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(generated from captions) The Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is in Perth today, and held a media conference a short time ago. It's actually still going but we'll take this media conference from the top.It's great to be back in Perth. It's good to be here talking about make future developments which enhance the liveability of Perth, the public infrastructure of Perth, as well as Perth's future public transport needs, and its broadband needs as well. Before I go to the matters that I infrastructure,
spoke of before, on infrastructure, let me make some initial remarks on Syria. I've spoken again just our permanent representative to the United Nations. And on Sunday of Sunday of this week, our permanent representative as permanent representative know assumes the presidency of the United Nations Security Council. This is a very intense period of diplomacy, and intense period of diplomacy within the UNSC on a rolling crisis in Syria. Everyone in the international community in the last 24 hours has focused on the vote in the British Parliament. That is a matter for the British Parliament and the British people. Of course, the outcome of that vote is entirely a matter for them. For the rest of the international community, the focus remains exclusive ly on the diplomatic process in New York. There are discussions under way in New York about competing texts for possible UN security resolutions. Security Council resolutions. Our ambassador is intimately en ga gaugeed in that process: this will take some time to resolve. UN weapons inspectors I'm advised to be returning to - will be exiting Syria in the days observations
ahead. And of course, their observations are one part of the overall proof test as to what has occurred in Syria. I restate the position restate the position that I made clear yesterday. The conclusion of the Australian Government is that there is overwhelming that chemical weapons have been used and we have high confidence that the Syrian regime has been responsible for this act of mass murder. Therefore, the focus now legitimately lies on the most appropriate form of international response. To add to comments I made yesterday, I wish to make plain to the Australian people there has been no request to Australia by any other country for - let me state that again - there has been no request from the United States or any other country for direct or indirect Australian military participation in any proposed or possible action against Syria. It's a consular level, this is a matter of genuine importance for all Australians. I want to draw Australians' attention to a statement by the Foreign Minister warning the 59 Australians currently resident within Syria to leave immediately. Exit options are already limited and may be further reduced as airports an border crossings are closed. The risk of further violence is very high and there is no margin for safety in Damascus Aleppo or any other Syrian city in Syria. There are no effective means of providing consular assistance to Australians in Syria, particularly outside Damascus. Australians, particular will families and with children, should exit Syria as soon as possible. Could I also emphasise this point given the uncertain period in which we are living. There are currently some 83,000 Australians living in the wider Middle East. We have 800 in Bahrain, 5,000 in Egypt, 1,500 in Iraq, 10,000 in Israel, 20,000 in Lebanon, 4,500 in Guddah, 16,000 in the UAE, 10,000 in Turkey. I ask all Australians currently in the Middle East to consult regularly the travel advisory provided by the Australian Government. To emphasise what that contains in certain respects, No. 1, Syria the advice says do not travel. In the case of Lebanon, it says reconsider your need to In the case of your need to In the case case of Iraq In the case of Iran, reconsider
your need to case of Iraq do, not travel
across your need to travel. In the
case of Iraq across the country. In the case of across the country. of Egypt, reconsider your need to of Egypt, to travel. In Israel, exercise to travel. In a high degree of caution. Similarly in Turkey. I simply draw all Australians' attention to this because to this because we have so many Australians living in the Middle East. This is a large number of people. And given that circumstances could change rapidly, it's our responsibility as the government to draw all Australians' attention to these important travel advisories. A lot of effort by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade goes into and review of these on a regular basis. Therefore to their families in Australia and to those who are abroad, it is very important that you go to the relevant travel advisory web site in the Department of Foreign Affairs to observe what, if anything, changes in the advices, including the elements I have just referred to already. That's on Syria. Let me turn also to the matter I have spoken here in Perth today. As I said, in my remarks earlier today, the government is on about building the future and that means building the cities of the future that is why we have announced today if the government is re-elected, we would appoint Australia's first ever minister for cities. That we believe is an important development for Australia's future management. Sorry, can someone take care of that? Thank you. Because we know that the future infrastructure needs of Australian cities are large. Their planning needs, their public transport