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Transcript of interview: 7pm Project: 11 August 2010: clection campaign; climate change; Family Tax Benefits; pensions; same sex relationships; asylum seekers.

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Transcript: Julia Gillard, Interview, 7pm Project

Julia Gillard posted Wednesday, 11 August 2010


Subjects: Election Campaign; Climate Change; Family Tax Benefits; Pensions; Same Sex Relationships; Asylum Seekers.

HOST: For the first time since she became Prime Minister, please welcome back Julia Gillard.

HOST: Now Prime Minister the question I have to ask you how could you go and physically intimidate a rookie reporter on their first day on a job like that?

PM: Oh, look I don’t try and intimidate reporters, you know I try and be as nice to them as possible. What you saw me doing before was shepherding them onto the media plane, making sure they all settled in and got their drinks during the flight. So that’s my normal attitude.

HOST: Must be a little bit weird with Mark Latham the other day though because he used to be your boss basically and now he’s sort of carrying on like a hobo isn’t he?

HOST: Seriously isn’t it a little bit weird?

HOST: It must be a bit weird.

PM: Well look I was just moving through the Ekka, you know the huge show in Brisbane and crowds and people wanting photographs and shake your hand all the rest of it. So you’re moving through, big pack of people around you and he just sort of loomed up in front of me so I didn’t really have any opportunity to prepare and just you know sort of tried to have a conversation and keep going.

PRICE: Did you complain about him or not because there’s been some confusion about that.

PM: Oh, well look the CEO of Channel 9 rang and apologised to me and I-

PRICE: Would you be better off booting him off the campaign? Would you rather not see him again through this?

PM: Oh look it’s all for Channel 9 to sort out from here, I mean the CEO-

PRICE: But you don’t want him monstering you, do you?

PM: Well look I am content that the- David at Channel 9 offered me an apology. Apology accepted, end of, as far as I’m concerned-

HOST: You can be a bit of and interrupter yourself. Are you-

PM: Do you think so?

HOST: Well I suppose you’ve got some-

PM: What do you mean by that David?

HOST: I’ve got some evidence of you interrupting a journalist today and just wait till the end and just check out the journalist’s reaction that you probably didn’t get at the time Julia.

[news clip]

NATASHA EXELBY: “Julia Gillard chose her former high school here in Adelaide to announce the next step of-

PM: We’ve got our prefects here, do you want to say hello? Good Tom and Tina? We should let you go back to doing your cross- okay

Channel 10 Reporter: Well that stuffed me”


HOST: Didn’t she say that stuffed that?

PM: Well this is a new innovation on the campaign trail, this is the first campaign where journalists stop in the middle of an event and do their stand-up. And so I really am just an extra in the back of their shot so that the whole TV news now relays on me sauntering past at the right time. And so I’ve tried to turn the tables around a bit so I-

HOST: It’s thrown them

PM: I’ve tickled Mark Riley and loomed into you know his cross. I loomed into a Sky cross and he said: gee she has shown the script away- my script. And I was there with two of the prefects at Unley High School today, with Tom and Tina and I thought, they could get a little interview with you, why not?

HOST: Now Julia you’re always talking about moving forward but we want to move back to the weekend now. You met up with Kevin Rudd. Be honest, how was that, was it awkward? It must of been slightly awkward.

PM: Oh, look I’m not going to pretend it was the easiest you know sort of meeting I’ve ever had in my life. Obviously. But you know, got in there a, had a good discussion, positive discussion. I mean we share values in common, we’ve worked together and obviously we spent the meeting talking about working together in this campaign and Kevin-

HOST: What was that enormous map?

PM: (laughs)

HOST: Couldn’t you have got that on an iPad? You’re very well resourced.

PM: We’re talking about a map of Queensland. It’s a big place, big map. All of the seats and we talked about Kevin’s role in the campaign and he’s out there campaigning.

HOST: So he’s fully on board now is he?

PM: Well he’s been out and about in two electorates campaigning for the re-election of the Government. He’s still recovering from an operation so he’s got to take it, you know a bit slow. Make sure that he gets fit and well but he’ll be out campaigning.

HOST: Now a big deal was made about, and you spoke of it yourself, about being the ‘real’ Julia. I’m curious to know why you made a decision to not be the real Julia at the start of the campaign.

