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Transcript of doorstop interview: Adelaide: 23 August 2008: Murray-Darling Basin; emissions trading scheme; adoption.



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23 August 2008

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. DR BRENDAN NELSON MP DOORSTOP INTERVIEW ADELAIDE

Subjects: Murray-Darling Basin; emissions trading scheme; adoption.

EO&E………………………………………………………………………………......

DR NELSON:

Mr Rudd needs to make available to South Australians especially the advice which his minister has about urgent measures that can be undertaken to get water into the Murray Lower Lakes. It is absolutely irresponsible of Mr Rudd and his minister to have advice about what we can do right now to get water into the system for people in the Lower Lakes and it’s also important again that Mr Rudd understand that this is a nation - we are all Australians and the sooner that we have full Commonwealth control of the Murray-Darling Basin, then the sooner we will get the right decisions being made in the interests of all Australians.

Every Australian also needs to understand that our economy under Mr Rudd has deteriorated significantly, particularly in the last six months. We ask ourselves why it is in 2008 that net household wealth in Australia is less than it was in 2007. It’s increasingly obvious to

Australians that we are worse off under Mr Rudd than we were under John Howard. Our position as Australians has gone back and Mr Rudd needs to focus very much on the management of our economy, getting our economic fundamentals right and instead of focusing on stunts, such as FuelWatch and GroceryWatch, Mr Rudd now needs to focus on making the real decisions that are important to help Australia make ends meet and also to explain to Australians why he’s expecting that over the next year that more Australians are going to lose their jobs.

The reports today about adoption - this is a very serious matter which will concern every Australian. The authorities need to fully investigate it. We need to find out precisely what has happened, why it has happened, but most importantly whatever we do we mustn’t undermine confidence nor the ability of Australians to be able to adopt children from overseas. Many of these children desperately need homes. They can only dream of living in a country like Australia with a loving Australian family, and whilst the investigation continues, and we should get to the bottom of it and find out what went wrong, under no circumstances should we move away as Australians from our ability to be able to adopt children from overseas. If anything there’s a lot of red tape to be cut through, and not withstanding all of the

bureaucracy and crippling red tape that we’ve had over the last few years we ask ourselves how this can happen?

QUESTION:

If Kevin Rudd has the power for a constitutional takeover of the River Murray, why didn’t the Howard Government adopt that measure straight away?

DR NELSON:

Well there is a legal argument or a legal debate as to whether he currently has the constitutional power to do so. What he does do however with wall-to-wall Labor Governments throughout Australia, which is increasingly becoming a recipe for friendly failure, what Mr Rudd does have the power to do is to call all of the premiers and Territory leaders to Canberra and ask them, in fact demand of them that they hand their powers for the Murray-Darling Basin over to the Commonwealth. It is simply crippling Australia’s best interests and the best interests of people who rely on the Murray-Darling to have each tier of government, any state government minister or a federal minister, have powers of veto over decisions that are in the best interests of all of Australia. There is a constitutional or a legal debate about whether or not the Commonwealth does have these powers. Mr Rudd should advise Australians if it does. But the most important thing that should happen is a special COAG meeting should be convened, specifically with a view to getting the states to handover their powers.

QUESTION:

Dr Nelson when we were at Goolwa yesterday you announced a bill for a $50 million rescue package. Penny Wong’s office says that’s a stunt because as the Opposition you can’t introduce money bills. Is that correct? And therefore was your move yesterday a stunt?

DR NELSON:

As I have said I will be introducing a bill into the Parliament which will require $50 million to be made available as an emergency assistance package for the people of the Murray Lower Lakes. Whilst the Opposition itself cannot appropriate $50 million, what the Government can do is support my bill and then it can allocate the $50 million specifically for the emergency assistance package for the Murray Lower Lakes. Whilst we are in Opposition we are determined to do everything we possibly can to get Mr Rudd, to get Penny Wong to actually focus on the needs of the people of the Lower Lakes. I will introduce this bill which will force Mr Rudd to either support the bill and support the allocation of $50 million, of which he

has control, or alternatively he can choose to oppose our bill. What we’re trying to do is to do everything we physically, everything we possibly can to try and get Mr Rudd and Penny Wong to focus on the problem and give us some action. If I have to introduce a bill to force Mr Rudd and Penny Wong to debate whether or not the people of the Lower Lakes should get the $50 million, if that’s what it takes to get them to act and write a cheque for $50 million, then that’s what I fully am intending to do.

QUESTION:

Dr Nelson will you support the Opposition’s bid for the Commonwealth Games in 2018 in Adelaide?

