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Transcript of press doorstop interview, Sydney MON 30 MAY 2011

Prime Minister

Subject(s): 1millionwomen campaign; Climate change; Carbon price; Regional Protection Framework

PM: [audio break] we care about the environment, we know climate change is real, we know we have to act now or we will end up putting all of the burden on the shoulders of future generations. 10,000 teens is about 10,000 young women coming together and saying to their mothers and their grandmothers and their aunts, thank you for acting, thank you for understanding and we want to take action too, action to cut carbon pollution in our lives as teenagers.

This is a fantastic initiative and I congratulate Natalie for her leadership in bringing it together.

I will be joining the 1millionwomen campaign, as Prime Minister I am focusing on cutting carbon pollution by 160 million tonnes by 2020. In order to do that we’ve got to accept what scientists are telling us: climate change is real. We’ve got to accept what the economists are telling us: that the cheapest way of cutting carbon pollution is by putting a price on carbon.

This price wouldn’t be paid by households, it would be paid by the 1000 biggest businesses who are the 1000 biggest polluters in our country. They would pay the price on carbon. At the moment they can put carbon pollution into the atmosphere for free, they would pay a price per tonne. And being smart business people if they have to pay then they will find a way of cutting carbon pollution and reducing that cost.

We will use the revenue from the big polluters paying to assist households, to protect Australia jobs, and to fund programs that tackle climate change. 2011 is the year we will have the national debate, 2012 we will put a price on carbon. To use Natalie’s words from a little

bit earlier, we don’t have time to waste, now is the time to act on climate change by putting a price on carbon pollution.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister how concerned are you about Tony Windsor saying he may not have a decision this year?

PM: Tony Windsor has consistently said, so there’s absolutely nothing new in this, Tony Windsor has consistently said that he would make his final judgment about the carbon pricing package when he can see all details of the package.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry says there shouldn’t be any price on carbon, it should be a true market system and that Australia should wait?

PM: Well that’s not accurate, what the Australian Industry Group has said today, is that who you referred to?

JOURNALIST: Australian Chamber of Commerce-

PM: Alright, well let’s go through it, the Business Council of Australia has backed putting a price on carbon - that is they are rejecting Tony Abbott’s subsidise the polluters approach. The Australian Industry Group is backing putting a price on carbon; they too have rejected Tony Abbott’s approach of subsiding polluters. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and

Industry of course is entitled to its views, everyone can participate in this debate and should participate in this debate, but as we participate in the debate we’ve got to be dealing with the facts, and the facts are climate change is real, and the facts are the cheapest way, the cheapest way of cutting carbon pollution is by putting a price on carbon rather than an expensive subsidies scheme for polluters like Mr Abbott’s scheme which Mr Turnbull himself has said won’t work and will cost taxpayers dearly.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister the Greens today are putting forward a motion condemning the Malaysian asylum seeker solution, the Coalition, some Independents may back it, this will humiliate you today surely?

PM: The Government will keep pursuing the right plan to take out of the hands of people smugglers the very thing that they’re selling. People smugglers try and prey on desperate people and they try and say to them ‘I can get you to Australia and your claims will be processed in Australia.’ Our work with Malaysia is about taking that very product that people

smugglers sell away from them. We are saying to asylum seekers if you spend your money, if you risk your life on a boat, you will end up not having your claim processed in Australia; you will be removed to a third country.

Of course in our arrangements with Malaysia we will extend generosity to genuine refugees, we will take 4000 refugees already processed in Malaysia who are effectively at the front of the queue. Now I understand people in the Federal Parliament have different views, but I am determined as Prime Minister that we will strike this arrangement with Malaysia, it’s an innovative approach and part of a regional solution to dealing with the evil of people smuggling.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, sorry to jump around a bit, but with regards to climate, given your signing up with 1millionwomen today and also with Cate Blanchett being the face of this other advertising campaign, is women the key to winning the PR battle with this debate?

