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Opposition Leader discusses his visit to Gold Coast; cost of living; Greg Rudd; and opinion polls.

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Subjects: Visit to the Gold Coast; Cost of Living Pressures; Greg Rudd; Polls

DENNISON: Kevin Rudd, thank you for joining us. Now, what will you be discussing with Councillor Sarroff today?

RUDD: Well, I’ll talk to Eddy about infrastructure needs across the Gold Coast. My concern is that after 11 long years in office, Mr Howard’s Liberal Party are taking the Gold Coast for granted, federally. There are a whole bunch of infrastructure needs and Eddy’s very strong on this and he’s going to brief me on some of those needs.

DENNISON: Right. Now, if Labor wins the next federal election, what promises can you make the Gold Coast?

RUDD: Well, what I want to start with is to make sure that we get the best advice from Eddy on what is necessary. He has an exceptionally strong level and solid level of experience on the Gold Coast when it comes to infrastructure needs. He’s spoken to me broadly about this already but what I want to do is try and nail it down to (inaudible) and then work out through our proposals for a body called Infrastructure Australia, how we best assess, therefore, finally the Gold Coast long term infrastructure needs and what role the Federal Government can play in assisting with some of those needs.

Can I just say one immediate one which comes to mind is broadband. Broadband services across the Gold Coast, I’m advised, are very patchy. Labor has a very clear cut policy on broadband, which is to expend up to $4.7 billion

ensuring fibre optic to the node for 98 per cent of Australia, and that means the Gold Coast, in contrast to Mr Howard’s policy, which is going to deliver a two-speed system for the country, a high-speed system for the capital cities and a

slower speed system for elsewhere in the country.

DENNISON: Right. Now, besides infrastructure and broadband, what are the Gold Coast issues you’ll be looking at?

RUDD: Well, I want to spend some time with Eddy on that. I notice a whole range of challenges when it comes to local industry development, the future of needed social services, for example, across the Gold Coast secondary schools one of the policies that we’ll be implementing will be to establish trades

training centres for each of the Gold Coast secondary schools. That means when it comes to our young people who are in secondary school and they are deciding that a university career is not for them but they’d much rather develop a trade certificate, we want to make sure that across our secondary schools we’ve got the best level of trades training possible. That’s why in every secondary school across the Gold Coast, be it government or non-government, if we’re elected to form the next government of Australia we intend to build, or rebuild, a state of the art 21st century trades training centre - up to $1.5 million per school. And right across the Gold Coast we believe that’ll make a difference for all those young people who want to pursue a career in the trades.

DENNISON: How confident are you that Councillor Sarroff can win the seat of McPherson?

RUDD: Well, McPherson’s going to be very tough. The Labor Party’s never held McPherson and one of our reasons for putting up a strong candidate like Eddy is because we believe that it’s time the Liberal Party had a run for their money on the Gold Coast. They regard it as their own patch, their own territory, and I believe they’ve taken it for granted. And when it comes to delivering on basic things like infrastructure - and I’ve already mentioned broadband - also dealing with some of the needs of our local secondary schools, I think they’ve basically said, ‘the Gold Coast is a safe Liberal seat, don’t worry about it’. Eddy is going to carry the Labor flag. We believe he’s going to be very competitive but it’s going to be very tough. But I’m down on the Gold Coast today to support him.

DENNISON: Now, what about the roads?

RUDD: Well, they tell us road infrastructure, again, Eddy’s got a lot of local knowledge and I’ll be talking to him about what’s necessary on that front. I know that when it comes to road funding, it’s a critical need of local authorities right across the country. When it comes to the Gold Coast’s needs and the density of traffic on the Gold Coast, I’ve got to say, again, it’s an area where the Federal Government’s got to roll up its sleeves and do more.

DENNISON: OK. Now, I have to bring up your brother. Have you spoken to him after his resignation from the ALP?

RUDD: I spoke to Greg last night?

DENNISON: Yes. And is it embarrassing for you?

RUDD: Oh look, we’ve … how do I say this, we’ve known each other for a long time …

DENNISON: Yes, you have.

RUDD: As you tend to know your brother. He’s an independent businessman. He runs his own life and I fully understand some of the difficult

choices he’s had to make in life. We’re a close family and I fully respect the decision that he’s made, and the decision he’s made to leave the ALP as well.

DENNISON: Could have been better timing, though, couldn’t it?

RUDD: Oh look, these things happen. I mean, at the end of the day, your family’s your family, and at the end of the day, people are going to have to make a decision about whether they want to elect me as their next Prime Minister, no other individual member of my family. And I’m pretty relaxed about all that. People are looking for fresh ideas for the future on housing affordability, on cost of living, on groceries, on petrol and on (inaudible) that we talked about this morning like local roads, broadband, and their schools. They want positive plans for the future. I don’t think they’re all that much concerned about negative politics as it relates to people’s families.

DENNISON: Now, on a more positive note, the latest AC Neilsen poll shows Labor’s still in a comfortable position to win the federal election and that you’re edging ahead as preferred Prime Minister. Does that give you hope?

RUDD: Look, since I’ve become leader of the Parliamentary Party I’ve never commented on any poll, whether they are up or down, and I don’t intend to start now. All I can say is what I find right across Australia, and last

week I was in Adelaide, I was in Melbourne, I was in Sydney, and I’ve spent part of the weekend in Brisbane, and now today I’ll be down on the Gold Coast, is that the mood I pick up is that what Australian families, working families want, is fresh ideas for the future on basic questions like housing affordability, cost of living, groceries, petrol. We’ve been putting out positive policies in these areas for some time now, together with the long term questions of how we deal with our education system, how we deal with climate change and water for the long term, and how we deal also with infrastructure questions like broadband. I think people want to hear positive plans in these areas. I think they’re sick and tired of negative politics. So, I’m trying to be as positive as I can between now and the next two months when there’ll be an election called.

DENNISON: Alright. Thank you very much for talking with us and enjoy your time on the coast.

RUDD: Looking forward to it very much. It’s good to be back on the Gold Coast.

DENNISON: Thank you, Mr Rudd.