needs, public rail needed and on top of that frankly their broadband needs as well. This was been the responsibility of State and Territory Governments of the but plainly given the provision of public infrastructure also by the Federal Government, there are a broader set of responsibilities as well. Therefore we believe this is a key initiative for the future A minister for cities in the national government with priority attached to the 18 major cities of our country with populations greater than 100,000, having a federal or national remate to engage with State and local government counterparts, planning exercises, co-investment exercises and also advise by the aggregate advice of Infrastructure Australia. The second emphasis I place today is on the question of outer suburban Australia, where millions of Australians live. Outer suburban growth task force would be establishd with a 10 years job and growth strategy and with a particular fund dedicated to the question how we provide funding for small business development in this part of Australia as well. I emphasise this because it is right in itself. Cities is where 2 70% plus of Australians live and where 80% of our national wealth is generated. Therefore we have ministers in the Australian Government for regional development, we have ministers in the Australian Government responsible for our primary industries. The time has come to have a minister responsible for our cities as well. The contrast is clear. Not only on public transport, urban transport and urban rail. We believe we have to invest. Mr Abbott says he has no responsibilities in that area and would cut the engagement. Secondly, on the question of the National Broadband Network, he would cut the future expansion of the fibre optic network under the National Broadband Network plan of the government's. And thirdly, he has also said more broadly these are matters best level with other levels of government. There is a problem here. Other levels of government are not keeping up with the investment needs of Australia's major cities F our cities are not functioning effectively and they are choked by congestion or become inefficient in other areas, it undermines national productivity growth. That's why we believe we must put this front and centre as well. Having said that, I'm happy to take your questions. Treasury and finance have taken the unprecedented step of blowing a hole through your claim of a $10 billion hole in the opposition's costings. Given that, have you been completely truthful with the Australian public about that claim?The being perpetrated on the bottom line is this: the Australian people is by bottom line is this: the fraud
being perpetrated Australian people is by Mr
Abbott refusing as of today to release to the Australian people full costings, full cuts to the Australian people until it is too late on the eve of the election. That is not democratic, it is not open and it perpetrates a continuing fraud on the Australian fraud on the people. Do you stand by the accuracy of those costings released yesterday?I stand by everything the minister said yesterday and by my own statements because the fraud being perpetrated on the Australian people is by Abbott leaving the full release of the detail of his costings and cuts until election eve. I can see no higher political fraud committed against the Australian people than having in your back pocket a series of costings and cuts you already say are done and then giving no excuse as to why you're leaving them in your back pocket until election eve. That's where the fraud lies. How can you stand by the costings when Treasury, finance and the PBO have all distanced themselves from them this this morning and last night?If you look at firstly the three matters which are attended to in the statement I saw yesterday, No. 1 it's long-standing practice of governments to commit to the bureaucracy policy options for costings. That's a fact. It was stated quite clearly by the Treasurer and the Finance Minister yesterday. No. 2 this was done by the government prior to the election. That's a fact and was indicated yesterday when the 5 August date was stated clearly. And three the different assumptions underpinning different elements of a policy, whether it's on cash or accrue Wal accounting basis, the fake-up rate etc. will lead to different conclusions. That is why the Treasurer yesterday challenged Mr hockey to come forward with the underpinnings of his assumptions concerning take-up rate, the accounting basis, etc. I go to precisely the challenge I lodged yesterday in etc. I go to the statement which I draw challenge I the statement which I draw your attention to again when I said "It is critical that we have answers to every question put arising from the circulated table about the accuracy of the overestimates of what they are claiming as saves of that $10 billion." In goes to the core point. Challenge from us is, we believe you're committing fraud here on the Australian people because you have not put this information into the public domain when you are holding it privately and therefore the questions that we are put ing through these calculations of the costing of policies can only be anticipated if you put that information into the public domain that was the challenge I delivered yesterday. That's the challenge I deliver today. The only way in which this is put to bed is for the truth burden of Mr Abbott to be answered and put all this into the public domain. The ep opening line of your press release