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Transcript of doorstop interview: Brisbane: 31 March 2012: Queensland state election; Premier Campbell Newman; COAG; National Broadband Network; Carbon pricing; Child care rebate; Minerals Resource Rent Tax; National Disability Insurance Scheme; Skills reform; Anna Bligh

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Transcript of doorstop interview, Brisbane

SAT 31 MARCH 2012

Prime Minister

Subject(s): Queensland state election; Premier Campbell Newman; COAG; National Broadband Network; Carbon pricing; Child care rebate; Minerals Resource Rent Tax; National Disability Insurance Scheme; Skills reform; Anna Bligh

PM: I’m joined by Graham Perrett the Member for Moreton and I do want to thank everybody here at Senor touch screen solutions for showing us around today.

I'm here in Queensland today, one week after what was a very bad defeat for Labor in the State election. Now whilst the State election turned on state issues of course there are federal consequences and one of those consequences is that there is a new Premier in this State. So I've travelled to Queensland today to have my first meeting as Prime Minister with incoming Premier, Premier Newman.

I think people rightly want to see their leaders get on with the job, not let politics get in the way but actually work together to get things done. I've had a good meeting this morning with Premier Campbell Newman talking about our forthcoming work together including at the Council of Australian Governments meeting.

We've got a big agenda, a big agenda for the nation, a big agenda for Queensland and I want to thank Premier Newman for a constructive discussion today and I intend to work with the Premier in the best interests of Queensland, in the best interests of the people of this State.

Another consequence I believe of the election last weekend is we can see a real hunger amongst the people of Queensland and around the nation for a real plan for the future. People rightly want to understand what the future is going to bring and how the future can make our nation and this great state of Queensland a stronger and fairer place. And it's up to us to be out talking about our plans for the future and our plans for Queensland. This is a great resources state and I want to make sure that all Queenslanders get their fair share of that mineral wealth and we have a plan to ensure that the mineral wealth of this state is shared by the people of this state.

In this great state of Queensland where we see such magnificent natural assets as the Great Barrier Reef, we need to get on with tackling climate change, seizing a clean energy future and there are a few places in the world that stand to have a better opportunity in a cleaner energy future than the great state of Queensland.

And of course, too, in Queensland we need to be delivering infrastructure. This is a fast-growing state and we are intending to deliver $8.6 billion of infrastructure investment and in addition to that to develop the technology here that people will need for future prosperity, future education and future health care services and that's the National Broadband Network.

So I've been very pleased to announce this week a three year rollout plan for the NBN which means around 680,000 premises in Queensland, homes, businesses, schools, hospitals, shops, will see the NBN connected to them or in the process of being connected over the next three years. That rollout will enable more people in Queensland to seize the benefits of this new technology: greater productivity, greater connectivity to where their businesses can grow and prosper, being able to take their products to the world. For households greater connectivity too which means that you can engage in new ways of learning and new ways of getting health care services. This is a great benefit to a growing state like Queensland.

It's a great benefit too to the small business economy of Queensland because the National Broadband Network enables those businesses to get online, to move information very, very quickly and to get the productivity benefits that come from that.

It's also great news for this highly regionalised state of Queensland. So for many regional centres it ends for all time that sense of the tyranny of distance and not being able to connect to do business, get health care services or get the education services that they need.

So it's a pleasure to be here and once again thank you to everybody here at Senor for making us so welcome today.

I'm happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, those of us in the great state of Queensland are paying more for our electricity because of your carbon tax, what would you say to those (inaudible)?

PM: We’ve always been absolutely up front that putting a price on carbon would increase electricity bills. We've said that, very upfront, very transparent with people. What we've said is people should anticipate seeing their electricity bills rise by around 10%. Now, for an average household that means that they will see their electricity bill go up less than $4 a week. On average what they will see coming in is more than $10 a week as a result of tax cuts, family payment increases and pension increases.

I've always understood that there are many, many families out there in Queensland who find it hard to make ends meet and when a big bill comes in like the electricity bill it puts pressure on. That's why we've always been very clear with people that yes, the electricity bill will go up but people will get assistance and the increase in the electricity bill on average they can expect is less than $4 where the assistance on average is more than $10.

There are lots of other pressures on electricity prices, electricity prices in this state have gone up by around 40% over the last few years and that's nothing to do with carbon pricing. And into the future there will be price pressures from things like the need to invest in the poles and wires that take electricity around a big state like Queensland and a big nation like Australia.

For the Federal Government with carbon pricing we're providing assistance to families. For State Governments around the nation as price pressures come from the investments in electricity like new poles and wires, it's a question for those State Governments as to how they will assist families to meet those costs.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible) itemised cost (inaudible) on bills?

PM: I think the more information people can get the better and I'd be very, very happy to see itemised on people's power bills or in associated information, information about the impact of carbon pricing but also information about the tax cuts, family payment increases and pension increases people can expect to assist them with the flow through of carbon pricing.

