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Transcript of doorstop interview: Museum of Sydney: 28 August 2012: Australia-China relationship; Job Security; Queensland Government; Northern Territory election

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Transcript of Doorstop Museum of Sydney

28 August 2012

Subjects: Australia-China relationship, Job Security, Queensland Government, Northern Territory election


QUESTION: Just wanted to ask you the former Prime Minister John Howard has been talking about how to best manage Chinese foreign investment, saying Australia should welcome more Chinese foreign investment regardless of whether it is state owned enterprises or not. What’s your opinion on that?

KEVIN RUDD: I think it’s time the conservatives sorted out whether they are Arthur of Martha on Chinese foreign investment. We have Mr Abbott going to Beijing to sort of shut it down. We have Mr Howard saying that we need to open it up. I think we in government have the balance about right.

We have approved the overwhelming majority of Chinese investment applications but we’ll also always do so in Australia’s national interest. I think that what this points to is just a lack of policy coherence on the part of Mr Abbott as the alternative Prime Minister of Australia.

QUESTION: Mr Howard called the debate over balancing Australia’s ties, military ties with the US and its Chinese trade relationship as juvenile.

KEVIN RUDD: Well on this question Mr Howard and I may have more in common for the simple reason that I have said many times on the record that this country is old enough, mature enough, wise enough to walk and chew gum at the same time.

You can have a good relationship with the United States. You can have a good relationship with the People’s Republic of China. It can be a multi-faceted relationship and you can do both these things at the same time. I don’t believe that this sort of false dichotomy china or America is faintly relevant to the real policy debate about Australia’s future.

QUESTION: You defeated Howard and WorkChoices in the 2007 election, and now Howard says that they should be brought back and Abbott says they won’t be. What do you think will happen?

The Hon. Kevin Rudd MP

KEVIN RUDD: What you see with the conservatives is constantly trying to hide the ugly bits of what they’re going to do and simply talk about anything else prior to an election. That’s why Tony Abbott is embarrassed today about John Howard’s advocacy for a return to former industrial relations laws.

Remember Abbott himself was forced to say recently that he was “going to restore the balance”. I’m not quite sure what restore the balance means when it comes to ripping off people’s basic rights such as penalty rates in the workplace. If that’s what the conservatives mean by restoring the balance I’m not sure the Australian public have an appetite for that.

It reminds me very much of how so many people in Queensland took Campbell Newman on trust as a conservative political leader in Queensland and not even 6 months later people are saying what the hell did we do because this guy has proceeded to rip the guts out of job security in Queensland.

QUESTION: What do you think about the Northern Territory election results from the perspective that you were the first one to say sorry to the indigenous people and now it’s been a big backlash for Labor in the Northern Territory?

KEVIN RUDD: Look I won’t go into detailed commentary on the Territory result as I haven’t yet spoken to my good friend and colleague the former Chief Minister and I believe he has been an excellent Chief Minister of the NT. He’s had the future of the Territory written on his heart and his sleeve since god knows when. I’d rather have a long conversation with him about what actually happened. He’s a good man and we need to harness his talents in Australia’s future national politics.

QUESTION: When you say that Tony Abbott is beatable -

KEVIN RUDD: Absolutely

QUESTION: Who can beat him?

KEVIN RUDD: Mr Abbott is entirely beatable because I believe the Australian people are increasingly seeing through how thin his political program is. Essentially Mr Abbott is concerned about two things - getting into power and then making sure that he pays back his most conservative supporters by bringing back WorkChoices by a different name.

I don’t believe that the Australian people will cop that - that’s my view. And therefore, I believe that he is entirely beatable and our job is to make sure that we engage in that political fight effectively.

I don’t think Australia can afford to have a Prime Minister a bloke who is the single most right-wing, extreme politician that the country has seen leading its conservative party in its history - and secondly, I am also of the view that he does not have the temperament to occupy the high office of Prime Minister.

One other thing by the way, we’ve been talking about foreign policy, remember Mr Abbott said only believe the things I put in writing, anything I say, don’t worry about, but when I really mean something I write it down in black and white. It’s what he said. Have a look at his book Battlelines.

Have a look at what he said about the world. This guy, the alternative Prime Minister of Australia says that the history of the modern world was overwhelming written in English. I’ve never seen such an apologia for his view of an Anglophone future for Australia as you find in black and white in that

book. And that from a guy who wants to become Prime Minister of Australia in the next twelve months.

Gough Whitlam, I thought, had changed the essential national conversation on that forty years ago, hence my point that this guy is the most extreme, right-wing, conservative, punitive Prime Minister of this country that the Liberals have ever put forward and having said that, I’ve got to zip. Thanks guys.