said Treasury and parliamentary budget figures have re ... (inaudible question)Mr Abbott's fraud on the Australian people is not to release the full costings and assumptions of his own policies for a political reason, which is not to front the Australian people and where his cuts will be. The bottom line remains that the fraught being committed here is a failure to come upfront and be direct with the Australian people about where these costings and cuts ultimately lie. The burden of the political debate is to shine a spotlight on the failure of Mr Abbott to come clean on his $70 billion worth of costings and our position does not change one jot from what we put yesterday because the burden of proof lies with Mr Abbott. Under the charter of budget honesty, we have committed I'm advised something in the order of 46 different policies both to Treasury and to the Department of Finance. The number of policies submitted by Mr Abbott as of yesterday was zero. How do you explain apolitical public servants taking the unprecedented step - you say they've dhon this before.I'm referring to the question which is the substance of the the
statement released yesterday by the two secretaries which went to three matters. One is that there is a long-standing practice of governments to submit to the bureaucracy policy options for costings. That's a fact. We did that. We did that on the basis of what the opposition had previously stated to be its policies. No-one contests that. No. 2, this whereas done by the government prior to the election. This was stated clearly and underline ed by the fact of the date attached to the Treasury note, 5 August. No. 3, that bureaucrats like different conclusions based ministers will arrive at differenting assumptions based on differing differenting assumptions on differing take-up rates an
differing commencement a particular policy. That's differing true as well. That's what we a particular said . The reason we are in this debate at all, at this debate at all, at all, notwithstanding the headline in your paper today, is because Abbott as of today has not
faced one element of scrutiny by a range of newspaper outlets on when he will deliver his full costings, his full cuts prior to this election. He said in response to a direct question from me the other night, when will you release these costings in full? Will you give me a straight answer to that, to which he said no. And the question therefore in in debate is when will that happen? Because until that occurs, every debate about the accuracy of any particular costing by the opposition is going to be up in the air. Therefore, our responsibility is to go back to the one figure that they have put out there both by their Treasury spokesman and by their finance spokesman, which is the $70 billion figure. In the absence of them putting out details in full of their costs and their cuts on each of those and the assumptions underpinning them, government in
our responsibility as the government in the context of this contest of this election is to make sure that the spotlight is on that quantum and therefore the elements contained within it and in the on sense of them providing full details what therefore constitute logical conclusions based on that basis. Just changing the subject slightly, it's been revealed that Special Forces unit is under investigation for or over the mutilation of a body of an Afghan corpse. Have you been briefed on this? What do you know about it?I thauns the Chief of Defence force has issued a statement on this matter and it's subject to investigation. Let me say quite bluntly, I have full confidence in the Australian Defence Force. I have fall confidence in our men and women in uniform in Afghanistan. I have full confidence in their professionalism. If any matters have arisen concerning their conduct then I have full confidence in the Chief of Defence force's capacity to investigate such matters. That I believe is the subject of statement earlier today. And as
a consequence of that, I believe we should wait for that investigatory process to reach a conclusion. You have criticised Murdoch papers but haven't papers across-the-board lambasted you today for this costing saga.On the question of the costings exercise, it will be very useful if scrutiny is applied to the person who already believes he is Prime Minister, and his previous statements by his National Director that the Liberal Party have this election in the bag. Therefore, the responsibility in this campaign is to be very, very blunt. Woe have all our costings out there. They their the economic statement. The accuracy of the budget bottom line was reflected subsequently in the pre-election fiscal outlook. Anything we have done subsequently has been submitted under the charter of budget honesty to the Treasury an finance for subsequent analysis. 46 of them have been and the budget bottom line does not change with one of them because all would be accommodated by savings within the budget. We've said that explicitly. That is what we have done. The rest of this debate seems to be focused on allowing across-the-board Mr Abbott to scuttle into a corner, not have Abbott to scuttle into a corner, not have any spotlight
shone corner, not have shone on him in terms of his shone on him in costings and his shone on him in terms of costings and his costs for the future that, including our budget
bottom One week prior to an election it seems to be collectively seen as acceptable that the alternative government provides absolutely nothing.