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Transcript of doorstop interview: 6 July 2009: impact of Labor's proposed changes to Youth Allowance on students from rural and regional areas; ANZ jobs figures; the Rudd Government's reckless spending; people smuggling; the need for global consensus on climate change. \n

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Mon, 6th July 2009


The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP

Leader of the Opposition

Subjects: Impact of Labor’s proposed changes to Youth Allowance on students from rural and regional areas;

ANZ jobs figures; the Rudd Government’s reckless spending; people smuggling; the need for global consensus

on climate change.



Well as you’ve just seen Nola and I have had this meeting here and heard the very real concerns about the way

in which the Government’s changes to the Youth Allowance are going to prejudice the ability of students from this

area, the South-West, and from rural and regional Australia around the nation, from having equitable access to

tertiary education. These changes are very damaging, and we’ve heard real life examples form parents and form

students that just underline how important it is that these changes be amended, and we’ve proposed

amendments to them already, which would ensure that students who’ve taken a gap year, are relying on these

existing laws, will not be prejudices, and most importantly, that students form rural and regional Australia will not

be further disadvantaged by these changes to Labor’s laws and rules on the Youth Allowance. I would just make

one other comment about the ANZ jobs figures. We’ve seen another set of disappointing figures in terms of job

ads from the ANZ. This underlines the need for the Government to be resolutely focussed on jobs, jobs, jobs.

They have to ensure that every dollar they spend and borrow is effective, and so far we’re not getting the

effective jobs that we need. We’re seeing the jobs market deteriorating, and yet at the same time debt is rising

every day, and the one thing that we know, and every Australian knows, is that every additional dollar of debt a

Government runs up with it’s reckless spending will mean higher taxes and higher interest rates in the future, and

will put a very heavy brake on our recovery from this downturn.


Would the job figures be worse without the stimulus package?


The stimulus package has not been effective. There have been a series of ineffective spending measures -

you’ve had the cash splashes, which have not created any jobs, and we’ve now seen this growing scandal

involving the so-called “Building the Education Revolution” where so much money is being so poorly spent, poorly

directed in terms of school infrastructure. All of us, of course, are in favour of good, well-targeted investment in

schools, but we have seen so much money so poorly spent, and so little to show for it other than a bigger and

bigger debt burden on the shoulders of all Australians.


Mr Turnbull, do you think that we may see, say, some students not actually coming back into country WA and

staying in the city which would therefore be another disadvantage for country towns?


We’ve heard first-hand evidence today - you were here, and you heard it - where people were saying that these

changes might result in them having to move out of the area, move to Perth, leave the South-West. There was

another lady who said in a very heartfelt way that if she’d known that these changes were going to come she’d

never have moved here in the first place. So these changes that Labor is introducing are not just disadvantaging

students from rural and regional Australia, they’re actually undermining rural and regional Australia by making it

less attractive to live there, by imposing bigger disadvantages on the disadvantages already a consequence of



Why was it important for you to come to Bunbury today?


Well it’s very important. Nola Marino is my very important colleague, and very dear colleague, and she is a

fantastic representative for the South-West and the seat of Forrest. So it’s important for me to be visiting all of my

colleagues, and in particular on this very vital issue of Youth Allowance, this is where the damage, if you like, is

being done the hardest, the worst. So it’s important to be here with Nola to meet with her constituents and hear

from them, to listen. We learn most when we listen.


Is this your first time being here?


No, it’s not my first trip to Bunbury. It’s my first trip for a while though.


Mr Turnbull, what will you be doing with these peoples’ concerns?


Well, we’ll be taking them up with the Government, with the Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. We’ll also be

heading to the Senate Committee process, and we’ll be taking up the cause of these students and their families

in every forum that we can.


Have you had anyone, I guess, put out the idea that maybe Bunbury needs another university? Currently we

have ECU, which I know offers nursing and teaching and things like that. Would this maybe be something looked



Well, access to education is vital everywhere, but, Nola, the Member?