PM: Well I’ve always been the same Julia but I did except at the start of the campaign that there’s an orthodox style you campaign in. You go and do an event for the day and then you sort of try and close it in, very risk adverse, stage managed and I you know, fitted in with that orthodoxy for the first part of the campaign and then said, it isn’t for me, it isn’t my style, it’s not the way that I work the best, it’s not that way I can project the ideas I’ve got for the nation’s future-

PRICE: Well Labor says-

PM: We’ve been pretty unorthodox since

PRICE: Labor has said that Tony Abbott’s trying to ‘slide into the Lodge’ I think was the term that was used. It would appear that you’re now trying to charm your way into the Lodge. I mean the stuff we’ve seen on the media bus and on the plane today, you’ve absolutely changed yourself. So can we trust you?

PM: Oh, were you suggesting that I wasn’t charming before? Is that a little bit harsh? Oh, I’ve always tried to be nice to you, Steve.

PRICE: You have but you’ve admitted-

PM: Be as charming as possible? Given the circumstances.

PRICE: You’ve admitted to-

PM: It’s not always easy. Who said that I interrupt?

PRICE: Who said about the interruption before? No you’ve said yourself, you weren’t yourself at the beginning and so how does the Australian public know what they’re really electing because you were Kevin’s deputy, and then you knifed Kevin. You were Mark’s mate, then you got rid of him. I mean, who’s the real Julia?

PM: Oh well let’s just try and get the history accurate and also the future accurate.

PRICE: Well, you axed Kevin Rudd.

PM: What I said, and I’ve always been the same person, I’ve always had the same ideas. I’m bringing my same passion for education and giving every kid a chance in this campaign as Prime Minister that I’ve shown over the last few years—

PRICE: But you’re obviously multi-faceted though.

PM: all my years in public life. What I said is I didn’t want to fit in with the orthodox campaign style. I chucked that out, so that I could show more of myself and because I’m doing that we’re having events now, like a town hall meeting in Western Sydney tomorrow night. I don’t want to necessarily refer to another network, but I appeared on a show last night to take people’s questions directly—

PRICE: Why didn’t you do that from the beginning?

PM: that’s a different campaign strategy.

HOST: I think at the beginning you were being quite, waiting for Tony Abbott to blow himself up basically. When he didn’t do that, the real you’s come out and I think people are enjoying the real Julia.

HOST: Do you regret not doing more of that at the start of the campaign? Like do you wish if you could go back in a time machine, would you’ve been doing Q and A and stuff like this earlier in the campaign? Because we invited you, the invitation was out there.

PM: Look, I think I would. I think I came to the decision that the sort of straight jacket wasn’t for me. They do have Tony Abbott in a straight jacket.

HOST: Yeah they do.

PM: That’s for sure. You know, tied up, cotton wool packed around him, just in case he bursts out and says ‘WorkChoices is fantastic, it’s coming back!’ or something like that.

PRICE: Climate change is crap.

PM: Or absolute crap I think that quote might be.

HOST: We are enjoying having the real Julia with us tonight and you are gonna stick around with us after the break?

PM: I will.

HOST: But if you’ve got any questions for Julia, just go to our website and let us know and we will be asking you.

HOST: Before we go to the break, one more time we’re going to re-visit Mark Latham. I know you’re sick of talking about him, but he said this last night on Sky News, which we found intriguing. This was about Laurie Oakes:

“LATHAM: In my Latham Diaries I listed the nickname he was given by the Labor Party - Jabba the Hutt. You know the grotesque character from Star Wars. And if you put them on a split screen, you’d see the similarities.”

HOST: Now, did you ever call Laurie Oakes, Jabba the Hutt? You’re part of Labor, have been for quite a while.

PM: Ah, I’ve certainly heard that terminology used, but I wouldn’t use it.

HOST: And so what was your preferred term?

PM: I think ‘Laurie’.

HOST: We’re going to take a break. We’ll be back with more of the Prime Minister shortly. Don’t go away.

[commercial break]

HOST: Welcome back to the 7pm Project. Prime Minister Julia Gillard on the desk with us.

HOST: Now there’s a debate of sorts happening tomorrow night Julia, isn’t it? It’s not on television, but it’s Tony Abbott and you are going to be in the same hall?

PM: Well, it’s the debate you have when you’re not having a debate.

SMITH: What, like the other one?

PM: I said to Tony Abbott, let’s debate on the economy. I got asked by a television network whether we do that. I said I’m happy to. He said, no my campaign arrangements are locked in, couldn’t contemplate it. As it is, we’re both turning up in the same town hall tomorrow night in Sydney.

SMITH: In Rooty Hill.

