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Transcript of doorstop interview: 8 July 2009: the Rudd Government's reckless spending; Fair Pay Commission's decision; Australia's banking system; people smuggling; detention of Rio Tinto employee in China.

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Wed, 8th July 2009


The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP

Leader of the Opposition

Subjects: The Rudd Government’s reckless spending; Fair Pay Commission’s decision; Australia’s banking

system; people smuggling; detention of Rio Tinto employee in China



Well it looks like Kevin Rudd left Australia as Paris Hilton, having hit the national credit card with a massive

spending spree, and by the time he got to Berlin and decided he was Scrooge McDuck, warning the world about

the dangers of too much government spending and too much debt. He omitted from his speech to mention that

the reason Australia’s economy is strong and the reason we don’t have any more debt than the amount he’s

already running up is because of the very sound economic conditions he inherited from the Coalition

Government. When he became Prime Minister we had no net debt and cash at the bank, and now of course he’s

running us into the biggest debt in our history.

It’s interesting also that he chose to lecture the Germans on the dangers of excessive government spending

because of course it was the German Government, under Chancellor Angela Merkel, who decided not to go

down the big borrowing, big spending approach taken by the Americans and the British and Mr Rudd, and

instead took a much more prudent approach to fiscally responding to the global financial crisis, and of course as

a result have not run up anything like the level of debt that we’ve seen in Australia.


Is a freeze on minimum wage the correct decision?


Look, I respect the decision of the Fair Pay Commission. They obviously have some…have got to weigh up the

arguments, the arguments for an increase against of course the impact on employment and they’ve taken that

decision. I think it’s a reasonable one and I certainly support it.


So are lower paid workers better off earning less and keeping their jobs then?


Look, I think everybody is better off keeping their jobs.


Economists are calling for a ‘people’s bank’ to rival the big four. Is that something you support?


Certainly not. I don’t think economists are actually calling for a people’s bank as a matter of fact. There are a

number of economists that are calling for another financial inquiry or an inquiry into our financial system along the

lines of the Wallis Inquiry which is now, well many years ago, back in 1996 it reported. There have been a lot of

changes since then and I think it’s well worthwhile having another look at our financial system, how it interacts

with the rest of the world. Our financial system has proved to be very resilient and very strong. The reforms the

Coalition put in place after the Wallis Report many years ago now have proved to be very good reforms. But it’s

always worthwhile having another look at this and examining our financial system in the light of more current



We have seen record numbers of first home buyers. Does this show that the Government’s stimulus measures

are helping to keep the economy ticking along?


Well, certainly the Government has provided a very substantial stimulus to support, encourage first home buyers

and that’s exactly as one would expect.


Did Kevin Rudd achieve anything during his trip to Malaysia?


Well, we don’t know. The reality is, look, all we know about Kevin Rudd and border protection is that he’s failed,

let’s face it. Ever since he made public the changes to Australia’s policy there has been an increase in unlawful

boat arrivals. That is a big issue. I think the solution is more effective agreements with our neighbours,

particularly Indonesia and also to a lesser extent Malaysia. But that’s something that the proof of the pudding will

be in the eating; it will depend on results. Everybody, everybody, whatever their views on this issue, is

vehemently opposed and correctly opposed to this dreadful trade of people smuggling.


And finally, have you been briefed about the reported detention of a Rio employee in China?


I have seen those reports in the press and I’m very, very concerned by them. This is something that we have

raised with the Chinese Embassy today. We have raised our concerns with the Chinese Embassy in Canberra.

This is a matter of very real concern and it is completely unacceptable for Australian executives to be detained

anywhere in the world without cause. And this seems to be, well, there just doesn’t seem to be any justification

for what’s happened but we have certainly made our representations to the Chinese Embassy and expect to get

an explanation from them and the officials, the executives to be released, to be put at liberty, or if the Chinese

Government wishes to make some charge against them, then to do so, but just detaining people without cause is

completely unacceptable.

Thank you.