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Transcript of doorstop interview: PM's meeting with Anna Bligh; Rudd bank; economic management; Australia's troop commitment to Afghanistan.



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Wed, 28th January 2009

TURNBULL DOORSTOP WITH LAWRENCE SPRINGBORG - PM'S MEETING WITH ANNA BLIGH, RUDD BANK, ECONOMIC MANAGEMENT, AUSTRALIA’S TROOP COMMITMENT TO AFGHANIST The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP Leader of the Opposition

E&OE

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

It’s great to be here with Lawrence. Lawrence is going to be the next Premier of Queensland. Queensland needs his leadership - strong, dynamic, enterprising leadership is what this state needs. You know, Anna Bligh’s gone down to Canberra today to see Kevin Rudd, and it’d be interesting to be a fly on the wall, because I reckon if Anna Bligh said to Kevin Rudd, ‘Kevin, how come you’ve got all that war chest? How come you’ve got all that money? How come you don’t have any Commonwealth debt?’ He’d have to say that was the hard work of the Coalition over eleven-and-a-half years and I’m sitting here as the Labor Prime Minister with the benefit of all that hard work. Then when he asks the same question of Anna Bligh, and says what did you do in all those years of the mining boom, all those years of great prosperity, what war chest did you build up, she’d have to say nothing. ‘We spent it all and more. We ran the state into debt in the good times.’ And that’s why Queenslanders should be very concerned about what Labor will do as times get tougher.

QUESTION:

But do you applaud the Prime Minister for meeting with premiers?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well it’s part of their job. Prime ministers meet with premiers all the time. Of course he should meet with everybody. You know, he had a phone call today I believe from Barack Obama, from President Obama, and he should take a leaf out of President Obama’s book, because what Barack Obama has been doing in developing his economic policies, is consulting widely. He hasn’t been ignoring his Reserve Bank. He hasn’t been ignoring his central bank. And instead of ignoring his political opponents, he’s actually gone to Congress and sat down with the Republicans in the Congress and discussed his economic measures with them. We’ve offered to sit down with Mr Rudd so many times I couldn’t tell you how many. From the moment I became Opposition Leader we sought to have a bipartisan approach to this. No way. He makes these decisions, ignores the Reserve Bank, doesn’t consult with the Opposition, and doesn’t even, apparently, take the advice of David Murray, the Chairman of the Future Fund. He’s made a lot of mistakes in responding to the economic crisis. We can’t afford to have any more.

QUESTION:

Is it irresponsible for the Rudd Government to ignore the concerns of the Reserve Bank in relation to the Rudd Bank?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

It is completely irresponsible. Of course it is. On these matters involving banking and the financial system you’ve got to consult widely, you’ve got to listen to a range of views, and above all you’ve got to talk to the Reserve Bank. They are the single most knowledgeable group of people in this area. We know that he didn’t discuss the unlimited bank deposit guarantee - that blunder of last year - with the Reserve Bank, and now it appears that he’s ignored the concerns, or failed to consult the Reserve Bank about this latest Rudd Bank proposal, which has got nothing to do with jobs.

I have just announced a policy, a commitment that will create jobs. If you accelerate the depreciation for building owners to green their buildings, to invest in energy efficiency measures and technologies, that will create jobs, because people have got to go and do the work. So we’re developing policies and programmes that will create jobs. Mr Rudd wants to express concern, but there’s no practical action, no measures that work.

QUESTION:

Why are you here with Mr Springborg today?

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MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well I’m here to support Lawrence Springborg. We are both determined that he will be the next Premier of Queensland and I will be the next Prime Minister of Australia.

LAWRENCE SPRINGBORG:

I think that Malcolm has really indicated the fundamental difference between the non-Labor side of politics and the Labor side of politics, not only in Australia but also in Queensland. One actually takes another person’s money and the wealth of the country and just wastes it, and our side of politics it’s about investing in the future. And certainly there is a real compare and contrast in the Commonwealth to Queensland where after eleven years of the Howard Government we basically saw a war chest built up of almost $40 billion, including on top of that a surplus of about $20 billion. Now that’s something which Queensland should have been doing. Queensland should have been doing that, and that would have better facilitated our capacity to be able to weather what is a very, very difficult time ahead. So for us, we’re determined to give the people of not only of Queensland but Australia real, good leadership in difficult times, and to make sure that we actually build for the future of Queensland and Australia, and that hasn’t actually happened.

QUESTION:

Mr Turnbull, do you think more troops should be sent to Afghanistan from Australia?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well we’ve got to assess any request that’s made and no request has been made. I saw what Mr Fitzgibbon said about that today. We are concerned that all nations involved in the Afghanistan conflict, all nations that we are working with play their full part. We need to see stronger commitments from the NATO countries in particular, the countries from Europe. There has to be a sharing of the load and I’m sure that the Government will look at any request that comes from the United States, if it does come, seek the advice of our military leaders and then make a response. But until such time as we see what that request is of course we are speculating. One thing I’m very concerned about and I just want to underline the importance of all countries involved in this very important battle against terrorism, all countries involved in it make a commitment commensurate to their size, the scale of their armed forces and so forth.

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