PM: So I said - Rooty Hill, where else? So I said, let’s make it a debate and he said today, no he won’t do that.

HOST: Well that’s an interesting venue an interesting place to have the debate. There was action going on in the last debate, which a lot of it really didn’t get picked up. We actually noticed some. I think Julia, I think Tony Abbott’s still got it for you, just look at his hips and the way (inaudible due to laughter). Look at his hips, it goes, it went on for most of the debate. There’s something moving downstairs, it appears. (inaudible) I know we’ve talked about him flirting with you before and—

PRICE: Is that distracting in a debate?

PM: I hadn’t noticed that before, Steve, that footage.

HOST: Keep an eye out for it tomorrow night.

PM: Right. And I just, you know, the importance of Rooty Hill RSL is of course, it’s making an application for its own postcode it’s that big.

PRICE: I put to you, you’ve got to win that argument with him about being a joint-debate. Surely the Coalition has to agree to that. Just on some policy issues, I mean, Kevin Rudd said climate change was the great moral dilemma of our time, are we going to know before Saturday week, exactly when you will do something with a carbon tax?

PM: Well, I can tell you the answer to that right now. And I share everybody’s sense of frustration that we didn’t get the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme through the Parliament. We did a deal with Mr Turnbull, shook hands, along came Tony Abbott, no more deal.

PRICE: Indeed, if you had gone to a double dissolution election you probably would have won with that as an issue.

PM: Well, you know—

PRICE: And history would be very different.

PM: Well, you know, political commentators can do the could have been, should have been, what may have been.

PRICE: But what are you going to do? When are you going to do it?

PM: But what we will do if elected is as follows. We will start acting to bring the renewable energy which we’ve invested in so heavily, through transmission lines into the electricity grid. The problem with renewable energy is it’s generated in remote parts of the country, we want to do that, we’ve got the renewable energy target of 20 per cent.

PRICE: When are you going to put a price on carbon and when are you going to put a price on carbon.

PM: Well, I’m going to come to that, a few more measures. Going to make sure there are no—

HOST: Actually how about we just answer Steve’s one, because we’re short on time.

PM: Well, okay, but climate change, complicated and we want to act on it.

PRICE: What are you delaying?

PM: The transmission lines are important. No new coal fired power stations that are dirty is important—

PRICE: Still haven’t got an answer.

PM: Greening our (inaudiable) greening our buildings and then striving for a community consensus about pricing carbon.

PRICE: When?

PM: We’ve said we would review at the end of this period of the Kyoto commitment. So that is in 2012, but I want to make sure—

PRICE: Sounds like a delay to me.

PM: —the community comes with us on this. Because we’re going to transform our economy and the way we live through a price on carbon, we’ve got to make sure the reform lasts for the future. That it isn’t there for a few years and then the other side of politics gets in and knocks it away. We want to make sure it lasts but we’re going to be acting in the meantime. Renewable energy, changing where we work, how we travel, no, you know, dirty new coal fired power stations, these are important things.

HOST: (To Steve Price) Now we only have a half an hour program so please no more.

PM: I should have interrupted him more.

HOST: You should have. Now how are you going? This must be the craziest time in your life at the moment. You getting sleep? When Kevin Rudd was in, he was having four hours sleep a night, how are you going? Are you managing to get any at the moment?

PM: Oh look, I do sleep. I’m obviously working late into the night and getting up very early, but -

HOST: Can you switch off though?

PM: Once I’m in bed, I can sleep, let me assure you. So I get my rest and I’m feeling pretty good, I’m feeling energetic, I’m feeling full of fight. It’s going to be a hard run into the election. It’s tough it’s close, we’re fighting for every vote and we’re fighting for big issues for the future.

HOST: You look like you’re full of energy and you know what, if you’re not going to sleep, you’re not going to let the press pack sleep either. Let’s have a look here on the plane again - this is you dealing with a Sky News guy who’s trying to get some sleep - just check out the attitude you give him.

(Cut so to footage on the media plane)

JOURNALIST: Sky News are the hardest working here.

PM: What happened to 24/7 coverage?

(End of footage on the media plane)


PM: Ah look I think I need to explain this whole - on the media plane things - I was on the media plane so I was mucking around with the journalists and I felt so sorry for him when he grabbed the ear phones out and startled, took the eyepads off and he’s surrounded by TV cameras, it looked like he was going to die. It was dreadful.


HOST: A nightmare.

PM: He probably did think we was having a very bad nightmare.

