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Transcript of doorstop interview: Cessnock: 25 February 2012: Australian Labor Party



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PRIME MINISTER TRANSCRIPT OF DOORSTOP INTERVIEW CESSNOCK 25 FEBRUARY 2012

E & O E - PROOF ONLY

Subjects: Australian Labor Party

PM: It’s great to be here today in Cessnock for the Country Labor Conference. I have joined here today a mob of true believers in the Labor cause, people who love and are very passionate about the Labor Party.

In my address today I have explained to them my determination as Prime Minister to keep making the big decisions that make a difference for people who live in country Australia.

We are delivering the National Broadband Network because it will make such a difference for jobs and service delivery in country Australia. We are delivering the delivering the education reforms that mean it will no longer be true that a country kid is at risk of getting a second-class education and not getting the skills that they need for the rest of their life.

We will keep delivering the health reforms that will make a difference for country Australia, so that it will no longer be true that your likelihood of dying if you have a cancer is greater than the likelihood of an Australian in the city dying. We shouldn't have that kind of health care gap in modern Australia.

We'll keep getting the big calls right for the future of country Australia. Creating the economy we need so people have jobs right around the country, and creating that economy as one that is high wage, high skill and part of a clean energy future.

It's been great to join here today my friends here at Country Labor Conference in New South Wales. I also spoke to them about the decision that the Labor Party faces on Monday. And I said to those who love the Labor Party here today that after Monday's ballot we must come together and unite. Be a united Labor Party that is continuing to deliver the reforms and policies and plans which mean that we are running the economy in the interests of working people, supporting working families with the benefits that they need and creating the economy of tomorrow so people can live a stronger and fairer future. That is our Labor mission, and we must unite behind it after Monday's ballot. And I'm very confident that my Labor colleagues will do so.

I'm happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: As I’ve said consistently delivering good government isn’t about keeping your eyes on the opinion polls. It's about keeping your eyes on what's right and making sure when you are delivering your plans that you get them done.

I've been very clear over the last few days that I will say to my caucus colleagues on Monday as I have said to them during the last few days: I have the capacity to deliver the big reforms and changes that this nation needs. It's about doing the job that the nation needs done, sometimes that does cost you popularity, but we've got to embrace the future, get the big reforms done and that's precisely what I’ve been doing.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: Well as I said to my country Labor colleagues today, I am absolutely confident that in 2013 we can defeat Tony Abbott. Absolutely confident because we will go to that election saying you have a choice. You have a choice about whether or not you get a fair share from the mining boom or you give money back to billionaires.

You’ve got a choice about whether you have a quality education for your kids and decent health care or you can embrace Tony Abbott’s cuts. You have got a choice about whether we build the economy we need for tomorrow or you listen to Tony Abbott and say it's OK to stand still, to forget about a clean energy future to forget about the rollout of NBN. The choice will be very clear in 2013. And we have got a lot of governing to do between now and then, governing the way I have governed - getting the big things done.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: I spoke to Anthony Albanese this morning. I have known Anthony Albanese, Albo, a very long time. In fact I have known him all of my adult life. He is a great Labor man with a great Labor heart. He is someone who always wants to put the best interests of the Labor Party first and get about fighting Tories to use his terminology from today.

I disagree with the decision that Anthony Albanese has made. But the one thing I know about Albo is following Monday's ballot he will be back doing what he does best, fighting Tories in the Parliament and beyond.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: He spoke to me this morning and offered his resignation and I refused to accept it. Anthony Albanese has been doing a remarkable job as Leader of Government Business and I can't imagine a government I lead without Anthony Albanese in there

beside me fighting hard in Parliament as I am committed to doing each and every day.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: He’s explained to me as he explained publicly today, so I'm not going to canvass every word of our conversation. Anthony has put his reasons on the public record. They are the same reasons that he discussed with me.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: Exactly what I have done today, which is remind my Labor colleagues that we've got two big decisions in front of us on Monday. Decision number one: who the Federal Parliamentary Leader and Prime Minister will be. Decision number two: that we unite after the ballot, unite as a government, continue to drive our reform program, continue to run the economy in the interests of working Australians, and continue to shape the future so that it is fair to working Australians.