PM: I think this is about everybody having their voice heard, this campaign if course is about a million women and 10,000 teens having their voice heard, but people right around the country are concerned about climate change. Overwhelmingly Australians accept that climate change is real, and people do want to act. Now I understand that people are a bit uncertain, they want to know what is the best way forward to deal with climate change. Well, as Prime Minister I will keep explaining to the Australian nation the best way forward for all of us is to

put a price on carbon pollution, to get the big polluters to pay and to use the money raised to help families, to protect Australian jobs and to fund programs to tackle climate change.

A lot of people are going to have their voice heard in this debate, 140 leading Australians have signed an advertisement in today’s newspaper for example, men and women, so men and women will be having their voice heard, but the 1millionwomen campaign is an innovative way of women having their voice heard.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what do you have to say about reports that three cadets were sleep deprived and detained for 17 hours when questioned and that their defence lawyers was manhandled by a high ranking officer?

PM: Well my understanding is that these claims are denied but of course they will be the subject of proper processes within Defence.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) paper this morning your opinion piece on climate change, are you effectively calling climate change deniers flat earthers?

PM: No I’m just saying very, very simply, the science is in and we’ve accepted the word of scientists in the past. A few generations ago scientists started saying to people in Australia and people around the world: smoking kills. Now no one seriously contests that anymore, it was contested at the time, but no one seriously contests it. We accepted what the scientists had to say and as a nation we got about reducing smoking rates and we’ve got more to do and that’s what plain packaging’s about.

And then when I was a young person scientists starting saying to us the Australian sun would give you skin cancer, I’m from the generation that girls used to slather themselves in coconut oil and lie in the sun, and then we heard the voice of Australian scientists and scientists around the world and no one today would lie out baking in the sun slathered in coconut oil, and we say to the young people like the young people in this school, take care in the Australian sun.

So we’ve listened to scientists before, we should listen to them now. They are telling us climate change is real, that is now beyond doubt, so we’ve got to get on and do something about it and the most efficient way of doing that is to price carbon.

What I’m being very clear about is I don’t want this debate hijacked by distractions, by people with no scientific qualifications, shock jocks and politicians, with no scientific qualifications who pretend they know better than the scientists do. That’s a distraction from what we’ve got to get on with and that’s tackling climate change, cutting carbon pollution by pricing carbon.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) pretty shocked at the amount of anger that has been directed towards Cate Blanchett and the attacks that have been sent her way following her putting the face to the ad campaign?

PM: Well I think we’ve got to keep our focus on the very important issue at the centre of all of this and that’s climate change, tackling climate change. I’ve been here at this school today, Ravenswood, it’s one of 30 schools coming together in the 10,000 teens campaign. Now in 2050 when these girls are adults, children of their own, having made a life of their own, they

won’t look back on 2011 and say ‘let’s talk about an individual going on an advertisement’, they’ll look back on 2011 and hopefully they’ll say to themselves ‘that’s the year the nation decided to get serious about tackling climate change.’ That’s where the focus has to be, on tackling climate change.

Now Cate Blanchett has had her voice heard on climate change, that’s appropriate, just as it’s appropriate for one million women to have their voices heard through the 1millionwomen campaign. Just as it’s appropriate for 10,000 teens, including the young women standing at

the back today, to have their voices heard. Just as it’s appropriate for the 140 Australians who have signed the advertisement in today’s newspaper to have their voices heard. Just as it’s appropriate for Australians right across this country, going about their daily lives today, to have their voices heard on climate change. Australians overwhelmingly accept the science, now we’ve got to get on with the job and put a price on carbon.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, will the Government go to a double dissolution election if the lower House can’t decide on a carbon price mechanism?

PM: We are working through in very good faith with the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee, well if I can finish my answer to your question, we worked in very good faith with the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee on the weekend, we’ll keep doing that.

I’m very confident that we will deliver a solution that will put a price on carbon. Let’s not go down the rabbit burrows here - our nation needs us, all of us, to keep our eyes on the central debate here. Climate change is real, it’s going to have big impacts on the life of every Australian. We know to tackle climate change we’ve got to cut carbon pollution, we know the best way to do that is to put a price on carbon paid by the big polluters, that’s exactly what I’m intending to do, that’s the real debate here.

Thank you.