So I think it would be fair that people could see very easily and have all of the facts at their finger tips about the impact we're expecting on electricity prices of around about 10%, less than $4 a week for an average household, and they get all of the information about the more than $10 a week extra they will see flowing into their household budget.

Page 1 of 3 Transcript of doorstop interview, Brisbane | Prime Minister of Australia


JOURNALIST: If not for the carbon tax though our bills would have gone down?

PM: When you look at a bill in Queensland, and I'm very happy to do those calculations for you. If you look at a bill in Queensland, just look at $100 of electricity pricing to make the maths easy. If you look at $100 on an electricity bill, more than $50 is actually there because of the need for investment in the poles and the wires. Queensland's got more than 200,000 kilometres of poles and wires, new investments are needed, they've been neglected in the past, that has a cost and the cost for in $100 on your electricity bill of that is more than $50, absolutely nothing to do with carbon pricing but everything to do with the need to renew infrastructure at the state level.

JOURNALIST: How do you rebuild the tarnished Labor brand here in Queensland (inaudible)?

PM: I think it is incumbent on us to be here in Queensland, out there putting our case for our plan for Queensland's future, for a stronger and fairer future, for one where we share the benefits of the mining boom in this great state, for one where we tackle climate change and seize a clean energy future, for one where people see real benefits from new infrastructure including the National Broadband Network as well as the improvements that we're making in schools and hospitals and one in which people will see us continuing to provide assistance for cost of living pressures, whether that's in the form of this year's tax cuts, family payment increases and pension increases, or whether it's in the form of the new benefits of families we've already put in place like, for example, paid parental leave, more money going into child care than ever before and assistance for the first time with the cost of getting the kids to school.

JOURNALIST: Why didn’t you bring your case during the actual election campaign? Why weren’t you here more?

PM: I was here for the campaign launch. Obviously during an election campaign the single biggest event is the campaign launch and I was here to introduce Anna Bligh.

JOURNALIST: Tony Abbott has said that he will increase the child care rebate to cover nannies and that it will be coming out of existing funding. Would you consider replicating that or is there a reason why this can’t be done?

PM: I've seen in today's newspapers reports of Federal Liberal sources that are saying very frankly they've got absolutely no intention of making any of these changes that Tony Abbott's talking about and really it's just a way of suckering in women to make it look like they care about child care costs. Very frank admission from the Liberal Party today that this is all about politics and not about real benefits for working women.

I would say too Tony Abbott himself has said that this would cost a lot of money, the estimates out there are around $2 billion and he doesn't have it. He's already in a position where he's going to have to slash and burn $70 billion of services that working families rely on. His answer to that has been to say well he'll somehow find that in the current child care expenditure. I'll tell you what that equals. It equals cutbacks for some families in child care. He'd have to be ripping money out of their hands in order to try and pay for what he's talking about.

So Liberals being very frank, they're not serious, it's all just a game, political game, and the fact that it's a political game is really shown by the way the sums just don't add up. He can't possibly make this work without huge cuts in child care benefits currently being received by families.

We've just had a discussion about cost of living pressures, imagine ripping child care support dollars out of the hands of hard-working families.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: I think people should look to the cynicism that drips from this, very frankly acknowledged in today's newspapers that it's - they've got no intention of doing it, it's all about just looking like they care.

JOURNALIST: What about the mining tax, Campbell Newman has indicated he would like to join a class action by New South Wales. How popular is the mining tax among Queenslanders?

PM: Premier Newman's legal actions or intentions are a matter for him. The Minerals Resource Rent Tax is about a very simple proposition. It's about fairness to the Australian people. We all own the mineral wealth that’s in our grounds, it can only be dug up and sold once and whilst that happens during this huge resources boom I want to make sure Australians get their fair share, that the benefits of that huge resources boom in a state like Queensland is shared amongst the people of Queensland, not left in the hands of a privileged


JOURNALIST: Have you got something to tell us about disability allowances, Prime Minister?

PM: I think you're probably referring to reports in today's newspapers about a National Disability Insurance Scheme and some budget speculation. Of course I'm not going to speculate about matters in the budget. This time of year we get into budget speculation season and I'm not going to be speculating about what's in the budget. But I do want to say this about a National Disability Insurance Scheme.

This is a great Labor reform that we are working on just like Labor created Medicare and that made going to the doctor affordable for Australian families, we now want to build another great Labor reform which is ensuring that people who have disabilities and their families are treated carefully and treated in a caring way and carefully.

At the moment, depending on how you get your disability, you will be in very different circumstances. It really is quite a cruel lottery. So in some states if you heard in a transport accident you will get a package of care but if you were born with the same disability you wouldn't get the same assistance. We want to end that to make sure however people acquired their disability that they get the care they

need. This is a Labor plan infused with Labor values and I want to see it for our nation's future.

JOURNALIST: How often do you plan to visit Queensland from now on?

