the regime to conclude that unless they voluntarily accede to untrammelled access for weapons inspectors to these sites now, then the UN Security Council itself will consider a resolution requiring them with the full force of international law to do so. Of course that would require the support of both China and Russia and that's where thedency currently lies. Whether it is voluntarily or, shall I say, through full force of the council, is to be determined but what must happen is to get the regime to open the doors to these inspectors as a matter of urgency. The Burden of proof, in my judgment, lies with the Syrian regime and if they have nothing to hide they'll provide access to this site as of now.Do you have an open mind on the question of any military involvement? I think it is unproductive and unwise to begin to speculate on any form of action and what shape that may responding to may take. The business responding to international
crises as this may take. The business of
responding to crises as this is emerging crises as this is one, is to take it calmly by step. one, is to take by step. What we're one, is to take it calmly step through our international diplomatic through our diplomatic and military network is liaising with all relevant
goments in the world. is liaising with goments in the world. I spoke with the goments in with the US ambassador this with morning. Ale keep in with the US ambassador morning. Ale keep in touch
with him with the US ambassador this
morning. with him this afternoon. furthermore to do so with the Australian military as well furthermore to do across their Australian military as across their contactses across the world. Australia has had a lot of the world. Australia has had lot of engagement in the international community on chemical weapons's questions and a lot of accumulated expertise. We expertise. We will continue to do this in the days ahead using the full recourse of our global diplomatic network. As I said, we assume the presidency of UN Security Council at a most critical time in the recent history of international events. I would emphasise the fact that in assuming the presidency of the council, we're going - we will need to be mindful of our global responsibility and this means working with every single member of the council to get the consensus necessary to get the action that is needed done. You mentioned the Iraq War this morning and the lessons we learned in terms of intelligence we received and decisions of making military interventions on those intelligence. How are we an plying those lessons to the Syrian experience. Mindful of recent history and wrong decisions which have been in the past, the response to adopt here is one which is calm and methodical and seeks to have the evidence before us. What I've said as directly as I can where we believe as the information to hand, the indication now lies, but there is a proof point and the proof point site by weapons point lies with access to site by weapons inspectors. Let's also emphasise one other point. It is the Syrian regime which is in possession of stockpiles of chemical weapons. That has been established for a long period of time. The Syrian regime has a number of delivery vehicles capable of putting such weapons into targets. The Burden of proof lies with Damascus. The Burden of proof lies with the regimeOn the question of learning the questions of the past let's do it calmly and methodically but with a ofsur insurgency so that we do not see this happen again. This is 330 people killed, men, women and children, according to Medecins Sans Frontiers, and on top of that, I think the figure I read out before was something in the order of 3,600 injured. These are human beings. These are members of the human family. We have a responsibility as a major contributor to the international order for the last 50 or 60 years not to simply say this is a marginal concern.Are you planning to stay in Canberra for the next couple of days? Will you tell us your plans in the next couple of daysAs I'm doing later today, I'm sure all those good folks in the method Ushuaia media section in my office will tell you where I'm heading to next. On the broader campaign, there will be debates in the media today about Abbott's priorities and my priorities for the Australian people right across the economy and jobs and health and education and paid parental leave. We will be encouraging fully in that debate.You private called for a no-fly zone over Libya. Do you think there is a case for one over Syria? In the case of Libya, as I recall it, then as Foreign Minister, had we not exacted then decisively we faced the butchery of Benghazi, an entire city, which at this stage was in rebel hands which was somewhat removed from Tripoli as Gaddafi's forces steamed down the road towards them. There was a matter of urgency being butchered. Mindful of what had happened earlier in in places like Rwanda, I wasn't Foreign
going to stand around as the Foreign Minister of Australia and say this is a normal situation. That was the set of circumstances we faced there. Each set of circumstances is different and that's why we need to get all the evidentiary questions tested first.Do you think that's a possibility in this case, though? I will attend to the advice provided by our military experts on of the United States question. When a full range of the United a full range of options, then we a full range of we should also be mindful of what may be developing across the board and I say that without particular reference as to what might be included within that list.Why didn't you seek a briefing earlier in the week rather than waiting until after you'd filmed a cooking show? I think I've covered those matters in this morning's interview on ABC "Insiders". I don't know if you saw the interview. I stand by everything I said in that interview. I've answered those questions the cooking
