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Opposition Leader discusses extended school hours; John Howard; climate change; and his personal life.

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Subjects: Extended School Hours; John Howard; Climate Change; Personal Life

KYLE: … Was it Monday? (inaudible) respect. This is the way I’m going to vote this year. Whoever comes on and talks to us first is going to get my vote and I’m going to throw my full weight - now that’s a fat lot of weight - behind that person because for seven years we’ve been after the Prime Minister. No, never came in once. He still goes down and talks to the 18 people who tune into the ABC and won’t come in here. There’s a lot of people listening to this show everyday and we have never ever had anyone from Federal politics come on this show. Maybe they just don’t care about us. Maybe they think that we aren’t important. But not so. The day of us feeling neglected from the Government or the Opposition is over, everyone. And it’s not by the Prime Minister’s office -

JACKIE O: No, in fact, Kevin Rudd, Leader of the Opposition, has phoned in this morning.

KYLE: Good morning.

RUDD: Good morning, Kyle. Good morning, Jackie O. I’m a caring sort of guy.

JACKIE O: You are. Now can I just ask, if you become Prime Minister, will you still come on this show or will you then fob us off like John Howard’s done?

RUDD: Happy to come on the date, the time and the hour. There’s only one precondition. All the questions are easy.

KYLE: They’re easy around here. Lowest common denominator radio round here my friend. Kevin, can we just say first of all, Jackie and I saw you on TV probably a year and a half ago and I said, look at this guy. I like the look of this guy. He seems like a real person. You were talking, you weren’t sort of stuttering over any of the answers to the questions -

JACKIE O: I’ve got an interesting question. How important do you think appearances are? When you’re up for election do you think that plays an important bit?

RUDD: I think if we’re going to focus the election on one of good looks I’ll come last.

JACKIE O: You wouldn’t agree, do you think, there are people factor that in when they look at the person and they say I don’t like this. Some people looked at Kim Beazley, for instance, and just thought fat slob, can’t trust him. Car salesman. That’s what people said. Well, that’s the truth.

KYLE: That’s what you and your friends might have thought.

JACKIE O: Do you think that that’s even important though, Kevin?

RUDD: People basically make a judgement about who you are and what you say and all those sorts of things (inaudible) follow the detail of what you’re talking about all the time. Kim’s a great guy.

KYLE: And can sell a hell of a car, too, just between you and I.

RUDD: It’s not based on what you look like. I always remember my dear mum, when she was alive, used to watch me on Seven’s Sunrise and she’d ring me after the program and say, “it went well this morning, dear”. I’d say, “that was nice, mum”. What did you like about what I said and mum would say, “I liked your tie.”

KYLE: A lot of people do. Some people will listen to exactly every single word that comes out of someone’s mouth. Other people like me, for example, I’ll look at you and I will base my vote on if I like the look of you.

JACKIE O: Well, part of it, you know, sometimes that main factor in just … you look at somebody and they look trustworthy or not.

KYLE: So, we said a year ago, I reckon this bloke’s going to be the Prime Minister. He looks like Prime Minister material. And here you are, Leader of the Opposition, here you are, the first federal person to ever come on the Kyle and Jackie O show ever and now I’m with you. That’s it.

RUDD: Well, the only other person to vote for me based on my looks is my wife, but we’ve got a broader base now.

JACKIE O: This morning, Kevin, John Howard has come out and supported public schools opening an extra four hours a day to help working parents. What are your thoughts on that? Do you support that?

RUDD: Working parents are under a stack of pressure at the moment; financial pressure, the double drop, you know, dropping kids at school, dropping kids at preschool, childcare, then finding their way to work, traffic problems right across the country, really. I support the idea but someone’s got to

pay the bills. You can’t just say we’re going to have the schools open another four hours without someone paying the bill.

KYLE: I’ve got a better idea. Do you want to write it down?

KYLE: Have you got your biro out? Maybe we don’t start work, everyone doesn’t start work at nine. Why don’t we stagger out the times? So, you know, some people start at six, some people at eight -

JACKIE O: Especially in relation to the traffic chaos.

RUDD: I expect there are a number of countries around the world operate on flexi-hours. I think there’s a lot going for it. The other thing which I think is terrific is more and more people are working from home. And you know what the key thing there is? They think that national high speed broadband network. When you stand back from the politics and everything that’s going on and you’re out there and you’ve got a home-based business and trying to get

things done and you’ve got to get stuff across the other side of the world in time, in speed and in volume. Our system here is one of the slowest and worst in the world. So, you want to take traffic off the roads, I reckon, and make it more and more possible for people to do more work from home.

JACKIE O: This morning, Kevin, we were talking about how much the Prime Minister gets paid. Now, apparently, it’s $260,000. Is that right?

RUDD: Yep.

KYLE: If I was Prime Minister, the first I’d do, day one, give myself a massive pay rise.

JACKIE O: Do you think that’s enough for the Prime Minister? When you think about how much people like the Wiggles are getting paid, do you think that that’s fair?