There's a few ways of letting change happen in this country. You can pretend, like Tony Abbott does, that you can just stand still. That doesn't work. Change still happens. But it's not fair change.

Look at the NBN. If we were just standing to one side, there would be people in wealthier parts of the country getting the benefits of super-fast broadband and there would be poorer suburbs and regions missing out.

What you need to do as a Labor Government is bend change in accordance with your values and for your purpose. That's exactly what we've done with the NBN by ensuring it gets rolled out right around Australia, and that people in country Australia pay the same wholesale price, they're not disadvantaged in getting the benefits of superfast broadband.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: Yes, I am.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: Well Kevin Rudd has given an undertaking that if he doesn't win in Monday's Ballot, that he will retire to the back bench and not mount any further challenge.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: You can direct any questions about Kevin Rudd's words to Kevin Rudd. What I know is this: the mission of Labor after Monday's ballot will be to unite, to get on with the job, to get on with the reform program that I have outlined and to make sure that we are governing each and every day in the interests of working Australians. I've said consistently over the last few days, and let me say it again, I bring to that task a lot of courage, a lot of strength, a lot of personal fortitude, and I will be getting on with the job.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: My approach is exactly as you have seen it today. You get on with the job. You outline your big policies and plans and then you get them done. Talk's one thing, delivery is another. I'm about delivery.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: I absolutely believe it can and I'm determined that it is what we do after Monday's ballot.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: Look, I think any speculation of that sort is not in the Labor interest and not in the Labor cause and not in the national interest and not in the national cause. Monday is it, end of it. We vote, everybody accepts the result, and then it is over, it is done.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: I spoke about Tony Abbott and tantrums.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: I spoke about Tony Abbott and tantrums as I spoke about the political contest and the political difference between the Government and the Opposition. We're for getting things done today and shaping the future. Mr Abbott is kicking and screaming

and just yelling "no", that is why I spoke about tantrums.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: We vote on Monday and then we unite. And we get the job done of governing each and every day. Of delivering what we know will make a difference for working families today, for their jobs, for their health, for their education, for their

communities, as we shape the future. That's what I'm determined to do.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: Look I’ll let commentators commentate on opinion polls and those things. I will get on with doing what's right for the country's future.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: I have just answered that question.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: It's important to make the right decisions, even when they're hard decisions. It's important to have the courage to see them through; even when they come at your political cost, because the ultimate measure of a government, the ultimate measure, isn't opinion polls in newspapers, the ultimate measure of a government is whether it led this nation to a stronger and fairer future. That is what I am seeking to do as

Prime Minister. That's what I’ve been determined to do through big reforms, unpopular reforms, like putting a price on carbon. We will be a nation better prepared for the future, because we had the fortitude and courage last year to do that. That is what government is about.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: Well how long have you got? But in 2012, let me be very clear, we will be continuing to manage the economy for working people. It will be about jobs. It will be about jobs in all sectors of the economy. There are sectors like manufacturing under pressure, and we will be working with them and working on jobs. It will be about the skills we need for the nation's future. We know we are creating jobs with higher and higher skills at a rapid rate. Unskilled jobs are being created at a much lower rate. The end game of that is if we don't give people the skills they need they won't have a job. So we will deliver a fundamental skills reform package.

We will keep building the National Disability Insurance Scheme so that you're not involved in a cruel lottery about whether or not you get help if you have a disability. We will deliver the budget surplus as we promised. We will continue to create the economy of the future; implement carbon pricing, roll out the NBN, make sure we understand as a nation all of the opportunities that the spectacular economic growth in our region gives us. That's what 2012's about.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: I'm not dealing with a question that's all in hypotheticals. The Labor Party will make a decision on Monday, then we will unite as I have described.

Thank you very much.

[ENDS]

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