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Address at the launch of 'Inside Kevin 07' by Christine Jackman, Sydney.

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Prime Minister of Australia


Address at the Launch of Inside Kevin 07, by Christine Jackman Walsh Bay, Sydney

22 July 2008


Thanks very much and welcome to this new gathering there. (Inaudible) and Melbourne University Press had recommended that Christine and I arrive by barge, but we thought that would be a bad look so we did not.

I am glad to have read parts at least of Inside Kevin 07, because I am glad that despite Christine’s super sleuth efforts, that some of our more remarkable campaign triumphs have in fact failed to make it into print.

Those of you on the campaign trail, may remember our singularly successful day in Devonport, straight out of the campaign advancers manual, at our pre-planned drop in at the Devonport Senior Citz. which resulted in three press conferences going on at once, none of them ours, all of them hostile.

And I though to myself, this is not an entirely auspicious start to this campaign. That would be matched by our day in Townsville for those of you who were there in another teaching module direct from the perfect campaign module. There we were in Townsville with Peter Garrett, launching our new bright spanking new policy on solar power, solar energy, in a classroom in a solar school, which was uniquely powered by solar energy when the lights went out.

Another less than positive augury at that stage of the campaign.

Then there is another ingredient of a happy campaign, which as you all know is a happy media contingent, which is how we managed to somehow find a plane capable of seating 50 journalists on it, packed on board with a broken loo, to fly all the way from Mackay to Perth, requiring literally, a pit stop in Alice Springs, where the only authorised loo fixer was unavailable because he apparently was significantly under the weather.

All of which made for a very happy arrival on the part of the journalistic party when they got to Perth. Again, straight out of the campaign manual.

Not to be outdone by my first candidate launch in the campaign which was in South Australia, early in the campaign. Where in spite of everything ever written in the official campaign manual about little children and animals, a very excited dog was invited to the launch and having been presented to me on stage, proceeded then to leave a very significant calling card on stage as well, reflecting precisely an early canine observation of what he thought of my campaign and my campaign prospects.

Not to be outdone by that day in Brisbane, some of you may have been there, when I did four shopping centres on the trot in a single day, when in the final of those shopping centres, an elderly lady in a wheelchair invited me quietly to come close and then invited me to put my hand on her fulsome bosom. Only to reveal that to be the nesting place of her very favourite pet marsupial.

This is all true. Her pet, a terrified sugar glider that obviously felt as if he had been somehow trapped in a ravine somewhere in the Himalayas. Such are the rigours of the campaign trail.

None of which actually made it into your book Christine, for good reason.

But the real omission of this book Christine is Lachlan Harris, only two mentions in the index, how do I know, Lachlan has told me so. Lachlan now is in deep therapy, nothing more distraught than a spin miester who has been spurned.

But I digress from the 2007 election, our subject for today. Firstly, some thank you’s. And that is to the extraordinary team who supported myself and the leadership of the parliamentary Labor party in securing that election victory.

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It is said and is often said as a truism that this was an effort on the part of a team. But I as the leader of the parliamentary Labor party know that to be true acutely. A team, made up of a fantastic group of human beings. A team, highly professional. A team also highly committed to the ideals for which our movement stands. And a team absolutely united in our common purpose.

And to each one of them here today from various parts of our operation, I thank them individually and collectively because without them, this simply would never have been possible.

Second, to talk a little bit about the reasons for political change itself. I would argue that there are three basic reasons Australians voted for change last November.

First, the world began changing around them and in ways that were potentially quite threatening to their understanding of their long term interests.

Second, they, that’s Australians, were led by a Government that after 12 years, had shown not the slightest interest in preparing them for these great changes happening around them.

And third, they wanted instead a Government that could help navigate the nation’s future through these choppy seas that lay ahead. As well as a government that was committed to extending to Australians some helping hand on the way through.

So let’s take these in order. What were the changes confronting Australians at the time. First, that Australia way ahead of the rest of the world, had already moves into a high inflation, high interest rate environment that had begun to damage our standard of living. That’s jus the facts as they presented themselves by the middle and toward the end of last year.

Second, Australians who were becoming wary that they were simply living off the resources boom rather than lifting their underlying productivity growth.

Third, Australians were becoming conscious that they were being left behind in the rest of the world in the education, research and science and innovation fields and new technologies like broadband.

Fourth, Australians, Australia was ignoring the damage to it’s own economy, it’s natural environment and it’s water resources by the clear cut, absolutely clear cut, evidence of climate change.

