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Transcript of interview with David Speers: Sky News: 17 September 2009: Kim Beazley and Brendan Nelson; the Rudd Government's reckless spending; emissions trading; QT.



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Thu, 17th September 2009

TURNBULL INTERVIEW WITH DAVID SPEERS (SKY NEWS) - KIM BEAZLEY AND BRENDAN NELSON, THE RUDD GOVERNMENT’S RECKLESS SPENDING, EMISSIONS TRADING, QT

The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP

Leader of the Opposition

E&OE

DAVID SPEERS:

Malcolm Turnbull, thank you for your time.

Firstly, do you welcome the appointments of Brendan Nelson and Kim Beazley?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

I certainly do. I think they are both very well qualified for the jobs they have been given, both Kim Beazley to the

United States and Brendan to the EU, and so they are good appointments. We welcome them both.

DAVID SPEERS:

Do you see any sense of betrayal for someone like Brendan Nelson to go and represent the Rudd Government

overseas?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well Brendan will do his job professionally and if he’s asked to represent policies that he may not have agreed

with when he was in parliament, he will do that professionally and represent the Government. I mean that’s what

diplomats do and the same applies if a former Labor appointee, Labor person is in office when the government

changes, the Coalition comes in - an ambassador has to represent the Government that appoints him or her.

DAVID SPEERS:

The one that stands out is climate change of course because he’s been putting pressure on you and in a way

criticising very much the Rudd Government as well over its emissions trading scheme. Now he’s going to have to

advocate government policy including on that.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Oh absolutely. Well Brendan would understand that. He’s been around; he’s been a cabinet minister for six

years. He knows what ambassadors do and their job is to spruik the Government’s line. That is their job and

that’s the job he will do I am sure very professionally and with great commitment.

DAVID SPEERS:

What about the politics here? Kevin Rudd - do you think this is clever politics for him to keep appointing former

Coalition ministers to jobs like this?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

I think it’s good that jobs are given to people on merit. It’s not for me to say whether there is somebody else who

could have been a better ambassador to the US or a better ambassador to the EU. I think Kim Beazley is a great

appointment to Washington. I think Brendan Nelson is a great appointment to Brussels. And we welcome both of

them and wish them the very best of good fortunate in their new endeavours.

DAVID SPEERS:

Do you think appointment influenced Brendan Nelson’s decision to leave parliament and have a by-election?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well, as I understand it, it was only related to him, offered to him very recently so I don’t think it did.

DAVID SPEERS:

Can I ask you about the OECD report that’s out? It does give the Government a wrap for its stimulus spending. It

says… it singled out Australia for the stimulus package cushioning unemployment. Do you now acknowledge that

it has helped unemployment?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Can I just say this - the Government has tried to present us as being opposed to any form of fiscal stimulus. Now

that is completely untrue. They say it again and again. They are never troubled by the facts...

DAVID SPEERS:

But you did want a much smaller stimulus.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Absolutely. We proposed a smaller stimulus and one that was better targeted. What the Government has done,

has committed a lot more money than we believed was necessary. And I think when you look at the strength of

the economy today with the benefit of hindsight our judgement in February was better. It was better in February. I

have no doubt at all that if the Government had known the Australian economy was going to respond as well as it

did to this downturn it would not have borrowed and spent so much money in February. They spent that money

because they thought we were, as the Prime Minister himself has said, on the edge of an abyss. Now it turned

out that those concerns were, if you like, more pessimistic than subsequent events proved them to be.

But the fact is, David, that the reason we have outperformed other developed countries is because of a range of

factors. Now Saul Eslake, the former ANZ chief economist, published a list of them the other day. There are

eight. The fiscal stimulus is only one of them.

DAVID SPEERS:

But is the one that the OECD says has saved up to 200,000 jobs, so clearly it has been an important part.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well the OECD has not taken into account in that very short, little paper the big impacts of demand for our

commodities from Asia. Remember we are not a big manufacturing nation in the way Germany or Japan is, so we

were not hit by the collapse in demand in the United States in the way they were. Our economy has been

plugged in to the strongly growing Asian economies and in particular China. The Government stimulus that did

the best for us, ironically enough, was the stimulus from the Chinese Government.

We also have a very effective independent Reserve Bank. Who made it independent? We did. And they

dramatically reduced interest rates, and that was an enormous lift. And of course because of the prudent,

responsible financial reforms in terms of regulation and prudential management that were put in place by the

Coalition we did not have a banking crisis.

So there are a whole range of factors and there are others as well. We didn’t have a collapse in property prices

as well. But there are a number of factors, external and domestic. The fiscal stimulus is one, but the problem with

it is that so much of it is being spent in a way that is wasteful and ineffective as we are seeing day after day with

these schools, so-called Julia Gillard Memorial Assembly Halls.

DAVID SPEERS:

Do you agree with Joe Hockey that interest rates are more important than unemployment?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

They are equally important. The fact is that the objective…

DAVID SPEERS:

That’s not what he says.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

I’ll tell you what, I’m not going to run a commentary on my colleagues. I’ll tell you what I believe. The aim of

economic policy is to maintain high employment, high levels of employment without inflation getting out of control,

without inflation running away. So the objective of economic policy is to keep inflation low and keep employment

high.

Now one of the great achievements under the Howard Government was that we were able to get levels of

economic growth and levels of employment at heights that in the past had resulted in high levels of inflation, and

it didn’t on this last period of growth. Why? Because of the economic reforms, including labour market flexibility,

that enabled our economy to grow with much less risk of inflation, because ultimately of course if inflation takes

off it destroys jobs.

So we’re all saying the same thing. All of these things are important, but the objective is to have high levels of

economic growth, high levels of employment and low levels of inflation.

DAVID SPEERS:

Just a couple of issues quickly. The emissions trading scheme - internally in the Coalition the Nationals seem to

be getting more agitated about your demand to negotiate amendments with the Government. Ron Boswell has

said that don’t just think we’re always going to be there. Is that a threat, do you think, that the Coalition could

fracture?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well, look, Ron can speak for himself but can I just say that the decision to sit down and negotiate with the

Government, sit down and engage in the substance and the detail of this debate is a decision that’s been taken

by the Shadow Cabinet, by the whole Shadow Cabinet. That is…

DAVID SPEERS:

[Inaudible] written yet. How far along are you with that process?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

We are well advanced and we are consulting widely with industry and other interested parties. We have set out

the principles in those nine principles we set out some time ago, and we are now moving to very detailed

amendments which we will take back to, well they’ll go to Shadow Cabinet, they’ll go to the party room and then

we will sit down with the Government and we’ll see how we go.

We had a very successful negotiation with the Government over the Renewable Energy Target. So we’ve

demonstrated that if the Government is prepared to sit down and negotiate with us then they will have a good

faith negotiation with us and that’s our commitment.

DAVID SPEERS:

Just finally, Question Time - if you do become Prime Minister will you put a limit of four minutes on answers?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Absolutely.

DAVID SPEERS:

We can take that guarantee now.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

I promise you Prime Minister Turnbull will have a four minute limit on Question Time. And the other thing that I

will do is insist that my ministers give answers that are relevant to the question. The Rudd Government is making

Question Time a farce. It is an insult to every Member of Parliament, or far worse still, it is an insult to every

Australia. It is just turgid, it’s boring and most of the answers are irrelevant. They’re just refusing to answer

questions.

DAVID SPEERS:

Malcolm Turnbull, thank you.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Thanks, David.