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Transcript of interview: 6PR Perth: 31 August 2009: oil spill; Schapelle Corby; Gorgon project carbon capture; parallel book importation; Liberal leadership; health and hospitals reform; AFL finals; G20

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31 August 2009

Transcript of interview

6PR Perth

Subject(s): Oil spill; Schapelle Corby; Gorgon project carbon capture; Parallel book

importation; Liberal leadership; Health and hospitals reform; AFL finals; G20

HOST: Kevin Rudd is in Perth for the next three days. He joins us on the program this morning.

Mr Rudd, thanks for your time.

PM: Good morning, Simon. Thanks for having me on the program.

HOST:Mr Rudd, I wanted to ask you about this gas and oil condensate slick off our Northern

coast. The stories running around this morning are that it's now 3,000 square kilometres in

size, in area. Can the Federal Government do more to assist with the clean up, or to assist with

trying to get the gas leak turned off?

PM: The Federal Resources Minister, Martin Ferguson, in fact as I'm advised, flew over the site

last Friday. There are a number of things under way. First, of course, your listeners will be

aware of the use of dispersants, both from the air and from the sea, targeted at the oil patches

concerned. Secondly, the company, of course, is making various arrangements to drill a relief

well. Thirdly, in terms of the investigation and causes, there is of course a National Offshore

Petroleum Safety Authority investigation underway.

In terms of the location, as I understand it the nearest point to the Australian coast is in excess

of about 148km off the coast, and as I'm advised, the area is some 25 nautical miles by 70

nautical miles, and within that area there's about 25 percent oil coverage. The Government is

following this exceptionally closely. It's appalling that this has occurred, but we are working to

deal with the situation as it unfolds.

HOST: Are you concerned that it could be six weeks before the leak is even stopped? That's an

optimistic estimate. It may be sometime longer than that. Is it worthwhile deploying some extra resources or taking extra measures?


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PM: We will take whatever additional measures are necessary based on the technical advice to

deal with this appalling incident, and we are therefore waiting for any further recommendations

from the Minister and his Department, working, of course, with other relevant authorities, but I

would say that anything additional that can be done, both in terms of dealing with the slick that

has occurred, dealing with the relief well and associated matters, we will take any further

measures as are necessary.

HOST: I guess the problem with it, Mr Rudd, is that the company has to provide a lot of the

information on this, and they are the cause of the spill. They are hardly likely to 'fess up to Mr

Ferguson or to you or to the Department. We need some help here, because it doesn't reflect well on them.

PM: No, I therefore draw your attention to the fact that we do have the National Offshore

Petroleum Safety Authority investigating the matter now. Therefore, absolute transparency will

be required on the part of the company to the regulators. Otherwise, the company would not be

being consistent with Australian legal and regulatory requirements.

We will therefore be taking every necessary measure in response to appropriate and considered

technical advice to deal with what I agree with you is an appalling incident.

HOST: Mr Rudd, did you see the story on Channel Seven with regard to Schapelle Corby's state

of mind? Did you see the story from the psychiatrist that she may be insane, and if you did see

it, would you consider that she should be brought back to Australia for treatment?

PM: First of all, no, I did not, but secondly, when it comes to Schapelle Corby or any one of the

other hundreds of Australians who are currently imprisoned abroad, either in Indonesia or in

other countries, the responsibility of the Australian Government to look after each and every

one of their well being to greatest extent that we can, and that means provision of consular

support where we can provide it, other forms of support where we can do so, and where it's

practically or physically possible, interstate or international prisoner transfer.

The practical problem on the latter score is, firstly, no prisoner transfer agreement exists

between Australia and Indonesia, and I'm advised that none exist between Indonesia and any

other country. Negotiations are underway.

And, of course, the second question is if and when we succeed in concluding those negotiations,

which would be a world first for Indonesia, whether Schapelle Corby would be consistent with

Indonesian Government determinations.

HOST: Is she getting the best possible care in Indonesia, Mr Rudd, in terms of mental health?

PM: Well, in terms of the conditions within prison systems around the world, and again I draw

your listeners' attention to the fact that hundreds of Australians are currently in prisons which

are of different standards to Australian prisons right around the world, we take our consular

responsibilities seriously, which, in this case, through the Consulate-General in Bali, to provide

her with every possible level of consular support. Obviously this is a very difficult time, as it is

for any other Australian who is put in prisons abroad.

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HOST: Her sentence is long, though. Hers is a special case, wouldn't we agree, 20 years, and a

celebrated case, a case that most Australians would be aware of. Did anybody from the Federal

Government at least ask the question, after the interview was aired, as to whether some

additional support could be forthcoming for her?

PM:With or without any press attention, I just again emphasize the fact that despite the fact

that the cases of hundreds of other Australians who are imprisoned abroad may not make it

into the Australian media, our job is to provide maximum support for all of them, whether they

make it into the Australian media or not.

