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Sky News On The Hour 3pm -

View in ParlView

Doorstop Interview

Sydney

15 December 2010

SUBJECTS: Christmas Island Boat Sinking; Banking Inquiry; ASX

TREASURER:

There's been a tragic incident on Christmas Island. A people smuggler's boat has crashed into the
rocks. A number of people have been rescued but sadly some bodies have been retrieved. It is very
difficult weather, very difficult conditions. We have naval and customs vessels in the area and the
rescue is ongoing. It will be some time before we have a clear picture of all of these events and
consequences of these events.

This afternoon I spoke the Prime Minister about this matter and I've just finished talking with the
head of the customs department about this matter, but the rescue is ongoing, personnel are involved
in that right now. It's not appropriate to say any more than I have until we have a very full and
clear picture of all of these events.

JOURNALIST:

Do you know where the boat sailed from?

TREASURER:

I can't give you any more detail at this stage. A number of people have been rescued, but sadly
some bodies have been retrieved, I can't give you the exact numbers at this stage. When we have a
clear picture you will be brought up to date as soon as we have a clear picture.

JOURNALIST:

Were we expecting this boat?

TREASURER:

I can't go into all of that detail. I don't have a clear picture at the moment. Customs will
provide all of the information. At the moment the priority is on the rescue. The rescue is ongoing.

JOURNALIST:

(Inaudible) what's been involved in the rescue?

TREASURER:

Well, we have two boats there at the moment. We have a naval vessel and a customs vessel involved
in the rescue. I've given you all of the information that I have at this time. We will certainly do
everything we can to bring you up to date when we have a clearer picture. But the rescue is
currently ongoing and the priority of officials is the rescue at this stage.

JOURNALIST:

The word on Christmas Island is that the rescue is not ongoing that it is now just a retrieval
process. (Inaudible) I'm not saying it's right...

TREASURER:

Well, I can give you the information that I have. And we will bring you up to date when we have
further information. I've seen the pictures as well and as you can see it's a very difficult
situation. But I'm advised by the head of the customs department that the rescue is still ongoing.
That's the advice that I have. And as you know a number of people have been rescued, but sadly some
bodies have been retrieved and that rescue is ongoing.

JOURNALIST:

Will Julia Gillard suspend her holidays for this?

TREASURER:

At the moment I'm giving you an up-to-date view of these events as they unfold. This is a serious
incident and that's why I took the opportunity to brief the Prime Minister this afternoon. She is
on holidays, but this is a serious incident and I felt it was very important to keep the Prime
Minister fully informed. I also spoke to the head of customs department as well because customs
vessels are involved, but I've given you as much information as I possibly can.

JOURNALIST:

(Inaudible)

TREASURER:

I can't give you a clear view of all of those facts. At the moment as you would understand the
priority of officials is on the rescue on Christmas Island [and] activities there. There will be an
appropriate time for us to fill out all of this detail to your satisfaction.

JOURNALIST:

(Inaudible) asylum seeker policy isn't working -

TREASURER:

Can I just say we've just had a tragic incident. Now is not the time for that debate. I'm quite
happy to go into those details but at the moment our people, our personnel are involved in a rescue
on Christmas Island. I'm giving you a full update on what's going on but I think what we must make
our priority right now is to get a very clear view of what has happened. I'm quite happy to have a
discussion about the policy issues when we work our way through all of this and when there's a
clear picture that comes from the island. But it's simply too early and not appropriate in these
circumstances to engage in that line of debate.

JOURNALIST:

Which banking CEOs and how many did you ring in November warning about the rate rise? Because
Cameron Clyne and Ralph Norris both say you didn't try and call them.

TREASURER:

Well, I spoke to both of them --. yes I did --. about this matter. Cameron Clyne when he was asked
this question I think answered a slightly different question. I did speak to Cameron Clyne before
they moved their rates up above the official cash rate and I also spoke very clearly to Mr Norris
and gave him my very full view of what he was about to do.

JOURNALIST:

That was a direct conversation?

TREASURER:

It was a direct conversation, absolutely.

JOURNALIST:

Is there a reason why you chose not to include John Symond and the so-called non banks in the
consultation about the competition reform package?

TREASURER:

Yes, there is, a very clear reason. The Commonwealth Bank is a very substantial shareholder in his
business and our investment in residential mortgage backed securities is to help the smaller
lenders compete vigorously with the bigger banks. We've got the situation where Mr Symond is
sitting there when he has the Commonwealth Bank as a significant partner in his institution arguing
for $30 billion worth of Government support of which his organisation should receive some. I made
it very clear from the beginning, publicly, that our support should go to the smaller lenders and
it has and as consequence of that they have been able to provide vigorous competition against the
big banks. My Symond has joined up with the big banks. This has been support for the smaller banks
to provide vigorous competition.

JOURNALIST:

I was going to say in the inquiry this afternoon the AOFM was saying that your advice was that
subsidiaries of large banks wouldn't be able to access the extra securitisation funding whereas
John Symond says they are merely not (inaudible) will you look at that for him?

TREASURER:

Mr Symond has clearly joined up with the biggest bank in the country. He is not clearly a small
lender and he's run out there putting the case for the battler. The fact is that this support has
been available to those small lending organisations that can provide the vigorous competition that
we need to give the average person the capacity to walk down the street and get a better deal. And
that's what I'm doing here today with Yellow Brick Road.

Mark Bouris through Yellow Brick Road and the Gateway Credit Union are putting in place vigorous
competition for the big banks. And people if they can walk down the road from the Commonwealth Bank
and come here and get a loan that's cheaper then they should be able to do that. And at the core of
the package I've put forward is removing those hurdles so a customer has got the capacity if
they're not happy with a big bank to walk down the road to an organisation like this which is based
on a credit union and get a better deal. That's what this package is all about and that's what Mr
Symond doesn't understand.

JOURNALIST:

The ACCC has said (inaudible) ASX takeover (inaudible)

TREASURER:

Well, I'm not surprised. They said at the very beginning they didn't think there were any issues
but that is not a factor for me. I have to take a decision under a number of acts of Parliament, I
will do that in the way that I outlined in the Parliament some weeks ago. I'll take a very
methodical approach. I'll examine all of the material before me including the material from the
ACCC and at the end of the day I will take a decision in the national interest of Australia.

JOURNALIST:

How many people are on this boat?

TREASURER:

As I said to you before we don't yet have a clear view.

JOURNALIST:

(Inaudible)

TREASURER:

No we don't I'm sorry and I don't have advice. And this is very important you know, what we are
dealing with here is a tragic incident. This boat has crashed into the rocks. Naval vessels are
involved in the rescue. The advice that I have is that a number of people have been rescued and of
course sadly a number of bodies have been retrieved. I can't give you the exact numbers, I simply
don't have them but can I say this to you, when we do the customs department will publish them.
Thank you.