comprehensively.Regardless of the cooking show, why not see the briefing days ago?The bottomline was events had reached a certain order of magnitude by yesterday morning that following my contact with the secretary of the Prime Minister's Department he recommended that such a briefing occur. Furthermore, he recommended that at the earliest it could profitably occur would be last night or today. He confirmed that in his own statement I'm advised last night, I believe that answers all the questions you've just raised.PM, will Australia seek briefings or discussions with Russia specifically given their position on Syria in the past? Certainly, on the Security Council our obligation is to deal with all the P5 members including the and Chinese. Ambassador Quinlan works closely with both his Russian and Chinese colleagues on these matters, I know. That diplomatic engagement is occurring obviously in New York but it's also occurring in Beijing and Moscow as we speak.You said you were campaign today. You can clarify whether you suspended the campaign yesterday? Absolutely not. If you want evidence of that, let me make two points as I said in an interview just before. Number 1, I think given the escalation of the developments in Syria, I underline the content of the statement issued by House in the period overnights, including the preparation for the President of the United States a range of potential options to be considered both for the United States and the international community, that had I not been in the business yesterday of saying to the Australian people that this crisis is developing at a pace of knots, then legitimately I would have been criticised for not doing so. Secondly, if I can go to the other question, on the question of the continuing of the campaign, as I said yesterday, following my statement on Syria, I immediately resumed, continued the campaign debate on the question of the National if
Broadband Network. That was, if you like, physical evidence that the campaign was continuing. I think it is important to bring all those things together. On the question of the broader campaign, just let me make this point. If you're done with questions on Syria? Any more on Syria? One on Syria, yesThere's talk of US cruise missile. You have discussed this with the US ambassador on do you think this is an appropriate option to have? I won't go to the question of military strategy or tactics. The hierarchy of the proper consideration of these things is number 1, making sure that we have formed the right judgments based on the information at hand, hens, my answer to the question before. With friends, partners and allies and the rest of the international community, to forge an absolute consensus among unfettered access to weapons inspector. Number three, consider a full menu of appropriate responses. I don't think it is productive to speculate on the content of those responses. On the question of the campaign more broadly can I say this - Mr Abbott today is reported as saying that if the Australian people elect him as PM, they will know what sort of government they're going to get. My question for Mr Abbott is, Mr Abbott, what the Australian people want to know today is where your $70 billion worth of cuts will fall on their jobs in the car industry, on their schools, and on their hospitals and on their National Broadband Network and on their school kids bonus. That's what they want to know. The other thing the Australian people want to know about Mr Abbott is his unfair, un funded and economically irresponsible paid parental leave scheme. How is that to be funded? Who will be cut as a result of that? Which schools, which hospitals, which core services for the Australian people and which believe
jobs will go. I still cannot believe that on the question of proorities for Australia's future that Mr Abbott has judged that a 22 billion paid parental leave scheme is his core priority for when core priority for the future
when it school kids bonus for when it means cutting the school kids bonus for 1.3
million school kids bonus for million families, it million families, cutting 3000 frontline workers and it cutting 3000 workers and it means axing a large slice, large slice, in fact, most, of the National Broadband Network. On the paid paintal leave scheme which has become the central symbol of Abbott's priorities for the putier, he's saying he wants that as his priority. This priority of his, apart from giving $75,000 to millionaires or billionaires, it hits self funded retirees to the tune of about $1.7 billion. It also hits part pensioners who have investments as well. It also hits charities. It also hits a whole bunch of people out there with investments. Instead, he's saying that apart from all those impacts on people's real savings and investments and superannuation investments, he's saying that this 22 billion scheme to give $75,000 to billionaires, is more important than and certainly greater in quantitative than what we spend as an Australian Government every year on all childcare payments. Quantity. That's a huge number. It's bigger each year than what we are putting into the National Broadband Network. It's bigger each year than so many other core priorities for the Australian people. My core message today is if Mr Abbott is saying to the Australian people that his campaign launch today two weeks before an election if you vote