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Transcript of interview with KIeran Gilbert and Mark Dreyfus: Sky News AM Agenda: Wednesday, 28 March 2012

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Transcript ­ Sky News AM Agenda ­ Wednesday, 28 March 2012 

28 March 2012 in Media

To watch the video of this interview, please click here.


We will get to our panel now. From Melbourne, I have got, Labor front bencher, Parliamentary Secretary, Mark

Dreyfus. In Adelaide, I have got Liberal MP, Jamie Briggs. Gentlemen, good morning to you. Mark Dreyfus, it is

important, isn’t it, that when this talk about the greater engagement with the United States and so on, the use of

drones, the prospect of the use of drones or Cocos Islands, that the Government does talk to the neighbours, the

regional neighbours, particularly Beijing, to placate them and any concerns that they might have.


Well, as you have heard in David Spear’s description of this. We have got an agreement with the United States

and we about to see the first rotation of marines, going to come to Darwin in the next month, it is an important

part of that. We’ve got increased cooperation using air force facilities and as the, Prime Minister, said yesterday,

our relationship with United States is six decades old, we have a very firm relationship with the US and we have

very good relations with China, as well. And, improving relations with one or the other, does not detract in any

way from our relations with the other.


Jamie Briggs, obviously the Coalition supports measures in this area. The Opposition Leader actually has said

that the military engagement could lead to the US base on Australian soil. So, he thinks the Government could go

even further here.


Well look, that’s right. We ultimately, instinctively support greater cooperation with our best international friend,

the United States. It has to be balanced to ensure that our regional neighbours, that we have good and strong

relations with, are comfortable with the move, whatever moves they are and, of course, this is very early

speculation and far too early for us to making comment about the detail. As you have heard, the Prime Minister

herself say, this is very early discussions between official level. So the Opposition, knows little more than what

has been recorded, which is understandable. So, you know, instinctively, we are for greater cooperation, we are

for continuing to build the strength of the US alliance, but at the same time, you make a strong and important

point that we have to maintain support in our region, because economically, and in a military sense as well, Asia

is becoming increasingly important. And, we sit right in the centre of that. And that provides enormous

opportunities for our country in the future.


Okay, on another issue, again preliminary reports, but disturbing reports - that the Australian aid worker, that was

seriously wounded in a suicide bomber attack in Afghanistan, that attack was actually carried out, reportedly,

according to the West Australian newspaper, Nick Butterly, the Defence Writer, for the West Australian, reports

that it was by a child suicide bomber, Mark Dreyfus. This would, be among the most disturbing developments that

we would have seen in Afghanistan, if that is the case.


Well Kieran, I start by saying that we’ve just heard pleasing news that David Savage is now in a stable position,

he was of course, injured in this bombing incident on Monday. He went to Tarin Kowt for medical treatment and

has now in the multi-national medical facility in Kandahar. Our thoughts are with David Savage and his

family. And yes, of course, it is a concern when an AusAID worker is injured, as I understand the first

AusAID worker, of the many that we have there, who has been injured. And, he is engaged in very

important work, which is capacity building, making sure that there is infrastructure, that there is skills in

Afghanistan, it is a similar kind of exercise to the way in which we are training the Afghan national army,

so that when we leave Afghanistan, we leave a country that has got capacity, has got skills, has got

infrastructure and is able to govern itself.


But, what about the question I put you with regard to the suggestion that it was a child suicidal bomber, obviously

that takes it to another level of concern and disturbing development?


The use of children in warfare is reprehensible, Kieran and of course, it is disturbing. I don’t think I can say much

more about it than that. It is reprehensible, anywhere in the world, whether it be in Africa, and we know of reports

of use of children in warfare in Africa, whether it be in the Middle East, or whether it be in Afghanistan.


Jamie Briggs, I guess there is no argument on that front, if these reports do turn out to be accurate. It just shows

what a dire situation, that the Australian forces are facing there.