And finally, Australians were becoming more concerned that they were now facing a much more complex region and a much more complex world than ever before. With China and India looming to dominate the 21st Century, just as the United States and the United Kingdom had dominated the 20th.

Which leads to the second core reason for political change. That the Liberals in Government exhibited no interest whatsoever to do anything about preparing Australia for these great changes unfolding around it.

And to navigate the choppy seas which therefore lay ahead. There are two pathways possible for any Government. One is to be a reformist government that anticipates the change and wherever possible gets ahead of the curve.

The other is to be a government of the status quo, ignoring emerging challenges until they become immediate crisis, and then adopting the core principle that something might just turn up.

Great for the good times, absolutely rotten, in fact downright dangerous, for the bad times.

And after 12 years in Office, the Liberals have become masters of the status quo and the Australian people saw it for what it was. No strategy on inflation despite repeated warnings from the Bank on capacity constraints. No strategy on productivity growth, in fact they denied there was a problem with productivity growth at all.

No strategy on the drivers of a 21st century knowledge economy despite reams of OECD data showing us plummet down the international league tables.

On climate change, a state of national and international denial rather than a program of practical action, and no plans to prepare for the dawn of the Asia Pacific century, not even an exit strategy from Iraq.

Which brings me to the third basic reason for change and that is the decision to turn to an alternative government ready to prepare Australia for the rocky road ahead through a clearly defined program of reform.

A clear cut anti-inflation strategy articulated in our first month in government and anchored in one of the biggest budget surpluses in our history. Second, a micro economic reform agenda to boost productivity growth on the back of a $11 billion education investment fund, a $20 billion infrastructure investment fund and a deregulation agenda backed by the BCA, the

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biggest the country has ever seen.

A climate change agenda at home and abroad that has travelled further in six months than our predecessors did in 12 years. And a new strategy of comprehensive engagement in our region with a reform agenda for the region’s long term architecture, a reform agenda for nuclear non proliferation, in what has become the most proliferating region in the world, and a strategy to turn around the development slide here in the south pacific.

So in the six months or so since we have been elected, the global storm clouds gathering have become even darker, reinforcing the urgency for long term, responsible reform. And for a long term responsible reform agenda to see Australia through, requiring tough decisions, tough decisions for the long term, tough decisions that the Government I lead is prepared to take.

The global economy is now 12 months into a global financial crisis with real consequences for global and Australian economic growth. Global inflation now on the march off the back of what is now the third great global oil shock and an associated global food crisis.

These global factors now compounding the 16 year record high inflation that the government inherited last November that had already resulted in 10 interest rate rises in a row. And on top of all these factors, the rolling impact of climate change continuing to wreak havoc, with the Murray Darling now in significant crisis.

All of which means, the need for a national economic reform program is now greater than ever. The need for a government with the guts to prosecute such a program is now greater than ever and the need for a government prepared to prosecute a reform program, helping households to cope on the way through is now greater than ever.

In a nutshell, these were the reasons which we are argue that we were elected. Identifying the changes occurring around Australia, prosecuting an argument that the liberal government had failed after 12 years to do anything of substance to prepare Australia to meet these choppy seas brought about by the changes unfolding around us. And thirdly to embark upon a program of national economic and related reform in order to see this nation through.

My argument is simple; there is absolutely no point in being elected to government for the sake of being in government.

For the sake of being there, for the Peter Sellars school of public administration, for the “I like to watch” school of public administration, if you remember the movie Being There. The Liberals’ standard operating procedure for more than a decade.

Fine for a global boom, an absolute failure in preparing for after the boom is over. Opportunities squandered rather than opportunities seized. We by contras intend to get on with it.

In our first six months we have laid the foundations, honouring our election commitments by brining down a responsible Budget, by commissioning the relevant policy reviews. This to be followed by two and a half years of intensive reform; tax; welfare; regulation; skills; infrastructure; innovation; health, housing; closing the gap with indigenous Australia; climate change and water.

It was for this reason that we argue that we were elected and it is for this reason that we intend to govern. And with that it gives me enormous pleasure to launch Christine Jackman’s book on the 2007 election campaign.

This has been a work, and labour of some intensity over a long period of time. I have known Christine from back in her Brisbane days. This has required a lot of effort, a lot of interviews, a lot of work. And I congratulate her on her professionalism.

I have not read every page of this book, though the index search done by Lachlan basically stopped when he realised that his mentions in the book were of such a limited scope. But I can say that in terms of documenting the events, the tumultuous events of the year 2007 this has been a significant effort on Christine’s behalf and it gives me great pleasure to launch this book.

Congratulations Christine.

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