for Mr Abbott you'll know what sort of government you're getting, if that is the must now stop being evasive, must now stop being evasive, be upfront about where his $70 billion cuts will fall and top 6 that explain to the billion cuts Australian people how on earth 6 this unaffordable economically irresponsible and unfair paid parental scheme is in any way justifiable. Last question.Mr Rudd, you said this morning that Labor didn't have a mandate for the carbon tax. Given Mr Abbott is going to an election pledging to appeal the carbon tax, will you commit Labor now to not opposing the repeal of the carbon tax after the next election? I'm in the business of taking the argument up with the Australian people as to why the Government should be returned. The core element here is that we believe that climate change is real. Mr Abbott through multiple statements over many years ultimately doesn't. His so-called Direct Action Plan is a piece of camouflage. It is a policy that doesn't work and it is monstrously unaffordable. Our position is clear. It is the one that I was elected on in 2007 which was to bring in an emissions trading scheme and we're transitioning to an emissions trading scheme in a period I outlined some weeks ago. It is the right approach. Mr Abbott thinks he can walk off the planet and leave action on climate change to everybody else. That's not our way, it's not responsible, and for him to effectively abolish the clean energy development corporation or finance corporation says everything about his priorities. We've made progress on climate change. The percentage of emissions, the level of emissions now coming out of electricity generation is falling. Overall emissions are basically maintaining where they were before. We are not doing this under Abbott's scheme. It is going to do this. Unless Australia acts on climate change, let me tell you this, other countries will think we're getting a a free ride and they won't act. And if other countries don't act on climate change given they're the world's biggest emitters, the Chinese and the United States, frankly this country is in As PM of
serious strive in the future. As PM of the country I'm in the building business, building the industries and jobs of the future, billing the Better Schools of the future, building the health and hospital system of the future, building the National Broadband Network, but building a clean energy future for Australia as well. That's my plan. That's what we're doing. I've out lined on how we'll get there. On each of those.sMr Abbott plan is cut, cut, cut, cut and cut the ETS to bits, and cut the Clean Energy Finance Corporation as well. Thanks, folks.Does that mean given your current policy is to bring forward the move to a market opposition after the election, that you couldn't countenance the scrapping of the ETS and you would -What I'm saying very loud and clear because aim in the business of contesting this election with the object of securing the government, I'll be arguing for government policy and what we would do if elected to government. Our plans are clear. Our budget bottomline is clear. That's out there in the economic statement. Two weeks to go, aim putting appropriate aim sure all of you would putting appropriate pressure on Mr aim sure all of you would be
putting Mr Abbott in terms of where putting appropriate pressure on Mr Abbott in terms of where his Mr Abbott in terms of details lie between now and then or are you going to details lie between now then or are you going down quietly before the day of the down quietly before the election and say shock is
horror. You know what the game is here. Mr Abbott is going to be silent as possible where his be silent as possible where $70 billion will fall. Silent as possible what he'll do to the goods and services tax. Silent and possible despite Eric Abetz outbreak at the other day what happens to penalty rates and overtime. Try to push to one side the whole priority attached to climate change and not to discuss effectively Mao he'll slice Broadband Network, put all that to one side, in his view, as the best way of not frightening people before the election, and then conduct his so-called independent Commission of Audit Queensland style, go shock and shorer, so much more needs to be done and all you have our commitments are now out the window, cut, cut, cut, slash and burn. That is as cynical an approach to national politics as you can get. I keep making these arguments. responsibility
There's a corporate responsibility in Australian democracy for everyone to have a clear idea what his future not
plans in detail will be. It is not an idle debating point. Post election, if Mr Abbott succeeds in the election, I don't want to be in a position of having not warned the Australian people about where cuts will fall, about where schools and cut and how the National Broadband schools and hospitals will be
cut Broadband Network will be sliced to pieces. It is my responsibility to argue our plans for future and I have and I'll Dole continue to do so and put a spotlight on the alternative. That's my responsibility as well. Also to put a responsibility as to put a spotlight on the underlying tactic which is to be underlying be such a Mike some pick target on such a huge pile of cuts and an absurd priority with the unaffordable paid parental leave scheme to slide through to election day and hope nobody noticesThat's the PM Kevin Rudd speaking in Canberra alongside him the Foreign Minister Bob Carr. The PM answering questions relating to the campaign but more broadly he was there to speak about the situation in Syria following his briefing last night by