Well look, I agree with Mark Dreyfus. I mean, that, I think what Mark said was perfectly reasonable. No doubt, in

the last few months, the mission in Afghanistan has been made harder by certain actions, of course, none worse

than the recent episode with the recent allegations in relation to the United States troop, that has obviously set

back the process, I think quite significantly and makes it more dangerous place for our people. I extend my

sympathy’s to the AusAid workers family who have been injured, we only hope and pray that he can pull throw. It

is good news that Mark has just announced that he seems to be in a stable condition, but it is a very dangerous

place. Our troops have done great work there, they continue to do great work there, and they continue to have

bipartisan support in the Australian Parliament. It is a difficult mission, it has been a long time and the Australian

people are getting tired of it. I think Mark made the point, I agree with, we have a mission there, we need to see it

through, this is a difficult time in Afghanistan. When AusAID workers and troops are injured and killed, the

Australian public is rightly questioning, as they should do, their elected representatives about why we are there

and what is our strategic purpose and we should continue to communicate that with the Australian public, also.


Thanks Jamie Briggs, and of course, all of our best wishes with David Savage who has been treated as we’ve

said in Germany at the moment. We all hope and pray for his very swift recovery.


This is AM Agenda, thank you for your company this morning. With me, from Melbourne, Labor front bencher,

Mark Dreyfus and from Adelaide, Liberal MP, Jamie Briggs. Mark Dreyfus, I want to ask you about this report on

the seven of Australia’s biggest manufacturers, going to today demand a crack down on the dumping of cheap

imports that they say are hurting the manufacturing sector. Particularly, they are worried about China being

treated as a market economy, when their products are heavily subsidised. Do you have empathy for these

manufacturers? Is the Government looking at ways to crack down on the dumping of cheap imports?


Look, it is a really difficult time for manufacturing, Kieran. And, I don’t think anyone is in any doubt about that, it is

a difficult time for manufacturing across the world, it is a difficult time for manufacturing here in Australia. And,

equally, we have done a lot and are continuing to do a lot for manufacturing. We introduced a series of reforms

on anti-dumping last year, which were welcomed by manufacturing, welcomed by Unions and we are going to

continue to look at the results of those new anti-dumping measures. We are assisting the car industry and that is

very important. We had the announcement late last week of the assistance to Holden, $275 million to keep

Holden in Australia until at least 2022, developing two new cars, keeping the car industry going with its 50,000

direct jobs, to 200,000 indirect jobs in the industry and a whole range of other policies, which shows, just how we

are working on and looking after the jobs of workers in the manufacturing industry and those businesses.


Jamie Briggs, you have been critical of car subsidies. But, what about the message from the manufacturers more

generally, they’re worried about the dumping of cheap imports from China and elsewhere?


Well, there are WTO provisions which prevent dumping and there are actions available to the Australian

Government and to companies to take under those provisions. But, let me just say this about the manufacturing

sector. It is the structural change in our economy that is going on, which has been forced along by the dollar, but

it is really due to a changing world economic situation. It therefore makes it more crazy to implement, what is in

effect, a reverse tariff on our manufacturing sector, outside of action by the rest of the world, in the introduction of

a carbon tax. A carbon tax which is the world’s biggest carbon tax, which will make it that much harder for

manufacturing to compete. We have seen the results in Queensland on the weekend, where cost of living was

one of the most significant issues in that election and we’ve got a Government which is deaf to the results. We

have got a Government which just closes its eyes, closes its ears and pretends there is nothing wrong here,

when the Australian manufacturing sector and the retail sector, the agricultural sector, the services sector are all

being far harder to compete internationally, because of a carbon price, which is just far outside of the actions of

the rest of the world. The first thing the government should do to assist the manufacturing sector, is kill off this

ridiculous carbon tax, which is being placed on Australian business at an inappropriate time.


Well, Mark Dreyfus...


I think you need to ask Jamie to answer the questions, Kieran.


Mark, let me ask you as well though on the impact on electricity prices, as well though, because Campbell

Newman and the other state governments are said to blame imminent increases in power prices on the carbon

tax, partly due to the carbon tax, but only a fraction of it apparently. How do you respond to that and also, the

claim that Jamie Briggs is making there, that now is the worse time, with manufacturing struggling so badly, to

face this impost?