HOST: Now Julia, what do you say to people who say to you, you have no idea how hard it is, for working families because you don’t have kids yourself, AND you’re not doing that on a day to day basis.

PM: Well, look I’m not doing that on a day to day basis. I’m not going to pretend that I am, but what I’d say to people is, there’s no one person in this country who can say, “gee I understand what every Australian goes through every day.” We’re all different, we’ve all got difference challenges. I understand families are finding it tough to make ends meet. That’s why we’ve done things like provided tax cuts, the education tax rebate we created to help with the cost of getting kids to school, getting the childcare tax rebate to 50 per cent, want to do more to help with the cost of teenagers, I think they’re pretty expensive teenagers and at the moment our family tax benefits system says you can have more for a fifteen year old than a sixteen year old, so these are important things and I’m always going to be there listening to what people have to tell me about how their lives are going.

PRICE: Can I just ask one quick question at the other end of that. You’ve got parents, are they on the pension?

PM: Yes, my parents live on a mix of dad’s super, an Australian pension and a UK pension.

PRICE: Not much said about pensions in this campaign. Aged pensioners do it really tough. You and I both know we couldn’t live on an age pension. You got your eye on that?

PM: Well we gave of course -

PRICE: Under great pressure.

PM: Well, but we’ve delivered an historically large rise in the pension, around $100 a fortnight for single pensioners -

PRICE: Will they get anymore between now and Saturday week?

PM: Well it was a big increase, I understand it’s still -

PRICE: You can look in the camera and say you’ll give them some more.

PM: I’m looking at you Steve and I’m saying, it was a big increase of course these things have to affordable on the budget and we’re bringing the budget to surplus in 2013. The cost of living issue in this campaign is Mr Abbott’s plan to put a tax on groceries through the tax he wants to put on big companies like Coles and Woolworths, so we’re going to keep fighting about that -

PRICE: So bad luck Mr and Mrs Gillard, no more dough for them?

PM: Well, look my parents I think are probably watching this election campaign with a little more on their mind than that, whether I’m getting enough sleep being one of those issues.


HOST: Yes. Well you said before that you are listening to Australians. We have heaps of viewers that have been sending in questions, we have first one here from Mary who says, “How’s Tim coping with all this?”

PM: He’s coping I mean it’s obviously a big thing and there’s scrutiny on him too, I mean he’s not sort of actively campaigning in the sense he’s not seeking election, but he’s supporting me. We spent some time together on the weekend so that was nice.

HOST: Do you get to see him much?

PM: Look, he’s been on and off the campaign sort of you know, bus, as it “Moves Forward,” (laughter) but he was in Darwin on the weekend.

HOST: I’ve got a question here Ms Gillard why won’t you move Australia forward and legalise gay marriage? The question why?

PM: Look my answer’s going to disappoint some people and there are a variety of views here, but we determined at our national conference- the Labor party that the Marriage Act should stay the same as it is, so marriage between a man and woman.

HOST: Is it hard sometimes that you have to just do what the party agrees on?

PM: Oh no, I support that, I agree with it, but what I also think is important is we equalise treatment and we fixed a lot of things, I mean before we moved to change it, for example if you’re going to qualify for the pharmaceutical benefits scheme safety net, if you were a de facto heterosexual couple that would be different than a same sex couple, we fixed that. Super for a partner, you know if you had superannuation, you died them getting your benefit used to be different for a same sex couple, we fixed that -

HOST: Sorry to cut you off Julia, but this one’s from the audience and from me as well, in the next couple of weeks are we going to not focus on these four or five thousand boat people? Is the Government going to not focus on them, we believe that you guys are joining the opposition in that, trying to win votes, just trying to win votes off marginal seats by focusing on that?

PM: Look I’m going to keep trying to be as honest about asylum seekers and boat people as I can. I’ve adopted Julian Burnside - well known Melbourne Lawyer - his terminology, “at current rate of arrivals it would take twenty years to fill the MCG.” So it’s not me in this campaign that’s wandering around saying peaceful invasion, armada of boats. Mr Abbott’s saying that. Twenty years to fill the MCG. But even so, we don’t want people risking their life at sea, paying a people smuggler, getting on a boat. That’s what the regional processing centre’s about.

HOST: Well it’s been delightful having you on the show tonight, all the best for the next ten days in the lead up to the election, we are doing an election night show actually from six thirty to seven thirty on election night, so we look forward to seeing your speech, either your winning speech or your defeat speech but thank you so much.

PM: Thank you.

Tags: asylum, change, climate, election, Gillard, same, sex