Secondly, in the case of not just Ms Corby, but other Australians who are currently incarcerated

in Indonesia, our job also is to look at the practicalities of such things as an international

prisoner transfer agreement between Australia and Indonesia that has not existed in the past

and therefore, on the practicalities of the application of such an agreement to Ms Corby, we've

got to get all that right first.

In terms of support within the prison where she is, as I've said, I have every confidence that

our Consulate-General is doing everything physically possible to support her and other

prisoners in what is obviously a very, very difficult time.

HOST: OK, but after the interview was aired, from someone who's been described as a leading

psychiatrists in Australia, no questions were asked as to her welfare and the treatment she was


PM: Simon, I do not have the formal detail or the chronology of when Australian officials spoke

with Indonesian officials or those of the prison in Bali, and when they may have occurred and

what the content of it may have been. What I can say is that we take her wellbeing and the

wellbeing of every one of the other Australians in prison overseas in Indonesia and other

countries seriously, and we provide whatever level of support we can, and can I say on any

given day our officials around the world are engaged in similar visits, similar support exercises,

similar representations to authorities, in countries right around the world.

HOST: Mr Rudd, next time I go to vote in a federal election, down at my local school, there

could be a plaque or a sign on the ground that says 'new extensions provided by Kevin Rudd

and Julia Gillard and the Labor Party'. You wouldn't be the first political party to do that, let's be

clear about that, but there's some concerns that this new signage may breach electoral laws.

PM: Well, first of all, no signage, under those circumstances, should under any circumstances,

should refer to people like myself or the Deputy Prime Minister by name, that's the first thing.

The second is, your right to point out that long-standing previous practice, including under the

previous Coalition Government, has been to display appropriate signs which underpin the origin

of the funding for the particular project.

But on the question you raised specifically about Australia's electoral laws, the Government will

always act in response to the provisions of the Australian Electoral Act and the Australian

Electoral Commission, and will do so in the future as well.

HOST: So you'll wait for a ruling on that?

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PM: That's the right thing to do, but remember, as you rightly point out, the Government's not

Robinson Crusoe on this one, and that is, taxpayers have a legitimate expectation to know how

their taxes are being used, for which particular project, but that also has to be done in a

manner which is absolutely compatible with Australian electoral law and the advice of the

Australian Electoral Commission, and we will be entirely attentive to whatever that advice may


HOST: Mr Rudd, prior to the last election, and I think since, it’s well known that you were pretty

gung-ho on carbon emissions. You’d like to see Australia lead the way or set an example in

terms of reducing carbon emissions. Are you satisfied that the Gorgon project off our North-West coast will safely store carbon dioxide?

PM: Well, as you know, one of the conditions that we’ve attached to the Gorgon Project, which

as you point out is of massive economic consequence for Western Australia, and massive

economic significance for the whole of Australia - $50 billion over the next 20 years - one of the

conditions we’ve attached is carbon sequestration.

And therefore, the technical advice is that given the geography and the geomorphology of the

area, the most appropriate place to sequester this, or put it under ground, is in and around

Barrow Island. And therefore, what the Western Australian Government and the Australian

Government have done together is provide an appropriate underpinning indemnification for that


Carbon capture and storage more generally, you’ll be familiar with this Simon, is of general

importance to the Australian economy because we are the world’s largest coal exporting

country. We are rich, of course, in natural gas. Therefore, the success of this technology

worldwide is of fundamental importance to the future of the Australian resources sector.

That’s one of the reasons why the Australian Government has launched a Global Carbon

Capture and Storage Institute, which I launched jointly with President Obama in Italy last

month, in July, but also why the Australian Government itself is investing $2.5 billion with

industry to make sure these projects work, because the future, long-term future, of major

resource projects in the coal and the LNG sector are fundamentally dependent on how the

technology is rolled out, not just here, but worldwide.

HOST: Mr Rudd, I know that your credentials in this area, your push on carbon capture and

reducing carbon emissions are well publicised and published, but why wasn’t this carbon

storage, this carbon capture, covered as part of the environmental planning process? I spoke to

Mr Garrett when he signed off on the deal last week. He freely admitted that it’s a deal between

the State and the Federal Government in terms of indemnification as you just said, but it wasn’t

covered off during the environmental approval process. Why not?

PM:Well the provisions of the EPBC Act, the Environmental Protection of Biodiversity Act, the

requirement under Australian law has been dealt with appropriately by the Environment

Minister, Peter Garrett. And there’s a whole series of internal, shall I say cooperative

arrangements which occur within that Act between the WA and Australian governments for

environmental protection.