Well, I just want to say a few things there, Kieran. The first thing is, Jamie Briggs, or probably Campbell Newman

would blame it on the carbon pricing, if you caught a cold, or they caught a cold. There have been very very

steep electricity rises in all Australian states, over the last several years. Those price rises are going to continue

and they are caused by the need to build new infrastructure, the need to build new poles and wires and that is

very very readily acknowledged. It is the right time to take action on climate change. It is the right time to put a

price on carbon, it is the right to introduce a market mechanism, if we don’t act now, it is only going to get more

expensive, it is only going to get more urgent. Now, I go back to the way in which, Jamie Briggs, did not answer

your question, Kieran, and I am going to ask it of him. Does he support the assistance for Holden in Adelaide?

Does he support the Government’s $275 million plan to assist Holden to stay in Australia and to support jobs, to

support industry and that is the question that he ducked before, because I think that he, like a number of other

people in his party, including Joe Hockey, do not support assistance for the car industry and don’t seem to

support assistance for manufacturing generally and it is a real concern.


Jamie, I will let you respond now.


Well, I will tell you what Mark, I will tell you who I do support and I am interested that you don’t, that the Secretary

to the Treasury. The Secretary to the Treasury, six weeks ago said that subsidies which are not...




No, no, no, no. Mark, it is interesting that you mention that, Campbell Newman, would allege that someone got a

cold because of the carbon tax. I tell you what, the Queensland Labor Party didn’t get a cold, they got

pneumonia and they are now on death watch in a hospital in Brisbane. And, that is all because the Labor Party

refused to listen and because they broke a promise after an election. Does that sound familiar? In relation to the

point you have just made, Martin Parkinson, your Treasury Secretary, your Treasury Secretary, the one you

appointed Mark, said six weeks ago that subsidies which are not time limited and don’t have a specific purpose,

in the end they are just another form of protection and guess who pays? The poor, the people you pretend to

represent, so let’s not have this hypocrisy by the Labor Party, coming in around this place, trying to pretend

somehow that their policies are working. Your putting on a carbon tax, which is making it nearly impossible for

Australian businesses to compete and at the same time, outside of any movement by the rest of the world, and

then trying to blame other factors for the challenges, with the manufacturing industry, well sorry, it all lays at your

feet, my friend and the results in Queensland will tell you exactly how the Australian electorate feels about it.


Let’s look at one last...


.... assistance for Holden...


So, you don’t support Martin Parkinson? So you don’t support Martin Parkinson? Martin Parkinson no longer has

your support, is that right?


I think we had a fair answer there, let’s look at asylum seekers now and the numbers, Jamie, show that the

UNHCR numbers are, the number of asylum seeker applications in Australia was down nine percent in 2011,

compared to 2010. You wouldn’t think so, given the debate, that the Opposition are saying that the borders were

open and the flood gates were open, the numbers don’t show that?


Well, in 2008, the years between 2004 - 2008, there was none. After 2008, there has been well over 10,000.

What happened in 2008? Kevin Rudd, changed the law. Kevin Rudd, put the sugar back on the table for the

people smugglers to get back into business, those laws are still there, Kieran. When the Coalition was in

government, there was a much better set of laws, which prevented boats from coming in in the first place. They

should be the laws which should be put back in place now. We have been maintaining that argument since, Kevin

Rudd, changed the law in 2008. We don’t want to see people on those boats.


Well, Mark Dreyfus. The Greens say that you don’t need the off shore deterrent, if the numbers were down last

year. Why not shelve it?


Let’s get a bit of perspective on this. You have just said...



Okay, we’ve got some issues there from Melbourne. We’ve had Jamie Briggs on that issue, Jamie if we’ve still

got you there. Thank you very much for your time this morning and we will chat to you soon. My apologies for

that, that is an unusual drop out there from our Melbourne studio and my apologies to Mark Dreyfus as well, who

was mid answer. That is all for AM Agenda this morning, thank you for your company as always and we will see

you soon.