RUDD: I think the Wiggles are much more entertaining and good value probably that if I was the Prime Minister or myself.

KYLE: But you don’t do it for the money, do you? You guys, you want to be the Prime Minister for what reason? It’s not the cash.

RUDD: Well, my reason for being in politics is this: it goes down to one single idea. What can I best do to help prepare this country for the big challenges of the 21st century? Climate change, water and Education Revolution and what do we do when the whole world changes when China is the biggest and most dominant power in the world and America no longer is. These are the things which I want to try and prepare the country for, that’s why I’m in the business.

JACKIE O: What are you going to do about climate change?

RUDD: Climate change - we’ve got to be part of the global solution not just part of the global problem, what do we do practically about that? One: we ratify the Kyoto Protocol, I don’t know why this Government continues to stay outside of Kyoto. The only international system that is sort of working at present and when the Chinese, who are a big problem when it comes to global warming, say to us and the Americans - we the Chinese are not going to take seriously our obligations to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions because you the Australians and you the Americans are worse per capita polluters and refuse to sign up to Kyoto, then we’ve got a problem. Well, that’s just one, but there are about three or four other things we would do as well.

JACKIE O: Right, OK. What do you think the PM’s biggest flaws are?

RUDD: Look, I’m not into the personal, negative stuff. I think he’s a very clever politician. He actually can spin his way out of any difficult situation politically for him just by clever use of words - we’ve seen that over many years

now. I’d just say this about him: if had applied just 10 per cent of those skills, those political skills that he’s got, to energies directed towards the long-term policy challenges of the nation in climate change; water; the needs in education and what we do to prepare for long-term economic challenges once this mining boom is over. If he just put 10 per cent of his energy in that direction then frankly the country would be in a different position to what it is now.

KYLE: Do you think he’s an alright guy, you would have spent time with him, you would have met him and chatted? Without all those differences in politics, what’s he like, is he alright?

RUDD: The truth about that is I don’t know him well personally at all. I’ve only been Leader of this Party since the end of last year.

KYLE: Didn’t he invite you around and say ”Come around to the Lodge and have some tea?”

RUDD: Maybe I’ve lost that invitation in the mail. I lean across the table every now and then and say “G’day how are you going”.

KYLE: Were you a homeless kid?

RUDD: Homeless?

KYLE: We heard you had a rough childhood or you were homeless or something was weird in your childhood.

RUDD: Lots of kids struggled early in their lives. My dad died when I was 11. He was killed in an accident. We were on a farm. He was a sharefarmer. We had to leave the farm and mum did very well in the year or two following that to find us appropriate places to stay, but there was a time when it

got packed and when you’re being shifted from one relative to the next is where it didn’t quite work out. So, it was tough, but we came through that. Mum was terrific and she was really strong. She retrained herself as a nurse, this is back in ’69, ‘70 in Queensland and she did a terrific job in raising us.

JACKIE O: Can I ask just slightly Kevin on a personal note? How, when you’re not working?

RUDD: I didn’t do it.

JACKIE O: When you’re not working, what do you do? What do you like to do?

RUDD: What I really love to do is -

KYLE: Relaxing and drinking beer?

RUDD: What I really to do is, my wife Therese, we’ve been married for 25 years, and our three kids, dog and a cat, when they’re occasionally speaking to each other, that’s the dog and the cat, we have a house in

Queensland, I like sitting on the back veranda having a family lunch, just having a chat with the family with a bit of music in the background, to me that’s relaxing.

KYLE: You sound like a decent guy thank you for coming in.

RUDD: I wouldn’t go that far.

KYLE: I hope you win, I sort of liked Johnny Howard, I was one of those kids who grew up and liked the Prime Minister who my parents told me to like, and I think he’s an alright guy, but what happens when he goes, I mean it’s not far away, I don’t want one of those old clowns, I don’t like the smug look of them, but I like you.

JACKIE 0: I think it’s good to hear your stance on global warming and climate change. I’d think a lot of people think that’s a big issue right now.

KYLE: On climate change?

RUDD: The big difference is we believe this and Mr Howard, in his heart of hearts is a sceptic on this. But on your whole question about character and stuff before, I’m not going to put up my hand and say: I’m captain perfect, I don’t make mistakes, don’t get me wrong, I do, that’s just life. But you know I reckon part of leading the country means saying: this is where I want to go, this is why I want to go there and you’re not going to be electing Mother Therese here, but you are going to be electing someone who’s got a series of very deep beliefs, a fair bit of experience behind him in terms of where the country is at.

JACKIE O: Alright, pleased to hear from you, Kevin Rudd. Thanks for your time in talking to us.

RUDD: Thanks for having me on the program.

KYLE: You’re welcome here anytime,

RUDD: Well thanks for the invitation.

KYLE: Thank you Mr Rudd, good luck with the election coming up. There you go, he’s the first federal politician to come on the show - ever.

JACKIE O: About time.

KYLE: Those weasels over there in Howard’s place, they’ll be all scampering around saying, “Oh John, you’ve got to get on this show, Rudd’s been on.”