PM: Look, I've been here in Queensland, I think this is my 21st visit in the last 15 months. You should anticipate seeing me and the Labor team out and about in Queensland talking about our plan for Queensland's future. I think people in this time of change both within our own nation, the region in which we live and the world in which we live want to know that there's a clear plan and clear direction for the future.

We have that clear plan, it's about sharing the benefits of the mining boom, it's about making sure our future economy can offer people jobs and prosperity, it's about managing the economy today in the interests of working families and helping them with the pressures that they face, the cost of living pressures they face as they raise their families.

GRAHAM PERRETT: And we're going to look for a flat in Moreton straight after this.

JOURNALIST: Will Queensland enjoy a disproportionate benefits compared to the rest of Australia do you think?

PM: When you look at things like Mineral Resources Rent Tax, this is a great mining state. Mining has incredible advantages, it also brings the stresses and strains of growth so we have said very clearly that money from the Mineral Resources Rent Tax will be used to bring infrastructure to mining regions here in Queensland.

Page 2 of 3 Transcript of doorstop interview, Brisbane | Prime Minister of Australia


Second, this is a state that has its huge mining giants but it also has a vibrant small business economy. We want to give those small businesses a tax break funded out of the Mineral Resources Rent Tax. We want to bring to them the power of new technology, the National Broadband Network, great for the small business economy that thrives in so much of Queensland.

And there's no place in the world really that can seize more of the opportunities from a clean energy future than right here in Queensland given the abundant sunshine, the long coastline, the ability to use the clean and renewable energy sources for the future.

JOURNALIST: What's your opinion of what happened in the last weekend? (Inaudible)

PM: I've spoken about that publicly. I mean this was a state campaign turning on state issues but of course there are consequences for Federal Labor. Amongst those consequences I'm meeting and dealing with a new Premier and I'm intending to continue to meet with and work with Premier Newman. I think people want to see politicians get on with it, not get bogged down in the politics.

And second, I think people do want to be very clear about what is the plan for the future of Queensland and I'm here talking about that today including the National Broadband Network.

JOURNALIST: If this trend is repeated though, Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan would lose their seats in Queensland.

PM: We'll be working hard on a plan for Queensland's future and when it comes to the federal election that's due in 2013 the people of Queensland will have a very clear choice in that 2013 election, a very clear choice about whether they want a fair share of the mining boom or they want to see all of that money in the hands of a privileged few.

A very clear choice about whether they want to embrace and shape the future or stand still. A very clear choice about whether they want to see our further investments in the services and supports families need or they want to see Mr Abbott cut by $70 billion the services and supports families need.

JOURNALIST: The concerns from the manufacturing industry of the impact of carbon tax, are you seeing that as relevant?

PM: We're working through our carbon pricing scheme to support manufacturing and when it comes to manufacturing the million Australians employed in manufacturing we're working with them every step of the way, whether it's the car industry or manufacturing more generally, we are working with Australian manufacturing because we understand at this time of change with our high Australian dollar that there is a lot of pressure on the shoulders of manufacturing which is why I have highlighted publicly and let me do it again, how irresponsible it is, how grossly irresponsible it is at this time of change in particular for the Opposition to be talking about cutting half a billion dollars worth of assistance to the car industry given its pivotal role in supporting the millions of jobs in manufacturing.

JOURNALIST: What was the vibe you got from Mr Newman this morning? How would you rate him as a politician?

PM: We had a good and constructive discussion and I don’t think it was particularly a time for politics, it was a time for leadership and getting things done in the interests of Queensland.

JOURNALIST: Can you be specific about the issues you talked about with him?

PM: Certainly we talked about the major issues on the forthcoming COAG agenda. We’ve got a big skills reform package, in this state people are looking for opportunities and there are opportunities for people with the right skills. We want to make sure people can get those skills, that they’ve got an entitlement to getting a Certificate III, the first qualification that makes a real difference to how much you earn and how employable you are, how secure a work future you can look towards and we’ve got a skills reform proposal to enable people who are studying high level skills to get the same deal that university students do - that you don’t have to put all your money in upfront but you can pay it off as you earn more income because you did that qualification.

So we talked about that, we talked about a business meeting that we’re having associated with COAG, to work together to improve our national economy and the way it works. We talked about proposals like: at the moment there is consideration about where the G20 meeting will go when it comes to Australia, we talked about that.

Of course the Premier used the opportunity to raise some things with me that he doesn’t agree with. There will be times when we don’t agree. I think people are looking to us to get on with the job and that’s exactly what I’m intending to do.

JOURNALIST: Do you think you’ll be able to work with him?

PM: Well we’ve started today.

JOURNALIST: Have you spoken to Anna Bligh lately? How’s she going?

PM: I spoke to Anna Bligh last weekend and I’ve been in touch over the course of this week. So - she’s in a life beyond politics now.

Thank you very much.

Page 3 of 3 Transcript of doorstop interview, Brisbane | Prime Minister of Australia