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Transcript of interview with Lisa Wilkinson: Today: 27 October 2011: Pokies legislation, talk of an interest rate cut, leadership speculation



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Transcript of interview with Today

Simon Crean > Transcripts > 2011 > Transcript of interview with Today

Transcript of interview with Today

27 October 2011 SCT063/2011

Topics: Pokies legislation, talk of an interest rate cut, leadership speculation

LISA WILKINSON: It's time for a look at the week in politics and I'm joined now by the Minister for Regional Development, Simon Crean. Good morning to you, Minister.

SIMON CREAN: Hello, Lisa, how are you?

LISA WILKINSON: Very well, thank you. Now, first up, news of the day, James Packer will speak out against the poker machine reforms today. He says there is no evidence that mandatory pre-commitment will be effective in tackling problem gambling but it will hurt recreational players and will cost jobs, investment and government revenue. What's your reaction to that?

SIMON CREAN: Well, I think that what needs to be shown if they say that there's no evidence on the mandatory preconditioning is to show what the evidence does demonstrate a reduction in problem gambling.

I mean, what's the issue that we're facing with here? It's not all or nothing. It's not you either legislate or you don't. It's how do we deal with problem gambling? It's recognised as a problem. Crown itself recognises it as a problem, Lisa.

It argues; as I understand it, that the steps they're taking has reduced it, well, let's have a look at that evidence. Let's get the facts on the table. I mean, I must say, in all my time in politics a good place to start is with the facts and then you can have some basis for sensible negotiations.

LISA WILKINSON: Is Labor really committed to this policy though? I mean, have you been dragged there by independent Andrew Wilkie? Why have you not gone down this track before?

SIMON CREAN: No, well, if you recall, Kevin Rudd, as previous prime minister, had indicated his intention to deal with what he called the scourge of it. So the Government is committed to dealing with the problem, with the issue of problem gambling.

The question as to the most effective way to do it, my view is start with the facts and let's have a sensible debate but even in the last couple of weeks, Lisa, the mandatory position, as I understand it, Mr Wilkie has accepted consideration of an alternative to that.

Now, again, let's just see this debate play out. It's all very well talking about threats to jobs, et cetera, and this is an industry that

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Transcript of interview with Today

employs a lot of people. I know that because I've had dealings with it as Education and Training Minister, I know the numbers of people that are not only employed but are trained, I know what this industry does in terms of enlivening cities like Melbourne, Perth, for example, but all around the country, so there are competing interests here but the issue that we have to face up to is the problem of problem gambling so let's have a look at what all the alternatives are to address it.

LISA WILKINSON: All right, well speaking of gambling, an interest rate cut is now a short price favourite for Cup Day. This would be really important in regional areas which is your portfolio.

SIMON CREAN: Of course but the decision will be taken independently by the Reserve Bank. That's a position we moved to many years ago and has been the norm ever since.

All we urge the Reserve Bank to do is to have proper regard to what is happening out there in the economy and inflation is under control, the figures yesterday were good.

Employment, whilst there's been an important increase last month, has been a bit slower in the last three months and, of course, this whole nature of whether you call it a two-speed economy, three-speed, I prefer to call it a patchwork.

That's why I've been out in the regions visiting the patches. I've visited hundreds of them so I do know the different paces but, you know, out in the regions there is huge enthusiasm and excitement about their prospects. They understand the importance of diversifying their economic base and that's what we, as a government, are out there assisting them in doing, making their patches work better.

What we don't want is any decisions that hold up that enthusiasm.

LISA WILKINSON: Well, if you're out there talking to people you'd be very aware that the Government is slightly on the nose at the moment, certainly the polls reflect that, and there has been a lot of talk about a leadership challenge in recent weeks, a possible return of Kevin Rudd, but there's also been quite a bit of talk amongst those who say they really do know these things about you being a possibility for the leadership. Has anyone in the party talked to you over recent months about a leadership challenge?

SIMON CREAN: No, they haven't and there won't be a leadership challenge. Insofar as the punters are concerned, don't waste the money. Back the circumstances in which we will last the two years. That I am confident about, that Julia Gillard will lead us to the next election. There will be no challenge.

As for the question as to whether they think we'll win the next election, there's a long way for the straight in this - in this race and hold your money on that.

LISA WILKINSON: Right. [Laughs] We're sticking with the gambling theme. Now, you yourself were in a similar position to Julia Gillard 10 years ago. There was constant speculation destabilising your leadership. Do you feel for what she's going through at the moment?

SIMON CREAN: Yes, I do, and it's a ridiculous - it's an awful situation to find yourself in because what you've got to be doing - I mean, I was in opposition and so therefore we were seeking to present ourselves as the alternative government but the stakes are http://www.minister.regional.gov.au/sc/pressconf/2011/SCT063_2011.aspx (2 of 4) [26/03/2012 4:07:56 PM]

Transcript of interview with Today

higher now. We are in government. People expect us to govern.

There are difficult decisions, difficult challenges for this economy, not because we haven't got the capability of doing it, Lisa, I believe we have. I don't think there's - there is nothing this country can't do if it puts its mind to it. It can compete with the best of them in the world but there is uncertainty in the world and therefore we've got to continue to manage that in the best interests of the country.

The only point I make about the leadership is that ever since my time the argument that what you do if you're in trouble is change the leader has not worked. It's true that Kevin Rudd won us the office. I never supported the change of his leadership because I've always been a person consistently who has said you've got to support the leader of the day. I believed it in my time and I'm practising it ever since and I urge my colleagues to do the same.

We've got a huge opportunity. I believe that this country is poised on the cusp of greatness. I believe that we can secure our economic future in a world that's looking for all the things that we can play in: food and water security, energy and resource security, skills development. They are Australia's strengths. That's what we've got to get on with and the sooner everyone understands that's the focus the better off this nation will be.

LISA WILKINSON: I hate to say it but you're sounding almost prime ministerial there.

KARL STEFANOVIC: [Laughs]

LISA WILKINSON: [Laughs] ...Minister.

SIMON CREAN: No, I'm a - I'm a team player and I'm part of - I'm part of a team...

LISA WILKINSON: But you're saying...

SIMON CREAN: ...that consistently...

LISA WILKINSON: You're saying that you have to urge your colleagues...

SIMON CREAN: Consistently has led the country - yeah, but I've been part of a team consistently that has led this country through important challenges. We're in another set of those challenges. Let's get on with them. The country deserves it and we've got to earn our way.

LISA WILKINSON: I don't anybody could accuse you of being anything other than a team player. Simon Crean, very nice to talk to you this morning. I know we've kept you from the gym. We appreciate it.

SIMON CREAN: Yeah, I'll try and get there now. See you.

LISA WILKINSON: Thank you. Karl.

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Transcript of interview with Today

KARL STEFANOVIC: That was a good, strong, positive message from Labor there.

ENDS

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Last Updated: 27 October, 2011

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