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Opposition Leader discusses green car innovation fund.

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Subjects: Green Car Innovation Fund

LAWS: The Leader of the Federal Opposition, Kevin Rudd, is on the line. Kevin, good morning.

RUDD: Good morning, John,

LAWS: I was giving you bit of a rap earlier about your comments on hybrid vehicles.

RUDD: Well, in this business, John, we take any positive rap when we can get it. Thank you very much.

LAWS: It was a pleasure because it’s something that I’ve talked about for a long time. But as well as making the automotive industry feel better about it, would you consider talking to the States if you were to win office, and if Labor wins in NSW, which they seem sure to do, so we’d have an entirely Labor place, would you talk to the States about the possibility of reducing registration fees or something along those lines, for people who do buy hybrid cars? They do it overseas.

RUDD: You know, that’s a good idea. The honest answer to your question, John, is that no-one’s put that to me. But can I now go away and do some work on that?

LAWS: Yeah, because I think that it would be a terrific idea. It would encourage people. I mean, maybe you could even look at it at the sales tax level so then you wouldn’t have to worry about the States.

RUDD: I think that’s a really good idea. I mean, the key challenge we’ve tried to deal with here is that if we’re concerned about climate change we’ve got to address the fact that 13 per cent of the nation’s greenhouse gas

emissions come from road vehicles so, practically, what can we do about it. This $500 million Green Car Innovation Fund from us tries to put some flesh on the

bones of that. But you were talking about additional measures. I’ll now go away and have a look that because that’s a good idea.

LAWS: I think it would be terrific. Have you driven a hybrid vehicle?

RUDD: No, I haven’t. In fact, we went through this with the family recently when my wife was looking for an Australian made hybrid car and I’m sure some of your listeners would have found this out - you can’t find one. So, that started me thinking about why don’t we have one in this country, given that so many people are now trying to do their bit personally to bring down greenhouse gas emissions. And because, if you’re driving a hybrid, one of the numbers that I had before was that the emissions from a hybrid are about half

those of a normal car and therefore, why not?

LAWS: And the fuel economy is absolutely sensational. I mean, my hand maiden’s got the Prius - sponsors of mine, Toyota - she’s got the Prius and she can drive from here to Brisbane without filling the tank up with fuel.

RUDD: Is that right?

LAWS: Yeah.

RUDD: Yeah, well, I’ll think of that when I’m next driving from Brissy to here.

LAWS: Yeah, well, that’s right. See, you should’ve brought it for your missus.

RUDD: Well, she was trying to do the Australian made decision and she did.

LAWS: Yeah, well, that’s not a bad idea. But with Toyota, as I said, sponsors of mine, are doing the Prius here and really, they make a hell of a lot of motor cars in Australia.

RUDD: No, that’s true. That’s true. I think it would be a good thing for the whole industry if we can get greater Australian innovation in the motor vehicle industry when it comes to fuel-efficient vehicles. We’re not picking technologies here. That’s what the private sector does best. But we want to say, “Here’s $500 million from government. You get into that on a three dollar for one dollar basis as industry, and you get a slice of that in terms of your innovation”. And I think that’s a smart way to go.

LAWS: Yeah, well, I think it’s a smart way to go, too. And I’m sure it will encourage production. It won’t be long before somebody - hopefully Toyota, my sponsors - will be putting the cars together here.

RUDD: Well, see, I’m a big believer in manufacturing. Some people whacked me around the head on this when I said, when I became Leader of the Labor Party, that I believe in manufacturing, I believe in manufacturing industry, and I believe in the motor vehicle industry, and I don’t want to be Prime Minister of a country where we don’t make things anymore. And I think if you do creative things like this and put your hand out to industry and say we want to partner you on something which helps the environment and helps jobs, I think industry, they’re smart enough and I think ethical enough, to put its best foot forward.

LAWS: And they certainly would be getting a great incentive with an offer like that.

RUDD: Well, I think so. I mean, we’re not about to fund blank cheques. This is $500 million but it’s also put in a timeframe whereby industry can plan for the future knowing that it’s there. But we’re saying, to gain access to

that fund, a slice of that $500 million you’ve got to invest yourself three dollars for one. So, it’s not a gift, it’s an incentive.

LAWS: Yes, it sure is an incentive. Good to talk to you, Kevin. You have a nice weekend.

RUDD: Thanks, John. Thanks for having me on your program.

LAWS: Pleasure. Any time. Bye.