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Transcript of interview with Michael Rowland: ABC2 News Breakfast: 29 June 2010: new Cabinet; Building the Education Revolution; mining tax.



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The Hon Simon Crean MP     

Minister for Education   Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations   Minister for Social Inclusion     29 June, 2010  

      Transcript of interview with Michael Rowland, ABC2 News Breakfast.     Main topics: New Cabinet, Building the Education Revolution, mining tax.       MICHAEL ROWLAND: Now Labor front bencher Simon Crean will take on the Prime Minister's old portfolios of Education, Workplace Relations and Social Inclusion, following that mini Cabinet reshuffle and for more, Mr Crean joins us now from Canberra.     Minister how - good morning, and how do you overcome the lingering concerns, even amongst Labor voters about the manner in which Kevin Rudd was dispatch last week?     SIMON CREAN: I think that people are - were surprised, shocked at the events of last week but the truth is I was out in the shopping centres on Saturday, Michael, and I think quite frankly people have moved on. They question the circumstances, they realise how quickly it was done but they want to get on with us, to get on with the task of governing and that's what we're intending to do.     MICHAEL ROWLAND: Now you've picked up a list of rather weighty portfolios as part of the Cabinet reshuffle, first the point has been made this morning that they arguably are simply too much for one minister to handle. Are you confident you can give them all the appropriate amount of attention they all need this side of the election?     SIMON CREAN: No question in my mind at all about that.     MICHAEL ROWLAND: What do you see as your main priorities?     SIMON CREAN: Well I think it's building on the very solid foundations that Julia laid down quite frankly. Education is the great enabler, Michael. It is what empowers individuals.     It's what makes for a more tolerant society. It's what makes for a more efficient and productive economy, so it's why government has to invest heavily in this area. When we came to office we had seen a lot of disinvestment in the education sector, a lot of skill shortages and what we've set about doing is laying the foundations to build it.    

You can't do it overnight but we have invested massively in terms of the physical infrastructure, but importantly in terms of the software, the connectivity, the computers in schools, and all of those sorts of things, what we want to do is and we called it a revolution, an education revolution.  

  We want to continue it because it is so fundamental to our future and to that of the opportunity of individuals.     MICHAEL ROWLAND: And just on the investment front, the Federal Opposition is calling on you to make as one of your first acts this morning, to suspend any of the remaining stimulus spending as part of the Building the Education Revolution program. Will you do that while you await for the oversight report to be handed to you?     SIMON CREAN: I'll take proper advice based on the report and I simply make this point. If in fact there has been the serious disinvestment in education, why would you stop the investment? It seems to me the challenge is to ensure that we get value for money, not stop the money flowing.     MICHAEL ROWLAND: But as you know there's also been lots of criticism...     SIMON CREAN: Anyone who stupidly argues...     MICHAEL ROWLAND: Mis...     SIMON CREAN: Anyone who stupidly argues that the solution is to stop the money are the people who would argue on the other fronts, you don't do anything.     MICHAEL ROWLAND: But there's also the [indistinct] the money has...     SIMON CREAN: That's precisely what...     MICHAEL ROWLAND: ...been poorly spent, or some of the money under this program has been poorly spent.     SIMON CREAN: Well that is the allegation I'm still to be briefed on the full details of that. Let me get that briefing before I make any judgement but don't say that simply because someone alleges it's been badly spent - all of it's been badly spent, because I know that the vast bulk of it has been well spent.     MICHAEL ROWLAND: Looking now at the challenges facing the broader Cabinet front and centre of the meeting this morning is obviously going to be a resolution, a quick resolution to the mining tax imbroglio. The mining tax according to so...the mining companies according to some reports this morning are demanding the Government offer it a solution by Friday. Do you fear the mining companies may be trying to blackmail the Gillard Government?     SIMON CREAN: Well this Government won't be blackmailed and I know Julia well enough to know that she won't be blackmailed. But what she signalled as soon as she assumed the

Prime Ministership was a preparedness to negotiate in good faith. That's what the mining companies should do and they should not try and put any artificial restriction on it.     The whole basis of negotiation in good faith is for people of good will on both sides to come together for a common purpose and that is an outcome satisfactory to both.     MICHAEL ROWLAND: And when your read about mining companies, the Mineral Council suggesting they might resume their advertising campaign after what would only be a very small truce, what does that say to you about where this debate could be going?     SIMON CREAN: Well again, if those reports are accurate that's a silly statement from the Mining Council but some of their people have had form on this. They did it on WorkChoices, they think they can win this through advertising. They won't. What they have to do is to sit down, negotiate sensibly with the Government, that's how all good outcomes are arrived at.     Julia has signalled a preparedness to be a consultative government with the Cabinet. She signalled and in terms of the mining community my best advice to the Mining Industry Council is take up her genuine offer but be genuine in your response as well.     MICHAEL ROWLAND: How important politically is it for the new government to reach a deal with the mining industry and reach one pretty quickly?     SIMON CREAN: Well I think it's not just important for the Government Michael, I think it's important for the country. We need certainty. The mining sector is a vital component of our economic success. It's not the only component, but it's a vital component.     I think it's important as the globe continues to demand so strongly our natural resources that what we do is to try and match the supply with the demand. The whole purpose of the tax that was proposed was to withdraw some of the barriers to upfront investment.     If the design isn't satisfactory in achieving that result, let's negotiate around that but the purpose of trying to ensure that we're setting up the basis for continued and strong investment in the mining sector, that's our intention, as well as ensuring that the nation gets a better return for the resources which it owns.     The mining companies don't own these resources. The mining companies develop the resources and they're entitled to a fair share. But so too is the nation. They own the resources and they have been significantly increased in value as a result of world demand for them, which will continue to grow.     So it's a question of getting a fair share all around. That's what the negotiations have to be about, that's what the mining companies should get on with the task of doing.     MICHAEL ROWLAND: And finally Simon Crean, you are of course a former Labor leader who's managed to resurrect his political career rather spectacularly, what advice therefore do you have for Kevin Rudd as he now plots his path forward?    

SIMON CREAN: Well Kevin has been offered the significant opportunity to participate in a future - in a future government. We have to secure that government. The best advice I can give anyone that has a career in politics or wants to, be true to yourself, persist in terms of your own contribution, what you feel that you can make, but also be patient.     MICHAEL ROWLAND: Simon Crean, thanks very much.     SIMON CREAN: Thank you.     END