DR NELSON:

Well I most certainly will. I realise that the great State of Queensland is also wanting to bid for the Commonwealth Games but I spent 13 years living in Adelaide. I love South Australia. I love Queensland. But I’m backing Martin Hamilton-Smith.

QUESTION:

BP and the ACCI are warning about the risks of delaying an emissions trading scheme, are you being irresponsible in the stand you’re taking?

DR NELSON:

Look, what’s important is that the emissions trading scheme be implemented methodically, it be done in a responsible way which protects Australian households from crippling electricity and other bills, provides support for Australian industry, protects jobs and that it be done properly. At the moment there is every indication, because Mr Rudd is trying to rush this in in 2010, before the Treasury experts have given us the advice upon which the scheme is going to be built, before we know what the rest of the world is going to do, all of the evidence is, including from industry itself, is that there is a very real risk to the Australian economy and Australian jobs by Mr Rudd rushing this through and not thinking about the consequences of what he’s about to do. I appreciate that there are people who have all sorts of

vested interests in this but the most important thing is we’ve got to get this right, we’ve got to get it right for our economy and we’ve got to do it in a way which delivers real environmental outcomes.

QUESTION:

Significant players are saying push ahead, don’t delay.

DR NELSON:

Well look, it’s one thing to say push ahead, but we should not push so far ahead that we’re actually doing damage to Australian jobs. We’re in an environment at the moment where our economy is slowing very sharply under Mr Rudd. We’ve seen job losses in all sorts of industries in Australia over the last couple of months. Mr Rudd is budgeting for another 100,000 or more Australians to lose their jobs over the next year and in brining in an emissions trading scheme, if major industry feels that it’s being done too quickly and risks their capacity to stay in Australia, keep the doors open and employ Aussies, then we have a responsibility to say, hey hang on, maybe you ought to just slow this down a bit. We are very concerned. I mean all of the advice that we had when we were in government was that the earliest you could responsibly do this is 2011. Mr Rudd for hairy chestedness is trying to push 2010 on Australians and all of the advice that we’re getting from key Australian industries that create the nations wealth, employ Australians, is that that is too fast.

QUESTION:

John Hewson says this is a winner for Kevin Rudd and it will return him to Government at the next election?

DR NELSON:

Well whatever the politics of it, the most important thing is that we do this properly. It’s more important that we have responsible managers implementing an emissions trading scheme than people who are missionaries. It’s most important that the emissions trading scheme, which in

plain language is a tax that will wash through every household, every small business in Australia, we’ve got to make sure we get this right. Mr Rudd is putting his own political self interest ahead of the national interest by forcing it in in 2010. The timeline is too tight to do it responsibly. Our view is you cannot do it earlier than 2011. The major study from the Business Council of Australia, which shows that at least three key industries would close down and leave the country, two would be under serious threat of doing so, four would have to undertake major restructuring - that should ring an alarm bell in every business and every household in Australia. We can’t of ourselves solve the problem of climate change given we’re only 1.4 per cent of global emissions, but we can do enormous damage to our economy if we don’t get this right. Mr Rudd like everything else that he’s done so far in government doesn’t think it through. He’s all back swing, he’s no follow through. He doesn’t actually focus on the detail and he doesn’t seem to understand how much is at stake here. We do and that’s why we think that 2010 is too early.

QUESTION:

Dr Nelson just quickly on the adoptions again. If this is something that happened under the watch of state governments, is this perhaps an area that should be taken over by the Commonwealth - regulation for overseas adoptions?

DR NELSON:

Well let’s just have a look at what the inquiry delivers. Let’s have a look at what happens once there’s been a very careful examination of what happened and why it happened. I don’t think that we should have knee-jerk responses that suggest that the Commonwealth should automatically take it over. We’ve got to get the balance right between making sure that security and the bona fides of those children that are being adopted are right and it’s being done legitimately on the one hand, but then on the other see that it is streamlined and not crippled by bureaucracy. So let’s just wait until we get the outcome of the inquiry before people start to say, well, if the Commonwealth takes it over that will solve all the problems.

Generally speaking government is the problem, not the solution.

QUESTION:

If there are any children in Australia that have been victims of child trafficking, what should happen to them?

DR NELSON:

Well this will be an enormously complex human issue with which we will need to deal. I would expect that if it has been found that children have been forcibly removed or stolen in some way from their families in other countries then there will be a very, very difficult and very painful process that will need to be followed through to determine whether those children will remain with the families in Australia, who love them, who have adopted them, or alternatively whether they be rightfully returned to the families from which they have come. Let us hope that the inquiry in fact does not find that children have been effectively kidnapped. But if they have then we will have a moral responsibility to do the right thing and the right thing we would expect in most cases will be to look at returning them to their rightful families. Thank you.