There’s been a lot of talk, but I think one of the things that we really are concerned about is making the most of

these educational opportunities that are available here, in looking in the broader sense, we’re going to see

significant increases in population throughout the South-West over the next ten to twenty years, so there’s an

element of planning forward as well, as well as offering opportunity for the existing group of young people, so I

think there’s a couple of different focuses here that we have, and at the moment the Youth Allowance issue for

the existing group is where we’re most looking at at the moment, but certainly the issues in the longer term are

where I’m also looking at, you know, the population increases and the demand going forward.


Mr Turnbull, a couple of federal questions. The Prime Minister’s in Malaysia today, seeking agreement with the

Malaysian Government on the issue of people smuggling. Would that be a step forward if an agreement could be



There’s no question that it would be a big step forward if we could reach agreement with all of our neighbouring

countries, Malaysia and of course in particular Indonesia, to further take action to stop people smuggling. It is a

vile and insidious trade. However Mr Rudd’s efforts will be judged on results and the results so far this year are

very troubling. We’re getting more and more people smuggling occurring, more and more unlawful arrivals, and

this is putting an enormous strain on our resources and undermining the integrity of our immigration system.


He’s heading off also to Italy and the meeting there of the G8 Leaders on climate change and global economy.

What do you expect to come out of that?


Well, we’ll see. This is a very vexed issue. The real challenge in terms of climate change is getting an effective

global agreement. The largest and fastest growing emitters are now in the developing world - China in particular

- and unless there is a concerted global agreement from all the major emitters both in the developed world and in

particular in the developing world to cut their emissions then we will not be able to achieve an effective cut in

global emissions. So there is no solution to reducing global emissions that does not require the developing world

to take effective action as well. When I say the developing world I mean particularly China and India.


What do you make of the story the two Tonys? Is there some sense of impatience in the Party for those polls to



You know, it’s interesting you’ve asked me that. It wasn’t raised by any of the people we were meeting with

today. I think Australians have got much more fundamental and much more real concerns than issues like that.

They’re focused on jobs, they’re focused on the economy and, particularly today, they’re focused on their

children’s future and the way in which Labor’s changes to the Youth Allowance are disadvantaging the young

men and women of the South West.


But is there some growing impatience among your colleagues based on that poll last week and is there a sort of

a, do you think there’s a time limit on for the polls to improve before something’s done?


The only impatience I’m discerning today is an impatience of Australians with the lack of action by the Rudd

Government to really address the economic challenges we face and an impatience with the rash decision that’s

been taken to change the Youth Allowance in a way that will, as we heard first hand from the lips of young people

and their parents, first hand evidence we heard from them today how this is going to disadvantage them. Now

what Government in its right mind would want to make it harder for young people from rural and regional

Australia to get to university? It beggars belief.


I’ll just ask you about a story from our Adelaide political correspondent about the leadership issues in the South

Australian Liberal Party. And do you think the way it’s developing, is there a risk that the Liberal brand will be

damaged in South Australia unless this is quickly resolved?


Oh look, I’m not a commentator on South Australian politics I’m afraid.


But you’d be keen to see it resolved quickly surely?


I am not a commentator. I used to be a state political correspondent many years ago but it was in New South

Wales and I’ve given up commenting on New South Wales politics 30 odd years ago, and I’m not going to take

up a new role of political commentator, thanks.


You talk about I guess Kevin Rudd’s lack of action here in Australia. Do you think it’s fair then that he’s travelling

around the world - Malaysia, Italy. Should he be in Australia focusing on these issues?


Well, a Prime Minister has always got to get the right balance between work at home and travel aboard and

there’s obviously got to be a mix. Again, the issue is what are the results, what do we have to show for it. In terms

of discussions with Malaysia or any other country in terms of people smuggling, if it results in a reduction in the

number of boats then that’s a good result. At the moment we’ve seen, since Labor changed the immigration laws

in terms of unlawful arrivals, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in unlawful arrivals and a dramatic increase in

people smuggling so the results so far demonstrate that Labor’s policies are failing. They’re not protecting our

borders. We want the Government to do a better job at that and if Mr Rudd’s visit to Malaysia can help with that,

then that’s a good thing. But ultimately, ultimately, he will be judged on results.

Okay. Thanks very much. Thank you.