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I’m confident that the Minister has, and his State counterpart, properly discharged their

responsibilities. When it comes to CCS, let’s be frank about the fact - we are at the edge

worldwide, at least of at-scale projects, of rolling these out.

They are challenging, new technologies. We’ll be up front about that. They’ve been done for

some time, as I’m advised, in various parts of the North Sea. I’ve had discussions about that

with the Norwegian Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg. They’ve been done in one or two other

projects at-scale around the world when it comes to gas.

But we have to move forward in this new area. As I said, the future viability and employment and economic and jobs consequences of large-scale resource projects, where states like

Queensland, Western Australia, and prospectively South Australia have such key interests,

we’ve got to get this right.

So the Ministers have done the right thing within the purview of their current Acts. I believe the

two Governments, the Australian and WA governments, have done the right thing, in terms of

the indemnification necessary concerning this new technology as well.

HOST: PM, when was the last time you purchased a book in Australia, and how much did you

pay for it?

PM: You know something, Simon? I buy books about every weekend. What would be my last

purchase price? I’ve got no idea, probably $29 or $39 - the usual sort of $9.95 at the end of it.

What was it? I’m currently reading a book which was authored by a guy called John Keane, it’s

a biography of a fellow called Thomas Paine. I think I bought it in Abbey’s bookstore in Sydney,

but I stand to be corrected. I could have bought it in Canberra.

HOST: Do we pay too much for them in Australia? This business of the lifting of the importation

duties on them, do we pay too much for books in Australia? What’s your personal view?

PM: Nice try, Simon. I’m going to work my way through this one systematically. We’ve thrown

this out to the Productivity Commission to provide us with a report on it. It’s come back with its

report. I have not had a chance to go through it yet. There have been a lot of other things on

the Government’s agenda.

We’ll take this in our normal, measured way, work through the arguments for and against and

come up with the right decision. But I’ve got to say to you, I have not put my mind across all

the arguments on this one yet, and it’s entirely normal that people in the Australian community

are going to have different views, conflicting views, some overlapping views on this, but we’ll

get it as right as we can.

HOST: Alright. They do seem expensive on occasion, but there’s always second-hand

bookshops and borrowing one, I suppose.

PM: Well, there’s interests here to work out, which is the cost to individuals buying books on

the one hand, and the future of the Australian publishing industry on the other, Australia’s long-term cultural interests. These are all factors which go into the mix. We’ve got to be mature

enough to say that all these factors are involved, and not sort of turn a blind eye to any part of

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them when we work our way through a decision. So I actually welcome the debate, I think it’s

the right thing to do.

HOST: Mr Rudd, does Malcolm Turnbull have narcissistic personality disorder, as described by

one of your colleagues?

PM: You know, Simon, I’m in Western Australia. I’m here for my 11th time as Prime Minister.

I’ve got a lot on my plate. I’m going out to announce a new GP super clinic for the City of

Cockburn today. I’m conducting a public consultation with Charles Gairdner Hospital today, and

that’s on the future of the health and hospital reform plan for the nation. Talking to the resources industry tomorrow. I’ve got plenty on my plate. I’ll let the Liberal Party, shall I say,

provide appropriate commentary on themselves by themselves. I don’t think they need any

assistance from me.

HOST: Alright, I’m not actually sure what it is. I might have it myself. I don’t know. PM, finally-

PM: It’s a horse at Randwick, isn’t it?

HOST: Yeah. The AFL, the footy finals are upon us. Who are you getting on - not necessarily

betting on, but who does your heart say we will the AFL Grand Final?

PM: Well, as you know I’m a Brisbane Lions man - and could there be any other possible

outcome? - but going into how things are currently shaping up, I’ve been looking at the Saints’

form. Of course, they’ve had a few challenges of late. But in terms of who’s going to make it to

the Grand Final - anyone’s pick just at this stage. But I think it’s going to be exciting for

everybody, exciting for everybody. It’s a wonderful thing.

My big problem, by the way, is that the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh hosted by President Obama,

which Australia is a member of, is convened up until late Friday, and with the best will in the

world, I won’t be flying back and being in Melbourne, here in Australia, for it.

HOST: That is un-Australian isn’t it? Holding the G20 the day before, up until the Grand Final?

PM: Well, I did mention this to the White House. You know - had they heard of the AFL Grand

Final? Couldn’t they shift it, as an element of the global timetable to meet the AFL. It met with

a fairly, sort of, stunned silence.

HOST: Mr Obama doesn’t care about the Brisbane Lions either, I suspect?

PM: Well I think if you were to put the Superbowl on that day, maybe they’d have a different


HOST: Yeah, I think they would. Mr Rudd, thanks for talking to us today, and thanks for talking

to the listeners. We do appreciate your time.

PM: Simon, it’s good to be back in Perth. Thank you.

Page 6 of 6 Interview | Prime Minister of Australia